Few things delight me better than a porcelain dandy, so I thought I’d assemble a little coterie of elegant specimens from around the coffee houses and country estates of the internet.
This gentleman is one of my favourites, with his hipster-black frockie that looks inspired by a fancy hearse, fine lace, pensive face and delicately arranged hands. Surely even such a creature as he would not strike such a pose, with his hand turned so, if he were alone, so there must be an invisible other in the scene. Is he perhaps about to offer his arm? Or has the other just disengaged herself from him, leaving him sadder but available? Or is he, perhaps, completely mad, wandering among philodendrons in the company of a dead quaintrelle?
This almost elfin dandy is quite the delight with his splendiferous floral ruffles, echoed in a cheeky (yes, pun) panel at the back of his coat, and his mischievous expression. Clearly a man who knows better than to take anything seriously, least of all himself, the item in his hand is described as a purse, so perhaps he is shopping for more ruffles, but I’m not sure it isn’t a box of snuff, or candy, or…well, it could be anything. Perhaps it’s the gift of seeing the world through his Siamese-cat eyes.
Only a bust, but what a bust: this Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel dandy wears his fetish for collars on, well, his collar. From the little white flowers on his shirt to the frill on his necktie to the gold toggles on his coat; from his heavy, benevolently cynical eyes to the bow resembling knotted aspidistra leaves on his hat, he’s a veritable duke of dandies; the outward flounces in no way conceal the firm jaw and proud backbone. Call him a sissy and you’d better know how to shoot.
In contrast, this uncommonly casual dandy not only has his waistcoat but his shirt unbuttoned, and has even lost his cravat; perhaps he kindly gave it to another dandy who had lost his, or else used it in bedroom games, where it fell into a state unfit to be worn. Aside from his tender state of undress, I like his very porcelainity, in that he is painted and gilded more like a china figure being a china figure than a china figure pretending to be a man, giving him a typically dandyish aspect of play between natural and unnatural.
This German Rudolstadt pair of a dandy and his lady attract me with their matching outfits, seemingly intended for camouflage in exceedingly posh country lanes and hedgerows, and his exuberant hair. Healthy rural fashion victims, limber and pink-cheeked, one can see how happily they are captivated by the sounds, sights and scents of nature, by the rush of the wind, and by their own vigorous youth. Their decoration marks them as natives, like the young beau above, of the land of porcelain people.
Of humbler background, I should think, is this Chelsea porcelain youth in pink and yellow (from here) — but what a brave and gorgeous outfit. Is he selling the flowers, or handing them out to people he admires? Could he be Eros, every stem a dart of love?
A joyful Japanese dandy or wakashu, from the Edo period (from here) seems to be showing off his beautiful sleeve to an admirer. “It is hard to imagine men attired in full length kimono’s (sic) embroidered with clusters of flowers,” the commentary says, but personally I have no trouble doing so…
I wonder what’s at stake for this Capodimonte chess-playing carpet knight and his lady friend? Neither seems to have captured a piece yet. Of course, the longer the game, the more time they must spend in each other’s company…
Lastly, a gentleman who I almost didn’t include because the photo isn’t good, but his pose and expression charmed me too much. Not the fanciest dandy of the bunch, or the youngest, his gentle appearance and lifelike quality give me good feelings. I would have him for an uncle, and we would ramble in town and country, visiting all his favourite haunts and discovering new delightful venues. He would buy me hot chocolate, while I would buy him stockings, and at times he would look pensive, as if gazing down the old roads of time at some beloved disturbance in the ether.