BEFORE THE WORLD WENT TO WAR: GLIMPSES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY COLLECTION

•August 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This past week we entertained a number of visitors in our library interested in materials produced in the period before and just after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. Last Thursday, two VIP visitors arrived to converse with Associate Librarian Nicolae Harsanyi and see a presentation of materials relating to the art, politics, and culture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its twilight years. Dr. Harsanyi is an ethnic Hungarian from Romania, is fluent in numerous languages, and an expert on the history and culture of Eastern Europe. Here is Dr. Harsanyi’s report of that visit:

Last week the library was visited by Mr. Devrin D. Weiss, a collector from Washington DC, and his friend, Raul Rodriguez, from Coral Gables.  Given the interest shown by our distinguished guests for artifacts and materials originating from the Austro-Hungarian Empire before its demise at the end of the First World War, a display of representative holdings from that period was set up for our visitors’ viewing.

The emblematic figure for the second half of the nineteenth century in Central Europe was Emperor Franz Joseph I.  His long reign (1848-1916) has reached landmark status attained only by few monarchs, and Vienna celebrated the venerable emperor’s fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries with much pomp and circumstance.  The library has a few reminders of these moments:

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The old Habsburg national anthem also glorified the Emperor (like most anthems of monarchical states), as it can be seen in the English translation printed on a silk advertisement for Zira Cigarettes.  This advertisement is one of a series of silk patches that present the flags of various countries of the world.  Zara Cigarettes issued this silk during the early 1910s.  Each pack of Zara cigarettes had a coupon enclosed.  Once 25 coupons were collected, they could be redeemed for a collection of novelty silks.

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“The Eastern Land” ruled over by the Vienna-based monarchs included a mosaic of nations with various cultural identities and political goals.  The 24-volume “Kronprinzenwerk” was the last huge attempt to equally portray all nations of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Suggested in 1883 by Crown Prince Rudolf of Habsburg, the encyclopedia describes “The Austro-Hungarian monarchy in speech and writing,” the crown lands, nations, landscapes, and regions of the monarchy. It was published in German and Hungarian. The library at the Wolfsonian holds the seven volumes dealing with Hungary.

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Our guests also had the opportunity to browse through several issues of the periodical Ver sacrum [Sacred Spring], which promoted artists associated with the Vienna secession movement, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Koloman Moser (1868-1918) being prominent among them.

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In 1903, Koloman Moser, together with Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), founded of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), a production community of visual artists, bringing together architects, artists and designers.  Our library has a substantial number of postcards illustrated by the artists associated with this creative community.  Among the signatures one may recognize the names of Egon Schiele (1890-1918) and Mela Koehler (1885-1960):

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Another series of postcards produced by the Wiener Werkstätte show various views of the Austrian capital city:

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On its twenty-fifth anniversary (1928) of its existence, the Wiener Werkstätte published a beautiful book including its members’ representative achievements in the fields of decorative arts (lighting, pottery, metal work, glass, textiles, jewelry).  Its orange and black molded sculptural relief papier-maché boards were designed by Vally Wieselthier (1895-1945) and Gudrun Baudisch (1907-1982). This album is considered a landmark in twentieth century book design

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 The following evening, the Wolfsonian library hosted an after hours Private Salon celebrating the hundred year anniversary of the founding of the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1914. The President and Creative Branding Consultant of AIGA attended the event along with a couple of dozen design professionals and graphic art enthusiasts. In the library foyer, the guests had the chance to see Wonders Never Cease, an exhibition of rare Panama Canal materials curated by Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. 

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Drawing largely on materials from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, the exhibit celebrates the centennial anniversary of the completion of that monumental undertaking the same year.

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Moving into the library’s main reading room, our guests were treated to a display of materials all published in 1914. 

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Baron Hans Henning Voight (1887-1969), a self-taught artist more popularly known under his pseudonym, first reached a popular audience when the British publishing house John Lane published a book of Forty-three Drawings by “Alastair”. Influenced by the work of English artist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) and the so-called “Decadent movement” in art and literature of the late nineteenth century, Alastair’s illustrations focus obsessively on the “perverse and sinister.” The illustration below was inspired by the famous opera, Carmen. 

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 Even as Alastair’s drawings carried the fin de siècle ethos into the twentieth-century, other artists in England in 1914 were interested in making a more emphatic break with the past. Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) and Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949), for example, broke away from the Omega Workshops to found the short-lived Rebel Art Centre and Vorticist movement. Their manifesto Blast published in 1914 included works inspired by Cubism and Futurism.

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Many Vorticists and other English avant-garde artists broke with the Italian Futurists and that movement’s outspoken spokesman, F. T. Marinetti, in June 1914. That same month, Lewis, Wadsworth and other “anti-Futurists” jeered and booed Marinetti while he was reading from his manifesto and reciting from his newly published Zang Tumb Tuuum–a book of free verse poetry capturing the sounds of the battle of Adrianople, accompanied by drumming by the “last remaining English Futurist” C. R. W. Nevinson (1889-1946).

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Even at home in Italy, the arrogance of the Futurists incited not only imitators but detractors and satirists. Parodying the title of the Futurist periodical Lacerba, the movement’s critics published their own rivista, Acerba, lampooning the pompous pronouncements and artistic pretensions of Marinetti, et al.  

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 While some Italians were lampooning Lacerba and the Futurists, others ignored their influence altogether. The Italian periodical L’Eroica carried on the earlier symbolist and Art Nouveau traditions in art and poetry in 1914.

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Also on display for our visitors was a ticket stub for an international exhibition of Secessionist art in Rome in 1914.

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 Meanwhile in France, Georges Goursat (1863-1934), who had already won renown as one of the most famous caricaturist of the Belle Époque, continued to publish his scathing social and political cartoons under the pseudonym, Sem. His Le Vrai & le faux chic [True and false chic] published in 1914 lampooned the latest female fashions, comparing the styles of clothing to the likenesses of praying mantises and other insects.

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Once the war broke out, Sem, Paul Iribe (1883-1935), and other patriotic French artists lent their talents to the war effort, publishing caricatures of German Emperor Wilhelm II and the Crown Prince in the popular periodical, Le Mot.

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German cartoonists also jumped on the nationalist bandwagon as soon as war was declared, contributing illustrations to the Kriegs-album der Lustige Blätter that ridiculed English, Russian, and French enemy leaders and lauded the heroism of their own troops and leaders.

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ON EPIDEMICS AND ESCAPE ROUTES: THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PANAMA CANAL AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•August 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Listening to National Public Radio this morning, I heard two news item that immediately caught my attention. The first was that today marks the hundred year anniversary of the celebrated completion of the Panama Canal by the Americans, even as the current construction project aimed at expanding that canal has been delayed by financial problems and now talk of a strike. I also heard on NPR that a Chinese billionaire is presently floating a plan to construct a new canal across the Central American isthmus in the territory of Panama’s northern neighbor, Nicaragua. This new proposal advocates crossing Lake Nicaragua to complete a 173-mile canal, and holds out the possibility of helping transform the economy of that impoverished nation, but also of drastically altering the region’s ecology. Materials in the Wolfsonian library remind us that the United States had also conducted a number of surveys in the isthmus to determine the best route for an interoceanic canal, and that early on, Nicaragua was the favored route. In 1886, the Cuban-born Chief Civil Engineer with the U.S. Navy, Aniceto García Menocal (1836–1908) published the report of the U. S. survey party through Nicaragua. 

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MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. COLLECTION, THE WOLFSONIAN

Ultimately Nicaragua lost out to Panama when the Americans decided to push forward with plans to complete the canal begun and then abandoned by the French. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today’s blog post comes to you from Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn, who recently put together an exhibition on the Herculean effort that went into the building of the Panama Canal. Here is her report:  

Today the Panama Canal celebrates its official centennial. When thousands of local workers recently decided to strike, plans for a massive and expensive Canal expansion came to a screeching halt. Nevertheless, scheduled fanfare in honor of the waterway will proceed. After all, the Panama Canal’s history of fits, starts, stops, and finally, success, is the basis for its current glory.

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Book, plate 7, from The Panama Canal: The World’s Greatest Engineering Feat. Panama: I.L. Maduro Jr., c. 1930.

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Before luxurious passenger ships, commodity-laden cargo carriers, and U.S. military vessels ever passed through the Panama Canal, this man-made waterway between the Eastern and Western hemispheres was a rocky, humid, infected isthmus.

XC2011.08.2.280_095Photograph album, plate 95, from Souvenir de Panama. [Panama], c. 1882.

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This lovely original 19th century photographic print shows the quaint town of Venta Cruz, where pack donkeys and their riders were compelled to pass through in order to deliver goods across the Isthmus. During this period, France, fresh from its triumph over the completion of the Suez Canal, began its doomed mission to build the Panama Canal.

These days travel advisories warn individuals from approaching West Africa, where the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus currently spreads. Imagine entering a land in spite of the presence of a deadly disease for the sheer purpose of obtaining work—or for the larger goal of building the impossible. The Isthmus of Panama was more than just a staked-out piece of real estate ready for hacking: it was a death zone, replete with yellow fever and malaria, at the very least almost guaranteeing severe illness.

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Photograph album, plate 1, Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique: 4eme Bureau Technique Photographie Album-Archives. [Panama], c. 1886.

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This hospital, or Le Sanitarium, hosted ailing patients on nearby Toboga Island. After years of failed construction strategies, constant disease, catastrophic death tolls, and utter bankruptcy, the French finally pulled out of the Panama Canal project. The United States took control, facing the exact same issues, but taking daring new approaches.

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Book, page 144, “Col. William C. Gorgas, Medical Dept., U.S. Army, Head of the Department of Sanitation, Ancon,” from The Panama Canal: A History and Description of the Enterprise, by John Saxton Mills. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1913.

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Clearly the tragic cycle of disease and demise needed to be broken. President Teddy Roosevelt first rejected Dr. William Gorgas’s revolutionary methods to eradicate yellow fever due to its million-dollar price tag. Dr. Gorgas’s theory involved mass fumigation to kill mosquitos and their eggs, plus sealing off tons of standing water, where the fever fermented. Roosevelt did relent and fund the project, which utterly eliminated yellow fever on the Isthmus by 1906.

XC2011.08.2.285_170Book, page 170, from The Panama Gateway, by Joseph Bucklin Bishop. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

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On the heels of Gorgas’s miracle, Roosevelt pushed for new popular support of the project. He appointed reporter Joseph Bucklin Bishop as the Executive Secretary of the Isthmian Canal Commission. It was Bishop’s charge to disseminate positive information on the Panama Canal in order to garner favor from the American public.

Books like this one appealed to curious readers with its flamboyant prose and idyllic watercolor scenes. The author, Willis J. Abbot, once served as editor for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal.

 XC2011.08.2.296coverBook, Panama and the Canal in Picture and Prose: A Complete Story of Panama, as well as the History, Purpose and Promise of its World-famous Canal, the Most Gigantic Engineering Undertaking since the Dawn of Time, by Willis John Abbot. London: Syndicate Publishing Company, 1913.

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In 1914, the Panama Canal, with its fully functional system of gates, lakes, and locks, opened to the maritime traffic of the world. The U.S.’s accomplishment was somewhat sidelined by the advent of the First World War. By the early 1920s, the Canal became a popular destination for military officer R&R, cruise ships, and naval vessel peace-time practice maneuvers.

XC2011.08.2.304_81Photograph album, plate 81, from Panama and the Canal Zone: As I Saw It, February 9th to May 4th, 1921. [Panama], c. 1921

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Exotic travel through the eighth wonder of the world enticed tourism. Here the SS President Van Buren, from the Dollar Steamship Line, rests in Gatun Locks. Shipping magnate Robert Dollar purchased vessels from the U.S. government and refurbished them for his leisure cruise line.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

In 1999, the United States turned over control of the Panama Canal to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA). The PCA soon announced a plan to widen and improve the Canal to meet the modern needs of larger ships and denser maritime traffic. In the meantime, Nicaragua publicized its new partnership with a Chinese billionaire for the purpose of building its own competing canal. One hundred years later, the saga of the Panama Canal presses on … and wonders never cease.

PARASAILING, PARAKITING, AND PARACHUTING FOR THRILLS AND SURVIVAL: THE WWI EXPERIENCE FROM THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY COLLECTION

•August 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

While enjoying the sun, sand, and surf in Delray Beach this past weekend, I was mesmerized by the sight (and flight) of a few self-propelled parasailors buzzing overhead. Both parasailing (using an ascending-gliding parachute while being towed behind a motorboat) and parakiting (surfing while harnessed into a parachute-like kite) have become popular forms of beach entertainment—at least for the physically fit who aren’t faint of heart! But while neither of these “para”-activities are uncommon sights on the beach, this was the first time I witnessed individuals flying overhead using a parasail, propelled by a motorized air boat fan strapped to their backs!

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The first individual to take to the skies was obviously the more experienced of the three daredevils, as he executed hairpin turns and other bold aerial maneuvers. But considering that all three had caged motorized fan blades strapped to their backs—(much like those one associates with air boat rides through the Everglades)—I couldn’t help but admire their bravery and/or foolhardiness. The landings looked at least as dangerous as the take-offs.

Naturally, the impromptu air exhibition on the beach conjured up thoughts and images from the Wolfsonian museum library collection related to the daring aviators taking to the skies in biplanes during the First World War. Military aviation became important to the war effort in two regards: first, providing aerial reconnaissance of troop movements and defenses; and second, providing appealing images of biplane “dogfights” designed to meet the public’s desire for a more chivalric, romanticized, and sanitized war narrative than the realities of a stalemated and bloody trench warfare.

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Ironically, neither aerial “dogfights” nor aerial bombardment proved at all decisive on the Western Front. Although all of the belligerents in the war touted the exploits of their own cadre of “aces,” it was the far less glamorous work of surveillance that made the lighter-than-air zeppelins and kite balloons, and the winged bi-planes strategically significant.

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Because tethered military observation balloon crews often had to “jump ship” in the face of enemy fire or at the approach of enemy aircraft, German balloons were soon equipped with parachutes.

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PURCHASED WITH FUNDS DONATED BY MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

When needed, these chutes could be quickly attached to simple and lightweight harnesses worn around the waist; the British Royal Flying Corp and French observation balloon crews soon followed suit.

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Jumping from a stationary balloon with a parachute was relatively simple; the attempt to adapt this life-saving technology to fixed wing aircraft, however, proved highly problematic during the First World War. The Germans, again, were the first to innovate, installing a bag with a chute in a compartment behind the pilot’s seat in the cockpit.

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The added bulk and weight was one consideration. More discouragingly, experience proved that most pilots found it extraordinarily difficult to deploy a parachute without getting the shroud lines entangled in the wires of an aircraft as it plunged to the ground in a death spiral.

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One German flying ace who by the end of his career had shot down thirty-nine airplanes and nearly fifty balloons, Oberleutnant Erich Löwenhardt (1897-1918), died when his chute failed to open after his plane was damaged in a mid-air collision with another pilot. Hermann Göring (1893-1946), who became the commander of the Red Baron’s famed “Flying Circus” following the death of Baron von Richhofen’s successor in 1918, was once saved by a parachute. But anecdotal evidence aside, statistically speaking more than a third of the first seventy German pilots bailing out with a parachute perished in the attempt. Allied airplane crews were not even issued parachutes at all, as the military command thought it better to encourage pilots to do everything possible to save and salvage their aircraft rather than bail out and abandon (air)ship.

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PURCHASED WITH FUNDS DONATED BY MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

DAZZLED! CAMOUFLAGE DESIGNED TO CONFUSE RATHER THAN HIDE: SOME WWI EXAMPLES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY COLLECTION

•August 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

I was surprised this morning to see in the parking area of my condo a new vehicle appearing something like a cross between a Jeep and a Hummer painted with a camouflage pattern that looked like a pixelated computer screen.

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I was especially drawn to the vehicle’s unusual paint job because I have been preparing to teach a course on the First World War at Florida International University in a couple of weeks and have been searching through the Wolfsonian-FIU museum collection for images of “Dazzle Painting,” a style of camouflage applied to warships and ocean liners converted into troop carriers during the Great War.

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The camouflage painting of these ships appeared to be drawing on Vorticism, a Cubist and Futurist inspired avant-garde artistic movement which sprang to life in Great Britain just prior to the outbreak of hostilities. In 1914, a group of discontented artists working at the Omega Workshops splintered off to form a competing workshop, styled the Rebel Art Centre. Under the leadership of Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), the group had published a Vorticist manifesto titled, Blast. The irreverent manifesto opened with the line: “Long live the great art vortex sprung up in the centre of this town!” and followed with a salvo of free-verse diatribe, cursing the staid establishment and blessing artistic revolutionaries:

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While the self-proclaimed “Vorticists” organized a single exhibition in the United Kingdom in 1915 and published a second issue of Blast, the group disbanded soon after, as the patriotic demands of the all-consuming Great War, mobilization, and death claimed their ranks.

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The library holds only a couple of rare books that highlight the “Dazzle Painting” technique, the first being a monograph illustrating fourteen woodcuts by Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949).

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Wadsworth was a Post-Impressionist painter and friend of Wyndham Lewis. After a brief flirtation with Futurism, Wadsworth committed himself to the Vorticists, signing on to the Manifesto published in the inaugural issue of Blast. A little more than a month later, however, Britain had declared war on Germany and the world was forever changed. Wadsworth contributed to the Vorticist Exhibition held at the Doré Gallery, and to the second “war issue” of Blast, but he enlisted in the Navy soon afterwards. Several other Vorticists died in the war, while others (like Lewis) survived but lost their faith in the “machine age.”

It was the devastating success of the German “Untersee” or U-boats that could hide underwater and torpedo British shipping that inspired the British to introduce a “dazzle” art loosely tied to the revolutionary artwork of the Vorticists.

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Although the maritime artist Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971) has been credited with inventing “Dazzle Painting” while serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he did have help. Invalided out of the war in 1917, Edward Wadsworth also supervised the camouflaging of more than 2,000 ships, adapting Vorticist-derived imagery to render them more difficult targets to enemy submarines. Ironically, it was in Burlington House, at the very traditional Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly, London that the “Dazzle Section” was created. Rather than attempting to make ships invisible through the application of a “drab” gray paint schema, the group’s goal was to develop bold new zigzag patterns of camouflage that could be painted onto warships and troopships to confuse and hinder submariners from locking onto a target through periscopes.

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A special number of the English periodical, The Studio, published in 1918 used a camouflage pattern for its cover and included war themed artwork by distinguished British artists.

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Two of the illustrations inside reproduced paintings by John Everett (1876 – 1949) and Capt. Cecil King which depicted merchant ships employing the “Dazzle Painting” form of camouflage.

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Another item in the Wolfsonian library’s collection, a rare book illustrated by E. G. Fuller and published at the war’s end to highlight the exploits of the Union-Castle Line, provides images of ships employing the “dazzle” camouflage.

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The Union Castle ships’ profiles were painted in a mishmash of stripes and bands so that whether traveling alone or in convoy, it would be difficult to distinguish the bow or stern of a ship. The British Admiralty assumed that this would make it difficult for U-boat captains to calculate size and speed, and the correct position and heading of a potential target. All of which leads me back to car in the lot that inspired this post in the first place. Given that we are not talking about a race car, if the paint job on the vehicle in question is not designed to make it invisible, are we to assume that it is designed to to make it difficult for a policeman with a radar gun to detect its speed, or merely to attract attention?!

GENDERED PROPAGANDA AND AMERICAN REACTIONS TO THE GREAT WAR: SHEET MUSIC COVERS FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•August 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday marked the hundred year anniversary that Europeans commemorate as the start of the Great War. In fact, hostilities on the continent had already begun. Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo  on June 28, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire issued an ultimatum and afterwards declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia on July 28. The Austro-Hungarians had backed up that first declaration of war by bombarding Belgrade on July 29, which in turn triggered Serbia’s protector, the Russian Empire, to begin mobilizing troop along the Austrian border. With the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian Empires mobilizing their armies on July 29 and July 31 respectively, the German Kaiser’s diplomats queried whether France would remain neutral and delivered an ultimatum to his cousin, Czar Nicholas on August 1, demanding that Russia either demobilize or else find herself in a state of war with Germany. The web of entangling alliances between the European powers then combined with desperate mobilization timetables and inflexible military attack plans to turn this regional dispute into a continental (and then global) tragedy. The United States remained neutral and kept out of the “European war” until 1917.

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In the wake of the declarations of war and the actual outbreak of hostilities on the European continent in August, 1914, most Americans adopted an isolationist attitude, relieved that the Atlantic Ocean separated them from the winds of war. President Woodrow Wilson pursued a course of neutrality, and although there was a sizable German-American minority in the United States, linguistic, cultural, and economic affinities tied the United States more closely to Great Britain than to her German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman adversaries.

Just hours after war was declared in August, 1914, the British severed the German undersea cable to North America. This move effectively prevented the enemy from communicating directly with the United States and forced the Germans to route their transatlantic telegrams through England where they could be screened and censored. This gave England a distinct advantage in being able to slant the news and direct propaganda aimed at manipulating American public opinion in their favor.

The war news that did reach American shores was certainly far more hostile to Germany and her allies. The initial war plans designed by Schlieffen called for the German Army to sweep across neutral Belgium en route to Paris. Consequently, editorial cartoons castigated the German Kaiser and his army for their violation of international law and for perpetrating what was luridly referred to as the “Rape of Belgium.” Images like the one below were intended to shame young men into enlisting to heroically defend female virtue from the threat of actual rape.

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LOUIS RAEMAEKERS’ CARTOON, “SEDUCTION”

As the war dragged on and degenerated into a bloody stalemate, most Americans felt vindicated in having stayed out of the “European War.” Even as Belgian atrocity stories (many fabricated or exaggerated) and incidents like the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat were seized upon by propagandists, popular American sentiment was reflected in sheet music covers that lauded President Wilson’s “too proud to fight” commitment to neutrality.

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Other songs, with titles like “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier” and “Don’t Take My Darling Boy Away!” reflected the fears of American mothers that their sons would be sent off to senseless slaughter overseas.

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The resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans once again put the United States and Germany on a collision course, and ultimately brought America into the war in 1917. Sheet music covers printed after America’s entry into the war illustrate a complete about face. Cover illustrations from sheet music published between 1917 and 1918—(some claiming to reflect “the sentiment of every American mother”)—depict American mothers proudly and patriotically offering up their uniformed sons to fight for Uncle Sam.

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Other sheet music covers used images of “sweet hearts” giving a romantic stamp of approval to their soldier boy’s decision to serve, linking the love of a good woman to love of country and the desire to prove one’s manhood by fighting and returning home a hero. 

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Some of the illustrated song sheets were designed to reassure loved ones that they would not be forgotten while they were serving abroad.

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One song even aimed to allay servicemen’s fears that the girls they left behind might find love in another man’s arms. With a title that declared her lips to be “No man’s land” but his own, the illustrated cover depicted a soldier defending his girl (or his country) at the point of his bayonet!

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Still other sheet music covers and lyrics held out the promise of romantic encounters that American doughboys might have while serving in France.

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At least one song and sheet music cover reversed traditional gender roles, by picturing an American girl in a chaste white dress—(perhaps serving as a Red Cross nurse)—courting a heroic French soldier. While the playful lyrics having her tolerating his flirting with other women, she enjoins and expects him to love only her.

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OF PRINCES AND PAUPERS, SUICIDES AND ASSASSINATIONS: A WOLFSONIAN REFLECTION ON THE CROWN PRINCES OF EUROPE AND THE OUTBREAK OF WWI

•July 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This past Saturday marked the 100 year anniversary of the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke and heir apparent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914).

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The archduke and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (1868-1914), were visiting the Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina to celebrate the opening of a hospital under tight security, given a failed assassination attempt made in 1911 against the archduke’s uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) by shadowy Serbian terrorists, known as the Black Hand.

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The royal couple had already survived an assassination attempt earlier in the day, when one of six conspirators recruited by the Black Hand threw a bomb at the royal motorcade. The hand grenade detonated too late to harm the royal couple but did seriously wound two occupants of the fourth car in the motorcade and nearly a dozen spectators.

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Ironically, the archduke’s decision to visit the bomb victims at the Sarajevo Hospital proved fatal when his driver made a wrong turn down Franz Josef Street, and the car stalled in the vicinity of a second conspirator, Gavrilo Princip. Born in Bosnia in 1894 to Serbian Christian peasants who were unable to support their children from their tiny acreage, by 1911 young Princip had fallen under the influence of and had joined the radical “Young Bosnia” movement advocating separation from Austria-Hungary and unification with the Kingdom of Serbia. Princip had been expelled from school the following year for aggressively participating in demonstrations against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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Nineteen-year-old Princip approached the car and from a distance of five feet fired two shots that fatally wounded the royal couple. After a failed suicide attempt, Princip was apprehended, tried, and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, though the harsh prison conditions claimed his life in April 1918. The assassination, and Austria’s demands for severe retribution in a July ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, unleashed a conflict that, because of a host of entangling alliances, pulled all of the great powers of Europe into the Great War and ultimately resulted in the death of 16,000,000 civilians and military personnel, and another 20,000,000 wounded by the war’s end in 1918.

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After the war’s end, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and the Central Powers who lost the war were judged “guilty” of provoking the bloody conflict.

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While democratically elected heads of state in Europe are today perhaps no more immune to assassination plots, in an age when monarchies predominated, the private lives (and fates) of crown princes and other heirs apparent could be critically important to a smooth succession and transfer of power from one generation to the next. While the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is universally remembered as the trigger for one of the most bloody conflicts of the twentieth century and the end of the “old order” in Europe, the earlier suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia (1858-1889) made headlines at the time, but has mostly been sidelined to the footnotes of history by contemporary historians.

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Rudolf’s marriage to Princess Stéphanie of Belgium (1864-1945) was not a particularly happy one, and the heir to the dual monarchy took solace in drink and affairs, as his father would not permit him to divorce or seek an annulment. When in 1889 the Emperor demanded that his son and heir end his scandalous affair with the 17-year-old Baroness, Marie Vetsera (1871-1889), the unhappy couple concluded a suicide pact, killing themselves in a royal hunting lodge. In the wake of the Crown Prince’s death by suicide, the aged Emperor’s nephew, Franz Ferdinand became the presumptive heir to the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, until the pauper Princip’s steady aim in Serajevo took the life of the Archduke and his wife.

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Once the war came, it was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s eldest son, Wilhelm, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Empire of Germany (1882-1951) who was singled out for “character assassination.” Not unlike the strained relations between the Austrian Emperor and his son and nephew, the German Kaiser (1859-1941) also held his son in contempt, both on account of political differences, and because of the heir’s numerous and poorly concealed affairs both before and after his arranged marriage to Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954). The Crown Prince was only 32 when the war broke out and despite having never commanded more than a regiment, he was first given command of the entire Fifth Army and in 1915 was made commander of Army Group German Crown Prince until the war’s end.

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Although only flattering images of the Crown Prince were published in Germany, his private affairs and competence as a war leader were publicly called into question by “neutral” and Allied propagandists.

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A humorous folding postcard from the war years pictured the Crown Prince “playboy” as a voyeur and swinish “Peeping Tom.”

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GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

A number of scathing editorial cartoons penned by Dutch painter and illustrator Louis Raemaekers (1869-1956) portrayed the Crown Prince as an immature, bumbling, incompetent commander, leading his armies to senseless slaughter.

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Ironically, as early as November 1914, in his first foreign press interview after the outbreak, the German Crown Prince had described the conflict as “…the most stupid, senseless and unnecessary war of modern times.”

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He further argued that the war had not been “wanted by Germany,” even though “the fact that we were so effectually prepared to defend ourselves is now being used as an argument to convince the world that we desired conflict.”

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Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away, or, What I Did on My Summer Leave from The Wolfsonian-FIU Library

•June 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Ms. Pienn works exclusively with the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf holdings here at The Wolfsonian-FIU, a collection that documents many of the colonial projects in North Africa, the Middle East and the Orient, as well as the important conflicts of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Sharf collection includes many rare photographs and photographic albums, and this summer Ms. Pienn applied for a course being offered by the Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia that focuses on properly identifying prints. We are extremely grateful to the Sharfs for donating so many unique visual documents to the collection, for their continued generosity in funding the Sharf Associate librarian position, and to Florida International University for providing Rochelle with this professional development opportunity. Here is here report:

The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library contains thousands of original photographs dating from the mid-1800s to just before the Second World War. Part of the privilege of processing the Sharf collection includes immersing myself in the close examination and identification of these antique prints from all over the world, made by both amateur and professional photographers. Sometimes I’m confronted by a small box of faded, yellowing images with illegible captions; other times I carefully leaf through an exquisitely bound album with expertly tipped in, glossy oversized prints with lovingly handwritten, detailed descriptions.

XC2011.08.2.140_037XC2011.08.2.140_037
PICNIC FROM GOVT. HOUSE, DARJILING – LT. GOVERNOR SIR RIVERS AND LADY THOMPSON
FROM: BURMA & INDIA: FREDERIC HOULTON SUMMERS MERCHANT RESIDENT’S ALBUM, 1890

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 XC2011.08.2.199_017XC2011.08.2.199_017
[MALE ELEPHANT WITH KEEPER]
FROM: BURMA, 1870-1880 / BY A. J. LAVIE

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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HO GIRLS IN GALA DRESS, CHYBASSA [PHOTOGRAPH BY TOSCO PEPPE, 1860S]
FROM: BURMA, 1870-1880 / BY A. J. LAVIE

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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VIEW IN SRINAGAR, LOOKING DOWN JHELUM
FROM: PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM OF CASHMERE & LADAKH, 1886: VIEWS TAKEN BY H. W. BENSON

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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JAPAN: 63 PAGODA OF TOJI AND TEA GARDEN, KIOTO
FROM: LE TOUR DU MONDE: HAWAII, JAPAN, CHINA AND INDIA, 1899-1901

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The proliferation of photographic methods invented and utilized during this period is monumental. All sorts of chemicals were mixed to make emulsions; endless combinations of silver nitrate, light and incidental reactive liquids were applied to various papers, cards, coatings and mountings, resulting in a confusing array of photographic types.

RBSBoxoPhotos PHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

This month I was accepted into a specialized intensive training called “The Identification of Photographic Processes,” offered at the Rare Book School (RBS) at the University of Virginia (UVa) in Charlottesville. Jim Reilly, Director of the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) in Rochester, New York, and Ryan Boatright, co-founder and digital print maker of Atelier Boba in Paris, France, taught our select group of ten rare book, archives, and art professionals. The goals: learn to delineate actual photographs from mechanical prints, and be able to name and describe photographic and print processes based on specific clue sets, observations, and physical evidence.

RBSAldermanPHOTOGRAPH BY ROCHELLE THEO PIENN

We would begin our days by meeting in the Alderman Library on the University grounds. Former President of the United States Thomas Jefferson founded UVa in 1819. His influence permeated the architecture, landscape, design, and education style of the entire campus. Historic preservation and respect for Jefferson’s original intentions affect the University’s operations, even now. In fact, Jefferson was so adamant about the separation of church and state that the University originally did not include a church. The beautiful little chapel was built across from the Alderman Library seventy years later, in gothic fairytale stone with stained glass, antithetical to the rational columns, brick walls and rotunda-topped roofs of UVa’s academic buildings.

RBSChapelPHOTOGRAPH BY ROCHELLE THEO PIENN

Our classes began with introductory lectures on photographic and printing types and processes, presented chronologically.

RBSJimAtHeadofClassYES PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN BOATRIGHT, COURTESY OF ATELIER BOBA

 Jim and Ryan would then distribute original prints for us to examine.

RBSantiquephotos PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN BOATRIGHT, COURTESY OF ATELIER BOBA

By using magnifying loupes and handheld microscopes with LED lights, we would try to determine, just to begin with, if a photograph was a salt, albumen, gelatin, or platinum print – or perhaps none of the above?

RBSTwowLoupesPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

RBSClasswJimYesPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

To further understand the technique of early photographers, Jim supervised our making of paper prints in an old-fashioned way that employed glass plates. After securing our plates and photo sensitive paper in wooden frames, we brought our pictures outside to develop in the sun.

RBSsunphotoPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

Later, Ryan brought us into a typical manual silver printmaking darkroom.  As a result of living in an almost exclusively digital age, some of my classmates had never before seen an enlarger or enjoyed the magic of hand developing black and white photographs.

RBSDarkroomRedlightPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

Photos are enlarged from negatives under amber light. Once they’re developed and fixed in chemicals, they can be rinsed and examined under normal light.

RBSdarkroomyesPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

At the completion of the course, we were challenged to identify thirteen original photographs. Were they Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes or tintypes? Perhaps we were looking at cyanotypes or platinotypes. What about albumen and gelatin prints? How about collodion or kallitypes? Maybe the images had actually been engravings, or even carbon prints. Were the images affixed to a supporting layer? What kind? When were the pictures taken? Are they chromogenic? Polaroid or Kodachrome? And what about digital prints – offset, dye sublimation, inkjet pigment, et al? Could we tell when we were being fooled?

RBSexamingingwithmicroscopesRBSantiquephotos PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN BOATRIGHT, COURTESY OF ATELIER BOBA

Our expert instructors reassured us that the identification of photographic processes would be a delightful journey of continued learning, and that expertise would come with time and practice. I intend to hone my skills on the many wonderful photographs in the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library. Much like stopping to smell the flowers on a sunny day in Thomas Jefferson’s gardens, identifying photographic processes makes for thoughtful observation and appreciation. I look forward to more photographic interludes.

RBSFlowers

 
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