Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Newer Model Geryon of 1902

Some readers will recall a series of posts on Dante's Geryon: 1. "Dante's Geryon and a 'Serpentine' Adam?"; 2. "Joseph Anton Koch: Geryon"; 3. "Speaking of Gustave Doré's Geryon . . ."; and 4. "Rivarossa's Jeffryon." Those who do recall will also perhaps recall that the image on the left is Gustave Doré's Geryon, borrowed from Wikipedia. But what of the image on the right? It comes to me by way of Dario Rivarossa, a translator and illustrator in Italy who continues to come across delightful finds and who tells us:
while viewing one of my books on sci-fi illustration, I found this drawing that -- in my opinion -- was surely inspired by Dante's Geryon. It refers to a book published in 1902, "L'automobile volante" (The Flying Car) by Luigi Barberis, whose name is absolutely no more remembered one century later. The artist was a certain Fortunino Matania, another 'unknown' guy. Since I haven't read the book, I cannot say whether any clear hint at Geryon was meant by the writer too.
And for those interested in pronouncing "Geryon," Dario tells us:
Btw, I just discovered that my dictionary includes the word "Geryon": it gotta be pronounced with a hard G, as you supposed.
Good to know. By the way, Dario is right about Luigi Barberis, for I've found only a handful of online references to this writer and his book, but my friend was surely speaking tongue in cheek about Fortunio Matania, for this artist has a Wikipedia entry. Since he was born in 1881, he would have been a young artist of merely 21 years when L'automobile volante appeared in in 1902. Was he inspired by Dante's Geryon? Several of his later works of illustration suggest an interest in the art and literature of earlier eras, as well as an interest in historical topics: Six Stories from Shakespeare, retold by John Buchan (1934); Raphael and Stella. A Baker's Delight Immortalised in Paint, by Matania (1944); Great Stories from History, ed. Edward Horton and Peter Shellard (1970). Since he died in 1963, that third book was either posthumous or a later edition.

Matania became very popular in the English-speaking world, as he settled in Britain and grew famous for his early depictions of the Great War, among other works of art. According to Wikipedia, he began contributing to the British woman's magazine, Britannia and Eve, soon after it was launched in 1929 and continued contributing for nearly 20 years! There's an amusing anecdote about his work for this magazine:
Generally he managed to include one or two voluptuous nudes in each picture. "The public demanded it," says Matania. "If there was no nude, then the editor or I would get a shower of letters from readers asking politely why not."
I infer from this that British women weren't the only ones looking through Britannia and Eve. Their husbands must have furtively perused its pages and secretly sent those disappointed 'fanny' letters.

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At 3:44 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

was surely speaking tongue in cheek about Fortunio Matania

Omigosh! I was not joking... you just destroyed my self-confidence as a connoisseur of SF&fantasy art... Fortunio, forgive me, wherever you are. And, send me a couple of your models, in case, letting me have a better 'knowledge' of your art.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Perhaps he was better known outside of Italy, for he spent his career in Britain and the States.

Anyway, we both learned something.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:28 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

These illustrations would fit right into Emanations....

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

They're in the public domain, so have at them . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:37 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Hi Carter, 'welcome back'!

In that case, delete the page number from the picture of the Geryon Car, because it is taken from the catalogue of a private collection.

But, what about the 1902 book? Is it 'free'? If Fortunio died in the 1960's, the copyright belongs to his heirs.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

One would need to check the copyright date, e.g., 1902, and see if that is long enough ago to have entered the public domain, e.g., 80 years in the US (I think, but check this), though for International Publishers, the laws of other countries might pose difficulties.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:39 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

In Italy the copyright belongs to the heirs until 70 years after the artist's / writer's death.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anyway, no one should accept my nonprofessional verbalizations . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:11 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

There's however a movement asking for the free use of pictures etc. when it is done for cultural purposes.

The Geryon Car looks like a fitting item.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Let's take them for a ride.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:42 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Don't forget the brass.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But do we really need wind instruments? The flying car is willfully auto-motive.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:52 PM, Blogger gordsellar said...

Ha, funny, I was searching for images of Geryon for my newest Ezra Pound-related post, and what did I find among the first hits?

Yep, this one.

Been a while. How are you doing, Jeffery? I'm in Vietna, now, by the way... have been for a couple of months!

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hey, Gord, fancy seeing you here. Let me re-link that address: Cantos.

By Vietna, did you mean Vietnam?

Jeffery Hodges

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