Archive for June, 2011

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The best pictures of Magna Carta

Posted in Best pictures, History, Politics, Royalty on Thursday, 30 June 2011

The best pictures of King John signing Magna Carta at Runnymede show the troubled monarch surrounded by the powerful barons of England, and having no choice but to sign the famous document, which enshrines  the fundamental freedoms of the individual, and is now seen as the foundation stone of British democracy. The first dramatic picture of the King signing Magna Carta shows John frowning furiously, as if he were completely reluctant to agree to such a charter.

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King John signing Magna Carta, by Angus McBride

The second picture of Magna Carta shows a similar colourful scene with interesting detail, such as a great chest in which the document can be safely kept.

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King John signing Magna Carta at Runnymede, by C L Doughty

The third picture of Magna Carta is a simpler group of figures, with the king seated as the scroll is handed to him, while a clerk prepares the sealing wax.

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King John signs Maga Carta, by Michael Godfrey

Many more pictures relating to Magna Carta can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

James Tissot: Artist

Posted in Art, Artist on Thursday, 30 June 2011

James Tissot was a French painter and engraver who spent part of his career working in England.

picture, James Tissot, painter, artist, illustrator, Bible, David, Goliath

David slings the stone at Goliath, illustrated by James Tissot

Born Jacques Joseph Tissot in Nantes on 15 October 1836, the son of a successful draper and cloth merchant. His parents were Catholic and sent him to the Jesuit College at Vannes and only accepted his desire to study art with regret.

In 1856 he began studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Hippolyte Flandrin and Louis Lamothe, where he became friends with Degas and Whistler. Using the anglicized name James Tissot, he exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1859, the works (two portraits of women and three medieval scenes inspired by Faust) showing the influence of Henri Leys, whom he had met in 1859.

He travelled to Italy in 1860 and London in 1862, exhibiting some of his works at the Royal Academy in 1864; that same year he was again represented at the Paris Salon, his portraits of women now becoming more contemporary. Around this period he also became interested in japonisme and included Japanese costumes and objects in his pictures. In 1869 he was commissioned to draw a series of caricatures by Vanity Fair which he did under the name ‘Coid’.

In 1870, Tissot took part in the Franco-Prussian War in Tirailleurs de la Seine and in the defense of Paris during the Commune. In 1871 he moved to London where he earned a reputation as a painter of feminine elegance. An Irish divorcee named Kathleen Newton became his regular companion and a frequent model between 1875 and 1882, in which year she died from tuberculosis.

Tissot returned to Paris immediately following her death and remained there for the rest of his life, quickly reviving his reputation through exhibitions at the Palais de l’Industrie in 1883 and the Galerie Sedelmeyer in 1885.

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Christ falls beneath his cross, illustrated by James Tissot

In the mid-1880s, Tissot experienced a religious conversion and devoted the rest of his life to illustrating the Bible, travelling to the Middle East, Palestine and Jerusalem in 1886, 1889 and 1896 to make studies of the landscape and people. He exhibited 365 gouache paintings in Paris in 1894-95 based on the life of Christ. These were published in France in 1896-97 and in England in 1897-98 to great acclaim.

A further series of 80 paintings based on the Old Testament were exhibited in part in Paris in 1901 and subsequently circulated as engravings, but Tissot was destined never to complete the series.

Tissot died in Chenecey-Buillon, Doubs, France, on 9 August 1902, aged 65.

Many more pictures by James Tissot can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

L. R. Brightwell: Artist

Posted in Art, Artist on Thursday, 30 June 2011

L. R. Brightwell was an English animal painter and etcher.

picture, L R Brightwell, painter, illustrator, artist, zebra, lion

A lion hunting a zebra, illustrated by L. R. Brightwell

Leonard Robert Brightwell was born in Clapham, Surrey, on 17 May 1889, the son of James Robert (a commercial traveller) and Emma Jessie Brightwell.

He drew animals from the age of 6 and became a professional at the age of 16 when he began contributing to Punch (1905-29). He studied at the Lambeth School of Art and at the Zoological Gardens. He served in the army in France during World War One and as an air-raid warden in World War Two. As a member of the Marine Biological Association he joined many scientific and commercial trawling expeditions; he was a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London (1906). He worked in pen and ink and ink and wash, and occasionally in full colour. While his educational and scientific drawings were usually clear and informative, his humorous and descriptive work was more sketchy in execution.

Amongst the magazines and papers he contributed to were The Strand, Wide World Magazine, Pearson’s Magazine, The Royal Magazine, Hutchinson’s Magazine, The London Magazine, The Red Magazine, Little Folks, Toby, The Sketch, The Captain, Boys’ Own Paper, The Bystander, Cassell’s Children’s Annual, The Humorist, Puck, Fishing Gazette, etc.

As well as illustrating many books for others, Brightwell was a prolific author/illustrator of his own books, which included A Cartoonist Among Animals (1921), The Tiger in Town (1930), On the Seashore (1934), Zoo Calendar (1934), A Seashore Calendar (1935), The Zoo You Know (1936), Neptune’s Garden (1937), The Dawn of Life (1938), The Garden Naturalist (1941), Rabbit Rearing (1944), Sea-Shore Life in Britain (1947), The Pond People (1949), The Story of Fish, Fishermen and the Home (1951), The Story of Pets and How to Keep Them (1951), The Story of Animals and the Home (1952), The Story Book of Jungle to Home (1952), The Zoo Story (1952), Down to the Sea (1954) and Trimmer, the Tale of a Trawler Tyke (1956).

Brightwell lived at Peacehaven, Sussex, in the 1950s. He died in Bodmin, Cornwall, in 1962. Brightwell was married twice, first to Mabel Terry in 1920. He was survived by his second wife, Josephine (nee Mountford, who died in 1967) and daughter, Monica Bidmead.

Many more pictures by L. R. Brightwell can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Sir Isaac Newton

Posted in Historical articles, History, Science on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) was the most significant figure in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, and is arguably the greatest of all scientific thinkers, the most original in his conceptions and influential in his reach.

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Sir Isaac Newton watches the famous falling apple and conceives the law of universal gravity

He was a posthumous son to a yeoman labourer and might have spent his life as a small farmer in Lincolnshire, but fate decreed he would be separated from his remarried mother, and implacable hatred for his stepfather developed in him a character trait of stubbornness and quarrelsome enmity which would later dog his dealings with the Royal Society, and in particular, the reviled and loathed Robert Hooke. Discontent with his agricultural future after his stepfather’s death led to the singlemost important decision made on his behalf: to enter him at Trinity College, Cambridge. It was the making of England’s greatest scientific genius, and he later became a fellow and eventually the Professor of Mathematics at the age of 26. He synthesised the work of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Descartes, as well as the thinking of Hobbes and many others, to arrive at his theory of planetary motion, which would blossom into the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. All was revealed in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), probably the most significant scientific textbook in the history of science. It is well known that in 1666 Newton supposedly watched apples falling in his Lincolnshire garden, and this led him to his great idea, but in truth he had spent twenty years pondering the subject. This grumpy man gave to us a new theory of light and colour, as well as countless modern developments which are now encompassed by classical mechanics. If Newton could be as easily characterised as his universe, we would doubtless be a little closer to the truth about this brilliant and complex man, a perfect example of the troubled genius.

Many more pictures relating to science can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Nehemiah petitions Artaxerxes

Posted in Bible, Religion on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Nehemiah was the cupbearer at the court of Artaxerxes, and when the great Persian king noticed one day that his servant appeared sad, he asked the reason why.

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Artaxerxes hears Nehemiah’s account of the ruin of Jerusalem’s walls, by William Hole

Nehemiah replied that he was downcast because of news from the Jewish people who had returned to their homeland during recent years. They had told him of their inability to defend Jerusalem becuse the city walls lay in ruins, and although they had rebuilt the second temple after Cyrus the Great had permitted their return, nevertheless the city was in a wretched state. So King Artaxerxes arranged safe passes for Nehemiah through neighbouring lands, and sent him to oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s defences.

Many more pictures relating to the Bible can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset

Posted in Famous crimes, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset (1590 – 1632) was an aristocrat of limitless ambition, whose singular claim to fame was that she poisoned Sir Thomas Overbury having conspired with her husband, lady-in-waiting and others in that famous eponymous  plot.

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Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset

Her notoriety began after she sought an anulment from her first husband, the Earl of Essex, whom she claimed was impotent. Her uncle, the Earl of Northampton, presented her case and an examination of her was made, though because she was heavily veiled it was suggested a virgin had been substituted to ensure the desired outcome. Many scurrilous verses were written about this scene in the candlelit bedchamber. Since Essex had a dose of smallpox and doctors found in her favour, she was free to marry Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, but his friend, the unfortunate Sir Thomas Overbury, advised against the marriage, so the Howards hatched the successful murder plot. Frances was found guilty, along with her protesting husband, but both were spared execution, imprisoned for a while and eventually pardoned by King James. It may perhaps be said that the beautiful Countess of Somerset was England’s first upper class, celebrity murderess.

Many more pictures relating to Jacobean England can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The best pictures of Old London Bridge

Posted in Best pictures, History, London on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The best pictures of Old London Bridge depict the famous London landmark in vivid detail before its demolition, and each picture recreates the past glory of this historic bridge. The first picture of Old London Bridge gives a partial view of its span across the river Thames with the famous Nonesuch House and its turrets.

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Old London Bridge, by Peter Jackson

The second picture of London Bridge shows the ancient Chapel of Saint Thomas as it might have looked at dusk.

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An imaginary reconstruction of The Chapel of Saint Thomas on London Bridge, by Peter Jackson

The third picture shows Londoners walking and shopping on the street which was Old London Bridge.

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Shopping on the street which was built on Old London Bridge, by Peter Jackson

Many more pictures of Old London Bridge can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

The Babylonian Captivity

Posted in Bible, Religion on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

When the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah they deported the Jews to Babylon.

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“By the rivers of Babylon” – the Babylonian Captivity, by William Hole

After crushing King Jeconiah they rounded up the upper class, the wise men and the rich, and these people were driven from their homeland to begin new lives of captivity in exile. A second wave followed the deposition of his successor, Zedekiah. All of them were expected to contribute to Babylonian society, but almost fifty years later, when the Persians swept across the region and brought about the Fall of Babylon, many Jewish families  chose to remain, despite the historic decree of Cyrus the Great that they were free to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple.

Many more pictures relating to the Bible can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Gustave Dore: Artist

Posted in Art, Artist on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Gustave Dore is one of the most famous of all engravers and illustrators, working in both wood and steel to illustrate some of the most famous and collectable illustrated books of all time.

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Samson and Delilah, as depicted by Gustave Dore

Born Paul Gustave Dore in Strasbourg, France, on 6 January 1832, he illustrated his first story at the age of 15 and subsequently began working in Paris as an illustrator working on books by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton and Dante.

In 1853, he was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron and other commissions followed from British publishers, including a new illustrated Bible, published in 1866. Amongst his most famous works are illustrated editions of Don Quixote, Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy.

Dore had a major exhibition in London in 1867 which led, in 1869, to the suggestion by Blanchard Jerrold that they work together to produce a book that looked intimately at the city of London. Dore signed a contract worth £10,000 a year, for which he agreed to move to London for three months of each year. London: A Pilgrimage was published in 1872 and enjoyed major commercial success.

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A portrait of Gustave Dore

Dore died after a short illness at his home in Rue St.Dominique in Paris on 23 January 1883, aged 51.

Many more pictures by Gustave Dore can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

Arthur Moreland: Artist

Posted in Art, Artist on Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Arthur Moreland was an English artist noted as an illustrator of caricatures and humourous drawings.

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Boadicea A.D. 61, a historical cartoon by Arthur Moreland

Born in Ardwick, Lancashire, in 1867, the son of Edward and Elizabeth Ann Moreland. He originally worked as a commercial traveller, subsequently moving to London when in his mid-20s, where he began working in the advertising department of the Star. A vivid caricature drawn by Moreland of Ernest Parke, then an executive on the paper, found its way to its subject and, rather than being dismissed, Moreland found himself appointed to the art staff.

He became the political cartoonist for The Morning Leader and his work was reprinted as Humors of History (London, Roxburghe Press, 1898; revised 1924) and More Humours of History (London, T. Werner Laurie, 1925). During the war, he produced The History of the Hun (London, C. Palmer & Hayward, 1917) in a similar vein and The Comic History of Sport (London, T. Werner Laurie, 1924), reprinted material from All Sports.

His cartoons were noted for their pungeant wit and it is said that they contributed to the Tory landslide of 1906 and the revival of Liberalism. He retired from drawing political cartoons during the Great War and instead worked freelance for many papers. His work was exhibited at the Coronation Exhibition in 1911.

He also illustrated books for others over the years, including The Gentle Golfer by Dr. Macnamara (Bristol, J. W. Arrowsmith, 1905), The Difficulties of Dr. Deguerre by Walter R. Hawden (London, C. W. Daniel, 1926) and Lays from Lancashire by Nelson Jackson (London, T. Werner Laurie, 1930).

Moreland was the Hon. Secretary of the Press Club for over 20 years from its early days in Wine Office Court. He was chairman for four years and, on his retirement, was made a life member. He was also a member of the Savage Club and a life member of the Newspaper Press Fund.

When he retired from newspaper work, he wrote and illustrated two books on Dickens, Dickens in London (London, Cecil Palmer, 1928) and Dickens Landmarks in London (London, Cassell & Co., 1931). He also devoted much of his time to painting watercolours in the Lake District. Eventually his failing eyesight and asthma limited his trips and he lived in retirement in the country.

Moreland died at Groombridge, Sussex, in 1951, aged 83, survived by his wife (Blanche Ada, nee Rayson, whom he married in 1896), a daughter (Mary Hermione) and two sons (Edward Rayson and John).

Many more pictures by Arthur Moreland can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.