Sunday, May 29, 2011

Princess Leia

9th plate daguerreotype (2 x 2.5 inches, 5 x 6 cm). ±1850..

This is one of my favorite daguerreotypes. It is very small but still extremely detailed. Notice the stylish hair and the blush on her cheeks.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Königsberg ‹-› Kaliningrad

The city center of Königsberg before World War II

The present situation

After WWII the city center of the German town of Königsberg was not rebuild. Instead the Soviets changed it into a park. Only the church remains.

More comperative photos here

next episode: princess Leia

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Goya - portrait of Antonia Zarate (1811)

'Portrait of the actress Antonia Zarate' by Francisco Goya (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). Ca. 1811.

For an 1805 painting by Goya of the same lady see the March 9 post.

next episode: Königsberg

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jewish Cemetery in Diemen

Last Friday I visited a large Jewish cemetery in Diemen, a suburb of Amsterdam. It is hidden between a highway and a railroad. Although I have been working in Diemen for 10 years now I didn’t know about this cemetery. I coincidentally read about it in this photographer’s blog

A lot of the gravestones show WWII dates, also about 400 funerary urns from the Dutch concentration camp at Westerbork have been placed in Diemen. Between the years 1943-1945, under pressure of circumstances, about 529 Jews were cremated in Westerbork. Cremation is quite unusual in Judaism.

next episode: Antonia

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Major General Buller

Major General Sir George Buller (1802-1884). He was commander of 2nd Division of the Light Brigade and he was severely wounded in the left arm at the Battle of Inkerman (5 November 1854) during the Crimean War.

next episode: a Jewish cemetery

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Statue of Liberty in Madison Square Park

The arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty in Madison Square Park, New York. These portions of the Statue were exhibited to raise funds for the completion of the statue and its pedestal. The arm and torch remained in the park from 1876 until 1882.

Members of the public could pay fifty cents to climb to the balcony of the torch.

next episode: a major general

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Casper van Wittel - Castel Sant'Angelo from the South

Casper van Wittel: Castel Sant'Angelo from the South. Painted in the 1690's, oil on canvas. Location: private collection.

In 1688 he married signorita Anna Laurentini from Rome. From 1689 to 1692 they lived in Rome together with other Dutch painters like Jacob van Staverden aka Giacomo Vastavardon. The latter, also born in Amersfoort, painted fruit and flowers but it didn’t pay out, so he joined the Pope’s guard around 1700.

next episode: NY

Friday, May 13, 2011

Civil War Facial Hair Competition

The Buckeye Copperhead blog draw my attention to a Civil War Beard facial hair competition mentioned in the Smithsonian Magazine. I’m not sure if the people at the Smithsonian (or the rest of the world) haven’t got more urgent matters to attend to. Nevertheless, after carefull consideration, and without a predilection to the North or the South, I nominate John Pope. Big beard, but not too large, combined with a stern look.

When he was a brigadier general he commanded the Army of the Mississippi and won major battles. After his promotion to major general he changed his beard into a goatee, resulting in his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas). Conclusion: never change a winning beard!

Row 1: J. B. Hood, A. P. Hill, A. S. Johnston, R. S. Ewell, Jas. Longstreet, W. J. Hardee, Stirling Price.
Row 2: J. E. B. Stuart, G. T. Beauregard, T. J. Stonewall Jackson, R. E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnson, Fitzhugh Lee, Braxton Bragg.
Row 3: J. A. Early, J. C. Breckinridg, Leonidas Polk, Wade Hampton, E Kirby Smith, Raphael Semmes.

Row 1: H. Thomas, Philip Krarney, A.E. Burnside, Joseph Hooker, John A. Logan, G. Meade, B. McClellan.
Row 2: Irwin McDowell, N.P. Banks, U.S. Grant, W.T. Sherman, William S. Rosecrans, Daniel E. Sickles.
Row 3: David G. Farraout, John Pope, Benjamin F. Butler, Winfield S. Hancock, John Bedgwick, David D. Porter.

next episode: Rome

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fall Gelb - Fall Rot - Operation Dynamo

German soldiers in Rhenen, May 14th 1940. The man in the front is carrying a Spandau MG08 machine gun. Near Rhenen the Battle of the Grebbeberg was fought. In the background German vehicals drive to the west (source).

May 10, 1940. Our German neighbours decide en masse to visit the Dutch beaches...

Fall Gelb

The Battle of the Netherlands was part of Case Yellow (German: Fall Gelb), the German invasion of the Low Countries (Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) and France during World War II (starting May 10th, 1940). German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and surround the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium.

Fall Rot

The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and many French soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk (Duinkerke) in Operation Dynamo. After the success of Fall Gelb the Germans launched Fall Rot (Case Red); the attack on mainland France.

next episode: civil war beard competition

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Zouave 2nd Division, Portrait of Roger Fenton (II)

"A Zouave". Roger Fenton, dressed in a Zouave uniform, with a rifle.

Roger Fenton was particularly keen to show the ethnic diversity in the allied camp during the Crimean War (1853-1856): Croats, Egyptians, Macedonians, Zouaves and Algerian infantrymen. He had himself photographed (in 1855) by his assistant Marcus Sparling, in a Zouave uniform, an infantry brigade created in 1831 in Algeria which distinguished itself during the Crimean War.

From "Roger Fenton's Crimean War photo series is the first historic attempt to portray war campaign with the help of new 'magic' photo media, then still in its infancy. Sent as a replacement for the Richard Nicklin, a civilian photographer, who was lost at sea, along with his assistants, photographs, and equipment, when their ship sank during the hurricane that stuck the harbor at Balaklava on November 14, 1854. Fenton spend March-June 1855 in Crimea as an official campaign photographer, payed by the British government, recording participants and landscapes for posterity. With the end of the Crimean War, quite modest public interest in Fenton's photos quickly faded away. Fenton retired from photography abruptly in 1862, saddened by the death of his only son and that of his assistant. After ten years as the most respected photographer in Britain, he returned to law. He died in 1869, at the age of 50, financially broken and almost forgotten. In our days, however, historians unanimously recognize Fenton's remarkable accomplishments not only for his keen artistic eye, but also honor him as one of the first professional war photographers."

next episode: trouble from the east

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Abbottabad a lovely place

Abbottabad in 1983

Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. Abbott-abad means Abbott's place in Urdu. It was named after the British officer James Abbott (1807-1896) of Blackheath London who has founded the city in 1853. During the British era the city became a major garrison town where among others the famous Gurkhas were stationed. After the British left, the Pakistan army established one of their most important military academies over here.

The city is well-known for its pleasant weather, it attracts a lot of tourists from all over Pakistan, and many officers decided to stay in town after their retirement. James Abbott also liked the city very much, in 1883 he declared Abbottabad to be the most beautiful hilly town of the subcontinent.

Major James Abbott's House

When he was called back to his motherland he made a poem (which can be read at a plaque placed in the city center): 
I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart

read the whole poem here.

next episode: zouave

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ancient Daraa

The last couple of days the Syrian city of Daraa (or Dar'a, Deraa, Dera) has been in the news. It can be found halfway between Amman and Damascus in southwestern Syria, near the border with Jordan. It is one of the oldest Arab cities, dating back to the Canaanites. Its name was mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphic tablets at the time of the pharaohs. Roman remains are visible in and near the city.

The Sea of Galilee is located 30 miles west of the city (I’ll be there mid June), and 30 miles east of the city the ancient city of Bosra can be visited. Bosra is a major archaeological site and has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Roman theatre of Bosra is an ancient Roman theatre built in the second quarter of the 2nd century AD after Bosra became the capital of the new Roman province of Arabia (doubleclick the photo for enlargement). It is the largest, most complete and best preserved theatre of all the Roman theatres in the Middle East, and was one of the largest theatres ever constructed in the Roman world (source).

next episode: Abottabad


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