Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.
Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.
(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)
Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.
While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.
The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.
One hundred years ago this fall philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus was born in French Algeria.
Although best known today for his work The Stranger, Camus wrote several important books, was involved in the French Resistance during World War II and was an active human rights proponent.
The second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, after Rudyard Kipling, Camus died in car crash in January 1960 at age 46, less than three years after winning the award.
One of Camus’ masterpieces is The Plague, a 1947 novel set in the Algerian city of Oran.
In Camus’ work, an outbreak of bubonic plague sweeps the coastal community, which is sealed off as a health measure, trapping hundreds of thousands for months as the death toll steadily mounts.
The Plague ponders the vagaries of fate and the conflict between man’s innate tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, even when none may exist.
The Getty Museum of Los Angeles has enlarged its Rembrandt collection by adding a famous self-portrait of one of the key figures of the Dutch Golden Age.
Rembrandt Laughing, seen above, is a small oil-on-copper work probably done around 1628. It came onto the art market in 2007 after spending centuries as part of private collections.
“Painted when Rembrandt was a young, newly independent artist, possibly the third self-portrait of his career, Rembrandt Laughing exemplifies his signature spirited, confident handling of paint and natural ability to convey emotion,” Scott Schaefer, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum, said. “It is a measure of the artist’s consummate skill that the dynamism of his pose and the act of laughing translates into a painting of tremendous visual impact, far exceeding its modest dimensions.”
Rembrandt Laughing was originally believed to be the work of a contemporary of the noted Dutch artist. It had belonged to an English family for approximately 100 years before they decided to sell it in 2007.
An initial valuation of $3,100 skyrocketed when researchers confirmed that the 8 3/4-inch x 6 5/8-inch work was an actual Rembrandt, and the painting sold for $4.5 million later that year.
The Los Angeles Times’ take on the recent report that William Shakespeare didn’t like to pay taxes and sought to profit from an archaic form of commodities trading says as much about the Times’ view of the world as it does about life in Elizabethan-era England.
The Times picked up on a report from researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales that claims the Bard of Avon was a grain hoarder and was pursued by authorities for tax evasion.
Profits from his actions were channeled into real estate deals, enabling Shakespeare to become a large landowner.
The Times calls Shakespeare a conniving character, a tax dodger and a profiteer. What it fails to do is add some economic context to its story.
While focusing on claims that Shakespeare “a tax dodger who profiteered during times of famine,” the Times makes just a brief mention of the fact that there was no copyright laws in Shakespeare’s time, meaning he could expect no future royalties from his works.
Instead, the publication manages to whip up a little class envy while portraying the playwright as little more than a thug:
“By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon,” according to the Times. “His profits – minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion – meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”
An English museum has received confirmation that a painting in its collection since the 19th century is the work of Flemish Baroque master Anthony van Dyck.
Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter was purchased by the founders of the Bowes Museum in 1866 and has been in its collection since it opened to the public in 1892. However, because the work was in poor condition, it had long been relegated to storage.
“Its sophisticated drapery, coloring and facial expression are typical of van Dyck’s female portraits of the 1630s, although they were overlooked due to the painting’s poor condition, leading to it being recorded in the Museum’s files as, ‘School of Van Dyck,’” according to the museum.
“Art historian and dealer Dr. Bendor Grosvenor was perusing the Public Catalogue Foundation’s massive database of all 210,000 publicly owned paintings in the UK … to research an upcoming exhibition when he spotted the Portrait of Olive Boteler Porter,” according to The History Blog.
When Grosvenor suggested that it could be a work by van Dyke himself, the museum enlisted him and his colleagues at Philip Mould & Co., who have conserved more than 20 Van Dyck’s, to restore the painting.
A glazed plate that had sat in a make-shift frame hidden behind a door in an English cottage for years was recently discovered to be worth far more than its owner knew.
The 16.5 inch Italian maiolica plate was ”uncovered” by an auctioneer who been asked to assess some items in the unidentified woman’s home in Dorset, England.
Only about two inches of it were visible when appraiser Richard Bromell caught a glimpse of the plate behind a door.
“It had been on the wall for a number of years and you couldn’t really see it but it was hugely exciting …” he told the BBC.
When put up for sale by Charterhouse Auctioneers on Feb. 14, the plate brought $880,000, despite having a small chip.
After nearly 225 years, the bells of Notre Dame de Paris will soon ring again with pitch-perfect tones.
Nine enormous, new bronze bells, including one weighing six and half tons, have arrived in Paris to give the famed medieval cathedral a more harmonious sound.
They are joining the cathedral’s oldest surviving bell, a great bell named Emmanuel, to restore rich tones originally conceived for the great church, according to The Daily Mail.
The new bells, each named for a saint or prominent Catholic figure, were nearly all cast in a foundry in the Normandy town of Villedieu. They will be blessed Saturday in the cathedral’s nave by Archbishop Andre Armand Vingt-Trois, according to The Associated Press.
“The nine casts were ordered for the cathedral’s 850th birthday – to replace the discordant “ding dang” of the previous four 19th century chimes,” according to the wire serve.
The original bells, except for Emmanuel, were destroyed in the French Revolution, and the replacements were said to be France’s “most out-of-tune church bells.” Emmanuel has long enjoyed a special place in the hearts of Parisians; it was rung in 1944 to announce the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation.
Perhaps the most famous bell-ringer in literary history, Quasimodo, toiled at Notre Dame in Victor Hugo’s 1831 classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” It should be noted that he was also deaf.
A quarter century after an impressionist work by Henri Matisse was taken from a Swedish museum by a thief wielding a sledgehammer, the 1920 painting has been recovered.
The work, “Le Jardin,” an oil on canvas now worth approximately $1 million, was about to be sold when dealer Charles Roberts ran it through a global database of stolen art – standard practice before a sale, according to Agence France-Presse.
Roberts, who runs Charles Fine Art in southern England, said he was stunned to discover the Matisse had been filched in May 1987.
“It’s not something that happens every day,” Roberts said. “I’m glad I found out now rather than later.”
Roberts said the current Polish owner, whom he did not name, had bought the artwork in good faith 20 years ago, according to the Associated Press.
Christopher Marinello, a lawyer working with the London-based Art Loss Register, which tracks stolen, missing and looted art, said the painting, valued at about $1 million, would be returned to Stockholm’s Moderna Museet.
Among the myriad tragedies of the American Civil War was its impact on families, with many divided as some members cast their lots with the North and others sided with the South.
One such individual who broke with his family over the war was James Lord Pierpont, a Boston native whose father Rev. John Pierpont was an abolitionist and pastor of a Unitarian church in the Massachusetts capital.
James Pierpont enjoyed a fascinating life by any measure.
Sent to boarding school at age 10, he ran away four years later, sailing aboard a whaling ship called The Shark. He apparently found sea life to his liking; following his stint aboard The Shark he served in the Navy until he was 21.
By 1845, he had returned to New England and married, but in 1849, James Pierpont left his wife and children with his father to open a business in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. However, his business failed after his goods were destroyed in a fire.
James returned to New England, but his wife died in 1853. When his brother accepted a position as pastor at a Savannah, Ga., Unitarian church, James followed, taking over as the organist and music director, according to Timothy Daiss’ 2002 book Rebels, Saints, and Sinners: Savannah’s Rich History and Colorful Personalities.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where the largest statue of Vladimir Lenin once resided for decades, may be home to a lost masterpiece of Renaissance art.
One of Paolo Veronese’s versions of “Lamentation of Christ” has gone on display at the Uzbek State Arts Museum, according to Uzbek experts. Officials with the museum say it is one of several versions of the 16th century work the Italian artist painted that portrays the lamentation after Christ’s descent from the cross.
However the Italian embassy in Tashkent has urged caution, saying while the show is a remarkable event, further work will be needed to confirm that the picture is a genuine Veronese, according to Agence France-Presse.
The Arts Museum said the work was brought to Uzbekistan in the 19th century when the territory was part of the Russian Empire. It was part of the collection which belonged to the Romanovs, Russia’s last dynasty.
“The painting came to Tashkent as part of the luggage of Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich Romanov, the grandson of Tsar Nicolas I who was exiled to Uzbekistan after falling out with the royal family over an affair with an American woman,” according to the wire service.
Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto are known as the pre-eminent Venetian painters of the late Renaissance. Veronese is touted for his work with colors and for his illusionistic decorations in both fresco and oil, according to art historian Lawrence Gowing.