While most people are familiar with the massive celestial mural in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal (I’ve done two separate articles about it myself), most don’t realize the storied railroad hub is home to another vaulted work of art. Located in the Graybar Passage, between Grand Central Market and the Graybar building, 20 feet above commuters’ heads is an oft-overlooked painting devoted to Jazz Age industry and innovation.
If you were a painter in the 17th century, what would have been the best way to ensure your face is remembered? If you’re Vermeer, Rembrandt, or Dürer (especially Dürer!), you paint yourself into every work someone asks you do!
What is the easiest way to tie together a 3rd century BC Greek historian, a 16th century Italian iconographer, a 17th century Dutch revolt, a 19th century Austrian count, and a 20th century German dictator?
How about a painting by one of the greatest artists of all time?
Greetings, folks! Just finished up a new Bookworm History episode over on the YouTube channel! This one’s all about the various portraits and pictures thought to depict the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon, William Shakespeare and whether any of them accurately illustrate what he looked like. Check it out!
Do you think any of these images actually depict Shakespeare? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
While nowadays it seems a foregone conclusion that the United States capital city is Washington DC, for the first 100 years of the country’s existence it was hardly so defined. The location, ten square miles straddling the Potomac River with portions in both Maryland and Virginia, was established by law in 1790 with the Permanent Seat of Government Act (legislation recently dramatized by the song “The Room Where It Happens” from the musical Hamilton), but this didn’t satisfy all Americans. Over the course of the young country’s first century, the topic of where to locate the capital would come up three more times.
Greetings, fellow bookworms! I hope you’ve all recovered from whatever New Year’s festivities struck your fancy. I just put the finishing touches on a brand new episode of Bookworm History over on the Youtube channel. In this episode I explore some of the fictions and some of the facts that inspired French author Gaston Leroux to pen his most famous novel “The Phantom of the Opera”!
Click the title card to check it out and, as always, thanks for stopping by!
First, a little background. While a copy of “Don Quixote” has been sitting on my shelf for the last 15 years or so I never bothered to read it until last Fall when I thought to give it a go. I was going through a bit of a rough patch at the time and reading the alternately comedic and tragic tale of the mad gentleman of La Mancha somehow made things easier (I also had Linda Eder’s version of “Man of La Mancha” stuck in my head a lot of the time, but that’s neither here nor there). Since then I’ve been captivated by all things Quixotic, from the history of the book itself (https://youtu.be/_Tb0iK2HYkc), to different translations, to various illustrated versions (my favorite remains Gustave Doré‘s, although I also enjoy Salvador Dali’s). So when The Frick Collection had an exhibition this past spring centering around a series of tapestries of “Don Quixote” my interest was piqued. The tapestries in question were produced by the Gobelins Textile Manufactory in France from 1717 to 1794, as well as other versions by Flemish manufacturers, but the images that provided the central focus of each tapestry were created by French painter Charles Coypel. I enjoyed the Frick’s exhibition and purchased the catalog of their exhibition, a thin volume with a bright red cover, which I then proceeded to bury unread beneath a massive stack of other books.
Fast forward to last week when I was walking through the state rooms of Buckingham Palace to see the Queen’s Vermeer “The Music Lesson” (I’m trying to see every Vermeer in the world and this one happened to be in Buckingham). On the way out of the Picture Room I passed down a short hallway with four tapestries, two hung on either side. I recognized one as Quixotic instantly (“Sancho Awakes in Despair at not Finding His Beloved Grison”; the image of Sancho sitting atop four stilts is iconic) and excitedly examined the others. They were all of the same series as those I had seen earlier at the Frick! When I returned home I immediately pulled out the little red volume to try to find out more. What followed was an education, however lite, into tapestry history and creation with Coypel and Don Quixote as my guide.
Greetings, folks! I just uploaded a brand new episode of Bookworm History over on the YouTube channel all about the story behind Christopher Marlowe’s infamous “Doctor Faustus”. I learned a ton while putting this together and I hope you will, too! Click the title card below to check it out, and, as always, thanks for stopping by!
P.S.- This website and all the stories contained therein can now be accessed simply by going to bookwormhistory.com! Very exciting!