Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paulus Bor - The Enchantress

The Disillusioned Medea (aka The Enchantress) painted by Paulus Bor in Amersfoort, ca. 1640.

The moody young woman seated before an altar and a statue of the goddess Diana is an enchantress, as her magic wand indicates.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.


next episode: Louis Napoleon & Napoleon Louis

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marie Antoinette On Her Way to the Scaffold

Portrait de Marie Antoinette, Reine de France
Marie Antoinette on her way to the scaffold, by Jacques-Louis David, October 16th, 1793.

A sketch, believed to be from life, by the famous painter Jacques-Louis David of the Queen of France, or Widow Capet as she was now known (King Louis having been executed nine months earlier).  Marie-Antoinette is shown in the tumbrel on her way to the guillotine on October 16, 1793.

Her farewell letter can be found here.

next episode: a dsillusioned Medea

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ziegfeld Girl Dorothy Flood

Ziegfeld Star Dorothy Flood by Alfred Cheney Johnston (1931). 

This is a carbro made for periodical reproduction, and the image appeared on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune's Sunday magazine in 1932. Restored by Nick and Jane for Dr. Macro's Movie Scans website.

Dorothy Flood (1912–2005) was a ballet dancer with The Metropolitan Opera Company. She became a Ziegfeld Girl and was in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931. After her Ziegfeld career ended, she did modeling jobs, one film, and she was in a show with Maurice Chevalier.

next episode: Marie Antoinette on a (very) bad day

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Niagara Falls turned off in the summer of 1969.

Niagara Falls turned off in the summer of 1969.

In the summer of 1969 the water flowing over the Niagara Falls was re-routed via a cofferdam so that engineers could clear debris and do geological work. The idea was to determine the feasibility of removing the large amount of loose rock from the base of the falls to enhance its appearance. In the end the decision was made that the expense would be too great.

Niagara Falls frozen in 1933

During an extended winter the Niagara Falls can freeze over. When the blanket of ice spans the entire Niagara River this is known as the 'ice bridge'. Since 1912, when 3 tourists lost their lives, it is illegal to walk across the ice bridge.

next episode: a Ziegfeld girl

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Crimean War: Captain Charles A. Fay

The French Captain Charles Alexandre Fay (1827-1903) on General Bosquets staff (Roger Fenton, Crimea, 1855).

In 1867 his book 'Souvenirs de la guerre de Crimee 1854-1856' was published.

next episode: Niagara

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marengo Napoleon's Skeleton Horse

The skeleton of Marengo at the National Army Museum, London (photo by Nick-D)

Today is the birthday of Napoleon (born August 15, 1769). Marengo was his favorite horseThe grey Arabian was named after the Battle of Marengo (June 1800). He carried the Emperor through several famous battles in which he was wounded eight times. The stallion survived the dramatic retreat from Moscow, but he was captured at Waterloo by William Henry Francis Petre.

Marengo, by Antoine-Jean Gros (mirrored image)

Baron Petre brought the horse back to England where he died at the old age of 38. His skeleton was preserved and is now on display at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London.

next episode: Charles Alexandre Fay

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Alawite State (State of Latakia)

Syrian states during the French Mandate (Wikipedia)                         The Alawite State

In 1920, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the French got the job to administer Syria. Following the principle of divide and conquer they decided to split the country up in several states.

After a few years it appeared that the states didn't prosper, so most of them ended up in a Syrian federation culminating in the Syrian state we know today. Except Lebanon, they refused to be part of Syria and remained independend, and the Sanjak of Alexandretta, which was grabbed by Turkey.

The Alawite State (after 1930: State of Latakia) incorporated a majority of Alawites, a branch of Shia Islam. The capital was the port city of Latakia. After heavy pressure by the better organized Sunni minority they joined the Syrian Federation in 1938.

The distribution of Alawites (Wikipedia).

The French departed Syria in 1946. The domination of the Syrian army by Alawite recruits resulted in Alawites securing high military and government positions. Former president Hafez Asad and his son Bashar, the current president, are of Alawite descent.

next episode: Marengo

Friday, August 10, 2012

Syrian Revolt Leader

Al-Atrash and his warriors in Jordan, ca 1926 (source)

After World War I ended the Ottoman Empire Syria was placed under a French mandate. In the summer of 1925 a Druze leader named Sheikh Sultan al-Atrash led a full scale revolt against the French. The French brought in reinforcements and heavy weapons making Al-Atrash fled with his rebels south to Jordan.

next episode: The Alawite State

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aleppo Vilayet & Citadel

Aleppo and citadel from the southwest, ca. 1900-1920 (Matson Photograph Collection)

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria. It is located in the northwest near the border with Turkey and has over 2 million inhabitants.

After two failed sieges by the crusaders (in 1098 and 1124) and a century long occupation by the Mongols it was, after Constantinople, the most important city of the Ottoman Empire.

The province (vilayet) of Aleppo at the beginning of the 20th century (source)

After WW1 the Aleppo vilayet (Ottoman province) was split between Turkey and Syria. In 1925 the proclamation of an independent State of Aleppo by the French administration was canceled after heavy resistance by Syrian nationalists. A few years later Turkey deprived Aleppo of their access to the sea by annexing the Mediterranean coastal area, leaving Aleppo in isolation in Syria.

The beautiful ancient city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once surrounded by a 5 km long city wall it houses more than 120.000 residents. The worlds largest (13 km long) covered souq-market can be found here. In its center, on the top of a hill, is an impressive citadel. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.

Aleppo and the citadel (source

next episode: Syrian Revolt Leader

Friday, August 3, 2012

Joan Clarkson

actress Joan Clarkson

The series of novels featuring the fuctional master criminal Dr Fu Manchu made the English writer Sax Rohmer one of the most successful and well-paid authors of the 1920s and 1930s. It's a fast-paced story about Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie who face the worldwide conspiracy of the 'Yellow Peril'.
Cover of the 1st edition

In 1923 a 23 episode long series of silent short movies was made about the Chinese crime lord's attempts to 'overthrow Western civilisation through a mixture of cold-blooded murder, Eastern mysticism and outlandish science'.

Fu Manchu's reluctant slave, Karamenah, was played by (among others) Joan Clarkson. In the movies she is forced into drug addiction and endures a number of sado-masochistic beatings. She rebels against Fu Manchu by repeatedly rescuing Smith and Petrie from perilous situations, with the result that Petrie falls hopelessly in love with her.


next episode: Aleppo

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waterloo Veteran of the Month: Monsieur Vitry

Monsieur Etienne François Vitry of the Departmental Guard.

All the veterans are wearing the Saint Helena medal. This medal, created in August 1857 by Napoleon III, was awarded to the soldiers still living in 1857, who had fought with Napoleon I during the 1792-1815 war, as promised by emperor Napoleon in his will. It is estimated that 405 000 (French, Belgiums, Dutch, Danish, Irish, etc..) soldiers received this medal. This is an estimation because of the destruction of the archives of the order in a fire. All these beneficiaries had to prove they belonged to the Grande Armée in the period between 1792 and 1815.


next episode: Dr. Fu Manchu's reluctant slave Karamenah


Gadgets By Spice Up Your Blog Real Time Web Analytics