AP History Notes

Posts Tagged ‘art’

Reading the Smiles of 18th-Century Art (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

The 12 January New Yorker includes Jonathan Kalb’s article “Give Me a Smile,” which describes in personal terms the importance of being able to smile.

Kalb writes, “The spontaneously joyful smile is the facial expression most easily recognized from a distance—as far as a hundred metres, researchers say.” Since the late 1800s, scientists have claimed and amassed evidence that the smile is a universal human expression.

I was struck, therefore, by this Boston Globe interview with Colin Jones about his new book, The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth Century Paris. According to this book, through the early 1700s “smiling ...

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Peter Pelham from Boston to Williamsburg (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Here’s another podcast of interest, from Colonial Williamsburg. Harmony Hunter interviews Michael Monaco about the historical figure he portrays: Peter Pelham (1721-1805), church organist and jailer.

Pelham was probably the inhabitant of Williamsburg, Virginia, in the 1770s with the closest ties to Boston. During the pre-Revolutionary turmoil, Pelham’s brother Charles was teaching school in Newton, and his stepbrother John Singleton Copley was training their half-brother Henry in the basics of being an artist.

Pelham had been born in London, son of an artist of the same name. The elder Peter Pelham had learned the advanced engraving technique of mezzotint; ...

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Seymour on the Woolwich Weapons Tests in D.C., 16 Jan. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Friday, 16 January, Anderson House, the Society of the Cincinnati’s museum and library in Washington, D.C., will host a program of its American Revolution Institute on the Woolwich ballistic test charts.

The Royal Arsenal at Woolwich was the British military’s artillery training ground and laboratory east of London. In 1779 its experts compared the accuracy of a musket, a carbine, and a rifle in the most scientific manner possible in the period. Joseph Seymour, historian for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, will discuss the results and what they say about period weapons.

This talk is linked ...

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Behind Gingerbread for Liberty! (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution is a picture book due to be released next month. Author Mara Rockliff tells the story of the Philadelphia baker Christopher Ludwick, whom the Continental Congress appointed “Superintendent of Bakers, and Director of Baking” in May 1777.

As Publishers Weekly reports, the artist Vincent X. Kirsch, a former food stylist, created watercolor illustrations inspired by gingerbread cookies. Ludwick was known in Philadelphia for his gingerbread; indeed, it looks like he had made a tidy fortune between arriving in that growing city in the early 1750s and the Revolutionary ...

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Firm on this Basis Liberty Shall Stand (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

“About this image you want to include in your history textbook—we see potential problems with it.”

“Really? The rights are clear. It comes from the masthead of John Holt’s New York Journal in late 1774. And the Continental Congress adopted it about the same time.”

“Okay, but we have questions about how high-school students will…interpret it.”

“There’s a lot of symbolism in there—I think that’s a plus. There’s the rejoined ‘Join, or Die’ serpent as an icon of unity, and the Magna Carta, and the Liberty Pole—”

“Yes, the Liberty Pole.”

“With the Liberty Cap on top.”

“That’s ...

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Just Desserts in a New Children’s Book? (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

A picture book to be published next month takes readers through three centuries of history following a simple recipe for blackberry fool, but it has depths that some people have found troubling.

The book is A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. It shows four parent-child pairs preparing the receipt in successive years: 1710, 1810, 1910, and 2010. At each stage, the technology for whipping the cream and otherwise becomes more sophisticated.

And at each stage, the family and its situation change, starting with a mother and ...

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I Only Read This Book for the Relatable Past (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

You might think that Thomas A. Foster’s Sex and the Founding Fathers is about the sexual behavior of the men who led the American Revolution and the creation of the federal government. But take a look at the subtitle: The American Quest for a Relatable Past.

That signals how this study isn’t about those men’s sexual thoughts or behaviors, about which we have very little information, anyway. Rather, it’s about how American authors have described the sexual side of those men’s lives, in many cases selecting and massaging the known facts to fit what they wanted the readers of ...

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Caricature of a Tea Partier (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Adam Colson (his family name was also spelled Collson, Coleson, and Coulson) was born in 1738. At that time his grandfather David was a Boston selectman. Adam followed his grandfather into leather-dressing, and he also became politically active.

Colson joined the St. Andrew’s Lodge of Freemasons in 1763. In 1766 the town meeting elected him as a “Clerk of the Market,” a beginner-level office. By 1773, he was also a member of the North End Caucus (and, reportedly, the “Long Room Club”).

Colson was in the second set of volunteers patrolling the wharves to make sure no ...

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Natural Protection against Counterfeiting (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Sure, I’m intrigued by a mysterious box found under a government building filled with rare coins left by Freemasons, Revolutionaries, and Know-Nothings.

But the news story from last week about eighteenth-century money that really caught my interest was this discovery from Pennsylvania.

During the Seven Years’ War, Delaware issued a bunch of paper notes to circulate as currency. Benjamin Franklin and his business partner, David Hall, won the contract to produce those notes. To do so, they had to create a design that was distinctive and hard to counterfeit.

The Franklin and Hall shop gathered sage leaves, ...

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A Punch Bowl in Pennsylvania (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last month the Museum of the American Revolution being built in Philadelphia shared news about archeology on its site, including the shards of a ceramic punchbowl shown here.

The museum’s blog reported:
In all, we excavated a well and twelve brick-lined privies, most of them brimming with artifacts. One of the largest assemblages of artifacts came from an 18th-century privy in the southeast corner of the site, located behind a house that would have faced Carter’s Alley. Among them was one of our most treasured findings: the pieces of an English delftware punch bowl.

When these sherds were pieced together ...

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Happy Thanksgiving (American Revolution and Founding Era)

An interesting history-related post from American Revolution and Founding Era:

The first Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by an American President was given by George Washington. On this Thanksgiving Day, I encourage you to read the wisdom of President Washington...

George Washington's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Street View and the 1700s (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Back in February the Guardian newspaper featured artist Halley Docherty’s images of historic paintings of London laid over (and, thanks to Photoshop, somewhat under) Google Street View photographs of the modern city.

Above, for example, is Canaletto’s 1750s view of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, one of my favorite parts of London. The skyline hasn’t changed that much, but there appears to be much less traffic on the river.

In March the newspaper published Docherty’s similar work on other cities around the world, including the view of Paris below. Shortly after Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet painted the Pont Notre-Dame in 1756, ...

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Lion and Unicorn Returning to Boston, 23 Nov. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Sunday, 23 November, the figures of the lion and unicorn will be reinstalled at the Old State House in Boston.

The lion has been regilded, and the unicorn repalladianized, making them shinier than they’ve been in years and probably far shinier than the original statues looked in colonial times. The balcony below them has had major repairs, as had the building’s west façade.

Aa was widely reported this fall, the lion’s head contained a time capsule from 1901. The conservator placed a new time capsule into the gilded scroll that the lion statue stands on, to be more easily ...

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View from Somewhere in the Bronx (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Yesterday John U. Rees called my attention to this article by Matthew Skic, currently a student in the Winterthur museum’s Program in Early American Material Culture.

Winterthur’s collection includes the watercolor sketch shown above, made by Capt. Thomas Davies of the Royal Artillery in 1776. Skic explains:
The drawing depicts the British and Hessian assault of Fort Washington, an American fortification located on the heights at the northern end of Manhattan Island. The battle took place on November 16, 1776. Davies,…an eyewitness to the battle, executed this drawing soon after the assault.
Skic undertook an investigation of where ...

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A Painting of John Trumbull (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

It’s been noted that the phrase “a painting of Winston Churchill” can refer to a painting of the British Prime Minister, a painting by the British Prime Minister, or even a painting owned by that British Prime Minister.
This is a portrait of John Trumbull (1750-1831), the poet, lawyer, and jurist, by his cousin John Trumbull (1756-1843), the painter, and owned by each in turn. It’s now a painting of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which just helped its city work through bankruptcy.

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“Neoclassicism” Seminar in Deerfield, 14-16 Nov. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

This weekend Historic Deerfield will host a three-day seminar titled “Borrowing from Antiquity, Designing a New Republic: Neoclassicism in America.”
The three-day forum will explore the new design style developed in France and England in the mid-18th century and made popular in the newly-formed United States as the Federal style. Harkening back to the shapes and ornaments of classical Greece and Rome, antiquity became a source of inspiration for architecture, furniture, and household decoration, and can be seen in decorative arts ranging from porcelain vases to mahogany sideboards.

The frequent use of swags, urns, and elliptical motifs, along with the ...

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“Washington Elm” Exhibit in Cambridge (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Thursday, 13 November, the Cambridge Historical Society hosts an opening reception for its special exhibit on “The Washington Elm,” featuring the photography of Bruce Myren (one example shown here).

That elm, as I’ve discussed, was associated in the late 1800s with a moment on 3 July 1775 when Gen. George Washington was said to have taken command of the Continental Army, often pictured as drawn up in ranks for his review.

In reality, Washignton probably took command indoors on 2 July 1775 when he met Gen. Artemas Ward, and he and Gen. Charles Lee inspected the ...

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“Visualizing Slavery” Conference in New Haven , 7-8 Nov. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On Friday and Saturday, 7-8 November, the Gilder Lehrman Center’s 16th Annual International Conference will take place at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

It will be on the theme “Visualizing Slavery and British Culture” and coincides with the museum’s exhibition “Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain.”

The event description says:
Using a cross disciplinary approach, the conference will help place the works in the exhibition in a historical context—Britain and its empire from roughly the 1720s to the early 1800s—and explore the impact of slavery on British art and culture.

...

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This Season’s New Paine Claim (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Last month, on 24 September, someone signed in to Wikipedia as “Jkfkauia” in order to revise the Thomas Paine entry. He or she explained the editing this way:
(I am correcting a widely repeated piece of insulting misinformation about Thomas Paine. He was involved in youth with making rope stays used on sailing ships, NOT the stays used in corsets. This lie about his life story was invented by his foes.)
Wikipedia records four other edits by “Jkfkauia” in 2012 and 2013, none having to do with eighteenth-century history.

The section on Paine’s early life now reads in part:
...

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A New Memorial Proposed for D.C. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

In 1980, Lena Santos Ferguson applied for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

She traced her ancestry to Jonah Gay, who in 1775 was on the committee of correspondence for Meduncook, Maine, later called Friendship.

It took four years for the organization to accept that documentation and make Ferguson “the second black member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in modern times.”

The organization soon came around to supporting a project to document over 6,000 black Continental soldiers and in 2008 published the reference book Forgotten Patriots.

At the same time Ferguson’s nephew, Maurice ...

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“The 18th-Century Woman” in Arlington, 28 Oct. (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

The Arlington Historical Society will host a lecture on Tuesday, 28 October, on “The 18th-Century Woman” by Gail White Usher. This is part of a yearlong series with the theme of “Women’s Work.”

The event description is basic:
Gain greater understanding of what it meant to be a middling or working-class woman in New England prior to the Revolutionary War, through diaries, letters, paintings, and objects.
Usher comes to Arlington from Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. She has also worked at the Bowen House in that town and at the Daniel Benton Homestead in Tolland, and she’s an avid ...

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Jack Tar on the Web (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

British Tars, 1740-1790 is a blog with a nicely specific focus: images of British sailors in those busy decades of the eighteenth century. The creator, Kyle Dalton, is a Revolutionary War reenactor who worked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Each entry is based on an image from that period that includes a sailor as either subject, background figure, or emblem. Dalton then offers a detailed analysis of maritime clothing, head to toe.

This collection of pictures reflect the same cultural figure that Jesse Lemisch wrote about in “Jack Tar in the Streets: Merchant Seamen in the Politics of ...

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Portrait of the Artist as a World Traveler (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

On the left side of Johann Zoffany’s group portrait of the Royal Academy in 1771-72, toward the back of the crowd, is an unusual face for eighteenth-century London: a Chinese artist named Tan Chitqua.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography recently added an entry by Pat Hardy about this world-traveling artist:
Aged about forty Chitqua made the unusual decision to visit Europe, and was probably the first Chinese clay portrait artist to do so. He arrived in London on 11 August 1769 having travelled with a Mr Walton on the East Indiaman the Horsendon. He lodged with Mr ...

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Colonial Brickwork (Boston 1775)

An interesting history-related post from Boston 1775:

Growing up in Boston exposes people to an above-average amount of Revolutionary history, and that can come out in many ways.

For Brendan Powell Smith, a native of Norwood and graduate of Boston University, one outlet is the Revolution!: The Brick Chronicle of the American Revolution and the Inspiring Fight for Liberty and Equality That Shook the World.

This book consists of scenes from the American and French Revolutions recreated with LEGO blocks. The B.U. alumni magazine explains:
Brendan Powell Smith pulls back his curly shoulder-length hair and scans the bins filled with tiny plastic heads, capes, wigs, ...

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