Archive for Europe

Austria: Vienna: Getting Close to Vienna



Come to The Political Carnival and see the world every night! (or almost)

This video about Vienna is from a series of travel videos made by

From YouTube

Published on Jun 16, 2013
Get close to Vienna, Austria! From riding one of the world's oldest Ferris wheels to planning revolutions in cafés, this travelogue shows you the spirit of Vienna and how to get the most out of your trip.

This travel series brings you closer to the cities you thought you knew. You'll discover the local vibe while meeting and making friends with locals, going on an adventure and getting the most out of your trip and destination.


Mary Cassatt, Part Deux of the artistes' Fascinating Art History

Cassatt, The Pensive Reader

Cassatt, The Pensive Reader

Continued from Part One.

Cassatt became bosom bows with another talented young American, Elizabeth Jane Gardner, who was actually the first woman to ever exhibit at the Paris Salon. They often studied and painted together in the Louvre, which served as the sort of social and artistic venue denied them by the male-dominated, avant garde Paris cafés.

Soon after she got the nod from the Salon, it became apparent that yet another schism was taking place in the larger Paris art community. Visionaries Edouard Manet and Realist movement patron Gustave Courbet had started to pull away from traditional values, always a controversial path. This particular period was marked by works that evinced a new level of social commentary, the American Civil War was by no means the only conflict of note. Courbet was daring.

Cassatt, Sketch for 'Francoise in a Round-Backed Chair, Reading

Cassatt, Sketch for 'Francoise in a Round-Backed Chair, Reading

One of his works would not be exhibited until over one hundred years after their origin, the female genitalia-centric Origin of the World. By 1870 the signs of the upcoming Paris Commune were unmistakable, and Cassatt returned to the States for a time. She was tremendously creative, but by no means a radical. Her work remained quite conservative despite the influence of her less traditional teachers and peers. Alas, pauvre Courbet would live the last years of his life in exile in Switzerland.


Cassatt, Trying On Dress

Cassatt was not pleased to be back in Pennsylvania in the summer of 1870. One cannot spend their days traversing the cobblestones of Montparnasse and the Rue de Rivoli one month, and happily downgrade to Altoona the next.

Cassatt's work, even though placed in well-known New York galleries, was not leaping off the walls and into the homes of those who dictated the art preferences and market of the day.

Her father rather pettily showed his disapproval by refusing to bankroll her art supplies, and grudgingly providing room and board alone.

His daughter showed none of the expected interest in finding a suitable young man to marry, nor in abandoning her 'hobby' and settling down. She counted the days and weeks until she could return to her chosen home of Europe. An opportunity arose to live in Chicago and work, and she availed herself of it without hesitation. Tragically, the Great Fire of 1871 robbed her (and the world) of many of her early works.

Girl With a Banjo, by Cassatt

Girl With a Banjo, by Cassatt

It was by no means the greatest time to be an American living in the United States. Carpet Baggers headed South, slaves headed North, and politics was everywhere. Cassatt despaired of being crative in that atmosphere, and became so discouraged she threatened to quit painting. She was rescued however, by a commission of the Bishop of Pittsburgh. He asked her to set herself up in Parma and copy key Correggio works for the Church (a common practice, the 'reproduction' of Masters' paintings by young, cheap talent).

Cassatt sailed off with delight, in the last months of 1871. She spent eight extremely happy and productive months there, then moved on to Spain and studied at the Prado. Velázquez, Murillo, Titian, and Rubens were all available for her eager eyes and brushes. She added Spanish to her growing list of fluent languages, merrily visited Paris, Belgium and Rome, and became more and more fleshed out as an artist.


Mary Cassatt The Conversation 1896

Spanish Dancer Wearing a Lace Mantilla was her first Spanish-influenced work, but by the time she decided to move permanently back to Paris her closest friend and most frequent model arrived to join her ~ her beloved sister, Lydia Cassatt.

In 1874, the two sisters established a studio and an apartment in Paris, and entered the artistic life of ex-pats with great fervor. Both young women were frank to the point of rudeness, and never held back an opinion. For Mary, this offered her the rare freedom of not being overly concerned with critics or what her artistic peers thought of her.

An enviable level of independence, that. Later in life it was that brutal honesty that spurred her to describe Monet's Water Lilies as 'those glorified wallpapers', and to deem Picasso 'dreadful'. It's a shame that she and Julia Childe were not of an age, I feel that they would have been fast friends.

To be continued ...


Switzerland from Above - Top Sights (HD)


Switzerland from Above

One of my favorite countries in the world:

From YouTube

Relax and enjoy the landscapes and history of Switzerland, in beautiful HD video. Great if you plan to visit, or if you want to learn more about Switzerland.

This journey is Romont, the Chartreuse de la Valsainte (ancient monastery), Lake Geneva, Montreaux (of Jazz Festival fame), Verbier (famous ski resort), Valais (mountains), brief flight over Italy, then Locarno and Ascona on the shores of Lake Maggiore.


Live: President Obama on the Situation in Ukraine


Obama Ukraine

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Situation in Ukraine


Overnight: Rick Steves: San Marino


San Marino

I love Italy and have been there often but I have never stopped by to see the Republic of San Marino. Rick Steves has been there and this is his short film about the mini-country.

Here's the wiki if you'd like to know more: San Marino.


Afternoon-Evening Links



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Overnight: The Trans-Siberian Railway


Overnight Trans Siberian Railway

I've read about the Trans-Siberian Railway a number of times, most notably in The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. Before this documentary, I had never seen aerial footage of the route nor understood what a monumental undertaking it was.

From the 'About' information on YouTube:

For those who travel for the pleasure of the journey, those who believe that getting there is as much fun as being there, Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway has long been an almost mythic experience. It is the longest continuous rail line on earth, each run clattering along in an epic journey of almost six thousand miles (or about ten thousand kilometers) over one third of the globe. For most of its history, the Trans-Siberian journey has been an experience of almost continuous movement, seven days or more of unabated train travel through the vast expanse of Russia. A great part of the pleasure of such a trip is simply sitting back and watching the land go by. However, most travelers on the Trans-Siberian find that interaction with other passengers, both Russians and tourists, is what makes the trip an unforgettable experience. Today, with far fewer travel restrictions, it is possible to use the rail journey as the core of a more varied tour. Travelers can enjoy stopovers in many of the Russian cities and towns along the route, from the historic Volga port of Yaroslavl to Irkutsk and the scenic Lake Baikal region.