Bicentenary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte – May 5, 1821, on remote St. Helena following the former Emperor of France’s disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 that led to his forced abdication and exile in 1814.

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, 1812, Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Major facts of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) are well known. Known as Napoleon I, the French Emperor who died two centuries ago was a shrewd, ambitious and skilled military leader who conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century.

Born on the island of Corsica that had recently handed authority from Italy to France, Napoleon rose rapidly in the French military during the unsettled period of the French Revolution after 1789 and until 30-year-old Napoleon seized power in a coup d’état in 1799.

In 1804 Napoleon crowned himself emperor in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the presence of the pope. In the next decade Napoleon successfully waged war against various coalitions of European nations and expanded his empire. Following his disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812 explored in some detail in this post, Napoleon abdicated his throne in 1814 and was exiled to the island of Elba not far from his native Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea near Italy.

In 1815, he escaped Elba and returned to France where he briefly returned to power in his Hundred Days campaign. He received a crushing defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in today’s Belgium and was exiled until his death on May 5, 1821 to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. Napoleon Bonaparte was just 51 years old at the time of his death stemming from mysterious circumstances, though likely something such as stomach cancer.1

Napoleon on St. Helena, Franz Josef Sandmann (1805-1856), c. 1820. Musée national des châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau.

The bicentenary of the death of Napoleon I is commemorated in 2021. The former French emperor died on May 5, 1821 on the island of Saint Helena in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean nearly halfway between the continents of Africa and South America. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled there in 1815 following his defeat at Waterloo. The British government selected it for the former French emperor’s place of exile after he escaped from Elba, the initial location of his forced exile. Napoleon lived on St. Helena for about 6 years; a hunk of rocky mass reachable only by sea. He died there at Longwood House, his permanent residence that was completed for him in December 1815. Today there is an airport on St. Helena built in 2011. Napoleon was 51 years old at his death and was buried on St. Helena. In 1840 his remains were transferred, not without controversy, to France. Napoleon’s tomb is in Les Invalides, the military hospital in Paris whose construction was begun by Louis XIV (1638-1715).

Napoleon’s plaster death mask, known as the Malmaison mask, May 1821.

The death mask was made on Saint Helena about two days after the former French Emperor’s death there on May 5, 1821 at his permanent residence of Longwood House. (see – http://www.lautresaintehelene.com/autre-sainte-helene-articles-malmaison2.html – retrieved May 5, 2021).

Longwood House on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic.

In 1858, French emperor Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon I, purchased the house and various other lands associated with Napoleon I on the island in the name of the French government. Though Napoleon’s remains had been returned to France in 1840 – they rest today in Paris at Les Invalides – Napoleon III’s purchase remains the property of France and is administered by a French representative under the authority of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: “Longwood House (c) St Helena Tourism” by sthelenatourism is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

(see – https://fondationnapoleon.org/en/activities-and-services/preserving-heritage/operation-st-helena/retrieved May 5, 2021).

DISASTROUS INVASION OF RUSSIA BY NAPOLEON IN 1812

Three years earlier, during the War of 1812, world domination by Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was done within a sagging, uncooperative economy in Europe. France had 300,000 French troops and a rafter of French generals occupying Spain to keep the blockaded British from invading. Napoleon, in a near constant state of war since 1793, had created an Empire whose subjected parts didn’t fully cooperate. With competing objectives—had he finally overextended his capacities?—Napoleon had to choose between potentially losing his blockade in Spain or in Russia.

Since the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 following the Battle of Friedland where Napoleon defeated the Russian army, Russia had still been trading with England. It was this violation of the treaty that was the pretext for Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Though fifteen hundred miles away, Russia’s autonomy from the French dictator—along with a temptation to dominate some of Russia’s vast territory for future ventures—beckoned Napoleon to shut it down and take firm control. For Russia, Napoleon’s invasion required the defense of their homeland.

FRESH CONSCRIPTS FOR A NEW WAR-AND THE NEED TO SUPPLY A MILITARY HOST OF 700,000 SOLDIERS

To animate Napoleon’s newest military campaign, he needed more fresh conscripts—but nearly a third of Napoleon’s French draftees failed to appear. Many of Napoleon’s generals advised the dictator to stay home, in Paris, and enjoy his spoils. An ambitious and autocratic Napoleon refused. He explained that rest was not possible if he was to fulfill the dream to form a United States of Europe.2

Overcoming the lay-abouts, Napoleon assembled a military host of nearly 700,000 men and faced the exponentially monumental task to supply it. For years Napoleon stockpiled materials along the route to Russia. He also arranged for supplies to be delivered once into Russia. But Napoleon’s vision of universal dominion had been stretched to the breaking point—and the French Emperor, if not those who served him, realized the risk.

Napoleon left St. Cloud for Moscow in June 1812 for a high stakes gamble which involved not only the rise and fall of one man but the many inhabitants of the Empire.

Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), Campaign of France, 1814, 1864. Oil on wood, 51.5 x 76.5 cm, Paris, Musée d’Orsay.

Ernest Meissonier’s Campaign of France, 1814, was his first painting produced in a cycle of Napoleon’s conquests. Though the episode Meissonier depicts was painted for the fiftieth anniversary of Napoleon’s invasion of France from Elba in 1814, it captures the overall desolation that surrounded the former French Emperor by the time of his invasion of Russia in 1812.

The series made by the 49-year-old artist, an admirer of Seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch small-format painting, captures the desolate landscape the Grande Armée endured and their solitary, unusually unkempt, and virtually tenuous figure of Napoleon leading the General Staff and troops in an over-extended military campaign that spelled defeat.

For the painting, the artist’s imagination was informed by historical documentation including interviews of surviving eyewitnesses, including the detail of, in 1814, the Emperor’s grey coat. The realist style was a prevailing aspect of mid-19th century artistic taste in the Second Empire headed by Napoleon III, a nephew of Napoleon I, from 1852 to 1870.

(see https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/painting/commentaire_id/campaign-of-france-1814-8947.html?tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=509&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=841&cHash=41368ad16b#:~:text=Campagne%20de%20France%2C%201814%20%5BCampaign,demonstrates%20his%20nimble%2C%20polished%20style. – retrieved May 5, 2021.

From Paris to Vilna in Lithuania was a 1200-miles march. Yet the object of Napoleon’s campaign, the Russian army, had retreated. It was another 550-mile march towards Moscow. French troops found themselves unexpectedly suffering from distant or nonexistent supply lines. The reluctant new conscripts and battle-hardened veterans were sick and exhausted.

In the battle of Smolensk, the French invaders—viewed by some to be battling for strongman Napoleon’s united liberal Europe over petty church and small state autocrats—set the town on fire. Yet Napoleon’s criminal reputation preceded him: he murdered without mercy and often donned the smock of treachery. Not only royalists criticized him but articulate liberals like Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) and Chateaubriand (1768-1848) who saw in the emperor an enemy of liberty. Chateaubriand wrote: “Les Français vont indistinctement au pouvoir, ils n’aiment pas la liberté, l’égalité est leur idole. Or l’égalité et le despotisme ont des liaisons secrètes” (“The French go to power indiscriminately, they don’t like liberty, equality is their idol. But equality and despotism have secret links.”) Reactionary French historian and journalist Jacques Bainville (1879-1936) assessed Napoleon’s legacy in this way: “Sauf pour la gloire, sauf pour l’art, il eut mieux valu qu’il n’eut pas existé.” (“Except for the glory, except for the art, it would have been better if he did not exist.”)

With casualties for one battle climbing to around 15,000 for both sides, the Czar appointed Mikhail Kutuzov (1745-1813) as commander of all Russian forces to coordinate efforts.

Portrait of Mikhail Kutuzov, 1829, George Dawe (1781–1829). Oil on canvas, State Hermitage Museum, Winter Palace War Gallery, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Napoleon called Kutuzov, “The sly old fox of the north“ (cited in Roger Parkinson, The Fox of the North, 1976).

At 67 years old, Kutuzov was lazy and lecherous, but knew how to fight—and, regarding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, how to retreat strategically. The grand designs of modern internationalism and unification were ancient and medieval dreams that had proved difficult to implement in geo-political reality and usually led to its own forms of disaster and oppression. In a contest of geopolitical ideas, holing up in eternal Mother Russia provided its military advantages over an invading force set upon international commonwealth by way of military domination. In an address to his troops before the Battle of Borodino in the War of 1812 General Kutuzov observed: “Napoleon is a torrent which as yet we are unable to stem. Moscow will be the sponge that will suck him dry.”3

BATTLE OF BORODINO, SEPTEMBER 7, 1812, WAS A CONTEST OF 242,000 COMBATANTS AND MORE THAN 1000 BIG GUNS

Napoleon was aware of the trap. The years-long planning for an invasion supply chain was no match for the conditions on the ground. The failures of the supply chain left the army and its dictator high and dry. Napoleon ordered the troops to keep marching, telling his generals: “Motion alone keeps this army together.”4

The march from Smolensk to Moscow took 3 weeks. Many soldiers of the Grande Armée died on the march east. Kutuzov was preparing for battle. The Russian general set up a defensive position in Borodino, about 70 miles west of Moscow. On Sept. 7, 1812, French forces engaged the Russians. Both sides were well matched: the French possessed 587 guns and 130,000 troops and the Russians deployed 640 guns and 112,000 troops with the vast expanse of Mother Russia at their back.

Battle of Moscow (or Borodino), the Capture of the Great Redoubt. Engraving by unknown artist, 1820’s. State Borodino Military Historical Museum, Russia.

Battle of Moscow (or Battle of Borodino) in 1812. Attack of the Lithuanian Life Guards Regiment, oil on canvas, 1912, Nikolay Semyonovich Samokish (1860-1944). State Borodino Military Historical Museum, Russia.

General Uvarov at Borodino, Auguste-Joseph Desarnod (1788-1840), State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

In the War of 1812 Fedor Petrovich Uvarov (1769 -1824) commanded the 1st Cavalry Corps and then the Cavalry of the 1st and 2nd Russian Armies. With the Cossacks of Matvei Platov (1753-1818), Uvarov distinguished himself in the Battle of  Borodino when he turned the left flank of the French army and made a raid to its rear. The Russian attack of the main French forces delayed Napoleon’s battle plans for two crucial hours.

Napoleon near Borodino, Vasily Vereshchagin (1842–1904), 1897, oil on canvas, State Historical Museum, Moscow.

The image of a sullen dictator seated on his field chair with boots raised onto a battle drum, as his General Staff views in their spyglasses the men of the Grande Armée in harm’s way at the Battle of Borodino, can be seen as indicative of Napoleon’s exercise of arbitrary power as the first of modern history’s tyrants.

Hanging over the battlefield was the feeling that the destiny of Europe—whether united under Napoleon or giving space to a later attempt at a balance of powers– depended on these warriors. The battle’s outcome was a draw. The French remained master of the field but the Russians retreated to fight another day. It was one more day of immense military slaughter—the combined French and Russians losses was 80,000 soldiers—a full third of the total.

Battle of Borodino, 7th September 1812, 1822, Louis-Francois Lejeune (1775-1848).

In the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Lejeune was made général de brigade and chief of staff to Davout (1770-1823). During the retreat, Lejeune was frostbitten on the face and left his post where he was subsequently arrested on Napoleon’s orders.

During his military service, Lejeune produced a series of important battle-pictures based on his experiences. They were generally executed from sketches and studies made on the battlefield. Known for their lofty perspective which, according to Chase Maenius in The Art of War[s], “offer[ed] a panoramic view of the totality of the battle’s events,” the Battle of Borodino… of 1822 is considered his masterwork.

When Lejeune’s battle-pictures were shown in London, they were met by eager crowds who viewed them for their realistic and detailed depictions of significant contemporary events.

In his Memoirs of Baron Lejeune, aide-de-camp to marshals Berthier, Davout, and Oudinot (translation, 1897), Lejeune related one of the many wretched scenes that the Napoleonic Wars produced. He wrote: “As we were pushing on the next day, we came upon two poor creatures at a turn in the road whose condition tore our hearts. They were a handsome well-built man of about forty and a woman of about thirty, also with a fine figure, both stark naked. They approached us and said to us in very good French, ‘Our home has been sacked by Cossacks, who stripped us of everything and left us as you see us. For pity’s sake help us.’ We could do nothing for them but give them a little food, and we felt very wretched as we turned away. The next day at a bivouac some distance off a fresh irresistible demand was made upon our pity, and our stock of provisions was so much reduced that I don’t know what we should have done but that some German peasants brought us a few sheep, with which we replenished our larder.” (p. 158, https://archive.org/details/memoirsbaronlej01maurgoog/page/n170/mode/2up
—retrieved May 5, 2021.)

The bodies of dead soldiers of Napoleon’s Grand Armée left on the bridge over the River Kolocha after the Battle of Borodino, 1812.  Christian Wilhelm von Faber du Faur (1780-1857), published 1830’s.

Gen. Kutuzov at the conference of Fili deciding to surrender Moscow to Napoleon, Aleksey Kivshenko (1851–1895), 1880, oil on canvas, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Following the Battle of Borodino on September 7, 1812, the Russian army retreated towards Moscow and camped near Fili. A military council led by General Kutuzov assembled in a hut in Fili where, despite objections from younger generals, Kutuzov insisted on his plan to abandon Moscow.

The action not only saved the remains of the Russian army but worked to stymie and ultimately defeat Napoleon’s invasion drive. The personalities in the painting include Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (1761-1818), who was replaced by Kutuzov on order of the Czar and sits in the corner below the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus icon. Fyodor Uvarov sits near Barclay holding a paper. Nikolay Raevsky (1771-1829) sits by the window with his fingers locked together. Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov  (1777-1861) stands on the far right. The much younger Yermolov resented old general Kutuzov’s plan and demanded to fight the enemy.

When Napoleon and no more 100,000 French troops reached Moscow on September 8, 1812, there were no Russian troops to fight inside the city. Instead, Napoleon found only Russia’s poor, displaced, and underprivileged. Some sex workers stayed there to ply their trade in exchange for limited food. Moscow was Russia’s largest city, its capital, its Holy City—and French troops of liberation took to looting it. As the military forces of western Enlightenment watched Moscow burn for four days, the event in the war was a watershed for the Russian resolve to not surrender.

Napoleon wrote a letter of apology and condolence to the Czar for the wanton destruction in Moscow. The Czar, Alexander I Pavlovich, the Blessed (1777-1825), did not answer. He was concerned with Kutuzov’s army. Russia’s Czar, the commanding general, the troops and people were of one mind: to fight the Western invader to the last Russian man, woman, and child. Moscow’s demise was the turning point for the autocratic world that viewed Napoleon as an atheist and butcher at the head of an international army of mercenary thugs and savages. Only the wealthy in Russia were willing to negotiate with Napoleon mainly from fear that he might try to free their serfs. In this clash of civilizations, Napoleon surmised, “I beat the Russians every time—but that does not get me anywhere.”5 Old general Kutuzov’s inaction attained his objective to defend Russia whereas his 43-year-old French counterpart’s active efforts to rally his men far from home on behalf of his Empire failed.

Posthumous Portrait of Czar Alexander I of Russia, 1826, George Dawe, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Napoleon’s interest now turned back to Paris. Having heard of an impending coup d’état led by Gen. Claude François de Malet (1754-1812), Napoleon had to raise more fresh troops to crush rebellions in Paris. There were rebellions to crush taking place in other lands of the Empire as they squirmed under his dictatorial rule and were emboldened by his latest inglorious defeat.

By late 1812, the weather in Russia turned to ice and snow. Whereas the Russians retreated prior to defeat, the French retreated in defeat. Reports of cannibalism among the retreating combatants is recorded. On Napoleon’s retreat, the French army lost another half of their men. Napoleon’s supply lines had long been sacked and looted by his anti-Empire enemies.

Famous tell-all graph by French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard (1781-1870) showing the size of Napoleon’s Grande Armée as it marched towards Moscow (top gray line, left to right) in summer of 1812 and its retreat (bottom black line, from right to left) in the late fall of 1812. Frozen temperatures during the humiliating retreat are plotted on the bottom graph.

On the retreat, surviving warriors fought among themselves over any existing supplies. Napoleon’s retreat included the humiliation of being chased out of Russia by Kutuzov’s redeployed 80,000 troops. The old man’s hot pursuit did not allow Napoleon, the once young Enlightenment military figure, to rest.

Under military surgeon Baron Dominique Jean Larrey (1766-1842), the Grand Army’s medical and sanitary measures were the finest in the world but the retreat route offered no food and no medical care. As a remedy for possible future ills, including his capture, Napoleon convinced his doctor to give him a vial of poison which the dictator could ingest if conditions deteriorated to become inescapably dire.

Portrait of Dominique-Jean Larrey, oil on canvas, 1804, Marie-Guillemine Benoist (1768-1826), Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, France.

Baron Dominique Jean Larrey was a French surgeon and military doctor who distinguished himself during the near endless wars of the French Revolution and under Napoleon. Baron Larrey served as the Grand Army’s medical and sanitation leader and was an important innovator in triage who is considered the first modern military doctor and surgeon.

Napoleon: Retreat, 1812. /Ncrossing The Beresina River In Russia During The Retreat Of The Grand Army Under Napoleon Bonaparte, December 1812; Baggage Carts And Ambulances Have Been Abandoned In The Foreground. Watercolor, c. 1812, attributed to General François Louis Fournier-Sarlovèze (1773-1827).

During the Russian Campaign, Fournier commanded a brigade of light cavalry composed of French, German, and Central European horsemen, and led a noted cavalry charge at the Battle of Smolensk.

Generals Kutuzov and Wittgenstein attacked the retreating remnants of Napoleon’s army at a critical bridge crossing in modern-day Belarus. Hundreds of Frenchmen drowned. To stop the attack, Napoleon ordered the bridges destroyed. He stranded hundreds more of his company to the enemy’s gunfire.

Napoleon now told his aide-de-camp, Armand-Augustin-Louis de Caulaincourt, what the Russian campaign taught him: “I can hold my grip on Europe only from the Tuileries.” In Warsaw, when Napoleon met Abbé de Pradt, his ambassador there, he told the French clergyman: “From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.”6

Napoleon had led almost 700,000 men into Russia with the intent of conquering the country. By the end of 1812, only about 30,000 had survived. Out of that number, less than 1,000 soldiers returned to active duty after their return to France. 7

NAPOLEON DEFEATED IN PENINSULAR WAR IN SPAIN

Simultaneous with the debacle of Napoleon’s blood-thirsty Russian invasion, French forces lost the long fight in Spain and Portugal (since 1808) to keep the British off the Continent.

Significant losses in the east and west of the Empire were followed in 1813 by the Battle of Leipzig, Napoleon’s penultimate defeat by an international coalition that included Austria, Prussia, Russia and Sweden.

FORCED ABDICATION, EXILE, WATERLOO, AND DEATH

After Napoleon withdrew into France, in March 1814 these allied forces captured Paris. By early April 1814 Napoleon was forced to abdicate as Emperor. Napoleon had to go for his pursuit of glory had become a menace to his country and the world.

With the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Napoleon was exiled to Elba, and, following his brief escape into France in 1814, he was defeated for the final time at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to St. Helena which held him until his death at 51 years old on May 5, 1821.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps, Jacques-Louis David, 1801, oil on canvas, 102 1⁄3 × 87 in., Château du Malmaison.

NOTES:

1. see- https://www.history.com/topics/france/napoleon

–retrieved May 5, 2021.

2. The Age of Napoleon, Will and Ariel Durant, Simon & Schuster: 1975, p. 698.

3. A Dictionary of Military Quotations, edited by Trevor Royle, Routledge: 1989, Section 105, quote 13.

4. http://www.military-info.com/freebies/maximsn.htm

5. The New York Times, “The Napoleon Legend—A New Look; How can we know the man whose transformation into a myth began long before his death?; Napoleonic Legend,” April 5, 1964. https://www.nytimes.com/1964/04/05/archives/the-napoleon-legenda-new-look-how-can-we-know-the-man-whose.html#:~:text=When%20he%20failed%2C%20he%20never,in%20defense%20of%20their%20country.–retrieved May 5, 2021.

6. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 13th edition, p. 199.

7. https://slate.com/technology/2012/12/napoleon-march-to-russia-in-1812-typhus-spread-by-lice-was-more-powerful-than-tchaikovskys-cannonfire.html 

— retrieved May 5, 2021.




Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893). Active lighthouse near Navy Pier played a significant role in the social and economic development of Chicago and the U.S. Midwest.

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893), Chicago, Illinois, 2017.

Known as the “Chicago Light,” the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is an active automated lighthouse dating from 1893.

About one-half mile beyond Navy Pier, the lighthouse stands at the north of the main entrance of the Chicago Harbor in Lake Michigan. The lighthouse has had a significant role in the development of Chicago and the American Midwest and remains an active aid to nautical navigation today.

For more than a century, the U.S. Coast Guard has staffed this lighthouse at the breakwater outside the Chicago Harbor Lock. The lock separates Lake Michigan from the mouth of the Chicago River.

The lock was built in the mid-1930’s and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lock is one of the entrances into the Illinois Waterway system at the Great Lakes. The waterway system is a commercial and recreational shipping connection to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

The “Chicago Light” is at that waterway system’s headwaters as it stands in the outer harbor constructed in 1880. The Chicago Light’s conical tower dates from 1893. Twenty-five years later, in 1918, the tower was reconstructed and the base building which contains a fog-signal room and boathouse was added. The architects are not identified.

Through its breakwaters, the main entrance into Chicago Harbor is 580 feet wide. The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 9, 2003. It is the only surviving lighthouse in Chicago and one of two remaining examples in the state of Illinois.

Mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

About one mile ahead, the Chicago Harbor Lock, built in the 1930’s, provides the entrance/exit of the Illinois Waterway system at the Great Lakes. The waterway system is a commercial and recreational shipping connection from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

PHOTO Credits:

Chicago Light–by John P. Walsh.

Chicago River —“chicago river.” by alyssaBLACK. is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

SOURCES:

The Chicago River: an illustrated history and guide to the river and its waterways, David M. Solzman, Wild Onion Books, Chicago, 1998, pp.126-128.
Chicago Landmarks Map [brochure], City of Chicago, 2006.
https://web.archive.org/web/20070410173708/http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/C/ChicagoHarborLighthouse.html – retrieved December 2, 2017.

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Ukiyo-e Master.

Hiroshige is best known for his horizontal-format landscape series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō and his vertical format landscape series One Hundred Views of Edo.

His subjects are an expansion of the ukiyo-e genre, adding to its usual focus on beautiful women, popular actors, and scenes of urban pleasure districts during Japan’s Edo dynasty (1603–1868). 

In 1603, the city of Edo (the earlier name for today’s Tokyo) became the urban center of the ruling Tokugawa shōgunate.

One Hundred Views of Edo is a series of ukiyo-e prints by the Japanese artist Hiroshige (1797–1858) that were published in serialized form between 1856 and 1859. Following Hiroshige’s death, the series was completed by his apprentice and posthumous son-in-law, Hiroshige II (1826-1869). 

Memorial Portrait of Hiroshige, 1858, Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865), Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 –1858), The Chiyogaike Pond at Meguro (Meguro Chiyogaike), July 1856.

Meguro was a quiet outskirts of forest and fields at Edo. Megudo was named after Fudo-Myoo, an awesome guardian diety established during the reign of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616).

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shōgunate of Japan. His great adviser was Tenkai (1536-1643), a Tendai Buddhist monk. The Tokugawa shōguns ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616) opened the Edo Shōgunate in 1603 and moved from a period in Japanese history of warring states to a stable society. Detail from artwork by Kanō Tan’yū (1602-1674).

Shōguns sometimes practiced falconry at this spot depicted in Hiroshige’s print. Each spring peasants gathered its bamboo shoots to sell. The old waterfall, which existed until the 1930’s, spilled into the O-Chiyo pond.

Hiroshige, in his depiction of springtime, included the shadows of trees in the pond which was an artistic device from European painting which the old artist mastered though rarely used.

Portrait of Tenkai (detail), colors on silk, 17th century.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 –1858), In the Precincts of the Tenjin Shrine at Kameido (Kameido Tenjin keidai), July 1856.

The foreground of the color print depicts flowering wisteria (fuji)—a symbol of summer.

The shrine was dedicated in the 17th century. It is associated with Sugawara no Michizane, known as Kan Shōjō or Kanke (845-903), an excellent poet and politician in the Heian period (794-1185). He is the patron of scholars and students—and was deified as a thunder-god known as Tenman Tenjin.

Actor Nakamura Nakazō in the Role of Kan Shōjō (detail), late 18th century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Katsukawa Shunshō (1726-1792). In a popular Kabuki play, poet, scholar, and statesman Kan Shōjō is deified as Tenjin, the thunder god, so that his spirit may take proper vengeance for Kan Shōjō’s death in exile. 

The shrine itself was built under Shōgun Tokugawa Ietsuna (1641-1680). It started as a small prayer house to protect against the kingdom of demons to the north-east.

Shōgun Tokugawa Ietsuna (1641-1680). Fourth shōgun of the Tokugawa shōgunate. Tokugawa Ietsuna was the eldest son of the third shōgun Iemitsu and great-grandson of the first shōgun Ieyasu. A detail from a drawing attributable to Kanō Yasunobu (1614-1685).

In time, the shrine developed into a picturesque garden with a pond that was kokoro (heart or soul)-shaped. The pond had a pair of high-arched “drum” bridges (taikobashi). One of the bridges, made of wood, is impressively depicted in the Hiroshige print above.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797 –1858), Scarlet Maple Trees at Mama by the Tekona-no yashiro shrine and the Tsugihashi Bridge, 1857.

This was a relatively level country of groves and ponds. The large maple depicted in the print and whose leaves fall in front of the viewer’s eyes was one of this area’s major attractions. The trunk was so big around that two people with their arms stretched out could not embrace the tree’s entire trunk.

Japan’s most beautiful autumn foliage– and a tragic love story.

The tree grew on the grounds of the ancient and revered Guhoji monastery. One of this place’s admired features was that it offered some of the finest autumnal foliage in Japan.

Hiroshige does not depict the monastery but the Tekona-no yashiro Shinto shrine.

The shrine is associated with Japan’s most ancient poetry of the Eighth Century.

Tekona was a beautiful village girl from Mama. She was courted by many wealthy and high ranking suitors who began to fight over her. Tekona was so upset by their fighting that she drowned herself in a nearby river to end the discord.

Her story passed on into the ancient poetry which led to building the shrine in her honor in the sixteenth century.

Woman Applying Make-up (detail), 1918, Goyō Hashiguchi (1880-1921). Tekona was a beautiful village girl who drowned herself after becoming upset by the disgraceful actions of her suitors.

The same poetry also mentions the “Linking Bridge” (Tsugihashi), a small bridge painted red which is depicted in Hiroshige’s mid-19th century print.

Mount Tsukuba, one of Japan’s most famous mountains, is depicted on the horizon. These mountains would be known to be covered by an abundance of trees and other flora as well as filled by animals. It is mentioned in the same ancient poetry as Tekona’s tale.

Alice Terry (1900-1987). Film actress and director.

Alice Terry, 1922, in a photograph by Melbourne Spurr (1888-1964).

Melbourne Spurr arrived in Hollywood around 1917 at 28 years old. Spurr first worked at the studio of photographer Fred Hartsook (1876-1930) where he shot portraits of silent film stars.

After Spurr photographed Mary Pickford at the Hartsook studio, Pickford personally helped Spurr launch his career as a Hollywood portrait photographer. Regarding Mary Pickford, Spurr once said, “[she] always comes back to me, so I guess she thinks I’m not a bad photographer.” 

By 1916 Mary Pickford (1892-1979) was a big star and had full authority over the films in which she appeared. She was earning a record-breaking $10,000 a week which was a staggering amount of money for the midteens (about $240,000 a week today). That Pickford took especial personal interest in Spurr’s career was matched or exceeded by the popularity of his disseminated photographic images of her. Enthusiastic public and film industry interest in Spurr’s portraits on the heels of his published Mary Pickford shots made the celebrity portrait photographer one of the most popular in Hollywood. By the mid 1920’s Melbourne Spurr was one of the most popular celebrity photographers in the world.

Spurr’s sitters through the roaring 20’s included, among many others, Mary Astor, Marion Davies, Pola Negri, Theda Bara, Norma and Constance Talmadge, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, John Barrymore, Lucille Ricksen—and, of course, Alice Terry.

Spurr’s portrait photograph of Alice Terry presents a very close-cropped close-up with piercing, radiant eyes, perfect lips, and rich toning.

Alice Terry (1900-1987) began her career as a film actress and director in the silent film era.

Between 1916 and 1933 Terry appeared in 39 films. She started in Not My Sister in 1916. That same year, Terry made the anti-war film, Civilization. In 1921 she starred as Marguerite Laurier, her most acclaimed role, in prominent Irish director Rex Ingram’s film, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Alice Terry and Rex Ingram married that same year.

In 1925, Rex Ingram (1892-1952), was a director on Ben-Hur, an extravaganza production that started in 1923 and became one of the biggest box-office hits of the decade. Working on this film in Italy gave Alice Terry and Rex Ingram the idea to relocate to Nice on the French Riviera and set up their own film studio. In the next years the expatriate actress-director and director made several films for M-G-M on-location in southern Europe and North Africa. Alice Terry made her final film in 1933 in an appearance in Baroud, a film she and Rex Ingram co-directed.

With studio consolidation and competition becoming more intense, major movie studios mandated that their stars be photographed only by studio photographers. So was inaugurated the age of motion picture inhouse operators heralding the legendary careers of glamour portrait photographers George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull, Eugene Robert Richee and others. Since Spurr chose to keep his own studio and not work for a major studio, he began to lose business. It had been for one glorious decade—the 1920’s— that Melbourne Spurr shined in Hollywood.

https://www.portrait.gov.au/people/melbourne-spurr-1917

http://library.rit.edu/findingaids/html/RITDSA.0011.html

ETHEL BARRYMORE OF THE LEGENDARY AMERICAN ACTING FAMILY AND “CAPTAIN JINKS OF THE HORSE MARINES,” THE BROADWAY SHOW IN 1901 AT THE GARRICK THEATRE IN NEW YORK CITY THAT MADE HER A STAR.

22-year-old Ethel Barrymore on stage at the Garrick Theatre on West 35th Street in New York City in Clyde Fitch’s Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines in 1901. Dramatist Clyde Fitch (1865-1909) wrote over 60 plays in his career that ranged from comedies and farces to melodramas. Fitch was the most popular writer for the Broadway stage in his time and specialized in writing important dramatic parts for women. Fitch’s new play was a romantic comedy set in the States years after the Civil War. Ethel Barrymore played Madame Trentoni, the female lead and the play’s love interest. The 1901 Broadway production made Barrymore a star. The public domain photograph is in the archive of the Museum of the City of New York.

By John P. Walsh

Stage and screen actress Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) was the sister to older brother Lionel (1878-1954) and younger brother John (1882-1942) Barrymore. Though Ethel Barrymore was absolutely devoted to the stage from her youth, she began to appear in major silent films starting in 1914. Much later, in the 1940’s, the veteran stage actress was nominated twice for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won the golden statuette in 1944 for her role as Ma Mott in the film None but the Lonely Heart starring Cary Grant who used a Cockney accent for his part.

By the time Barrymore appeared in her first feature motion picture, The Nightingale, in 1914, she was a celebrated stage actress on both sides of the Atlantic. Coming from the famous American acting family of Drews and Barrymores, the just 16-year-old Ethel Barrymore made her Broadway stage debut in 1895 alongside her uncle, John Drew, Jr. (1853-1927).

Ethel Barrymore at 17 years old in 1896. In 1895, a 16-year-old Barrymore made her Broadway stage debut alongside her uncle, Jack Drew, Jr., a famous and well-liked actor.

John Drew, Jr. in 1896. A versatile actor, Drew was so highly esteemed by his fellow actors that they elected him the lifetime president of New York City’s Players’ Club. The private social club for actors founded in the 1840’s at 16 Gramercy Park remains active today.

Before she was 20 years old, Ethel appeared several times on the London stage. Her first role was that of Miss Kittridge in William Gillette’s new play, Secret Service (1895). After that show closed, she was offered and played other roles on the London circuit. By the turn of the 20th century, a vibrant and talented Ethel Barrymore gained the especial attentions of several male admirers that included dukes, actors, writers and politicians.

Winston Churchill in 1900. A public domain photograph in the Imperial War Museum.

One such admirer of Ethel Barrymore was eligible bachelor, enthusiastic theater hound, and nascent politician Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Though Ethel had many propositions and proposals in this period—she was even briefly engaged to a man until Ethel broke it off—any marriage proposal made to her by Churchill was refused. Churchill and Barrymore, however, became lifelong friends.

Poster for William Hooker Gillette’s 1895 play, Secret Service, on the London stage which featured young American actress Ethel Barrymore in its cast. The poster promotion depicts the play as a royal entertainment which attracts princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses. William Gillette (1853-1937) wrote melodramas and spy plays that were very popular with audiences. In 1899, Gillette first created the role of Sherlock Holmes for the stage, a role which he himself played for over 30 years.

Ethel Barrymore at 19 years old in 1898.

Young Ethel Barrymore. From a famous American acting family, she was was devoted to the stage at an early age.

At 20 years old Ethel Barrymore gained the attention of many male admirers, including dukes, actors, writers and politicians. Though briefly engaged around the turn of the century, Ethel broke it off. Ethel finally married in 1909. She met her husband, Russell Griswold Colt (1882–1960), at Sherry’s restaurant at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City while having lunch with her uncle, John Drew, Jr. The marriage produced three children, though it ended in divorce in 1923.

When Ethel returned to the United States, she began to appear in various stage productions. It was in 1901 when the 22-year-old actress was cast in the role of Mrs. Trentoni in Clyde Fitch’s Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines on Broadway that Ethel Barrymore became a star.

Ethel Barrymore dressed in one of the Edwardian costumes as Madame Trentoni in the 1901 Broadway play, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines.

Act 1.

Clyde Fitch’s Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines introduces Robert Carrolton Jinks and his friends who form a club to boost the presidential campaign for General U.S. Grant in 1868. Calling themselves “Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines,” they think to try out their marching abilities by greeting the arrival of a steamer carrying Madame Trentoni, a famous opera singer. Though sight unseen, Jinks bets money that he can make Madame Trentoni fall in love with him. The boat is late and everyone leaves the dock except for a gaggle of reporters who wait to greet the opera singer. When Jinks returns, after he lays eyes on Madame Trentoni (played by Ethel Barrymore) he falls in love with her. After Captain Jinks sees she is having trouble at customs, he pulls out money which the customs official mistakes for a bribe and Jinks is promptly arrested.

When Jinks is released on bail he calls on Madame Trentoni who has stopped to visit her foster father. She is as much in love with him as he is with her and their courtship progresses rapidly. When Jinks tries to call off the bet he made with his friends, they refuse until he finally agrees to pay off the bet with an I.O.U.

Jinks’ friends are also smitten with Madame Trentoni but she is totally uninterested in them. This gets them angry and they decide to ruin it for Jinks. They tell Madame Trentoni’s foster father that jinks intends to marry Madame Trentoni solely for her money — and as proof pull out the signed I.O.U. that says “I.O.U. $1,000 for the bet regarding Madame Trentoni.” The foster father flies into a rage, tells Madame Trentoni about the I.O.U, and she decides to never see Jinks again.

ACT 2.

Jinks has no idea why Madame Trentoni is so angry at him. When he finally discovers what his friends have falsely told her, he tries to gain admittance to her apartment to tell her the truth. When she learns the real facts of the matter, Madame Trentoni throws her arms around her Captain Jinks.

In that intimate position, a detective suddenly bursts into the room to arrest Jinks. In all the tumult surrounding the loss of his love interest, Jinks forgot to appear in court for his bribery case. It appeared Jinks had skipped bail. Madame Trentoni tells the detective that she and her sweetheart have had a misunderstanding and only now are having the chance to make up. Her plea and the promise that Captain Jinks will appear in court tomorrow for his case is approved by the detective, who departs. Captain Jinks and Madame Trentoni embrace, and the curtain goes down on the couple living happily ever after.

Act 3.

The public domain photographs above are in the archive of the Museum of the City of New York.

Color promotional poster for Captain Jinks and the Horse Marines starring Elizabeth Kennedy. After the Broadway show starring Ethel Barrymore closed in July 1901 after 168 performances, a new production and cast appeared in 1902. The theatrical poster highlights New York’s Garrick Theatre run. (Library of Congress collection)

Ethel Barrymore as Madame Trentoni in 1901.

Ethel Barrymore on the cover of The Theatre in August 1901 following the close of the successful Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines which ran on Broadway for 168 performances from February to July 1901 and made 22 year old Ethel Barrymore a star.

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines was produced in 1901 at the Garrick Theatre. The 910-seat theatre was built in 1890 by Francis Hatch Kimball (1845-1919) and located at 67 W. 35th Street in New York City.

The Garrick opened as Harrigan’s Theatre and became the Garrick in 1895. It was sold to the Schubert brothers in 1916 and leased to Otto Kahn who renamed it the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in 1917.

Management reverted to the Schuberts in 1925 when the theatre featured popular burlesque until the onset of the Great Depression. The building was demolished in 1932.

Screenshot, October 2019, site of GARRICK THEATRE (1890-1932), 67 W. 35th Street, New York City. The Garrick Theatre was where Ethel Barrymore starred as Madame Trentoni in Clyde Fitch’s Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines. A smash hit, the Broadway production made Ethel Barrymore one of the 20th century’s major theatrical and film stars. In 2006 the site had a multi-level parking garage which was later replaced by a hotel devlopment. The brownstone building in the middle distance appears to have survived from the late 19th-century period.

Both photographs above, Ethel Barrymore in 1901. As a new theatrical celebrity Barrymore’s image, style, and fashion were in demand by the public.

Ethel Barrymore in 1901.

Barrymore with a fur muf and feather hat in a hairstyle à la mode. The demand by the public for images of theatrical celebrities was insatiable.

In the 20th century’s first decade, Ethel Barrymore became a theatrical celebrity. Her image was in demand in photographs and picture post cards of the time. Throughout the first third of the twentieth century, Barrymore continually appeared in popular stage productions. Following the success of Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, Barrymore appeared in the next years in many top-rated popular Broadway productions.

A few highlights included in 1903 Barrymore appearing for 60 performances in the title role in Cousin Kate at the brand-new Hudson Theatre at 139–141 West 44th Street. In 1905 Barrymore played Norma Helmer in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House for 23 performances at The Lyceum Theatre at 149 West 45th Street. Also in 1905 Barrymore appeared in Alice Sit-by-the-Fire at the Empire Theatre. In 1908 Barrymore played the title role in Lady Frederick for 96 performances, again at the Hudson Theatre. There were a dozen more productions Barrymore was involved in before 1910.

Another side of Ethel Barrymore, at the piano in 1903. Before she took to a career on the stage, Ethel Barrymore aspired to be a concert pianist as a youth.

Ethel Barrymore, 1904, by photographer Arnold Genthe. The actress was starring in several plays that year including in the title role of Kate Curtis in My Cousin Kate at the Empire Theatre. Barrymore would reprise the role briefly in 1907.

Ethel Barrymore in a photograph by William Morrison of Chicago in 1907. In the 1900’s Ethel Barrymore was a theatrical celebrity whose image displayed the latest fashion, make-up, and hairstyles that helped express the style of the times.

Ethel Barrymore in 1908. She was starring in the title role of Lady Frederick at the Hudson Theatre that year. The Broadway play ran for 96 performances.

With her film debut in 1914 in The Nightingale, a film written especially for her by playwright Augustus Thomas (1857-1934), Ethel Barrymore began in the new silent flickering medium of cinema in the footsteps of her brothers Lionel and John, who made their film debuts a couple of years earlier.

While Ethel made at least 14 films between 1914 and 1919 (some films are lost) she continued with her stage work and appeared in a dozen more Broadway productions throughout the 1910’s. When she decided to interrupt her film work in 1920 –and did not return to the movies until 1932 in the M-G-M film Rasputin and the Empress starring with her brothers (Ethel played Czarina Alexandra) – she appeared in a dozen more plays in the 1920’s, all in prominent Broadway theatres.

In 1922 she starred as Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for 23 performances at the Longacre Theatre at 220 West 48th Street as well as her celebrated role as Constance Middleton in Somerset Maugham’s new comedy play, The Constant Wife, in 1927. It ran for 296 performances at Maxime Elliot’s Theatre at 109 West 39th Street (it was demolished in 1960). The play had previewed in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Ohio Theatre in early November 1926 with Ethel Barrymore in the title role. It opened on Broadway at the end of November 1926 and ran until August 1927. After the Broadway show closed, Ethel Barrymore toured the production. Maugham dedicated his play to Ethel Barrymore and later said her performance was by far the best of any he had seen given for any of his plays.

Barrymore’s extensive stage work in this period also included, in 1928, appearing in the role of Sister Gracia in The Kingdom of God. The play was selected by Ethel Barrymore herself as the premier production in the Schubert Theatre chain’s newly-built 1,058-seat venue at 243 W. 47th Street in New York City. The new Broadway venue was named the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Since its opening on December 20, 1928, the Ethel Barrymore Theatre has, without exception, presented legitimate Broadway productions continuously from that time to the present day.

The Ethel Barrymore Theatre on West 47th street in New York City is named for the legendary stage actress. Opened on December 20, 1928, the 1,058 seat theatre has been in continuous operation as a legitimate theatre since Barrymore first starred there in The Kingdom of God, a play she selected for the theatre’s first production. (Photo Credit: “Barrymore Theatre” by ensign_beedrill is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Three famous actors, Philadelphia-born, in 1904. They were the third generation of the Royal Family of the American stage. From left: John (1882–1942), Ethel (1879–1959), and Lionel (1878–1954) BARRYMORE, performed on stage, screen, and radio. Their grandparents, the Drews, managed the Arch St. Theatre in Philadelphia.

Long Live Freedom! Hans and Sophie Scholl and The White Rose in Germany (1942-1943).

By John P. Walsh

On February 18, 1943, following the illegal distribution of anti-Nazi leaflets by the White Rose at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München—the leaflets instructing students and all others to actively resist the 10-year-old Nazi regime—three young German university students were arrested. In the next four days these students will be tried in a Nazi kangaroo court, convicted of treason, and condemned to death. Their crime?—public vocal resistance to the totalitarian state that suppresses freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience in addition to reprehensible war crimes, including the Holocaust, during World War II.

On February 22, 1943, in Stadelheim Prison in Munich, Germany, these three White Rose resisters are the first of their group to die for freedom and whose legacy in the 21st century is to be listed as some of the most important Germans of all time—namely, 21-year-old Sophie Scholl, her brother, 24-year-old Hans Scholl, and 23-year-old Christoph Probst, a married father with three children.

Christoph Probst: It wasn’t in vain.

Sophie Scholl: The sun is still shining.

The execution scene from Marc Rothemund’s 2005 German film, Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (“Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage”). On February 22, 1943 the three condemned White Rose students—Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch), Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter) and Hans Scholl (Fabian Hinrichs)—are allowed a final moment together before being beheaded in Munich’s Stadelheim Prison.

By the start of 1943, the the Nazis were badly losing the Battle of Stalingrad in Russia that had been raging since August 1942. Its outcome was a major turning point in the war. The German armed forces experienced nearly one million casualties in six months. The American, British, and the Russian armed forces were closing in on Hitler’s Third Reich from many sides.

Since June 1942 five anti-Nazi leaflets had been written and distributed in and around the university in Munich. The distribution channels as well as the network of this new clandestine anti-Nazi group—who eventually called themselves the German Resistance Movement, a.k.a. the White Rose—had steadily expanded during the creation of these leaflets.

Conditions were growing tense in Germany. There was a developing global consensus—that included some even in Germany— that Hitler’s war was ultimately unwinnable for the Fascist tyrant. As these totalitarian thugs had lashed out to consolidate power so, as ultimate military victory was slipping away, the regime stooped to any means to crush its internal enemies.

Sophie Scholl, May 9, 1921-February 22, 1943.

Sophie Scholl had almost not graduated from high school in May 1940 because she was sick and tired of the curriculum’s relentless political (Nazi) indoctrination. Scholl was fond of children and took a job teaching kindergarten. But her motivation was not simply that she had found an early vocation but hoped to steer clear of Germany’s six-month National Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst).

The Nazis found her anyway— and Sophie taught at a National Labor Service-approved nursery as part of the war effort. Scholl might not have bothered with the National Labor Service at all except that the Nazis had set it up as a prerequisite for attending university.

In her personal reading Sophie Scholl had already developed an interest in philosophy and theology and wanted to pursue these subjects academically. The Labor Service experience did contribute, however, to Sophie’s outlook—she reacted completely against its militaristic aspects to the point where she started to practice forms of nonviolent resistance.

1940 Letter from Sophie Scholl to a Friend – White Rose Memorial Room – Interior of Main Building of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany.

In May 1942, 21-year-old Sophie started at the University in Munich. Her older brother Hans, studying medicine and philosophy at the school, introduced his younger sister to all his friends. Though Hans had evolving and increasingly strong anti-Nazi views, as did his friends, camaraderie revolved around the arts, music, philosophy and theology. The Scholls were also physically active—especially hiking and swimming.

Sophie pursued her intellectual interests at the university making connections with artists, writers, and philosophers. Her father, a hometown mayor, had been put in prison for an indirect critical remark he made about Hitler—and Sophie’s quest to understand how she, as an individual, should act under a dictatorship was intensely personal.

The White Rose formed and began writing and publishing anti-Nazi leaflets in June and July 1942—but Hans Scholl kept his dangerous undertaking secret from Sophie. But, in November 1942, when Sophie learned about the White Rose, she immediately joined.

Hans Scholl (Fabian Hinrichs), left, and Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) in the 2005 German historical film, Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.

On February 18, 1943, in the wake of the battle of Stalingrad, and major Allied victories in Africa which had the Americans and British closing in on Hitler’s Europe, the sixth and final leaflet produced by the White Rose was distributed by Hans and Sophie Scholl and others of the White Rose at Munich University. The leaflet had been written by Kurt Huber, a university faculty and White Rose member, and stated that the “day of reckoning” had finally come for “[Hitler,] the most contemptible tyrant that the German people has ever endured.”

The Atrium, Munich University, where the Scholls dropped the sixth leaflets on February 18, 1943, which led to their arrest by the Gestapo.

Atrium, Munich University.

Bringing the leaflets in suitcases, the Scholls stacked them in corridors of the main building—and the hurried activity, including tossing the last leaflets into the atrium, was noticed by a maintenance man who reported it. Before their arrest by the Gestapo, Sophie had successfully gotten rid of any incriminating evidence. But the Gestapo did find fragments of a seventh leaflet by Christoph Probst on Hans Scholl’s person and, upon searching the Scholls’ apartment, confirmed the White Rose writings. The Gestapo was going to let Sophie free, but when she discovered her older brother had been arrested, she confessed to her full role.

Hans and Sophie Scholl lived in the rear of this apartment building at 13 Franz-Joseph Strasse in Munich from June 1942 until their arrest on February 18, 1943 and execution on February 22, 1943.

Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst.

During the interrogation following her arrest, transcripts show that Sophie defended herself mainly by claiming her right to act based on an individual “theology of conscience.”

On February 22, 1943, the Scholls and Christoph Probst were tried in the Volksgerichtshof (The People’s Court) before rabid Nazi judge Roland Freisler. Sophie interrupted the judge several times during his tirades. The court record shows her saying to the judge: “Somebody—after all—had to make a start. What we wrote and said is believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did.” The trio were found guilty of treason and condemned to death. They were guillotined the same day at Munich’s Stadelheim Prison.

Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst, a married father of three children, were tried in the Volksgerichtshof (The People’s Court) before the rabid Nazi judge Roland Freisler. Transcripts show Sophie told the judge, Somebody—after all—had to make a start. What we wrote and said is believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did.

White Rose stamp – Sophie and Hans Scholl.

Hans Scholl was, with Alexander Schmorell (1917-executed by the Nazis in prison, July 13, 1943), a founding member of the White Rose in 1942. After serving as a medic on the Eastern Front in 1939, Hans Scholl became determined to do something to change the German people’s minds about the Nazi regime and its war effort.

By June 1942 the White Rose (Weiße Rose) had been founded on principles of nonviolent intellectual resistance to the Nazis—a highly dangerous proposition in a totalitarian regime.

Detail of Typewriter Used to Produce White Rose Anti-Nazi Leaflets – White Rose Memorial Room – Interior of Main Building of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany.

Between June and mid-July 1942, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell wrote four leaflets against the Nazis appealing to the truth of the people’s consciences based on facts. “Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of the government these days?’ the writers asked in their first leaflet. “Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of the shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible crimes reach the light of day?”

Alexander Schmorell was. with Hans Scholl, a co-founder of the White Rose. Schmorell co-wrote their leaflets. A Russian-German student at Munich University, Schmorell was sentenced to death at 25 years old on April 19, 1943 at the second trial of the White Rose at the Volksgerichtshof. With Munich University faculty member Kurt Huber, also a White Rose member and leaflet writer, Schmorell was beheaded at Munich’s Stadelheim Prison on July 13, 1943. In 2012, Schmorell was declared a saint and martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church.

In the second leaflet the White Rose spoke of the crimes of the Holocaust: “Since the conquest of Poland, 300,000 Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way…The German people sleep in a stupid sleep and encourage the Fascist criminals…”

The third leaflet appealed to the German people’s “spirit” to eliminate the Nazi system in their midst.

Leaflets, Memorial to Scholls at Munich University.

For the next four months, until November 1942, Scholl, Schmorell, and other young members of the White Rose were drafted to again serve as medics on the Eastern Front. War’s ongoing horrors that they witnessed only strengthened their resolve to resist.

At their return to Germany in autumn 1942 Sophie Scholl, Hans’ younger sister (born May 9, 1921), learned about the White Rose and Hans’ involvement in it, and eagerly joined the group.

Sophie Scholl bust, Munich University.

With the Battle of Stalingrad raging since August 1942, the White Rose (now called the German Resistance Movement) produced a fifth leaflet in January 1943. It was an appeal addressed to all Germans and the White Rose made almost 10,000 copies to distribute. The leaflet presented a straightforward analysis of the situation so to jog people’s intellect to take moral action. To state, as the leaflet did, that “Hitler cannot win the war; he can only prolong it.” was pure heresy to the all-encompassing propaganda arm of the dictatorship.

In the Battle of Stalingrad which the Nazis lost—it was the major turning point in the war—Hitler made an intense appeal to the German people’s patriotism. By one count, the German armed forces experienced nearly one million casualties in about six months.

The German populace—as well as people around the world– understood that Hitler’s defeat was inevitable. But, unlike the Americans and British who, in November 1942, successfully began and concluded Operation Torch in French Morocco pushing the Germans east and out of North Africa and next out of Southern Europe, few Germans were willing to even yet criticize the Nazi regime let alone take action as did the handful of young students and faculty of the White Rose.

White Rose Leaflets, memorial.

The White Rose’s fifth leaflet called all Germans to “Support the resistance movement!” The leaflet labeled Nazi policies as racist and subhuman, imperialist and militarist—and to be resisted. But further, a future Germany and Europe must, stated the White Rose in this penultimate leaflet, protect “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the individual citizen from the arbitrary action of any dictator states.”

It was in January 1943 that the White Rose was beginning to expand its operation to make connection with older anti-Nazi groups already formed and operating in Germany, such as the Kreisau Circle led by Helmuth James von Moltke (1907-executed by the Nazis in prison, January 23, 1945).

Helmuth James Graf von Moltke (1907–1945) was one of the leaders of an early diverse group of anti-Nazi intellectuals known as the Kreisau Circle. In prison since January 1944, Von Moltke is photographed at his trial in July 1944. The Nazis executed Moltke in prison in January 1945. By early 1943, members of the mostly student-led White Rose were starting to expand their network of contacts to include other anti-Nazi groups such as the Kriesau Circle.

With the defeat at Stalingrad officially announced by the Nazis in early February 1943, the totalitarian regime blamed the German people. This included pointing a finger at university students as unpatriotic who did not serve in the army. Such slanderous and cowardly accusations from Nazi leaders who pompously impugned German intellectual youth in the wake of a massive Hitler-led military defeat making for one million casualties and devastating the nation’s morale, sparked a riot by students at the university in Munich. A growing chaos under the totalitarian regime had a heartbeat—and as in all totalitarian regimes, scapegoats must be found and made examples of. The leaflets of the White Rose had been disseminating anti-Nazi literature since June 1942. Its perpetrators had yet to be found out—and stood square at the tip of the Fascist dictatorship’s spear.

The White Rose, its members actively looking to capitalize on the energy of the students’ righteous indignation, decided to send out their sixth and last leaflet—which they did on February 18, 1943. The sixth leaflet, written by Munich faculty Kurt Huber (1893-executed by the Nazis in prison, July 13, 1943), and revised by Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell, said that with “the dead of Stalingrad [to] adjure us!,” the “day of reckoning” had finally come for “[Hitler,] the most contemptible tyrant that the German people has ever endured.” The group also stenciled slogans on university walls and buildings throughout Munich, the Nazi Party’s home base, stating “Down with Hitler!” and “Freedom!”

Munich University, Main Corridor.

The distribution of the leaflets packed in suitcases—this time including the public participation of Sophie Scholl—took place on Thursday, February 18, 1943. It is what led to the arrest, trial, conviction, and execution by beheading of Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst by the Nazis within the span of the next four days.

Sophie Scholl’s last words were: It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go. But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days? How many young, promising lives? What does my death matter if by our acts thousands are warned and alerted? Among the student body there will certainly be a revolt!

Hans Scholl’s last words were Es lebe die Freiheit! (Let Freedom live!)

Christoph Probst, Hans and Sophie Scholl graves, Perlach Cemetery in Munich.

Scholl graves, Perlach Cemetery, Munich.

PHOTO CREDITS–

Hans and Sophie Scholl, painting —“Hans and Sophie Scholl, painting” by Ralf van Bühren is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Sophie Scholl” by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“1940 Letter from Sophie Scholl to a Friend – White Rose Memorial Room – Interior of Main Building of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“White Rose film” by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Atrium, Munich University” by Alex J Donohue is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Atrium, Munich University” by Alex J Donohue is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“13 Hans Joseph Strasse, Munich” by Alex J Donohue is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst–“The White Rose” by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Sophie Scholl on trial – film” by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“White Rose stamp – Sophie & Hans Scholl” by jimforest is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Detail of Typewriter Used to Produce White Rose Anti-Nazi Leaflets – White Rose Memorial Room – Interior of Main Building of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“White Rose Public Memorial – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany – 05” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Leaflets memorial for Hans and Sophie Scholl” by Alex J Donohue is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Sophie Scholl bust, Munich University” by Alex J Donohue is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“White Rose Movement Public Memorial – Geschwister-Scholl-Platz – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany – 01” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“File:Bundesarchiv Bild 147-1277, Volksgerichtshof, Helmuth James Graf v. Moltke.jpg” by Unknown is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

“Interior of Main Building of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany – 01” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

white flowers/leaflets–“White Rose Movement Public Memorial – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat – Munich – Germany – 02” by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Probst–“Hans and Sophie Scholl graves, Perlach Cemetery in Munich” by Dage – Looking For Europe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Hans and Sophie Scholl graves, Perlach Cemetery in Munich” by Dage – Looking For Europe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Frieheit–“Hans and Sophie Scholl graves, Perlach Cemetery in Munich” by Dage – Looking For Europe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Quotations: the Heart. (15 Quotes).

The awakening of the spirit is accomplished because the heart has first died. When a human being can let his or her heart die, then the primordial spirit wakes to life. To kill the heart does not mean to let it dry and wither away, but it means that it is undivided and gathered into one. The Secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese Book of Life.

The Secret of the Golden Flower is a Chinese Taoist book about Neiden, or inner alchemy. It provides an array of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that Taoist initiates use to prolong life.

The text is attributed to Chinese scholar and poet Lü Dongbin (796 CE-1016 CE) of the late Tang dynasty which ruled from 618 to 907.  

I was sleeping, but my heart was awake./The sound of my lover knocking!/“Open to me, my sister, my friend,/my dove, my perfect one!/For my head is wet with dew,/my hair, with the moisture of the night.” Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) 5:2.

The Song of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon, or Canticle of Canticles, is a book of the Old Testament. The Song of Songs is unique within the Hebrew Bible: it shows no interest in Law or Covenant or the God of Israel, nor does it teach or explore wisdom but celebrates sexual love, giving “the voices of two lovers, praising each other, yearning for each other, proffering invitations to enjoy.” The two are in harmony, each desiring the other and rejoicing in sexual intimacy. The women of Jerusalem form a chorus to the lovers, functioning as an audience whose participation in the lovers’ erotic encounters facilitates the participation of the reader.

Jewish tradition reads it at Passover as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel. Christianity interprets it as an allegory of Christ and his bride, the Church.

Can you walk on water? You have done no better than a piece of straw. Can you fly in the air? You have done no better than a bluebottle. Conquer your heart; then you may become somebody. Abdullah Ansari of Herat (1006-1088), quoted in Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, 1945.

A spiritual master and the “Sage of Herat,” Abdullah Ansari of Herat was a Muslim Sufi saint.

“The more you give to an audience, which is a tremendous amount that you give during the night if you care about your work, the more you spill of yourself with either loathing or loving them and getting loathing and loving back, it’s a tremendous let down when the evening is over. You’ve given an awful lot of your personality with just the reward of applause at the end, which is a marvelous reward but it isn’t quite enough to fill the rest of the night.” Christopher Plummer (1929-2021), actor, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1967.

Christopher Plummer was an award-winning Canadian actor whose busy career spanned seven decades. He played Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965) and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2012 for Beginners (2011) where he played Hal Fields, an aged widower who comes out to his son as a gay man and inspires him to pursue his own life.

“The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole Universe.” Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950).

Ramana Maharshi was an Indian Hindu sage and jivanmukta (liberated being).

“As I stood there it seems to me that the gentle lady seemed to be coming towards me to open my breast and write within, there in my heart, placed so as to suffer, her beautiful name, in letters of gold, so that it might never escape.” Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), Amorosa visione, 1343.

Giovanni Boccaccio together with Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321) and Petrarch (1304- 1374) is part of the so-called “Three Crowns” of Italian literature of the fourteenth century. He was a versatile writer who put together different literary genres and trends and making them into original works. His creative activity was characterized by experimentation.

Boccaccio’s most notable work is The Decameron, a collection of short stories or tales begun in 1349 and completed in 1353. Ranging from the tragic to erotic, the 100 tales are told during the Black Death by a group of three young men and seven young women who are sheltering in a villa outside Florence to escape it. Boccaccio revised The Decameron in the early 1570’s, after likely having conceived the series of novellas after an epidemic in 1348. The Amorosa Visione was a fifty-canto allegorical poem.

“It isn’t enough for your heart to break because everybody’s heart is broken now.” Allen Ginsburg (1926-1997), Indian Journals (1970).

Allan Ginsburg was a poet and writer. Starting in the 1940’s, Ginsburg was a member of the Beat Generation along with Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) and William S. Burroughs (1914-1997). Ginsburg opposed militarism, capitalism, and sexual repression. His views on drugs, hostility to the government, and an openness to Far Eastern religions and philosophy were countercultural.

Ginsburg’s Indian Journals: March 1962 – May 1963 is a travel journal during Ginsberg’s journey in India with partner Peter Orlovsky.

The heart is the monarch of the body. Tikunei haZohar, chapter 13.

Tikunei haZohar is a main text of the Kabbalah which is a method, discipline, and school of thought in Jewish mysticism.

“The light of splendor shines in the middle of the night. Who can see it? A heart which has eyes and watches.” Angelus Silesius (1624-1677).

Angelus Silesius, was born in Breslau, the capital of Silesia as Johann Scheffler. Raised a Lutheran, he changed his name when he became a Catholic in 1653. He became a Franciscan Catholic priest in 1661. During this time, Silesius began publishing polemical essays against Protestantism as well as religious mystical poetry.

That sun of the intellectual world, that inner eye of the heart…Richard of Saint-Victor (1110-1173), medieval mystic.

Richard of Saint-Victor was one of the founders of medieval Christian mysticism. The Scottish philosopher and theologian, a canon regular (member of a religious order), he was the superior of the famous Augustinian Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris, a richly endowed monastery and school, from 1162 to 1173.

The abbey and school of Saint Victor was a center of piety and learning, and attracted many famous scholars, students, and retreatants, during the Renaissance of the 12th century, including Peter Abelard (1079-1142), Hugh of St. Victor (1096-1141), Peter Lombard (1096-1160), Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and Thomas Becket (1119-1170). 

“Love is a great beautifier.” Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), LITTLE WOMEN, part 2, chapter 1 (1869).

Louisa May Alcott was an American writer, best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868). Alcott also wrote Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886).

Little Women is set in the Alcott family home called Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. It is loosely based on the author’s childhood expriences with her three Alcott sisters. The novel has been popular since it was published and has been adapted many times to the stage, film, and television.

I know of no restorative of heart, body, and soul more effective against hopelessness than the restoration of the Earth. Barry Lopez (1945-2020), nature writer.

Barry Lopez  was an American writer of both fiction and nonfiction. His extensive nature writing is known for its humanitarian and environmental concerns. Lopez won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for Artic Dreams (1986) and Of Wolves and Men (1978) was a National Book Award finalist.

“Dear Lord we beg but one boon more: Peace in the hearts of all (persons) living, peace in the whole world…” Joseph Auslander (1897-1965), U.S. Poet Laureate.

Joseph Auslander was an American poet who was appointed as the first Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress in 1937 and served until 1943.

“I’d like to know what it is that catches the imagination like a strange touch on the very heart, the very spiritual being of prenatal memories, that persist with reference to earth-places, like little streams bordered by willows, like fields of yellow wheat, like hills with the summoning sky above them against which may stand an old corncrib? Why should such common things stir down where there is no explanation in the heart? Neighborhoods, particularly those like Menard County, are full of charming fables.” Edgar Lee Masters (1868-1950), U.S. poet.

Edgar Lee Masters grew up in Sangamon County in Central Illinois. In Chicago he built a successful law practice, and for eight years he was the partner of Clarence Darrow. At 30 years old, in 1898, Masters published A Book of Verses, his first collection of poetry.

His Spoon River Anthology, a collection of monologues from the dead in an Illinois graveyard, was published in 1915. It was wildly successful and is one of American literature’s most popular books of poetry. Masters was friends with other Illinois poets such as Carl Sandburg and Vachel Lindsay. 

For where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Gospel of Luke 12:34.

One of the sayings of Jesus on trust in God. In talking about the Kingdom of God, Jesus develops it in terms of one’s own death. He keeps its ideal positive and demanding.

Architecture: Chicago’s Suburbs (4 Photos).

Photographs and text: John P. Walsh.

600 Central, Wilmette, February 2021. The house is dated to 1893.

Old Parsonage, 1872, Washington Street at Maple Avenue, Downers Grove, Illinois, February 2018.

Jason and Lucy Flanders House, 1841, 24044 Main Street, Plainfield, Illinois, August 11, 2013.

Plainfield was settled at the end of the 1820’s when James Walker constructed a sawmill on the DuPage River. The mill attracted settlers to the region and created Will County’s first permanent community. Located about halfway on the Chicago-Ottawa stagecoach line, Plainfield developed commercially, including a booming lumber trade. Jason and Lucy Flanders married in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1833 (they were both 23 years old). Jason Flanders, born in Vermont, had worked in Boston, Massachusetts since 1830. Lucy Ann Clark Flanders was born in New Hampshire. The Flanders arrived into Will County in 1833 and after seven years of farming, moved to Plainfield in 1840. The Flanders had six children.

Built in 1841, Flanders House exhibits characteristics of both the Federal and Greek revival styles. This includes symmetrically arranged windows and a central entrance overlaid by a porch of the 1920’s. Also known as Mapleview Farm and Bragaw-Klomhaus House, The Flanders’ Place has had only a handful of owners in its 180-year history. There is no record of the house ever being used for any non-residential purpose though it may have served in a commercial capacity, perhaps serving travelers on the Dr. Temple Stage Line Chicago-Ottawa route.

The two-story, side gabled rectangular building is approximately 30 x 40 feet in dimension and with later additions. Jason Flanders built the house with hewn logs and sided it with walnut, its original siding hidden by later exterior finishes. The house was finished on the inside also with walnut. Walnut was abundant in the Plainfield area which may explain partly why the Flanders did not hesitate to whitewash the house exterior.

Jason Flanders was the town constable (Plainfield’s first) and at his death had amassed many hundreds of acres of land. The Flanders and their descendants retained control of the property until 1974. While it is recorded that Jason Flanders was a Methodist, his late-20th-century descendant sold the house to a Lutheran church for use as a parsonage. It was sold again in the early 1990s and restored to emulate its original appearance. Flanders House remains one the oldest extant houses in Plainfield, Illinois, today.

SOURCES: https://www.plainfield-il.org/pages/historicpreservationhttp://gis.hpa.state.il.us/PDFs/200822.pdf

Venard/Kelly/Orwin House, 4540 Highland Avenue, Downers Grove, Illinois. Constructed in 1914, this American Foursquare with Craftsman influences maintains its original features.

The exterior has bevel siding on the first story and shingles on the second with dividing molding. The full width front porch has double and triple columns and a front door with oval glass. There is a bay window off the dining room with triple windows. The view is taken from the southeast on February 16, 2021.

Architecture: Chicago. (2 Photos).

Photographs and text: John P. Walsh.

5414 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Park Tower Condominium is on the lakefront next to north Lake Shore Drive and across from Foster Beach in Lincoln Park. Constructed in 1973 by Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz (SCB), a Chicago architectural firm founded in 1931, the tower was planned as the first of three towers in a triangular formation but the others did not materialize.

At 55 stories tall (513 feet high), Park Tower Condominium is one of the tallest structures in Chicago outside the downtown area. It is the tallest structure between downtown and Foster Beach. It is one of the largest all-residential buildings in the city. Originally built as luxury rental apartments, the building became condos in 1979. The photograph was taken on August 7, 2015 in Lincoln Park.

In the Edgewater neighborhood, Park Tower Condominium is one of three residential towers in Chicago with black Miesian windows and three rounded lobes. The others are Lake Point Tower (505 North Lake Shore Drive) and Harbor Point (155 North Harbor Drive).

https://www.architectmagazine.com/firms/solomon-cordwell-buenz

https://www.emporis.com/buildings/117420/park-tower-condominiums-chicago-il-usa

The Mentor Building, 39 S. State Street (6 E. Monroe Street), 1906, Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926).

A Mentor building has stood on this northeast corner of State and Monroe since 1873 when there was a 7-story building erected here.1

Shaw’s only skyscraper presents an unusual mixture of styles. There are windows grouped in horizontal bands between a four-level base of large showroom windows. The top is classically inspired and details are strong and idiosyncratic. The building retains the character of classical sources though used as large-scale motifs.2

Shaw’s 1906 building is 17 stories high with two basements on rock caissons.3

The photograph was taken on July 5, 2015.

1 Frank A. Randall, History of Development of Building Construction in Chicago, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by John D. Randall, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1999, p, 196.

2 Alice Sinkevitch, AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, p. 59.

3 Randall, p.265.

Heino Eller (1887-1970) and Lepo Sumera (1950-2000): Two Influential 20th-Century Estonian Composers Whose Contemporary Classical Music Spanned from World War I to the “Singing Revolution” of the 1990s.

Heino Eller (1887-1970) and Lepo Sumera (1950–2000) were both influential Estonian composers and music composition teachers. Following his graduation in 1920 from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Heino Eller taught music theory and composition in Estonia for the next 50 years.

The list of Eller’s students who are well-regarded composers in Estonia and internationally is lengthy and Eller’s musical legacy lives on through them.

Lepo Sumera is one of those students who, in Eller’s last years, studied with the legendary Estonian composer in Tallinn. Other notable Estonian composers who studied with Eller, starting in Tartu, are Eduard Tubin (1905–1982), Olav Roots (1910–1974), Karl Leichter (1902–1987), and Alfred Karindi (1901–1969). Eller’s students also included religious/minimalist music composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1985) and classical/film music composer Jaan Rääts (1932-2020), among others.

Heino Eller (center) in a group portrait with his students from The Tartu Higher Music School of composition in the 1930’s. Left to right: Estonian composers Eduard Tubin (1905–1982), Olav Roots (1910–1974), Eller, Karl Leichter (1902–1987) and Alfred Karindi (1901–1969). Photo: Public Domain, author unknown.

Lepo Sumera (1950-2000), Estonian composer, student of Heino Eller, and Minister of Culture during Estonia’s “Singing Revolution” between 1988 and 1992. Sumera is shown in his official government capacity in 1991. Estonia’s “Singing Revolution” signaled Estonia’s second revolution of independence from the Soviet Union in the twentieth century (the first was in 1920) which helped end the Cold War following World War Two. Photo: CC BY-SA 4.0.

From 1920 to 1940, Heino Eller, born in Tartu, Estonia, taught music theory and composition at Tartu Higher School for Music (today known as the Heino Eller Music School). During World War II, Eller’s wife, pianist Anna Kremer (1887-1942), was executed by the Nazis in a concentration camp because of her Jewish ethnicity.

After the war and following the Soviet occupation, Eller taught at Estonia’s Tallinn Conservatory until his death in 1970. It was at Tallinn State Conservatory (today the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre) that Lepo Sumera studied with Heino Eller. Following Eller’s death, Sumera graduated from Tallinn Conservatory having studied with Estonian composer Heino Jürisalu (1930-1991).

Eller: Romanticism, Modernism and Folk Songs.

Eller’s early music (before 1940) is characterized by a broad romanticism which takes in impressionism, expressionism and modernism. His melodies and orchestrations are lyrical and refined by way of varying modernist modes of polyphony. Eller’s orchestral, ensemble and piano works often utilize the melodies and/or structures of Estonian folk songs.

Charles Coleman’s arrangement of Heino Eller’s Three Pieces for Flute and Piano (or string orchestra) was created in 2005. In three movements: 1. In the Valley 2. On the River and 3. In the Meadow, the performance of “In the Meadow” features soloist Maarika Järvi on flute. She performs with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by the flutist’s brother, Kristjan Järvi. (2:06 minutes).

Three Pieces, flute and piano was composed in 1952. Whereas Eller’s music had been generally lyrical-romantic, influenced by Chopin, Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, Eller’s musical idiom changed after World War II.

Eller’s music turned simpler and relied increasingly on folk melodies. By the early 1950’s his orchestral works with an illustrative idiom such as Flight of the Eagle (1950) and Singing Fields (1951) reflected official Soviet cultural policy to which Estonia, in Eller’s lifetime after 1940, was incorporated. It wasn’t until the end of the 1950’s, however, that Eller’s symphonic arrangements grew structurally denser.

Lepo Sumera: introduced electro-acoustic trends to Estonian music

As a student of Heino Eller, Lepo Sumera shared with the legendary composer a keen attention to compositional detail as well as being a key figure in his generation to introduce international contemporary music ideas and trends to the country.

In his 50 restive and creative years the late-20th century Estonian composer and teacher, Lepo Sumera, wrote six symphonies, the bedrock of his musical corpus. Sumera regularly collaborated with theatrical figures, film directors, choreographers, and artists to create over 70 film scores and music for the stage.

From 1988 to 1992, during the days of Estonia’s “Singing Revolution” which helped to end the Cold War, Lepo Sumera was his country’s Minister of Culture. It was not easy for the new government minister as his own house was subject to restitution to its rightful owners following the end of a half century of Soviet occupation.

Lepo Sumera was known by his students as a kind and thoughtful man. The professor and composer thought it nothing to bend down in the middle of a discussion on musical composition to tie the untied laces of a child’s shoe of one of his students. Whereas Sumera’s themes, especially in his symphonies, tackle quintessential issues of humanity—life, death, love, torment, and so on, in music that is multi-layered, dramatic and richly colored—his other and shorter works frequently offer a weightless, shimmering quality that lend to the music a sense of timelessness.

Performance at the 2019 Pärnu Music Festival of Lepo Sumera’s waltz from the animated 1986 color short film Kevadine kärbes (“Spring Fly.”). Arranged by Mihkel Kerem, Sumera’s music is characteristically playful and humorous but expressively direct. It is performed by the Estonian Festival Orchestra founded by Paavo Järvi in 2011. (7:39 minutes).

Heino Eller, Estonian stamp, 125th anniversary of Eller’s birth (2012).

Sketch portrait of Lepo Sumera, 2018, by Khanzhin Ivan. CC BY-SA 4.0.

SOURCES: https://www.emic.ee/?sisu=heliloojad&mid=58&id=11&lang=eng&action=view&method=biograafia

https://estonianworld.com/culture/lepo-sumera-a-restless-creative-mind-and-an-extraordinary-human-being/

https://www.masterstudies.com/universities/Estonia/Estonian-Academy-Of-Music-And-Theatre/