Saturday, May 01, 2010

Emily Dickinson & George Inness Loved the Potato Salad at the Great Exhibition


May 1, 1759: Josiah Wedgwood founded the Wedgwood pottery company in Great Britain. The young Wedgwood had been working for Thomas Whieldon, until 1759, when he leased "Ivy House" in Burslem from relatives, which gave him the space to start his own pottery. Interestingly, (I observe, as an unrelated aside), Josiah Wedgwood was naturalist Charles Darwin's Grandfather.

May 1, 1825: George Inness, American landscape painter, was born in Newburgh, New York. "His work was influenced, in turn, by that of the old masters, the Hudson River school, the Barbizon school, and, finally, by the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg, whose spiritualism found vivid expression in the work of Inness' maturity. He is best known for these mature works that helped define the Tonalist movement."

May 1, 1851: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations or Great Exhibition (the Crystal Palace Exhibition) opened in London. "It was the first in a series of World's Fair exhibitions of culture and industry that were to become a popular 19th-century feature. The Great Exhibition was organized by Henry Cole and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the spouse of the reigning monarch, Victoria. It was attended by numerous notable figures of the time, including Charles Darwin, members of the Orléanist Royal Family and the writers Charlotte Brontë, Lewis Carroll, and George Eliot."

"Exhibits came, not only from throughout Britain, but also its expanding imperial colonies, such as Australia, India and New Zealand, and foreign countries, such as Denmark, France and Switzerland. Numbering 13,000 in total, they included a Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, kitchen appliances, steel-making displays and a reaping machine that was sent from the United States."

"The exhibition caused controversy at the time. Some conservatives feared that the mass of visitors might become a revolutionary mob, whilst radicals such as Karl Marx saw the exhibition as an emblem of the capitalist fetishism of commodities. In modern times, the Great Exhibition has become a symbol of the Victorian Age, and its thick catalogue illustrated with steel engravings is a primary source for High Victorian design."

May 1, 1855: Cecilia Beaux, American portrait painter, was born. "She was a near contemporary of better-known American artist Mary Cassatt and also received her training in Philadelphia and France. Her sympathetic renderings of American ruling class made her one of the most successful portrait painters of her era. Though overshadowed by Cassatt and relatively unknown to museum goers today, Cecilia Beaux’s craftsmanship and extraordinary output were highly regarded in her time. While presenting the Carnegie Institute’s Gold Medal to Beaux in 1899, William Merritt Chase stated “Miss Beaux is not only the greatest living woman painter, but the best that has ever lived. Miss Beaux has done away entirely with gender in art.”

May 1, 1893: The World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair) opened to the public. "The Chicago World's Fair was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. The fair had a profound effect on architecture, the arts, Chicago's self-image, and American industrial optimism. The Chicago Columbian Exposition was, in large part, designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It was the prototype of what Burnham and his colleagues thought a city should be. It was designed to follow Beaux Arts principles of design, namely, European Classical Architecture principles based on symmetry and balance."

"The exposition covered more than 600 acres, featuring nearly 200 new buildings of classical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from around the world. Over 27 million people attended the exposition during its six-month run. Its scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world fairs, and it became a symbol of the emerging American Exceptionalism, much in the same way that the Great Exhibition of 1851 became a symbol of the Victorian era United Kingdom.


- The Poet as Gardener and Tiger Lily : "Emily Dickinson once called herself a “a Lunatic on Bulbs,” referring to her passion for daffodils, hyacinth and other spring perennials, which she raised indoors in winter in her family home in Amherst, Mass. And a lunatic she probably seemed to neighbors who spied her gardening by moonlight on summer evenings in the flower beds behind the house..." Read the full story


“From the Ends of the Earth. Passionate plant collectors remembered in a Cornish garden”

By Christian Lamb.
Published in Devon by Bene Factum in 2004.

“Octogenarian plant lover and world traveler Christian Lamb here looks over the specimens she has gathered for her small Cornwall garden, which she calls her "Living Plant Museum," and unravels the plants' colorful gardening history, including who first discovered them, and the sometimes incredible challenges they faced bringing them back home. She also recounts her own adventures following in the footsteps of early collectors—around New Zealand in the wake of Joseph Banks; up the Yangtze after Robert Fortune; and through the Americas with Lewis and Clark and the Lobb brothers.”



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