Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Couple?

Daguerréotype, 6th plate. The picture dates from around 1850.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Camp of the 4th Light Dragoons

Soldiers quarters of the 4th Light Dragoons during the Crimean War. Photo made by Roger Fenton in 1855. The 4th Light Dragoons fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Matthias Withoos - Vanity of Vanities

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

Gene Tierney Day !

Gene Tierney (Brooklyn, 19 November 1920 - Houston, 6 November 1991)

more fotos

A blog about Gene: Gene Tierney Movie Page.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Königsberg in Preußen

before the war

at present

Monday, November 15, 2010

Princess Olga Day !

Today is the birthday of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna Romanova. She was the eldest daughter of the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and tsaritsa Alexandra. Her middle name Nikolaevna means daughter of Nicholas. In the julian calender then used in Russia, she was born November 3rd. Her name day was July 11th.

She grew up in a tender family. In striking contrast to many other royal couples, Nicholas and Alexandra were devoted spouses and affectionate parents. Olga was especially close to her sister Tatiana. Like the rest of the family, Olga also doted on her little brother, Alexis, tragically afflicted with hemophilia. Olga was an intelligent, thoughtful, strong-willed and forthright girl. From her early childhood, she was known for her kindness, but also for her hot temper. She enjoyed reading about politics and read newspapers. Olga adored her father. Her relationship with her mother was more difficult., Olga blossomed into a gentle, generous young woman. She took her religious faith very seriously and put it into practice through charity work. Despite the fact that her mother and at least two of her three sisters were celebrated beauties, she considered her own looks modest. There were rumors of several possible matches, but her parents did not want to force her into marriage, since they were married out of love themselves.

Olga & Tatiana

During the first world war, Alexandra, Olga and Tatiana worked as nurses, caring for wounded and dying soldiers. Olga was very dedicated and caring, but the tragedy took a heavy toll on her mental state. Suffering nervous strain and emotional exhaustion, she was obliged to give up nursing. Meanwhile, Olga seems to have realized Russia was heading towards disaster. "She was by nature a thinker," Gleb Botkin, the son of the family's physician, Yevgeny Botkin, later recalled, "and as it... seemed to me, understood the general situation better than any member of her family, including even her parents. At least I had the impression that she had little illusions in regard to what the future held in store for them, and in consequence was often sad and worried." She was only 22 when she was murdered, along with her family, by the Bolsheviks, following the Russian revolution in Juli 1918.

Letters from Olga

Friday, November 12, 2010

Alfons Mucha

Alphonse (Alfons) Mucha (1860-1939): 'The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia', 1914. Mucha Museum, Prague, Czech Republic.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jérôme Bonaparte

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 Westphalia and married Catharina of Württemberg, the daughter of the king of Württemberg, in a marriage arranged by Napoleon. Jérôme's expensive habits earned him the contempt of Napoleon. After Napoleons resignation Catharina and Jérôme stayed together. They had two sons and one daughter.

When his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, became President of the French Republic in 1848, Jérôme served in several official roles, amongst others president of the Senate.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Valley of Death

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

Edward Hopper - Nighthawks

Edward Hopper - 'Nighthawks',  1942 (The Art Institute of Chicago).

'Study for Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper, 1941 or 1942 (Whitney Museum of American Art).


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