Category Archives: Biography

September 24

Gay Georgian London: Horace Walpole Amongst the ‘Finger-Twirlers’

On the 24th of September 1717, Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician, was born in London. Although the son of the first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, he is largely remembered in our times for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London, where he […]

September 14

Richard Gerstl, Self-Portraits of a Tortured Soul

On the 14th of September 1883, Austrian painter and draughtsman Richard Gerstl was born in Vienna; he is remembered for his insightful portraits and haunting self-portraits. He was born into a wealthy bourgeois family as the son of Emil Gerstl, a Jewish merchant, and Maria Pfeiffer, a Catholic woman who later converted to the faith. Against the wishes […]

September 06

Feminism and Royalty: A Paradox

On the  6th of September 1997, the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, took place in London. Two thousand people attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey and the British television audience reached 32.78 million, one of the country’s highest viewing figures ever. Two billion people followed the ceremony worldwide, making it one of the most watched events in history. In death, […]

August 30

The Tragedies of Mary Shelley

On the 30th of August 1797, English novelist Mary (Wollstonecraft) Shelley was born in London. She was the wife and muse of Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley, daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and of philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, she was most famous […]

August 27

Early Music Masters: Josquin des Prez

On the 27th of August 1521, the Renaissance  Netherlandish composer Josquin des Prez died in Condé-sur-l’Escaut, nowadays Northern France. The exact year and place of his birth are still not known, yet this does not prevent scholars and early music lovers from stating that Josquin was one of the most renowned musicians of his time. […]

August 26

Peggy Guggenheim: The Woman Behind the Art

On the 26th of August 1898, American matron and collector of the arts Peggy Guggenheim was born in New York. “Peggy Guggenheim was one of ten children-the second of three daughters-born to Benjamin Guggenheim and Florette Seligman, both second-generation members of German-Jewish families that had built their wealth in America. Two of her uncles, Solomon […]

October 21

Was Don Quixote Kafka’s Alter Ego?

On the 21st of October 1917 Franz Kafka wrote a brief parable The Truth about Sancho Panza. Its original title “Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa” was given by Max Brod, who later published the text in the volume “Beim Bau der chinesischen Mauer”.  The parable is composed of only two sentences, yet its meaning is […]

October 16

Marie-Antoinette’s Hair Extravaganza

On the 16th of October 1793 – only two weeks before her thirty-eighth birthday – Marie Antoinette was beheaded at the Place de la Révolotion in Paris. From a historical perspective, one can refer to her death in a more symbolic context as to a loss of identity that was never entirely her own.  “For Marie-Antoinette, […]

October 11

Piaf and Cocteau: Les Enfants Terribles

When I write I disturb. When I make a film I disturb. When I paint I disturb. When I exhibit my paintings I disturb, and I disturb if I don’t. I have a knack for disturbing. (Jean Cocteau, Diary of an Unknown) On the 11th of October 1963, a French poet, novelist, designer, playwright, artist, […]

October 09

Che Guevara’s Revolution in Pop Culture

On the 9th of October 1967 Che Guevara, an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary, and allegedly one of the most famous revolutionaries in the world, was executed. The execution took place in a little Bolivian village, La Higuera, which since then has become a pilgrimage destination for numerous Che Guevara followers. The use of the word ‘pilgrimage’ […]