October 2010

Rock Star

There I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, on my way upstairs to see my favorite work, Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead, when a stranger caught my eye. He was tall, naked, seriously “buff”—and  heartbreakingly handsome. He was the Diadoumenos, a Roman copy of the Greek original by Polykleitos, ca. 430 BC. There he stood, a man of marble, weary… Read More

"The Queen of Heaven's Bright Isles"

Daughter of social reformer William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Wife of an ostracized Romantic poet. A life in several countries, three children, a miscarriage, near-death, and widowhood. With a life as rich in experience as this by the time she was barely out of her teens, is it any wonder her writings still inspire discussion, and imitation? None of her catalogue—which is considerable—reflects Mary… Read More

Heart of Hearts

His titled family disowned him. His college expelled him. With his pregnant wife, Harriet, at home, he deflowered the sixteen-year-old Mary Godwin at her mother’s gravesite. His carelessness led to the early deaths of his first two children by Mary, while his abandonment of Harriet, and of Fanny Godwin, drove both women to suicide. He was a political firebrand who wrote tracts condemning poverty and… Read More

Putting On Your Game Face

What do Pharaoh Akhenaton’s two daughters, pictured here on a very hot day c. 1,350 BC,  have in common with NFL linebackers? Eye paint. Because, aside from the Egyptians’ belief that it kept away evil spirits, dark paint around and under the eyes may well have been used by both ancient Egyptians and modern football players for a very important reason: to reduce the impact… Read More