Crate of Curios - Siblings special
Van Gogh's three talented sisters, the ancient Arabic concept of milk brotherhood, the most famous sibling rivalry in Golden Age Hollywood and more.
For the first time, in the beginning of May I actually planned a whole months of Crates ahead and decided that as I had rather enjoyed composing the Isolation special edition, I’ll do another thematic Crate this month… and this time the theme is going to be siblings in the widest sense of the word. So, after a greyish somewhat rainy afternoon and evening, let’s proceed to opening this special Crate without further ado.
Surely you have heard more than enough about Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo who used to be the only one who bought his paintings. However, Vincent and Theo also had three rather remarkable sisters – Willemien, Elisabeth and Anna.
2. As the theme embraces the concept of ‘sibling’ in the widest possible sense, what else is an association, but a brother-or sisterhood based on shared principles rather than shared bloodline? The 14 rebellious students who left the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg in 1863, ended up forming The Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions, more widely known as The Peredvizhniki or The Wanderers in 1870. During their over 50 years of existence, they arranged 48 mobile exhibitions and although by far the most of the ‘common people’ their art was aimed at could not afford to attend the exhibitions, the widespread reproduction of the Peredvizhniki paintings as postcards and illustrations in magazines made them well-known throughout Russia. The art of the Wanderers was no renewal of style, but a renewal of subject matter that successfully managed to turn landscape painting into a tool of Russian nation-building.
3. The question whether birth order affects one’s personality has been around for a long time. The answer is… it’s complicated.
4. Sibling rivalry has been a familiar concept throughout history, meriting a thorough examination by Sigmund Freud who was deeply fascinated by it and epitomized by the relationship between Hollywood actresses and sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.
5. Occasionally, however, instead of rivals, siblings can end up as friends and co-inventors like the Wright Brothers. Entrepreneurs, rather than scientists they actually worked together on a range of different projects before embarking on aviation.
6. A surefire way of building lasting bonds is team sports – exemplified by Sisterhood FC, the first women’s Muslim football club in the UK.
7. The 1960’s California cult The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, however, wished to establish the bonds between fellow humans through the influence of magic mushrooms and LSD.
8. Is it possible to produce genius siblings? In 1965, Hungarian psychologist Laszlo Polgar set forth to find out. He courted his to-be-wife Klara with descriptions of the pedagogical experiments he had planned for their progeny and somehow it worked. They got married and and their first daughter Susan was born in 1969. They went on to have two more girls – Sofia and Judit. All of the three sisters went on to be professional chess players and Judit – the world champion.
10. While talking about associations, we should definitely not forget the remarkable salon of Fanny Boscawen in 18th century England that became known as The Bluestocking Society – a gathering of a number of the most cultured and educated ladies (and a few gentlemen) of the day. The unusual name supposedly originated from the blue worsted stockings a popular participant, botanist and writer Benjamin Stillingfleet used to wear. By the mid-19th century though, Victorian attitudes towards women’s position had become widespread and the term ‘bluestocking’ gained a derogatory air.
11. And to finish off on a light note – let’s enjoy the hungover cattiness of Jane Austen’s letter to her sister Cassandra.
And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!
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