Monday, December 28, 2015


The Napoleon Museum at Île-d'Aix

Île d'Aix is a small island in the Atlantic between the Ile d'Oléron and the coast of mainland France (population in 2012: 241).

Map of Île-d'Aix

In July 1815 Napoleon spent his last days in France at Ile d'Aix, after the defeat at Waterloo. His plan was to slip past the Royal Navy blockade and escape to the United States.

Napoleon's room (photo by Gérard Blot) 

After realizing how impossible this plan was he wrote a letter to the British ruler, the Prince Regent, begging for mercy, and then surrendered to captain Frederick Maitland, commander of HMS Bellerophon, who took him to Plymouth before transferring him to Saint Helena. Nowadays the house where he spent these few days is a museum.

Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon (by William Quiller Orchardson, 1880).

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Xmas!

publicity photo from Remember the Night, 1940

On behalf of Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck we wish you a happy Christmas!

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Julia Gardiner Tyler

Julia Tyler, The first First Lady to be photographed (1845)

Julia Gardiner Tyler (1820 – 1889) was the second wife of president John Tyler, and served as First Lady of the United States from June 26, 1844, to March 4, 1845. She was born on Gardiner's Island off the eastern tip of Long Island, one of the largest privately owned islands in the US.

In early 1842, at a White House reception, Julia was introduced to President Tyler, who was thirty years her senior. Julia enjoyed the President's gallant and flattering public attentions but laughingly replied "no, no, no" to his first marriage proposal. On February 1844, Julia, her sister Margaret, and her father David joined a presidential excursion on the new steam frigate Princeton. David Gardiner, along with a number of others, lost his life in the explosion of a huge naval gun. Tyler comforted Julia in her grief and they were married 4 months later.

In 1839, Julia secretly posed for an engraving which was used as an advertisement. "I'll purchase at Bogert and Mecamly's, No. 86 Ninth Avenue. Their Goods are Beautiful and Astonishingly Cheap." This caused a scandal since this was an age in which no well-bred lady allowed her name to be printed in a newspaper.

After leaving the White House they retired to Sherwood Forest Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. The couple had seven children in total. After her husband's death in 1862, Julia moved to Staten Island, where she resided at the Gardiner-Tyler House from 1868 to 1874.

In 2012, two of president Taylor & Julia's grandsons were still alive.

next episode: xmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Île d'Oléron

The Island of Oléron is the second largest French island (after Corsica) in Europe. It is situated off the Atlantic coast of Poitou-Charentes.

Since 1966 the island has been connected to the mainland by a 2,8 km road bridge (toll-free since 1991).

Le Château d’Oléron, located at the south, is the historical capital of the island. There is a 17th-century citadel, and you can eat some delicious oysters if you're into that (I'm not).

next episode: Julia

Saturday, December 12, 2015

17th Century UK Road Maps

The Road From London to the Lands End commencing at the Standard in Cornhill and Extending to Senan in Cornwall. It was made in 1675 by John Ogilby and covers almost 500 km.

Already in the 17th century strip road maps were being fabricated, for instance by John Ogilby (1600-1676), which proved popular in planning journeys throughout the United Kingdom. 

The first strip on the left-hand side from this map takes in much of contemporary London, showing (bottom to top, i.e. east to west) part of the City of London, Southwark, Westminster, Hide Park, Kensington, Hammersmith, Turnham Green and Smallheer Green. The next strips are labelled A through E (at the bottom) and B through F (at the top), showing the orientation and order in which they should be viewed.

 The continuation of the road from London to Holyhead, by John Ogilby.

The rivers and hills encountered are noted, as are the forks in the road, and the directions in which these lead. Andover, the last town on this map, is in Hampshire, and is still a long way away from Land’s End, the end point of this road map; indicating that this page is still a few scrolls short of being a complete map.

 The road from London to Harwich, by John Ogilby.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Caspar David Friedrich - The Stages of Life

Caspar David Friedrich - The Stages of Life (Die Lebensstufen, 1835)

Both Friedrich's life and art are marked with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Caspar Friedrich (1774 – 1840) suffered many depressive episodes which see the emergence of such motifs and death symbols as vultures, owls, graveyards and ruins in his art. From 1826 these motifs became a permanent feature of his output, while his use of color became more dark and muted. In 2004 the psychiatrist Carsten Spitzer wrote that he believed during his life, Friedrich suffered prolonged inertia, a suicide attempt and what the artist himself described as a "dreadful weariness.”

The aged man is the artist himself, the small boy is his young son Gustav Adolf, the young girl is his daughter Agnes Adelheid, the older girl is his daughter Emma, and the man in the top hat is his nephew Johann Heinrich. The figures are echoed by five ships shown in the harbour, each at a different distance from the shore, an allegorical reference to the different stages of human life, to the end of a journey, to the closeness of death.

The Stages of Life is recognizably located at Utkiek, near Friedrich's birthplace of Greifswald in today's northeastern Germany. This area used to be part of Swedish Pomerania from 1613 until 1815.

Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig

found on: gandalfsgallery

next episode: London roads

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sir Henry John William Graf Bentinck, K.C.B.

Lieutenant General H.J.W. Bentinck (Roger Fenton, 1855)

Sir Henry John William Graf Bentinck (8 September 1796,Varel - 29 September, 1878 London), K.C.B., member of the Bentinck Family. In the Crimean War he led the Guards Brigade in the Battle of Balaklava. 

next episode: stages of life


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