Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dolores Costello

Dolores Costello (1903–1979), nicknamed 'The Goddess of the Silent Screen'.

next episode: wedding

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rotterdam City Gates

Ooster Oude Hoofdpoort, Rotterdam, 1848. Build in 1598, demolished in 1856.

Westerse Nieuwe Hoofdpoort or Witte Poort, Rotterdam. Build in 1662-1666, demolished in 1854.

next episode: Delores

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Prince Plon-Plon

Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822–1891), Prince Français, Count of Meudon, Count of Moncalieri ad personam, titular 3rd Prince of Montfort, known as Prince Napoleon, or by his nickname 'Plon-Plon'. He was the second son of emperor Napoleon's elder brother Jérôme Bonaparte.

next episode: Rotterdam

Friday, April 4, 2014

Alfred Stevens - The Painter and his Model

Alfred Stevens - The Painter and his Model (1855)

Alfred Stevens (1823-1906), a native of Brussels, spent much of his career in Paris where he was regarded as one of the most important recorders of the bourgeois and aristocratic levels of la vie moderne. In this early work, a young woman leans over the shoulder of an artist, presumably Stevens himself, who is regarding his unfinished canvas on the easel. Hanging in the background of the studio is a Flemish tapestry showing an Adoration scene.

collection: The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
source: gandalfsgallery.

next episode: Plon-Plon

Monday, March 31, 2014

Henry Sargent & Family

'Henry Winthrop Sargent and His Family', ca. 1850-1853. 
Half-plate daguerreotype by John Adams Whipple.

Source & more info:
next episode: ?

Friday, March 28, 2014

blog birthday

Today I celebrate the 5th anniversary of this blog. You're all invited to eat a virtuel frikandel (a Dutch/Belgium delicacy)

next episode: sundown

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Laconia, New Hampshire

Laconia, New Hampshire, ca 1907 (Detroit Publishing Company).

 Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: ?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sieges of Sevastopol (Crimea)

The destroyed harbor of Sevastopol by Horst Grund, ca. Juli 1942 (Das Bundesarchiv)

During WWII German forces reached Crimea in the autumn of 1941 and overran most of the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol. They started a siege and several attempts were made to secure the city. Soviet forces launched an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch in December 1941 to relieve the siege but were defeated in May 1942 (see previous post).

Present day Sevastopol, a city with 380.000 inhabitants

On 2 June 1942 the Axis launched operation Störfang (Sturgeon Catch) to attacked Sevastopol by land, sea and air. The Soviet Red Army and Black Sea Fleet held out for weeks under intense bombardment. Finally, on 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856) the city of Sevastopol was also under siege.  The city was the home of the Tsar's Black Sea Fleet. The allies (French, Ottoman, and British) landed at Yevpatoria (see penultimate post) in September 1854 with 50,000 men. The 56-kilometre traverse took a year of heavy fighting against the Russians, after which the city was occupied in September 1855.

Sevastopol Artillery Bay view (source: wikipedia)

next episode: ??????

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Unternehmen Trappenjagd

The Battle of the Kerch Peninsula
German advance to the Kerch peninsula, start of May 1942 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv).

The Battle of the Kerch Peninsula (German: Unternehmen Trappenjagd) was a World War II offensive by German and Romanian armies against the Soviet Crimean Front forces defending the Kerch Peninsula, in the eastern part of the Crimea. 

It was launched on May 8, 1942 and concluded around May 18, 1942 with the near complete destruction of the Soviet defending forces. The Red Army lost over 170,000 men killed or taken prisoner, and three armies with twenty-one divisions.

The operation's successful conclusion made it possible for the Axis to launch a successful assault on Sevastopol in the following months.

Russian soldiers escorting German prisoners of war near Kerch, Crimea (presumably April 1944).

next episode: Sevastopol 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Juma-Jami Mosque, Yevpatoria

Juma-Jami Mosque, Yevpatoria (source: Гордов Михаил)

Yevpatoria (or Eupatoria) is a city on the East coast of Crimea. It was founded by the Greeks around 500 BC. With a population of 123.000 Yevpatoriya is a major Ukrainian Black Sea port, a rail hub, and a resort town. The population swells greatly during the summer months, with many residents of northern cities visiting for beach recreation.

The Juma-Jami is the largest and most magnificent mosque of Crimea. Built between 1552 and 1564, and designed by the famous Turkish architect Mimar Sinan.

During the Crimean War (1855) and World War II (1942) some heavy fighting took place in and around Yevpatoria.

Crimea May 1942, Romanian soldiers accompany a German on the beach in Yevpatoria on the Black Sea coast.

next episode: Kerch

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Crimean Khanate

Dance of Tartars (Carlo Bossoli, 1856)

The Crimean Khanate was a state ruled by Crimean Tatars from 1441 to 1783. It was among the strongest powers in Eastern Europe until the beginning of the 18th century. It was a Turkic speaking state founded by clans of the Golden Horde, and the khans were descendants of the great Genghis Khan. The clans blended with the local population of Greeks, Armenians, Scythians, and Ostrogoths to form the Crimean Tatar ethnic group.

The Crimeans frequently mounted slave raids into Ukraine, Poland and Russia. For a long time the khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East, exporting about 2 million slaves over the period 1500–1700.

The palace in the capital Bakhchisaray (Carlo Bossoli, 1840-1842)

The khanate fought many battles against the Russians over dominance in the region. A successful campaign even culminated in the burning of Moscow in 1571. But at the end of the 18th century the khanate was conquered and annexed by the Russian Empire. Since then many Crimean Tatars have been forcefully exiled, about 300.000 Crimean Tatars live in Crimea today.

next episode: Yevpatoria

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Maude Fealy Day !

Maude was born on March 4, 1883.

more photos

next episode: General Cissé

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Joseph Farnham & The Academy Award for Best Title Writing

The 1st Academy Awards, held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Joseph Farnham (1884-1931). Screenwriter, Editor. A former New York playwright, he went to Hollywood in 1918 and wrote intertitles for scores of silent films.

In 1929 he became the first and only recipient of an Academy Award for Best Title Writing.

Within a year, talkies had made the category (and Farnham's job) obsolete. When he succumbed to a heart attack at 46, Farnham also became the first Oscar-winner to die.

next episode: maude's day

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vivien Leigh Oscar Night 1940

Oscar Night 1940 banquet at the Coconut Grove: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland.

Vivien Leigh with her Oscar.

Vivien Leigh places the Oscar she won for her role as Scarlett in Gone With The Wind on her mantelpiece at home, 1940 (Peter Stackpole).

Prior to the Oscar Night, L.A. newspapers were given a list of the winners in advance of the awards ceremony (which didn’t start until 11 p.m. after an elaborate banquet) so they could get papers out on the street by midnight. But the L.A. Times broke the embargo and published the names of most of the winners in an early edition before the banquet began. So everyone arriving at the Coconut Grove that night already knew Gone with the Wind would sweep the awards with eight wins; Vivien Leigh would be picking up the Oscar for her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. There were some very pissed-off stars that night. And some happy ones.

next episode: joseph's oscar

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tannenberg Memorial

Tannenberg Denkmal
The Tannenberg Memorial (notice the lion)

The Tannenberg Memorial was a huge structure with eight 67 feet high towers located in Hohenstein (Ostpreußen) (present Olsztynek, Poland) (map). Completed in 1927 it was build on a hilltop in a shape reminiscent of the castles of the Teutonic Knights and influenced by Stonehenge and by emperor Frederick II's Castel del Monte.

Tannenberg Denkmal
The Tannenberg Memorial 

It commemorated the fallen German soldiers of the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914. In 1934 president Hindenburg (former commander in the battle) was buried over here. As the Russians approached in 1945, German troops removed Hindenburg's remains and partly demolished the structures.

The remains (source)

In the 1950s the Polish authorities leveled the site, but several remnants of the structure can still be seen elsewhere. Among these is the perfectly preserved sculpted lion, which once topped a twenty-foot pillar at the entrance to the monument and now is displayed in the town square in nearby Olsztynek.

The lion from the first photo, now at display at the Olsztynek town square

next episode: vivien's oscar

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thomas Leigh Goldie & The bullet which killed him

Crimean War: The Cemetery (Roger Fenton, 1855)

This photo shows the cemetery at Cathcart's Hill (video). A man is standing at the grave of brigadier-general Thomas Leigh Goldie (1807-1854). Thomas Goldie was born on the Isle of Man into a family distinguished for its military service. Although it is said that this rank of brigadier-general was attributable more to money and influence than military merit, Goldie published several works on infantry tactics and was regarded by some as the most skilful infantry officer of his rank in the army. He was mortally wounded by a shot in the head at the Battle of Inkerman (November 5, 1854).

Marble paperweight with the bullet which killed Thomas Goldie (National Army Museum, London).

The marble paperweight incorporating the large bullet would have been fired from a Russian marksman's rifle and was presumably removed from Goldie's body in an effort to save his life. Lord Raglan recorded that "Brigadier-General Goldie was an officer of considerable promise, and gave great satisfaction to all under whom he has served".

Thomas Leigh Goldie (left)

next episode: tannenberg

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bromfield Street, Boston

Bromfield Street, Boston, ca 1908 (Detroit Publishing Company)

Luckily there are none of these auto-mobiles yet. Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: a bullit

Monday, February 10, 2014

White Alice

White Alice (source

Until the 1950s Alaska had only basic telephone communication systems. Between 1955-1958 a telecommunication network named the White Alice Communications System (WACS) was constructed. It connected remote Air Force sites in Alaska (such as the Distant Early Warning Line and Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) and in some cases it was also used for civilian phone calls. Communication improved after White Alice was installed, but even in the mid 1960s an Anchorage resident could only place a call to the lower 48 states at one place located downtown.

White Alice stations

Around the state 71 support facilities provided reliable communications to far-flung, isolated, and often rugged locales. It used tropospheric scatter for over-the-horizon links and microwave relay for shorter line-of-sight links. White Alice was designed by Western Electric, and civilian contractors maintained it. Construction was extremely expensive; mountain top sites had an upper camp with the electronic equipment and a lower camp with support facilities (these were sometimes connected by a tram system). The system was advanced for its time, but became obsolete within 20 years following the advent of satellite communications. By the end of the 1970s, most of the system was deactivated.

White Alice (source

In the 1950s the Air Force used two word code names and White Alice was the code name selected for this project. It is fairly certain that White was used to indicate the snowy Arctic. However, it is unclear where the term Alice originated. Some sources suggest that Alice is an acronym for ALaska Integrated Communications Enterprise. Other sources suggest that the system would have been named Alice White had there not been an actress with that name at the time. Thus it was reversed to White Alice.

This post was inspired by fellow blog Adalbert.

next episode: bullit

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Alice White

Alice White

For a few years Alice White (New Jersey, 1904 - Los Angeles, 1983) was one of Hollywood's most alluring actresses. After leaving school she became a secretary and script girl for director Josef Von Sternberg. After clashing with Von Sternberg, Alice left his employment to work for Charlie Chaplin, who decided before long to place her in front of the camera. She played a succession of flappers and gold diggers. 

During the 1920s Alice White's beauty and bubbly personality made her a star

In her seventh film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1928), she finally got a leading role. It was based on the popular novel by Anita Loos. It was a big hit and Alice's performance got rave reviews. Sadly this silent film is now lost (in 1953 the movie was remade as a musical starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell).

Her 16th picture, Broadway Babies (1929),  became her first 100% talkie, it was a smash hit. Her next big musical was Show Girl in Hollywood (1930) in the Western Electric sound-on-film process. Alice continued to make successful talkies but her career was hurt by several scandals.

Sy Bartlett and Alice White

In 1933 she had an alleged affair with two men at the same time, her then boyfriend, British actor Jack Warburton, and producer Sy Bartlett. She accused Warburton of beating her so badly she needed reconstructive surgery on her nose. Warburton told the press that Alice and Sy hired thugs to disfigure him. Although she later married Bartlett, her reputation was tarnished and she appeared only in supporting roles after this. By 1938, her name was at the bottom of the cast lists and she made her final film appearance in 1949.

Alice White

next stop: White Alice!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Agatha van Schoonhoven (& the only Dutch Pope)

Agatha van Schoonhoven (Galleria Doria Pamphili, Rome)

Portret of Agatha van Schoonhoven (1529) by the Dutch painter Jan van Scorel (Schoorl 1495 - Utrecht 1562). The smile of Mona Lisa, the pose of Vermeer's The Girl With a Pearl Earring. Agatha and Jan were lovers, and although Jan was a priest she bore him six children.
Portrait by Jan Van Scorel,  possibly of Cornelis Aerentsz van der Dussen, between 1535 and 1540 (Weiss Gallery, London). I like the fresh colors!

Jan van Scorel was one of the first artists who traveled from the Netherlands to Italy. In 1522 he was at the request of Dutch Pope Adrian VI (Utrecht 1459 - Rome, September 1523) curator of the Vatican art collection. In Rome Scorel was inspired by the art of his illustrious colleagues Michelangelo and Raphael. He also painted a portrait of Adrian VI, the only Dutch pope in history.

Dutch Pope Adrian VI, copy of a painting by Jan Van Scorel, May 1523 (Centraal Museum, Utrecht) 

Adriaen Florisz. Boeijens had excellent connections to the court and an excellent reputation. That's why he was elected in 1522 to Pope Adrian VI. After the death of Raphael he appointed his fellow townsman Jan van Scorel as his successor as superintendent of the art collection in the Belvedere in Rome.

next episode: alice

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

St. Mary's Canal Celebration

St. Mary's Canal celebration; excursion steamer Fortune in Weitzel Lock, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan (1905).

"The St. Marys River is the only water connection between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. Near the upper end of the river the water drops 21 feet over hard sandstone in a short ¾ mile long stretch. This rapids, or “sault” to use the original old French term, made it impossible for trade vessels to pass. Vessels had to be unloaded and their contents portaged around. In 1797 the first lock on the St. Marys River was constructed on the north shore to provide passage for trade canoes. This lock was destroyed by American forces during the War of 1812 and cargoes once again had to be unloaded, hauled overland, and reloaded until a new lock opened in 1855" (US Army Corps Of Engineers)

Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: a pope


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