Archive for the ‘1880s’ Category

Rosina Ferrara

Rosina Ferrara (1861-1934) was a beauty from the island of Capri off the coast of Italy. You see her picture in art museums all over the world because artists loved to paint and draw her, especially Frank Hyde and John Singer Sargent. For them she had an exotic beauty, one that reminded them of the women in ancient Greek art.

She had light brown skin, black curly hair and eyes like a panther. She looked like she was part Arab and part Greek. Some say that on her mother’s side she is related to Barbarossa, the Turkish pirate. She came from the town of Anacapri where the people are markedly Arab-looking.

Charles Sprague Pearce, a painter from Boston, said of her:

the tawney skinned, panther eyed, elf-like Rosina, wildest and lithest of all the savage creatures on the savage isle of Capri

Capri is a beautiful island near Naples. In the 1800s artists and writers loved to go there to do their work. The island was not only famous for its beauty, but also for its beautiful women, who looked exotic to the French, British and Americans. In the French imagination it was the sort of place where you might fall in love with a fisherman’s daughter (and later leave her).

And on that beautiful island of beautiful exotic women, some said that the most beautiful of all was Rosina Ferrara.

She was discovered by the French artist Chatran when she was about age 14. She became a model for Edward Vaux and then the British artist Frank Hyde.

Sargent arrived in Capri in 1878 when she was 16 or 17. He went to visit Frank Hyde, telling him what kind of model he was looking for. He showed her Rosina:

When he saw her he was so fascinated with her that he made three studies in profile of her, all of which he painted in my studio.

Sargent would go on to paint her 12 times during his year on Capri. Sargent tends to make people taller and thinner than they are, but he is good at catching their mood.

Sargent did not pay her for modelling, by the way. Instead he gave her a sculpture he made of her.

In addition to Chatran, Vaux, Hyde and Sargent, she has also been painted by George Randolph Barse (husband), Alfred Stevens (lover), Charles C. Coleman (good friend), Jean Benner and Charles Sprague Pearce (that painter from Boston). Many of these paintings are in private collections.

In 1883 she had a daughter, Maria Carlotta. No one knows who the father was. Some say it was a prince. She was famous enough and beautiful enough where that would not be out of the question.

In the middle 1880s she was the mistress of Alfred Stevens, a Belgian painter.

In 1891 she married an American painter, George Randolph Barse, and went away with him to live in America, in upstate New York in Katonah. She died of pneumonia at age 76 in Flushing, Queens in New York City.

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A car (1885- ) is a means of private road transport. It is also known as an automobile or motor car. A car can hold one to six people and go about fifteen times faster than someone on foot. Cars replace the horse-drawn carriages of old. Most households in America have at least one. Outside of certain cities, like New York or New Orleans, it is next to impossible to get by in America without one.

I did not intend to write about cars today, but I just found this beautiful picture of one – an Aston Martin DB5 from 1963, the sort that James Bond 007 drove.

Cars move by means of a motor that is built inside. That is why they are sometimes call motor cars. Current motors burn oil which moves the parts of the motor, which in turn moves the wheels.

In America the car might have remained a luxury for the rich but for two things:

  1. Henry Ford worked out how to make them cheap enough for ordinary people.
  2. The government built a system of roads for cars across the country.

Ford’s famous car was his black Model T, which his company made from 1908 to 1927. It had the power of twenty horses. At first it sold for 1800 crowns ($22,000 in current dollars), less than half the price of other cars. By the 1920s Ford was able to sell his cars for less than a 1000 crowns. He had cut the price of a car to a fourth of what it was.

Ford had done for the car what Gutenberg had done for the book.

This in turn has had at least three side effects:

  1. suburbia
  2. polluted air
  3. the teenager

You might think that with cars people would spend less time getting from one place to another, that it would save a lot of time. Not so. Instead cities have become much larger and take up more space, so now it takes just as much time to get around. But where before people had to live in the city close to work, now they can live farther away in what was once the countryside but, because of the car, has now become suburbia: half-city, half-country -d it has a lot of trees and grass, but it also has houses, stores and roads everywhere too.

But although more people live outside the city, the air has become polluted from the smoke coming from all those cars. It is not as bad as it was thirty years ago – cars have been improved to run more cleanly – but it is still worse than a hundred years ago.

The car has also created the teenager – someone who is still too young to live on his own apart from his parents, but old enough to drive a car and get into trouble. This has led to a great loosening of morals as far as sex goes. The car, though, is not alone on this one – birth control and the weakening of the Christian faith have also played their part.

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