Guernica || 4/8 objects, history meme
It is modern art’s most powerful antiwar statement, created by the twentieth century’s most well-known artist. But the mural called Guernica is not at all what Pablo Picasso had in mind when he agreed to paint the centerpiece for the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 World’s Fair. For three months, Picasso searched for inspiration for the mural, but he was in a sullen mood, frustrated by a decade of turmoil in his personal life and dissatisfaction with his work. The politics of his native homeland were also troubling him, as a brutal civil war ravaged Spain.
By May 1st, news of the massacre at Guernica reaches Paris, where more than a million protesters flood the streets to voice their outrage in the largest May Day demonstration the city has ever seen. Eyewitness reports fill the front pages of Paris papers. Picasso is stunned by the stark black and white photographs. From the beginning, Picasso chooses not to represent the horror of Guernica in realist or romantic terms. Key figures - a woman with outstretched arms, a bull, an agonized horse - are refined in sketch after sketch, then transferred to the capacious canvas, which he also reworks several times.
After the Fair, Guernica tours Europe and Northern America to raise consciousness about the threat of fascism. From the beginning of World War II until 1981, Guernica is housed in its temporary home at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, though it makes frequent trips abroad to such places as Munich, Cologne, Stockholm, and even Sao Palo in Brazil. The one place it does not go is Spain. Although Picasso had always intended for the mural to be owned by the Spanish people, he refuses to allow it to travel to Spain until the country enjoys “public liberties and democratic institutions.”On the centenary of Picasso’s birth, October 25th, 1981, Spain’s new Republic carries out the best commemoration possible: the return of Guernica to Picasso’s native soil in a testimony of national reconciliation. In its final journey, Picasso’s apocalyptic vision has served as a banner for a nation on its path toward freedom and democracy. (via pbs)
1854 Broad Street Cholera Outbreak
According to popular legend, Dr. John Snow chained the pump handle himself against the wishes of recalcitrant authorities. The deaths then are said to have stopped in their tracks. However, the epidemic had already peaked of its own accord, and it would be a long time before John Snow’s theories could be vindicated. Yet, in 1854 he took the first steps toward modern epidemiology.
4/10 moments, history meme
Catherine the Great || 4/9 kings and queens, history meme
In her youth, Sophia wanted power and she wanted what she “couldn’t live for a day without” — love — and she’d get them both, in spades, but not from the husband who awaited her. Upon her marriage, Catherine — the name the empress gave Sophia on the occasion of her mandatory conversion to Orthodoxy — found herself shackled to a 17-year-old whom one European king would remember as “a mere poltroon … comic in all things … not stupid, but mad.”
Dressed as a colonel of an elite Russian regiment and mounted on a white stallion, Catherine, an expert horsewoman, led 14,000 infantry soldiers to arrest and unseat her feckless husband, who, Nero-like, ignored reports of conspiracy to go on playing his violin. As empress she interacted closely with her subjects, was inoculated with the smallpox vaccine as an example to the country, and aimed to end serfdom. But when her power was threatened, she scaled back her progressive initiatives and chose not to end serfdom. She was also rather cruel and cold in her personal life, but Catherine’s ruthless abrogation of any threat to the power she claimed is at least as delicious as it is deplorable. Whatever it takes, we want her to remain forever where she placed herself — in history’s pantheon. (NYT)
Grigori Rasputin || 2/5 assassinations, history meme
"In the first year, we commenced with our plan to poison him, shoot him, stab him, and then drown him in the Neva River," said Prince Felix Yusupov, leader of the aristocrats charged with killing the charismatic mystic. "But those efforts met with fair to middling success." (via satire piece in The Onion)
Lyndon B. Johnson || 2/4 presidents, history meme
“I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.” - LBJ
Sarah Breedlove was born in 1867 in Mississippi, the first child of her family born into freedom. She was orphaned at the age of seven and moved in with her elder sister’s family, but soon, at the age of fourteen, married to escape abuse from her sister’s husband. She was widowed at the age of twenty, with a two-year-old daughter to support. Over the next 20 years she would move to St. Louis to work menial jobs, begin to experiment with hair care products, move to Denver to be a sales agent for Annie Malone (a black entrepreneur who sold hair care products) and marry Charles Joseph Walker.
In the early 1900s, Sarah (now going by Madam C.J. Walker) founded her own hair care business. She travelled the south promoting products to benefit hair growth and smoothness. At a time when poor plumbing (and hygiene) could often cause hair loss and frailty, Walker’s tutorials and products became popular. She began to train young black women as “hair culturists” at training schools in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. In 1910, she opened her own factory in Indianapolis and began to expand her business into hair and nail salons.
By the time of her death in 1919, she had become the United States’ first woman self-made millionaire. Not only did she have a successful haircare line, but she had expanded her business to New York and the Caribbean, opened numerous salons, purchased a surprising amount of New York real estate and founded Indianapolis’s Walker Theatre. She was also a significant advocate for and contributor to African American causes. She was dedicated to educating and employing the black community whenever she could, and contributed thousands to the NAACP’s anti-lynching movement and to (what are now) HBCUs. Her daughter, A’lelia Walker, would become an important supporter of the Harlem Renaissance.
A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.
Queen Aelfthryth || 4/6 women, history meme
The daughter of an important family in western Wessex, Aelfthryth of Devon married Edgar I of England in approximately 964. According to legend, Edgar I killed her first husband Aethelwald in a hunting “accident,” because Aethelwald had taken the beautiful bride for himself. Once queen, she was active in the nation’s affairs, and the affairs of the Church. She was also the first to be crowned and anointed as Queen of the Kingdom of England.
As the crowned and anointed queen, she felt that her son, Aethelred, was next in line for the throne. Edgar, however, had children from previous marriages (or perhaps affairs) and upon the king’s death, his eldest son Edward was crowned. Yet, a mere 3 years into his reign, Edward was stabbed to death in the Queen’s castle.
While later literature names Aelfthryth as the mastermind of the attack, the earliest accounts do not implicate her directly. Despite this, she went on to rule England as her son’s regent for nearly 6 years, until he came of age and rejected both her and her “older” allies’ councils. She retreated to the country to her son’s children by his first wife, while Aethelred went on to not be a very good king.
Despite being (probably) the first woman ruler of the Kingdom of England, she is known more as the archetypal evil stepmother. She is associated with witchcraft, adultery, seduction and murder. She is often depicted offering Edward a glass of liquid in welcome while her attendants stand in wait behind her, ready to attack. (x, x)
Aethelstan, the first king of England || 3/9 kings and queens, history meme
He ‘who fought against Anlaf and slaughtered his army and put him to flight, and afterwards with his people dwelt in peace,’ is perhaps best remembered for his famous victory over the combined forces of the kings of Dublin, Scots, and Strathclyde at ‘Brunanburh’ in 937. But Aethelstan, the favorite grandson of Alfred the Great, did much more for the land he ruled: he centralized his government, imposed coinage, and perhaps laid the foundation for its future parliament. For whatever the reason, Æthelstan’s importance as the first king of all England cannot be doubted. In the words of the 12th century poet whom William of Malmesbury quoted, this was indeed a great king, glory of his native land: ‘magnus Adelstanus, patriae decus.’ (x)
Teddy Roosevelt shot, insists on giving speech anyways (October 4, 1912)
3/10 moments, history meme
In 1861, a civil war broke out in the United States of America. The war introduced the world to the unlimited power of the latest technology in weaponry. The war between the states caused 620,000 casualties. The civil war left deep scars, but the people who rose and found light beyond the agony… would march forward toward building a new country.
Those weapons used during the American Civil War found their way to Japan. And beginning with their arrival on those black ships, the weapons would play a role in ending the Tokugawa Shogunate.