I was reminded by @explore-blog that Beatrix Potter (born 150 years and one day ago) wasn’t just a beloved children’s author and illustrator - she was an enthusiastic amateur mycologist. Before she drew Peter Rabbit, she drew mushrooms!

These beautiful illustrations were shared with Skunk Bear by The Armitt, a charming museum/library/gallery nestled in Lake District Natural Park in Northern England.

March Book Photo Challenge
Day 29: Outside
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I know it isn’t special or anything, but I’m sick and only want too read books and drink tea…


Suzanne Valadon was born 150 years ago today

Valadon was a painter, an artist’s model, and even worked as a trapeze artist for a while until an injury ended her career at only fifteen years old. She modelled for Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec among others, and her good friend Edgar Degas was among the first to take an interest in her painting, and to help her make a name for herself. In 1894 Valadon became the first woman to show at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and after a difficult early life she was able to achieve recognition in her lifetime. She painted many still lifes but was most famous for her female nudes, which were noted for their “sincerity, frankness, and energy” at a time when it was uncommon for women to paint other women naked.

Her three self-portraits, above, were painted in 1898, circa 1916 and in 1927, respectively. In the last picture, titled Family portrait (1912), she painted herself with her second husband, painter André Utter, her mother, Magdeleine Valadon, and her son, painter Maurice Utrillo.

In honour of her birthday, I’ll be posting some of my favourite paintings by Valadon today.

(Biography info via Notable Biographies, pictures via Wikimedia Commons, Sotheby’s, The Athenaeum and Expo in the City)

150 Years of the Tube

Tfl has released a new campaign to celebrate 150 years of the Tube. Created by its ad agency, M&C Saatchi, the poster and interactive moving images are to be rolled out across the underground network.

The campaign consists of passengers from different periods of time, throughout the tube’s history, travelling on escalators, which will be seen by the commuters of today.

150 years ago, they would have thought you were absurd if you advocated for the end of slavery. 100 years ago, they would have laughed at you for suggesting that women should have the right to vote. 50 years ago, they would object to the idea of African Americans receiving equal rights under the law. 25 years ago they would have called you a pervert if you advocated for gay rights. They laugh at us now for suggesting that animal slavery be ended. Some day they won’t be laughing.
—  Gary Smith

Franklin D. Roosevelt respected and admired President Abraham Lincoln, often invoking the former president’s legacy in rhetoric that addressed the defining battles of his own time. In commemorating  the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, FDR closed his 1938 speech with the following lines:

“It is another conflict, a conflict as fundamental as Lincoln’s, fought not with glint of steel, but with appeals to reason and justice on a thousand fronts—seeking to save for our common country opportunity and security for citizens in a free society. We are near to winning this battle. In its winning and through the years may we live by the wisdom and the humanity of the heart of Abraham Lincoln.”

Dr. John E. Washington, author of the book, They Knew Lincoln, a history of the President’s White House staff, gave this photograph of historic pieces to FDR in 1942. Fixed to the photo is a small “Lock of hair removed from Pres. Lincoln’s head by Wm. Slade his messenger while preparing the body for burial,” and a small “Piece of dress worn by Mrs. Lincoln the night of the assassination showing blood of Pres. Lincoln. Given by Mrs. Slade to her cousin Mrs. Brooks.”

THE DAILY PIC (#1624): Could there be any greater waste of time than the art world’s constant kerfuffle over the authorship of paintings? That was brought home to me for the umpteenth time the other day at the Brooklyn Museum, when I came across this work from the workshop of the Milanese painter Bernardino Luini, a figure we adored 150 years ago but now almost ignore.

I got huge pleasure from the painting, as Renaissance viewers must also have done, despite knowing that it was just a studio knockoff on a famous 1523 altarpiece by the master. (Whatever “by” might have meant in a 16th-century workshop.) And then there’s the indubitable fact that Luini himself was just a pale shadow of his own master Leonardo da Vinci, who was the source of most of Luini’s signature moves.

It goes against most of today’s most basic artistic values, but I think there can sometimes be as great a pleasure in witnessing utter competence in a style as in worshiping its creation. Or maybe the pleasure is of a quite different sort. There are moments when the Dave Clark Five delivers what the Beatles can’t.

The Daily Pic also appears at Artnet News.  For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

150 years ago they would have thought it absurd if you tried to advocate for the end of slavery.
100 years ago they would have laughed at you if you said you felt women had the right to vote.
50 years ago they denied the indigenous community equal rights.
25 years ago they would have sneered at you for advocating marriage equality.
They laugh at us now for suggesting we stop the slaughter of millions of innocent animals.

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what she says: I’m fine
what she means: in the parks and rec finale they showed where everybody ended up but they never mentioned if chris traeger lived to be the first person to reach 150 years old he worked so hard and he tried to be so healthy I need to know did he make it? Did he die at 149? Did he realize that the pursuit of extended life is nothing compared to the happiness he knows with his family? I will never know what happened to smiling happy man