Archive for the Podcasts Category

Episode 85: Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted 4 March 2017 by
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There are people who define Artemisia’s life by the trauma she endured, it’s where they begin her story and where they return time and time again.

We aren’t those people. While her rape as a teenager must have influenced her, what this Master Baroque painter did after that is where we spend most of this episode. (We do suggest that an adult preview the audio of this episode before letting kids listen.)

Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting

Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting

Artemisia was born about 1593 in Rome to established painter Orazio Gentileschi and his wife Prudentia. Although she had brothers, Artemisia was the only child to not only have an interest in learning art from Orazio, but also the only one with talent.

As a girl, the only way that she could be taught the skills of the trade is through a family member, it just wasn’t something that young women could learn elsewhere. Artemisia’s training began very early and continued through her mother’s death when Artemisia was only about 12. Orazio’s fellow artists (accent on “fellow”), a rough-ish lot, were frequent visitors to their home and they also gave her painting pointers.

Susanna and the Elders

Susanna and the Elders, her first work about age 16, greatly influenced by Caravaggio

One such “friend” was Agostino Tassi who stalked out our girl and, one day when she was 17, attacked and raped her. According to 17th century Italian society, her honor and the honor of the family was gone with her virginity. But, lo! Tassi said he would marry her. It’s cool…

…except he was already married, a serial rapist, possible murderer and an overall skuzzball. When Oratzio realized that his daughter was not to become Mrs. Tassi, he sued Tassi for damages. The seven month court trial focused on Artemesia proving that he had forced himself on her.

Yeah, you read that right. Horrible. She was cross-examined over and over again, sometimes under torture; she was physically (and humiliatingly) examined in court and had to watch witness after witness lying. Ultimately Tassi was found guilty, got a wrist-slap sentence and was back, painting, within a couple months.

But by then Artemisia was married off to a Florentine painter and they had left Rome. With a fresh canvas of a life ahead of her, she dove into it as a professional artist. She was able to get commissions from very influential and well connected patrons fairly quickly. Her style: Realism with strong shadow contrasts, and her primary subjects were biblical or historical women in powerful positions.(More about the story of Judith and Holofernes)

Her first post trial painting...nope. this isn't sending a message at all. Judith Slaying Holofernes

Her first post trial painting: Judith Slaying Holofernes, talk about a woman in a powerful position!

Another version of Judith that we talked about "This basket? Nothing in this basket- we're just trying to get a head."

Another version of Judith that we talked about. The story is painted at the height of tension.

Artists love this story...this is Gustav Klimt's Judith I from 1901

Artists love this story…this is Gustav Klimt’s Judith I from 1901

We spend the rest of the episode talking about her very long career: her work in Florence, Rome, Venice and even as far as England. She was big time famous- the first woman to be accepted into the very prestigious Academia del Disengno and known throughout Europe; her client list ranged from churches to nobles to kings.

Allegory of Inclination

Allegory of Inclination–Susan gushed about this one

We’ll tell you about her fame, her marketing methods, some of her paintings and the lifelong efforts she had to employ to keep herself working (efforts that she thought a man of her level of fame would not have to do.)

dumonstier her hand

Self-portraits of her were common, but she was also a model for other artists                                                Dumonstier,www.britishmuseum.org/collection. British Museum, 4/4/2017.Online. 4/4/2017.

 

Artemisia was a very well-known, working artist with a stellar reputation for over 40 years but her paintings and details of her life are still being discovered today. She didn’t sign all of her work, and for a long time, a lot of it was attributed to her father. Although even the date of her death is still a mystery–anywhere from 1652 -1656–her legacy as an artist, an intelligent woman kicking heiney in a man’s profession, and a woman who exhibited the very essence of feminism in her life and in her work make solving those mysteries all the more exciting.

Artemisia Lomi Gentileschi by Simon Vouet 1623

Artemisia Lomi Gentileschi by Simon Vouet 1623 Note the medallion, which refers to another Artemesia.

 

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

Books!

Non-fiction:

Mary Gerrard

Mary Gerrard

Keith Christiansen and Judith Mann

Keith Christiansen and Judith Mann

Fiction:

Alexandra LaPierre

Alexandra LaPierre

Susan Vreeland

Susan Vreeland

Podcasts!

The Art History Babes podcast –4 grad students, wine and lively conversation about visual media. Go for the Artemisia, stay for the Frida (Kahlo…and a host of others) and learn something about art appreciation.

History on Fire Podcast, this will take you right to Caravaggio, Part One. So, so good.

Museums!

If you find yourself in Rome before June 5, 2017 go check out Artemisia Gentileschi and Her Times at Museo di Roma If you take a photo, post it on Instagram with #historychicksfieldtrip so we can live vicariously.

Given Fair Use we could probably post an image of Thomas Benton Hart’s Susanna and the Elders, but then you would look and move on, but if you click this, you will fall into a delightful rabbit hole of art from The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. We would never want to deprive you of that experience!

Websites!

Here are many of her paintings in one place with descriptions when you click on the thumbnails. Artemesia-Gentileschi dot com

The x-ray study-homage art piece of Susanna and the Elders by Kathleen Gilje. (Yeah, it’s cool, go look, we’ll wait.)

Intrigued about the “lost” Mary Magdalene that Beckett talked about? Here’s more on that on the History Blog; and for more about The Apocrypha, here is some on Rev. Ken Collins’ website.

More about the history of the Queens House, Greenwich where Artemesia and Orazio worked on ceiling pieces when she was in England.

Here is out Pinterest board for Artemisia…if you open it before you listen you can see the paintings as we talk about them.

Movies!

The 2010 documentary that Susan liked, you can stream it from this link, but just make sure you click on the $4.99 streaming option for it because the other is a tad steep. A Woman Like That

a-woman-like-that-46

 

Or watch this one thinking, “where have I seen this guy before?”

Then there is the feature film…

KInd of surprised that Ebert gave it two thumbs up, maybe he didn't know how far it veered from the real story...or he didn't care.

We”re kind of surprised that Siskle and Ebert gave it two thumbs up, maybe they didn’t know how far it veered from the real story…or didn’t care.

All we could watch was this trailer because the romanticizing of the relationship between Artemisia and Tassi made us feel really gross.

THIS is a much better way to spend your viewing time, an art history lecture at Portland Museum of Art by Jesse Locker that shows how her work is being verified and compare and contrast works of hers and other artists.

Episode 84: Ida B. Wells

Posted 11 February 2017 by
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Ida B. Wells- born a slave, educated in a post-Civil War south and left to care for her family at an early age. She grew to become a teacher, a writer, a crusader for civil rights, a suffragist, a wife and mother. A woman of strength and character who dared to speak up and challenge those who desired to oppress others, even when her own safety was at risk.

How could we not talk about a woman like this?

(more…)

Episode 83: Lucille Ball, Part Two

Posted 28 January 2017 by
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In Part One, Lucille Ball worked her way up the entertainment ladder, married, had a baby and launched a new television show (which seems like enough for a full life,) but Lucille’s life was about to get MUCH fuller.

Lucille_ball_1976

After I Love Lucy debuted in 1951, Lucille rapidly achieved the superstar status that she had worked over half her life for. (And for those of you looking for inspiration from women of experienced age…she was 40 when the show began AND when she had her first child.) You wanted the lyrics to the theme song so you could sing along, right? (more…)

Episode 82: Lucille Ball, Part One

Posted 31 December 2016 by
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She was named Lucille Désirée Ball at birth, used the stage name Diane Belmont, married an Arnaz and a Morton but the only name we really need? Lucy. To talk about her life from its roots in upstate New York to her legacy as an American icon–we’re going to need a couple episodes.

1945 glamour and darker hair! Yankee Army Weekly

1945 glamour and darker hair! Yankee Army Weekly

Lucille was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, NY to Henry and Désirée Ball who quickly moved her to Montana and then Michigan where Henry found work. But by age five her father had died and her mother took her back to Jamestown right before her little brother, Fred was born. She had a bit of a bounce-around childhood: some of the time she lived with her maternal grandparents, some with her step-grandparents and some of it in a big multi-generational house with her mom, step-dad, brother, aunt, cousin and grandfather.

House in Celoron, NY. courtesy 59Lucylane.com

Grandpa Hunt’s big house in Celoron, NY.  Courtesy 59Lucylane.com

Lucille started her long climb to stardom with teenage years as a bobbed-wild girl, a quick, failed trip to a New York City drama school and attempts at live theater and chorus lines. She finally found her people (and steady work) as a dress model for Hattie Carnegie in New York City.

It's always " Bette, Bette, Bette..."

It’s always ” Bette, Bette, Bette…”

A high profile job as a cigarette ad model led to her first step on the ladder of success in Hollywood! Her six- week contract as a showgirl morphed to six months then a year. While she always considered the Jamestown area ” home” she was able to move her family to the sunshine of California.

poster_of_the_movie_roman_scandals

“The Goldwyn Girls” That’s her! First of many uncredited or bit parts for Lucille

Of course we go into a lot more detail in the show- her Adventures in Hair Color, her successful steps forward and her crushing steps backward, her family dynamics, people who gave her a boost up the ladder, and little bits of trivia along the way. Lucille’s was no overnight stardom story–she worked HARD and SMART for years and took as many jobs as she could, learning and honing her comedic and acting skills along the way.

Don't smoke, Kids.

Don’t smoke, Kids.  Flickr

Speaking of not paying one’s dues…although Lucille had dated (for networking or fun…who are we to judge? But we do talk about it) nothing prepared her for the whirlwind and electric romance with a young, new-to-show-business Cuban musician with a flashy smile and big personality named Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III–“Desi” for short. “Lucy” was his nickname for Lucille and passion, in all it’s incarnations, ruled their relationship. In no time they had eloped and settled into married life.

And separated life.

And almost divorced life.

And, many times, reconciliation life.

Lucille’s career went up, then down…until a stint on a very popular radio show led to a chance at a CBS TV show for her. But she wanted to work with Desi (heck, she wanted to know where Desi was all the time.) CBS said America wouldn’t believe an interracial couple were really married (uh, duh? They had been married for almost 10 years. America can’t be that dumb.) (Don’t answer that.)

Lucille and Richard Denning in My Favorite Husband

Lucille and Richard Denning in My Favorite Husband

The two came up with a strategy to prove that America would not only believe they were a couple (the easy part) but they would adore and be highly entertained by them (the trickier part.) While they were creating that environment across the country in live shows, they were also trying to create a family. And, because this is how life works out, Lucille gave birth shortly after they filmed the pilot for I Love Lucy, to their first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz (creative with the names, right?)

Movie career- check!

Marriage and family-check!

Launch herself into history? Come back for Part Two and we’ll talk about all that.

 

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

Most of the media recommendations will be on the shownotes for Part Two, but we thought you might enjoy these that are relevant to Part One:

The ranch house with the coveted orange and avocado trees is no more…but this post on the San Fernando Valley blog has a very thorough search for it and a TON of pictures that you’re going to want to see.

And here is the original pilot, it didn’t air but sold the show to Phillip Morris and proved that–oh. shock.– they are believable as a married couple and funny as all heck.

And Lucille singing and dancing just after she met Desi, in Dance, Girl,Dance

And the fight scene we talked about! See you again in Part, Two!

Episode 81: Mulan

Posted 10 December 2016 by
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Once a season we take a historical look at a fictional woman and this season we have to get in the Way, Way, Way Back Machine to follow the life of Mulan.

Mulan as depicted in He Dazi's album Gathering Gems of Beauty

Mulan as depicted in He Dazi’s album Gathering Gems of Beauty

The story of Mulan goes back a whole lot farther than 1998 when the Disney version introduced her from their very tall, very American stage–the origins of her story go back into SINGLE DIGIT AD. Fact or folktale? More than likely Mulan was not a real person but that’s admit  since her story is beloved in China. She could have been real, but her story has been told so many times and for so many years that if she didn’t really exist we can Velveteen Rabbit her to life?

(more…)

Episode 80: Queen Nzinga

Posted 22 November 2016 by
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ann_zinghaframecrop

 

Just your ordinary Princess to Queen tale: born into a royal family, rose to power, protected her people and country for generations with little more than her bravery, wits, bow and arrow and gallons of blood spilled and some, perhaps, consumed.

(more…)

Episode 79: Lizzie Borden Revisted

Posted 29 October 2016 by
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Is there a better time to revisit our favorite Victorian More-Than-Likely Murderess, Lizzie Borden, than right now? We think not.

lizzie_borden

Lizzie Borden took an axe gave her mother 40 whacks, when the evil deed was done, she gave her father 41.

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Episode 78 : Shirley Chisholm

Posted 26 October 2016 by
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We wrap up our short series of “women who ran for the US Presidency before Hillary Clinton” with Shirley Chisholm!

Photo Credit: John O'Halloran, US News & World Report

Photo Credit: John O’Halloran, US News & World Report

Shirley St. Hill was born in 1924 in Brooklyn, NY to Charles and Ruby St. Hill. Her parents were both immigrants from the West Indies and they made a painful decision to send Shirley and two of her sisters to live their early youth on her grandmother’s farm in Barbados.

Shirley’s education was solid: prestigious Girl’s High in Brooklyn, Bachelors degree in Sociology with a minor in Spanish from Brooklyn College, Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbia… she was smart, she was quick, she was well spoken, well read and well, she had a dynamic personality wrapped in a very petite frame.

(more…)

Episode 77: Belva Lockwood

Posted 23 October 2016 by
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Belva Lockwood, pioneer in the field of law, and second woman candidate for President.

Belva Lockwood, pioneer in the field of law, and second woman candidate for President.

We continue our series of Presidential candidates with Belva Lockwood, the woman who many regard as the first “legitimate” female nominee for the office. You be the judge; certainly, her age and employment history are a contrast to Victoria Woodhull, (covered here), whose earlier campaign, in 1872, was tainted by scandal (and marred by not meeting the age requirement of 35).

This woman had it all together, but it hadn't come easily!

This woman had it all together, but it hadn’t come easily!

Belva Bennett Lockwood was born in 1830 on a farm in upstate NY. She paid for and arranged her own education, but family pressure drove her to marriage rather than college.

 
Being widowed at 22 changed the course of her life; teaching, college, law school, and finally the groundbreaking milestone of being the first woman to argue cases before the Supreme Court.

Belva was not only a pioneer herself, but sponsored other trailblazers to the Court..

Belva was not only a pioneer herself, but sponsored other trailblazers to the Court..

Then, in 1884, Belva Lockwood ran as the Equal Rights party’s candidate for President. She was no fool; the Presidency was a long shot, but the impact on society would be undeniable. She took the inevitable backlash in stride, saying that being featured in a political cartoon was an accomplishment in itself.

You have to be famous in the first place to be mocked in the national media!

You have to be famous in the first place to be mocked in the national media!

A halfhearted attempt at the office in 1888 ended her quest for elected office, but her reputation was such that several Presidents, many educational institutions, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee all relied on her advice.

Her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.

Her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.

Belva’s example had been an inspiration for women to move into a sphere that had been denied them. (A convention of female lawyers she chaired in 1893 had over 200 attendees.)

 
Belva Lockwood died in 1917, having forged a path of education, advocacy, and determination for generations to follow.

 
When asked if there would ever be a woman President, Belva said:

If a woman demonstrates that she is fitted to be president, she will someday occupy the White House. It will be entirely on her own merits, however. No movement will place her there simply because she is a woman. It will come if she proves herself fit for the position.

Listen to the audio for her life in detail!

Here are the books Beckett recommended:

"Ballots For Belva" by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

“Ballots For Belva” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

"Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President" by Jill Norgren

“Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President” by Jill Norgren

The closing song is “Keep on the Path” by The Mystery Body.

Episode 76: Victoria Woodhull

Posted 9 October 2016 by
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Victoria Woodhull crafted a life for herself from pretty raw materials. She traveled from an abusive childhood to a very aristocratic end but the life in the middle? Ah, that is the part were she was a woman ahead of her time.victoria_woodhull_by_mathew_brady_c1870

 

Victoria California Claflin was born on September 23, 1838 to Reuben Buckman (Buck) and Roxanne (Annie) in the very sweet town of Homer, Ohio. Buck was an abusive scoundrel, Annie a mentally unstable religious zealot and Victoria’s childhood of abuse, poverty and lack of much of an education became even more of a struggle when the fine townsfolk of Homer shoo’d the Claflins away.

To support the family, Buck taught Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, a valuable life skill by putting them in front of audiences all over the Midwest as spiritual healers, clairvoyants, fortune tellers, sellers of magical elixirs…and we can only speculate what else. Even Victoria’s marriage at 15 to the dashing and charming Canning Woodhull wasn’t an escape–he was a womanizer, addict and all around crappy husband. After their son was born a year later the family moved several times, Victoria took a series of jobs to help them survive while her husband did as little as possible even while he was delivering their second child (it’s a gross story) (oh, yeah, we tell it.)

Escape from this life came in the form of one Colonel James Blood. He believed like she did, saw the world the way she did and, most importantly, made her happy.

Image courtesy, Flikr: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums'

Not the rocking caravan, but some from the 1800s                                                 Image courtesy, Flikr: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

When Victoria and crew including her sister, Tennie, moved to New York they began by earning money the way they always had, but since they were able to tell fortunes (or read people), they  must have known that Cornelius Vanderbilt would come into their lives, right? Known that with his mentoring (is that what the kids are calling it these days?) Tennie and Victoria would make quite a bit in the stock market. But if they had known what would happen after Victoria got involved with the suffrage movement do you think they would have stayed? Maybe, but Victoria wasn’t a very conventional suffragist (Victoria wasn’t a conventional anything), and while the suffragists were talking about the best way to bring equal rights to women, Victoria was living that life.

Victoria, deep in thought about…we have no idea
Bradley Rulofson,

Victoria and Tennie were the first two female stockbrokers in New York, Victoria was the first woman to speak before a congressional committee, they began a newspaper, Victoria started a speaking career and, oh yeah, she announced her candidacy for president.

With the suffragists watching (after they had to postpone their meeting because STUFF WAS HAPPENING!

With the suffragists watching Victoria address Congress (after they had to postpone their meeting because STUFF WAS HAPPENING!)

Like we said, not very conventional. Her platform, to our ears, sounds the opposite of radical: women’s rights, equal rights for equal pay, aid to the poor, and legislation to help women who were trapped in marriages by a society that failed to see the way they were treated. Okay, so “Free Love” sounds to our ears what it did to the Victorians, but all Vicky wanted was to get government out of her bedroom.

henry_ward_beecher__harriet_beecher_stowe

 

So many errors occurred between announcing her candidacy to election day 1872 that even a skilled politician today wouldn’t have been able to overcome them: Support, then a slow backing away from the suffragists, constant badmouthing by the Beecher sisters, lawsuits, a juicy scandal involving a high profile minister, a kooky and greedy extended family…and an arrest right before election day that sent both Victoria and Tennie into jail.

Ulysses S. Grant won without a fight from Victoria (or Susan B. Anthony's vote)

Ulysses S. Grant won without a fight from Victoria (or Susan B. Anthony’s vote)

She didn’t stand a chance. But she knew that going in her candidacy was symbolic and after it was all over, after Victoria moved on to a life of downright upstanding citizenry in England, Victoria knew that she had gotten her message out. The country was 48 years away from women voting, 144 years from the first woman nominee from a major party, and the US is still trying to legislate love but by thinking far ahead of her time, but in 1872, Victoria Woodhull wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and even that was ahead of its time.

Victoria's final years were spent in Bredons Norton...and she was happy and beloved by her village.

Victoria’s final years were spent in Bredons Norton…and she was happy and beloved by her village…and very, very wealthy.

 

Time Travel with The History Chicks

 

Websites!

The grand mama of  Victoria sites (well, the great, great, great step-granddaughter of them anyway) head over to Victoria-Woodhull. com, Victoria Woodhull Spirit to Run the White House has Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly archives, Victoria Woodhull Presidential Library and enough reading to keep you busy for a very long time from a distant relation of Victoria’s.

Whaaa? The 19th Amendment didn’t give all women the right to vote? Well, it did, sorta, but states moved quickly to take that right away from native Americans and women (and men in some cases) of color. Here is a really great (read:eye opening) timeline of Voting Rights History in the United States.

Speaking of eye opening: Literacy rates in Early America are probably higher than you thought.

15th Amendment says what? and a case from the 14th Amendment regarding voting rights. What’s the lesson here? Know your Amendments, people!

 

fox_sisters_mediums

Fox Sisters, Leah, Kate, and  Margaretta circa 1884

Victoria’s obituary from the New York Times.

Quick review of female US presidential candidates if you don’t want to read a whole book (below.)

Information about the Fox Sisters  (and a lot of other creepy stuff, it’s the website of the American Ghost Society.)

Eugenics, Anthony Comstock and Victoria Woodhull. Light reading. No, not really, but more in-depth intel about those obscenity charges that kept her in jail on voting day.

When you are in Wichita, Kansas check out Old Cowtown (place Beckett talked about), they do have a very impressive list of events. The Steampunk Expo that started at Old Cowtown has moved on to a different venue, it’s in November and you can learn more about it here, Emerald City Steampunk Expo. (Thanks for that heads-up, Robert!)

An in-depth look at the colorful history of the Ludlow Street Jail in New York from Atlas Obscura, and an article from The Bowery Boys about notorious Boss Tweed’s time (and end of time) in the jail and a bit about Great Jones street.

On Film!

The documentary narrated by Kate Capshaw with Gloria Steinam commentary:kate-capshaw-documentaryAn upcoming documentary about Victoria, The Coming Woman, is in editing, it’s a labor of love project so follow along with the Rau Sisters to it’s completion.

Books!

kathleen-krull-jane-dyer

Mary Gabriel

Mary Gabriel

Myra MacPherson

Myra MacPherson

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Ellen Fitzpatrick

And, finally, how Beckett saw the Claflin kids (please don’t let that be cussing subtitles in some language we don’t know):