Posts tagged with "19th Century"

illustration by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

Our New Era of Seeking

By: Howard Mansfield

Times of upheaval release new ideas. Old routines falter, are challenged, and may be overturned. The pandemic has scrambled the old order, making change possible. We are reinventing the office, increasing pay for “essential” workers, questioning police practices, and trying to root out systematic racism.

Swept up in changes that leave so many of us feeling adrift and unsettled, t’s important to remember that we’ve always had this churning in America. Change is our tradition. The early 19th Century saw a feverish era of reform, utopias, and new religions. There were many experimenters in the land. Americans were once full of the mad energy of Utopianists, as if they were convulsed by the falling away of boundaries, driven crazy with possibility. They produced an astonishing array of utopias and religions, almost at the rate Ford once rolled new models and styles off the assembly line, new ideas about sharing property, work, and love.

“We are all a little wild here with numberless projects of social reform. Not a reading man but has a draft of a new Community in his waistcoat pocket,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to Thomas Carlyle in 1840. “One man renounces the use of animal food; and another of coin; and another of domestic hired service; and another of the State; and on the whole we have a commendable share of reason and hope.” Emerson’s own friends were planning an experimental commune. “I am gently mad myself, and am resolved to live cleanly,” said Emerson, but he would not join. His close friend Henry David Thoreau would conduct his own experiment in living, arriving at Walden Pond on Independence Day in 1845.

What became of those 19th Century experiments?

  • Some upstart, raucous religious awakenings and revivals became some of the mainline religions we know today; others burned bright and hot, before disappearing. The Methodists and Universalists are familiar to us, but you won’t find a church nearby for the Janssonists, Dorrilites, Dancing Johnites or scores of other small bands of believers.
  • Many utopias ended in folly, foundering on the most basic needs, like food and shelter. You can proselytize for a grand reordering of society, but first someone has to be able to grow a carrot and patch the roof to keep out the rain. The Shakers were America’s most successful utopia, thriving in 19 communities, and leaving us their impressive realization of a heavenly order on earth in every, tool, chair, box or meetinghouse they built, and in the 10,000 songs they “received.”
  • The reform movements for the abolition of slavery, for temperance, and women’s rights were a marathon races. Each transformed America.

These social experiments have important lessons for us today: It takes many people in debate to reform society. There is rarely a clear, neat path. Reform and change isn’t a railroad running from station to station. It’s never the tidy textbook history. Sometimes reforms don’t arrive where the reformers want. The temperance movement’s success with Prohibition was its undoing.

We need to recognize that we may be in a new era of experimentation. We have to give these experiments room to grow or fail. We need let people try many things, even if they may be contradictory.

Too often we make ourselves dizzy chasing trends. After a few months we’re too ready to call a movement or a new design for life, out of fashion, over – It’s so 2020.  We move on.  But it takes time to go from protest to legislation to a real change in behavior. A lot of time.

We also need to let ideas fail. They may need to fail to clear the way for reinvention, for another try. “The business of social change is tough. You never get all you go for, and you usually don’t get credit for what you do get,” says David S. Meyer, a professor of Sociology, and the author of How Social Movements (Sometimes) Matter.

And change isn’t a story that can be told in the blip of a sound bite. “We tell shorter stories about movements (Rosa Parks sat down, the world stood up) because we lack patience and context, and the shorter stories are more inspiring,” says Meyer. “It’s never one event, action, demonstration, statement, or lawsuit that makes the difference; rather, it’s an accumulation of efforts. All victories take forever. And they’re never enough, and certainly not necessarily permanent.”

All reforms are unfinished. Slavery was abolished, yes. But what is freedom? What is equality? And what was is owed to the formerly enslaved and their descendants? We’re still facing those questions today.

The lesson from previous eras of upheaval is that those dreams took rough strife and patience to give us renewed rights and new possibilities. The reform movements of the past could be ugly, upsetting and wasteful, but they got us to today. And just where is that? At the starting line. America is always at the starting line.

The takeaway is this: Give the reforms of our pandemic era time. Let things fail; let things restart.

About The Author

Howard Mansfield writes about history, architecture, and preservation by sifting through the commonplace and the forgotten to discover stories that tell us about ourselves and our place in the world. He is the author of a dozen books, including the just-published Chasing Eden: A Book of Seekers (Bauhan Publishing).

360 Magazine

Ben Wyckoff Shore’s Debut Novel

International Red Cross Founder’s Story Shows Health Workers’ Heroism & Humanity by Ben Wyckoff Shore

Have you heard of Henri Dunant? If not, it’s okay. The happy few who can identify Henri Dunant as the founder of the Red Cross movement are usually the Trivial Pursuit aficionados. 

But in the midst of today’s crisis, Dunant‘s life is worth recalling in more depth than a general knowledge board game answer as his contribution to humanity is far from trivial. His is a story of humanity in a moment of crisis and acute trauma.  Inspired and driven by the trauma he witnessed, we come to the origin story of the Red Cross Movement.

Born in 1828 to a wealthy but pious family in Geneva, Dunant had a childhood filled with bible reading and alms giving. Even after growing up and learning the trade of the financier he managed to stay bright-eyed and naive.  As a businessman, Dunant was wanting. He had the ambition and even the charisma but lacked the miserly tendencies that turn daily dimes into great fortunes. In short, he was a dreamer. 

After setting out on his own and establishing a shaky enterprise in Algeria, it was not long before Dunant was in dire need of financial help and political intervention. As Algeria was then part of the French Protectorate, Dunant sought out an audience with the Emperor Napoleon III in order to get assistance in his business affairs. As it happened, Napoleon III and France were at war. Not to be deterred by that inconvenient fact, Dunant made his way to Northern Italy, where France (and Napoleon III) and Austria, and their respective allies, were readying to engage in the bloodiest European land battle in 50 years. This battle was to be called the Battle of Solferino.

Dunant, who was sheltered and Swiss, had never before seen the fallout from war.  The aftermath he witnessed of the 1859 Battle of Solferino was an earthshaking experience.  Warfare in the mid nineteenth century had reached a new level of killing potential as compared to the prior century with combatants trading in their muskets for repeating rifles and revolvers. Artillery had become more mobile and tactical, with industrialization providing greater availability and affordability. Battles in the mid 1800s had not yet taken on the trench style warfare of WWI focused on attrition: the Battle of Solferino featured lightning fast cavalry charges and troop movements designed to compress maximum damage in minimal time.

Among the horrors of war Dunant witnessed at the Battle of Solferino were miles and miles of thousands and thousands of young men, dead and dying, without any sort of organized aid response. The Battle of Solferino was also one of the last major battles to occur before the widespread use of antiseptic. As such, infection among the wounded was rampant, as was amputation.  Worse still, there were instances of enemy wounded being sought out and killed. These truly traumatic scenes change Henri Dunant, and as a result, the world. 

After bearing witness to this trauma Dunant did not fly from Solferino but rather, was compelled tostayon to help care for the wounded. He worked tirelessly as an administrator, setting up make-shift field hospitals, but also assisting in the bloody grunt work needed to physically give aid to the suffering soldiers. 

Bodies were buried. The wounded recovered or didn’t. Time marched on. Dunant tried to returnto his normal life but our dreamer found that he could not create distance from the trauma. The Battle of Solferino had produced a reflex in him, but his full reaction was not yet complete. He decided to document his experience in the form of a memoir. In his published work, A Memory of Solferino, he lays bare a full account of the Battle in all its gory detail. 

This memoir spread through Europe like wildfire. European leaders were appalled into action. This momentum turned into a movement when Dunant, along with a small group of like minds, founded the International Committee for the Red Cross.  Though this organization was founded to improve the conditions of the wounded on the field of battle, it has expanded and grown into one of the largest humanitarian organizationsin the world. Today the movement maintains volunteer societies in 190 countries and has alleviated the suffering of millions of people facing the effects of warfare, natural disaster, and epidemic. 

Beyond founding the Red Cross, Dunant ultimately helped coordinate the Geneva Convention and was awarded the first ever Nobel Peace Prize. 

I found Henri Dunant’s story fascinating enough to inspirethehistorical novel Terribilita. Based on much research into the era and Dunant, the story features a fictional Italian family swept up in the politics and violence of the 19thcentury Risorgimento movement. Dunant plays a small but critical role in the story by guiding the family to higher moral ground. 

His was one of many possible reactions to a crisis but can represent an important lesson in how even in the face of devastation, individuals like today’s health workers can be driven and inspired to work selflessly for the benefit of humanity.

 

About Ben Wyckoff Shore

Ben Wyckoff Shore is the author of Terribilita, an historical novel set in Italy at the time of the Italian unification movement (Risorgimento). An avid reader with a penchant for writing about very flawed, very human characters as well as stories about rebellion and self-sacrifice, Ben enjoys nature and loves all sorts of dogs but especially underdogs.

 

NY’s Bravest get their very own Pop-Up!

New York’s Bravest Honored in a Pop-Up Exhibition at the New York City Fire Museum, by Acclaimed UK Artist, Alexander Millar

 

New York’s firefighters are renowned across the world for their valor, dedication and sacrifice. Now, they have inspired the acclaimed UK artist Alexander Millar to create a new body of work that honors the city’s ‘Bravest’ and celebrates the qualities that make them some of the most extraordinary working people on the planet.

Taking inspiration from archive material from the New York City Fire Museum, and the Vulcan Society (a fraternal organization of Black Firefighters), including photographs of the 18th, 19th and 20th century firefighter, Millar has created a collection of portraits and cityscapes that show respect, humor and warmth for the everyday heroes of the city, communicating a strong sense of the people behind the uniforms.

Millar launched his new collection, Everyday Heroes • NYC, at the New York City Fire Museum on April 3rd. special guests were able to view original artwork in oil and pencil, all of which have been created especially for the museum in Millar’s trademark contemporary impressionist style.

After a short run at the museum, the show will transfer to the Millar Fine Art Pop-Up Gallery, on 138 Wooster Street, in Soho, New York on April 7th, 2018 for an expanded exhibition which will bring together critically-acclaimed work from recent years, alongside his new collection inspired by New York and its working people, from the fire department and beyond.

20% of the profits from sales of one of his new artworks, ‘Everyday Heroes’ will be donated, to the city’s Fire Museum and the Vulcan Society.

Images from last night’s event below

Painting of Wesley A. Williams, born in Manhattan in 1897, Wesley A. Williams became only the third African-American to join the New York City Fire Department, at a time of segregation and discrimination. He became the first African-American to be promoted to the rank of officer, when he became a lieutenant in 1927. He retired in 1952 with the rank of battalion chief. (Deceased). In the photo above Charles Williams (right), grandson of Wesley Williams was photographed with portrait of his late grand father Wesley A. Williams.

See link to images here

About the Artist: 

Alexander Millar is critically acclaimed for his depictions of industrial cities; his work is strongly influenced by the working men and women of the late 19th and 20th century. His subject matter combined with his impressionistic, impasto style has seen him described as JMW Turner meets LS Lowry.

Emotive and dramatic skies and industryscapes are created with a broad colour palette, loose, impasto brush strokes and an almost energetic and frenzied composition. With his impressionistic skies and landscapes, Millar brings to life eras and scenes that were arguably a struggle and a trial; yet his obvious fondness for the time and the people he paints gives a nostalgic and warm impression of days gone by.

Born and raised in the small mining community of Springside, just outside the town of Kilmarnock on the west coast of Scotland, Alexander Millar was surrounded by laborers, working men, and women, earning their trade in the mills, shipping industries, steelworks or railways.

The importance of these people to their communities and industries stuck with him, and they have become the central figures in his paintings ever since. Alexander Millar’s artwork focuses on the individuals and, latterly, the industryscapes in which they existed.

Nowadays, Alexander Millar is a self-taught artist known around the world, he has received great critical acclaim from some of the world’s most respected art critics. His work continues to be inspired by the working men and women of our communities and cities, and over the coming months and years will feature interpretations of 21st-century workers, in Alexander Millar’s unique style.

Alexander Millar’s original paintings regularly sell for upwards of $20,000.

La Divine Comédie

Tracy Paul & Company Inc. launches La Divine Comédie, the most exclusive French property in the heart of Avignon.

 

 

Tracy Paul & Company Inc. is proud to announce its representation of La Divine Comédie, an exquisite luxury property located in the most treasured setting within Southern France. The hotel resort La Divine Comédie is a 19th century mansion, comprised of 5 spectacular suites. Each suite has it’s own unique style, inspired by Gilles Jauffret the renowned French interior designer as well as one of the properties owners. He has meticulously thought of every detail throughout the entire compound.

 

There are some places which seem to have an eternal soul, transmitted through the ages, from one occupier to another. Certain individuals have the gift of giving free rein to the spirit present within these walls, and of respecting the building’s unique character. Listening to the echoes of its past and reading the lines of its own story. This is true of the lucky occupiers of La Divine Comédie, who have devoted themselves, heart and soul, to breathing life into one of Avignon’s most particular private residences, using their creative talents and impeccable artistic taste to bring out the very best in every inch of the 2,600 m2 space.

 

 

The grounds of the hotel contain a spa & wellness center as well as a large outdoor swimming pool. The hotel also has the largest private garden directly centered in the middle of Avignon, with over 100 varieties of trees and plants. The owners Amaury and Gilles wanted to create a true haven of calm and tranquility in the heart of the city. Yet the hotel is just footsteps away from the Pope’s Palace, restaurants, shopping and all the other attractions offered in one of France’s most historic romantic cities. 

 

La Divine Comédie is, first and foremost, a garden to be found behind high walls. Catch your first glimpse from the outside as the gentle breeze stirs the leaves of the ancient plane trees, hinting at this oasis of calm right in the city center. The light and airy house can be seen through the open gate, inviting and casting a spell over its visitors, who can all too easily fall in love with its mysterious, mesmerizing charm. The garden and the house come together to tell an enchanting, enticing tale of discovery and pleasure. Pass through the open doors to enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of La Divine Comédie, a dreamlike, but very real, paradise.


THE ANATOLE SUITE

The Anatole suite tells the tale of Uncle Anatole, a seasoned traveller recently returned from abroad, bringing a whole collection of souvenirs. Two magnificent, antique model boats show his love for the sea.

Anatole also collects orientalist paintings, particularly Cortès and Pascal; the mirrors, screen and the 18th Century canopy over the bed are other gems brought back from his travels. The antechamber is home to a desk, perfect for planning the next trip.

Visitors to the suite are greeted by a portrait of Anatole in his younger years.

Suite size : 50 m2

 

THE APHRODITE SUITE

The Aphrodite suite features a spectacular round bed, surrounded by soft, diaphanous draped voile, the perfect place to relax in privacy. The suite is decorated in soothing greys and blues, reflecting the soft tones of an 18th Century Vernet-style screen. A number of extremely fine orientalist paintings add to the overall effect.

The suite opens out onto a private terrace of 30m2, with spectacular views on the garden. Visitors are welcome to take their breakfast or to enjoy an aperitif on the terrace. The suite also features a second, smaller room.

Suite size : 50 m2

 

THE CONSUL SUITE

The Consul suite is decorated in the style of the Napoleonic period, when the fashion was for all things exotic. A collection of lithographs of the Bosphorus in the antechamber sits alongside a superb collection of antique trunks. The typical furniture, notably the armchairs – replicas of the throne of Tutankhamun – is set off by a palate of warm cumin, black and brown tones.

The orientalist spirit can also be seen in a series of engravings representing Napoleon’s first trip to Egypt, reflecting the fashion for exotic travel. The suite is oriented west, offering a glimpse of the Papal Palace from the windows.

Suite size: 50 m2

 

THE NAPLES SUITE

The Naples suite is home to a stunning collection of gouache paintings of Mt Vesuvius erupting. The artworks are set off by the matte grey walls of the main room. Three huge, south-facing windows look out over the garden. Majestic bed hangings, suspended from an 18th Century canopy, sit alongside a modern headboard designed by Gilles Jauffret. The simple, clean lines of the light fixtures, imported from Morocco, add a graphic touch to the décor.

Suite size: 50 m2

 

THE VENICE SUITE

The Venice suite features a collection of over 40 18th– and 19th-Century oil paintings of the Italian city, set against a backdrop of blue and grey tones.

Enjoy the beauties of Venice without leaving Provence! Much of Avignon’s palatial architecture is inspired by Italian art, as Papal legates commissioned their favorite artists to work on their residences in the city.

The suite also features a 1920s Iris chandelier and 1970s shell chairs, the perfect place to enjoy some of our collection of works on Venice.

Suite size : 50 m2