I stumbled upon these very inventive, peep-into-the-future of imagination images by Theodor Hosemann in journal Exlibris Buchkunst (for the year 1910). Hosemann's (1807-1875) name came into a blurry recognition as a leading genre painter and very busy illustrator in mid-century Germany, but certainly not for these images, which remind me very much of J.J. Grandville, one of the leading imagist illustrators of the 19th century. (Grandville has been a subject in this blog quite often; for example, see here.)
The originals were completed in 1847 and depict some of the trials demanded of future vision, looking into the year 1947. I particularly like the steam-driven horse-mobiles and the steaming-hatted Mercury laughingly outrunning a grimaced Time.
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph
And out of the caverns of rain.. Percy B. Shelley, "The Cloud", 1820
[John Ruskin, Cloud Perspectival, 1860. Source for all Ruskin images: "Cloud Studies: The Visible Invisible",
by Mary Jacobus, here.]
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was still a very young man when he published the start of a series of works in art criticism, Modern Painters, in 18431. To refer to it as a great work in critical theory is painting the work with a narrow brush, though--it had a very sweeping overall effect, and addressed all manner of issues integral to art, and was a developing vision of what art was looking at in the 19th century. Ostensibly it began as a defense of the work of J.M.W. Turner and the way in which that man represented nature in his pre-Impressionist, pre-Expressionist work. Ruskin makes the case that the works that were so grating part of the art world i the 1830's were highly consistent with centuries of representing nature in art--and not only that, but presenting evidence that turner did so like no other artist in history. Ruskin would weave further volumes of Modern Painters through the body of his other work for the next 17 years, publishing the last installment in a fifth volume in 1860.
Turner (1775-1851) was a great Romantic and a lot of that work tends towards a very full and very early expression of Impressionism and Expressionism, something that not everyone was ready for in the first quarter of the 19th century. This is particularly so in his paintings of clouds, and even more so in cloud/ocean interaction. They are sweeping and breath-taking and very emotional works, in some ways like the late string quartets of Beethoven--powerful, provocative, internal dialogs of the deep power of nature. He must stand with John Constable as the Cloud Man of the 19th Century, or perhaps Constable stands with him. They both in a way stand with Luke Howard, the scientist who was really the first classifier of clouds--an undertaking which in some impossible way escaped the recognition of the greatest classifiers it he history of science--and who did so in a paper in 1802, written at a time when Constable and Turner were both young artists.
Turner and Constable both painted clouds like perhaps no others before them; and Ruskin, in his deep appreciation for the importance of the representation of nature int he art, also made a contribution to the understanding of clouds that was of an extraordinary nature. In the fifth volume of his Modern Painters Ruskin attempts a perspective study of clouds, and may have been about the first to do so. The illustrations of this effort I think are incredible, and remind me very much of installing a sort of rigidity to clouds, a cloud geometry, veritable studies of stones and blocks in the sky. The imaging part of this exercise must have been an enormous thing back there in 1860, to think of clouds in a perspectival way, floating very large geometric objects in the sky. The astonishing results are seen (above) and following:
In a way the first image reminds me of Andrea Pozzo's work in his monumental Rules and
examples of perspective proper for painters and architects (1693):
but really more in the way that Pozzo's work seems to be elevated and floating in a heavy perspectivist space, bigger and blockier sky-borne marble than with ruskin. But still, the disembodied floatiness of the Pozzo work is ethereal.
Ruskin does round out his blocky and beautiful geometry, which definitely reminds me of work w=that would appear 90 years later: Ruskin, again:
And Georgia O'Keefe's Clouds III (1963), though her clouds tend towards a more rigid geometry in Clouds IV (1965, following):
O'Keefe, Clouds Above the Sky III, 1963
O'Keefe, Clouds Above the Sky IV, 1965
Ms. Georgia is definitely seeing her clouds with different eyes than Ruskin, and they are entirely different creatures--but still, the two come together in my head as relatives. The clouds, I mean.
I started looking around for early hard-line cloud geometries and thus far I haven't found very much, though there is a tremendous example by Henry Van de Velde's (1863-1957) "Sun at Ocean (Rhythmic Synthesis”) which I found in Werner Hoffman’s Turning Points in Twentieth century Art, 1890-1917 and which was executed in 1888/9, looks to me to be absolutely incredible for its time, a nearly non-representational, proto-abstract something, done three decades before these genres came into being.
I don;t know where the designer Van de Velde fits in the early history of non-representational art, but his effort in the second to last decade of the 19th century certainly seems to be very unusual for its time, and a good example of creative cloud representation.
Non-standard cloud imagery is much easier to finding the 20th century, like those of Georges Braque in his La Ciotat Harbor (1906):
Even this starts to have the look of something earlier, particularly if you turned the clouds-in-art clock way back, say, into the Renaissance. For example Martin Schoengauer's spectacular The Temptation of St. Anthony, which was printed in 1470/5, has
a beautiful, fluid circularity to it, full of an earthy roundness even
as the saint is pursued by demons. But the sky in the background is
populated with nothing but dashes to suggest clouds, and which also starts to look something like the Fauvist and Expressionist works to come, 400/500 years later.
(There are many examples of the sky being simply not represented at all, particularly in woodblock,
like this image from Ovid (Accipe Studiose Lector P. Ouidij Metamorphosin...printed in Venice in 1509:
"You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky: No birds were flying overhead -- There were no birds to fly".--Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass.
There are many non-sky images like this.
Another interesting modern example is this Paul Klee (though it comes fairly late in that career, in 1940):
And an example from the ubiquitous Picasso, still later, in 1962:
But earlier images are harder to locate. The obvious early-ish source (though still much later in the century) would be Van Gogh (say, with Starry Night) and Monet, though the fractalesque Van Gogh gets much closer to the re-interperative power of the Ruskin images than the reflected impressionist beauty of the Monet.
On a cursory look around the antiquarian painterly sky-world, it is becoming obvious that the cloud geometries of Ruskin are very uncommon.
Just two days ago there appeared in this blog a bit on an image I had never seen before--dogs acting as biological book reviewers, doing with books one of the things dogs do best. And then, this, ("Kudgello collecting materials to improve our morals") printed around 1766 and another scatological review of books, this based on morals and highly scented books of a sexual nature, all seemingly removed with fire tongs from the wastebucket of an outdoor privy.
The verse at bottom includes: "Thou Grub street author, fit for Bawds to
quote / If Bawds themselves with Honor safe may do't / Disgrace to
libels! Foil to very shame / Whom 'tis a Scandal to vouchsafe to name." Also: "M. Midnight * her mark ; Publish'd as the Act directs, Price 6d."
Of course the principal interest here is what the semi-smug Kudgello is hoisting from the pit, Essay on Woman, which was written by Thomas Potter in about 1755 with the assistance of John Wilkes This was a take-off of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man, though without the intelligence, art, insight or writing ability. I've included this image in the blog because it is so unexpected--and that it comes fast on the heals of a similarly-unexpected scatological book review found only 48 hours earlier.
Having a go at Pinterest I came across a very interesting image--a satirical, and very biting, portrayal of a woman as a scholar (here, with thanks to Whitney Trettien). The artist gives the woman a very monkey-ish feeling, a trained animal aspect, sitting there trying to figure our the words in a book with a right angle and a compass, and sporting monstrous glasses.
The work is by Gregorio Leti (1630-1701), Critique historique, politique, morale, economique et comique sur les lotteries, which was published in 1693. (Available at the Folger Shakespeare Library, here.) Leti was a critic of many things, but most particularly of the Catholic Church and of the Pope, a collection of efforts which earned a place for all of his works on theIndex Librorum Prohibitorum.
Within the same book is another double page image, the top showing a writer besieged by his demons, and the bottom, well, the bottom shows the work of dog reviewers of the written word. It is the only antiquarian print that I have seen of such behavior.
[A photo of the place on the wall in the Louvre where the Mona Lisa lived until stolen in 1911.]
I bumped into a Google search page that was filled with entries for designers and jewelers with business names invoking the Mona Lisa--Mona Lisa Jewelry and so on. This coupling could well be found in the crushed metaphor jar in the back of the refrigerator. One thing is for certain: no doubt the real Mona Lisa had plenty of money (probably the wife of a successful merchant named Francesco de Giocondo) and privilege to afford jewelry, but in the Leonardo's painting she is pictured quite plainly, wearing none. Her hair is also very simply portrayed. This was a rare thing to do in portrait--as a real people who portraits were being made usually wore as much jewelry as they could or in some sensical variation of that. The hair too was a big deal--all you have to do is take a quick survey of hairstyles of Renaissance women in paintings and it will become instantly clear hairstyles were complex and involved. Mona Lisa's dress, too, is very simple--plain even--and in understated, muted color.
All of this was exceptionally unusual for the time.
There's not a speck of jewelry on the Mona Lisa, and her hair is simply parted, falling to her shoulders. Maybe Leonardo didn't want anything in the painting to fix it at any specific point in time, as the whole entity seems to be in a state of suspended completion, or complete but not quite there, still becoming something. Perhaps highly defined hair and jewelry on her fingers would have been unacceptable anchors, giving places for the eyes to land and move away from the lush layers of light and tone that give the painting some of its enormous "motion".
It is hard to imagine the hands of Mona Lisa like those seen in the portrait by Raphael of Maddalena Strozzi Doni. Painted at about the same time as the Mona Lisa, the 22-year-old master Raphael achieved a great image of course, but one very much in opposition to Leonardo's. (The next year Raphael would paint St. Catherine, who would have no jewelry and simple hair, but of course she was also a saint--but he did give her some pretty fancy and involved clothing, in spite of the wheel she was leaning against. Depictions of saints and religious icons are different from secular portraits--but even here it is difficult to break away from imaging luxurious cloth and clothing.)
[The hands of Raphael's Maddalena Strozzi Doni, 1506.]
So in the history of missing things, or of missing jewelry and finery, the Mona Lisa must rank pretty high. It was just unusual to think of a business name invoking the antithesis of what the business is about.
The Mona Lisa of course became one of the most famous missing things in the history of missing things when she was stolen by the not-very-bright Vincenzo Peruggia in 1911, but that's another story (and one which I talk a little about in the post The Most Famous Missing Doorknob in the History of Art).
Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) published this God's-eye-view of creation a few years after his death in the fourth volume (Astronomica) of his six-volume Opera Omina. His friends and supporters of course saw to the publication of this mathematician/philosopher/logician's work1 back there in 1658, so Gassendi--a very prominent thinker from a long-line of thinkers nearly on the verge of great discovery here and there and certainly a witness to it--made his greatest adventure in publishing only in death.
Imaging a physical god is a tricky business in the history of the printed book. Bits of the creator of the universe turn up in book illustrations over hundreds of years, though I am not sure when the very first picture of a part of god appears. The hand of the creator (generally seen as the Primum Mobile) is not terribly uncommon in images of a scientific nature in the 17th and 18th centuries, and is perhaps best exemplified by Robert Fludd's famous Monochord:
Of course there are many instance of the full-bodied god being seen through a break in the clouds, though in all the instances of this that I have seen the tantalizing peak into whatever region it is that this god exists is left entirely blank, a small white space. As so:
(Title page is for the narrative poem Le Metamorfosi, Ovid’s Metamorphoses,
translated into Italian by Gioseppe Horologgi, and published in Venice in 1563. See an earlier post on this blog, A History of Blank and Empty Things: God in a Hole in the Sky, here.)
The eye of god is also not very uncommon, and is represented by an eye and also in a sacred triangle. Less common though are images like Gassendi's, which in a way, in an odd and almost offhand way, give the reader a sense of what it is that god might be seeing in agodly-lineof-sight Perhaps this is incorrect--but in judging his image with others in my experience it seems to me that the representation is a little more "personalized" here than just about anywhere else.
There seem to be few designs for Very Tall Buildings in the Renaissance that weren't churches or towers--I mean, structures with storys, and ninth floors, and small glazes, and so on.
That is why this design for an eleven story building by the architect Jacques Perret de Chambery (in his book Architectura et perspectiva des fortifications et artifices, which was printed in Paris in 1601) bursts into the brain as being so remarkable.
Describing this building and quoting the bookseller site Martayan Lan, Inc. "One extraordinary pavilion would seem to have its
ultimate source in the fifteenth-century Temple of Virtue and Vice
designed by Filarete. It is eleven stories in height, with huge expanses
of glazed openings. Its site plan, the last plate in the publication,
is a beautiful ornamental geometrical design in the manner of du
Cerceau, composed of such elements as gardens, moats, and fortifications
that frame the square, towering pavilion."
The "Temple/House of Virtue and Vice" referred to above is the work of Antonio di Pietro Averlino (c. 1400 - c. 1469), and also known as"Averulino"and "Filarete" (Greek for "lover of excellence"), a Florentine architect and designer, who produced real and imagined works, a highly-skilled thinker engineer, and who is also remembered for his contributions to the development of urbanism and ideal communities, seen here in his design for the city of Sforzinda, below:
(It is interesting to note that "sforzinda" is awfully close to "sforzado", a musical term meaning "sudden" or "sharp", which this design must have seemed to be, back there in the high Renaissance.) [Text and illustrations: Gallica .] The House of Virtue and Vice was a nine story building to be located in Sforzinda, a structure with the highest floors devoted to learning, and the lowest to a house of prostitution. Perhaps the floor placement was reversed.
This gorgeous, near-pre-Dadist image belongs to Niccola Zabaglia, who published the engraving in his book Castelli, e ponti di maestro Niccola Zabaglia con alcune ingegnose practice, e con la descriziojne del trasporto dell’obelsico Vaticano, e di altri del cav. Domenico Fontana, in Rome, in 1743. This is the literal and absolute height of pre-modern, pre-mechanized building construction in the soaring Roman Baroque, ordained by “maestro”, the master, Zabaglia (1664-1750), a spectacular (and necessary) proponent of practical mechanics as applied to the building trades. Among the “Castles” and churches and bridges alluded to in the title of his book, Zabaglia was responsible for affecting the maintenance and repair of St. Peter’s (more particularly to the basilica and the vault)—specifically, he had to figure out how to get the workmen and materials into place, and into very difficult and very high places, without damaging or destroying any of the existing decoration, artwork, sculpture, frescoes, and so on. This was no easy feat to perform back there in the dim, 265+ years-ago pre-electric pre-power past, with enormous technical and operational difficulties, and Zabaglia accomplished this was superior affect, devising complex and elegant moving and stationary scaffolds, hoisting and holding mechanisms for the ladders, and much else. He did just beautiful work, and he is a patron saint in the history of repair.
Ladders and scaffolds were important of course but were among the least of Zabaglia’s numerous accomplishments and inventions—they were so plentiful and useful that two Pope Benedicts ago (Pope Benedict the 14th) ordered their publication with actual teams of artists and engravers performing specific tasks.
It cannot be left unsaid that Zabaglia's portrait as the frontispiece to his work presents almost without a doubt the most approachable, humane and amused representations of a major engineer/artist/artisan published in almost any work of the 18th century--I mean, the man just looks so happy in his work. There he is, surrounded by the tools of his trade, in work clothing and a scruffy hat, and needing a shave, and just looking as pleased as can be. No?
But to the ladders: the examples in the engraving above are certainly massive. The ladder in the middle I would say must be 70' tall (judging that it has 60-odd rungs and that there are 5 rungs to the men who are stabilizing it at bottom), and since they're made of a good hardwood (to prevent bowing that must occur in a lesser material), the things must've weighed a good amount. And offhand I'm not exactly sure how they raised them. I can't see the tops of the building, but I would assume that there was a pulley up there. I hope. In any event, the ladders and their found geometries are gorgeous things. Also, I would guess that in the very long histories of ladders (a ladder appears in a cave painting from 10,000 BCE and also appears in one of the very first photographic experiments) that these must've been among the high points in ladder construction.
In the category of upper-levels things gone missing (though not nearly in the same category as entire libraries that have been destroyed over time) is the theft of the Mona Lisa. This is an odd story full of detail and holes that could have been the work of one man, Vincent Peruggia (born in 1881 and pictured above in his mugshot) and who with extreme naviete thought he could steal the painting and sell it to the Uffizi and regain the prestige of Italy over its own missing masterpiece by a native son. It also could have been the work of a thief/forger team of Marque Eduardo de Valfierno and Yes Chaudron who set Peruggia to the task of stealing the painting, with Valfierno contracting the sale of as many as six Mona Lisa forgeries to interested parties.
Valfierno's idea was pretty cunning and diabolical--his only need was to have the real Mona Lisa disappear; then he could have his accomplice forger produce x-number of copies and sell them to x-number of collectors as the real thing. After all, its not as though Mona Lisa owners would have a convention, so the ownership of the world's most famous and stolen painting would be a very private affair. Also any claim of the real Mona Lisa appearing anywhere else--even restored to its place in the Louvre--would simply be met by the assertion by Valfierno that those "other" Mona Lisas were forgery. So it was forgeries all the way around.
And so Peruggia--an itinerant laborer who made hi sway to Paris for a better life and who had been working as a carpenter there at the Louvre--stole the painting on 22 August 1911. A Monday, it was, when the Louvre was closed to the public for staff to make repairs and such. Evidently he simply worked his way over to the painting, took it off the wall, got a quiet place and removed it from the big frame (and glass!, which was a new security innovation to protect treasures from crank marauders), and loaded the Mona Lisa under his work smock. (He got the painting out of the building by getting a guard to unlock a door for him--one from which he had previously removed the doorknob, blaming its absence on scofflaws, distracting the man with the key enough to just open the door for Peruggia.)
The blank/missing hanging space of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in the Gallerie Carre was a vivid testament to the power of the painting, with thousands of people trudging by the depressing art-hole to stare at its absence. There were just four iron hooks on the wall, waiting for it, pounded into the plaster between Correggio's Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine and Titian's Allegory of Alfonso d'Avalos.
Once Peruggia had completed the theft he was no longer needed. If Valfierno had actually been involved he would simply have used Peruggia as a fall guy, the many who made the sale of the forgeries possible. Peruggia wound up living in a series of shabby places, working his way back to Italy, perhaps waiting for further instructions, perhaps just a solo agent making his way back home.
If he was an accomplice in a more involved scheme, one could only imagine his frustration in being abandoned--there he was, sleeping on a cot in top of a box filled with his clothing and the Mona Lisa, waiting for something to happen that wouldn't.
Peruggia found his way back to Florence, staying in Room 20 of the third floor of the Hotel Tripoli Italia on Via Panzoni, which was only hundreds of feet away from where Leonardo had once painted the Mona Lisa. In 1913 he finally contacted officials at the Uffizi in a very weird and awkward attempt to sell it to the museum. He was of course apprehended almost immediately, the museum guardians retrieving the painting from beneath Peruggia's socks and underwear in the box under his bed.After being exhibited in Italy to tens of thousands of viewers, the Mona Lisa was returned to Paris on 4 January 1914.
Peruggia was evidently quite open about his theft but didn't have anything to say about accomplices. He was sentenced to a little more than a year for his crime--a sentence very soon after reduced to seven months. Following honorable service in WWI, Peruggia wound up in a suburb of Paris with a family and a hardware store, where he died of a heart attack in 1925. When returned to his hometown following incarceration, he was welcomed as a hero--he may have been more so if he hadn't demanded a payment for the painting, which I think makes him a simple thief.
This is evidently a partial print from Leonardo, found amidst others in his manuscripts, which confidently compare to other identical fingerprints found in his paintings in places where only Leonardo and not his assistants would have been touching (and found via the Discovery Channel)
And the fingerprint of the thief (detail of an image via the Art Inquirer):
The interesting thing about Hell--Dante's Hell--is that it has been shown and reconstructed and imagined for a long time--eight centuries--and, outside of painting, most of the representations seem to be in cross-section. That is why this image from the famous exposition by Alessandro Vellutello's 1544 struck me so strongly--it is a mostly straight-down look at the miserly and the prodigal in the fourth circle of Hell.
"… I saw multitudes to every side of me; their howls were loud while, wheeling weights, they used their chests to push. They struck against each other; at that point, each turned around and, wheeling back those weights, cried out: Why do you hoard? Why do you squander?' --Canto VII, lines 25-30
This image depicts the great, tiring but tire-less, endless, despicable joust of the miserly and the prodigals, going at each other with large, difficult-to-move stones. Pluto is supposed to be in the middle, but I don't see him here. The artist though has made the men basically unrecognizable, giving them little character to their faces and virtually no differences in their bodies--Virgil tells Dante that they have lost themselves to something else, that there is no "there" there, that Dante--who would normally speak with the people he was coming into contact with--would not be able to interview them as they were too absorbed in their vicious need.
As has been seen in the many maps constructed for the Divine Comedy over the years--but especially during the Renaissance--Hell for Dante was a real place, a nine-layered inverted cone of measured depth and width commensurate with the sin, and established under the city of Jerusalem. Dante visited the place
"... but who art thou That hast inquir'd of us?" To whom my guide: "One that descend with this man, who yet lives, From rock to rock, and show him hell's abyss." (Inferno XXIX, 89–92, trans. Cary)
entering Hell on Good Friday and emerging from Purgatory on Easter morning, taking three days to travel through the two places and straight through the center of the Earth.
Here are a few examples of the cross sections that are the great standard bearers of Dante's visions:
The Hell of Dante by Pietro da Fino, 1568:
The circles of Hell from Commedia di Dante insieme con uno dialogo circa el sito, forma et misure dello Inferno by Filippo Giunta, Florence, 1506.
Again, just a few examples of the cross sections of Hell to contrast with the scarce looking-straight-down-at-Hell image above.
This is a simple tally of American patent numbers and the years in which they appeared. I've found this list handy from time to time and thought to repost it here. It is a lot easier to have this series posted here than have to wrangle he data out of the occasionally labyrinthine U.S.P.T.O.:
“Nothing is falser than people's preconceptions and ready-made opinions; nothing is sillier than their sham morality...”
(atribued to) Petronius,
(Image source, Gerry Badger blog, who also has some interesting things to say about the work as momento mori.)
The road in determining who was the first person to what discovery is sometime a bit rocky--so with the invention of the computer (ask Mr. Atanatsoff), and the telephone (ditto Mr. Gray) and the television (and so to with Dr. Korn). This is also the case with photography, the rights for the discovery of the process contested in the first year following the announcement of the process.
The response to rejected claims for priority in discovery are almost (?) never recorded visually, but in he case of photography the rejected party did make a visual response, which I think was a prosimentrum of sorts, a photographic novella, and the appearance of the first use of satire in photography.
Louis Daguerre's epochal publication in the Comptes Rendus in 1839 would bring about the general recognition of the birth of photography--his process was described in that article and was immediately set to use by hundreds of adventurers people even in the first few weeks after publication. IT may well be that there are legitimate claimants working on the "photogenic" science before this time but it is Mr. Daguerre who published his findings first.
Among the many "firsts" in the first year of photography (reckoned as PD or post Daguerre
Generally though the first photographic portrait has been recognized as being the work of Robert Cornelius, who was among the earliest practioners of the new science of the Daguerreotype. This is his work, dated 1839, made in his father's gas light importing business on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia:
(Both subjects have interesting hair issues.)
is is fine and remarkable, though the images simply record the bodies of the humans that are pictured. The first human portrait with an edge, with a political or social axe too grind and point to make, an image bent on a decisive end, belongs to a man who mildly and then hotly contested Daguerere's claim to the birth of photography--Hippolyte Bayard.
Bayard (1807-1887) experimented in the photographic science before the publication of Daguerre's paper and had shared some of his successes at this early date with members of the French Academy of Sciences (the publishers of the esteemed Comptes Rendus, the vehicle for Daguerre's paper). He was even in communication with Francois Arago, who as it turns out was the champion of Daguerre, and who introduced the paper to the world. After the appearance of Daguerre's paper Bayard--no doubt somewhat envious of the attention and money/funding that Daguerre was receiving) petitioned for help from Arago to establish his own claim and a chance for the experimenter's lament (funding). He was told in no uncertain terms by Arago to cease the attention, as it would hurt the chances of Daguerre to establish his priority and have the honor of the invention of photography to stay in France. It is a longer story than this, obviously, but suffice to say, Bayard's interests were mostly ignored, his priority claims relinquished. (He was later able to collect a few thousand francs for his scientific work, but the larger prizes eluded him.
And so in 1840, full of his own defeat and thoroughly impressed by Daguerre's success, Bayard composed the (above) portrait of himself as a drowned and dead man. On the reverse he wote:
"The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the
process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this
indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with
his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to
Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and
the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life....!
... He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has
recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you'd better pass along
for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the
face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay." (From Helmut Gernsheim, A Concise History of Photography, with Alison Gernsheim, London: Thames & Hudson, 1965)
It seems that the use of satire in photography was not common in the first few decades following 1839, which makes Bayard's first use of he genre in 1840 even more remarkable. Satire in general has been aroudn for thousands of years, mostly in the form of drama and literature, and then in (Western, at least) painting in the Renaissance), right up through the Brueghels and Hogarth and Chaplin's Great Dictator and Dr. Strangelove. But it seems to me that the first photographic use of the genre came with the overtaken Bayard, who at least deserves this honor of "firstness".
I just wanted to remark on the hands and head of Bayard in his self-portrait--I believe that the man is just sunburned. It si common to see in 19th century photographs of working people that--when their hat is removed and so on--we see a big sun/tan line ont heir forehead. This is particularly the case in the work of Solomon Butcher, who recorded the lives of families on the SOdbuster Fronter in the 1880's and 1890's in Nebraska.
Although electric lamps/searchlights have been militarily used on land and sea since the 1880's (at least), it is still unusual to see light itself displayed as a weapon in a poster. This is especially true when the light is airborne and in real, in-potential-use applications. An earlier image appears in the Illustrated London News of a giant airship illuminating a battlefield, but it is a rather futuristic view of the employment of light as a weapon, and didn't quite come about as an effective tool. (As much as the airship would illuminate of the opponent's night-time position, it also made itself extraordinarily vulnerable--lighting up your enemy's position just didn't make for a practical idea, especially when the notions of bombing and night bombing came into being.)
In this first image below, there is a strong beam emanating from an aircraft in 1917--how it is generating such light, and whether it was conceivable to have it light enough to be on the aircraft, I don't know.
Conversely, the searchlight coming from the military (battle-)ship could certainly have supported the machinery to produce any number of effort, though it seems again to be counter-productive, establishing itself as a not particularly fast-moving target to anything on the sea or above (or below) it.
On the other hand, this Swedish movie poster seems to have put the idea to good use (source, here):
Here's another Massive Mosaic display (following up on a Massive 500-Daguerretotype display, here), this one utilizing (linked!) thumbnails from he Library of Congress WPA Poster Collection, located here.
The WPA was the Works Progress Administration, the largest of the New Deal agencies, and it was designed to give paid jobs to the millions of people who were out of work during the Great Depression. From 1935-1943 the WPA put some 8.5 million people to work in a vast social undertaking, distributing food and clothing, building houses, roads, bridges, parks and making enormous construction improvements to the national infrastructure. There was also an arts art to the project which employed many thousnads of artists, actors and writers in producing dramas, histories, guidebooks and other sorts of artistic projects, including the artwork for the posters advertising other WPA projects.
"During its 8-year history, the WPA built
651,087 miles of highways, roads, and streets; and constructed, repaired, or
improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853
airport landing fields."--Indiana University'Lily Library, here.
During its lifetime the WPA spent about $12 billion, which worked out to be something like 4-6% of the GDP, annually. To put this in some perspective, that would be like taking the entire amount of money spent on the war on terror over the past 11 years and investing it all in caring for the poor and fixing bridges and building roads and so forth...I roundly reckon that figure to be about $8 trillion dollars that would have been spent on domestic issues rather than fighting wars This is about $80k/per capita, or $320k/family of four, which is somewhere around what the MacArthur folks receive--so basically the war money is the sly equivalent of a Genius Award granted to each and every family.