As with other fancy goods stores, Pease’s catered to the middle and upper middle class selling highly decorated goods like ceramics, prints, furniture and other decorative household items that progressively thinking people might have wanted to purchase. [Read more…] about America’s First Christmas Card & An Early Albany Department Store
Born in 1799, Clemente Bassano (the family name originates from the Veneto region of Italy) settled in London and started his career as a fishmonger in Soho. By 1825 he ran a warehouse from Jermyn Street, St James’s, importing almonds, oil, capers, and macaroni.
His daughter Louise was an opera singer who toured with Franz Liszt on his London visit in 1840/1. Her brother Alessandro became a high society photographer with a studio in Regent Street. His portrait of Horatio Kitchener was used during the First World War for an iconic recruitment poster. [Read more…] about Harlem’s “Black Beauty” Mills; London’s Josephine Baker
In his stories Arthur Conan Doyle used the leitmotif that misdeeds are not impulsive acts of random individuals. They are machinations of a subtle criminal mind. Enter Professor James Moriarty, a figure with a phenomenal mathematical brain whose hereditary criminal tendencies were rendered deadly by his mental powers. [Read more…] about A Master Thief, Irish Hostess, English Duchess, and the Origins Pan Am
On this episode of The Historians Podcast, Ashley Hopkins-Benton recounts the life of sculptor and stone worker Henry DiSpirito, who became artist in residence at Utica College. Hopkins-Benton is author of Breathing Life Into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito. She is also a senior historian and curator of social history at the New York State Museum in Albany. [Read more…] about Utica Sculptor Henry DiSpirito
The idea of establishing an institution devoted to the collection and display of contemporary art was controversial. Artists feared that creativity would become institutionalized. If paintings and sculptures were taken out of the living environment, the museum would merely serve as a mausoleum or dumping ground.
As modernists defined art in terms of continuous movement and change (innovation was the new permanency), the idea of a “museum of modern art” seemed an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. It needed clarification. [Read more…] about A Modern Art Historian’s Hanoverian Inspiration
The first Europeans to see the Adirondack landscape of Northern New York came to explore, to document important military operations and fortifications, or to create maps and scientifically accurate images of the terrain, flora, and fauna.
These early illustrations filled practical needs rather than aesthetic ones. In 1818, the Adirondacks was still a mysterious “wild, barren tract…covered with almost impenetrable Bogs, Marshes & Ponds, and the uplands with Rocks and evergreens.” [Read more…] about Early Images of the Adirondacks: Science, Art, Tourism
Since the saxophone was invented and patented by a young man from French-speaking Dinant, in Belgium’s Walloon Region, American musicians have paid credit to the instrument by producing memorable performances which include John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme,” Dino Soldo’s smooth jazz solos, or Clarence Clemons’s relentless drive.
Over time, the sax has found its way into almost every genre of music with one exception. The saxophone is not part of the orchestral repertoire. It was and remains a rogue instrument. [Read more…] about The Saxophone: Born In Belgium, Raised In The USA
Beginning with George Washington, it has been a custom for the President of the United States to have an official portrait sculpted or painted during his time in office.
From the beginning artists were faced with conflicting demands of aesthetics, the need to evoke the significance of the nation’s highest office, and the personal inclination of the sitter (varying from modesty to pomposity). How to reconcile such different strands in a work of art? [Read more…] about Portraying Presidents: A Sketch of Cultural History
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, at Cooper Square in Lower Manhattan, was founded in 1859 by inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper, a progressive member of New York’s Board of Aldermen.
The initiative was inspired by the state-sponsored École Polytechnique in Paris (founded in 1794). Cooper’s ideal was to create an institution that would be open to all, and independent of race, religion, sex, or social status. The history of the gramophone is associated with two of Cooper’s former students who overcame hardship through education. [Read more…] about Audio Technology, Trademarks and A Terrier Named Nipper
The year was 1911, a new decade had just started. In spite of sharp social divisions and mass immigration, New York was bustling. The scientific revolution was making an impact, radically altering the nineteenth century vision of the world.
New technology changed the face of the metropolis. The Woolworth Building had been completed, making it the tallest building in town. Electric trains pulled out of the Grand Central Terminal; in the streets horse-drawn carriages were being replaced by automobiles.
It was a period of unbridled patriotism; a golden age for producers of flags and buntings (in April 1908 Emma Goldman had given her fiery San Francisco lecture on the ‘menace’ of patriotism).
New York was waking-up and starting to fulfill its potential. It was a place of new developments and initiatives. Modern was the buzzword. That year a group of artists came together aiming to organize a grand exhibition that would reflect this new confidence. [Read more…] about The Armory Show: An Arsenal of Creative Freedom