Friday, May 28, 2010

The Artist William Simpson

'Mr. Simpson, the artist.' (Roger Fenton, 1855).

William Simpson (1823– 1899) was a Scottish artist, war artist and correspondent. He arrived in the Crimea on November 15, 1854. While he had missed the early battles, he was able to record the events before Sebastopol. He made numerous acquantances who helped him with details for his pictures, but he was also struck by the plight of the common soldiers, "miserable looking beings...covered with mud, dirt, and rags," he wrote. He hobnobbed with many officers including Lord Raglan and Captain Peel; he also met Roger Fenton who took his photograph. In June 1855, Simpson observed the first attack on Sebastopol. On the night of the 17th, he crawled out of a trench to view the attack. He wrote "It was a wild orchestra of sound, never to be forgotten." He was still at the front when the city finally surrendered, and he quit the Crimea in the autumn of 1855.

Lithograph by William Simpson from 'The Seat of the War in the East'

Throughout his time at the front, he would send back his water-colors to London where the lithographers of Day & Son would transfer them to stone. So popular were his pictures that he became affectionately known as 'Crimean Simpson'.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Lugo, named after the Celtic god Lugh, is a city in nothwestern Spain. It is the only city in Europe to be completely surrounded by an intact Roman wall. The wall dates from the 3rd century AD. The wall has a total length of almost one and a half miles (more than 2 km), at its highest level the wall is about thirty five feet (12 meters) tall. The wall has 71 towers and 10 gates, from which 5 are the original Roman gates.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beauty or Not?

 6th Plate dageurreotype from around 1850.

On her chest she is wearing an hair mourning brooch:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Matthias Withoos - Woodland Still Life with a Mouse, Goldfinch and Salamander

Matthias Withoos - Woodland Still Life with a Mouse, Goldfinch and Salamander

Matthias Withoos was born in Amersfoort in 1627. His father Jan Janses Withoos was the host of the well-known tavern ‘Het Valckje’ in Amersfoort. For six years he studied under Jacob van Campen, a famous Dutch architect and painter. In 1648 he went to Rome to live and paint over there for a couple of years. In 1653 he returned to Amersfoort. He married Wendelina, resulting in 4 sons and 4 daughters. In 1672 Amersfoort was occupied by the French, and Matthias fled to Hoorn (the birthplace of his wife) , where he would remain until his death in 1703.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Grand Crimean Central Railway

Railway officials Swan, Cadell, Middleton, Howse and Kellock (Roger Fenton, 1855).

The Grand Crimean Central Railway was built in 1855 during the Crimean War. Its purpose was to supply ammunition and provisions to Allied soldiers engaged in the siege of Sevastopol who were stationed on a plateau between Balaclava and Sevastopol. It also carried the world's first hospital train. The Grand Crimean Central Railway was a major factor leading to the success of the siege.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kay Francis

Kay Francis in Jewel Robbery (1932).

For more about Kay see:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Emilie Todd Helm

She was the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln. After her husband, a Confederate General, was KIA, Lincoln invited her and her daughter to live for a while in the White House. She noted in her diary: " Mary and I have lost three brothers in the Confederate service. We could only embrace each other in silence and tears. Our tears gathered silently and feel unheeded as with choking voices we tried to talk of immaterial things." Although the sisters shared their sorrows, the sisters' children quarreled over who was the President of the country: Jefferson Davis or Abraham Lincoln.
She became known as 'The Rebel' by many Northerners. General Daniel E. Sickles baited Emilie by stating that the Confederate soldiers were “scoundrels [that] ran like scared rabbits” at Chattanooga. Emily retorted that the Confederate soldiers had only “followed the example the Federals had set them at Bull Run and Manassas.”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Vegetatie 64

"Vegetation 64" by the Dutch painter Bas Kloens. He was born in 1940 in Dordrecht, where he still resides, creating large scale paintings of vegetations.


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