Friday, April 30, 2010

Meet Me in St. Louis, We Can Pick Up a Picasso or 20...


- When in doubt, haul the Picassos out : "There have already been several such haulings-out this year, and now comes the biggest of all, “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” a display of nearly every scrap in the Met’s scrappy Picasso collection: 34 paintings, 58 drawings, a dozen sculptures and ceramics, along with 200 of the museum’s 400 prints... "Read the full story

- Sotheby's to Sell John Lennon's Handwritten Lyrics for A Day In The Life : "On 18 June 2010 Sotheby’s New York will offer for sale John Lennon’s autograph Lyrics for A Day In The Life – the revolutionary song that marked the Beatles transformation from pop icons to artists. The double-sided sheet of paper in Lennon’s hand is complete with cross-outs, corrections, reworkings, and chronicles the evolution of one of the most famous pop masterpieces from conception to the lyrics presumably used in the recording studio. A Day In The Life was the final track of the Beatles legendary 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which spent 27 weeks at the top of the UK’s charts and 15 weeks at number one on the American Billboard 200. The lyrics once belonged to Mal Evans, the Beatles’ road manager and are estimated to fetch $500,000/700,000..." Read the whole story


April 30, 1904: The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the Saint Louis World's Fair, opens in St. Louis, Missouri. "The Fair celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase (1803), one year late. It was delayed from a planned opening in 1903 to 1904 allow for full-scale participation by more states and foreign countries. The Fair opened April 30, 1904, and closed December 1, 1904. There were over 1,500 buildings, connected by some 75 miles of roads and walkways. It was said to be impossible to give even a hurried glance at everything in less than a week. The Palace of Agriculture alone covered some 20 acres."

"A number of foods are claimed to have been invented at the fair. The most popular claim is that the waffle-style ice cream cone was invented and first sold during the fair. However, it is widely believed that it was not invented at the Fair, but instead, it was popularized at the Fair. Other claims are more dubious, including the hamburger and hot dog, peanut butter, iced tea, and cotton candy. It is more likely, however, that these food items were first introduced to mass audiences and popularized by the fair. Dr Pepper and Puffed Wheat cereal were first introduced to a national audience at the fair."

April 30, 1939: The 1939-40 New York World's Fair opened. "The fair, which covered the 1,216 acres of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (also the location of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair), was the largest world's fair of all time. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits in two seasons. The NYWF of 1939-1940 was the first exposition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of "Dawn of a New Day", and it allowed all visitors to take a look at "the world of tomorrow". According to the official New York World's Fair pamphlet-

The eyes of the Fair are on the future – not in the sense of peering toward the unknown nor attempting to foretell the events of tomorrow and the shape of things to come, but in the sense of presenting a new and clearer view of today in preparation for tomorrow; a view of the forces and ideas that prevail as well as the machines. To its visitors the Fair will say: "Here are the materials, ideas, and forces at work in our world. These are the tools with which the World of Tomorrow must be made. They are all interesting and much effort has been expended to lay them before you in an interesting way. Familiarity with today is the best preparation for the future."

Of course, the immediate future included the outbreak of the Second World War, but that wasn't the Fair's fault.


"The Story of Exhibitions"

By Kenneth W. Luckhurst.
Published in London by Studio Publications in 1951.

The first industrial exhibition was held in London in 1761; everybody knows of the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, and the World's Fair of 1939. Here are those, and countless others, in an entertaining survey of exhibitions, mostly Great, all certainly meant to be, from the 18th to the 20th century.



In the film, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) a comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Carole Lombard and Gene Raymond visit the New York World's Fair after a dinner date and find themselves stuck high in the air on the fair's popular parachute ride when it malfunctions-

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Excuse Me, But I Believe Your Flapper is Camping...

I bought this photo at the Northampton book Fair two years ago and just ran across it today. If you look closely in the tent, I believe you will find that our 1920s flapper has brought along an actual bed to sleep on. My favorite part of the photo, though, aside from her headband, is the cast iron stove, with a pot on it. How on earth did she drag that in??

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lionel Barrymore Takes The Devil's Doll to the Art Deco Exposition-


April 28, 1878 – Lionel Barrymore, American stage and screen icon, was born. He was the elder brother of Ethel and John Barrymore, the uncle of John Drew Barrymore, and the granduncle (or great-uncle) of Drew Barrymore. If all you know about him is that he played Old Man Potter in 'It's a Wonderful Life', you need to hie yourself to Netflix or, better yet, your local independent video store, as quickly as possible.

Yes- now. Go on, we'll wait.

April 28, 1925: The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (from which the phrase Art Deco was coined) opens in Paris. It would run all summer, closing in October, and the world would never be the same.

I'm going to quote for a moment from an excellent essay on the Fair, its history and influences, from World's Fair magazine, Volume VIII, Number 3, 1988-

"To some extent, Art Deco was a movement very much in the spirit of art nouveau. Both forms rejected the decorative vocabularies of the past, with their inevitable longings for classical motifs, themes, and proportions. Both were essentially surface arts, reflecting John Ruskin's earlier pronouncement that ornamentation is the principal part of architecture. But since the dawn of the twentieth century, there were three new influences that exerted themselves on the imagination of artists and craftsmen alike: Cubism in painting, colonial art from the French colonies, and the Bauhaus movement in architecture. Each of these influences could be seen clearly in the architecture and exhibits of the 1925 exposition.

"Art nouveau had favored a kind of sinuous grace in its lines – the grace of draped vines, or of the languid movements of exotic dancers. The Cubism of Braque, Gris, and Picasso, though, heralded a new taste for abrupt angularity. Translated in to the decorative arts of furniture, clothing, and architecture, this abruptness was smoothed into a sleekness of line that we now call streamlined. "All that clearly distinguished the older ways of life was rigorously excluded from the exposition of 1925," wrote Waldemar George. The new style would be aggressively modern, taking its lead from the avant-garde in the other arts in expressing a new spirit of the age.

"The art and artifacts of black Africa, collected by connoisseurs since the opening years of the century, were also seen as sources of a kind of primitive, muscular vitality that was unavailable either to the traditional decorative modes or to the languid lines of art nouveau. Many of the highly stylized and brilliantly colored fabric designs of Art Deco owe their existence to French designers' admiration for, and translation of, African fabrics and masks. The 1925 exposition marks a real turning point with regard to the French feeling towards the colonial peoples. African fabrics, once seen as quaint productions of a retarded people, were now energetically incorporated into the Art Deco style, which seemed to fit well with the angular energy of "primitive" art. Paralleling the fascination with African crafts and art was the mania for Josephine Baker and her Revue Nègre, which took Paris by storm in the 1920s. The enthusiasm with which the French embraced these two manifestations of black culture is, in one respect, a carryover of the thirst for the exotic that has marked French society for centuries. But, on higher level, the French acceptance of black culture marks a turning point in the acceptance of the society and mores of a people whom she once felt were backward and benighted. Art Deco is the clearest sign of a measure, not just of tolerance, but acceptance of the value of other cultures..."

You can read a LOT more about the Exposition, and see many vintage images of it, here.


"Der Neue Stil in Frankreich"
[Cover title: Der Moderne Stil in Frankreich]

By Henry Van de Velde.
Published in Berlin by Verlag Ernst Wasmuth: 1925.

A wonderful survey of Art Deco design in France, chosen by one of the leading architects and designers of the era. Van de Velde writes an introduction (in German) and then 64 plates present the work of Legrain, Jeanneret, Puiforcat, and dozens of others, in furniture, silver, glassware, lighting, interiors, architecture, and even hair styles and a motorcar.



Lionel Barrymore, 1936:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our New Spring Catalog-

The Book Elves are big ‘American Idol’ fans. I mean BIG. They even auditioned last year, as a group, when the try-outs were at Foxboro Stadium. The sight is seared into my memory- they descended onto the field in two Army-surplus Huey helicopters, “YMCA” blaring from loudspeakers mounted on the skids, all dressed in gold silk shorts and sequined go-go boots (even the male book Elves).

I understand Simon Cowell now breaks out in hives at the site of go-go boots.

But before they were requested (well, ordered by the court, actually) never to be seen flying around the skies of southeastern Massachusetts ever again, the Book Elves finished our latest catalog -

"RECENT ACQUISITIONS for SPRING, 2010" features 106 books and catalogs on all aspects of antiques and art, including furniture, folk art, silver, glass, ceramics, textiles, and Orientalia.

You can browse it on our website -

Samuel F.B. Morse Searches for a Tea Party Under the Hollywood(land) Sign


- Want to add acreage to your local park? Plant an ugly-yet-iconic sign on it and dangle it in front of Hugh Hefner :

"When Playboy founder Hugh Hefner heard that the campaign to buy the open space west of the Hollywood sign was short about $1 million, he anted up $900,000. The mountaintop once belonged to aircraft titan Howard Hughes, who acquired it in the 1930s hoping to build a love nest for actress Ginger Rogers. (She wouldn't let him.) It sat unbuilt upon and forgotten for decades until 2002, when a group of Chicago investors bought the land from the Hughes estate at a bargain-basement price. When they announced plans to subdivide the peak into five luxury home sites, city officials were as shocked as residents. But on Monday, the Trust for Public Land announced that, thanks to Hefner's gift it finally had the $12.5 million needed to buy Cahuenga Peak from Fox River Financial Resources Inc. The 138-acre property, which offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley, now will become part of Griffith Park..." read the full story

Of course, what's most fascinating about this entire brouhaha is that the sign was erected in 1923 (as "Hollywoodland") to advertise a- (yes, that's right!) ...a luxury housing development.


April 27, 1667: "The blind and impoverished John Milton sells the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10."

That's how Wikipedia's Daily Calendar puts it, but was it really as bad as it sounds? Well, Milton was living in a cottage in London with his new 24-year old wife at the time, writing away, and would publish a number of other books, including 'Paradise Regained' (1671), as well as a new edition of 'Paradise Lost', before his death in 1674. Also, ten pounds was worth a lot more then -the sum works about to about $21,000 now, using income index calculators. That's still not a lot for an international best-seller, but consider how little copyright was actually worth in those days of widespread literary piracy. Besides, William Blake hadn't gotten his hands on it yet, and nothing adds value like a few original Blake illustrations...

April 27, 1791: Samuel F. B. Morse, American artist and inventor, was born. Morse is best remembered as the inventor (or not) of the telegraph, but was also an accomplished artist. He studied in America and London under Allston, and was elected to England's Royal Academy in 1811. He specialized in allegorical scenes and portraits and became something of a political crank, often using his paintings to score anti-Federalist, pro-Jeffersonian points. His work on the telegraph began in the 1830s and involved him in patent suits and claims for the rest of his life -the only patent he was actually granted on the telegraph came from Sultan Abdülmecid in Istanbul in 1847. Today historians still argue about whether Morse's ideas and inventions were actually his own, though none argue his important influence on the development of the telegraphic systems in the 19th century, nor the invention of Morse Code.

That's the good news, but that's not the end of the story. Here's the bad news- Samuel F.B. Morse was a raging racist. As the slavery debate came to a boil in the 1850s Morse firmly entrenched himself among those who thought it was a deal which had worked out pretty well for the slaves, and wrote- "My creed on the subject of slavery is short. Slavery per se is not sin. It is a social condition ordained from the beginning of the world for the wisest purposes, benevolent and disciplinary, by Divine Wisdom. The mere holding of slaves, therefore, is a condition having per se nothing of moral character in it, any more than the being a parent, or employer, or ruler".

But that's not all. He was also staunchly against immigration, and in 1836 he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York as a member of the anti-immigrant "Nativist Party". He promoted laws which would have banned Catholics from holding public office, championed changing immigration laws to limit immigration from Catholic countries, and wrote articles stating that the the Austrian government and Catholic aid organizations were subsidizing Catholic immigration to the United States in order to gain control of the country. “We must first stop the leak in the ship through which muddy waters from without threaten to sink us,” he wrote.

Fortunately, such times & paranoias are a thing of the past, and we may remember Samuel F.B. Morse today simply as a fine painter.

April 27, 1891: Sergei Prokofiev, child musical prodigy and one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, was born in Ukraine. There wasn't very much he didn't eventually try his hand at -his orchestral music, operas, ballets, chamber works, and piano music are all regularly performed around the world, though he has never quite had the reputation amongst Western critics enjoyed by comparable composers such as Stravinsky and Schoenberg. One reason may be that he chose to return to the Soviet Union in 1935 and remained there until his death on March 5, 1953.

That was, incidentally, the same day that Stalin died. Helpful Hint of the Day- if you're going to die in Russia & you expect anyone to notice, don't die the same day Stalin does. "For three days the throngs gathered to mourn Stalin, making it impossible to carry Prokofiev's body out for the funeral service at the headquarters of the Soviet Composer's Union. Paper flowers and a taped recording of the funeral march from Romeo and Juliet had to be used, as all real flowers and musicians were reserved for Stalin's funeral. The leading Soviet musical periodical reported Prokofiev's death as a brief item on page 116, the first 115 pages being devoted to the death of Stalin."

On the other hand, since 1953, Prokofiev has gotten waaay better press than Stalin has.


"American Paintings and Related Pictures in the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum"

By Edgar P. Richardson.
Published by the University Press of Virginia in 1986.

A scholarly catalog of this fine collection divided into four parts- portraits of the du Ponts, the American School prior to 1776, the American school after 1776, and foreign works with American subjects. Each work is fully described and illustrated with a color illustration.




Monday, April 26, 2010

America's Most Famous Illegal Alien Gives Thanks for Bing Crosby in Central Park-


- The Guardian's Jonathan Jones takes on Cubism with no strings, and likes it : "Intellectual attempts to understand the cubist world of Picasso and Braque are misplaced – we should just enjoy it..." read the full blog entry


April 26, 1785: John James Audubon, French-American naturalist and illustrator, was born in Haiti, son of a prosperous sugar plantation owner. As a young man he decided to dodge the French draft and thus became America's most famous illegal alien, entering the country with forged papers. For much of the rest of his life he wandered the West, shooting and drawing birds, and pestering friends to buy his books.

April 26, 1798: Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, French Romantic artist, is born in Charenton, France. As Wikipedia notes- "A French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school, Delacroix's use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement." Of course, as a academic painter, he was also everything the Impressionists and Symbolists were rebelling against, but that's a story for another day.

April 26, 1822: Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect & park designer, was born. During his long career he designed a number of beautiful public parks, such as New York's Central Park & Prospect Park, Boston's 'Emerald Necklace', the Niagara Reservation in Niagara Falls, Belle Isle Park, in the Detroit River for Detroit, the Grand Necklace of Parks in Milwaukee, and the entire parks and parkway system in Louisville, Kentucky. To thank him, cities across America let his parks deteriorate by not maintaining them, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of them, including Central Park, are now being restored, though with money getting tight again, who knows what will happen tomorrow?

April 26, 1917: I.M. Pei was born. Pei stands with Frank Lloyd Wright and a handful of others as one of the 20th centuries most brilliant and innovative architects. As a college-bound student in China in the 1930s he would be lured to the University of Pennsylvania by Bing Crosby's depiction of American college-life. Once here he became disgusted with the Beaux-Arts-inspired architectural curriculum and transfered to engineering at MIT before returning to architecture. Later in life he would cause a galactic gust of Gallic rage by proposing to expand the Louvre by planting a glass pyramid in the front courtyard (a pyramid which is now almost universally-beloved by Parisians). He also designed such landmarks as Boston's John F. Kennedy Library, New York's Jacob Javits Center, and the East Building of Washington's National Gallery of Art.

Thank you, Bing Crosby.


"The Victorian Gardener.
The Growth of Gardening & the Floral World"

By Anne Wilkinson.
Published by Sutton Publishing in 2006.

“It was only in the 1860s that the foundations for modern amateur gardening as we know it today were laid down; before then, middle-class garden owners had to learn the new skills needed by trial, error, and hard work. The professionals in this field refused to believe that gardens in towns were even a possibility. The aspiring gardeners, however, wrote their own books, invented their own tools, and swapped information amongst themselves. The whole purpose of gardening was changing; the public began to view it as enjoyable, interesting, and productive. Anne Wilkinson used Victorian periodicals to bolster her research, and this book features dozens of illustrations culled from them”.



Steve Martin on The Dating Game in 1968, when he was a staff writer for the Smothers Brothers television show. Who knew?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Garden Notes: April 25, 2010

The bleeding heart by the kitchen are getting an early start-

Progress is being made on the back wall. Here is a shot of the area behind the wall "before" (well, "before-ish", -the entire area was overgrown with Burning Bush & grape vines when we started, and in this shot half the berm they were growing on has already been excavated)-

A here's what we have today, with everything cleaned up and several clumps of tall (well, they will be later) perennials already moved over from the front of the wall-

The bee-balm has been moved from in front of the wall and looks happy-

Want some poison ivy? Have we got poison ivy. Here's an example which must be at least a decade old growing up a tree. If you see anything like this, don't touch the "hairs" on the vine (they're actually tendrils the vine uses to grasp the bark), because they've got irritating oil in them, just like the leaves-

Holy Bohemians, Brother Batman! Can Burlington Save Palladio?


- Brother Thomas's gift. A monk-turned-potter’s bequest lightens the load for eight local artists : "One of the most overworked cliches about the creative world is the notion of “the struggling artist,’’ with its connotations of unheated garrets, paint-spattered clothing, crumpled paper littering the floor.But to Brother Thomas Bezanson, the struggle was very real. Long before the Benedictine monk-turned-potter was celebrated for his fine ceramics, which are now in the collections of more than 80 museums around the world and have fetched as much as $100,000, there was a time when he couldn’t afford the propane gas to fire his pots. He knew small amounts of money could make a critical difference to an artist, and he never forgot the kindness bestowed on him by the friend who gave him $500 to buy propane, or the couple who helped support him so he could dedicate himself to his art..." Read the full story

- "The Last Bohemians" by Roger Bristow - Frances Spalding finds much to enjoy in a biography of a bohemian couple who lived the artistic life to its extremes : "Famous in the 1940s, Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde are today almost forgotten figures. Much of their art in public collections is hidden from view. But the legend they created lives on. Roger Bristow brings factual accuracy and nuanced understanding to this first full account of their lives and work. But it nevertheless remains a tale about an intense relationship, shot through with humour, brutality, tragedy and farce..." Read the entire book review


April 25, 1694: Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, 'the Apollo of the Arts', was born. "Lord Burlington, also known as "the architect Earl", was instrumental in the revival of Palladian architecture. Three foreign Grand Tours 1714 – 1719 and a further trip to Paris in 1726 gave him opportunities to develop his taste. His professional skill as an architect was extraordinary in an English aristocrat. He carried his copy of Andrea Palladio's book I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura with him in touring the Veneto in 1719, and made copious notes in the margins. Burlington's first project, appropriately, was his own London residence, Burlington House, where he dismissed his baroque architect James Gibbs when he returned from the continent in 1719 and employed the Scottish architect Colen Campbell, with the history-painter-turned-designer William Kent for the interiors. The courtyard front of Burlington House, prominently sited in Piccadilly, was the first major executed statement of neo-Palladianism. By the early 1730s Palladian style had triumphed as the generally-accepted manner for a British country house or public building, and for the rest of his life Burlington was "the Apollo of the arts" as Horace Walpole phrased it."

April 25, 1909: William Pereira, American architect, was born. "Pereira was noted for his futuristic designs of landmark buildings such as the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. Remarkably prolific, he worked out of Los Angeles, and was known for his love of science fiction and expensive cars, but mostly for his unmistakable style of architecture, which helped define the look of mid-20th century America."

April 25, 1939: Batman is born with the publication of DC Comics #27. "In early 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics prompted editors at the comic book division of National Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes for its titles. In response, Bob Kane created "the Bat-Man." Collaborator Bill Finger said he devised the name Bruce Wayne for the character's secret identity: "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Bruce, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock … then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne." Various aspects of Batman's personality, character history, visual design and equipment were inspired by contemporary popular culture of the 1930s, including movies, pulp magazines, comic strips, newspaper headlines, and even aspects of Kane himself. Kane noted especially the influence of the films The Mark of Zorro (1920) and The Bat Whispers (1930) in the creation of the iconography associated with the character, while Finger drew inspiration from literary characters Doc Savage, The Shadow, and Sherlock Holmes in his depiction of Batman as a master sleuth and scientist. Kane, in his 1989 autobiography, detailed Batman's creation:

One day I called Bill and said, 'I have a new character called the Bat-Man and I've made some crude, elementary sketches I'd like you to look at'. He came over and I showed him the drawings. At the time, I only had a small domino mask, like the one Robin later wore, on Batman's face. Bill said, 'Why not make him look more like a bat and put a hood on him, and take the eyeballs out and just put slits for eyes to make him look more mysterious?' At this point, the Bat-Man wore a red union suit; the wings, trunks, and mask were black. I thought that red and black would be a good combination. Bill said that the costume was too bright: 'Color it dark gray to make it look more ominous'. The cape looked like two stiff bat wings attached to his arms. As Bill and I talked, we realized that these wings would get cumbersome when Bat-Man was in action, and changed them into a cape, scalloped to look like bat wings when he was fighting or swinging down on a rope. Also, he didn't have any gloves on, and we added them so that he wouldn't leave fingerprints."


"Neoclassicism and Romanticism. Architecture, Sculpture. Painting. Drawing"

Edited by Rolf Toman.
Published in Stuttgart by Konemann in 2006.

“Illustrated with some 900 color photographs and reproductions, this volume explores the complexities of Neoclassicism and Romanticism in architecture and art through in-depth articles by eleven scholars, and reveals how these seemingly antithetical styles are in fact closely related. Looking at the period from the renewed interest in the art and architecture of classical antiquity in the mid-18th century (following the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii and the arrival of new architectural theories), through the effusions of the mid-19th century, it includes the work of such artists as Johann Heinrich Füssli, Eugène Delacroix, J.M.W. Turner, William Blake, and Francisco de Goya.”


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beware of Greek Maps Bearing Nude Portraits of Angelica Kauffman-


- Here be monsters : "When the world was still being discovered, maps were not only images of power, but retained elements of the fabulous and the mythical. And – long before landscape paintings – they were displayed as works of art..." Read the full story

- Hearing on Limits for Vendors Gets Creative Response : "When the city’s artists are fuming, they create. And when the focus of their rage is Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his efforts to crack down on selling art in parks, a new genre is born.
There, on Friday, was the mayor in all varieties: Bloomberg the Barbarian, a muscle-bound mayor with sword and helmet; Bloomberg the Stalinist, a frowning mayor lost in a fiery red sea; Bloomberg the Billionaire, with dollar signs for eyes..." Read the full story


April 24, 1184 BC – Thirty Greek soldiers enter the walled city of Troy, hidden inside a gigantic figural statue known to posterity as "the Trojan Horse." Despite Casandra's warning that, "Nothing good can come of bad art", the people of Troy place the statue in their city square, with calamitous consequences.

April 24, 1718 – Nathaniel Hone, Irish-born painter & miniaturist, was born. "Nathaniel Hone was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768. While his paintings were popular, his reputation was particularly enhanced by his skill at producing miniatures and enamels. He courted controversy in 1775 when his satirical picture "The Conjurer" was seen to attack the fashion for Italian Renaissance art and to ridicule Sir Joshua Reynolds (it also included a nude caricature of fellow Academician Angelica Kauffmann, later painted out by Hone), and was rejected by the Royal Academy. To show his reputation was undamaged, Hone organised a one-man retrospective in London – the first such solo exhibition of an artist’s work."

April 24, 1800 – The United States Library of Congress is established when President John Adams signs legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress".

April 24, 1904 – Willem de Kooning was born. A Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam. During the 1940s and thereafter, he became increasingly identified with the Abstract Expressionist movement and was recognized as one of its leaders in the mid-1950s.

April 24, 1913 – The Woolworth Building skyscraper in New York City is opened. "The Woolworth Building, at 57 stories, is one of the oldest—and one of the most famous—skyscrapers in New York City. More than 95 years after its construction, it is still one of the fifty tallest buildings in the United States as well as one of the twenty tallest buildings in New York City. The building is a National Historic Landmark, having been listed in 1966."

"I've been a worker:
Under my hand the pyramids arose.
I made mortar for the Woolworth Building.
-Langston Hughes, 'Negro'


"The Island of Lost Maps. A True Story of a Cartographic Crime"

By Miles Harvey.
Published by Random House in 2000.

“This is the story of a curious crime spree: the theft of irreplaceable centuries-old maps from some of the most prominent research libraries in the United States and Canada. The perpetrator was a nondescript antiques dealer from Florida with a razor blade in his pocket and the unlikely name of Gilbert Bland Jr. His cross-country slash-and-dash operation went virtually undetected until he was caught in 1995 with 150 maps in his possession and another 100 sold to black market collectors”.