Thursday, April 08, 2010

Great Gardens, Great Houses, Great Actresses & Great Statues-


April 8, 1820: The Venus de Milo is discovered on the Aegean island of Melos. "Aphroditē tēs Mēlou), better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created at some time between 130 and 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (6 ft 8 in) high. Its arms and original plinth have been lost. From an inscription that was on its plinth, it is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch; it was earlier mistakenly attributed to the master sculptor Praxiteles. It is at present on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris...The Venus de Milo's great fame in the 19th century was not simply the result of its admitted beauty, but also owed much to a major propaganda effort by the French authorities. In 1815, France had returned the Medici Venus to the Italians after it had been looted from Italy by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Medici Venus, regarded as one of the finest Classical sculptures in existence, caused the French to consciously promote the Venus de Milo as a greater treasure than that which they had recently lost. It was duly praised by artists and critics as the epitome of graceful female beauty; however, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was among its detractors, labeling it a "big gendarme".

April 8, 1783: John Claudius Loudon, Scottish botanist, garden and cemetery designer, author and garden magazine editor, was born. "Loudon was the first major advocate of the provision of public parks for the burgeoning cities of 19th century England. Throughout most of his adult life he conducted a sporadic crusade for more public open spaces, largely through his prolific literary output of articles, books, and magazines. He began his career as an advocate for public open space in 1803 with an article entitled ‘Hints of Laying Out the Ground in Public Squares’. In the early 1820s his Encyclopedia of Gardening (1822: 1826) became his forum for voicing concerns about the state of public open space in Britain"

April 8, 1892: Richard Neutra, one of modernism's most important architects, was born. "eutra was born in Vienna on April 8, 1892. He studied under Adolf Loos at the Technical University of Vienna, was influenced by Otto Wagner, and worked for a time in Germany in the studio of Erich Mendelsohn. He moved to the United States by 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before accepting an invitation from his close friend and university companion Rudolf Schindler to work and live communally in Schindler's Kings Road House in California. In California, he became celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures that represented a West Coast variation on the mid-century modern residence. In the early 1930s, Neutra's Los Angeles practice trained several young architects who went on to independent success, including Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and Raphael Soriano."

April 8, 1892: Mary Pickford, Canadian actress, was born. "Mary Pickford was a motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Known as "America's Sweetheart," "Little Mary" and "The girl with the curls," she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood. Her influence in the development of film acting was enormous. Because her international fame was triggered by moving images, she is a watershed figure in the history of modern celebrity. And as one of silent film's most important performers and producers, her contract demands were central to shaping the Hollywood industry. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute named Pickford 24th among the greatest female stars of all time."

April 8, 1896: Yip Harburg, lyricist, was born. "Edgar Yipsel Harburg, known as E.Y. Harburg or Yip Harburg, was an American popular song lyricist who worked with many well-known composers. He wrote the lyrics to the standards, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", "April in Paris", and "It's Only a Paper Moon", as well as all of the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including "Over the Rainbow"...From about 1951 to 1962, Yip Harburg was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist when movie studio bosses blacklisted industry people for suspected involvement or sympathy with the American Communist Party. No longer able to work in Hollywood, he nevertheless continued to write musicals for Broadway, among which was Jamaica, which featured Lena Horne."


Disarmed. The Story of the Venus de Milo"

By Gregory Curtis.
Published in New York by Alfred A. Knopf: 2003.

“The Venus de Milo is both a great work of art and a popular icon, and from the moment of her discovery in 1820 by a French naval ensign, she has been an object of aesthetic and archeological controversy. Using memoirs, letters, and official accounts, Gregory Curtis introduces readers to Venus as she was unearthed by a farmer, digging for marble building blocks on the Aegean island of Melos at the moment a young officer and amateur archeologist looking for classical relics happened by. Curtis tells how the island's elders fought with their Turkish overlords over who owned Venus, and how the French pressed their claim, outwitting other suitors to bring her to the Louvre, where she became an immediate celebrity.

Curtis's depiction of Europe in the early 19th century, caught in the grip of a classical art mania, reveals just how far the Louvre was prepared to go to prove it had the greatest classical find of the era, and how the French scholar Salomon Reinach and the German Adolf Furtwängler battled over the statue's origins and authenticity for decades. Curtis also presents competing theories about the statue's original appearance.”


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