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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