Friday, November 30, 2007

Horse Drawn Carriage with Christmas Trees

Horse Drawn Carriage with Christmas TreesScott D. Harmon of Brandy Station Va. drives a horse drawn carrage delivering the official White House tree Nov. 28 2007, to the North Portico of the White House. The 18 foot Fraser fir-tree from the Mistletoe Meadows tree farm in Laurel Springs, N.C. will be on display in the Blue Room of the White House for the 2007 Christmas Season. White House photo by Chris Greenburg.
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of 17 U.S.C. § 105

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office.

National Christmas Tree (United States) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States, a large tree near the White House is decorated as the National Christmas Tree. The switching-on of the Christmas lights on the tree by the President of the United States early in the Christmas season is an annual televised event and a month-long festivities known as the Pageant of Peace. Nearby smaller trees and other decorations leading up to the National Christmas Tree are referred to as the Pathway to Peace.

The tradition of having a "National Christmas Tree" in Washington, D.C. began in 1923 during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. That year, a 48-foot Balsam Fir from Vermont, Coolidge's home state, was donated by Paul D. Moody, President of Middlebury College in Vermont, and placed in the Ellipse outside the White House. At 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, standing at the foot of the tree, President Coolidge briefly addressed a crowd and lit up the tree electrically with a touch of a button. 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white and green, donated by the Electric League of Washington, illuminated the tree.

In 1924, the National Christmas Tree became known as the National Community Christmas Tree and lighting ceremony was moved to Sherman Plaza near the east entrance of the White House, where a 35-foot Norway Spruce donated by the American Forestry Association was planted. A bronze marker was placed at the base of this tree in 1927, marking it as the "National Community Christmas Tree." This tree was found to be damaged due to the process of trimming and the repeated stress caused by the heat and weight of the lights and was replaced in 1929 by another Norway spruce from New York. This second Norway spruce was similarly damaged and replaced with a 25-foot one replanted from the nursery of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks in the spring of 1931.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, National Christmas Tree (United States)

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Illustration Friday: EXCESS


"Excess baggage"
Watercolor & acrylic ink on paper
for this week's Illo Friday :)

Hand Carved Stamps Tutorial Part 2




Whew!
The weather has been unseasonably rainy this week
and I thought I wouldn't have time to do Part 2 of the tutorial,
but the sun came out this morning :)
I'll be adding the explanatory text over the weekend
...I didn't want to leave you hangin'
I bet you can even start carving by just looking at the pictures.
This tutorial was done with plain white erasers. you don't need to have
a special carving block to make simple & fun stamps.
Click on the images to see them LARGER
and look at all the details.
Part 3 next week!

Have a lovely weekend friends.

Allegory of the Continents

Collaert Africa 1551 - 1600


Collaert Asia 1551 - 1600


Collaert America 1551 - 1600


Collaert EUROPA 1551 - 1600


Marten de Vos - Asia and America


Marten de Vos - inkwash Allegory of Asia

The first three images above come from the collaborative engravings database, Virtuelle Kupferstichkabinett. The fourth is from Ruhr-Universität Bochum. The fifth paired sketch images are from Bildinex and the final inkwash painting is from Harvard University.

The main 'Allegory of the Four Continents' series (we are told "1551-1600" but I think it's actually from the early 1590s) was designed by the Flemish painter/artist, Marten de Vos and engraved by Adriaen Collaert. The paired images are the original design drawings. The inkwash drawing, also by Marten de Vos is for a parallel series (I believe the others are online) of continental allegories, all featuring a carriage as the central motif.


The Four Continents Europe - Stafford 1630 British Museum

"Europe: a three-quarter-length woman with
crown and sceptre, holding the Bible in her hand"



The Four Continents Asia - Stafford 1630 British Museum

"Asia: a three-quarter-length seated woman with
high turban, holding a book and an incense burner"



The Four Continents America - Stafford 1630 British Museum

"America: a naked three-quarter-length seated
woman holding a bow and a severed human leg"



The Four Continents Africa - Stafford 1630 British Museum

"Africa: a three-quarter-length seated woman
with bare breasts, girdle and armillary"

This series was published by the London printer John Stafford in 1634. No artist is named and it may well have been Stafford himself, in that the engraving quality is at best fairly mediocre (as was all his own work). From the British Museum.


Galle Europe


Galle America


Galle Africa

This last series (sans Asia) was engraved by Phillip (Filips) Galle* who was, incidentally, the father-in-law of Adriaen Collaert, the engraver of the first four images in this post. The Galle series was designed by Marcus Gheeraerts (or Geeraerts). The style suggests to me that it was Gheeraerts the Elder (seen previously in relation to his Fables) and not his son. The date is again simply given as 1551-1600 but I'm fairly sure this, too, was produced in the last decade of the 16th century. The images are also from the Virtuelle Kupferstichkabinett.


In late 16th century Europe, an iconographic genre emerged to give a visual face to the changes in geography and knowledge that flowed from colonial expansionist discoveries. As accounts of the New World reached Europe, artists responded by incorporating symbolic motifs of cannibalism, exotic fauna and stylised natives into their works to evoke a sense of barbarism and danger.

Having four continents in the world suited a certain ordered sensibility, reflecting the four cardinal points, the four classical elements, the four seasons and the four virtues (prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance). And of course, the allegorical depiction of the four continents allowed a spirit of superiority to be rendered with, for example, Europe clutching an orb and sceptre astride the globe (a little difficult to see in the fourth image), taking her rightful place as the abundant and dominant force in the world.

I'm unsure how far this theme - allegorical continents - stretches. It's a difficult subject to pin down in searching. Certainly it appears to have started with the mannerist artists of Northern Europe - the elongated bodies, allegorical motifs and 'busy' scenes - but aspects of the style would play out as emblems on maps, as representations in sculptures and paintings and, for instance, in the newly emerging travel book genre of Theodore de Bry (and others). Variations on the theme seem to have been reinterpreted through both the Baroque and Rococo periods. In any event, the main initial players were Crispin de Passe, Jan van der Straet (Stradanus), Philip Galle, Adriaen Collaert, Jan Sadeler, Marcus Gheeraerts and Marten de Vos (in Marten de Vos's case, I get a strong feeling that his design approach was heavily influenced by his one-time tutor, Frans Floris - see the images posted by misteraitch in 'Cort’s and Floris’s Virtues').

And what would they have done with Australia I wonder? A kangaroo, surely, would be the vehicle rather than alligator or camel. Perhaps there would be handcuffs, surfboard wax, Uluru and a fosters beer can folded into the background?

Nothing I've seen online is worthy of linking, although there are more than a few books about of course that touch on the general subject of continental representation and the evolution of the geo-iconographic forms in early modern history.

Merry Christmas, Jon Whitcomb!

Try to imagine this scenario happening today: a national magazine, with a circulation in the millions, asks 5 top illustrators to draw a Christmas greeting to one of their fellow artists so the magazine can publish the drawings (and a short comment from each artist) for all the world to see.

Of course it would never happen.

But in what is surely one of the most concrete examples I could give you of the kind of prominence enjoyed by illustrators in the first half of the 20th century, that's exactly what Cosmopolitan magazine did.



I'd mentioned a while back, when I first did a week of posts on Jon Whitcomb, that I felt he became the heir to Albert Dorne's throne as the most successful and popular illustrator in America. Perhaps you'll agree that this article goes a long way in supporting my proposal. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it!


Barbara Bradley sent a wonderful note to me last night that I think makes a fitting commentary to accompany this post. She agreed to allow me to share it with you:


"Almost every semester I plan a day in which to show students and discuss the work of the great 50’s illustrators of women: Whitmore, Whitcomb, De Mers, Bowler. (Parker’s so great he gets a day of his own) Each has his own wonderful strengths and characteristics. So, I’ve especially enjoyed reading comments about Whitcomb’s work. I believe his abilities and skills are underappreciated today. He could draw! He made people look the way he wanted them to. He designed their gorgeous clothes. No one, even if they wanted to, could make eyes sparkle, lips as moist, and hair shine quite as much as did Whitcomb. His technique in watercolor and his brushwork were amazing: fluid, controlled, and varied. His portrayal of women date more than those of many other illustrators, probably because of their almost exaggerated glamour. When he painted a housewife, she wore stiletto heels, her apron ties were starched, and the flowers in her hair were fresh. But, how he could paint!"


"Whitcomb was the first magazine illustrator I really noticed. He was actually number one in my Hit Parade in my early high school years. Then I discovered Parker and that was that!"

"I remember with thankfulness a special thing that Whitcomb did for Parker once. About twenty five years ago, in preparation for the Academy of Art awarding Al Parker an honorary degree, I asked several of Al’s contemporaries to record comments to be aired during the presentation. Whitcomb’s was outstanding. He went to great effort, recording a long, beautifully written, gracious, and eloquent appreciation of Parker, one that he later used as an article in the society of Illustrators Bulletin. I also remember the graciousness of Joe Bowler who helped the ailing Coby Whitmore do his tribute in the form of a lengthy question/answer interview."


"For lack of time, we had to edit many comments, I still recall Coby opening with ”I just loved Al”.


"There were others, including Bernie Fuchs and David Stone Martin. (How I wish I knew now where these tapes were hiding out.) This did begin as an appreciation of Whitcomb. Let it end so. He was a masterful illustrator!"

My thanks to Barbara for her wonderfully insightful appraisal.

Jon Whitcomb Flickr set

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Merry Christmas from Santa Claus

Merry Christmas from Santa ClausPrivacy & Security Notice The DoD Imagery Server is provided as a public service by the American Forces Information Service. and the Defense Visual Information Directorate.Information presented on DoD Imagery Server is considered public information. (High Resolution Image). (except where noted for government and military users logged into restricted areas) and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.
About Images on DefenseLINK, All of these files are in the public domain unless otherwise indicated.However, we request you credit the photographer/videographer as indicated or simply "Department of Defense."

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus From Wikipedia

In 1897, a certain Dr. Philip O'Hanlon, a coroner's assistant, was faced with a minor family crisis. His eight year old daughter, Virginia had begun to doubt in the existence of Santa Claus. Her friends had been telling her that he was no more than a piece of fiction.

Dr. O'Hanlon told his little daughter to write to the Sun, a prominent New York newspaper at the time, in the assurance that the paper would tell her the truth. While he was undoubtedly passing the buck because he couldn't bear to tell his daughter that Santa Claus was a myth, he unwittingly gave one of paper's editors, Francis Pharcellus Church, an opportunity to rise above the simple question, and to speak to the philosophical issues behind it.

Mr. Church was a war correspondent during the American Civil War, a time which saw great suffering and a corresponding lack of hope and faith in much of society. Although the paper ran the editorial in the seventh place on the editorial page, below even an editorial on the newly invented "chainless bicycle", its message struck a chord in the hearts of people who read it. After over a century, it is today the best known and most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language, and it is considered as pertinent today as it was in 1897.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

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Custom pieces

Custom pieces for my friend Mariana,
she will frame and give these as Christmas gifts
to her little nephews and niece :)

Two "to do" lists down
and 5 more to go...

Jon Whitcomb: Famous Artist

Some thought-provoking comments yesterday from David Apatoff and Neil Shapiro about the relationship between Jon Whitcomb and Robert Fawcett lead me to choose the images below from the August 1954 issue of Cosmopolitan for today's post.


Above is one of four illustrations Robert Fawcett did for a story in that August '54 issue. Its epitomizes the kind of masterful care and attention to detail that was typical of Fawcett's work. No doubt Robert C. Atherton, the art director at Cosmopolitan, was incredibly pleased with this and Fawcett's other three pieces. I'll bet every illustrator, art student and just about anyone else with an appreciation for good illustration marvelled at the skill with which Fawcett executed this piece.

In spite of all that, I doubt Cosmo's mostly female readership gave it much more than a glance.

By contrast is Jon Whitcomb's contribution to that same issue of Cosmopolitan: a four page excerpt from the Famous Artists School course that was one of the lessons Whitcomb provided to the course; "How to Draw a Beautiful Face".


How concisely these two articles describe the work of these two artists!

Compared to Fawcett's moody, elborately detailed and structurally complex story illustration, Whitcomb's article on "how to draw a pretty girl's nose" seems incredibly shallow and facile.

Here's the thing: I'll bet it absolutely captivated it's audience - and probably sold more than few memberships to the Famous Artists Course.


To better facilitate that eventuality, this ad appeared in the same issue as the article.


Both Robert Fawcett and Jon Whitcomb were among the founding faculty of the Famous artists School. Whitcomb was one of the four public faces of the course, along with Norman Rockwell, Albert Dorne, and Al Parker - all of whom appeared in FAS ads regularly placed in most national publications back in the 50's.

I have never come across a single FAS ad featuring Robert Fawcett.

Whitcomb's celebrity extended beyond just his FAS ads. Besides his column in Cosmo, he appeared in several national ad campaigns.



I wonder how frustrating this situation might have been for both artists... Fawcett, with all the respect and admiration of his peers, but lacking the public popularity to attract the kind of wealth and fame that seems to have come so easily to Whitcomb -- and Whitcomb with all the financial success, status and public adoration... but considered a formulaic hack by "the illustrator's illustrator" (whose opinion no doubt carried a lot of weight among the best and most highly placed in the industry).


You know, I can't help but think that in another time and place, say, during the time of Praxiteles, Whitcomb's approach of using a formula for idealised realism, developed over years of study, practice and refinement would have been more than accepted - it would have been celebrated and emulated by every other artist.

Its an interesting example the complexity of the questions: "what is art?", "what is quality?" - and "what is quality art?"

Jon Whitcomb Flickr set

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vintage Santa Claus

Vintage Santa ClausPrivacy & Security Notice The DoD Imagery Server is provided as a public service by the American Forces Information Service. and the Defense Visual Information Directorate.Information presented on DoD Imagery Server is considered public information. (High Resolution Image). (except where noted for government and military users logged into restricted areas) and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.
About Images on DefenseLINK, All of these files are in the public domain unless otherwise indicated.However, we request you credit the photographer/videographer as indicated or simply "Department of Defense."

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Santa Claus From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or simply "Santa" is a historical, legendary and mythological character associated with bringing gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The popular North American form Santa Claus originated as a mispronunciation of Dutch Sinterklaas, which in turn is a contracted form of Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas). However, the Dutch Sinterklaas is different from Santa Claus in many ways: see the section on Dutch folklore. The Dutch word for Santa Claus is Kerstman ("Christmas man"). Santa Claus has a suit that comes in many colors depending on the country. The most common depiction (red with white sleeves, collar, and belt) became the more popular image in the United States in the mid-to-late 19th century.

Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Santa Claus. He was a 4th century Christian bishop of Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany) he is still portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes. The relics of St. Nicholas were transported to Bari in southern Italy by some enterprising Italian merchants; a basilica was constructed in 1087 to house them and the area became a pilgrimage site for the devout.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Santa Claus

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Stickers

My friend Mariana
makes the BEST cookies & baked goods
and she asked me to design two stickers:
One to use as a label for a jar she'll use to give
her delicious cookies as gifts this Christmas (see below)
and another one to have on hand for when she brings her baked goods
as gifts to her friends and family the rest of the year (above).
I did the illustrations with watercolor
and printed them on self adhesive paper.
...and had lots of fun packaging them!


Jon Whitcomb: at the U.N.

A note arrived yesterday from Barbara Bradley, who worked at the Charles E. Cooper studio with Jon Whitcomb in the early 50's:

"Even though Whitcomb 'knocked out' the figures in his column compared with those his story illustrations, they show the same glamour and much of the same flair. I think that he was incapable of drawing a less than beautiful girl or handsome man. Even his Arthur Godfrey looks close to handsome."


To which I must add, its the fact that the art in Whitcomb's columns are 'knocked out' that gets my juices flowing! As accomplished as Whitcomb's story illustrations are, I've always found them to be a little ... overwrought. A bit too perfect -- and subsequently, a little static.


The work Whitcomb produced for these Cosmo articles shows a keen sense of simplicity and their stripped down appearance lends them a wonderful vitality!


They contain the energy of a first stage rough - an energy many of us who work in illustration feel is lost by the time we get to the finished product.

Jon Whitcomb Flickr set

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson Creator: Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (09/18/1947 - 02/28/1964) ( Most Recent) Type of Archival Materials: Photographs and other Graphic Materials. Level of Description: Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982.

Location: Still Picture Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 PHONE: 301-837-3530, FAX: 301-837-3621, EMAIL: stillpix@nara.gov
Coverage Dates: ca. 1900 - 1982. Part of: Series: Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1754 - 1954. Access Restrictions: Unrestricted. Use Restrictions: Unrestricted.

Variant Control Number(s): NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-111-SC-94193. Copy 1 Copy Status: Preservation-Reproduction. Storage Facility: National Archives at College Park - Archives II (College Park, MD) Media. Media Type: Negative

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of 17 U.S.C. § 105.

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Andrew Jackson From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was the 7th President of the United States (1829–1837). He was also military governor of Florida (1821), commander of the American forces at the Battle of New Orleans (1815), and the eponym of the era of Jacksonian democracy. He was a polarizing figure who dominated American politics in the 1820s and 1830s. His political ambition combined with the masses of people shaped the modern Democratic Party. Nicknamed "Old Hickory" because he was renowned for his toughness, Jackson was the first President primarily associated with the frontier as he based his career in Tennessee.

Andrew Jackson was born to Presbyterian Scots-Irish immigrants Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson in Lancaster County, South Carolina, on March 15, 1767.[2] He was the youngest of three brothers and was born just weeks after his father's death. Both North Carolina and South Carolina have claimed Jackson as a "native son," because the community straddled the state line, and there was conflicting lore in the neighborhood about his exact birth site.

Controversies about Jackson's birthplace went far beyond the dispute between North and South Carolina. Because his origins were humble and obscure compared to those of his predecessors, wild rumors abounded about Jackson's past. Joseph Nathan Kane, in his almanac-style book Facts About the Presidents, lists no fewer than eight localities, including two foreign countries, that were mentioned in the popular press as Jackson's "real" birthplace including Ireland where both of Jackson's parents were born.

Jackson himself always stated definitively that he was born in a cabin just inside South Carolina. Having received a sporadic education, Jackson, at age thirteen and during the American Revolutionary War, joined a local regiment as a courier

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Andrew Jackson

To do lists...

I'm trying to tackle a whole bunch of to do lists these days
to be able to have a nice and relaxing holiday season.
I recently moved my "sand box" shelf from the wall on my right
to make room for the new inspiration boards and it's working really well.
It's great to be able to look up and see all the little treasures I have on the shelf
and get inspired to put a dent on those loooooong to do lists.
Wish me luck!

Jon Whitcomb: Backstage





Jon Whitcomb Flickr set

Tombs of the Grand Masters of the Knights of Malta

Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes m


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes n


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes p


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes q


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes b


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes d


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes e


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes s


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes f


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes g


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes h


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes i


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes j


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes k


Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en   Rhodes l

Founded in the 11th century as a lay religious order of hospital workers who observed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in Jerusalem, the Knights of Malta (variously known as: Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem; the Soverign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta; the Order of St John of Jerusalem and similar permutations) were contemporaries with the more military inclined Knights Templar, and provided care to Christian pilgrims.

A 12th century Papal Bull granted these Hospitaller Knights of St John independence, but they were required to provide armed escorts for pilgrims and adopt a more active military role in defending the faith against Muslim attacks. Later that century however, the forces of Saladin captured Jerusalem and the Knights fled, first to the north and then onto the island of Cyprus and eventually, at the beginning of the 14th century, they relocated to the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea.

As part of their continuing duty to defend the faith, the Knights built a formidable naval fleet that cruised the Eastern Mediterranean for more than a century, supporting Crusades into Egypt and Syria and engaging in battles with Barbary pirates and later, Ottoman ships under Suleiman the Magnificent. By this time, the Knights Templar had been absorbed by the Knights of Rhodes and the multinational Order had virtual sovereign status, with their own mint and diplomatic connections to other States.

In 1523, after a continual onslaught by the Ottoman forces, the Order was ejected from Rhodes and in 1530, under a Spanish Crown/Papal edict, were granted the island of Malta as a perpetual fiefdom in exchange for an annual fee of a Maltese falcon (yes, that's where the Dashiell Hammet plot element comes from). Of particular note during their tenure on Malta (in addition to their role as a slave trading hub), the Order, comprising less than 10,000 men under Grand Master Jean de la Valette, managed to withstand a three month seige by 40,000 Ottoman Turks. When it came time to rebuild the damaged cities, the capital was renamed Valetta in honour of their victorious leader.

It should be noted that the tendrils of influence and operation of the Knights of Malta always exceeded their nominal homelands. They had varying holdings across Europe and members of the Order had significant roles in the Russian and pre-Revolutionary French navies as well as a presence in Caribbean affairs. The greatest blow to their organisation occurred in 1798 with the invasion and occupation by the forces of Napoleon who used Malta as a launching pad for an assault on Egypt. There followed an ejection of the Knights who were effectively dispersed and their headquarters was moved around Italy until in 1834, the current sovereign-state location was established in Palazzo Malta in Rome.

Today, the 12,000 (invite only) members and volunteers of the charitable religious Order engage in humanitarian and medical relief work in more than 100 countries. Only vestiges of the military tradition (without function) remain. The head of the Order is the 78° Prince and Grand Master Fra' Andrew Bertie, elected in 1988 for life by the Council Complete of State. He is the first British subject to have been made Grand Master of the Order.

The honorific watercolour/ink/inkwash album featured above was produced in 1781 by Le Bailli de Froullay and Fr. Ludovicus d'Almeyda with the Greek notations by a certain Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It is entitled: 'Mausolées des Grans Maîtres de l'Ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem qui etoitent en Rhodes, tirés des dessins originaux qui existent dans la chancelerie de l'Ordre à Malthe' and is available in html or flash format from La Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence.