Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Formosa: Elisabet Ney (1833-1907) and the Loveliness of Things

Elisabet Ney (1833-1907) was born in Germany, died in Texas, and married Edmund Montgomery, a Scotsman, in between. They were "x" people -- of artistic, Bohemian dispositions, dancing to the sound of their own music. Elisabet is best known as a sculptor. She also created a mini-legend by linking herself to Michel Ney (1769-1815), her supposed "great uncle," maréchal d’Empire. Just as fellow artist Nella Fontaine Binckley (1860-1951) recalibrated her birthday from 1860 (real) to 1877 (fictionalized), Elisabet seems to have successfully confused posterity about her kinship with Marshal Ney. Nice work! 

Here's a sample of Elisabet Ney's philosophy in her own words: "Shall not our surroundings . . . become transformed into scenes beautiful to behold . . .? Shall not out dwellings, our public buildings, our factories, our gardens, our parks, reflect in reality the loveliness of our artist[ic] dreams?

The more our sensibility for loveliness of things is nurtured and the more lovely our surroundings are made the more lovely and joyful our souls will grow."

And from Ney's husband, the Scotsman:

"In moments of keenest ideal insight, when gazing with intense self-forgetfulness into the abysmal profundity of being, where all likes joshed in silent awe, then, suddenly, strangely the sense of our own little self intrudes into inner light . . . filling with world deep significance the whole fathomless reach of consciousness, where it feels indissolubly melted into one with the essence of reality."
"We who have loosened our religious skiff from traditional moorings are much in need of a scientific elucidation of this unmistakable inner experience." (Edmund Montgomery). 
Ney window. "Formosa" (which means "beautiful" in Portuguese) was the name Elisabet Ney gave to her studio in Austin, Texas. It remains intact, on a nice bit of protected land. Here's a link to the museum.

Today's Rune: Partnership.   


Charles Gramlich said...

I guess I always thought that if I had enough money I'd live this way. but maybe that life comes first, then money

Erik Donald France said...

It's pretty groovy, for sure.