Friday, September 22, 2017

Dollhouses of Death ...

My life is filled with thoughts of theatre and film - music and traveling - art and creation. But, my good friends know the dark little secret in the confines of my non-public persona: I'm fascinated and intrigued with the phenomena of serial killers.
These are the people who know my home library is stuffed with books on serials killers and bizarre murder schemes and true crime tales of the people who almost got away it! It's rare when I pick up one of these books that I can stop before reaching the last page!
If I'm going to a film, often my guilty pleasure will be a gruesome tale of a demented mind with serial killing thoughts running through his head. No question, Se7en, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman is one of my all-time favorite movies. (gasp! Even more than a good film noir - though there is much they have in common!)
And, these same people know not to call, text or Facebook me during my favorite tv show hours each week, because when Criminal Minds or American Horror Story is on, that's where I'll be!
Always, however, I found the game of Clue fell a bit flat. I wanted more from the murder mansion’s one-dimensional floor plan, and really, how were we ever supposed to solve crime with a cast of suspects crafted into tiny plastic tokens?

But it turns out, around the very same time that the iconic American board game was being developed in the 1940s, forensics detectives were being trained for real crime scene investigation in a similar, miniaturized fashion, with the help of a special collection of dollhouses.
Frances Glessner Lee, also known as “the mother of forensic science” crafted a series of perfectly proportioned dioramas that turned children’s dollhouses into macabre nightmares– all in the name of science. Going into far more gory detail than your average Clue game, Lee’s miniature crime scenes were part of a department of legal medicine that she established at Harvard University in 1945. The department was called the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, named after the principles of forensic investigation, “to convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”
At a time when forensic science was still in its infancy, Lee was hosting week-long seminars and lectures in homicide investigation for law enforcement’s finest, inviting detectives, prosecutors and investigators from around the world to study 20 intricately designed dollhouse dioramas based on true crime scenes and autopsies she had visited.
 Armed with magnifying glasses and flashlights, students were given 90 minutes to study each scene and tasked with collecting all the relevant evidence.

The dollhouses were filled with clues and mousetraps, and the doll corpses extremely detailed, often depicted with discoloration or bloating, often observed by Lee during real-life autopsies.
An apparent suicide comes into question when one of the victim’s shoes can be discovered around the corner of the diaroma. Another victim shows tiny bite marks on her neck and chest.
Far removed from a little girl’s make-believe world, dolls commonly represented real-life victims of domestic violence and prostitution– on a 1:12 scale.
Frances Glessner Lee was not your average forensic science enthusiast. Daughter of a wealthy Chicago industrialist, she was educated at home, prohibited from attending college, while her brother went off to Harvard. When he brought home a classmate who studied medicine, specialising in death investigation at Harvard, it sparked Lee’s early curiosity in forensic pathology.
Dissuaded from pursuing her new interest, she spent most of her life playing the role of a Chicagoan socialite, marrying and divorcing a wealthy lawyer, before inheriting the family fortune at the age of 52 following the death of her brother. With her new found freedom, she used her inheritance to endow the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine, the first in the country, as well as the the Harvard Associates in Police Science, a national organization for the furtherance of forensic science.
Perhaps inspired by the perfectionism of her father, an avid collector of fine furniture, her crime scene dollhouses cost up to $4,500 to create, also funded by her inheritance. When students finished their week-long seminars at the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, they were treated to a banquet at the Ritz Carlton, courtesy of Miss Lee.
After her own (non-violent) death of old age in 1966, the Nutshell department was closed and permanently loaned to the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. where they are still used for training purposes by Harvard Associates in Police Science enrolled in the Frances Glessner Lee Homicide School. For this reason, the Nutshell Studies, tiny crime scene have sat virtually undisturbed for more than 70 years, are not open to the public.

There are more photos where you can take a closer look at the scenes here

 Be sure to see all the other hop participants on Beverly's Pink Saturday!

 Now, you go make something beautiful!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´ 
(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥
 Police bulletin regarding the famous "Black Dahlia" murder case, still unsolved. The case has fascinated officials and the public for many decades. There have been many books written about, and at least three films about the case - the latest, "The Black Dahlia" starred Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart and Scarlett Johansson.

Monday, September 18, 2017

May I Introduce the Countess de Castiglione ...

(As always on Enchanted Revelries, you can click an image to see a larger photo)
She wasn’t the most likeable character of her time. Once rumoured to be the most beautiful woman in 19th century Europe, a queen of both style and drama; model, mistress, self-appointed muse, narcissist; if there’s one thing to know about the Italian Countess de Castiglione– it’s that she was seriously vain. Shipped off to Paris in 1856 to compete for the affection of the reigning King Napoleon III, she wasted no time weaving herself into a highly scandalous affair with the crown, all the while cultivating her own celebrity through hundreds of elaborate, self-directed photo shoots. At a time when photography was still in its infancy, the Countess had a body of work that could be compared to Kim Kardashian’s selfie collection. It was her vanity and obsession with her own beauty that came to define her entire lifestyle, around which her status, identity, and ultimately her demise, revolved. A cautionary tale of a woman who thought her beauty would last forever…
Introduced to French society as a mysterious chess piece, she existed as a promiscuous wager aimed at securing a profitable rapport between the French and Italian empires. Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione was married by the age of 17 to an Italian count, but upon the command of her calculating and powerful cousin, the Count of Cavour, she was secretly assigned the task of seducing the Emperor of France, right under the nose of her husband.
The Countess of course succeeded, and her newly-found influence and esteem earned her invitation to top-secret meetings with international leaders, her contribution credited for the enduring security of numerous Western nations. When she was called to meet the Prince of Prussia, She may have even convinced Otto von Bismarck to spare Paris from a Prussian occupation after the Franco-Prussian War.
Virginia Oldoini, however, was quick to retreat from the intelligence, wit and feminine strength bestowed upon her character, instead becoming absorbed by intense vanity for the duration of both her public and private life.
 La Castiglione’s time in Paris was marked by an intense, bordering on narcissistic, obsession with her image. Intrigued by the relatively uncharted photographic medium, she independently approached the studio of Mayer & Pierson, whose atelier on the Boulevard des Capucines was worshipped by the highest strata of Parisian society. This relationship ultimately produced over 400 portraits, a quantity unheard of for the time, due to the sheer experimental, laborious and economic investment (of her husband) required to realize a single gelatin print.
Devoted to immortalising the beauty of her prosperous youth, she staged a series of intricate scenes meant to evoke both exact and symbolic moments from her life. Each image was accentuated by lavish costumes, staging and poses which were extremely innovative, non-traditional and surreal; a daring artistic trait that added dimension to the air of mystery surrounding her identity.

 Despite the divine facade; her porcelain-like exterior and theatrical style many women envied and strived to emulate; the Countess was universally disliked. She had few friends and almost never spoke to women. Her husband had left her after just three years of marriage, returning to Italy furious and bankrupt.

Many first-hand accounts of Castiglione describe an arrogant and “disturbing” character, noting that “her motives were unclear”. Even if the Countess was a pioneer of early photography or an artist in her own right, no one particularly felt like giving her the credit for it.
 As her precious looks faded and she began to age, Castiglione locked herself away from all eyes, including her own. During this period of mourning that would extend to the terminus of her life, she became a recluse within her apartment at Place Vendôme, one whose mirrors had been banished and whose every surface dripped in funeral black.
 She would only leave the apartment at night, occasionally returning to her photo studio to attempt another photo project, which would later be described by critics as even more morbid and deranged than her earlier portraits.
She died in Paris at the age of sixty two and was given an unremarkable tombstone in the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Before her death, she had been valiantly trying to land herself an exhibit of her photographs at the 1900 World Exposition, a show that never was, entitled “The most Beautiful Woman of the Century.”

Now, go make something beautiful!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´

(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥
 A close up of one of the Countess' gowns created for a photo session. It cost the
current equivalent of $18,000.  The fabric of the gown was covered with a gold gilt 'film' so that it would
gleam in the photograph.
It was never worn again.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Oh, Baby, It's a Pink Cadillac ...

 Bruce Springsteen "Pink Cadillac"

Aretha Franklin "Riding on the Freeway of Love in a Pink Cadillac"

Jerry Lee Lewis "Pink Cadillac"

Natalie Cole "Pink Cadillac"
Child's Toy Pink Cadillac - Operates Like a Tricycle
1/24 Scale Model Die Cast Metal Model Car
 1959 - Jada Toys Big Time Kustoms
 1959 Pink Cadillac deVille Convertible Christmas Ornament
1969 Hallmark Classic Car Collectible
Elvis' 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60
1/24 Scale Model by Greenlight Collectible Model Cars

Now, go visit all the other bloggers who are hopping through Beverly's Pink Saturday ...

and then go make something beautiful!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´

(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥
Elvis and Pink Cadillac Cookie Jar