Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coffee Tales - 19th-century France

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1917 Henri Matisse (French artist, 1869–1954) Laurette's Head with a Coffee Cup

During the 19th century, with coffee consumption booming in the new world, better methods of coffee brewing techniques bubbled up in Europe. In 1822, a Frenchman named Louis Bernard Rabaut invented a machine which, by using steam, forced the hot water through the coffee grounds instead of the typical "drip" method. This was the birth of the first espresso machine.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Coffee Tales - Another Arabic Legend

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Charles Bargue (French artist, c. 1827–1883) An Eastern Coffeehouse

Another tale attributes the discovery of coffee to Sheik Abou'l Hasan Schadheli's disciple, Omar. According to the ancient chronicle (preserved in the Abd-Al-Kadir manuscript), Omar, who was known for curing the sick through prayer, was once exiled from Mocha to a desert cave near Ousab. Starving in that remote place, Omar chewed berries from nearby shrubery, but found them to be bitter. He tried roasting the beans to improve the flavor, but they became hard. He then tried boiling them to soften the bean, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was revitalized & energized for days. As stories of this "miracle drug" reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return & celebated for his discovery.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Coffee Tales - Ronald Reagan

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1930’s Silver Coffee Pot with Ivory Handle Sheffield 1937. Maker James Dixon and Co.

I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon. President Ronald Reagan (1911-1980)

Ronald Reagan

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Coffee Tales - An old Arab legend on the origin of coffee

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Amadeo Preziosi (1816-1882)-Inside a Turkish Coffee House, 1858

There are several legendary accounts of the origin of the drink itself in Arab countries. One account involves the Yemenite Sufi mystic Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili. When traveling in Ethiopia, the legend goes, he observed birds of unusual vitality, and, upon trying the berries that the birds had been eating, experienced the same vitality. He brought the seeds back home with him.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Coffee Tales - The Ethiopian legend of Kaldi, or is it true?

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John Frederick Lewis (English artist, 1804-1876) The Coffee Bearer 1857

The story of Kaldi, a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd & ancestor of today's Oromo tribe, who reportedly discovered coffee, did not appear in writing until 1671 AD & is probably a myth. The story is fun, nonetheless.

The story goes that Kaldi noticed his goats were particularly happy & energetic, as they danced from one coffee shrub to another, incessantly nibbling on the berries containing the beans. Kaldi decided to eat a few himself & soon he was also addicted to the berries.

He shared his discovery with a few nearby Muslim holy men who soon began plucking berries from the shrubs to share with brothers. Now it is said that some of the holy men disapproved of their use & threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed attracting more holy men. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, & dissolved in hot water, yielding the world's first cup of coffee.

And the story continues that miraculous tales of coffee & the magic beans themselves spread from Africa across the Red Sea to Arabia. It is true that in the Ethiopian highlands, where the legend of Kaldi, the goatherd, originated, coffee trees grow today, as they have for centuries.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Coffee Tales - Early Arabian energy bars

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Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (Armenian: Հովհաննես Այվազովսկի 1817-1900) Coffee house by the Ortakoy Mosque in Constantinople

There is speculation that a segment of Homer's Iliad speaks about a potion made from coffee beans. Later sources however, place the early drink in Arabian Peninsula. At first, somewhere between 575-850 C.E., it is said that the beans were crushed & mixed with fat, making a kind or "energy bars" used as an revigorant by warriors.

To turn coffee into a drink, coffee beans were boiled & fermented to obtain a kind of wine used as a medicine or as a stimulant. Later, when coffee users became aware of its content of caffeine, they roasted the beans & ground them very finely, then boiled the grounds to make coffee.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Coffee Tales - Morning Coffee in 1762 Austria

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Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria (1742-1822) Distribution of gifts on the Feast of St Nicholas, gouache, 1762

Here coffee is on the table as the children receive their presents from Santa.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

George Washington's 1st State of the Union Address

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1783 George Washington by William Dunlap

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address to the assembled Congress in New York City.

Washington began by congratulating the gathered representatives on the present favourable prospects of our public affairs, most notable of which was North Carolina's recent decision to join the federal republic. North Carolina had rejected the Constitution in July 1788, because it lacked a bill of rights. Under the terms of the Constitution, the new government acceded to power after only 11 of the 13 states accepted the document. By the time North Carolina ratified in November 1789, the first Congress had met, written the Bill of Rights and dispatched them for review by the states. When Washington spoke in January, it seemed likely the people of the United States would stand behind Washington's government and enjoy the concord, peace, and plenty he saw as symbols of the nation's good fortune.

Washington's address gave a brief, but excellent, outline of his administration's policies as designed by Alexander Hamilton. The former commander in chief of the Continental Army argued in favor of securing the common defence [sic], as he believed preparedness for war to be one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. Washington's guarded language allowed him to hint at his support for the controversial idea of creating a standing army without making an overt request.

Charles Wilson Peale George Washinton At Princeton 1779

Washington's First State of the Union Address

Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires the President of the United States to ...

"...from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;..."

While the Constitution specifies no time, date, place, or frequency for the Address, President's have typically delivered the State of the Union in late January, soon after Congress has re-convened. This timing allows the President to spell out the Administration's agenda for the coming year and to "... recommend to their consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;..." before Congress has taken up any major legislation.

Adolph Ulrich Wertmuller (Swedish-born later American artist, 1751–1811) George Washington 1796

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington complied with Article II, Section 3. (Spellings appear as in the original draft.)

State of the Union
George Washington
January 8, 1790
Federal Hall, New York City


Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of north Carolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, the general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity.

In resuming your consultations for the general good you can not but derive encouragement from the reflection that the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory to your constituents as the novelty and difficulty of the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize their expectations and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach will in the course of the present important session call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and wisdom.

Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is on e of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.

The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.

There was reason to hope that the pacific measures adopted with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians would have relieved the inhabitants of our southern and western frontiers from their depredations, but you will perceive from the information contained in the papers which I shall direct to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the Commonwealth of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union, and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.

The interests of the United States require that our intercourse with other nations should be facilitated by such provisions as will enable me to fulfill my duty in that respect in the manner which circumstances may render most conducive to the public good, and to this end that the compensation to be made to the persons who may be employed should, according to the nature of their appointments, be defined by law, and a competent fund designated for defraying the expenses incident to the conduct of foreign affairs.

Various considerations also render it expedient that the terms on which foreigners may be admitted to the rights of citizens should be speedily ascertained by a uniform rule of naturalization.

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.

The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures by all proper means will not, I trust, need recommendation; but I can not forbear intimating to you the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home, and of facilitating the intercourse between the distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads.

Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with me in opinion that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential.

To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways - by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness - cherishing the first, avoiding the last - and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.

Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I saw with peculiar pleasure at the close of the last session the resolution entered into by you expressive of your opinion that an adequate provision for the support of the public credit is a matter of high importance to the national honor and prosperity. In this sentiment I entirely concur; and to a perfect confidence in your best endeavors to devise such a provision as will be truly with the end I add an equal reliance on the cheerful cooperation of the other branch of the legislature.

It would be superfluous to specify inducements to a measure in which the character and interests of the United States are so obviously so deeply concerned, and which has received so explicit a sanction from your declaration.

1790s Christian Gullager 1759-1826 George Washington.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I have directed the proper officers to lay before you, respectively, such papers and estimates as regard the affairs particularly recommended to your consideration, and necessary to convey to you that information of the state of the Union which it is my duty to afford.

The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.

1793 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1765-1822) George Washington
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Coffee Tales - The Prophet

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North African Exotic Ceramic and Metal Coffee Pot

A beverage made from coffee beans is identified after the year 1000 C.E. But, again, it is only an estimate since there is speculation, without much evidence, that even Muhammad, the prophet, who lived between 570 and 632 C.E., used the drink and "when he drunk this magic potion, he felt strong enough to unhorse forty men and to posses forty women." (The World of Caffeine, Bennett Alan Weinberg, Bonnie K. Bealer, Routlege, New York, 2001, p.11)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Coffee Tales - 1600s English Coffee Houses become "penny universities"

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George I Side Handled Silver Coffee Pot Made in London in 1714 by Jonathan Newton

In 1652, the first English coffee house opened, where they became popular discussion centers for the learned and not so learned, that they were dubbed "penny universities" (a penny being the price then for a cup of coffee).

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coffee Tales - A 1652 London ad touting the healthy virtues of coffee



Morning Coffee (1739) by François Boucher (1703-1770) at The Louvre

One of the first English advertisements for the benefits of coffee appeared as a broadside in England in 1652.

The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink

First publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua Rosée.

The Grain or Berry called Coffee, groweth upon little Trees, only in the Deserts of Arabia.

It is brought from thence, and drunk generally throughout all the Grand Seigniors Dominions.

It is a simple innocent thing, composed into a Drink, by being dryed in an Oven, and ground to Powder, and boiled up with Spring water, and about half a pint of it to be drunk, fasting an hour before, and not Eating an hour after, and to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured; the which will never fetch the skin off the mouth, or raise any Blisters, by reason of that Heat.

The Turks drink at meals and other times, is usually Water, and their Dyet consists much of Fruit, the Crudities whereof are very much corrected by this Drink.

The quality of this Drink is cold and Dry; and though it be a Dryer, yet It neither heats, nor inflames more then hot Posset.

It so closeth the Orifice of the Stomack, and fortifies the heat within, that it's very good to help digestion, and therefore of great use to be taken about 3 or 4 a Clock afternoon, as well as in the morning.

It much quickens the Spirits, and makes the Heart Lightsome. It is good against sore Eys, and the better if you hold your Head over it, and take in the Steem that way.

It suppresseth Fumes exceedingly, and therefore good against the Head-ach, and will very much stop any Defluxion of Rheums, that distil from the Head upon the Stomack, and so prevent and help Consumptions; and the Cough of the Lungs.

It is excellent to prevent and cure the Dropsy, Gout, and Scurvy.

It is known by experience to be better than any other Drying Drink for People in years, or Children that have any running humors upon them, as the Kings Evil,&c.

It is very good to prevent Mis-carryings in Child-bearing Women.

It is a most excellent Remedy against the Spleen, Hypocondriack Winds, or the like.

It will prevent Drowsiness, and make one fit for business, if one have occasion to Watch; and therefore you are not to Drink of it after Supper, unless you intend to be watchful, for it will hinder sleep for 3 or 4 hours.

It is observed that in Turkey, where this is generally drunk, that they are not trobled with the Stone, Gout, Dropsie, or Scurvey, and that their Skins are exceedingly cleer and white.

It is neither Laxative nor Restringent.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Coffee Tales - Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790

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A classic English engine-turned redware coffee pot, circa 1770

"Among the numerous luxuries of the table...coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions...is never followed by sadness, languor or debility." American printer & politician Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) portrait by David Martin (1737-1797) c 1766-67

In 1766, Franklin was in London, lobbying & attempting to testify before the House of Commons for the repeal of the Stamp Act. Even though he was well-known in the English Parliament, he was not successful in convincing them to change their minds. At that time, Franklin's reputation rested on his scientific achievements. His Experiments and Observations on Electricity (1751) had been reprinted, and he had received numerous honorary degrees & awards for that work. While in London, Franklin's portrait was commissioned by his friend, Edinburgh wine merchant Robert Alexander. Alexander paid fellow Scot David Martin to paint the portrait. Franklin liked his wine, & evidently he also liked the portrait, which was exhibited to London audiences in the spring of 1767, for he commissioned this slightly modified replica & shipped it back home to Philadelphia. Here the artist portrays Franklin in a blue suit with elaborate gold braid & buttons, a far cry from the simple frontier dress he affected at the French court in later years. He also wears a popular wig of the era called "physical," usually worn by physicians & other men of learning. Martin portrayed Franklin as a studious, prosperous man of science, seated amongst books & papers. The impressive beribboned document held by Franklin in the portrait is not a treaty or an Act of Parliament, but one of wine merchant Alexander's property deeds! The other books & pamphlets & the bust of Isaac Newton invoke Enlightenment ideals. Here Franklin supports his head with his hand, a pose traditionally associated with deep thought; but in this case only the thumb actually supports his head, giving far more alertness to the pose than that of an aging 67-year-old. Some refer to this as the "thumb portrait."

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Monday, January 16, 2012

A surprising portrait from John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

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John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Portrait of Dorothy Barnard

More paintings by John Singer Sargent here.
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Emily Dickinson 1830-1886 & John Singer Sargent - On Poets


John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Alma Strettell (Mrs Peter Harrison) 1904.  Alma Strettell was an accomplished & widely published translator of poetry.


Besides the Autumn poets sing (131)
by Emily Dickinson


Besides the Autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze -

A few incisive mornings -
A few Ascetic eves -
Gone - Mr Bryant's "Golden Rod" -
And Mr Thomson's "sheaves."

Still, is the bustle in the brook -
Sealed are the spicy valves -
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many Elves -

Perhaps a squirrel may remain -
My sentiments to share -
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind -
Thy windy will to bear!


Emily Dickinson 1830-1886


Children by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

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Children in 21st-century settings are not as formal as those posed & painted over a century ago by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925); but beyond the clothing & settings, the difference is negligible no matter the surroundings, the decade, or the century. Each one just a fragile, precious life...

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Marian Madge Roller

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Frances Winifred Hill

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Portrait of a Child

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Dorothy Vickers

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Charlotte Cram

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Dorothy

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Jeanne Kieffer

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Teresa Gosse

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Cara Burch

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Helen Sears

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Village Children

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Blouse

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Ruth Sears Bacon

More paintings by John Singer Sargent here.
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Romance by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

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Okay, okay, I know that it is not yet spring & I know that I am too old for all of this foolishness, but I believe that romance is possible in the depths of winter. And I also realize that these dresses are surely a little skimpy for today's temperatures, but I am going to post these gentlewomen today anyway. These glorious Sargent ladies, those with imperiously haughty titles & those without, appeal to me today, so you will just have to bear with me.

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Cora, Countess of Strafford (Cora Smith)

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Maud Coats

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Miss Eden

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Abbott Lawrence Rotch

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Adolph Hirsh

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Fiske Warren and Her Daughter Rachel

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Huth Jackson (Clar Annabel Caroline Grant Duff)

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Joseph E. Widener

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs William George Raphael (Margherita Goldsmid)

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Sylvia Harrison

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) The Countess of Essex

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) The Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Joshua Montgomery Sears

More paintings by John Singer Sargent here.
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Beautiful Blues & Greens of John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

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John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Emily Sargent

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Henrietta Reubell

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Lady Meysey Thompson

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Madame Gautreau

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs Arthur Knowles and her Two Sons

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) Mrs John William Crombie (Minna Watson)

John Singer Sargent (American expatriate artist, 1856-1925) The Green Dress

More paintings by John Singer Sargent here.
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