Dec 032018
 

 

Anna Freud, youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays, was born in Vienna, on this date in 1895. She had difficulties getting along with her siblings, specifically with her sister Sophie Freud who was judged to be the more attractive child. They both competed for the affections of their father who once spoke of Anna’s “age-old jealousy of Sophie.” She also had developmental problems growing up. Biographers have indicated that she suffered from depression and had eating disorders. She was repeatedly sent to health farms for rest, and also to gain weight. Apparently, Anna had a reputation for mischief. Freud wrote to his friend Wilhelm Fliess in 1899: “Anna has become downright beautiful through naughtiness.” Freud is said to refer to her in his diaries more than others in the family.

Later, Anna Freud said that she didn’t learn much in school; instead she learned from her father and his guests at home. This was how she picked up Hebrew, German, English, French and Italian. At the age of 15, she started reading her father’s work and discovered a dream she had had at the age of nineteen months, cited in The Interpretation of Dreams.

A visit to Britain in the autumn of 1914, which her father’s colleague, Ernest Jones, chaperoned, became of concern to Freud when he learned of the latter’s romantic intentions. His advice to Jones, in a letter of 22 July 1914, was that his daughter “… does not claim to be treated as a woman, being still far away from sexual longings and rather refusing man. There is an outspoken understanding between me and her that she should not consider marriage or the preliminaries before she gets two or three years older”. In 1914 she passed the test to work as a teaching apprentice at her old school, the Cottage Lyceum. From 1915 to 1917, she worked as a teaching apprentice for third, fourth, and fifth graders. For the school year 1917-18, she began her first position as Klassenlehrerin (head teacher) for the second grade. She was invited to stay on with a regular four-year contract starting in autumn 1918.

After experiencing multiple episodes of illness Anna Freud resigned her teaching post in 1920. This enabled her to pursue further her growing interest in her father’s work and writings. From 1918 to 1921 and from 1924 to 1929 she was in analysis with her father. In 1922 she presented her paper “Beating Fantasies and Daydreams” to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and became a member of the society. In 1923, she began her own psychoanalytical practice with children and by 1925 she was teaching at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute on the technique of child analysis. From 1925 until 1934, she was the Secretary of the International Psychoanalytical Association while she continued child analysis and contributed to seminars and conferences on the subject. In 1935, she became director of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Training Institute and the following year she published her influential study of the “ways and means by which the ego wards off depression, displeasure and anxiety”, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. It became a founding work of ego psychology and established her reputation as a pioneering theoretician.

Among the first children Anna Freud took into analysis were those of Dorothy Burlingham. In 1925 Burlingham, heiress to the Tiffany luxury jewelry retailer, had arrived in Vienna from New York with her four children and entered analysis first with Theodore Reik and then, with a view to training in child analysis, with Sigmund Freud himself. Anna and Dorothy soon developed what have been described as “intimate relations that closely resembled those of lesbians”, though Anna categorically denied the existence of a sexual relationship. After the Burlinghams moved into the same apartment block as the Freuds in 1929 Anna became, in effect, the children’s stepparent.

In 1938, following the Anschluss in which Nazi Germany occupied Austria, Anna was taken to Gestapo headquarters in Vienna for questioning on the activities of the International Psychoanalytical Association. Unknown to her father, she and her brother Martin had obtained Veronal from Max Schur, the family doctor, in sufficient quantities to commit suicide if faced with torture or internment. However, she survived her interrogation ordeal and returned to the family home. After her father had reluctantly accepted the urgent need to leave Vienna, she set about organizing the complex immigration process for the family in liaison with Ernest Jones, the then President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, who secured the immigration permits that eventually led to the family establishing their new home in London at 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.

In 1941 Anna Freud and Burlingham collaborated in establishing the Hampstead War Nursery for children whose lives had been disrupted by the war. Premises were acquired in Hampstead, North London and in Essex to provide education and residential care with mothers encouraged to visit as often as practicable. Many for the staff were recruited from the exiled Austro-German diaspora. Lectures and seminars on psychoanalytic theory and practice were regular features of staff training. Freud and Burlingham went on to publish a series of observational studies on child development based on the work of the Nursery with a focus on the impact of stress on children and their capacity to find substitute affections among peers in the absence of their parents. The Bulldog Banks Home, run on similar lines to the Nursery, was established after the war for a group of children who had survived the concentration camps. Building on and developing their war-time work with children, Freud and Burlingham established the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic (now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) in 1952 as a center for therapy, training and research work.

On her arrival in England Anna Freud began to give lectures on child analysis. At that time in London, the field of child analysis was largely the domain of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, Anna’s theoretical and clinical rival. Anna’s arrival in London resulted in splitting the British psychoanalytic community into three schools: Freudian, Kleinian and Independent. The Kleinian approach differed from the Freudian in several methodological and theoretical techniques around infancy and object relationships. For example, the Freudian approach did not believe that children had a superego, and their therapist should be part of their transference. In contrast, Klein believed that children had a superego, and needed to be treated with the same techniques as adults. These differences had initially threatened the discipline of Anna’s Freudian techniques of child analysis in England, but by the end of World War II, the conflict was resolved through parallel acceptance for both schools.

From the 1950s until the end of her life Freud traveled regularly to the United States to lecture, to teach and to visit friends. She was elected Vice-President of International Association of Psychoanalysts and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1959.

During the 1970s she was concerned with the problems of emotionally deprived and socially disadvantaged children, and she studied deviations and delays in development. At Yale Law School, she taught seminars on crime and the family: this led to a transatlantic collaboration with Joseph Goldstein and Albert J. Solnit on children’s needs and the law, published in three volumes as Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (1973), Before the Best Interests of the Child (1979), and In the Best Interests of the Child (1986).

Anna Freud died in London on 9th October 1982. She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and her ashes placed in a marble shelf next to her parents’ ancient Greek funeral urn. Her life-partner Dorothy Tiffany-Burlingham and several other members of the Freud family are also interred there.

If you have read my post on Sigmund Freud – http://www.bookofdaystales.com/sigmund-freud/ — you will know that I have great respect for his originality of thought, and for some of his ideas that have survived the withering criticism of a century. You will also know that I am a severe critic of much of his work. Ditto for his daughter. Freud’s identification of certain psychological processes, especially projection, is ironic. A good case could be made for the entire corpus of Freudian theory being one gigantic, narcissistic projection of his own upbringing. Anna’s role throughout her career was to both expand and defend her father’s work especially as it came under increasing attack in the post-war era. She never strayed from a doctrinaire Freudian approach, although her work focused more on the ego and latency in children than on the whole range of psychosexual development.

Both Sigmund and Anna Freud based their theory on self analysis, and in Anna’s case you have a depressed anorexic child with fantasies of being beaten, striving for the affections of a dominant father with her sister, and indifferent to a distant mother, who spent her adult life in a lesbian relationship (consummated or otherwise), and with no children of her own. Yes, I am sure that a balanced, healthy theoretical perspective will emerge from those experiences !!!

One thing that sticks out for me concerning Anna’s care for children in difficult circumstances was her emphasis on letting them eat what they chose. I don’t know what the choices might have been, but one dish that is child friendly in Austria is Viennese Rindsuppe, a beef bone consommé usually with noodles or dumplings. It is not difficult to make, although it is time consuming. I’ll give you an instructive video although the process is simple: simmer meaty beef bones for several hours, then add soup vegetables (celery, carrot, onion, leek) and herbs, simmer for several more hours, strain and serve with noodles or dumplings. Sorry that the video is in German — it is easy to follow, anyway.

Sep 262018
 

Today is the birthday (1888) of Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and above all one the 20th century’s major poets. Eliot attracted widespread attention for his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915), which was seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), “The Hollow Men” (1925), “Ash Wednesday” (1930), and Four Quartets (1943). He was also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Cocktail Party (1949). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”.  Long before I knew Eliot as a serious poet I knew “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which was standard reading in my primary and secondary schools. “The Naming of Cats” from the same volume is still one of my favorite light verses [appended after the recipe]. I have also had a long history with “Journey of the Magi.” Eliot is hard to shake although he’s far from one of my favorites overall.

Eliot was, born in St Louis, Missouri, the last of six surviving children; his parents were both 44 years old when he was born. Eliot struggled as a child from a congenital double inguinal hernia, which meant he could not participate in many physical activities and thus was prevented from socializing with his peers. Instead he was often isolated and chose reading thrilling novels as his companion. In his memoir of Eliot, his friend Robert Sencourt comments that the young Eliot “would often curl up in the window-seat behind an enormous book, setting the drug of dreams against the pain of living.” Eliot credited his hometown with fueling his literary vision: “It is self-evident that St. Louis affected me more deeply than any other environment has ever done. I feel that there is something in having passed one’s childhood beside the big river, which is incommunicable to those people who have not. I consider myself fortunate to have been born here, rather than in Boston, or New York, or London.” Mark Twain was, of course, one of his favorites.

 

From 1898 to 1905, Eliot attended Smith Academy, where his studies included Latin, Ancient Greek, French, and German. He began to write poetry when he was 14 under the influence of Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a translation of the poetry of Omar Khayyam. He said the results were gloomy and despairing and he destroyed them. His first published poem, “A Fable For Feasters”, was written as a school exercise and was published in the Smith Academy Record in February 1905. Also published there in April 1905 was his oldest surviving poem in manuscript, an untitled lyric, later revised and reprinted as “Song” in The Harvard Advocate, Harvard University’s student magazine. He also published three short stories in 1905, “Birds of Prey”, “A Tale of a Whale” and “The Man Who Was King”.

Eliot lived in St. Louis, Missouri for the first sixteen years of his life at the house on Locust St. where he was born. After going away to school in 1905, he only returned to St. Louis for vacations and visits. Despite moving away from the city, Eliot wrote to a friend that the “Missouri and the Mississippi have made a deeper impression on me than any other part of the world.” Following graduation, Eliot attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts for a preparatory year, where he met Scofield Thayer who later published “The Waste Land. He studied philosophy at Harvard College from 1906 to 1909, but ultimately earning his bachelor’s degree  in an elective program best described as comparative literature in three years, and an M.A. in English literature in the fourth.

After working as a philosophy assistant at Harvard from 1909 to 1910, Eliot moved to Paris where, from 1910 to 1911, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. He attended lectures by Henri Bergson and read poetry with Henri Alban-Fournier. From 1911 to 1914, he was back at Harvard studying Indian philosophy and Sanskrit. Eliot was awarded a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, in 1914. He first visited Marburg, Germany, where he planned to take a summer program, but when the First World War broke out he went to Oxford instead.

Eliot wrote to Conrad Aiken on New Year’s Eve 1914: “I hate university towns and university people, who are the same everywhere, with pregnant wives, sprawling children, many books and hideous pictures on the walls … Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to be dead.” By the time I went to Oxford in 1970, it had not changed much – still parochial and incestuous with a stiflingly high opinion of itself it barely deserved. Escaping Oxford, Eliot spent much of his time in London. London had a monumental and life-altering effect on Eliot for several reasons, the most significant of which was his introduction to Ezra Pound. A connexion through a mutual friend resulted in an arranged meeting and on 22nd September 1914, Eliot paid a visit to Pound’s flat. Pound instantly deemed Eliot “worth watching” and was crucial to Eliot’s beginning career as a poet, as he is credited with promoting Eliot through social events and literary gatherings. Thus, according to biographer John Worthen, during his time in England Eliot “was seeing as little of Oxford as possible”. He was instead spending long periods of time in London, in the company of Ezra Pound and “some of the modern artists whom the war has so far spared… It was Pound who helped most, introducing him everywhere.” In the end, Eliot did not settle at Merton and left after a year. By 1916, he had completed a doctoral dissertation for Harvard on “Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley”, but he failed to return for his oral defense.

In early 1915 Eliot was introduced to Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a Cambridge governess. They were married at Hampstead Register Office on 26th June 1915. After a short visit alone to his family in the United States, Eliot returned to London and took several teaching jobs, including lecturing at Birkbeck College, University of London. Bertrand Russell took an interest in Vivienne while the newlyweds stayed in his flat. Some scholars have suggested that she and Russell had an affair, but the allegations were never confirmed. The marriage was markedly unhappy, in part because of Vivienne’s health issues. In a letter addressed to Ezra Pound, she covers an extensive list of her symptoms, which included a habitually high temperature, fatigue, insomnia, migraines, and colitis. This, coupled with apparent mental instability, meant that she was often sent away by Eliot and her doctors for extended periods of time in the hope of improving her health, and as time went on, he became increasingly detached from her. The couple formally separated in 1933 and in 1938 Vivienne’s brother, Maurice, had her committed to an asylum, against her will, where she remained until her death of heart disease in 1947. In a private paper written in his sixties, Eliot wrote:

I came to persuade myself that I was in love with Vivienne simply because I wanted to burn my boats and commit myself to staying in England. And she persuaded herself (also under the influence of [Ezra] Pound) that she would save the poet by keeping him in England. To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land.

After leaving Merton, Eliot worked as a schoolteacher, most notably at Highgate School, a private school in London, where he taught French and Latin—his students included the young John Betjeman. Later he taught at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, a state school in Buckinghamshire. To earn extra money, he wrote book reviews and lectured at evening extension courses at the University College London, and Oxford. In 1917, he took a position at Lloyds Bank in London, working on foreign accounts. On a trip to Paris in August 1920 with the artist Wyndham Lewis, he met James Joyce. Eliot said he found Joyce arrogant—Joyce doubted Eliot’s ability as a poet at the time—but the two soon became friends, with Eliot visiting Joyce whenever he was in Paris. Eliot and Wyndham Lewis also maintained a close friendship, leading to Lewis later making his well-known portrait painting of Eliot in 1938.

Charles Whibley recommended Eliot to Geoffrey Faber, and in 1925 Eliot left Lloyds to become a director in the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer, later Faber and Faber, where he remained for the rest of his career At Faber and Faber, he was responsible for publishing English poets such as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Ted Hughes.

On 29th June 1927, Eliot converted to Anglicanism from Unitarianism, and in November that year he took British citizenship. He became a warden of his parish church, St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road, London, and a life member of the Society of King Charles the Martyr. He specifically identified as Anglo-Catholic, proclaiming himself “classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and anglo-catholic [sic] in religion”. About 30 years later Eliot commented on his religious views that he combined “a Catholic cast of mind, a Calvinist heritage, and a Puritanical temperament”. He also had wider spiritual interests, commenting that “I see the path of progress for modern man in his occupation with his own self, with his inner being” and citing Goethe and Rudolf Steiner as exemplars of such a direction.

By 1932, Eliot had been contemplating a separation from his wife for some time. When Harvard offered him the Charles Eliot Norton professorship for the 1932–1933 academic year, he accepted and left Vivienne in England. Upon his return, he arranged for a formal separation from her, avoiding all but one meeting with her between his leaving for the US in 1932 and her death in 1947. Vivienne was committed to the Northumberland House mental hospital, Stoke Newington, in 1938, and remained there until she died. Although Eliot was still legally her husband, he never visited her. From 1938 to 1957 Eliot’s public companion was Mary Trevelyan of London University, who wanted to marry him and left a detailed memoir.

From 1946 to 1957, Eliot shared a flat at 19 Carlyle Mansions, Chelsea, with his friend John Davy Hayward, who collected and managed Eliot’s papers, styling himself “Keeper of the Eliot Archive”. Hayward also collected Eliot’s pre-Prufrock verse, commercially published after Eliot’s death as Poems Written in Early Youth. When Eliot and Hayward separated their household in 1957, Hayward retained his collection of Eliot’s papers, which he bequeathed to King’s College, Cambridge, in 1965.

On 10 January 1957, at the age of 68, Eliot married Esmé Valerie Fletcher, who was 30. In contrast to his first marriage, Eliot knew Fletcher well, as she had been his secretary at Faber and Faber since August 1949. They kept their wedding secret; the ceremony was held in a church at 6:15 am with virtually no one in attendance other than her parents. Eliot had no children with either of his wives. In the early 1960s, by then in failing health, Eliot worked as an editor for the Wesleyan University Press, seeking new poets in Europe for publication. After Eliot’s death, Valerie dedicated her time to preserving his legacy, by editing and annotating The Letters of T. S. Eliot and a facsimile of the draft of The Waste Land.

Eliot died of emphysema at his home in Kensington in London, on 4 January 1965, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. In accordance with his wishes, his ashes were taken to St Michael and All Angels’ Church, East Coker, the village in Somerset from which his Eliot ancestors had emigrated to North America. A wall plaque commemorates him with a quotation from his poem “East Coker”, “In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning.” In 1967, on the second anniversary of his death, Eliot was commemorated by the placement of a large stone in the floor of Poets’ Corner in London’s Westminster Abbey. The stone, cut by designer Reynolds Stone, is inscribed with his life dates, his Order of Merit, and a quotation from his poem “Little Gidding”, “the communication / of the dead is tongued with fire beyond / the language of the living.”

Here is Eliot himself reciting The Waste Land:

Eliot once asked his messenger boy what he would do with £5,000. “I’d have a good dinner,” the boy said. “Duckling and green peas, gooseberry tart and cream.” Having just moved to London, Eliot was impressed by the boy’s expensive taste. “Such is the society I move in in the city,” he wrote, where even 11-year-olds know their food.” In 1927 he wrote to Geoffrey Faber, “I like good food. I remember a dinner in Bordeaux, two or three dinners in Paris, a certain wine in Fontevrault, and shall never forget them.” He recalled, with particular relish, a dinner in Paris held by the journal Action Française. “A private room in one of the best restaurants – fifteen people – and the most exquisite dinner I have ever tasted,” he wrote. “I remember the canard aux oranges with permanent pleasure.”

Canard aux oranges, sometimes canard à l’orange, has made its way to the US and UK as duck à l’orange which is frequently a pale junior cousin of the original. Most cooks outside of France (and some in France), make a pallid orange sauce that they bathe the duck in and think they have created a masterpiece. Real care needs to be taken in preparing the sauce and it should not simply be poured over the duck like a gravy, but served on the side. First step for me is to roast the duck at very high temperature: 500°F/260°C.  Prick the duck’s skin well all over and place on a rack in a roasting pan so that the duck is not immersed in fat as it renders out. Repeat the pricking throughout the roasting process. The skin will self baste and become crisp. A 5 lb duck will take about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile make the orange sauce by combining ¼ cup of granulated sugar with 3 tablespoons of sherry vinegar in a saucepan and heating over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will boil vigorously and eventually caramelize. As soon as it is golden brown turn off the heat. Stirring constantly, add in 1 cup of veal, duck, or chicken stock, and then warm through on low heat. Juice and zest 2 Seville oranges and add this to the sauce. The juice should be about ½ cup. Simmer uncovered until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Add 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Continue to simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.

Serve the duck on a heated platter, jointed and with the breast cut into thick slices with skin on. Serve the orange sauce separately in a sauce boat, allowing guests to pour it over the meat, without moistening the crisp skin.

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

 

Jul 152018
 

Today is the birthday (1573) of Inigo Jones, an English architect who left his mark on London by his design of single buildings, such as the Queen’s House which is the first building in England designed in a pure classical style, and the Banqueting House, Whitehall, as well as the layout for Covent Garden square which became a model for future developments in the West End. He also made major contributions to stage design by his work as theatrical designer for several dozen masques, most by royal command and many in collaboration with Ben Jonson.

Beyond the fact that he was born in Smithfield, London, the son of Inigo Jones, a Welsh cloth worker, and baptized at the church of St Bartholomew-the-Less, little is known about Jones’s early years. He did not approach the architectural profession in the traditional way, namely either by rising up from a craft or through early exposure to the Office of Works, although there is evidence that Christopher Wren obtained information that recorded Jones as an apprentice joiner in St Paul’s Churchyard. At some point before 1603 a rich patron (possibly the earl of Pembroke or the earl of Rutland) sent him to Italy to study drawing after being impressed by the quality of his sketches. From Italy he traveled to Denmark where he worked for king Christian on the design of the palaces of Rosenborg and Frederiksborg.

 

Jones first became famous as a designer of costumes and stage settings, especially after he brought masques to the stage. Under Queen Anne’s patronage he is credited with introducing movable scenery and the proscenium arch to English theatre. Between 1605 and 1640, he was responsible for staging over 500 performances, collaborating with Ben Jonson for many years, despite a relationship fraught with competition and jealousy: the two had arguments about whether stage design or literature was more important in theatre. (Jonson ridiculed Jones in a series of his works, written over a span of two decades.) Over 450 drawings for the scenery and costumes survive, demonstrating Jones’s virtuosity as a draughtsman and his development between 1605 and 1609 from initially showing no knowledge of Renaissance draughtsmanship to exhibiting an “accomplished Italianate manner” and understanding of Italian set design, particularly that of Alfonso and Giulio Parigi. This development suggests a second visit to Italy, circa 1606, influenced by the ambassador Henry Wotton. Jones learned to speak Italian fluently and there is evidence that he owned an Italian copy of Andrea Palladio’s I quattro libri dell’architettura with marginalia that refer to Wotton. His architectural work was particularly influenced by Palladio. To a lesser extent, he also held to the architectural principles of the ancient Roman writer Vitruvius.

Jones’s first recorded architectural design is for a monument to Lady Cotton, circa 1608, showing early signs of his classical intentions. Around this time, Jones also produced drawings for the New Exchange in the Strand and the central tower of St. Paul’s Cathedral, displaying a similar practical architectural inexperience and uncertain handling of themes from sources including Palladio, Serlio and Sangallo. In 1609, having perhaps accompanied Lord Salisbury’s son and heir, Viscount Cranborne, around France, he appears as an architectural consultant at Hatfield House, making small modifications to the design as the project progressed, and in 1610, Jones was appointed surveyor to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. He devised a masque for the Prince and was possibly involved in some alterations to St James’s Palace.

On 27th April 1613, Jones was appointed the position of Surveyor of the King’s Works and shortly after, embarked on a tour of Italy with the earl of Arundel, destined to become one of the most important patrons in the history of English art. On this trip, Jones was exposed to the architecture of Rome, Padua, Florence, Vicenza, Genoa and Venice among others. His surviving sketchbook shows his preoccupation with such artists as Parmigianino and Schiavone. He is also known to have met Vincenzo Scamozzi at this time. His annotated copy of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura also demonstrates his close interest in classical architecture: Jones gave priority to Roman antiquity rather than observing the contemporary fashion in Italy. He was probably the first Englishman to study these Roman remains first hand and this was key to the new architecture Jones introduced in England.

In September 1615, Jones was appointed Surveyor-General of the King’s Works, marking the beginning of Jones’s career in earnest. Fortunately, both James I and Charles I spent lavishly on their buildings, contrasting with the economical court of Elizabeth I. As the King’s Surveyor, Jones built some of his key buildings in London. In 1616, work began on the Queen’s House, Greenwich, for James I’s wife, Anne. With the foundations laid and the first storey built, work stopped suddenly when Anne died in 1619. Work resumed in 1629, but this time for Charles I’s Queen, Henrietta Maria. It was finished in 1635 as the first strictly classical building in England, employing ideas found in the architecture of Palladio and ancient Rome. This is Jones’s earliest surviving work.

Between 1619 and 1622, the Banqueting House in the Palace of Whitehall was built, a design derived from buildings by Scamozzi and Palladio, to which a ceiling painted by Peter Paul Rubens was added several years later. The Banqueting House was one of several projects where Jones worked with his personal assistant and nephew by marriage John Webb. Unfortunately, as the last great strongholds to the Cavaliers, the great mansion inside of Basing House was destroyed by Cromwell’s army and even the walls were broken into many pieces on 8th October 1645.

The Queen’s Chapel, St. James’s Palace, was built between 1623 and 1627, for Charles I’s Roman Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria. Parts of the design originate in the Pantheon of ancient Rome and Jones evidently intended the church to evoke the Roman temple. These buildings show the designs of an architect with a confident grasp of classical principles and an intellectual understanding of how to implement them.

The other project in which Jones was involved is the design of Covent Garden square. He was commissioned by the earl of Bedford to build a residential square, which he did along the lines of the Italian piazza of Livorno. It is the first regularly planned square in London. The earl felt obliged to provide a church and he warned Jones that he wanted to economize. He told him to simply erect a “barn” and Jones’s often-quoted response was that “his lordship would have the finest barn in Europe”. In the design of St Paul’s, Jones faithfully adhered to Vitruvius’ design for a Tuscan temple and it was the first wholly and authentically classical church built in England. The inside of St Paul’s, Covent Garden was gutted by fire in 1795, but externally it remains much as Jones designed it and dominates the west side of the square.

Jones also designed the square of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and a house in the square, the Lindsey House built in 1640, is often attributed to Jones. Its design of a rusticated ground floor with giant pilasters above supporting the entablature and balustrade served as a model for other town houses in London such as John Nash’s Regent’s Park terraces, as well as in other English towns such as Bath’s Royal Crescent.

Another large project Jones undertook was the repair and remodeling of St Paul’s Cathedral. Between the years of 1634 and 1642, Jones wrestled with the dilapidated Gothicism of Old St Paul’s, casing it in classical masonry and totally redesigning the west front. Jones incorporated the giant scrolls from Vignola and della Porta’s Church of the Gesù with a giant Corinthian portico, the largest of its type north of the Alps, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Also around this time, circa 1638, Jones devised drawings completely redesigning the Palace of Whitehall, but the execution of these designs was frustrated by Charles I’s financial and political difficulties. More than 1000 buildings have been attributed to Jones but only a very small number of those are certain to be his work. According to architecture historian John Summerson, the modern concept of an architect’s artistic responsibility for a building did not exist at that time, and Jones’s role in many instances may be that of a civil servant in getting things done rather than as an architect. Jones’s contribution to a building may also simply be verbal instructions to a mason or bricklayer and providing an Italian engraving or two as a guide, or the correction of drafts. In the 1630s, Jones was in high demand and, as Surveyor to the King, his services were only available to a very limited circle of people, so often projects were commissioned to other members of the Works. Stoke Bruerne Park in Northamptonshire was built by Sir Francis Crane, “receiving the assistance of Inigo Jones”, between 1629 and 1635. Jones is also thought to have been involved in another country house, this time in Wiltshire. Wilton House was renovated from about 1630 onwards, at times worked on by Jones, then passed on to Isaac de Caus when Jones was too busy with royal clients. He then returned in 1646 with his student, John Webb, to try and complete the project. Contemporary equivalent architects included Sir Balthazar Gerbier and Nicholas Stone.

One of Jones’s design work was “double cube” room, and it was also the foundation stone of his status as the father of British architecture. Jones, as the pioneer in his era, had strong influence during their time. His revolutionary ideas even effect beyond the Court circle, and today, many scholars believe that he also started the golden age of British architecture. Jones’s full-time career effectively ended with the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642 and the seizure of the King’s houses in 1643. His property was later returned to him (c. 1646) but Jones ended his days, unmarried, living in Somerset House. He was, however, closely involved in the design of Coleshill House, in Berkshire, for the Pratt family, which he visited with the young apprentice architect Roger Pratt, to fix a new site for the proposed mansion. He died on 21st June 1652 and was subsequently buried beside his parents at St Benet Paul’s Wharf, the Welsh church of the City of London. John Denham and then Christopher Wren followed him as King’s Surveyor of Works. A monument dedicated to him was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666.

You could go with a period recipe to celebrate Jones if you want. Here is a delightful idea from Robert May’s Accomplisht Cook. I chose it for today because it emphasizes design. The instructions are not really fully clear. What I think May is getting at is that you must make three separate elements: a green one with creamed spinach, a white one with cream alone, and a yellow one with egg yolks and cream. How the seasonings should be distributed is completely unclear. You should, however, place the three colors in a tart in a design of your choosing that keeps the green, yellow, and white elements distinct. I’ll leave you to figure it out.

To make a Spinage Tart of three colours, green, yellow, and white.

Take two handfuls of young tender spinage, wash it and put it into a skillet of boiling liquor; being tender boil’d have a quart of cream boil’d with some whole cinamon, quarterd nutmeg, and a grain of musk; then strain the cream, twelve yolks of eggs, and the boil’d spinage into a dish, with some rose-water, a little sack, and some fine sugar, boil it over a chaffing dish of coals, and stir it that it curd not, keep it till the tart be dried in the oven, and dish it in the form of three colours, green, white, and yellow.

To truly honor Jones I would go for a dish that is architectural in scope. You can save your gingerbread palaces for Christmas, and, instead, get some ideas from this gallery:

Jul 132018
 

Today is the birthday (1607) of Václav Hollar, a Bohemian engraver whose etchings are of considerable historical importance. When he moved to England he was known as Wenceslaus or Wenceslas. Hollar was born in Prague, and after his family was ruined by the Sack of Prague in the Thirty Years’ War, Hollar, who was supposed to go in for law, decided to become an artist. The earliest of his works that have come down to us are dated 1625 and 1626; they are small plates, and one of them is a copy of a “Virgin and Child” by Dürer, whose influence upon Hollar’s work was considerable. In 1627 he was in Frankfurt where he was apprenticed to the renowned engraver Matthäus Merian. In 1630 he lived in Strasbourg, Mainz and Koblenz, where he portrayed the towns, castles, and landscapes of the Middle Rhine Valley. In 1633 he moved to Cologne where he published his first book of etchings.

In 1636 he attracted the notice of Thomas Howard, 21st earl of Arundel, then on a diplomatic mission to the imperial court of Emperor Ferdinand II. He employed Hollar as a draftsman and they traveled together to Vienna and Prague. In 1637 he went with Arundel to England, where he remained in the earl’s household for many years.

Though he became Arundel’s servant, Hollar seems not to have worked exclusively for him, and after the earl’s death in Padua in 1646, he earned his living by working for various authors and publishers. In around 1650, probably at the request of Hendrik van der Borcht, he etched a commemorative print done after a design by Cornelius Schut in Arundel’s honor and dedicated to his widow, Aletheia. Arundel is seated in melancholy mode on his tomb in front of an obelisk (perhaps commemorating the one he tried to import from Rome), and surrounded by works of art and their personifications.

In 1745, George Vertue paid homage to his association with Hollar in a vignette he published in Description of the Works of the Ingenious Delineator and Engraver Wenceslaus Hollar. It featured a bust of Arundel in front of a pyramid, symbolizing immortality, surrounded by illustrated books and the instruments of Hollar’s trade. During his first year in England he created “View of Greenwich,” later issued by Peter Stent, the print-seller. The print is nearly 3 feet (0.9 m) long and he received 30 shillings for the plate. Afterwards he fixed the price of his work at four pence an hour, and measured his time by a sand-glass. Hollar continued to produce works prolifically throughout the English Civil War, but it adversely affected his income. With other royalist artists, notably Inigo Jones and William Faithorne, the engraver, he withstood the long and eventful siege of Basing House, and as there are around 100 plates from his hand dated during the years 1643 and 1644 he must have turned his seclusion into concentrated work time. An etching dated 1643 and entitled “” epitomizes the war with a snake with a head at each end pulling in opposite directions in front of the Giza pyramids and sphinx. Hollar took his setting, presumably symbolizing longer term values, directly from an engraving published in George Sandys’ Relation of a Journey begun An. Dom 1610.

Hollar joined the Royalist Regiment and was captured by parliamentary forces in 1645 during the siege of Basing House. After a short time he managed to escape. In Antwerp in 1646, he again met with the earl of Arundel. During this period of the unrest of the Civil Wars, he worked in Antwerp, where he produced many of his most renowned works, including Dutch cityscapes, seascapes, depictions of nature, his “muffs” and “shells”. In 1652 he returned to London, and lived for a time near Temple Bar.

During the following years many books were published which he illustrated: Ogilby’s Virgil and Homer, Stapylton’s Juvenal, and Dugdale’s Warwickshire, St Paul’s and Monasticon (part one). His income fell as booksellers continued to reject his work, and the Court did not purchase his works following the Restoration.

After the Great Fire of London he produced some of his famous “Views of London”; and it may have been the success of these plates and other cityscapes such as his 1649 Great View of Prague which induced the king to send him, in 1668, to Tangier, to draw the town and forts. During his return to England a desperate and successful engagement was fought by his ship, the Mary Rose, under Captain John Kempthorne, against seven Algerine men-of-war; a battle which Hollar etched for Ogilby’s Africa.

Hollar lived eight years more after his return, still working for the booksellers, and continuing to produce well-regarded works until his death. However, he died in extreme poverty on 25th March 1677 in London. His last recorded words were a request to the bailiffs not to take away the bed on which he was dying. Hollar is interred in St Margaret’s Church in Westminster.

I will turn to Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook (1660) for today’s recipe. You can find the whole text here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22790 If my choice does not appeal, pick another. I found a recipe for a salad of buds of Alexanders which I thought was intriguing, mostly because Alexanders is virtually unknown as an ingredient nowadays because they have been replaced with celery.  Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) is an edible cultivated flowering plant, belonging to the family Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae). It is also known as alisanders, horse parsley, and smyrnium. It was known to Theophrastus and Pliny the Elder. The plants grow to 150 centimeters (59 in) high, with a solid stem which becomes hollow and grooved with age. Alexanders is native to the Mediterranean but is able to thrive farther north. The flowers are yellow-green in color and arranged in umbels, and its fruits are black. It flowers from April to June. Alexanders is intermediate in flavor between celery and parsley. It is now almost forgotten as a food source, although it still grows wild in many parts of Europe, including Britain. It is common among the sites of medieval monastery gardens. May’s recipe is typical of the period. You could replace the Alexanders with celery if you wanted to try the flavorings.

A grand Sallet of Alexander-buds.

Take large Alexander-buds, and boil them in fair water after they be cleansed and washed, but first let the water boil, then put them in, and being boil’d, drain them on a dish bottom or in a cullender; then have boil’d capers and currans, and lay them in the midst of a clean scowred dish, the buds parted in two with a sharp knife, and laid round about upright, or one half on one side, and the other against it on the other side, so also carved lemon, scrape on sugar, and serve it with good oyl and wine vinegar.

Jan 172018
 

Popeye the Sailor, created by Elzie Crisler Segar, first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip, Thimble Theatre, on this date in 1929, and Popeye became the strip’s title in later years. Popeye has since appeared in cinematic and television animated cartoons. Segar’s Thimble Theatre strip was in its 10th year when Popeye made his debut, but the one-eyed (left) sailor quickly became the main focus of the strip, and Thimble Theatre became one of King Features’ most popular properties during the 1930s. After Segar’s death in 1938, Thimble Theatre was continued by several writers and artists, most notably Segar’s assistant Bud Sagendorf. The strip continues to appear in first-run installments in its Sunday edition, written and drawn by Hy Eisman. The daily strips are reprints of old Sagendorf stories.

In 1933, Max Fleischer adapted the Thimble Theatre characters into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. These cartoons proved to be among the most popular of the 1930s, and Fleischer—and later Paramount’s own Famous Studios—continued production through 1957. These cartoon shorts are now owned by Turner Entertainment, a subsidiary of Time Warner, and distributed by its sister company Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Over the years, Popeye has also appeared in comic books, television cartoons, arcade and video games, hundreds of advertisements, and peripheral products (ranging from spinach to candy cigarettes), and the 1980 live-action film directed by Robert Altman, starring Robin Williams as Popeye.

Differences in Popeye’s story and characterization vary depending on the medium. Originally, Popeye got his strength from rubbing the head of the Whiffle Hen, changing to spinach by 1932. Swee’Pea is definitively Popeye’s ward in the comic strips, but he is often depicted as belonging to Olive Oyl in cartoons. There is no absolute sense of continuity in the stories, although certain plot and presentation elements remain mostly constant, including purposeful contradictions in Popeye’s capabilities. Popeye seems bereft of manners and uneducated, yet he is often depicted as capable of coming up with solutions to problems that seem insurmountable to the police or, most importantly, the scientific community. Popeye has, alternatively, displayed Sherlock Holmes-like investigative prowess (determining, for instance, that his beloved Olive was abducted by estimating the depth of the villains’ footprints in the sand), scientific ingenuity (as his construction, within a few hours, of a “spinach-drive” spacecraft), or oversimplified (yet successful) diplomatic arguments (by presenting his own existence—and superhuman strength—as the only true guarantee of world peace at diplomatic conferences). Popeye’s pipe also proves to be highly versatile. Among other things, it has served as a cutting torch, jet engine, propeller, periscope, musical instrument, and, of course, a whistle with which he produces his trademark toot. Popeye also on occasion eats spinach through his pipe, sometimes sucking in the can itself along with the contents. Since the 1970s, Popeye is seldom depicted using his pipe to smoke tobacco.

Popeye’s exploits are also enhanced by a few recurring plot elements. One is the love triangle among Popeye, Olive, and Bluto, and the latter’s endless machinations to claim Olive at Popeye’s expense. Another is his near-saintly perseverance in overcoming any obstacle to please Olive, who often renounces Popeye for Bluto’s dime-store advances. She is the only character that Popeye will permit to give him a thumping. Finally, Popeye usually uncovers villainous plots by accidentally sneaking up on the antagonists as they brag about or lay out their schemes.[citation needed.

Thimble Theatre was cartoonist E. C. Segar’s third published strip when it first appeared in the New York Journal on December 19, 1919. The paper’s owner William Randolph Hearst also owned King Features Syndicate, which syndicated the strip. Thimble Theatre was intended as a replacement for Midget Movies by Ed Wheelan (Wheelan having recently resigned from King Features). It did not attract a large audience at first, and at the end of its first decade appeared in only half a dozen newspapers. In its early years, the strip featured characters acting out various stories and scenarios in theatrical style (hence the strip’s name). It could be classified as a gag-a-day comic in those days.

Thimble Theatre’s first main characters were the thin Olive Oyl and her boyfriend Harold Hamgravy. After the strip moved away from its initial focus, it settled into a comedy-adventure style featuring Olive, Ham Gravy, and Olive’s enterprising brother Castor Oyl. Olive’s parents Cole and Nana Oyl also made frequent appearances. Popeye first appeared in the strip as a minor character. He was initially hired by Castor Oyl and Ham to crew a ship for a voyage to Dice Island, the location of a casino owned by the crooked gambler Fadewell. Castor intended to break the bank at the casino using the unbeatable good luck conferred by stroking the hairs on the head of Bernice the Whiffle Hen. Weeks later, on the trip back, Popeye is shot many times by Jack Snork, a stooge of Fadewell’s, but survives by rubbing Bernice’s head. After the adventure, Popeye left the strip but, due to reader reaction, he was quickly brought back.

The Popeye character became so popular that he was given a larger role, and the strip was expanded into many more newspapers as a result. Initial strips presented Olive as being less than impressed with Popeye, but she eventually left Ham Gravy to become Popeye’s girlfriend and Ham Gravy left the strip as a regular. Over the years, however, she has often displayed a fickle attitude towards Popeye. Castor Oyl continued to come up with get-rich-quick schemes and enlisted Popeye in his misadventures. Eventually, he settled down as a detective and later on bought a ranch out West. Castor has seldom appeared in recent years.

In 1933, Popeye received a foundling baby in the mail, whom he adopted and named “Swee’Pea.” Other regular characters in the strip were J. Wellington Wimpy, a hamburger-loving moocher who would “gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” (he was also soft-spoken and cowardly; Vickers Wellington bombers were nicknamed “Wimpys” after the character); George W. Geezil, a local cobbler who spoke in a heavily affected accent and habitually attempted to murder or wish death upon Wimpy; and Eugene the Jeep, a yellow, vaguely dog-like animal from Africa with magical powers. In addition, the strip featured the Sea Hag, a terrible pirate, as well as the last witch on earth (her even more terrible sister excepted); Alice the Goon, a monstrous creature who entered the strip as the Sea Hag’s henchwoman and continued as Swee’Pea’s babysitter; and Toar, a caveman.

Segar’s strip was quite different from the cartoons that followed. The stories were more complex, with many characters that never appeared in theatric cartoons (King Blozo, for example). Popeye rarely ate spinach, and Bluto made only one appearance. Segar would sign some of his early Popeye comic strips with a cigar, due to his last name being a homophone of “cigar” (pronounced SEE-gar).

After Segar’s death in 1938, many different artists were hired to draw the strip. Tom Sims, the son of a Coosa River channel-boat captain, continued writing Thimble Theatre strips and established the Popeye the Sailorman spin-off. Doc Winner and Bela Zaboly, successively, handled the artwork during Sims’s run. Eventually, Ralph Stein stepped in to write the strip until the series was taken over by Bud Sagendorf in 1959.

Sagendorf wrote and drew the daily strip until 1986, and continued to write and draw the Sunday strip until his death in 1994. Sagendorf, who had been Segar’s assistant, made a definite effort to retain much of Segar’s classic style, although his art is instantly discernible. Sagendorf continued to use many obscure characters from the Segar years, especially O.G. Wotasnozzle and King Blozo. Sagendorf’s new characters, such as the Thung, also had a very Segar-like quality. What set Sagendorf apart from Segar more than anything else was his sense of pacing. Where plotlines moved very quickly with Segar, it would sometimes take an entire week of Sagendorf’s daily strips for the plot to be advanced even a small amount.

From 1986 to 1992, the daily strip was written and drawn by Bobby London, who, after some controversy, was fired from the strip for a story that could be taken to satirize abortion. London’s strips put Popeye and his friends in updated situations, but kept the spirit of Segar’s original. One classic storyline, titled “The Return of Bluto”, showed the sailor battling every version of the bearded bully from the comic strip, comic books, and animated films. The Sunday edition of the comic strip is currently drawn by Hy Eisman, who took over in 1994. The daily strip began featuring reruns of Sagendorf’s strips after London was fired and continues to do so today.

Even though Popeye did not use spinach to gain strength in his earliest incarnation, spinach and Popeye are now completely wedded. Spinach is an extremely versatile food, and is one of my favorites. I always grew it in containers in my garden in New York, and used it primarily for salads. Because raw spinach contains oxalic acid, which blocks absorption of iron and calcium and may contribute to the formation of kidney stones, there was a time when health nuts avoided spinach that was not cooked. It is now understood, however, that the amount of oxalic acid in spinach is not as deleterious as once thought, and regular eating of probiotics in natural yoghurt and kefir counteracts the acid. On the other hand, if you boil or steam spinach you should discard the water, as well as the liquid it is packed in if you use canned.

I will put spinach in pretty much anything if I have it on hand: soups and stews, omelets, pots of lentils or beans. Curries in India can be made with all the ingredients cooked slowly for hours and if they have spinach (sa’ag) in them, it becomes silky and smooth, almost blending into the sauce. Or you can lightly steam spinach on its own. I cook it by rinsing it thoroughly in a colander, then placing it in a dry saucepan over high heat covered, and letting it steam for a few minutes until it cooks down. Drain off the excess juices and serve it hot or cold as a side dish – plain or dressed with a little sesame oil (although in keeping with the Popeye theme it ought to be olive oil — no comment on extra virgin please). You can put chopped, steamed spinach in sour cream or yoghurt as a dip, or use it as the main ingredient in cream of spinach soup. Spinach will go with anything. Eggs Florentine are like eggs Benedict except you replace the ham with spinach – delicious. “Florentine” is the culinary shorthand for “with spinach.” Hollow out a baked potato and stuff it with spinach and cheese for potatoes Florentine. Use your imagination.

Jan 122018
 

Today is the birthday (1856) of John Singer Sargent, called an “American” artist because his parents were U.S. citizens, but he actually spent almost none of his life in North America. In his day he was considered by many to be the leading portrait painter of his generation, but subsequently his work tended to be overlooked because the portraiture he is best known for was, for a long time, considered rather old fashioned for the period, and place, he worked in, which was known more for Impressionism. Interest in his work increased in the late 20th century as his oeuvre was explored more fully, and it became evident that it is much more varied than is known by the general public (or at least those who care at all).

Before Sargent’s birth, his father, FitzWilliam, was an eye surgeon at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia from 1844 to 1854. After John’s older sister died at the age of two, his mother, Mary, suffered a mental breakdown, and the couple decided to go abroad to help her recover. They remained nomadic expatriates for the rest of their lives. Although based in Paris, Sargent’s parents moved regularly with the seasons to the sea and the mountain resorts in France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. While Mary was pregnant with John, they stopped in Florence to avoid a cholera epidemic, and Sargent was born there in 1856. A year later, his sister Mary was born. After her birth, FitzWilliam reluctantly resigned his post in Philadelphia and accepted his wife’s preference for them to remain abroad. They lived modestly on a small inheritance and savings, living a quiet life with their children. They generally avoided society and other U.S. citizens except for friends in the art world. The couple had 4 more children, two of whom died in childhood.

Sargent’s mother was convinced that traveling around Europe, and visiting museums and churches, would give young Sargent a satisfactory education. Several attempts to have him formally schooled failed, owing mostly to their itinerant life. Sargent’s mother was a fine amateur artist and his father was a skilled medical illustrator. Early on, she gave him sketchbooks and encouraged drawing excursions. Young Sargent worked with care on his drawings, and he enthusiastically copied images from The Illustrated London News of ships and made detailed sketches of landscapes. FitzWilliam had hoped that his son’s interest in ships and the sea might lead him toward a naval career.

At 13, his mother reported that, “John sketches quite nicely, & has a remarkably quick and correct eye. If we could afford to give him really good lessons, he would soon be quite a little artist.” Around that time, he received some watercolor lessons from Carl Welsch, a German landscape painter. His formal schooling was rather erratic, but Sargent turned into a well-educated young man, accomplished in art, music, and literature. He was fluent in French, Italian, and German. At 17, Sargent was described as “willful, curious, determined and strong, yet shy, generous, and modest.” He was well-acquainted with many of the great masters from first hand observation, and wrote in 1874, “I have learned in Venice to admire Tintoretto immensely and to consider him perhaps second only to Michelangelo and Titian.”

An attempt to study at the Academy of Florence failed because the school was re-organizing at the time, so, after returning to Paris from Florence, Sargent began his art studies with Carolus-Duran, who was on a meteoric rise at the time, and studied with him from 1874 to 1878. In 1874, on his first attempt, Sargent passed the rigorous exam required to gain admission to the École des Beaux-Arts, the premier art school in France. He took drawing classes, which included anatomy and perspective. Sargent also took some lessons from Léon Bonnat.

Carolus-Duran’s atelier was progressive, dispensing with the traditional academic approach, which required careful drawing and underpainting, in favor of the alla prima method of working directly on the canvas with a loaded brush, derived from Diego Velázquez. It was an approach that relied on the proper placement of tones of paint. This approach also permitted spontaneous flourishes of color not bound to an under-drawing. Sargent’s early enthusiasm was for landscapes, not portraiture, as evidenced by his voluminous sketches full of mountains, seascapes, and buildings. Carolus-Duran’s expertise in portraiture finally influenced Sargent in that direction. Commissions for history paintings were still considered more prestigious, but were much harder to get. Portrait painting, on the other hand, was the best way of promoting an art career, getting exhibited in the Salon, and gaining commissions to earn a livelihood.

Sargent’s first major portrait was of his friend Fanny Watts in 1877, and was also his first Salon admission. Its particularly well-executed pose drew attention. His second salon entry was the Oyster Gatherers of Cançale, an impressionistic painting of which he made two copies. In 1879, at the age of 23, Sargent painted a portrait of teacher Carolus-Duran; the virtuoso effort met with public approval, and announced the direction his mature work would take. Its showing at the Paris Salon was both a tribute to his teacher and an advertisement for portrait commissions. Of Sargent’s early work, Henry James wrote that the artist offered “the slightly ‘uncanny’ spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn.”

After leaving Carolus-Duran’s atelier, Sargent visited Spain. There he studied the paintings of Velázquez, absorbing his technique, and in his travels gathered ideas for future works. He was entranced with Spanish music and dance. The trip also re-awakened his own talent for music, and which found visual expression in his early masterpiece El Jaleo (1882). Music would continue to play a major part in his social life as well, as he was a skillful accompanist of both amateur and professional musicians. Sargent became a strong advocate for modern composers, especially Gabriel Fauré. Trips to Italy provided sketches and ideas for several Venetian street scenes genre paintings, which effectively captured gestures and postures he would find useful in later portraiture.

Upon his return to Paris, Sargent quickly received several portrait commissions, and his career was launched. He immediately demonstrated the concentration and stamina that enabled him to paint with workman-like steadiness for the next 25 years. He filled in the gaps between commissions with many non-commissioned portraits of friends and colleagues.

I won’t belabor the history of Sargent’s career more. Instead, I will look at 3 significant works.

Portrait of Madame X

This portrait of Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau caused a major scandal when it was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1884. Mme Gautreau was well known in Parisian social circles for using her beauty to advantage, and engaging in “infelicities.” She was sought after by numerous portraitists, because of the notoriety a painting of her would secure the artist. Sargent went beyond the bounds of polite society, however, by deliberately painting her in a seductive pose wearing a provocative dress. The plunging neckline, oceans of bare skin, and come-hither stance were scandalous enough for late-19th-century Parisians, but in the original Sargent also painted the right strap of her dress hanging down over her arm, which was considered to be outrageously salacious. For a time Mme Gautreau had to retire from public, even though Sargent did not name her on the portrait. She was well known without being identified. In addition, Sargent’s commissions in France dried up completely, and so he moved to London where he flourished.

Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

On a visit to Monet at Giverny in 1885, Sargent painted one of his most Impressionistic portraits: Monet at work painting outdoors with his new wife nearby. Sargent is usually not thought of as an Impressionist painter, but he sometimes used Impressionist techniques. This is his own version of the Impressionist style which he continued using into the late 1880s, after his visit to Monet. Monet later wrote on Sargent’s style: “He is not an Impressionist in the sense that we use the word, he is too much under the influence of Carolus-Duran.”

Gassed

In May 1918, Sargent was one of several painters commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee of the British Ministry of Information to create a large painting for a planned Hall of Remembrance. The plan for a Hall of Remembrance decorated by large paintings was abandoned when the project was incorporated with that for Imperial War Museum. Although he was 62 years old, he travelled to the Western Front in July 1918, accompanied by Henry Tonks. He spent time with the Guards Division near Arras, and then with the American Expeditionary Forces near Ypres. He was determined to paint an epic work with many human figures, but struggled to find a situation with American and British figures in the same scene. On 11 September 1918, Sargent wrote to Evan Charteris:

The Ministry of Information expects an epic – and how can one do an epic without masses of men? Excepting at night I have only seen three fine subjects with masses of men – one a harrowing sight, a field full of gassed and blindfolded men – another a train of trucks packed with “chair à cannon” – and another frequent sight a big road encumbered with troops and traffic, I daresay the latter, combining English and Americans, is the best thing to do, if it can be prevented from looking like going to the Derby.

The “harrowing sight” referred to the aftermath of a German barrage that Sargent witnessed on 21 August 1918, at Le Bac-du-Sud, between Arras and Doullens, in which mustard gas had been used against the advancing 99th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division and 8th Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division of the British Army, during the Second Battle of Arras of 1918. You can see his deliberate homage to Breughel (The Blind Leading the Blind):

Sargent’s painting is huge, and, for me, is haunting, and captivates the horrors of the Great War. Curiously, in its day it had a remarkably mixed reception. Virginia Woolf, for example, described it as annoyingly patriotic, and E.M. Forster called it “too heroic.” I don’t see that at all. What was in their heads?

Sargent’s Birthday Party, is perhaps not as well known as his portraiture. It shows his mix of Realism and Impressionism, and also his characteristic use of color – especially the contrast of red and white, which you find in numerous portraits. So I thought that a characteristic (American) red and white cake would be appropriate for celebrating his birthday: the classic red velvet cake.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

Cake:

½ cup shortening
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp cocoa
4 tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

Icing:

5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C.

Grease two 9-inch round pans.

For the cake: Beat the shortening and 1 ½ cups sugar together until they are very light and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly and beat well. Make a paste of the cocoa and red food coloring and beat into the creamed mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix the salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and buttermilk together. Add the flour to the batter, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a cup and gently fold into the cake batter. Don’t beat or stir the batter after this point.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack.

For the icing: Put 5 tablespoons flour and milk into a saucepan, whisk, and then cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Let cool completely. While the mixture is cooling, beat 1 cup of sugar, butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the cooled flour and milk mixture and beat until the icing is a good spreading consistency.

Split the cakes into layers, spreading the icing thickly between each layer, and then over the top and sides of the cake.

May 122017
 

Today is the feast day of Saint Pancras whose life I will focus on briefly.  Chiefly, though, I want to talk about the area of London, St Pancras, that is informally named for him, in part because I stayed there a couple of months ago and found it somewhat appealing (and rather new to me), especially because of the grand old Victorian train station.

St Pancras was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity, and was beheaded for his faith at the age of 14 around the year 304. Traditionally, St Pancras is the second of the Ice Saints. The Ice Saints’ days span May 11th to 13th which, in many northern European countries, are superstitiously considered to be a time when the spring experiences a cold snap (the opposite of Indian Summer in autumn).

Because he was said to have been martyred at the age of 14 during the persecution under Diocletian, Pancras would have been born around 289, at a place designated as “near Synnada,” a city of Phrygia Salutaris, to parents of Roman citizenship. His mother Cyriada died during childbirth, while his father Cleonius died when Pancras was 8 years old. Pancras was entrusted to his uncle Dionysius’ care. They both moved to Rome to live in a villa on the Caelian Hill. They converted to Christianity, and Pancras became a zealous adherent of the religion.

During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, around 303 he was brought before the authorities and asked to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods. Diocletian, impressed with the boy’s determination to resist, promised him wealth and power, but Pancras refused, and finally the emperor ordered him to be beheaded on the Via Aurelia, on 12 May 303.  This traditional year of his martyrdom cannot be squared with the saint’s defiance of Diocletian in Rome, which the emperor had not visited since 286. A Roman matron named Ottavilla reputedly recovered Pancras’ body, covered it with balsam, wrapped it in precious linens, and buried it in a newly built sepulchre dug in the Catacombs of Rome. Pancras’ head was placed in the reliquary that supposedly still exists today in the Basilica of Saint Pancras.

Devotion to Pancras definitely existed from the 5th century onwards, because the basilica of Saint Pancras was built by Pope Symmachus (498-514), on the place where the body of the young martyr was supposed to have been buried. Pope Gregory the Great (540 – 604) gave impetus to the cult of Pancras, sending Augustine to England carrying relics of that saint and including his legend in Liber in gloria martyrum (for this reason, many English churches are dedicated to Pancras.

St Pancras Old Church in London is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England. Information panels outside the church today state that it “stands on one of Europe’s most ancient sites of Christian worship, possibly dating back to the early 4th century” and has been a “site of prayer and meditation since 314 AD.” The case for these claims seems first to have been argued by local historian Charles Lee in 1955, who wrote:

There can be little doubt that a Roman encampment was situated opposite the site of St Pancras Church about this period, and that the church is on the site of a Roman Compitum, which served as a centre of public worship and public meeting… It seems probable that the Roman Compitum at St Pancras was adapted to Christian worship shortly after the restoration of religious freedom in 313 (taking its name from the recently-martyred Pancras).

Lee’s “Roman encampment” was “Caesar’s Camp at Pancras called the Brill”, identified by the antiquary William Stukeley in the 1750s. However, even Stukeley’s contemporaries could see no trace of this camp, and considered that Stukeley had let his imagination run away with him. Gillian Tindall has suggested that the lumps and bumps in the fields to the west of the church that Stukeley interpreted as a Roman camp were actually traces of the original medieval village of St. Pancras, before the center of the settlement moved north to the area now known as Kentish Town.

Originally, the parish of St Pancras stretched from close to Oxford Street almost to Highgate. In the early Middle Ages there was a center of population in the vicinity of what is now known as the old church. However, in the 14th century the population abandoned the site and moved to what is now Kentish Town. The reasons for this were probably the vulnerability of the plain around the church to flooding (the River Fleet, which is now underground, runs through it) and the availability of better wells at Kentish Town, where there is less clay in the soil. The church subsequently fell into disrepair. Towards the end of the 18th century, services were only held in the church on one Sunday each month; on other weeks, the same congregation would use a chapel in Kentish Town. It lost its status as the parish church when the New Church on what was to become the Euston Road was consecrated in 1822, and became a chapel of ease.

St Pancras railway station is a Victorian gem which in the 1960s (when most people, myself included, considered it a gaudy monstrosity) was scheduled to be demolished. Instead, it was smartened up and renovated. Now I find it quite attractive (still a bit gaudy), and glad it was preserved to represent Victorian London – the kind of railway station Sherlock Holmes would have used (Baker Street is not far away). The station was commissioned by the Midland Railway in the 1860s. Before then the company had a network of routes in the Midlands, and in south and west Yorkshire and Lancashire but no route of its own to the capital. Up to 1857 the company had no line into London, and used the lines of the London and North Western Railway for trains into the capital. After 1857 the company’s Leicester and Hitchin Railway gave access to London via the Great Northern Railway.

In 1862, traffic for the second International Exhibition suffered extensive delays over the stretch of line into London over the Great Northern Railway’s track; the route into London via the London and North Western was also at capacity, with coal trains causing the network at Rugby and elsewhere to reach effective gridlock. This was the stimulus for the Midland to build its own line to London from Bedford.

The station was designed by William Henry Barlow. The approaching line to the station crossed the Regent’s Canal resulting in the level of the line at St Pancras being 12 to 17 ft (3.7 to 5.2 m) above ground level. Initial plans were for a two or three span roof with the void between station and ground level filled with spoil from tunneling to join the Midland Main Line to the St. Pancras branch. Instead, due to the value of the land in such a location the lower area was used for freight, in particular beer from Burton.  As a result the undercroft was built with columns and girders, maximizing space, set out to the same plans as those used for beer warehouses, and with a basic unit of length that of a beer barrel.

I’ve called on Mrs Beeton for a suitable Victorian recipe, and come up with gravy soup. In some ways this soup reminds me of the potential for English cooking to be questionable, and for railway cafeterias to perpetuate that idea. But . . . it has interesting (and redeeming) features. The quantities alone suggest to me that Beeton copied this recipe from an older cookbook used for giant households. But she gives a note on endive, as it is used in the recipe, noting that it was a very common ingredient in and around London at the time.  She also uses two sauces in the recipe: Harvey’s and Leamington. Harvey’s sauce was a proprietary brand made by fermenting anchovies, and for Leamington sauce she specifically notes that this is her own recipe. I’d suggest giving it a go, but cutting down on the 11 pounds of meat. Below her recipe for Leamington sauce I give a 19th century recipe for Harvey’s sauce.

GRAVY SOUP.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—6 lbs. of shin of beef, a knuckle of veal weighing 5 lbs., a few pieces or trimmings, 2 slices of nicely-flavoured lean, ham; 1/4 lb. of butter, 2 onions, 2 carrots, 1 turnip, nearly a head of celery, 1 blade of mace, 6 cloves, a hunch of savoury herb with endive, seasoning of salt and pepper to taste, 3 lumps of sugar, 5 quarts of boiling soft water. It can be flavoured with ketchup, Leamington sauce (see SAUCES), Harvey’s sauce, and a little soy.

Mode.—Slightly brown the meat and ham in the butter, but do not let them burn. When this is done, pour to it the water, and as the scum rises, take it off; when no more appears, add all the other ingredients, and let the soup simmer slowly by the fire for 6 hours without stirring it any more from the bottom; take it off, and let it settle; skim off all the fat you can, and pass it through a tammy. When perfectly cold, you can remove all the fat, and leave the sediment untouched, which serves very nicely for thick gravies, hashes, &c.

Time.—7 hours. Average cost, 1s. per quart.

Seasonable all the year.

Sufficient for 14 persons.

ENDIVE.—This plant belongs to the acetarious tribe of vegetables, and is supposed to have originally come from China and Japan. It was known to the ancients; but was not introduced to England till about the middle of the 16th century. It is consumed in large quantities by the French, and in London,—in the neighbourhood of which it is grown in abundance;—it is greatly used as a winter salad, as well as in soups and stews.

LEAMINGTON SAUCE (an Excellent Sauce for Flavouring Gravies, Hashes,

Soups, &c.).

(Author’s Recipe.)

  1. INGREDIENTS.—Walnuts. To each quart of walnut-juice allow 3 quarts of vinegar, 1 pint of Indian soy, 1 oz. of cayenne, 2 oz. of shalots, 3/4 oz. of garlic, 1/2 pint of port wine.

Mode.—Be very particular in choosing the walnuts as soon as they appear in the market; for they are more easily bruised before they become hard and shelled. Pound them in a mortar to a pulp, strew some salt over them, and let them remain thus for two or three days, occasionally stirring and moving them about. Press out the juice, and to each quart of walnut-liquor allow the above proportion of vinegar, soy, cayenne, shalots, garlic, and port wine. Pound each ingredient separately in a mortar, then mix them well together, and store away for use in small bottles. The corks should be well sealed.

Seasonable.—This sauce should be made as soon as walnuts are obtainable, from the beginning to the middle of July.

Original Recipe from Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cooker‘ (Philadelphia, 1851)

HARVEY’S SAUCE

Dissolve six anchovies in a pint of strong vinegar, and then add to them three table-spoonfuls of India soy, and three table-spoonfuls of mushroom catchup, two heads of garlic bruised small, and a quarter of an ounce of cayenne. Add sufficient cochineal powder to colour the mixture red. Let all these ingredients infuse in the vinegar for a fortnight, shaking it every day, and then strain and bottle it for use. Let the bottles be small, and cover the corks with leather.

Oct 172015
 

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The London Beer Flood occurred on this date in 1814 in the parish of St. Giles in London at the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road. A vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenage employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble. Within minutes neighboring George Street and New Street were swamped with beer, killing a mother and daughter who were taking tea, and surging through a room of people gathered for a wake. The brewery was among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. At least eight people were known to have drowned in the flood or died from injuries.

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The brewery was eventually taken to court over the accident, but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God by the courts, leaving no one responsible. The company found it difficult to cope with the financial implications of the disaster, with a significant loss of sales made worse because they had already paid duty on the beer. They made a successful application to Parliament reclaiming the duty which allowed them to continue trading.

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The flood was the result of the general method of brewing porter. Porter is a dark style of beer developed in London in the 18th century from well-hopped beers made from brown malt. The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name “stout” as used for a dark beer is believed to have come about because strong porters were marketed under such names as “Extra Porter”, “Double Porter”, and “Stout Porter”. The term “Stout Porter” would later be shortened to just “Stout”. For example, Guinness Extra Stout was originally called Extra Superior Porter and was only given the name Extra Stout in 1840.

Porter was originally a more-aged development of the brown beers already being made in London. Before 1700, London brewers sent out their beer very young and any aging was either performed by the publican or a dealer. Porter was the first beer to be aged at the brewery and dispatched in a condition fit to be drunk immediately. It was the first beer that could be made on any large scale. Early London porters were strong beers by modern standards. Early trials with the hydrometer in the 1770s recorded porter as having an OG (original gravity) of 1.071 and 6.6% ABV. Increased taxation during the Napoleonic Wars pushed its gravity down to around 1.055, where it remained for the rest of the 19th century. The popularity of the style prompted brewers to produce porters in a wide variety of strengths. These started with Single Stout Porter at around 1.066, Double Stout Porter (such as Guinness) at 1.072, Triple Stout Porter at 1.078 and Imperial Stout Porter at 1.095 and more. During the 19th century the porter suffix was gradually dropped.

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The large London porter breweries pioneered many technological advances, such as the use of the thermometer (about 1760) and the hydrometer (1770). The use of the latter transformed the nature of porter. The first porters were brewed from 100% brown malt. Now brewers were able to accurately measure the yield of the malt they used, and noticed that brown malt, though cheaper than pale malt, only produced about two thirds as much fermentable material. When the malt tax was increased to help pay for the Napoleonic War, brewers had an incentive to use less malt. Their solution was to use a proportion of pale malt and add coloring to obtain the expected hue. When a law was passed in 1816 allowing only malt and hops to be used in the production of beer (a sort of British Reinheitsgebot), they were left in a quandary. Their problem was solved by Wheeler’s invention of the almost black patent malt in 1817. It was now possible to brew porter from 95% pale malt and 5% patent malt, though most London brewers continued to use some brown malt for flavor. Until about 1800, all London porter was matured in large vats, often holding several hundred barrels, for between six and eighteen months before being racked into smaller casks to be delivered to pubs.

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By the mid-20th century porter had fallen out of favor and was widely discontinued in favor of stout. But it started to make a comeback in the latter part of the century and has a certain vogue in England and the continent, as well as in the U.S. It is not as heavy and bitter as the more common stouts and is sometimes produced with fruit flavorings similar to some German and Belgian beers. Either plain or flavored, porter makes an excellent choice for braising beef. Here’s a fairly standard recipe for braising a brisket which I used all the time when I lived in beer country. Like porter, this dish is much better if “aged” in the refrigerator for a day or two.

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Porter Braised Brisket

Ingredients

1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dry English mustard
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
6 lb flat-cut brisket, trimmed but with some fat still attached
2 tbsp rendered bacon fat
beef broth
12-oz bottle porter
2 tsp dark brown sugar
6 cups thinly sliced onions
8 whole garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 lb medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise
2 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tbsp malt vinegar

Instructions

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Mix salt, pepper, mustard, sage and thyme in small bowl. Rub herb mixture all over brisket. Heat the bacon fat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and brown on both sides. Transfer the brisket to a platter. Add 2 cups of beef broth to the pot and bring to a vigorous boil, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Stir in the porter and brown sugar, and bring to boil. Return brisket to pot, fat side down. Layer the onions on top of the brisket

Cover the pot, place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove the pot from oven and turn the brisket over so that the onions and garlic are now on the bottom in the liquid. Return the pot to the oven and braise uncovered 30 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth. Cover and bake for another 1 hour 30 minutes.

Transfer the brisket to a platter. Add 1 more cup of broth to the pot, then add the mushrooms and carrots. Return the brisket to the pot. Cover and return to the oven and braise until the meat and carrots are tender, adding more broth if needed to cover vegetables (about 45 minutes). Cool, then refrigerate covered for 1 to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spoon off any fat from the surface of the brisket pan juices and discard. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and thinly slice across the grain. Place the brisket slices in a large roasting pan. Bring the pan juices with vegetables to a simmer in a pot and add the Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinegar if desired. Pour the pan juices and vegetables over the brisket in the roasting pan. Cover the roasting pan tightly with heavy-duty foil and cook in the oven until brisket slices and vegetables are heated through (about 1 hour)

Serve meat, vegetables and sauce together on a heated platter with crusty and a green salad.

Aug 022013
 

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On this date in 1870 the Tower Subway under the Thames in London opened for service.  Technically it was the first tunneled underground railway in the world.  The Metropolitan Underground Railway in London (opened in 1863), predates the Tower Subway, but it was not built by tunneling, but by the cut-and-cover method.  Cut-and-cover involves excavating a deep trench, laying tracks, and then roofing the trench over.  True tunneling, represented by Tower Subway, involves excavating entirely underground.  There was an entrance on Tower Hill and another on Vine Street on the South Bank .

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Passengers were carried down to the subway in a steam powered lift. Once down, they would get into a narrow gauge railway carriage which was attached to a cable, and get winched through the tunnel to the other side. Before the subway was built commuters had to take ferries to cross the river.

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In 1864 Peter William Barlow patented a method of tunneling using a circular wrought iron or steel shield and filling the gap between the tunnel lining with lime or cement to prevent settling of the ground above. He published a pamphlet in 1867 suggesting a network of tunnels with cars carrying up to 12 people. In 1868 authority was obtained for a tunnel under the Thames between Great Tower Hill and Pickle Herring Stairs near Vine Street (now Vine Lane). Work began in February 1869 with the boring of entrance shafts, 60 feet (18 m) deep on the north bank and 50 feet (15 m) deep on the south bank. The horizontal  tunneling itself started in April and, using the circular shield, a tunnel 1,340 feet (410 m) long was dug with a diameter of 6 feet 7 3?4 inches (2.026 m), a maximum of 66 feet (20 m) below the high water level. This was bored through a stable layer of the London clay that lay 22 feet (6.7 m) below the river bed, below the soft alluvial deposits that had plagued earlier attempts at tunneling under the river.

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The subway was not a financial success because it was slow, cramped, and expensive, with long waits to make the crossing.  A regular one way ticket was 1 d. and a “first class” ticket was 2 d (an hour’s wage for a skilled worker). The higher fare did not provide better seating, only that the passenger could jump to the head of the line.  By December the subway company declared bankruptcy, and the railway was abandoned.  The tunnel was converted to pedestrian use with spiral stairways replacing the lifts.  The fare to cross was reduced to ½ d.

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The Italian writer Edmondo De Amicis (1846–1908) gives a description of a passage through the subway in his Jottings about London:

“As I was thinking of these things I disappeared from the world indeed, going down a lighted spiral staircase which buries itself in the earth on the right bank of the Thames, opposite the Tower. I went down and down between two dingy walls until I found myself at the round opening of the gigantic iron tube, which seems to undulate like a great intestine in the enormous belly of the river. The inside of this tube presents the appearance of a subterranean corridor, of which the end is invisible. It is lighted by a row of lights as far as you can see, which shed a veiled light, like sepulchral lamps; the atmosphere is foggy; you go along considerable stretches without meeting a soul; the walls sweat like those of an aqueduct; the floor moves under your feet like the deck of a vessel; the steps and voices of the people coming the other way give forth a cavernous sound, and are heard before you see the people, and they at a distance seem like great shadows; there is, in short, a sort of something mysterious, which without alarming causes in your heart a vague sense of disquiet. When then you have reached the middle and no longer see the end in either direction, and feel the silence of a catacomb, and know not how much farther you must go, and reflect that in the water beneath, in the obscure depths of the river, is where suicides meet death, and that over your head vessels are passing, and that if a crack should open in the wall you would not even have the time to recommend your soul to God, in that moment how lovely seems the sun! I believe I had come a good part of a mile when I reached the opposite opening on the left bank of the Thames; I went up a staircase, the mate of the other, and came out in front of the Tower of London.”

The subway became a popular way to cross the river, averaging 20,000 people a week (a million a year). Its main users were described as “the working classes who were formerly entirely dependent on the ferries.” However, in 1894 the toll-free Tower Bridge opened a few hundred yards downriver, causing a drop in the subway’s income. In 1897, Parliament passed an Act authorizing the sale of the tunnel to the London Hydraulic Power Company (LHPC) for £3,000, and the subway closed to passenger traffic in 1898. It was subsequently used to carry hydraulic power mains and water mains. To this day water mains run through the tunnel. The hydraulic tubes are gone, replaced with modern telecommunications cables.

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A small round entrance building survives at Tower Hill near the Tower of London’s ticket office, a short distance to the west of the main entrance to the Tower. This is not the original entrance, but was built in the 1920s by the London Hydraulic Power Company, with a ring of lettering giving the original date of construction and naming the LHPC. The entrance on the south bank of the Thames was demolished in the 1990s, and a new one has been built in its place. It is located just behind the Unicorn Theatre on Tooley Street, but there is no plaque to mark the site.

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To celebrate the opening of this tunnel I give you the amazing Tunnel of Fudge Cake.  It is a circular bundt cake that develops a tunnel of fudge through the middle as it bakes.  The original recipe, which you can read in the image below (click to enlarge) was a runner-up in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off. It was an instant favorite because of the magical fudge tunnel. However, this original recipe calls for a product that is no longer in production: Pillsbury’s Double Dutch Fudge Buttercream Frosting Mix. There was much weeping and wailing in home kitchens with cooks searching for a substitute, much to the bafflement of Pillsbury executives who explained that the frosting mix was nothing more than a blend of cocoa powder and powdered sugar (which could be substituted and still produce the desired results). To appease the hordes they revamped the recipe and posted it on their website. They even added a chocolate glaze. Apparently 2 packages of Jiffy Chocolate Frosting Mix can also be used as a substitute for the frosting mix.  Take your pick.

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Here is Pillsbury’s new recipe copied from their website.  The only other things to note are that the cake must not be overcooked otherwise the fudge will be absorbed into the cake, and that the tunnel will not form without the nuts.  I have not made this, but both recipes have been thoroughly tested. As per the notes, use an oven thermometer to ensure accurate cooking temperatures.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Ingredients

Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups margarine or butter, softened
6 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 ¼ cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chopped walnuts*

Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 to 6 teaspoons milk

Step 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar; blend well. By hand, stir in flour and remaining cake ingredients until well blended. Spoon batter into greased and floured pan; spread evenly.

Step 2. Bake at 350°F. for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is set and edges are beginning to pull away from sides of pan.** Cool upright in pan on wire rack 1 1/2 hours. Invert onto serving plate; cool at least 2 hours.

Step 3. In small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Spoon over top of cake, allowing some to run down sides. Store tightly covered.

Tips:

* Nuts are essential for the success of this recipe.

** Since this cake has a soft filling, an ordinary doneness test cannot be used. Accurate oven temperature and baking times are essential.