Category: names from the arts
By Linda Rosenkrantz
It’s not unusual to find interesting and creative names among the leading figures in all spheres of the arts, but there’s a really stellar group to be found among notable architects. International in scope, and looked at across time, here are some of the most intriguing first and last name examples–any of which you might want to consider if you’re an architecture aficionado—or if there’s an architect in your family.
Addison Mizner was one of the key developers of Florida resort architecture, Spanish Revival style. Mizner was born in 1872, when Addison was strictly a boys’ name—it didn’t begin to take off for girls until 1994, but still can make a valid patronymic choice for a boy.
Cass Gilbert was an early proponent of the Beaux Arts style skyscraper, designing, among others, the Woolworth Building in New York—the world’s tallest building at the time. He was named for a statesman-relative called Lewis Cass, but the name stands well on its own as a first. Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel about a judge called Cass Timberlane.
Decimus Burton was a prolific nineteenth century English architect and garden designer whose works included buildings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens and the London Zoo. Decimus is one of the old Latin numeral names that adventurous babynamers are beginning to consider.
Creative baby names can be more than names you invent: The category can include names from literature, the arts, and even photography. You could consider a related word name–the late tennis champion Arthur Ashe and his photographer wife named their daughter Camera– and we’ve also heard of at least one little girl called Leica, after the iconic brand.
Much better though to turn to the names of the greats in the field for artistic inspiration. Here are the Nameberry Picks of the 12 Best –meaning of course the most creative baby names.
Andreas Feininger, Gursky
Ansel is very much associated with this great photographer of the American West, and could serve as a tribute to him in the middle spot. The name Ansel is related to the German Anselm, which happens to be the name of another artist, Anselm Kiefer.
August has been heating up in Hollywood–used by Mariska Hargitay, Lena Olin and Jeanne Tripplehorn, (and by Garth Brooks for his daughter), and is rapidly becoming the preferred month name for boys. August has two august literary namesakes: playwrights August Strindberg and August Wilson.
One of the romantic vintage names now on the cusp of a revival, Dorothea means ‘gift of God’ (it’s the reverse of Theodora), and its literary heritage includes Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of the George Eliot novel Middlemarch.
This is a name with four legitimate spellings—depending on how many consonants you want to use. One of the increasingly popular E-boy names, its namesakes include such variously spelled Elliotts as Roosevelt, Ness, Gould, and Spitzer
Adam has faded, but sweet, simple Eve (forget the one in All About Eve) is being appreciated anew these days. It’s biblical but without a heavy religious feel, short but strong, has musical cred via singer Eve, and it’s even a palindrome. Actor Clive Owen chose it for his daughter.
Felix, which means happy and fortunate, would make a felicitous choice, now that it’s thrown off the old negative associations with Felix the Cat and the overly fastidious half of The Odd Couple, Felix Unger. The name of four popes and 67 saints, it’s currently a Top 10 choice in Europe.
In early Disney cartoons, characters had silly, alliterative names like Horace Horsefeather, and Clarabelle Cow. The first character name to actually catch on with parents was Bambi–a male deer that became a popular namesake for girls. More recently, the real winners have been Princess names: The Little Mermaid’s Ariel reached #66 on the popularity lists two years after the movie’s release and Jasmine from Aladdin has gotten as high as #23. Other Disney heroine names, like Belle (Beauty and the Beast) have also been boosted by their Disney connections.
Adelaide—The dramatic Madame Adelaide Bonfamille is one of the few human characters in The Aristocats. When actress Rachel Griffiths picked the name for her daughter, she said she’d been inspired by the Australian city, Miss Adelaide in Guys & Dolls and, yes, the Disney character.
Aurora – Aurora was the name of the princess in the 1959 Sleeping Beauty, but is only now rising in popularity. In ancient mythology, Aurora was the lovely Roman goddess of the dawn, whose tears turned into the morning dew. In the Disney film, her alternate name was Briar Rose, a combination sometimes adopted by modern parents.
Bianca –Miss Bianca was an elegant mouse (voiced by Eva Gabor) in the 1977 The Rescuer. The Italian version of Blanche, this still somewhat exotic name was brought to prominence by the first Mrs. Mick Jagger, and features in two Shakespeare plays. Actress Tia Carrere chose it for her daughter.
Eudora – This name of Tiana’s mother in Princess and the Frog, who was voiced by Oprah Winfrey, is one Old Lady Name that hasn’t yet been revived, but certainly could, along with others like others like Amelia and Adeline. It was long associated with Southern writer Eudora Welty.
Flynn Rider is the dashing bandit who eventually marries Rapunzel in Tangled. At one point it is revealed that his real name Eugene—not the coolest of names. But Flynn (think Errol) is a charming Irish surname name with a lot of the appeal of the popular Finn.
Gideon—Though Gideon may be a crafty villain in Pinocchio, his name has quite the opposite image. In the Old Testament Gideon was both a judge and military leader of the Israelites, and his name is one of those rising on the Biblical popularity list.
Today’s Question of the Week: Is there a name from a book you read when you were younger that made enough of an impression on you that you’ve loved it ever since?
(After all, at least some of those hundreds of new babies being named Atticus must have some connection to that inspirational lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird and all those recent little Holdens to that cynical adolescent Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye—whether conscious or not.)
So think back—can you trace your long-standing attraction for a particular name to an impression it made on you at an impressionable age?
Anyone out there who actually has used such a name for their child?