February 8, 2013

Kekin's Gymnasium. View from the Bell Tower of the Church of All Saints. Rostov Velikii

In 1911, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled to Rostov the Great (Velikii), located some 210 kilometers northeast of Moscow. At the center of this view is the renowned Kekin Gimnaziia (high school), named in honor of Aleksei Kekin, a Saint Petersburg merchant who left his fortune to Rostov with the stipulation that funds be used to establish a high school. Thanks to the gift, the town, whose population at the time was around 15,000, gained a major educational institution that exists to this day. Planning for the school began in 1905, and the first classes opened in 1907. The design competition for the main building (1908–10) was won by Moscow architect Pavel Trubnikov, who adopted a neoclassical revival style. One of the school’s innovative features was an astronomical observatory, which opened in 1912. Originally intended for male students, the school soon accepted young women also. Visible on the right is a wooden chapel. (The administration declined to build an Orthodox chapel on the premises.) Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

Brief Anthropology, or the Science of Man

Naiden P. Stoianov (1830–76) was the author of several Bulgarian textbooks, but he is better known as one of the leaders of the uprising by the Bulgarians against Ottoman rule in April 1876. Also known as the Koprivshtitsa uprising after one of the towns in which the insurrection was centered, the April uprising was brutally crushed by the Ottomans. Stoianov died in prison after being tortured. He was a student of both Neofit Rilski and Naiden Gerov, leading writers and luminaries in the Bulgarian National Revival of the 19th century. His Brief Anthropology, or the Science of Man, published in 1856, marked the beginning of the development of a Bulgarian scientific terminology, and in particular of words describing the human body.

Portrait of Author Ernest Hemingway Posing with Sailfish

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) was an American writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and began his writing career as a newspaperman in Kansas City at the age of 17. His experiences in Europe informed his early novels. Hemingway served with a volunteer ambulance unit in the Alps in World War I, lived in Paris for much of the 1920s, and reported on the Greek Revolution and the civil war in Spain. His sense of these events resulted in The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), and, some think his greatest novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Hemingway divided his time in much of the 1930s and 1940s between Key West, Florida and Cuba. He was an avid outdoorsman whose interest in such sports as hunting, fishing, and bull fighting were reflected in his novels and short stories. In Key West and Cuba, Hemingway discovered a passion for big-game fishing that would inspire him for the remainder of his life and that prompted his outstanding short novel, The Old Man and the Sea (1951). This photograph, taken in Key West in the 1940s, shows Hemingway with a sailfish he had caught. Many of his novels, short stories, and his nonfiction work are classics of American literature, distinctive for their understatement, spare prose, and authentic characterization.

Jailhouse at Ouro Preto

The Thereza Christina Maria collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II (1825-91) throughout his life and donated by him to the National Library of Brazil. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America. The jailhouse in the gold mining town of Ouro Preto was constructed between 1784 and 1837. It served as a prison through the 19th century. In 1938, the building became the Museum of the Inconfidência, a Brazilian independence movement led by miners. The building was photographed by Augusto Riedel during an expedition into the interior of Brazil with the son-in-law of Emperor Pedro II, Luis Augusto, Duke of Saxe. Various cities in the state of Minas Gerais were visited during the expedition, the most famous of which was Ouro Preto. Known for its baroque facades, the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

February 12, 2013

Antiquities of Samarkand. Mausoleum of Guri Bibi Khanym. Plan, Elevations, and Sections

This plan, section and elevation of the Bibi Khanym mausoleum in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Timur (Tamerlane) and his successors. The mausoleum was built at the same time as the nearby main mosque (1399-1405) and like the mosque was named in homage to Timur’s senior wife, Sarai Mulk Khanym (bibi meaning “lady” or “mother”). Indeed, the structure appears originally to have been connected to the mosque by a long passageway. The mausoleum is thought to have served not only as the burial shrine for Sarai Mulk Khanym, but also for other women of the ruling family. The pointed dome rests over a cruciform plan set within an octagonal structure. The brick walls of the mausoleum were richly decorated with patterns of ceramic tiles. As with all monuments in the Bibi Khanym ensemble, the mausoleum suffered severe damage in this active seismic zone. Surviving masonry walls are indicated by red outlines, while two sketches show fragments of the dome.

Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. View of a One-Storied Gallery Surrounding the Interior of the Courtyard

This photograph of a portion of the interior courtyard at the Ulugh Beg Madrasah in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Timur (Tamerlane) and his successors. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The oldest madrasah on Registan Square is named after the astronomer-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. During Ulugh Beg’s reign, some 100 students attended the medrese, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the ground floor of a courtyard arcade built with rooms for scholars. Such cells (khujras) were originally part of a two-story arcade that enclosed the madrasah courtyard. Despite extensive damage, the arcade facade still displays fragments of polychrome faience decoration with intricate geometric and floral patterns. To the right is the corner of a large iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch.