The Karnak Temple

 

Photographer Unknown, (Inside the Karnak Temple in Luxor)

Consisting of more than one hundred hectares, Karnak is an ancient temple precinct in Egypt located on the east bank of the Nile River in modern-day Luxor, formerly Thebes. The largest sector is the central portion which is dedicated to Amun-Ra, considered to be the supreme creator, the god of fertility and life.

In the southern central sector is a precinct dedicated to the goddess Mut, wife of Amun-Ra, the primal mother goddess who is associated with the waters from which everything is born. She was a patron deity of Thebes along with her husband Amun-Ra and their son Khonsu, god of the moon.

North of the central area is a precinct dedicated to Montu, the falcon headed god of war and embodiment of the conquering vitality of the Pharaoh. A very ancient god, Montu was a manifestation of the scorching destructive effect of Ra, the sun, which caused him first to be considered a warrior and eventually revered as a war-god.

To the east of the central sector, there is an area, destroyed intentionally, that was dedicated to Aten, the solar disc. The deity Aten was the focus of the monotheistic religion established by Amenhotep IV to worship Aten as the creator, the giver of life, and the nurturing spirit of the world. Horemheb, the last Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, reestablished the priesthood of Amun and destroyed the temple area of Atan, the solar disc. A prolific builder, Horemheb constructed the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Pylons of the great Hypostyle Hall in the precinct of Amon-Ra at the Temple of Karnak.

The last major building program at Karnak was under the reign of Nectanebo I, a king of the Thirtieth and last Dynasty of Egypt. He built a large enclosure wall around the site along with another temple. He also started, but did not complete, a new pylon at the western entrance of Karnak. The rulers of foreign descent who took control of Egypt continued work at Karnak, creating a series of burial catacombs dedicated to Osiris, god of the underworld. When Rome seized control of Egypt, work at Karnak ceased, ending a span of two thousand years of construction.

James Stroudley

James Stroudley, “Rowing Men”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 107 x 86 cm, Private Collection

James Stroudley was a London-born painter, printmaker, and teacher. He studied at the Clapham School of Art between 1923 to 1927, followed by attendance at the Royal College of Art from 1927 to 1930. His teachers at the Royal College included English painter and draughtsman Sir William Rothenstein and English painter Allan Gwynne-Jones. As a recipient of the first Abbey Scholarship Stroudley was able to spend three years in Italy from 1930, where he absorbed the influences of Giotto and Piero della Francesca. After this period, he produced one of the last wholly satisfying decorative cycles by a Rome Scholar of the period.

From the Second World War, in which he worked with the Camouflage Unit, James Stroudley taught at St Martin’s School of Art and was a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy Schools. He became a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1934. Stroudley exhibited his works at the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, and at the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers, and Engravers. 

James Stroudley’s solo shows in London were at the Apollinaire Gallery and  Arthur Tooth and Sons, which had a major presence in the commercial art market since the 1870s. Though he continued to live in London, his later work, exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1955, indicated regular painting trips to Kent and Sussex coasts. Stroudley’s later work in life changed from a traditional to a more abstract form.

James Stroudley’s work was influenced by a series of styles, ranging from early Italian artists to the Cubists. Through this, he achieved the incisive draughtsmanship that forms the basis of his art. Stroudley produced figure subjects, still life compositions, landscapes and abstracts with equal success. In 1971, his former student, Peter Coker, paid homage to Stroudley by including his work in the exhibition ‘Pupil & Masters’, held at Westgate House, Long Melford, Suffolk. He died in Wandsworth, London, in May of 1985.

The Tempest

Benjamin Smith, “Act One, Scene One of the Tempest by William Shakespeare”, Untinted Engraving based on the Original Painting by George Romney, September 29, 1797, Published by J & J Boydell at the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall, London

This engraving depicts the destruction of King Alonso’s ship caused by the tempest conjured by Prospero, seen on the right, who sent spirits to create the storm. Prospero caused the tempest in an act of revenge against his brother Antonio, one of the ship’s passengers, who had ursurped Propero’s position as Duke of Milan. Prospero’s daughter Miranda clings to him, begging for the lives of those on the ship. Prospero assured his daughter that he used his magic to prevent anyone from dying.

Benjamin Smith was a British engraver, publisher and print seller who was born in 1754 in London. He studied the art of stippling engraving under Francesco Bartolozzi,  one of the most famous engravers of the 1700s. During his career from 1786 to 1833, Smith engraved many plates from designs by William Hogarth, William Beechley, and George Romney. He also created portraits of the aristocracy such as the Marquis Cornwallis and King George III.

Employed for many years by J & J Boydell Publishing, Benjamin Smith was commissioned to engrave many plates for the Shakespeare Gallery and for the poetical works of John Milton in the years between 1794  and 1797. These are considered his best works and included the image above based on the painting by George Romney. Smith continued his engraving work until five years before his death in 1833, producing many works now in the collections of the British Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

One Thousand and One Nights

“One Thousand and One Nights” , a collection of Mid-Eastern folk tales, was compiled during the Islamic Golden Age, a period of culture, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam.This period is traditionally dated from the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid in 786 to 809 and extended, by some scholars’ estimate, as late as the end of the 15th to 16th centuries. The tales have their roots in Arabic, Persian, Indian, Greek, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature. Collected by various authors and scholars, the stories have been presented in many editions; some contained a few hundred tales and others included a thousand in poem or prose form. 

There are two main Arabic manuscript traditions of the “One Thousand and One Nights”. The Syrian tradition includes the oldest manuscripts, with shorter and fewer tales. Believed the purest expression of the style of the medieval “Arabian Nights”, it has been republished most recently in 1984 and is known as the Leiden Edition. The Egyptian tradition emerged after the Syrian tradition and contains more tales of more varied content, collected over the centuries, including up to the 19th century. This tradition includes 1001 tales and is known as the “Calcutta II” or the “Macnaghten” edition, published between 1839 to 1842. 

The first European version, translated into French by Antoine Galland from the Syrian tradition and other sources, was a twelve-volume work entitled “Les Mille et Une Nuits, Contes Arabes Traduits en Francais”. This work included stories not found in the original Arabic manuscripts but which later became traditionally associated with “Nights”, such as the well-known “Aladdin’s Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. Since this first European version published from 1704 to 1717, many other editions have appeared through the years. In 2008, a translation of the Calcutta II edition was made by Malcolm and Ursula Lyons and published in three volumes by Penguin Classics. Although not a complete translation, it contains the standard text of the “1001 Nights”, includes the Ali Baba and Aladdin tales, and all the poetry.

The genre of the “One Thousand and One Nights” tales varies widely. They include tragedies, comedies, poems, historical tales, tales of love, and tales of erotica. Mixed with real people and geographic locations are sorcerers, jinns, apes, magicians, and places of legend. Probably the best known translation to English is Sir Richard Francis Burton’s “The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night”, a ten-volume version published in 1885. Printed during the Victorian era in England, it contained all the erotic nuances of the original material, complete with sexual imagery and gay allusions added as appendices. Sir Richard Burton avoided the strict obscenity laws of the Victorian era by printing an edition for subscribers only instead of a formal publishing.

The exotic atmosphere of “One Thousand and One Nights” lent itself easily to film, influencing Fritz Lang’s “Der müde Tod”, a parable fantasy of love and death with the figure of Death transporting the heroine to Persia, Venice of the 15th century, and China. In 1924, Raoul Walsh’s “The Thief of Bagdad” starred Douglas Fairbanks on a magical journey to win the hand of the Caliph of Bagdad’s daughter. The collection of tales also influenced the 1926 feature-length animated film “The Adventures fo Prince Achmed” by Lotte Reiniger The oldest surviving animation feature film, it contained exotic lands, magical adventures, flying horses, and a handsome prince meeting Aladdin. 

The gif images of Nyle DiMarco are from Ariana Grand’s “7 Rings”, the ASL Version, located at this site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTkIsqdBCtk. This production was directed by Jake Wilson with cinematography by Matthew Tompkins. The ASL Version’s translation is by Nyle DiMarco, co-produced by Nyle DiMarco and Sami Housman.

Wat Samphran

Wat Samphran, a Buddhist temple in Amphoe Sam Phran, is located about forty kilometers west of Bangkok in Thailand. The seventeen story temple is known for its gigantic dragon which curls around the entire height of the building. The dragon contains a staircase, which, due to its poor condition, is no longer in use.

The founder of the temple, after a seven-day fasting meditation, realized the design of the structure. The 80 meters tall building honors the number of years that the Buddha manifested on the earth. A large figure of the Buddha resides on the third floor and a shrine to the Goddess of Mercy is located on the grounds of the temple.

Edward Julius Detmold

Wasps by Edward Julius Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold, “Common Wasps”, From “Fabre’s Book of Insects”, 1935, Tudor Publishing Company

Painter, printmaker and illustrator Edward Julius Detmold was born in London in 1883 along with his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold. Provided patronage by their uncle Edward Shuldhan, the two brothers studied painting and printmaking under the tutelage of their uncle Henry Detmold, also an artist. In 1898, at the age of 13, the twins exhibited watercolors at the Royal Academy, and issued a portfolio of color etchings that same year that quickly sold out and brought them notoriety. In 1899 Edward and Charles began illustrating books jointly, begining with “Pictures from Birdland”, which was commissioned and published by J.M. Dent. This was followed by a portfolio of watercolors inspired by Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”.

The brothers’ tandem success, however, was ended with the sudden death by suicide of Charles in 1908. Edward Detmold threw himself into his work, beginning with an illustrated ” Aesop’s Fables” that included 23 color plates and numerous pen and ink drawings. This began a decade of intense productivity, in which the Detmold’s execptional eye for the detail and complexities of nature allowed him to achieve his place among the best illustrators of the Victorian era.

Edward Detmold continued to illustrate numerous books, including Maurice Maeterlinck’s “The Life of the Bee”, Camille Lemonnier’s “Birds and Beasts”, his own “Twenty Four Nature Pieces”, and Jean-Henri Fabre’s “Book of Insects”. However by 1921, after witnessing the horrific results of World War I and feeling a disillusionment with his own art, he had reached the end of his zenith. Though Edward Detmold went on to illustrate one last edition of “The Arabian Nights” in 1924, he had effectively ended his career with the publishing of a literary book of aphorisms entitled “Life”. He retired to Montgomeryshire, England, and died in 1957, also from suicide.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of December,  Solar Year 2018

The Craving of Human Touch in Form

December 2, 1933 was the release date of Fred Astaire’s first film, “Dancing Lady”.

“Dancing lady” is a 1933 pre-Code musical film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and produced by David O Selznick and John W Considine, Jr. It starred Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, and featured Franchot Tone, Fred Astaire, Robert Benchley, and Ted Healy and His Stooges, who later became the Three Stooges. It was also one of Eve Arden’s first uncredited appearances on film.

The film featured the film debut of extraordinary dancer Fred Astaire, who appears as himself, as well as the first credited appearance of actor and singer Nelson Eddy, a classically trained baritone who became the highest paid singer at that time in the world. The film was a box office hit upon its release, receiving many positive reviews from critics.

After appearing in “Dancing Lady” for MGM Studios, Fred Astaire returned to RKO Radio Pictures and received fifth billing In the 1933 Dolores del Rio film “Flying Down to Rio”. It was in this film that Astaire first danced with Ginger Rogers. Astaire was reluctant to become part of a dance team; however, the obvious public appeal of the pairing persuaded him. The Astaire-Rogers partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and collaborator Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made nine films together at RKO, including the 1934 “Gay Divorcee”, “Top hat” in 1935, the 1936 “ Swing Time, and “Carefree” released in 1938. Six films of the nine became the biggest moneymakers for the RKO studio, bringing the studio the prestige and artistry it coveted. The Astaire-Rogers partnership elevated them both to stardom.

Fed Astaire was given complete autonomy over the dance production. He is credited with two important innovations in early film musicals: Astaire insisted that a closely tracking dolly camera film a dance routine in as few shots as possible, typically with just four to eight cuts,  while holding the dancers in full view at all times. This gave the illusion of an almost stationary camera filming an entire dance in a single shot.

Astaire’s second innovation involved the context of the dance. Astaire was adamant that all song and dance routines be seamlessly integrated into the plot lines of the film. Instead of using the dance as a spectacle such as a Busby Berkeley routine, the dance was used to move the plot along. A typical Astaire film would include three dance routines in the plot: a solo by Astaire, a partnered comedy dance, and a partnered romantic dance routine.

Dragon Fish

japaneseaesthetics:

Dragon Fish

Japan. Edo period

5’3’’ x 34’’ x 17’’ – 160cm x 86cm x 43cm

A splendid model of a Shachihoko, an enormous roof decoration well cast in

bronze, with a dragon head with bushy eyebrows and whiskers, flared

nostrils, a spiny dorsal fin and 4 large pectoral fins. His body with the

scales of a carp and a large flared tail fin. Originally gilded overall, this

impressive beast would have adorned the gable end of a splendid castle, temple

or Samurai home. Now, with remnants of gilding to the scales and a

good green weathered patina.

Note: Shachihoko were thought to provide protection against fire, as they were

attributed with the power to control rain. Brandt Asian Art

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 27th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Lure of a Blue Room

November 27, 1920 marks the release of Douglas Fairbanks’s “The Mark of Zorro”.

“The Mark of Zorro” was a 1920 silent adventure romance film, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery Senior’, based on Johnston McCulley’s 1919 “The Curse of Capistrano” which introduced the character of Zorro. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Fairbanks, under the name of Elton Thomas, and Eugene Miller.  “The Mark of Zorro” was the first film released through United Artists, formed by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks played Don Diego Vega, the effete son of a wealthy ranch owner, who has the secret identity of a masked Robin Hood- like rogue, known as Zorro, or The Fox. He is the champion of the people who appears out of nowhere to protect and right wrongs. He has a love interest, Lolita played by Marguerite De La Motte, and is pursued by the authorities, including Sergeant Pedro Gonzales played by Noah Beery Senior.

“The Mark of Zorro” is a landmark in the career of Douglas Fairbanks and in the development of the action adventure film. This was Fairbanks’s thirtieth motion picture; and he used it to transition from comedies to costume adventure films, which is how most people remember him. The audiences responded with enthusiasm to Fairbanks’s  new persona, which allowed him to flaunt his considerable athleticism to its fullest advantage. Fairbanks’s stunts have lost none of their impact; no later cinematic superhero has ever been half so convincing as his Zorro leaping from rooftop to rooftop, and over the heads of his enemies.

This film helped popularize one of Americas’s most prominent creations of fiction; the enduring character of the superhero. It established the pattern for future caped crusaders with dual identities. “The Mark of Zorro” was remade twice: in 1940 starring Tyrone Power and in 1974 starring Frank Langella. The United States Library of Congress selected it in 2015 for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In DC Comics, it is established that “The Mark of Zorro” was the film that young Bruce Wayne saw just before the death of his parents outside the movie theater. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce Wayne’s childhood hero and an influence upon his Batman persona. Bill Finger, co-creator with Bob Kane of the character Batman, was inspired by the Zorro played by Fairbanks, leading to similarities in costumes, the secret caves, and the unexpected secret identities.

Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova, “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss”, Detail, 1787, Marble, Louvre Museum, Paris

“Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” is a marble sculpture by Italian artist Antonio Canova, who was raised by his stonemason grandfather, Pasino Canova. Antonio Canova valued his independence as an artist, believing that art was above politics. However, through pressure by the French on the papacy, he was forced to accept titles and honors.

The marble sculpture is in a Neoclassical style but shows characteristics of the then emerging Romantic movement. There were two versions of this piece; the image shown being the prime version, which was acquired by Joachim Murat, Marshal of France and Admiral of France under the reign of Napoleon. After Murat’s death, the sculpture entered the Louvre Museum in 1824.

Image reblogged with thanks to http://abrighterhellas.tumblr.com

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 25th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Jaguar Hunter

November 25, 1920 marks the birthdate of actor Ricardo Montalban.

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, to Spanish immigrants, Ricardo Montalban made his New York stage debut in 1940 in a small role in “Her Cardboard Lover”, starring Tallulah Bankhead. In 1947 he landed his first major Hollywood film role in the musical “Fiesta”, playing twin siblings with Esther Williams. Montalbam had a memorable dance number in that film with Cyd Charisse.

The dark, handsome Montalbam with the Spanish accent would go on to play numerous Latin romantic-types. He teamed up again with Esther Williams in two more films, the musical romantic comedy “Neptune’s Daughter” and the 1948 romantic comedy “On an Island with You”. In 1949, Montalbam broke from his romantic typecast to play a border agent in the suspense drama film “Border Incident” directed by Anthony Mann.

During the 1950s and 1960s Montalbam was one of only a handful of actively working Hispanic actors in Hollywood, often playing characters of different ethnicities, such as the character Nakamura in the 1957 “Sayonara” and Tokura in a “Hawaii Five-O” episode. He also starred as a naive, penniless French duke in the romance comedy “Love is a Ball” released in 1963.

Ricardo Montalbam’s best known television role was that of the man in the white suit with the cultured demeanor, Mr. Roarke, on the television series “Fantasy Island” which ran from 1977 to 1984. The series was one of the most popular on television at that time, making him and his co-star Herve Villechaize, playing Tattoo, popular icons.

Montalbam’s most well-known film role was the character of Khan Noonien Singh in the 1982 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of khan”, in which he reprised the role he had originated in the 1967 episode of “Star Trek” titled “Space Seed”. Montalbam was already physically fit; so Khan’s costume was specifically designed to display his physique. He agreed to take the role at a significant pay cut because he relished reprising his original character. His only regret, he said, was that he and William Shatner never interacted in their roles; the scenes were all done through video communication, filming their scenes months apart to accommodate Montalbam’s schedule for “Fantasy Island”.

Montalbam reacted to the poor way Mexicans were being portrayed by establishing with other stars the Nosotros (We) Foundation in 1970 to advocate for Latinos in the movie and television industry. He served as its first president. The foundation created the Golden Eagle Awards, an annual awards show that highlights Latino actors. The awards are presented in conjunction with the Nosotros American Latino Film Festival, held at the now named Ricardo Montalbam Theater in Hollywood.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 24th of November,  Solar Year 2018

One Facet of Life

November 24, 1639 marks the first known observation and recording of a transit of Venus.

By the 17th century, two developments allowed for the transits of planets across the face of the sun to be predicted and observed. One was the telescope of which the actual inventor is unknown; a patent for a refracting telescope was submitted in 1608 in the Netherlands by spectacle maker Hans Lippershey. Galileo heard about it, and in 1609 built his own version, making observations of celestial objects.

The second development was the new astronomy of Johannes Kepler, which assumed elliptical rather than circular orbits fro the planets. In 1627, Kepler published his “ Rudolphine Tables”, a star catalogue and planetary tables using some observational data collected by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Two years later, Kepler published extracts from his tables concerning the transit of Mercury and of Venus for the year 1631. These occurred as predicted and were observed by several astronomers, vindicating Kepler’s approach to astronomical theory.

The first known observations and recording of the transit of Venus across the sun were made in 1639 by the English astronomers Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend and correspondent William Crabtree. These observations were made on November 24, under the Julian calendar then in use in England. This calendar was refined and gradually replaced by our Gregorian calendar initiated by Pope Gregory XIII, changing the observation date to December 4th of that year. Horrocks observed the event from the village of Much Hoole, Lancashire, and Crabtree, independently, observed the event from his home in Broughton, near Manchester.

Both men, followers of Kepler’s astronomy, were self-taught mathematical astronomers who methodically worked to correct and improve Kepler’s Tables by observation and measurement. In 1639, Horrocks was the only astronomer who realized that the transit of Venus was imminent; others became aware only upon receiving Horrocks’s report. The two men’s observations and later mathematical work were influential in establishing the size of the solar system. For their achievements, they are considered the founders fo British research astronomy.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, “Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with Pipe)”, 1905, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 81 cm, Private Collection

“Garçon à la Pipe” was painted in 1905 when Picasso was 24 years old. It was executed during his ‘Rose Period”, soon after he settled in the Montmartre section of Paris, France. The painting depicts an unknown Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand and wearing a wreath of flowers on his head.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 23rd of November,  Solar Year 2018

Tiny Bears in a Row

November 23, 1862 was the birthdate of Belgian Neo-Impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe.

Born in Ghent, Théo van Rysselberghe studied at the Academy of Ghent under Theo Canneel and later at the Academie Royal des Beaux-Arts in Brussels under Jean-François Portaels. Van Rysselberghe was strongly influenced by North African paintings, which had become the fashion in Belgium. He made three trips to Morocco, staying there for a year and a half.

Van Rysselberghe painted his “Self Portrait with Pipe” in 1880, in the somber colors of the Belgium realistic tradition. His “Child in an Open Spot in the Forest”, also painted in that year, showed a move to impressionism. He started traveling extensively with his friends, impressionist Frantz Charlet and Asturian painter Dario de Regoyos, throughout Spain and Morocco, staying in Tanger for four months starting in October  of 1882. At this  time, Van Rysselberghe painted and drew many scenes form the streets and in the souk, including the 1882 “Arabian Street Cobbler”, the 1882 “Arabian Boy”, and “Resting Guard” in 1883.

Van Rysselberghe saw the works of the impressionists Monet and Auguste Renoir at the show of “Les XX” in 1886, becoming deeply impressed. He experimented with this technique in his 1886 “Woman with Japanese Album”. This impressionist influence became prominent in his later paintings. In 1886 he also discovered the pointillist techniques at that Eighth Impressionist Exhibition in Paris, abandoning realism and became an adept of pointillism,

Theo Van Rysselberghe’s “Gate of Mansour-El-Hay” and”Morocco-the Great Souk”, both done in 1887, are painted in the pointillist style, but still with short strokes of paint and not with points. These are among his rare pointillist paintings of Morocco. When he had finished these paintings, he stopped completely with this Moroccan period in his life. Van Rysselberghen then turned to portraiture, resulting in a series of neo- impressionist portraits. His famous portrait of Alice Sèthe, painted in 1888 in blue and gold, would become a turning point in his life. In this painting he used only points of paint on the canvas.

In 1898 Van Rysselberghe moved to Paris, although he maintained close links with the artistic milieu of Brussels, and executed in 1902, among other works, a series of decorative panels for the Hôtel Solvay, belonging to Victor Horta. Van Rysselberghe also played an important role in the introduction of the fauvist painters, whom he had met through his friend Paul Signac, to Belgium. From 1903 onward, his neo- Impressionism began to give way to more restrained forms, and during the last years of his life he also executed some sculptures. Van Rysselberghe died on the 13th of December of 1926 in Saint-Clair, France.

Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano

Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano (Bronzino), “Portrait of a Young Man”, 1530s, Oil on Wood, 96 x 75 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The sitter of this arresting portrait remains unknown, but he was part of Bronzino’s close circle of literary friends in Florence and probably holds a book of poetry. Bronzino was himself a poet, delighting as much in the beauty of language as he did in the witty and fanciful details of his paintings.

In this painting, viewers would have appreciated the carved grotesque heads on the table and chair, and the almost hidden, masklike face suggested in the folds of the youth’s breeches as comments on masks and disguises.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Treasure of the Island

November 22, 1932 was the birthdate of actor Robert Vaughn.

Born in New York City, Robert Vaughn studied at the Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences, earning a Master’s Degree in theater. He received a Ph. D in communications from the University of Southern California in 1970. He published his dissertation as a book, “Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting” in 1972.

Vaughn made his television debut in November of 1955 on the series “Medic”, the first of more than two hundred appearances on the show. He first film appearance was as an uncredited extra playing a golden calf idolater visible behind Yul Brynner in a scene from “The Ten Commandments”. Vaughn’s first credited movie role was playing Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James, in the 1957 western “Hell’s Crossroads”.

Vaughn’s first film appearance of note was in “The Young Philadelphians”, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. He next appeared as the gunman Lee in “ The Magnificent Seven” in 1960, the western adaption of Kuorsawa’s epic “ Seven Samurai”.

Robert Vaughn was offered his most memorable role in 1964, starring in his own series as secret agent Napoleon Solo in the television series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. His co-star was Scottish actor David McCallum who played fellow agent Illya Kuryakin. This role would make Robert Vaughn a household name even behind the Iron Curtain. This series which ran from 1964 to 1968 created a spin-off show, large amounts of merchandising, overseas theatrical movies, and a sequel.

After the series ended, Vaughn was given the role of playing the ambitious California politician Chalmers, in the critical and box-offise smash film “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen. Vaughn was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Frank Flaherty in ABC’s 1977 “Washington: Behind Closed Doors”. Vaughn did acting work in England also, appearing on the BBC drama “Hustle” and the British soap opera “Coronation Street”.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 20th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Blue Sky and Two Ravens

November 20, 1890 was the birthdate of American film actor Robert Armstrong.

Robert Armstrong, born in Bay City, Michigan, attended the University of Washington, where he studied law. He gave up his studies to manage his uncle’s touring company. In his spare time, Armstrong wrote plays, appearing in one when it was produced. In 1926, he traveled to London and appeared on the British stage for one season.

Robert Armstrong’s film career began in 1927 when he appeared in Pathé’s romantic silent film drama ”The Main Event”, produced by Cecil DeMille. He had a very prolific film career in the late 1920s and early 1930s, making nine movies just in 1928. Armstrong is best know for his role as film director Carl Denham in the 1933 monster adventure film “King Kong”. He reprised his role as Denham in the sequel “Son of Kong”, released at the end of 1933.

“King Kong” producer Merian C. Cooper used Armstrong in several more movies. Armstrong and Fay Wray starred in “The Most Dangerous Game”, filmed at night on the same sets being used during the day for “King Kong”. He worked throughout the 1930s and 1940s for several film studios, starring in the 1937 musical comedy “The Girl Said No”, released by Grand National Films. In 1940, Armstrong co-starred in the Universal Pictures film “Enemy Agent”, a story about A Nazi spy ring in the country.

In 1942, Armstrong teamed up with actor Richard Cromwell in the notable gangster B-movie “Baby Face Nelson”, playing “Doc” Rogers, the boss of ‘Baby Face’ played by Cromwell. Later he played another leading character role, similar to Carl Denham, as Max O’Hara in “Mighty Joe Young” released in 1949. This film, produced by Merian C. Cooper and directed by Ernst B. Schoedsack, became a stop-motion animation classic, winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1950.

Armstrong appeared in the 1950s as Sheriff Andy Anderson on the syndicated wester-themed television series “State Trooper”. He also made four guest appearances on the long-running television series “Perry Mason”, playing the both title character and murder victim on one show, a defendant on another, and the murderer in “The Case of the Accosted Accountant”. Robert Armstrong died of cancer in Santa Monica, California, within sixteen hours of the death of the co-producer of “King Kong”, Merian C. Cooper.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 18th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Cross

November 18, 1908 was the birthdate of American comic actress Imogene Coca.

Imogene Coca, born Imogene Fernandez de Coca in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the daughter of José Fernandez de Coca, a conductor, and his wife Sadie Brady, a dancer and magician’s assistant.

In her youth, Imogene Coca received piano, dance, and voice lessons. While still a teenager, she moved from Philadelphia to seek a living as a dancer, starting in the chorus of the 1925 Broadway musical “When You Smile” which ran forty-nine performances in New York City. Coca came to be featured as a headliner, appearing in Manhattan nightclubs, with music arranged by her first husband, Robert Burton. She came to prominence when she began to combine music with comedy. Coca’s first big critical success was in Broadway musical revue “New Faces of 1934”. A well-received part of her act was a comic striptease, during which Coca made sultry faces and gestures but would manage to remove only one glove.

Imogene Coca played opposite Sid Caesar on “The Admiral Broadway Revue” from January to June in 1949. In the early days of live television, she again played opposite Sid Caesar in a sketch comedy program, “Your Show of Shows”, which was immensely popular from 1950 to 1954. Coca won the second-ever Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1951 and was nominated for four other Emmys for her work in the show. Her success in that program earned Coca her own series “The Imogen Coca Show which ran from 1954-1955.

Imogene Coca continued to appear on comedy and variety series from the 1950s to the 1980s. She appeared on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Hollywood Palace”, made guest appearances on “Bewitched” and “The Brady Bunch”, and occasionally appeared in films such as “Under the Yum Yum Tree” in 1963 and the 1963 “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, as Aunt Edna.

After having appeared in several Broadway musical-comedy revues and plays between the 1930s and the 1950s, Imogene Coca returned to Broadway at the age of 70 with a Tony Award-nominated performance as religious zealot Letitia Primrose in “On the Twentieth Century”, a 1978 stage musical adapted from the 1934 film. Her role, that of a religious fanatic who plasters decals onto every available surface, had been a male in both the film and the original stage production, and was rewritten specifically as a vehicle for Coca.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 16th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Yellow Skyscrapers

On November 16, 1581, Ivan the Terrible attacks his son and heir, Ivan Ivanovich.

Ivan Ivanovich was a Tsarevich, a heir apparent of Russia, and the second son of Ivan IV Vasilyevich, known as Ivan the Terrible. Young Ivan at the age of fifteen accompanied his father, who was seeking control of the city of Novgordo, during what became known as the Massacre of Novgordo. For a period of five weeks, Ivan and his father watched the army attack the city and slaughter all its noblemen.

Ivan Ivanovich’s relationship with his father began to deteriorate during the later stages of the Livonian War, where Russia faced a coalition of armed forces from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Union consisting of Lithuania and Poland. Angry with his father for his military failures, Ivan demanded to be given command of some of the troops to liberate the besieged city of Pskov, a Russian-held city under attack.

The relationship between father and son deteriorated further in November of 1581 when the Tsar physically assaulted Ivan’s pregnant wife. As a consequence, Ivan the younger’s wife, Yelena, suffered a miscarriage. Confronted about this, the Tsar changed the subject, accusing the younger Ivan of inciting rebellion and insubordination regarding Ivan’s recent actions of liberating the city of Pskov from the siege.

Angered, the Tsar Ivan struck his son, the younger Ivan, on the head with his scepter. Boris Godunov, minister to the court, tried to intervene but only received blows from the scepter himself. The younger Ivan fell, barely conscious with a bleeding wound on his temple. The younger Ivan only briefly regained consciousness before being transported to his chamber. For the next few days, Ivan the Terrible prayed for a miracle to save his son, but to no avail, Ivan Ivanovich, the Tsaravich, died on three days later on November 19, 1581.

David Hockney

David Hockney, “Man In Shower in Beverly Hills”, 1964, Acrylic on Canvas,     65 ½ x 65 ½ in.

Hockney formed his first impressions of Los Angeles from books and magazines he read before he visited the city. While still in London in 1963, he painted an invented shower scene, “Domestic Scene, Los Angeles”, now in a private collection, which included an image of two men taken from the homoerotic American magazine ‘Physique Pictorial’.

When Hockney went to Los Angeles six months later, he was particularly fascinated by the use of water for irrigation and recreation in the semi-arid environment. He delighted in experimenting with various methods of depicting drops and sprays of water, attracted by the ‘idea of painting moving water in a very slow and careful manne. Hockney painted swimming pools and lawn sprinklers, but was equally intrigued by showers.

“Americans take showers all the time … For an artist the interest of showers is obvious: the whole body is always in view and in movement, usually gracefully, as the bather is caressing his own body. There is also a three-hundred-year tradition of the bather as a subject in painting. Beverly Hills houses seemed full of showers of all shapes and sizes … They all seemed to me to have elements of luxury.” – David Hockney