This web site, Victorian/Edwardian Paintings  is well worth a visit! Most of the paintings and painters are obscure or unknown, but their images are evocative of a past age.  Click here to enter the site or click on the captions to read more about each painting.

Charing Cross to Bank Omnibus

Orphans, George Adolphus Storey

Ruin and Revival: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, creativity thrived and helped to heal a community crushed by disaster.  Now, five years later, artistic works across New Orleans grow where structures crumbled and lives were washed away.

Click on this link to enter PBS’s new site, which features the best of their art specials:    http://www.pbs.org/arts

Britain’s Earl Spencer has sold £21.1 million worth of furnishings to fund repairs to his stately home.

The earl – who is the brother of Britain’s late Princess Diana – reportedly has a £10 million bill to pay for a new roof on Althorp, the family home in Northampton, so was forced to get rid of many artefacts, including a £9 million painting, to raise the funds. – Earl Spencer’s Auction

1820 part dessert service, Althorp Attic Sale, Christie's

Lot Description
A NANTGARW (LONDON DECORATED) PART DESSERT-SERVICE
CIRCA 1820, IMPRESSED MARKS
Painted in the Sèvres-style with bouquets and insects within flower and scroll cartouches and gilt and blue feuilles-de-choux borders, comprising:
A footed comport
A circular sauce tureen, cover and stand
Three shaped-square dishes
Two large circular dishes
A medium sized circular dish
Six small dishes
Four oval dishes
Ten plates

The items truly represented an attic sale, for many, such as the riding boots, butler’s trays, kitchen copper jelly moulds and old uniforms, did not seem to come from the first rank of the Earl’s possessions, except for the Rubens masterpiece, (second highest price for a Rubens at auction) and the King David painting by Guercino (highest price for this artist at auction.) Significantly, a number of Spencer carriages were up for auction as well. They more than doubled pre-sale expectations

Searchlights on Health: A Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood, Advice to Maiden, Wife and Mother, Love, Courtship, and Marriage, 1920 provides a look at male and female relationships as viewed from the pseudo science of eugenics. Chapter titles include “The Beginning of Life” to “Dangerous Vices” to “Nocturnal Emissions”. Apparently eugenics was popular in the early 20th century, for the fronticepiece of this book boasts that 1,000,000 copies were sold. Sadly, the Nazis took this belief to its extreme, which led to massive human rights violations and human extermination.

This section of the book advises a couple on how to conceive beautiful children:

4. The Proper Time.—To obtain the best results, conception should take place only when both parties are in the best physical condition. If either parent is in any way indisposed at the time of conception the results will be seen in the health of the child. Many children brought in the world with diseases or other infirmities stamped upon their feeble frames show the indiscretion and ignorance of parents.

5. During Pregnancy.—During pregnancy the mother should take time for self improvement and cultivate an interest for admiring beautiful pictures or engravings which represent cheerful and beautiful figures. Secure a few good books illustrating art, with some fine representations of statues and other attractive pictures. The purchase of several illustrated an journals might answer the purpose.

6. What to Avoid.—Pregnant mothers should avoid thinking of ugly people, or those marked by any deformity or disease; avoid injury, fright and disease of any kind. Also avoid ungraceful position and awkward attitude, but cultivate grace and beauty in herself. Avoid difficulty with neighbors or other trouble.

Note these two rules for marriage:

6. Wasp Waists.—Marrying small waists is attended with consequences scarcely less disastrous than marrying rich and fashionable girls. An amply developed chest is a sure indication of a naturally vigorous constitution and a strong hold on life; while small waists indicate small and feeble vital organs, a delicate constitution, sickly offspring, and a short life. Beware of them, therefore, unless you wish your heart broken by the early death of your wife and children.

9. Do Not Marry a Man With a Low, Flat Head; for, however fascinating, genteel, polite, tender, plausible or winning he may be, you will repent the day of your espousal.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

1810 gilded wood armchairs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Splendor and Elegance: European Decorative Arts and Drawings from the Horace Wood Brock Collection highlighted a selection of the museum’s Regency collection.

In 2009, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston acquired a pair of Irish Regency monopodia armchairs owned by the Second Earl of Caledon, Du Pre Alexander, the son of the 1st Earl, James Alexander, who made a tremendous fortune in India. In 1776, James Alexander purchased the Caledon estate in County Tyrone, Ireland from Edmund Boyle, 7th Earl of Cork and Orrery, whose father had acquired it by marriage into the Hamilton family of Caledon in 1738. It is likely that a suite of these chairs were commissioned for Caledon castle.

Louis XVI clock with vestals carrying the sacred fire, Paris, c. 1789

More on the topic

Eyewitness to History provides a personal account of the invasion of Normandy, which occurred 66 years ago. This day remained big news for decades, and now seems to have been largely forgotten. June 6th still looms large in the minds of the people who lived through WWII.

Major Steve Hutchinson was killed by a roadside bomb May 10, 2009 outside Basra, just three months before he was supposed to return home to Scottsdale, Ariz. At 60, he was the oldest combat death in either conflict.

He was a decorated Vietnam vet with a doctorate in psychology. The father of two grown daughters, he had wanted to rejoin the military after the Sept. 11 attacks, but listened to his wife, who didn’t want him to go. After she died of cancer in 2006, Hutchison re-enlisted, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as an adviser to Iraqi forces.

Hutchison’s unit found Laia at just 1 month old in Basra. The local vet said he would have to euthanize the dog unless they adopted her as a mascot. As policy, soldiers are not supposed to adopt strays, and Hutchison defied orders to get rid of the dog, even moving her from base to base. – Laia’s Journey

Watch the video of the dog’s arrival in the U.S. at this link.

Major Steve Hutchinson probably returned to the States with less fanfare than his dog, Laia. The two Bush administrations were admonished for not allowing the press to photograph the coffins of fallen soldiers as they returned from our two most recent wars. This practice of censoring information was not new. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wartime staff also controlled war time information that reached the American public. “Until September, 1943, government censors blocked the publication of all photographs showing dead American soldiers.” (History Matters)

In 2009, President Obama finally allowed photographs to be published of the coffins returning from war, (The Photo Dictionary). Out of all the wars in recent memory, the horrors and daily trauma that our soldiers face in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to touch the American public the least. Through censorship and lack of news coverage, the war is truly “Over There” for Americans, and almost completely out of sight. To date, 5,456 soldiers have died. Not a huge number compared to past wars, but 5,456 men and women too many.

The above image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima during World War II is iconic, showing the heroic  moment of battle at its peak.   Three of the six soldiers who raised the flag while being fired upon – Strank, Block and Sousley – would die shortly after the photo was taken. Such images are inspirational and instill a sense of pride in the viewer. These men were/are clearly heros. Images like the civil war soldiers who died in Antietam (below) fill us with despair. During the war between the states, over 620, 000 soldiers were wounded or dead. Images of the battlefield dead were distributed uncensored. Many were too gruesome to contemplate or to put on this blog. There were no silent rules censoring these horrific images, and one can imagine the despair that the families of soldiers must have felt when they saw them.

In the past year, a young man, Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, died after being shot in Iraq. The AP distributed grainy images of the wounded and bleeding marine when he was still alive. Not only was there a hue and cry, but the father of the young man felt that the image was gratuitous, dishonored his son, and was painful to see beyond bearing. Yet, that one image (see it in this link, AP and the Death of a Marine) gave me more pause than the numbers of dead that are so casually mentioned as faceless numbers.

I want to take this opportunity to all the brave men and women who are serving in our armed forces and to thank them for keeping us safe. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and salute you.

Thank you, soldiers. We can't say it enough.