Line and form...American women of style in sketches and illustrations

I've been so bad about posting since my site was launched; perhaps I should have waited a month longer. Oh well, waiting is not one of my greatest qualities nor patience a particularly great virtue in my possession.


I have been writing a piece on the young Cambridge baby…now a little out of date... I know!

The piece turned into a full-blown look at 'royalty' as part of the premise of the piece. Well, it will be posted shortly; fashionably late...appallingly late... out of date with current affairs… c'est la vie. But it'll be a good explanation on the subject...I promise.


Amidst the manic emailing ,and general day-to-day running of my life in the world of entertainment, the funny business of show, a life here in Palm Springs, only a year old in the making, moves towards a possible relocation to Los Angeles (or some other part of America, who knows?) my ongoing life in London etc., etc....I took a break this afternoon.


Whilst searching my library, my encyclopaedic library, of images for some royal photographs for the aforementioned piece, I came across some others, entirely different, that I felt needed airing.


Since very early childhood, I have been a soft-touch for a dapper gent, a chic, elegantly dressed woman. Hollywood stars, British aristocrats and American 'royalty' were more than enough to keep me captivated. They inspired, not only an admiration for their sartorial wit and charm, but also for their homes, their lifestyles, travels and writings.


Photographs are, of course, a fabulous historical record, just as painted portraiture had been for many hundreds of years before the advent of the camera and film, and to a less prevalent extent, still is to this day.


Amongst many of the pictures that hang from the walls of my own home, the larger part are 'illustrations', sketches, line drawings, advertising prototypes, charcoals, chalks and pastels.


Perhaps it is the 'essence' they capture rather than the 'literal'; or 'literal lie' as so many emperors, kings, queens proved in employing the skills of many a famous portrait painter throughout history, inorder to appeal to their subjects, when in fact they were rather ugly or unattractive (think Richard III for a fine examle of this)


It is a strange thing that 'exaggeration' can sometimes be used to accentuate the essence, the single most significant element, characteristic or feel of a place, object, interior or person; it can almost tell more 'truth'. Exaggeration isn't based in a lie, its the 'over-egging' of a truth.


Drawings and sketches almost mask and reveal at the same time; they are by their nature 'impressionistic' and yet they can be almost more 'precise' at what they are attempting to portray and express.


Painters such as Sir John Singer Sargent, Giovanni Boldini, Sir William Orpen and Philip de László all somehow incorporated this in their painting, perhaps the reason why they have that enduring sense of appeal and as if the subjects are almost photographed rather than painted.


Here are some of my favourite women, rendered as I think they might have been…in 'essence'.


Mona von Bismarck by René Bouché, 1936




Babe Paley by René Bouché, 1954




Babe Paley by Kenneth Paul Block, March 1964




Babe Paley by Kenneth Paul Block, 1964




Babe Paley by Kenneth Paul Block, 1965




Babe Paley by Richard Banks, c.1950-1960




Babe Paley wearing Halston by Joe Eula, 1973




Babe Paley by Cecil Beaton




Wallis Simpson by Cecil Beaton, 1936




Wallis Simpson by Cecil Beaton, November 1936




The Duchess of Windsor by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 1967




Gloria Guinness by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 1959




Gloria Guinness by Kenneth Paul Block, c.1960s




Gloria Guinness by Kenneth Paul Block, 1962




CZ Guest By Cecil Beaton, c.1960s




CZ Guest by René Bouché, 1967



Couldn't resist slipping in a couple of Europeans too

Marella Agnelli by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 1954




Margaret, Duchess of Argyll by Cecil Beaton, 1934




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Stephen M. Collin

This site is dedicated to those many years of travel and movement, of exploration and 'learning in the field'. The journey continues, the passion grows, to see and to learn more. I believe it will do so for the rest of my life... read more