Lieutenant Harry Burnett of the Queen’s Own Corps of Guides was responsible for soldiers wearing khaki today. In December 1846, the English officer was told to develop a “mud-colored” uniform that would camouflage soldiers in dusty surroundings. By early 1847, Burnett had clothed his troops in the light-colored uniform named khaki, which comes from the … Read more
It took Leonardo da Vinci four years (1503-1507) to paint the Mona Lisa. This was long enough for his patron, Francesco del Giocondo, to get impatient. Giocondo had commissioned the portrait of his third wife, Lisa, but enough was enough. Giocondo refused to pay for the unfinished portrait, and Leonardo sold it to the king … Read more
Botticelli’s real name was Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi (c. 1444-1510). The Florentine painter’s nickname, Botticelli, meant “little barrel” and was presumably a reference to his girth. Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance and was famous for the masterworks Primavera (c. 1482) and The Birth of Venus (c. … Read more
The term liberal arts arose in the Middle Ages from the Latin artes liberales. It refers to the seven branches of learning: logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy, and grammar. The number seven derives from a quote in Proverbs 9:1: ‘Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn our her seven pillars.”
For 41 years, under the reign of the Medicis, citizens of Florence, Italy, paid what we now know as an income tax. Called the Scala, the tax was instituted in 1451, supposedly on a progressive scale. The tax turned into an easy type of political blackmail, and as such it was repealed when the court … Read more
Actually, both art and music lay claim to the rake’s progress. The English artist William Hogarth began a series of eight satirical paintings entitled The Rake’s Progress in 1732. Hogarth engraved the series three years later. In the twentieth century, Igor Stravinsky wrote a three-act opera called The Rake’s Progress, his last neoclassical work. Based … Read more
The baroque style dominated European art in the seventeenth century. To an art historian, it connotes vigorous movement, emotional intensity, and a sense of balance (not art that is excessive and florid, the popular meaning of the word baroque). The rococo style flourished in the eighteenth century, after the baroque period; it is characterized by … Read more
Groundhog Day is observed in February because of latitude. German immigrants to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, brought an older version of Groundhog Day to America, one in which badgers predict the weather. The immigrants discovered that, in the United States, groundhogs are easier to find. At the latitude of Punxsutawney, a groundhog emerges from hibernation in February.
Using the pseudonym Spectator, Frank E. Woods began the tradition in the June 1908 issue of the New York Dramatic Mirror. Six years later, the Chicago Tribune began the first regular publication of movie reviews. The first columnist was Jack Lawson; when he died shortly after the feature’s inauguration, Miss Audrie Alspaugh took over. Under … Read more
Alexander Calder made his first unpowered mobiles in 1934. They were pieces of tin suspended on thin wires or cords, and responding to the faintest air currents. But before then, beginning in 1931, he had made constructions activated by hand or by motor power. These became known as mobiles, while Calder’s non-moving constructions became known … Read more
Twenty-nine: I Want to Hold Your There’s a Place Hand Why (with Tony Sher- She Loves You idan) Please Please Me P.S. I Love You I Saw Her Standing This Boy There Ain’t She Sweet My Bonnie (with Tony A Hard Day’s Night Sheridan) I Should Have Known From Me to You Better Twist and … Read more
There are four: monogamy, polygyny, polyandry, and group marriage. Monogamy is one wife, one husband. Polygyny is one husband, several wives. Polyandry is one wife, several husbands. Group marriage is several wives, several husbands. Group marriage is by far the rarest and has never been the prevailing form of marriage in any known society.
By 1940, when the Oscars ceremony was only a dozen years old, character actor Walter Brennan (18941974) had already won three Best Supporting Actor awards for his performances in Come and Get It (1936), Kentucky (1938), and The Westerner (1940). Katharine Hepburn has won four Academy Awards, for Best Actress. Ingrid Bergman won three, two … Read more
Christmas Eve, December 24 was observed as Adam and Eve Day on the medieval church calendar. One element has survived from the medieval plays put on that day depicting Adam and Eve’s fall: the paradise tree, representing the tree that bore the forbidden fruit. The paradise tree, set up in many German households by 1561, … Read more
They were a group of Hollywood writers and artists who were blacklisted after their appearances before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 and 1948. HUAC was set up to investigate “the extent of Communist infiltration in the Hollywood motion picture industry.” It cited the following artists for contempt of Congress for their political … Read more
It is a style of landscape painting that flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Picturesque landscapes were somewhere between the beautiful and the sublime, not serene, not awe-inspiring, but irregular, pleasing to the eye, and full of interesting detail. Picturesque painters included the Englishman Thomas Girtin and the Frenchman Gaspard Dughet. The … Read more
The name for the artistic movement Dada was founded in Zurich in 1915 as a revolt against complacent art. It is drawn not from an artist or a technique but from the child’s word for a parent, dada, which in French, curiously, also means “hobbyhorse.” Whatever its origin, the name Dada is intended to be … Read more
Yes, it’s true. Canadian Eskimos used igloos as temporary winter homes or camp dwellings. Igloos were usually made of blocks of hard-packed snow, but sometimes of sod, stone, or wood. Most Eskimos now live in more modern dwellings, but igloos can still be found in the area between the Mackenzie River delta and Labrador.
The Code Napoleon is the French civil code enacted in 1804 and introduced into areas then under French control. New Orleans, by that time, was under U.S. control, but the Louisiana state civil code of 1825 (still in effect, with modifications) was influenced by the French code. The Napoleonic Code covered everything from civil rights … Read more
Thirty-nine half-hour episodes of “The Honeymooners” were filmed, usually referred to as the Classic 39. They were broadcast from October 1955 to September 1956. “The Honeymooners” appeared as a sketch on Jackie Gleason variety shows before and after that series. Reruns of the original 39 episodes continue to be shown.
Alphonso D’Abruzzo. Robert Alda Gladys Greene. Jean Arthur Albert Einstein. Albert Brooks Richard Jenkins. Richard Burton Tula Finklea. Cyd Charisse Lily Chauchoin. Claudette Colbert Declan McManus. Elvis Costello Alexandra Zuck. Sandra Dee Margarita Cansino. Rita Hayworth Krishna Bhanji. Ben Kingsley Laszlo Loewenstein. Peter Lorre Susan Tomaling. Susan Sarandon Michael Shalhoub. Omar Sharif Gordon Sumner. Sting
Thanksgiving was made a national holiday in 1863, after a concerted campaign by ladies’ magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale. That year, President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, to be held on the last Thursday of November. In 1939, to stimulate the Depression economy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date of Thanksgiving … Read more
Glenn Miller was presented with a gold-covered master of his recording “Chattanooga Choo Choo” on his radio program of February 10, 1942. The record, released in conjunction with the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade, had climbed past the 1 million mark a few months after its release. The original 1949 Broadway cast recording of Oklahoma! … Read more