Fixated on photography, modern life revolves around the urge to capture and record every fleeting moment on our iPhones. It all started with the invention of the daguerreotype. [Read more…] about Camera Notes: Alfred Stieglitz and Adolph De Meyer
On January 27, 1990, ninety-three year old Alfred John Barret died in the cathedral city of Wells, Somerset, South West England. He was cremated and his ashes scattered. Since their move from London, he and his Scottish wife had resided in that city for some four decades, leading an unassuming life in a redbrick housing estate.
His death went unnoticed. [Read more…] about Henry Miller In The Clubhouse
Born in March 1804 in Bavaria, Franz Seraph Hanfstaengl studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. He settled in Dresden and began copying paintings in the splendid collection of the city’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.
Between 1835 and 1852 he produced about 200 lithographic reproductions of masterworks, laying the foundations for the publishing House of Hanfstaengl. [Read more…] about House of Hanfstaengl: Munich and Manhattan
Born in Brest, the daughter of a novelist and educated in Paris, she was a lesbian, a feminist, and a formidable educationist. Today her presence may be largely forgotten, but she left a legacy on both sides of the Atlantic.
Marie Souvestre was born on April 28, 1830 in Brest, the daughter of a novelist. In 1846, her father Émile published the dystopian novel Le monde tel qu’il sera. Set in the year 3000, the story features remarkable predictions on the role of science in society, and contains reflections on future parenthood and education. He would certainly have inspired his daughter’s alternative ideas about learning in general, and the teaching of young women in particular. Having remained in the shadow of the mighty Jules Verne who stole the limelight, Émile Souvestre deserves renewed critical attention. [Read more…] about The Education of Eleanor Roosevelt
On March 25, 1833, the celebrated Shakespearian actor Edmund Kean collapsed on stage at London’s Covent Garden while playing the role of Othello. He died shortly thereafter.
Sixteen days later, New York-born Ira Frederick Aldridge – known as the ‘Negro Tragedian’ – was asked to replace him as the Moor. His chequered career in England coincided with the final push towards the abolition of the slave trade there. [Read more…] about New York’s Black Othello, Ira Aldridge
Before long it will be three hundred years ago that James Franklin started printing the combative New-England Courant, employing his younger brother Benjamin as an apprentice. It set a precedent for independent newspaper publishing in the English colonies.
Demands for freedom of the press were ignored and the paper was suppressed in 1726 – but once ink starts flowing, autonomous thinking cannot be reversed. [Read more…] about In Praise of Printing And A Favorite Ben Franklin Typeface
In November 1890 an exhibition took place in the exclusive rooms of the Grolier Club of bibliophiles and print collectors at no. 29 East 32nd Street, Manhattan. The exhibit included one hundred mainly French posters and book covers (only seven were by American artists). This, the first public show of Continental posters in America, generated a keen interest in this peculiarly Parisian phenomenon of commercial art. [Read more…] about Poster Women: Commercial Communication
In the first edition of his Dictionary of the English Language (1755) the term lexicographer is defined by Samuel Johnson as a ‘harmless drudge that busies himself in … detailing the signification of words’. A dunce, in other words. Really?
Born in New York, George Washington Matsell was the son of an immigrant family from Helhoughton (near Fakenham), Norfolk. His father ran a bookshop on Broadway. Following in his footsteps, George opened up his own premises on Chatham Street, Manhattan (renamed Park Row in 1886). A man of words (in 1866 he acquired ownership of the National Police Gazette), he also took an interest in matters of law and order. He became a magistrate in 1840 and was appointed the first Commissioner of the New York City Police Department after its formation in 1844. [Read more…] about Words From Underground: Madness and the OED
Columbus brought syphilis from the New World to Europe. The first record of an outbreak of the infection dates from 1494/5 in the aftermath of the French invasion of Naples (where it became known as the ‘French disease’).
By the late nineteenth century, syphilis was alluded to as an artist’s affliction as it had struck an alphabet of creative individuals, including Baudelaire, Delius, Donizetti, Gauguin, Heine, Keats, Manet, De Maupassant, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Schubert, Smetana, Tolstoy, and Van Gogh.
Medical practitioners talked mutedly of an emerging health crisis, but their warnings ignored, an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease during the global Great War caused panic. [Read more…] about When Condoms Were Avant-Garde: A History
Britain and the US share a passion for boxing. Over time, it has been both mass entertainment and highbrow delight for writers from Byron to Norman Mailer, or artists from Cruikshanks to Bellows. In 1949, Kirk Douglas made his name as Midge Kelly in Champion. The greatest sporting event of the nineteenth century was a bout between a London bricklayer and a New York blacksmith. Both were of Irish descent. They became sporting super stars. [Read more…] about Bout of the Century: Heenan and Sayers