On this Day (In Art History)

July 18th in Art History

So as part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I am supposed to write an “on this day” post.  Well, not all of the blogs taking part in this challenge are art blogs, so I’m sure a lot of them will posting information information about FDR’s nomination for a third term, or about John Paul Jone’s Death, or if any are racing fans, about Juan Manuel Fangio making his debut in Formula 1.  Some might be posting about some significant American Civil War events… others might have gotten more personal and looked into the History of their own families.

My blog of course, is going to look into Art History, in order to have a little more to share, I’ll include “the arts” in general, including musical theater, and even film, not just visual art.

Caravaggio’s Death

On July 18, 1610,  Caravaggio died at age 38 in Porto Ercole, Italy.  The Circumstances around his death were uncertain, he had a death sentence on his head, but was reportedly on his way to being pardoned.  If you are unfamiliar with him, he was a very talented artist who really was ahead of his time, painting in a style that was not to become popular with other artists for many years.

He was successful as an artist during his life, rarely lacking in people wanting him to do commissions or people wanting to buy his work, but his personal life was a different story.  He was reportedly often drunk, and got in frequent brawls, one of which resulted in the death of his opponent, which is why he was condemned to death by the Pope.

Like many painters of his time, Caravaggio’s art focused mostly on classical themes, biblical events, or mythological characters, it differed though in the style in which it was painted.  He painted with a deep and dramatic contrast between the source of light and the shadow, with very little work done in between the two extremes.  So people were often painted with one side of their face brightly lit, and the other in such deep shadow that few details could be seen, with no gradual shading in between.  This was something that was seen in later modern pieces, but Caravaggio was doing it first.  His work even heavily influenced Rembrandt, and in fact, he mastered the use of what later became known as “Rembrandt lighting” before Rembrandt ever picked up a paint brush.

Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath
Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath


Musical History

The art of Music also had a significant event today, The Liberty Song,  America’s first patriotic song was published on this day 1768 in the Boston Gazette.

The Liberty Song

Come, join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty’s call;
No tyrannous acts shall suppress your just claim,
Or stain with dishonor America’s name.

In Freedom we’re born and in Freedom we’ll live.
Our purses are ready. Steady, friends, steady;
Not as slaves, but as Freemen our money we’ll give.

Our worthy forefathers, let’s give them a cheer,
To climates unknown did courageously steer;
Thro’ oceans to deserts for Freedom they came,
And dying, bequeath’d us their freedom and fame.


Their generous bosoms all dangers despis’d,
So highly, so wisely, their Birthrights they priz’d;
We’ll keep what they gave, we will piously keep,
Nor frustrate their toils on the land and the deep.


The tree their own hands had to Liberty rear’d;
They lived to behold growing strong and revered;
With transport they cried, “Now our wishes we gain,
For our children shall gather the fruits of our pain.”


Swarms of placemen and pensioners soon will appear
Like locusts deforming the charms of the year;
Suns vainly will rise, showers vainly descend,
If we are to drudge for what others shall defend.


Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall;
In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed,
For heaven approves of each generous deed.


All ages shall speak with amaze and applause,
Of the courage we’ll show in support of our Laws;
To die we can bear, but to serve we disdain.
For shame is to Freedom more dreadful than pain.


This bumper I crown for our Sovereign’s health,
And this for Britannia’s glory and wealth;
That wealth and that glory immortal may be,
If She is but Just, and if we are but Free.


Theatrical History

In theatrical arts, on July 18th 1907, Florenz Ziefeld’s “Follies of 1907” premiered in New York City, this was theatrical performance somewhere between what you’d see on true Broadway shows and Vaudeville.


Follies of 1907 Poster
Follies of 1907 Poster


A photograph of the Ziegfeld follies.
A photograph of the Ziegfeld follies.


Film History

On this day in Los Angeles in 1959, the film version Kathryn Hulme’s The Nun’s Story, starring Audrey Hepburnpremiered.


The Nun's Story, with Aubrey Hepburn
The Nun’s Story, with Aubrey Hepburn


Art Materials Manufacture History

Last of all, on this day in 1994, Crayola announced the introduction of scented crayons, unfortunately, they had to do away with some of the scents a very short time later after a hoard of complaints came from parents saying that they couldn’t stop their children from eating the crayons if they smelled like candy!

Crayola's Scented Crayons, unfortunately, most children thought they smelled good enough to eat!
Crayola’s Scented Crayons, unfortunately, most children thought they smelled good enough to eat!

So that concludes what took place in art history on July 18th, unless of course you know of something I don’t?