Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jefferson, Blasphemy, Messiahs, Timekeepers, Museums & Memorials


April 13, 1743: Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States (though not at that time), was born. "A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, political leader, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. When President John F. Kennedy welcomed 49 Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."


- Ireland's Blasphemy Law: Worse Than Blasphemy? There could perhaps be no better (or worse, depending on your religious inclination) day to open a blasphemous art exhibition than Good Friday. As many Irish Catholics were dutifully attending church, a group of young, well-dressed Dubliners gathered in the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art to view an exhibition inspired by the country's new — and much loathed — antiblasphemy law. The first artwork to greet the visitors to "Blasphemous" is a grotesque variation on Michelangelo's Pieta, with the Virgin Mary transformed into a malicious giant rat... Read the full story


April 13, 1742: George Frideric Handel's oratorio Messiah makes its world-premiere in Dublin, Ireland. "Messiah (HWV 56) is an English oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel, and is one of the most popular works in the Western choral literature. The libretto by Charles Jennens is drawn entirely from the King James and Great Bibles, and interprets the Christian doctrine of the Messiah. Messiah, often incorrectly called The Messiah, is one of Handel's most famous works. Composed in London during the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland on 13 April 1742, it was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. In 1789 Mozart orchestrated a German version of the work, and his added woodwind parts, and the edition by Ebenezer Prout, were commonly heard until the mid-20th century and the rise of historically informed performance. The Messiah sing-alongs now common at Christmas often consist of only the first of the oratorio's three parts, with the Hallelujah Chorus (originally concluding the second part) replacing His Yoke is Easy in the first part."

April 13, 1772: Eli Terry, American clockmaker and an innovator in mass production, was born. "An inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut, Terry received a United States patent for a shelf clock mechanism. He introduced mass production to the art of clockmaking, which made clocks affordable for the average American citizen. Terry occupies an important place in the beginnings of the development of interchangeable parts manufacturing, and became one of the most accomplished mechanics in New England during the early part of the nineteenth century. The village of Terryville, Connecticut is named for his son, Eli Terry Jr.

April 13, 1860: James Ensor, Belgian painter, was born. "James Ensor is considered to be an innovator in 19th century art. Although he stood apart from other artists of his time, he significantly influenced such 20th century artists as Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, George Grosz, Alfred Kubin, Wols, Felix Nussbaum, and other expressionist and surrealist painters of the 20th century."

April 13, 1870: The Metropolitan Museum of Art founded. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, known colloquially as The Met, is an art museum located on the eastern edge of Central Park, along what is known as Museum Mile in New York City. It has a permanent collection containing more than two million works of art, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, often referred to simply as "the Met", is one of the world's largest art galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens. The founders included businessmen and financiers, as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day, who wanted to open a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, and was originally located at 681 Fifth Avenue.

April 13, 1943: The Jefferson Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C., on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birth. The neoclassical building was designed by John Russell Pope. It was built by Philadelphia contractor Tyler Nichols. Construction began in 1939, the building was completed in 1943, and the bronze statue of Jefferson was added in 1947.

April 13, 1958: Van Cliburn is the first American to win the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

April 13, 1964: At the Academy Awards, Sidney Poitier becomes the first African-American male to win the Best Actor award for Lilies of the Field.


"Thomas Jefferson’s Travels in Europe, 1784-1789"

By George Green Shackelford.
Published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1995.

Jefferson’s five years abroad as ambassador to France had a profound affect not only on him, but through him on American life, letters, architecture and culture.


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