(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Holland

“… life, by definition, is never still”*…

“Still Life With a Gilt Cup,” Willem Claesz Heda, 1635

Jason Farago explores some of the extraordinary things that a still life can tell us…

When you visit a museum’s collection of European painting, do you skip by the still lifes and head for the showier stuff?

It’s understandable. Their scale is usually smaller than that of other paintings. Their prices are lower. They can feel straightforward: Pictures of fruit and fowl, cups and bottles, what do you want from me?

Still life had a bum reputation for centuries. Early critics rated them as something less than high art…

[There follows a wonderful– and wonderfully-illustrated– close reading of the painting above, and an exploration of its reflections of its place in a globalizing moment in Dutch and world history…]

… this is the power of still life. It’s here, more than any other mode of art, that this social and economic life of things becomes visible.

Inside and between these carefully observed objects is a narrative of global scale. It’s a tale Heda tells even despite himself…

Art may show you the connections for just a moment. They will always be hazy. But some motions can only be sensed when you’re standing still.

A marvelous visual essay: “A Messy Table, a Map of the World” (unlocked), from @jsf— part of the “Close Read” series in @nytimes.

* Kurt Vonnegut

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As we uncover connections, we might send observant birthday greetings to an artist who painted still lifes (and other forms) to a different end, Georges Braque; he was born on this date in 1882. With his friend, collaborator, and rival, Pablo Picasso, he was central to the development of Cubism.

Georges Braque, “Five Bananas and Two Pears” [source]
Georges Braque, 1908, photograph published in Gelett Burgess, “The Wild Men of Paris”, Architectural Record, May 1910 [source]

“The beaver told the rabbit as they stared at the Hoover Dam: No, I didn’t build it myself, but it’s based on an idea of mine”*…

Of all the things that humanity builds from concrete or stone, there are few structures that influence the surface of Earth quite as profoundly as a dam.

By blocking the flow of a river, we dare to defy gravity’s pull on water from mountain to estuary – and influence the trajectory of geology itself. A dam does so much more than submerge a valley to create a reservoir: it transforms a river’s natural course, accruing silt and sediment at an artificial barrier, and dampening water’s erosional force downstream

Their vertiginous walls, striking shapes and deep foundations will also leave a unique archaeological imprint. Some of these engineered monoliths are so enormous that they may be preserved for millennia.

Meanwhile, dams can also bring deep changes for the people who live nearby, and the generations that follow them. When a government in a distant capital decides to exploit its rivers, destruction of local homes, farmland and livelihoods often follows. For example, while the rest of the world focused on Covid-19 earlier this year, an entire ancient town in Turkey was lost to rising reservoir waters. Long after we are gone, future archaeologists will study such submerged settlements and may wonder why we let them go for the sake of short-term politics and energy demand.

The effects can be felt a long way from home, too. Damming rivers that wind through continents, like the Nile in Africa, can withhold valuable water and power from countries downstream, forever changing the trajectories of those nations…

Few human structures can change a landscape quite like a dam– a pictorial essay: “How dams have reshaped our planet.”

* Nobel laureate Charles H. Townes

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As we interrogate interruption, we might recall that it was on this date in 1570 that the All Saints Flood broke dikes and overwhelmed the Dutch (and parts of the German) coast. At least 20,000 people were drowned and many times that many left homeless; livestock was lost in huge numbers; and winter stocks of food and fodder were destroyed. In Zeeland the small islands Wulpen, Koezand, Cadzand, and Stuivezand were permanently lost.

Drawing by Hans Moser in 1570 of the flood

source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 1, 2020 at 1:01 am

To every thing there is a season…

From the good folks at the Foundation for Neo-cognitive & Ontologoical Research and Development (“F.N.O.R.D. — A Non-Prophet Organization”)…

The Table of Condiments that Periodically Go Bad
(click the image above, or here, to enlarge)

As we clean out our refrigerator shelves, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that the first European McDonald’s outlet opened, in Zaandam (near Amsterdam) in the Netherlands.  There are now almost 250 MacDonald’s in Holland.

source

What’s in a (sur)name?…

From National Geographic:

for larger, interactive version, click on the image above, or here

A new view of the United States based on the distribution of common last names shows centuries of history and echoes some of America’s great immigration sagas. To compile this data, geographers at University College London used phone directories to find the predominant surnames in each state. Software then identified the probable provenances of the 181 names that emerged.

Many of these names came from Great Britain, reflecting the long head start the British had over many other settlers. The low diversity of names in parts of the British Isles also had an impact. Williams, for example, was a common name among Welsh immigrants—and is still among the top names in many American states.

But that’s not the only factor. Slaves often took their owners’ names, so about one in five Americans now named Smith are African American. In addition, many newcomers’ names were anglicized to ease assimilation. The map’s scale matters too. “If we did a map of New York like this,” says project member James Cheshire, “the diversity would be phenomenal”—a testament to that city’s role as a once-and-present gateway to America.

 

As we ruminate on roots, we might recall that it was on this date in 1654 that the Portuguese issued the Capitulation Protocol, giving Jewish and Dutch settlers three months to leave Brazil.  Approximately 150 Jewish families of Portuguese descent fled the Brazilian city of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco.  By September, twenty-three of these refugees had established the first community of Jews in New Amsterdam (now, of course, New York City).

These “Sephardim” (Jews of Spanish-Portuguese extraction) had followed a tortured path. In December 1496, following Ferdinand and Isabella’s Spanish example, King Manuel I of Portugal had expelled all Jews from Portugal, driving many to flee to more tolerant Holland.  From there, some migrated to Pernambuco, a colony of the Dutch West India Company in modern-day Brazil. That community flourished until the Dutch eventually surrendered Pernambuco to the Portuguese– and the Sephardim were again forced to flee.

After being driven ashore in Jamaica by Spanish ships, twenty-three members of the community, along with a group of Dutch Calvinists, made their way to New Netherland (New York)– another colony run by the Dutch West India Company.  Even then, the trials were not past: Peter Stuyvesant governor of New Netherland, feared that the indigent newcomers would burden the colony; but when he motioned to eject the Jewish newcomers, the Company (many of the shareholders of which were Jewish) refused his petition… and the wanderers found a home.

Accuratissima Brasiliæ tabula
[Inset of Pernambuco.]
by Hendrik Hondius, 1630
(source: Library of Congress)

 

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