Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mucha - La Peinture

Mucha: Muse de La Peinture (1898)

next episode: 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Isma'il Pasha

Isma'il Pasha ordering his chibouque (Roger Fenton, 1855).

Isma'il Pasha (1813-1865) (real name Kmety Gyorgy) was a Hungarian general in the Ottoman (Turkish) army during the Crimean War.

He's handed a chibouque; a Turkish tobacco pipe with a long stem and a red clay bowl.

He was entrusted with the defense of Kars against the attacks of the Russians. When a famine in the fortress became very worse he handed over the command to an English colonel and pulled off. After the war he published an apology under the title: 'A narrative of the defense of Kars on the 29th of Sept. 1855' (London 1856). He was later Governor General of Kastamonu in Asia Minor.

next episode: a muse

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas !

Medieval Prison Tower, Amersfoort (photo RfA)

Happy Christmas!

next episode: a pasha

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gargoyles in Amersfoort

The Amersfortian sculptor Ton Mooy, who I have mentioned in an earlier post, also made several gargoyles. These are shown at the walls of the canals in the inner city.

A gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque with a spout designed to convey water.

Ton Mooy in his atelier:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The Montelbaanstoren in Amsterdam in 1925, by Cornelis Vreedenburgh (1880-1946), 59 x 73 cm. Originally build in 1516 to help defend the city, the tower was enlarged in 1606 with a decorative top.

present day situation

next episode: gargoyles

Monday, December 19, 2011

York City Walls

York Minster Cathedral and Old City Wall, York, England (source)

I've never been to York, a city in northern England. It was founded by the Romans and frequently visited by the Vikings. During its history several walls were build, from which a large portion still exist. Judging by the pictures it looks like a beautiful city.

York city walls (photo Kevin Ireson)

next episode: Amsterdam

Friday, December 16, 2011

Movie poster: Bad Girl

Sally Eilers (coloured black&white photograph, 

Bad Girl movie poster (1931)

next episode: York

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

State of Sequoyah

The proposed State of Sequoyah 

In honor of commenter Mary (born in Sentinel, Oklahoma) we take a closer look at the Sooner State this time.

The State of Sequoyah was the proposed name for a state to be established in the eastern part of present-day Oklahoma. In 1905, faced by proposals to end their tribal governments, Native Americans of the Five Tribes in Indian Territory proposed this state as a means to retain some control of their land.

The proposed state was ‘Sequoyah’ named in honor of the Cherokee Sequoyah who created an effective writing system for the Cherokee language in 1825. In 1905 a constitutional convention was called and a constitution was adopted. A referendum resulted in 56.279 votes in favor of the constitution and 9.073 votes against.

However the petition for statehood was denied by the US Congress, mainly due to the resistance of Eastern delegates who were afraid there would be too many Western states. Instead, in 1907 Indian and Oklahoma territories were merged into one state whose name is a Choctaw word for 'red people': Oklahoma.
next episode: Sally

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Captain Lord Balgonie

Alexander Leslie-Melville, Viscount Balgonie (1831 – 1857) was a British soldier. He held the title of Lord Balgonie as a courtesy title; he was the eldest son of David Leslie-Melville, 8th Earl of Leven, 7th Earl of Melville. 

He served in the Grenadier Guards, and died in 1857 as a result of hard campaigning in the Crimean War. Notice the shabby clothes and the look of dispair. One of the finest portraits of Roger Fenton, 1855.

next episode: Oklahoma!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Unknown Lady in Nine Oval Views

Unknown Lady, by Albert Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes, ca 1845-61 (8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (not on view).

next episode: a viscount

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Van der Helst - Banquet of the Civic Guard

The Celebration of the Peace of Münster, 18 June 1648 in the Headquarters of the Amsterdam Civic Guard (Rijksmuseum). 

This banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in celebration of the Peace of Münster was painted 1648 by Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670). Visible through the window are buildings on the opposite side of a canal; the two façades belong to the brewery 'The Lamb' and the church 'By the Lamb'.

link to a high resolution image

In 2006 it was damaged by a German art vandal by spraying lighter fuel on its surface and lighting it. At present the painting has been restored and is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum.

Bartholomeus van der Helst (self portrait, 1655)

next episode: medallion

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The Schreierstoren at the Prins Hendrikkade in Amsterdam, by Eduard Alexander Hilverdink (1846 - 1891), 23 x 32 cm. Build around 1487, the Schreierstoren used to be part of the first city wall. It's the sole surviving defense tower of Amsterdam.

present day situation

From this site Henry Hudson started his famous trip to explore America on behalve of the Dutch in 1609.

next episode: a celebration

Sunday, November 27, 2011

General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Bridge

General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Bridge (Library of Congress)

Over time numerous design proposals had been made for a bridge connecting Washington D.C. with Arlington Memorial Cemetery. In 1887 architectural firm Smithmeyer & Pelz proposed a bridge in honour of General U.S. Grant, featuring medieval-looking towers and turrets, la bit like the London’s Tower Bridge, which was designed in 1884.

The first proposal (Library of Congress)

Actually this was their second proposal, the first plan was a bit more modest. Finally in 1932 the present low-to-the-ground Memorial Bridge was opened.

The designs are part of the new exhibit at the National Building Museum: ‘Imagine Washington D.C. as it could have been’.

next episode: Amsterdam

Friday, November 25, 2011

Napoleon in Amersfoort

The keys of the city of Amersfoort, presented to (and left behind by) Napoleon.

Tuesday October 29, 1811 Napoleon visited Amersfoort. Facades were decorated, and two wooden triumph arches were erected. The government wrote the city counsel a letter to announce this visit:

"… un evénement qui rendra la ville d'Amersfoort immortelle à la posterité."

Haha, sure. He drove through Amersfoort on his way from Utrecht to palace ’t Loo in Apeldoorn. About 5 o’clock in the afternoon, while the horses were changed, the keys of the city were presented.

A small speech was delivered, and even before this speech had reached its conclusion he was already gone at full gallop (he wanted to reach his destination before sundown).

next episode: Amsterdam

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

La Belle Ferronnière

La Belle Ferronnière, attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, 1490-1496 (Louvre Museum, Paris)

Currently this painting is part of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in The National Gallery in London.  This is the most complete display of the Italian master’s surviving paintings ever. Only 20 known paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci did survive, the National Gallery has brought together 9 of these paintings for the exhibition.

next episode: keys to ...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gene Tierney Day !

Gene Tierney  


Birth name: Gene Eliza Tierney
Occupation: Actress
Birth date: November 19, 1920
Birth place: Brooklyn, New York
Children: Antoinette Daria (1943-2010) and Christina "Tina" (1948-)
Autobiography: "Self Portrait" (1979)
Death date: November 6, 1991
Death place: Houston, Texas
Burial location: Glenwood Cemetery, Houston

next episode: Leonardo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Territory of Colorado: Secession of Southern California

Secession of Southern California
The proposed Territory of Colorado (based on the boundaries of the counties in 1859)

I want to make a series of posts concerning countries which just didn’t make it into reality. While I was investigating this I also noticed there have been a lot of embyo US states which just didn’t make it into real statehood. In honor of commenter Nate I’ll start with the secession of Southern California.

In 1859, nine years after California joined the Union, Assemblyman Andrés Pico submitted a bill that called for the secession of the southern counties along the northern border of San Luis Obispo County. These cow countries were annoyed by the unfair tax laws; they had to pay twice as much property tax as the mining regions, while they had only 5% of the population of these mining regions.

The southern region would have become a federal territory named after the Colorado River (the present state of Colorado wasn't named until 1861). The legislature passed this bill (the ‘Pico Act’), two-thirds of voters in the affected counties approved it, and it was signed by the Governor John B. Weller. But in Washington, due to the crisis in 1860, the proposal never came to a Congressional vote.

Andrés Pico

next episode: a Brooklynite  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A touch of Dutch

If you want to have some insight in the cultural differences between the Dutch and the US you could take a look at this overview made by an ex American expat in the Netherlands. For instance this fun fact: did you know that in Holland the cows say 'Boo' instead of 'Moo'?  

next episode: Napoleon, or dogs, or ..  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Napoleon in Amsterdam

The entry of Napoleon into Amsterdam by Matthieu van Bree (painting finished in 1813).

Last week it was exactly 2oo years ago that Napoleon visited Amersfoort. I’m still searching for more info about this visit, meanwhile a painting of his visit to Amsterdam, Sunday October 9, 1811. It is one of the largest paintings in the Netherlands (20 x 13 feet). It is currently in restoration while on display in the Amsterdam Museum.

The painting in the Amsterdam Museum, notice the lookalike (photo

next episode: dogs

Friday, November 4, 2011

From Pheasant Island to global World War

King Louis XIV of France meets Philip IV of Spain and his bride Maria Theresa (Philip’s daughter) at Pheasant Island, June 1660.

On Pheasant Island the French princess Elisabeth de Bourbon (age 13) met her Spanish husband Philip IV of Spain (age 10), while at the same time his sister Anne of Austria (age 14) met her husband Louis XIII (age 14), the brother of Elisabeth, on November 25th, 1615. Both couples were already married by proxy the day before.

In 1660 Louis’ son, the (in)famous Sun King Louis XIV of France met his bride Maria Theresa of Spain (daughter of Philip) at the island. After the wedding, Louis wanted to consummate the marriage as quickly as possible, however the new queen's mother-in-law (and aunt) arranged a private consummation instead of the public one that was the custom.

Charles & Marie Louise

In 1679 Philip’s son king Charles II of Spain met his bride Marie Louise d’Orleans at the island. Because of all this inbreeding Charles II was severely intellectually and physically disabled. He was unable to chew, and his tongue was so large that his speech could barely be understood. After the marriage Marie Louise became depressed and died at age 26. Charles remarried, but both marriages were childless. 

After Charles' death in 1700, the lack of a heir led Louis XIV of France (you may know him of his soundbite "L'État, c'est moi") to gain control over the large Spanish empire. This provoked a massive coalition of the English, Dutch, Austrians, Prussians and Portuguese and resulted in the War of the Spanish Succession; a bloody global war fought on four continents and three oceans. The war ended when the Treaty of Utrecht was concluded, 20 km from Amersfoort, in 1713.

next episode: Napoleon?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pheasant Island

Pheasant Island, looking towards Spain

Pheasant Island is a small island (3,000 sq m) in the middle of the Bidasoa River, on the border between France and Spain.

Spanish: Isla de los Faisanes
French: Île des Faisans, Île de l'hôpital or Île de la Conférence.
Basque: Konpantzia

The island is a so-called condominium, a place under joint sovereignty of in this case Spain and France. It is administered by the Spanish-Basque town of Irun and the French-Basque town of Hendaye during alternating periods of 6 months. 

The island was used as a meeting place were a Spanish king could meet his French fiancee, and vice versa. On November 7th, 1659 one of the treaties ending the Thirty Years' War (the Treaty of the Pyrenees) was signed on this island. 

The story continues ...

next episode: how such a small Pheasant Island leads up to a global world war 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Living History

Living History (photo RfA)

During some weekends people reenact life in a Catholic orphanage in Amersfoort at the end of the 16th century. This is called 'living history'. Amersfoort used to be a catholic town, but during the war of independence against Spain the Netherlands became Protestant. Some towns converted voluntary, some other towns (like Amsterdam and Amersfoort) needed a little push.

next episode: ?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Battle of Balaclava (1854)

Balaclava Harbor (photo not by Roger Fenton)

In Crimea on 25 October 1854 The Battle of Balaclava took place. It includes the Charge of the Heavy Brigade, the Thin Red Line and the Charge of the Light Brigade

Present day Balaclava

next episode: Kabul

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Princess Victoria Self-portrait

Self-portrait sketch by Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) at the age of 16 (1835).

next episode: Balaclava

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Casper van Wittel - View of Naples

Casper van Wittel: View of Naples, ca 1700/1710. Casper, also called  Jasper van Wittel, used a camera obscura when painting his city scapes.

next episode: Victoria

Monday, October 17, 2011


Southern Morocco is filled with kasbahs; large fortified self-supporting houses. At Ait Benhaddou you can find several of them. (photo RfA)

On occasion of his 65th birthday my uncle invited 7 family members (including me) to join him on a vacation with a surprise destination. So last week I ended up taking a tour though … Morocco! A friend of my uncle, a Berber, showed us some of the most beautiful places in the south. 

next episode: Naples

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Escher (part 2 of 2)

Escher was known for his 'op art' (optical art'). 

Escher lived and worked the greater part of his life at Baarn, a small town near (± 7 miles) Amersfoort.

Escher at work in his study.

next episode: ?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Escher (part 1 of 2

'Belvedere' by M.C. Escher (1958)

The man sitting at the bench is holding an impossible Necker cube. The bars in the window to his left are geometrically valid but practically impossible to assemble. The woman near the stairs is modeled after a figure from Jeroen Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.

A small part of the right panel of Jeroen Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (1481-1490, Museum Prado Madrid)

next episode: more Escher

Friday, October 7, 2011

Should Actresses Marry Critics?

"The young American actress whose reported engagement gave one to expect that she would be the first to follow the dictum of a theatrical authority that actresses should marry dramatic critics. However Miss Fealey denied her engagement to an American dramatic critic directly after it was announced. Miss Fealey is well-known to English playgoers. She was leading lady with Sir Henry Irving during his last season in London prior to the provincial tour which culminated in his death."

Magazine The Bystander, 1907.

In 1907 actress Maude Fealy (not 'Fealey') married Denver drama critic Hugo Sherwin, but, after meeting with her mother's bitter disapproval, refused to live with him, even when threatened with court orders. In 1909 they divorced while she starred in a play titled 'Divorce.' She quit the play and secretly married James Durkin, an actor. They performed together in a number of plays, including 'The Right Princess' (1913), an amusing look at 'mental healing' i.e. psychiatry. His career began slipping in the mid-1910s and she began touring vaudeville. Fealy, tired of Durkin, divorced him, and in 1920 married James Cort, the son of her manager. They lived together for a year before she took to the roads. Cort divorced Fealy for abandonment in 1923.

This post was triggered by Sepia Saturday's emancipation theme. Since I'm going on a short holiday I will respond to the other postings in a few days time.
next episode: Escher

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Ku Klux Klan members parading along Pennsylvania Ave (September 13, 1926)

next episode: Maude

Monday, October 3, 2011

The artist's studio

Charles Joseph Grips (1825-1920) - The studio of the artist (1882)

next episode: KKK

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

Clara Bow, born in Brooklyn, was an American actress and sex symbol who rose to fame in the silent film era of the 1920s. The picture below was taken when she won a movie magazine contest in 1921, the prize being a part in a film. This was the start of her career.

Jean Arthur, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow and Leone Lane in The Saturday Night Kid (1929)

Thanks to the people at Sepia Saturday for providing me with an excellent excuse to post these pictures.

next episode: studio


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