Thursday, December 30, 2010
Captain William Pechell and men of the 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment of Foot in winter dress during the Crimean War. 1855, Roger Fenton.
Following the public outcry at the condition of the troops in the Crimea during the winter of 1854, the British Government had sent out fresh supplies of warm clothing.
Monday, December 27, 2010
A photo of water lilies in the Okavango Delta in
by Frans Lanting, 1989. Botswana
Water lilies mottle the surface of the Okavango Delta in
. They represent one of the oldest evolutionary branches of flowering plants. The Okavango Delta is the world's second largest inland wetland region. The delta is maintained by annual pulse flooding of the Botswana . Okavango River
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The daguerreotype is named after the French artist and chemist Louis Daguerre, who announced its perfection in 1839 after years of research and collaboration with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography. Instead of Daguerre obtaining a French patent, the French government provided a pension for him and announced on August 19, 1839 the invention as a gift "Free to the World."
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Crimean War: Captain Francis Baring, Fusilier Guards, Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, attached to the Light Division. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855.
Francis Baring (1833-1895) gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Scots Guards. He died unmarried at age 61.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
A friendly local talking to German soldiers (Bundesarchiv)
Fall Blau (Case Blue) was the German codename used by the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) for its 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia that lasted between 28 June and 19 August 1942. The offensive was so named because German military plans were "cases", or solutions to problems. The operation was a continuation of Unternehmen Barbarossa (Operation Barbarossa).
The German offensive faced two problems: the continued resistance of the Red Army which now occupied a defensive position west of the Volga river, and the demand by Adolf Hitler for securing the Caucasus oil fields, which had to be reached by crossing the Caucasus mountains.
Initially the German offensive met with spectacular gains. However, the Red Army defeated the German Army at Stalingrad. This defeat forced the Germans to retreat from the Caucasus for fear of being trapped themselves
Crossing a river (Bundesarchiv)
Monday, December 6, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Lieutenant John 'Joey' Yates of the 11th Hussars during the Crimean War. At the left the groom, a person responsible for the feeding and care of horses. Notice the dog.
In the immediate aftermath of the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade (25 October 1854) Yates was one of the first to meet Lord Cardigan on his return from the 'Valley of Death', joining him at about the time he made his famously remark to General Cathcart: ''I have lost my Brigade''. Yates, then, hanging back at the respectful distance of a pace or two, trotted away with Cardigan to the northern edge of the Causeway Heights (the hill forming the left side of the valley) where they met other returning survivors
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Matthias Withoos (Amersfoort, 1627 – Hoorn, 1703): Vanity of Vanities. A lot of his paintings have a vanitas motif. Vanitas is the Latin word for ‘emptiness’. It corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life. Common symbolic motives in vanitas paintings are among others skulls and flowers; they show the passage of time.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860) was the youngest brother of Napoleon. First he married the beautiful Elizabeth Patterson, but this marriage was annulled by Napoleon. Their descendants still live under the name Bonaparte in the US.
He was made king of
When his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, became President of the
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Roger Fenton, The valley of the shadow of death (1855). Dirt road in ravine scattered with cannonballs.
This is one of the most famous photos of the Crimean War. During the Battle of Balaclava, The Charge of the Light Brigade was fought here. Across a desolate and featureless landscape, not a single figure can be found. The landscape is inhabited only by cannonballs, so plentiful that they first appear to be rocks, that stand in for the human casualties on the battlefield.
Roger Fenton wrote: 'in coming to a ravine called the valley of death, the sight passed all imagination: round shot and shell lay like a stream at the bottom of the hollow all the way down, you could not walk without treading upon them'.
Borrowing from the Twenty-third Psalm of the Bible, the Valley of Death was named by British soldiers who came under constant shelling there. Fenton traveled to the dangerous ravine twice, and on his second visit he made two exposures. Fenton wrote that he had intended to move in closer at the site. But danger forced him to retreat back up the road, where he created this image.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Characteristics of a daguerreotype are:
- The pictures can not be reproduced and are therefore unique.
- The surfaces are extremely delicate, which is why they are housed under glass in a case.
- The image is reversed, the object seeing himself as he did when looking at a mirror.
- The images are difficult to view from certain angles.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Today the famous battle of
Balaclava took place in 1854. It was part of the Crimean War 1853-1856 between Russia and the Allies (France, England, ). This war is consider4d to be the first modern war. Railways and telegraph were used, Turkey Nightingale nursed, and a lot of photographs were taken (for the first time in a war). Florence
The Allies wanted to capture the city of
Sevastopol, the most important Russian naval base, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea. They decided to attack from the South, leaving a weak spot near the , a small town guarded by the British. harbour of Balaclava
The Russians decided to take advance and attacked the defences around
Balaclava. After conquering tactical positions on the surrounding hilltops the Russian cavalry moved to engage the British defensive line. This line, the famous Thin Red Line, held, and then the Heavy Brigade charged and forced the Russians onto the defence.
Instead of waiting for the reinforcements (who were expected to arrive in short while), the British commander Lord Raglan ordered the cavalry to expel the Russians from the hilltops. Raglan was known to formulate his orders in an incoherent and vague manner. When the order arrived the commander of the cavalry, the Earl of Lucan, decided to wait.
Raglan, Lucan, Cardigan, Nolan.
Raglan, impatient, then ordered the cavalry to "advance rapidly to the front. Immediate". The hot-tempered aide-de-camp Louis Nolan delivered the order to Lucan. Again Lucan didn’t understand the order, since there was no mention of the hilltops. Then the irritated Nolan told him to attack immediately.
"There, my Lord, is your enemy!" said Nolan indignantly, vaguely waving his arm eastwards.
Nolan seemed to wave his arm the direction of the main body of the Russian Army, a large battery at the end of the valley strongly held on three sides by the Russians. Irritated by Nolan’s behaviour Lucan refused further discussion and rode to the commander of the Light Brigade, the Earl of Cardigan, standing in front of his brigade. The two men were barely on speaking terms as Lucan was married to one of Cardigan's sisters and, as Cardigan believed, did not treat her well. Cardigan questioned the sanity of the order.
"Allow me to point out to you that there is a battery in front, battery on each flank, and the ground is covered with Russian riflemen."
"I know it" said Lucan. "But Lord Raglan will have it. We have no choice but to obey."
At 11:13 the Light Brigade, consisting of 673 men, started their advance to the battery at the end of the vally, a mile away. When Nolan realised they went in the wrong direction he rode to Cardigan who was leading the brigade, but he was killed by an artillery shell. Lucan, thinking the Light Brigade would be wiped out, decide not to send the Heavy Brigade after them so the preserve at least half of his cavalry division. At distance of
250 yards from the battery Cardigan ordered to "Gallop", and then to "Charge".
At 11:17, despite withering fire from three sides that devastated their force on the ride, half of the men reached the battery. They became engaged in heavy fighting. Cardigan though, satisfied he had reached the battery, decided to go away, leaving his men behind. He afterwards said all he could think about was his rage against Nolan, who he thought had tried to take over the leadership of the charge from him. After suffering heavy casualties the remaining soldiers were soon forced to retire. About 250 men were killed or wounded, and 400 horses lost, destroying some of the finest light cavalry in the world to no military purposes. At 12:00 most of the survivors were back at the British lines.
"And who I ask is answerable for all this?" asked Sergeant Major George Smith of the 11th Hussars.
The futility of the action and its reckless bravery prompted the Russian commanders to have initially believed that the British soldiers must have been drunk. The French Marshal Bosquet stated:
Still it is considered a battle honour for all the British regiments that took part. It is usually a pre-condition for a battle honour that the battle is a victory, but these three episodes in the battle are such icons of courage and achievement for the British Army that the military authorities awarded Balaclava as a battle honour to all the regiments involved.
Cardigan was always impeccably dressed and the knitted vest he wore to protect himself from the severe Russian winter was named after him, although the collarless V-neck we know as the cardigan today bears little resemblance to the original. The raglan, an overcoat in which the sleeves go directly to the neck without shoulder seams, was named for Lord Raglan.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Cabinet card made in Binghamton NY. A cabinet card consists of a thin photograph mounted on a card measuring 4¼ by 6½ inches. They replaced the smaller carte-de-visites in the 1870s. They reached peak popularity in the 1880s. In the 1890s they were replaced by a.o. Kodak snapshots.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Long-nosed monkey (AKA Proboscis monkey) lives in Borneo. Only 5000 are left. An Indonesian nickname is Dutch Monkey since the Dutch colonisers often also had a large belly and nose. They can swim very well.
wildfact (source: BBC):
Proboscis monkeys have the longest noses of all primates. In elderly animals, it can reach 17.5cm (a quarter of the body length). Although its function is not known for sure, it is likely to be a visual signal used in mate choice. The male vocalises through the nose with a kee honk sound.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Officers and men of the 13th Light Dragoons who were the survivors of the charge, photographed by Roger Fenton in 1855.
The Charge of the Light Brigade was a disastrous charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. It continues to be studied by modern military historians and students as an example of what can go wrong when accurate military intelligence is lacking and orders are unclear.
So now we have seen the Charge of the Heavy Brigade, The Thin Red Line, and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Tune in at October 25th to see how they are related to each other.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Victoria Princess Royal
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell (1792-1863), commander of the 'Thin Red Line' (Roger Fenton, 1855).
The Thin Red Line is a term for a thinly spread military unit holding firm against attack. The phrase later took on the metaphorical meaning of the barrier which the relatively limited armed forces of a country present to potential attackers. The first use of the expression referred to the resistance by the red-coated 93rd Highland Regiment of the UK in the Crimean War.
The Thin Red Line, painted by Robert Gibb.
The Thin Red Line was a famous military action by the British Army's red-coated Highland Brigade, at the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854. The brigade and its leader distinguished themselves very greatly: with his 'thin red line of Highlanders' he repulsed the Russian attack, and prevented the Russions from occupying Balaklava.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
The 12 year old Jesus in the Temple, by Paulus Bor (Amersfoort, ± 1601 - Amersfoort, 1669). Painted between between 1630-1635. Location: the Central Museum in Utrecht (Netherlands).
His father, also named Paulus Bor, was a wealthy textile merchant. Coming from a wealthy family he probably did not need to paint for an income. This might explain his preference for subjects rarely painted by other artists.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Cradle especially made for the son of Napoleon by the city of
) (photo by RfA) Vienna
Napoleon’s first marriage didn’t produce an heir. When his Polish mistress became pregnant he decided to divorce and remarry. Only the Russian and the Austrian imperial families were considered suitable to marry the French emperor. He tried to marry the young sister of the Tsar, Anna Paulowna, but this proposal was refused.
He then succeeded in marrying Marie Louise, daughter of the Austrian emperor. In 1811 their son Napoleon François Bonaparte was born. In 1814, when Napoleon was exiled, Marie Louise and her son fled to
. In 1816 Marie Louise went to live in Vienna Parma, leaving her son (renamed Franz) in the hands of his grandfather in . Vienna