Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fabulously Quirky Illustrator Maira Kalman

At the Anthropologie “library” recently, I found Maira Kalman’s “And the Pursuit of Happiness,” a quirky tome that chronicles America’s history in a diary-like fashion. I love Kalman's work, particularly when she takes inspiration from the French. 
This is the beautiful Marie-Thérèse-Louise de Savoie-Carignan, Princesse de Lamballe. When Marie Antoinette became Queen of France, she was appointed "Superintendent of the Queen's Household", the highest rank possible for a lady-in-waiting at Versailles. She was killed in the massacres of September 1792 during the French Revolution. J'adore her coiffure. 
Here is Kalman's take on bouchées à la reine, small flaky pastries filled with savories. This recipe dates back to Leszczynska Marie, wife of Louis XV, and literally means "queen's mouthfuls."
Here we have Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart, nicknamed "Nannerl," who was the oldest sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She played harpsichord and fortepiano, and inspired her brother in music. 
This is the "Bombe Comtesse Marie," a version of the French dessert called the bombe glacée. I don't know to which "Comtesse Marie" this one refers. It suspect it is Marie Joséphine of Savoy, Comtesse de Provence, wife of Louis XVIII of France. The earliest English recipe for this spectacular dessert is in Borella's "The Court and Country Confectioner" (London, 1770).
Here is a charming portrait of a children's party on the Siene, inspired by the photo of the same name by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Pure whimsy, Kalman style! 
For more Kalman, she has a fabulous blog at She also has an art show currently running (through July 31, 20110) at The Jewish Museum of New York City called "Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World). 


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