Thursday, 11 October 2012

Baroque Autumn: Autumnal Hare

"Man was caught between truth and illusion; life, perhaps, was merely a dream and the world was like a theatre which would split itself into many parts and the mask would become a face; a double-sided face which revealed the existence of opposites and man's constantly changing nature."
translated from Philippe Beaussant, Versailles, Opéra (p. 12)
Now that autumn is well and truly here I find myself retreating back into my imagination more and more.  Ideas are dancing around my head and strange characters inhabit my sleep.  It's all good although a balance needs to be struck as ever with real life. For a few years now I have been quite fascinated by seventeenth-century performing arts and the term Baroque.  It's a difficult concept to pin down but that, I believe, is part of its charms. Elaborate, excessive, inconstancy, and make-believe are but a few defintions all sharply contrasted to sober rationality.  To understand the Baroque world is to enter a place where appearances are deceptive and the trompe-l'oeil becomes reality.  I love it but only as long as it remains distinct from my real world, you see. 
When living in Normandy I had the good fortune to learn how to play the Baroque oboe with Jérémie Papasergio and his wife Elsa Frank (seen here in central place brandishing a baroque oboe).  Through these years of aching face muscles and dizzy spells (it is a very, very hard instrument to play: more on that at a later date, Sue and Annie) I struck up a friendship with this remarkable couple who, in turn, introduced me to a fascinating world of Baroque specialists.  The two pictures above are taken from the Baroque company Le Poème harmonique directed by the extremely dishy talented Vincent Dumestre.  Jémémie and Elsa regularly performed in Vincent's Baroque operas (as seen in the two pictures below) and, well, Héloïse and I had the good fortune to attend a few dress rehearsals at the Opéra Comique in Paris.
Whilst researching Baroque costumes this week I was particularly interested in a 1977 costume created for Jean-Philippe Rameau's opera Platée which was designed by Beni Montrésor (1926 - 2001).  Unfortunately I cannot reveal this costume to you today but, in true Baroque style, I fell into the enchanting , multifaceted world of Montrésor's children's book illustrations.
There are many of Beni Montrésor's books available secondhand.  I urge you to take a look here; you will be both charmed and inspired by his artwork, I believe.

Finally, as we stepped out this morning, my husband and I, to take a few pictures of my first autumnal hare, I could not help but notice as the sky turned from lead to blue and the surrounding vegetation had turned from green to jewel-like colours, that autumn too, perhaps, could be accused of being Baroque.

It will come as little surprise to you all to learn that

 Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn

 the first of three autumnal hares to make an appearance here, was inspired by my passion for Baroque opera and also John Keats's poem "To Autumn".

Here she is:
Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn is warmly dressed and cheery-natured.  She revels in wandering through orchards, woodland, and gathering fruit and berries. She is also partial to sitting by the fire and sipping tea or hot chocolate which she ALWAYS drinks with tiny melted marshmallows.  If you would like to see more details about her pop over here although I should whisper in your ear now that she has already GONE!

I have knitted garments for her two friends from yarn called 'Homemade Jam', 'Embers', and 'Long Johns' for her friends.  Aren't those splendid names for autumnal colours? They will be introducted to you shortly.

Until then I really hope you haven't been too bored. 

I wish you ALL a beautfiul, tranquil weekend.

A bientôt,



  1. I love the wooly sweater and the purple pants!! That outfit should be a people outfit :D Lovely! I did not know you played an oboe...

  2. What a beautiful post .... as always, so interesting and beautiful x
    The baroque oboe, gosh there are no end to your talents.
    I can't wait to see Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn's friends, she is a true beauty with a name to match.
    love jooles x

  3. What a fascinating post :D The excesses of baroque have always left me feeling a little queasy, but not the music, that is divine.

    And yet another beautiful hare! How many hours must you spend on each of these delightful creatures Stephanie, they are so detailed that I dread to think how little you must be making from your considerable and oh so creative efforts :D

    1. Hello wonderful Annie,

      Thank you as ever for your kind words. I must confess my little ladies do take rather a lot of time to make; around thirteen hours each, I have calculated. I hope you are no longer black and blue? ;-)

  4. Bored here??? Never!!!!!
    I love the little book illustrations, oh to live in a house of flowers. :)
    Your autumnal photos are beautiful and as for the wonderful Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn, she is amazing!! I do love her cosy sweater and her sweet little embroidered fruits! I cannot wait to meet her friends. :)
    Have a wonderful weekend Stephanie,
    Vivienne xxxxxxxxxx

  5. Your little book reminds me of the well dressings of Derbyshire which are decorated with flowers and leaves and are beautiful works of art. Madameoiselle Mellow Autumn is most beautiful too and I am sure she has gone to a loving and warm home.

  6. Not bored at all dear Stephanie. As always a fascinating and beautiful post as always and I love the new addition to your so adorable family of hares.

  7. Definitely baroque music for me too! The autumn colours in your photos are wonderful - things haven't really turned here yet, and still have an air of late summer.

    Pomona x

  8. My dear, dear friend,

    I am so charmed by every word, photo and dream here on your page. The oboe is the ONLY wind instrument I care for. It carries me away to far off clouds and stars while even the reality of its difficult execution baffles me. I am a string instrument kind 'a gal!

    Your Baroque love is shared with mine as well, for all the same reasons. I understand the realities, I indulge in the excessive and make-believe world, only for my pleasure.

    NOW. This rabbit is truly an autumn joy. Her little sweater, her sweet smile as always and her signature mark on her foot just sweep my emotions. You have placed her well in her element, well-dressed and ready for the joys of fall!!! AND SHE IS ALREADY GONE??????????? Oh how I wish I had the magic to make my art disappear that quickly!

    BRAVO MY DEAR, BRAVO. Oh to spend ALL day long on such fun and imagination. I must go visit your shop...Anita

  9. What a beautiful post and your hare never fail to impress what a shame she has already gone!
    Sarah x

  10. I've always thought the oboe looked so difficult, but its so eerie and forestlike~ Wonderful rabbit, the colors are glorious
    the artist is also delightful, just as your posts always are!

  11. Wonderful autumn colours, your needlework is stunning
    Thea x

  12. Bored!!! How could anyone be bored, you are so very interesting, and amazing as well!
    Wishing you well lovely Stephanie x

  13. Stephanie, yet again my visit here has enriched me...learning more about music, glimpsing autumn colors arriving in France, and then seeing your latest seasonal hare. Exquisite!

    As always, I send you best wishes, and appreciation of all the layers that contribute to your creations.


  14. Oh my goodness. THOSE BOOKS. I must find them! :)

  15. I am never bored here Stephanie. Your love of Baroque shines through. It is something I have never really explored but will do so through your links. I love Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn and that her berry red nose matches her trimmings! Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. I truly hope that I have not made your upcoming visit to the dentist worse. I am a highly emotional person and sometimes over react to things that other people take in their stride. Please do not let my blog post worry you unduly. It sounds as though you have gone through some horrible times at the dentist recently and I wish you all the best at your next check up. x

  16. Darling little bunny... what an delightful imagination you are gifted with...

  17. What a fantastic post, Stephanie! I love visitig you so much - there's always a treat for the eyes AND one for the mind! :-)
    Happy Friday!

  18. What a wonderful post, so rich and full of thoughts and entertainment. I love the apple and pear motifs on Mlle Mellow Autumn, and the colours of her clothes are perfect. I think she might be my favourite so far!

    Enjoy your weekend, Stephanie.

    Gillian x

  19. A visual feast! Thanks for the illustrator link, he reminds me of Errol Le Cain. Your Autumn Hare is adorable.

  20. I am envisioning a Mademoiselle Baroque Oboist with purple face and a wreath of spangly multicolour stars (indicating dizziness). :) Lucky you to have such a glorious musical acquaintance!

    Though the term "Baroque" carries so many implications of over-ornamentation, the music of the period is really quite disciplined and orderly. That lavishness-within-constraints is what makes it so fascinating to me.

    What lovely books - the illustrations remind me very much of Maurice Sendak's work. And that spiderweb photo is sublime.

    Mlle. Mellow Autumn makes me long for a pair of purple woolen trousers, a beribboned sweater, and a cup of hot chocolate. Have a wonderful weekend! :)

    1. Yes, you are quite right, Sue, about the disciplined and orderly nature of Baroque music in many ways BUT the French and Italian composers revelled in ornamentation. I have an exquisite score of Philidor's music for Flute, Oboe, etc. and visually you can see the heavy ornamentation added to the melody. A Baroque musician can get addicted to this. I'll show you some pictures of this score soon.

      Have a good weekend. Are you still cycling?

    2. Only twice in the last two weeks ... it's been extremely windy. I took a ride today, but the wind was too bitingly cold for much enjoyment. (I don't have the proper gear for cold-weather riding.)

      I'll look forward to the score photos.

  21. Dearest Stephanie, another squeal of glee when I see your post in my google reader..clap hands happily as I open it up. You are so good at telling tales in your posts and I'm never quite sure where we'll go. Baroque oboe today, well well! I love mademoiselle mellow autumn and her wooly jumper. I'm saving my pennies for a little hare of my own (I have no chance of stealing mme chocolate away)!! have a lovely colorful weekend, c

  22. Hello, thank you for stopping by my blog. I think your bunnies are fantastic. You are so talented. They all have such character! xx

  23. Dearest Stephanie...To become bored whilst reading your posts is an absurd concept indeed! To visit with you is simply a delight...rather like stepping into a magical, faraway land. Where else might one meet Autumn Hares and Baroque musicians...view kaleidoscope landscapes, and take joy in enchanting illustrations? Your writings and photographs bring happiness to all, with a desire and anticipation for more.
    Sending love and hugs from here...
    Judy xox

  24. It doesn't surprise me that Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn has been snapped up by a lucky new owner! She is beautiful in every way. The yarn of her cardigan is quite similar to the yarn I'm knitting with at the moment. It's taking forever to finish, I knit in short bursts and then collapse in tiredness each evening!
    Once again the illustrations you show us here are enchanting! I really love the top image too of the marionettes, I've always had a fascination for them! Have a wonderful weekend Stephanie. :)
    Jess xx
    Jess xx

  25. What a wonderfully atmospheric post, your images and words ooze Autumn, I love it! My daughter plays the clarinet, I can't even get a note out of it, so your poor aching cheeks, I can only imagine! And your beautiful rabbit, she's adorable! Have a lovely weekend! Ada :)

  26. Yet again you strike a chord. I love baroque music but can feel overwhelmed and oppressed by baroque architecture. How can that be? Both must reflect a particular sensibility which must surely not be so far apart, but that is how it feels.

  27. How wonderful! I Love that you all these rich experiences, richness is something i associate with Baroque as well (as well as the bad joke 'if it's not baraoque, don't fix it!') The costumes you've shown are amazing...the colors are truly autumnal. And love the photo of the spider's web, and your pretty autumn bunny! Hope you're having a wonderful October!

  28. What a special and educating post! I love your blog Stephanie!

    Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn is really elegant and a cup of hot chocolate with tiny melted marshmallows sounds delicious.

    La Cabane du Pecheur is one of my favorites! Samedi Soir Sur La Terre is another one I love; he narrates the story so naturally... Apres c'est une histoire classique...

    Enjoy your weekend in beautiful France! :)

  29. Hi Stephanie, thanks for your comment! I love Fairie-ality too! I also ADORE your hares, they are amazing! I'm so glad I found your blog too will be following!

  30. Bored is not a word I would use to describe this beautiful space Stephanie. You never cease to amaze me with your flowing, loving descriptions of what you love and that is so evident in your words. I love Baroque music and would love to see some live orchestra's playing this oppulant and rich music. As for your creation I am in awe. Wow, such detail to attention and beautiful clothes, that yarn for her jumper is super scrumdidlly-umptious, so autumnal and perfect for Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn to gather berries in. I want to wander with her today and feel the sun on our backs as we embrace Autumn xox Penelope

  31. A beautiful new hare! I love her colours. Nice to know that I'm not the only lover of Baroque opera. Can't really stomach anything later than Mozart when it comes to opera. The Baroque instruments are fascinating. I went to the Bate Collection in Oxford this summer, and they have a whole load of things like this. I just wish I could play (with) them...

    Ali x

  32. what a feast of beautifully baroque images Stephanie, Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn is particularly lovely and so cosy looking in her woolly jumper. I love the pear embroidery too x

  33. My darling Stephanie,

    I hope you know how fantastic you make me feel when you come to visit me. I just adore you and your work and ethics. Your whimsical feel for creativity is the world I long to stay in always, on this earth.

    Oh I am on Facebook! Now to find each other! I am rather new and absent from FB only because I spend more time on Blogger, speaking of which YES MY DEAR, I have noticed that there has been a LULL on blogger lately. I noticed it off and on during September, perhaps due to people getting the children back to school. Now it seems that some dear bloggers have STOPPED blogging as well, which truly saddens me.

    I also noticed a huge drop in Etsy. What about you? I learned something from YOU when I saw that you had sold your rabbit so swiftly. I have so much to learn about selling; I am out of my element in a way, as a BUSINESS person, but am ever enjoying being an artist. Let us both remain on the same wavelength, the same pattern of thinking only of bring joy to those who appreciate OUR JOY as we create from our hearts.

    SO let's find one another on FB, OK?

    Yes, isn't that photo of the silver mermaid dress just stunning? Oh the possibilities of creativity!

    Be well ma chère amie! Anita


    I will go now to find you on FB...I hope I am successful as I am not too good on navigating around FB!

    YES, we must connect because there has to be a better way to get out there. I HAVE HOWEVER, made THREE SALES TODAY thanks to Tina at The Enchanted Home!!

    OK, now off to find you. LOVE, Anita

  35. Oh Stephanie - I simply love Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn, her colours are just perfect.

    Happy Autumn,

    Nina x

  36. My, my, my Stephanie, what a lovely post--every bit of it.

    I believe Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn and I are kindred spirits. I can see myself wearing a larger version of her cozy miniature sweater knit in exactly that yarn, sipping hot chocolate dotted with miniature marshmallows... and those ears! Simply gorgeous. I cannot wait to meet her friends. :D

    Janine xox

  37. Never boring!!! You always have the most interesting blog posts, and your Autumn hare is just lovely! Love the little stitched fruit on her ear and ankle.

  38. As I read your baroque post, I kept thinking about the book The Night Circus. A curious read. Your little bunny is adorable - I'm glad he's found another loving home. Gosh, girl, you are talented!

  39. You are extremely talented! The autumn hare is beautiful and so creative. Mahalo for your lovely comment on my blog. My daughter, who wants to learn French and go to pastry school in France, was delighted I had a new follower who's from France and named Stephanie too.

  40. Hi Stephanie, you live such an interesting life, filled with beautiful surroundings and enchanting experiences! I am not familiar with Montrésor's children's book illustrations so thanks for sharing that!

  41. Enchantment indeed Madame Millefeuilles!...How I would love to sip tea by the fire with the exquisite Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn too...I am drifting off to my workroom entranced...
    Happy Wednesday!
    Susan x

  42. Another beautiful and beauty-filled post... sigh. I studied classical clarinet and love Baroque style music. Those instruments are gorgeous, Stephanie!
    And I am not the least bit surprised that Mademoiselle Mellow Autumn has already found a home. What a sweet companion to share hot cocoa with! :)
    Enjoy your beautiful autumn - and thank you for your sweet words over at my little blog.

  43. Stephanie, how could one be bored, when there is always such interesting stuff going on over here. I can't say that I know much about Baroque Opera, but I like the costumes. I also like the flowing lines of Baroque furnitue. Your little rabbit is a delight, with her cosy sweater and groovy purple trousers.

    Thank you so very much for your visit and really kind comments, they are so very much appreciated. With much love, Linda x

  44. dear stephanie,
    i've been traveling and just now catching up. your post is fascinating and has gotten me thinking more than i ever have about baroque, not realizing that i must love it too! the intricate detail is so appealing and the history makes me want to know more. thank you for the link to Beni Montrésor's books, i'll have a look, and i'll look for them here too.
    and miss mellow autumn. oh my GOODNESS. :)
    i hope you are having a lovely weekend. xxx lori

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