#Historic newsletter is underway
A crystal flute, a Freud painting, and a fledgling US Navy
There was a huge uproar when Lizzo played James Madison's 200 year old flute...what is the balance between preservation and bringing awareness? Did you know that the grandson of Sigmund Freud is a famous artist? It seemed appropriate to launch the #Historic newsletter on the birthday of the United States Navy - so welcome aboard and let's get this underway!
Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy
In 1775, the Continental Congress established the Continental Navy, which on October 13 of that year, became the United States Navy. When this young Navy was first formed, it consisted of just two armed ships – tasked with disrupting munition ships supplying the British Army in America.
Jenn and I are both Navy through and through. She a veteran Naval Aviator. Myself a former ship officer - now driving a desk vice standing a bridge watch. How daunting it must have been to be ordered "take your two ships and go mess with the British...the largest and most experienced Navy in the world!".
Only 4 years later, in 1779 John Paul Jones would go down in history as one of the greatest naval commanders of the Revolutionary War. En route to raid British shipping, Jones’ warship, Bon Homme Richard (named after Benjamin Franklin), came head to head with the more powerful English warship HMS Serapis off the North Sea.
After three hours of relentless gunfire between the two vessels, Jones slammed Bon Homme into Serapis, strategically tying them together. Legend has it that when the British asked if Jones was ready to surrender, he famously responded: “I have not yet begun to fight!”
After one of Jones’ naval officers tossed a grenade onto Serapis, causing severe damage, it was the British who ultimately surrendered. Jones’ surprise victory against the better-equipped British naval ship had turned him into an international hero.
John Paul Jones was said to have given "our Navy its earliest traditions of heroism and victory" and he is considered the father of the U.S. Navy to this day.
If you like Navy history...you'll love some of these old official videos:
Other links of interest:
The first female Commanding Officer of the USS Constitution (is a classmate of the editor of this newsletter!)
Can artists reject their own art?
Art history isn't something we research often but the museum aspect of this story from The New Yorker was too good to pass up.
Lucian Freud (grandson of Sigmund Freud) supposedly painted a self portrait which was bought by Omar (a pseudonym used in this article) in 1997 for approximately $70,000 US dollars. Omar eventually listed it on eBay (more to generate potential contact with those that might know the painting than with intent to sell) and he was directly contacted by Lucian Freud himself with an offer to buy it. Omar refused.
After a second offer from Freud and another refusal by Omar, Freud allegedly said,
Freud died in 2011 and a few months later a French art connoisseur, Hector Obalk, agreed to assess this painting and eventually stated that it was painted by Freud but not a Freud.
The article continues with some other plot twists:
A gallery visitor that recognized the painting from decades earlier
Potential connections to the artist Francis Bacon
An artificial intelligence (AI) program that analyzed the painting
Art experts, FBI, and others called upon to authenticate the work
The question remains - who has the authority to authenticate art? Museum and art experts have these discussions to this day.
Will we ever know if this is a Freud? Does it matter since he rejected it?
What do you think? (shoot us a reply and let us know!)
Other links of interest:
The History Underground is a must follow on YouTube. He is a friend of ours and his production value is out of this world. 🎥
I stumbled across the below podcast. This episode was a total blast to listen too, I can't speak for the podcast as a whole...but I can highly recommend this episode. 😁🎙
Lizzo handles history...and makes it at the same time
Lizzo caused a big stir recently when she played President James Madison's crystal flute that was made for his second inauguration in 1813.
Many people may not know that Lizzo is a classically trained flautist and even considered playing at the Paris Conservatory. For some reason this got buzz as a political partisan "issue"...but the real question amongst historians and museum conservationists stayed on the artifact conservation side of things.
Normally the only controversy with conservation comes when something is done wrong and is damage...or with modern art - the method of conserving...or if something even should be conserved.
A similar event happened when Kim Kardashian wore Marylin Monroe's historic dress. Should celebrities be invited to engage with these historic artifacts?
What do you think? Is it ok to let someone famous handle a historic artifact to bring awareness? Who gets to decide who is famous enough?
Other links of interest:
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