April 2010


Thomas and Patty (Martha) Jefferson had read Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy. As Patty Jefferson lay dying in September of 1782, the two Jeffersons sat at her bed and wrote out together this quotation from the commonplace book. It started out in Patty Jefferson’s handwriting, on a little 4 by 4 inch piece of paper. Patty Jefferson began:

Time wastes too fast: every letter / I trace tells me with what rapidity life follows my pen. The days and hours / of it are flying over our heads like clouds of a windy day never to return…

[and written by Thomas]

and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, every absence which / follows it, are preludes to the eternal separation which we are shortly to make!


For the remainder of his life, Jefferson kept this paper with a lock of Martha’s hair entwined around it. He kept it in a secret drawer beside his bed.

“On her deathbed, holding her hand in his, Mr. Jefferson promised her solemnly that he would never marry again. And he never did.” – Edward Bacon, overseer.


“Patty Jefferson died September 6, 1782. When she finally closed her eyes, Jefferson fainted and was carried insensible out of the room. For three weeks he did not leave his room. He couldn’t talk. At this time, a bond began to form between Jefferson and his daughter, Martha, who they called Patsy, and Patsy was the only one, apparently, who could get through to him.” Thomas Jefferson, Ken Burns.  (Below, Jefferson’s watch with hair from his wife.)

“He walked almost incessantly night and day, lying down only when nature was completely exhausted on a palette that had been brought in during his long fainting fit. When at last he left his room, he rode out, and from that time he was incessantly on horseback, rambling about on the least frequented roads and just as often through the woods, and those melancholy rambles. I was his constant companion, a solitary witness to many a violent burst of grief.” – Patsy Jefferson, his daughter.

Miep Gies was one of at least four Dutch people who helped to hide the Frank family in Amsterdam during World War II. Here then, is the story in documentary form from the point of view of Miep, a young woman at the time. She was 98 when the documentary was made.

Find the rest of the documentary in the sidebar.

This stark,beautifully produced, and wonderfully acted film is a must see. Go to the PBS Masterpiece Classic site for more information.

Jean Honore Fragonard painted The Swing in 1766. A pupil of Chardin (one of my favorite French genre painters) and Boucher, he painted this image of a young lady on a swing in the gay and decorative  Rococo style so emblematic of the French aristocracy before the revolution. The painting, whose theme was quite scandalous, became an immediate success. A young lady is being pushed on her swing by her priest-lover. The swing’s movement brings her over a young man, who is lying on the ground and looking up her skirt. She kicks off her shoe, aiming at the statue of Cupid.

This painting, which hangs in the Wallace Museum, London has become so recognizable that the image is frequently used as an inspiration for advertisements, products, and other works of art.

Harper’s Bazaar, 2002

Yinka Shonibare, The Swing, Tate Gallery

Installation piece in the Tate Gallery. The woman is missing her head and losing her slipper.

Shoes inspired by The Swing, Manolo’s Shoe Blog, 2006

Manolo’s Shoe Blog thought these Will’s Fancy shoes were delicious enough to be worn by the girl on Fragonard’s swing.

DAZ 3-D images for purchase

This image can be purchased by people who wish to create 3-D films.

The Swing tiles

Exterior tiles with the image of The Swing.

Bernard Re Jr, Girl on a Swing, Enamel on Board, 2006