A few seasons ago, a reader of this forum came up with a rather interesting suggestion. She opined that if someone were to assemble a book featuring images of plus-size models juxtaposed with literary texts extolling Classical feminine beauty, the result would be a visual delight--and edifying, besides.
Naturally, we agreed that the concept was splendid, but lamented that the resources required to publish such a book were simply unavailable. (The same stumbling block would undoubtedly exist today.)
Nevertheless, the idea remained with us, and it came to mind again when we chanced upon the following item at an online auction house:
It is a late-1800s collection of sentimental verse set alongside reproductions of works by Angelo Asti, the famous painter of gorgeous models who exhibit the full facial features that are the hallmark of timeless beauty.
And so--just as a little experiment--we decided to assemble a similar page, featuring an image of Barbara Brickner set alongside a beloved poem of English Romanticism, penned by Letitia Elizabeth Landon.
Please click on the image below to view the text at a readable size:
Incidentally, the present author confesses a particular fascination with the above image of Mrs. Brickner, because the garment has such a Classical air about it. It exhibits an organic, "linen look" (although the top is not actually made of that material), the crochet-lace embellishment under the bust resembles a folkloric design, and the cut effectively frames the model's gorgeous arms and neck. Add to that a romantic hairstyle, and most important of all, Barbara's majestic bearing, and the result is one of the most successful artwork-come-to-life images that we have ever seen. One would almost believe that it was Barbara Brickner herself who posed for Praxiteles at Cnidos in 350 B.C., when he sculpted the famous Aphrodite in marble that has survived through the ages as the feminine ideal, despite all modern efforts to diminish it.
We employed this "aged" book template simply for show, but an actual work of this nature would best be realized as a coffee-table tome, printed on glossy paper stock, featuring original images of the models in appropriately timeless settings (e.g., the locations in the "Old World" Saks catalogue, or a bridal-ad environment, such as the one that Lane Bryant featured in its incomparable Spring 2005 campaign).
The success or failure of such a book would depend on one thing alone: an aesthetically appropriate selection of images and poetry. Projects of this nature invariably fail because of the creators'/editors' indiscriminate choice of content. If the texts and images were chosen well, the final result would be a masterpiece for the ages.