Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Over a decade after her death, the popularity of Princess Diana of Wales has never been stronger. This was recently highlighted last month when Lord Justice Scott Baker went to court over an investigation into her fatal accident with companion Dodi Fayed. During the early portion of the trial, it came to light that photos
existed of the ex-wife of Prince Charles' final moments.

A group known as Rotten, who runs a Web site composed primarily of self-professed "disturbing illustrations", released an image entitled Death of a Princess. While its authenticity has been called into question, the amount of media attention given to the subject matter is indicative of the sustained interest in the private life of the long deceased former princess. If you happen to be one of those people still fascinated by her, but don't want to look at pictures quite so graphic and depressing in nature, Chaucer Press has a much more pleasing option.

Lovingly complied by London, England native Mem Mehmet, Diana in Art is a coffee table book of compiled sketches, pictures and other art works involving the most popular princess of the 20th century – Grace Kelly possibly excluded. For those of you unfamiliar with Mehmet's 2004 release, Madonna in Art, the artist has claimed that due to his previous vocation in the travel industry, he has been afforded a rare
opportunity to visit museums, galleries, exhibitions and installations throughout the world. Familiarizing himself with the best works of such famous women, he has demonstrated a deft touch in creating easily accessible discussion pieces. Through his diligence, the reader is afforded the experience of countless museum visits in a single sitting.

Diana in Art generally features a pair of handsome photographs on each page. Alongside these memorable works of art, there is some sort of quote or description of the woman behinds the images from a person who knew her intimately. Designers, authors, relatives, and employees all offer a rare glimpse into the woman with one of the most recognizable faces of our age. Mehmet has managed to personalize the work. His meticulous selection of the various works is indicative of attention
to detail rare for such a coffee table book.

In case you are wondering, Mehmet does include several comments that address the elephant in the living room that was her death. Everyone from Elton John to Dan Rather is quoted about how Princess Diana's death affects them as well their jobs. The effect is not one of shameless commercialization of the tragedy but rather a demonstration of its ramifications on the people close to her as well as those who
simply admired her from afar.

The end result is a respectful, insightful series of illustrations exemplifying how many artists were taken by the down to the earth nature of the woman who stole the heart of Prince Charles and Dodi Fayed. Diana in Art strikes me as a great holiday gift idea if there is someone in your family who was drawn to the tragic princess. To
wit, I've already got a copy of the book wrapped up and under the Christmas tree, knowing full well it's going to make someone very happy on Christmas Eve.


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