Archive for History

Lord Byron on Greek Stamps

Posted in Greece, Object with tags , , on September 10, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

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Another hero of the Greek War of Independence, Λόρδος Βύρων famously lost his life fighting in the cause of freedom for Greece.

Panagiotis Zografos

Posted in Greece, Painting with tags , , on September 9, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
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“The fair decision of God is for the liberation of Greece”
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“The fall of Constantinople”
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“General naval battles of the Greeks”
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“A. Battle of the Greeks against the Turks at the bridge of Alamana
B. In Saint Marina in Stylida
C. In Patrakitsi”
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“Battle of Gravia”
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“Battle of Lagada”
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“Battle of the Kings”
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“Battle of Tripolitzas and the surrounding villages”
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“???”
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“Battles of Argos, Agionori and Corinth”
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Battles of the Greeks in Karpenisi and Kaliakouda
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“Battle of Athens, first siege of the Acropolis”
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“Battle of Athens, first siege of the Acropolis”

Panagiotis Zografos was a folk painter and veteran of the Greek War of Independence. One suspects that his artistic profession was a hereditary one (his surname actually means “painter” in Greek) and his style preserves some traces, nearly four hundred years after the fall of Constantinople, of Byzantine art. In the 1830s Zografos was chosen to illustrate a series of commemorative prints, by the great general and war hero Yannis Makriyannis who found Zografos’ simple, direct style perfectly suited to the presentation of history to a largely illiterate populace. The resulting images are a unique document of war as envisioned by one of its humble participants.

We found these images here, and though we have done our best to translate the Greek captions some of them remain uncertain.

Athens in 1829 & 1835

Posted in Drawing, Greece, Writing with tags , , on September 6, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
Franz Heger, View of Athens, 1829
Franz Heger
View of Athens, 1829

This charming view of the little town of Athens, clustered around the mighty Acropolis, was presumably made from the hill of Lycabettus, looking southwest toward Piraeus and the islands of the Saronic Gulf beyond. We found it at this website where it accompanies a very atmospheric firsthand account of Athens by one Bettina Schinas, who moved to the city in 1835.

Alexandrian Kings

Posted in Greece, Poetry with tags , , , on September 2, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

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The Alexandrians came out in droves
to have a look at Cleopatra’s children:
Caesarion, and also his little brothers,
Alexander and Ptolemy, who for the first
time were being taken to the Gymnasium,
that they might proclaim them kings
before the brilliant ranks of soldiers.

Alexander: they declared him king
of Armenia, of Media, of the Parthians.
Ptolemy: they declared him king
of Cilicia, of Syria, of Phoenicia.
Caesarion was standing well in front,
attired in rose-colored silk,
on his chest a garland of hyacinths,
his belt a double row of sapphires and amethysts,
his shoes laced up with white
ribbons embroidered with pink-skinned pearls.
Him they declared greater than the boys:
him they declared King of Kings.

The Alexandrians were certainly aware
that these were merely words, a bit of theatre.

But the day was warm and poetic, the sky pale blue,
the Alexandrian Gymnasium
a triumphant artistic achievement,
the courtiers’ elegance exceptional,
Caesarion all grace and beauty
(Cleopatra’s son, of Lagid blood):
and the Alexandrians rushed to the festival,
filled with excitement, and shouted acclaim
in Greek, and in Egyptian, and some in Hebrew,
enchanted by the lovely spectacle—
though of course they knew what they were worth,
what empty words these kingdoms were.

In his poem the great C. P. Cavafy turns a characteristically ironic eye upon the Donations of Alexandria of 34 BC, in which the children of Cleopatra were invested with many royal and divine titles. Pride of place at this event was given to Caesarion, Cleopatra’s eldest child and alleged heir of Julius Caesar. Caesarion had already been declared pharaoh and co-ruler of Egypt at the age of three, on this day in 44 BC. He and his brothers never inherited the kingdoms given them and their true fates are unknown, the subject of many legends. Interestingly, Cavafy does not mention their sister, Cleopatra Selene II, who survived the intrigues that birthed the Roman Empire and became Queen Consort of Mauretania. Her children were the last known issue of the three-centuries-old House of Ptolemy.
Image: Isis, Serapis and their child Harpocrates; marble relief; c. 125 BC; found at Henchir el-Attermine, Tunisia; Musée du Louvre
Text: C. P. Cavafy: Complete Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
Read the poem in Greek
Hear the poem in Greek

Frederick Douglass in Daguerreotypes

Posted in Photo with tags , , on August 20, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
Anon, Portrait of Frederick Douglass, 1848, Chester Co Hist Soc
Anonymous, 1848, Chester County Historical Society

Samuel J. Miller, Frederick Douglass, 1852, Daguerreotype. Art Institute of Chicago.
Samuel J. Miller, 1847/52, Art Institute of Chicago

Anon, Portrait of Frederick Douglass, c. 1855, Met
Anonymous, c. 1855, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Anon, Portrait of Frederick Douglass, c. 1855, Nelson
Anonymous, c. 1855, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The great abolitionist leader and statesman Frederick Douglass is claimed as the most-photographed American of the 19th century. He was certainly a frequent visitor to the photographic studios of the day and these are just a few of the magnificent portraits for which he posed throughout a long life in the public eye. Douglass seems to have loved the camera and the feeling was mutual: the majestic figure he cut in images such as these may well have been as influential as his words in asserting the dignity and equality of African-Americans.

Boulevard du Temple

Posted in Photo with tags , , , on August 19, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
Louis Daguerre, Boulevard du Temple, c.1838-39a
Louis Daguerre
Boulevard du Temple, c. 1838-39

One of Daguerre’s few surviving originals. The two figures on the corner of the street, one of whom appears to be having his shoes shined by the other, are believed to be the first humans ever photographed. The crowds thronging this busy Parisian thoroughfare were obliterated in their haste by the long exposure time Daguerre’s early process required.

Louis Daguerre, Boulevard du Temple, c.1838-39b
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A Gift to the World

Posted in Photo with tags , , on August 19, 2016 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot, Portrait of Louis Daguerre, 1844
Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot
Daguerreotype portrait of Louis Daguerre, 1844

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On this day in 1839 the government of France, having acquired the rights to Louis Daguerre‘s pioneering photographic technique in exchange for a life pension, published and proclaimed the daguerreotype process as “a gift to the world”. Within two decades Daguerre’s brilliant invention was superseded by the more versatile wet collodion process but as the first practical photographic technique capable of capturing fine detail daguerreotypy was an era-defining breakthrough in technology, changing forever the way we see the world. Many millions of daguerreotypes were taken during the brief period of the process’s supremacy while sadly, most of Daguerre’s own work was lost in a studio fire and only a handful of his epoch-making photographs survive.