THE FIRST BIOGRAPHY OF THE LIFE OF BRIDGET BATE TICHENOR - Chapter 8, The Maharaja's Emerald Button | Paintings | Religion And Belief


TX, PA, PAU COPYRIGHTS 2006 & 2009 Writers Guild Registration TX 1382590 2008


Derived from “Bridget Bate Tichenor – The Mexican Magic Realist Painter” TX, PA, PAU COPYRIGHTS 1990, 2000, 2006, & 2009 TXU 1 321 112 11/6/06 By

Zachary Selig

Bridget Bate Tichenor – Copyright Estate of George Platt Lynnes 1945


INTRODUCTION The mesmerizing story of the Magical Realist painter Bridget Bate Tichenor has not been told. It is not just a story. It is an extraordinary and riveting story of a remarkable female artist who impacted the 20th Century world of fashion, art, and society with enormous contributions. Revealed are the intimacies and secrets of an outwardly beautiful, exotic, bold, and courageous, yet painfully shy and reclusive woman who lived in extraordinary times, hither to the unknown world or her peers and colleagues. Bridget’s life was led in an astonishing way in many contrasting countries and in many revolutionary platforms on a level of excellence that has not been recognized or acknowledged outside small eccentric art circles. Bridget adhered to rarefied and noble standards of human pride, integrity, respect, discipline, and compassion. These humane traits she honored above all else in life. Bridget’s impeccable personal values in tandem with her determination and prioritization to execute her artistic vision are the essence of her story, which creates historical value as her world message. Bridget inherited a peripatetic world from her self-absorbed, famous, and creatively gifted parents that fueled deep insecurities fed by fears of abandonment. Subsequently, she reinvented herself by necessity and by choice to mold herself into the world that she needed to fit into at any given time in order to survive.

Bridget's mother, Vera Bate Lombardi (Sarah Gertrude Baring Arkwright Fitzgeorge Bate Lombardi) was an indomitable combination of beauty and bravado with the highest connections. From 1925-1939, Vera became CoCo Chanel's muse and social advisor and liaison to several European Royal Families. Her demeanor and style influenced the 'English Look’, the very foundation for the House of Chanel. The beautiful, noble, artistic, and rich are different and misunderstood or condemned, yet granted societal privileges few receive. These very qualities that embodied her unique style influenced and were copied by some of the greatest names of the 20th century, who were capable of creating a mass appeal through their vision that she ignited. She was loved and envied, but most of all she was awe-inspiring. Bridget had an amazing and tragic multidimensional life that was filled with an arranged marriage, fantasies, true loves, romantic and professional rivalries, artistic achievements, mysticism, perfectionism, and shattered dreams. All of which was portrayed in the most glamorous world settings with famous personalities and eccentric nobility that she orchestrated into a dramatic metaphysical theater of magical relationships. Her controversial royal illegitimate background overshadowed her profound artistry and her sense of self worth. In her era and society, it was important to be of royal lineage. Her achievement in the art world was diminished by who she was as an illegitimate royal family member, her ravishing beauty, her refined intelligence, and her commanding personality. Her controversial background was more important and interesting to her friends, which graciously made her celebrated and received on one hand, yet made her hide how great an artist she was on the other

and never acknowledged. This is why she was so shy about showing who she was as a superlative painter. She compartmentalized her life. She was deathly afraid to remove her complex multiple masks and reveal not only her precious art, but also her deepest intimate feelings to others. She was validated only by those relationships that had a higher profile than she, so that she could retreat behind her provocatively mysterious and seductive persona to hide her acute vulnerability. She was difficult to get to know, guarded, and very secretive. She revealed certain things to socially survive, while withholding her poetically rich emotional and spiritual communications to focus through her dedicated relationship with her sacred and sovereign art. She had a genius gift of observation and execution in cryptic detail, both in her character and painting. Bridget painted for herself, and not for commercial gain or notoriety. Bridget Bate Tichenor’s life and art lifted Mexican art up to new high point. She was a European royal that was a part of an international society, who rejected her privileged upbringing and background for self-realization and expression as a female artist in rural Michoacan. Bridget reflected the inherent value of Mexico as a mystical ancient cultural magnet filled with authentic artistic and spiritual mosaics of chiascurro passions. Bridget spiritually adopted me and I became her protégé in 1971. Among her many gifts, she benevolently trained me in drawing and painting, introducing me to ancient occult religions, which included many lost esoteric sciences and eschatology of Egyptian, Hindu Tantrika, and Mesoamerican Magic and Alchemy. She fed my hunger to learn, and I became her consummate student in a world that had received a death rattle to classically trained artists.

The trajectory in this biography is about the journey of metamorphous we shared together as friends, what Bridget considered important and unimportant, how we impacted each other’s lives, and what each of us gained from our rapport. Bridget’s character is discovered through my eyes and what she taught me, because I had to be taught. The story follows the changing arcs in our characters through the alchemy of our bond. It is a beautiful recovery love story between two people who were destined to have a sacred relationship. Bridget’s life stories were one of her great legacies that she imparted to me during the 19 years of our relationship. Over 20 years ago, I began to research and document a small portion of these elaborate, and many times confusing, historical events and their interplay as she told them. In most cases, she would use a particular aspect of her life, a family member, friend, or someone she admired in story telling as an example to teach me something she felt I needed to learn. Bridget’s long and entertaining monologues focused on definitive standards and values she felt imperative I absorb. There was a ‘lesson to be learned’ in every story, which was one of her intimate ways of expressing her love to me. To some that knew her superficially or were envious, she appeared to exaggerate or embellish only to discover that what she said was true, to others that were awe-stricken by her and did not know the obscure details of her secreted life, she was labeled an ‘aristocratic artist’, and to those few that knew her well, she was a loyal friend, wise teacher, and genius painter. Just before her death, I promised Bridget that she would be known to the world. -Zachary Selig


Chapter 8 The Maharaja’s Emerald Button During the 1970’s Bridget began to spend more time in New York and Bridgehampton, L.I. at the homes of her dear friend Countess Bachu Worontzow, a stoic and regal East Indian Maharani lesbian, who was the most gracious and kind female friend of Bridget's. Bachu had been an unpretentious Rock of Gibraltar in Bridget’s life and they were the best of friends since Paris and London in 1930’s. There were a number of trips that Bridget and I traveled to New York from Mexico together in the 1970’s, where I would meet more of her old friends. I was living in Mexico City at the time, and would drive to Contembo to pick Bridget up. After a cold night’s sleep at the ranch with only coffee for breakfast, we would then drive straight through from Ario to San Antonio, Texas in one day. Bridget insisted that we eat only hard-boiled eggs, hard bolello bread, and sip Tequila for the long road trips. We would then fly from Texas to New York for a couple of weeks. Pedro and Vanda Friedeberg would meet us sometimes in New York. Upon our return to Texas, we would shop for the items one could not get in Mexico, while staying at my family’s ranch in Gonzales, Texas near San Antonio. It was during these long trips when we were alone that Bridget would detail her life stories. Bridget socialized with her friends sculptor Bessie Rockefeller de Cuevas, Vogue Editor Babs Simpson, Vogue Editor D.D. Ryan, author Tennessee Williams, photographer Horst, painter Paul

Cadmus, jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane, and Jo Carstairs. Her many friends from London, including Lady Sarah Spencer Churchill and Lord Anthony Snowdon, would come to visit Bridget as she held court in Bachu’s impeccably appointed Regency townhouse on East 61st Street. Bridget made extraordinary entrances. She would descend the Baccarat crystal stair rail with solid gold fittings at Bachu’s dressed in a basic tailored man’s black shirt with a man’s scarf around her neck, tight black jeans with a silver buckled belt, simple flat black riding boots, thick black false eyelashes, vermillion orange lipstick, a loose mane of long thick grey hair held in place with two large tortoise-shell combs, with cigarette in her left hand that had an array of mystical rings on almost every finger that included a large maharaja’s emerald button, and a shot of tequila in her other hand. She glided like a prima ballerina into lavish and glittering cocktail and seated dinner parties held every night in her honor to greet her friends. By the end of the evening, filled with too much tequila and Brandy, when the old Cecil Beaton and Horst photograph albums would come out, a jealous fight would evolve between Bachu’s lover Jackie Rae and Bridget. The catfights were fueled by Bridget or instigated from Jackie’s jealousy of the attention Bachu and Jackie’s x-lover Jo Carstairs showered upon Bridget. Bridget cherished these precious friends that were Café society remnants of glamorous eras, which Bachu effortlessly orchestrated in elaborate theatrical productions. In 1978, she and Jo Carstairs were photographed in the studio of photographer Francesco Scavullo and his lover Sean Byrnes through my introduction for the book “Scavullo” Harper & Row. Francesco was a dear friend, who I first met through his lover Sean when Sean was an editor at Interview with Warhol in 1972. I later

introduced him to Margaux Hemingway in 1974, then we became good friends during the De Laurentis filming of Lipstick in LA 1975, and later in 1978 I brought Bridget and Jo Carstairs to him to photograph for his first “Scavullo” book. Bridget had known Scavullo since he was Horst’s assistant in the 1930’s, but had not seen him in years. I reunited them in New York by inviting Scavullo and Sean to Bachu’s cocktail parties. Sean fell in love with Bridget and insisted Francesco photograph her. Jo Carstairs was another friend of Bridget’s that caught their eye, who was the former lover of Marlene Deitrich and British lesbian Standard Oil heiress enigma since the 1920’s that owned the island of Whale Cay in the Bahamas. Bridget and Scavullo became friends, and we would go together to Studio 54 with Dee Dee Ryan, Kenny Lane, and Halston. For many years, I spent Christmas with Francesco and Sean at their fabulous carriage house on E. 63rd St. There were summers in the 1970’s that Bridget and I would be in Long Island, and she would stay at Bachu’s in Bridgehampton and I at Scavulllo’s in Southampton. Bridget loved New York most of all, but had few options presented to change residence. She had great hopes with the prospect of a new marriage in 1982 to a much older Italian Prince that was a friend of her mother’s in Italy. Bridget stated in her letters to me in1982, after her son’s death, and the indigenous squatters that claimed her land, “F____g invaders of Contembo – I’ll try to sell it for anything – a shame, as it is truly one of the most beautiful places I ‘ve ever seen. I always despised family, but now? Crave it and envy all of the “tribes”. I suppose I had this super egocentric idea that I could create my own non-blood family, but people are still so scared and here we are rushing into the 21st Century with 18th Century debauchery and no advancements –

weird – 16th Century infinitely less prejudiced.” She wanted to leave the pain of being forced to move out of her beloved Contembo in 1978, the love lost with Tritton, the struggles perpetuated by her son’s demise behind in Mexico, and resurrect a new life in Europe. She dismantled her favorite possessions in Mexico City and shipped not only her belongings, but also her Chihuahuas and Terriers by cargo ship from Tampico, Mexico to Rome in 1982. Bridget became engaged to her mother’s friend Alberto, a married Italian Prince in Rome in 1982, where she briefly lived at the Hassler Hotel waiting for his divorce that never came. Between 1982 and 1984, Tichenor painted a series of paintings titled Masks, Spiritual Guides, and Dual Deities. Alberto died from a sudden heart attack related to Italian tax stress issues, leaving her destitute, having to sell everything, which ended with her fated return to Mexico in 1984. Bridget was shattered completely.


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