Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

imageThe epic magic and fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell, by Suasanna Clark Has been adapted for Television By the BBC, so I thought I would read the original novel. It is set In nineteenth-century England amidst the Nepoleonic Wars. It starts after a reclusive practicing Magician named Mr Gilbert Norrell, is approached by The Learned Society of York Magicians, made up of “theoretical magicians” who believe that magic died out several hundred years earlier, who ask him to perform a feat of Magic. So Norrell proves his skill as a practicing magician by bringing the statues in York Cathedral to life.John Childermass, Mr Norrell’s long-time servant, convinces a member of the group, John Segundus, to write about the event for the London newspapers making Mr Norrell a celebrity overnight. Then he brings the deceased bride of Cabinet Minister Sir Walter Pole, Emma Winterdown, back from the dead, by summoning a faerie, however he pays a heavy price and later this has terrible consequences.

After news spreads of Emma’s resurrection and happy marriage to Sir Walter, magic becomes respectable and Mr Norrell performs various feats to aid the government in their ongoing war against Napoleon. Then While living in London, Mr Norrell encounters A street-magician, named Vinculus who relates a prophecy about a nameless slave and two magicians in England, but Norrell ignores it.

Meanwhile another Magician from Shropshire named Jonathan Strange turns up, he also encounters Vinculus who tells him the same prophecy prompting Strange to become a Magician and he becomes Mr Norrell’s Apprentice. They join forces in the war against France. However despite Norrell’s warnings Strange is drawn to the darker and more dangerous forms of Magic and learns about John Uskglass, the legendary Raven King a medieval lord-magician of the North of England. So he pursues his desire to summon a faerie servant to the edge of madness. Meanwhile, a mysterious gentleman with thistle-down hair takes a liking to Stephen Black, Sir Walter’s capable black butler, and promises to make him a king. Meanwhile Emma (now Lady Pole) becomes mysteriously unwell, but the cause of her condition confounds every Doctor and Mr Norrell states that her problems cannot be solved by magic either. Unbeknownst to anyone Lady Pole and Stephen Black have been bewitched by the mysterious gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair, who turns out to be a Faerie and must spend each night Dancing at Costumed Balls held at the Faerie Kingdom of Lost Hope as part of the bargain they made.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell later disagree about the importance that John Uskglass (the legendary Raven King) has in English magic. Meanwhile Lady Pole and Strange’s wife, Arabella, soon become friends and Arabella also meets the gentleman with thistle-down hair at the Poles’ who deviously plots to enchant her too. Later the Government Send Strange to assist the Duke of Wellington on his Peninsular Campaign, and he creates roads, moves towns, and makes dead men speak. After he returns, he fails to cure George III’s madness, although Strange manages to save the king from becoming enchanted by the gentleman with thistle-down hair, who is determined to make Stephen a king. Strange then helps defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and then parts company with Norrell and returns home and works on his own book, The History and Practice of English Magic. Then Arabella goes missing, and dies shortly after being found sick and weak. Then an increasingly deranged Lady Pole attempts to shoot Mr Norrell as he is returning home but the bullet hits Childermass instead. She is taken for respite in the country where she is cared for by John Segundus, who suspects sinister magical forces are at work. Whilst travelling North Stephen meets Vinculus, who again recites his prophecy: “the nameless slave shall be a king in a strange country …”

Strange moves to Venice and meets Flora. Then after experimenting with dangerous magic to gain access to Faerie he discovers that Arabella is alive and being held captive by the Mysterious Man with Thistle-Down hair at the Faerie Kingdom of Lost Hope and is then cursed with Eternal Night, an eerie darkness that engulfs him and follows him wherever he goes. He decides to rescue Arabella however this takes a heavy toll on him. On Strange’s orders, Flora moves with her family to Padua and secludes herself inside her home, along with a mirror given to her by Strange. In England,John Uskglass returns sparking a magical renaissance. Strange and Childermass then endeavour to free Lady Pole from the faerie’s enchantment and asks Norrell to help him undo Arabella’s enchantment by summoning John Uskglass. Sadly this does not go to plan and Norrell and Strange find themselves trapped in “Eternal Night,” and unable to move more than a certain distance from each other. Meanwhile Arabella tries to escape her enchantment and Stephen confronts the mysterious gentleman with thistle-down hair…..

Dune

DuneI recently watched the Epic science fiction film Dune again. Based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name, It takes place In the year 10,191, the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV (José Ferrer). The most important substance in his galactic empire is the spice melange, which has many special properties, including extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable of its properties is its ability to fold space and allow safe interstellar travel to any part of the universe instantaneously.

Sensing a potential threat to spice production, the Spacing Guild secretly send a Navigator emissary to negotiate, and they secretly plot to destroy House Atreides, whose leader Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) is amassing a secret army and could pose a threat to the Emperor. They plan to give the Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice and have their longtime archenemies, the Harkonnens attack them. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose and is part of a centuries long breeding program by the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, to produce a Superbeing (Kwisatz Haderach)

Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan) tells his nephews Glossu Rabban (Paul Smith) and Feyd-Rautha (Sting) about his plan to eliminate the Atreides, The Atreides meanwhile leave their home planet Caladan bound for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms and the Fremen, a mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah would come to lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men, Duncan Idaho (Richard Jordan), that theFremen could prove to be powerful allies, so Leto gains the trust of Fremen.

The Harkonnens launch their attack.supported by the Emperor’s elite troops, the Sardaukar, and aided by the traitorous, Dr. Wellington Yueh (Dean Stockwell). The Atreides and Fremen are unable to withstand the attack, and Duke Leto is captured by the Harkonnen and dies trying to assassinate Baron Harkonnen. Luckily Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica (Francesca Annis) and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they manage to join a band of Fremen, led by Stilgar (Everett McGill). Paul is elected as Muad’Dib, the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting and teaches the Fremen to use sonic weapons called weirding modules and they begin targeting mining production of spice.

Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Emperor is warned by the Spacing Guild of the situation on Arrakis. The Guild fears that Paul will consume the Water of Life and After doing just that Paul gains control of the sandworms of Arrakis. He then discovers water kept in huge caches by the Fremen can be used to destroy the spice. Paul learns that the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to regain control of the planet and the spice. Upon the Emperor’s arrival at Arrakis, he executes Rabban and Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor’s elite Sardaukar shock troops at the capital city of Arrakeen hoping to defeat the combined troops of the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV and Baron Harkonnen and fulfil the Fremen Prophecy…

Topper Headon (The Clash)

Topper Headon, English drummer and songwriter with British Punk bands the Clash and Mirkwood was born 30 May 1955. He joined the Clash in 1976 alongside Joe Strummer Mick Jones and Paul Simonen as part of the original wave of British punk. Before joining The Clash Strummer also had previous musical experience with The 101ers, Latino Rockabilly War, The Mescaleros and The Pogues. Along with punk, their music incorporated elements of reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, and rockabilly. The Clash became one of the most prominent of the emerging bands in the UK punk rock scene, their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978) reaching number 2 on the UK charts. Soon after, they began achieving success in the US, starting with London Calling (1979), and peaking with 1982′s Combat Rock, reaching number 7 on the US charts and being certified 2x platinum there.

The Clash achieved commercial success in the United Kingdom with the release of their debut album, The Clash, in 1977. Their third album, London Calling, released in the UK in December 1979, earned them popularity in the United States when it was released there the following month. It was declared the best album of the 1980s a decade later by Rolling Stone magazine. In 1982 they reached new heights of success with the release of Combat Rock, which spawned the US top 10 hit “Rock the Casbah”, helping the album to achieve a 2× Platinum certification there.  The Clash’s politicised lyrics, musical experimentation, and rebellious attitude had a far-reaching influence on rock, alternative rock in particular. They became widely referred to as “The Only Band That Matters”, originally a promotional slogan introduced by the group’s record label, CBS. Sadly internal tensions within the band led to Headon leaving the group in 1982, and i Jones’s departure the following year. The group continued with new members, but finally disbanded in early 1986 shortly after the fnal album, Cut the Crap, was released.

After the Clash split Strummer embarked on his own solo music career and also acted wrote film scores for television and movies, and presented radio program’s and went on to become one of the most iconic figures of the British punk movement. The Clash were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 2003. Strummer sadly passed away 22 December 2002 however, Strummer’s friends and family  established theStrummerville Foundation in his memory which promotes new music, and each year there are many festivals and both organised and spontaneous ceremonies worldwide to celebrate his memory. In January 2003, the band—including original drummer Terry Chimes—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Clash number 28 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

Wilbur Wright

American Aviation Pioneer and eldest of The Wright brothers, Wilbur Wright sadly passed away 30 May 1948. Born April 16, in 1867. Wilbur, together with his younger brother Orville. is credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The Wright Brothers spent a great deal of time observing birds in flight. They noticed that birds soared into the wind and that the air flowing over the curved surface of their wings created lift. Birds change the shape of their wings to turn and manoeuvre. They believed that they could use this technique to obtain roll control by warping, or changing the shape, of a portion of the wing. as a resultThe Wright Brothers designed their first aircraft: a small, biplane glider flown as a kite to test their solution for controlling the craft by wing warping. Wing warping is a method of arching the wingtips slightly to control the aircraft’s rolling motion and balance. Over the next three years, Wilbur and his brother Orville would design a series of gliders which would be flown in both unmanned (as kites) and piloted flights.

They read about the works of Cayley, and Langley, and the hang-gliding flights of Otto Lilienthal. They corresponded with Octave Chanute concerning some of their ideas. They recognized that control of the flying aircraft would be the most crucial and hardest problem to solve. Following a successful glider test, the Wrights built and tested a full-size glider. They selected Kitty Hawk, North Carolina as their test site because of its wind, sand, hilly terrain and remote location. In 1900, the Wrights successfully tested their new 50-pound biplane glider with its 17-foot wingspan and wing-warping mechanism at Kitty Hawk, in both unmanned and piloted flights. In fact, it was the first piloted glider. Based upon the results, the Wright Brothers planned to refine the controls and landing gear, and build a bigger glider. So in 1901, at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers flew the largest glider ever flown, with a 22-foot wingspan, a weight of nearly 100 pounds and skids for landing.

However, many problems occurred: the wings did not have enough lifting power; forward elevator was not effective in controlling the pitch; and the wing-warping mechanism occasionally caused the airplane to spin out of control. In their disappointment, they predicted that man will probably not fly in their lifetime. In spite of the problems with their last attempts at flight, the Wrights reviewed their test results and determined that the calculations they had used were not reliable. They decided to build a wind tunnel to test a variety of wing shapes and their effect on lift. Based upon these tests, the inventors had a greater understanding of how an airfoil (wing) works and could calculate with greater accuracy how well a particular wing design would fly. They planned to design a new glider with a 32-foot wingspan and a tail to help stabilize it. During 1902, the brothers flew numerous test glides using their new glider. Their studies showed that a movable tail would help balance the craft and the Wright Brothers connected a movable tail to the wing-warping wires to coordinate turns. With successful glides to verify their wind tunnel tests, the inventors planned to build a powered aircraft. After months of studying how propellers work the Wright Brothers designed a motor and a new aircraft sturdy enough to accommodate the motor’s weight and vibrations. The craft weighed 700 pounds and came to be known as the Flyer. The brothers built a movable track to help launch the Flyer. This downhill track would help the aircraft gain enough airspeed to fly. After two attempts to fly this machine, one of which resulted in a minor crash, Orville Wright took the Flyer for a 12-second, sustained flight on December 17, 1903. This was the first successful, powered, piloted flight in history.

Boris Pasternak

Russian poet and novelist Boris Leonidovich Pasternak sadly passed away 30 May 1960 due to the effects of lung cancer. Born 10 February 1890. Pasternak aspired to be a musician. Inspired by Scriabin, Pasternak studied at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1910 he abruptly left for the German University of Marburg, where he studied under Neo-Kantian philosophers Hermann Cohen and Nicolai Hartmann. Although Professor Cohen encouraged him to remain in Germany and to pursue a Philosophy doctorate, Pasternak decided against it. and returned to Moscow upon the outbreak of World War I. His first poetry anthology was published later that year.

During World War I, Pasternak taught and worked at a chemical factory in Vsevolodovo-Vilve near Perm, which undoubtedly provided him with material for Dr. Zhivago. Unlike the rest of his family and many of his closest friends, Pasternak chose not to leave Russia after the October Revolution of 1917. remained in Moscow throughout the Civil War (1918–1920), making no attempt to escape abroad or to the White-occupied south, as a number of other Russian writers did at the time. No doubt, like Yuri Zhivago, he was momentarily impressed by the “splendid surgery” of the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917. However he soon began to harbor profound doubts about the claims and credentials of the regime, not to mention its style of rule. The terrible shortages of food and fuel, and the depredations of the Red Terror, made life very precarious in those years, particularly for the “bourgeois” intelligentsia.

Published in 1921, Pasternak’s My Sister, Life revolutionised Russian poetry and made Pasternak the model for younger poets, and decisively changed the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam, Marina Tsvetayeva and others. By 1927, Pasternak’s close friends Vladimir Mayakovsky and Nikolai Aseyev were advocating the complete subordination of the Arts to the needs of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. So he broke off relations, with both of them. By 1932, Pasternak had altered his style to make it acceptable to the Soviet public and printed the new collection of poems aptly titled The Second Birth, He simplified his style and language even further for his next collection of verse, Early Trains (1943). This prompted his former admirer, Vladimir Nabokov, to mock Pasternak as a “weeping Bolshevik”. After Joseph Stalin was acclaimed as leader of the CPSU in 1929, Pasternak became further disillusioned with the Party’s tightening censorship of literature.

Still unwilling to conform, Pasternak remained a close friend of Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam, who recited his searing indictment of Stalin, the Stalin Epigram, to Pasternak soon after its composition in late April 1934. After listening, Pasternak told Mandelstam, “I didn’t hear this, you didn’t recite it to me, because, you know, very strange and terrible things are happening now: they’ve begun to pick people up. Mandelstam was arrested shortly afterwards. Pasternak was deeply upset by this, apart from being concerned for his friend he was also worried that he might be blamed for fingering Mandelstam to the secret police. So  Pasternak contacted Stalin to explain that injustices were being committed in the name of the Leader. Although Pasternak was never arrested by the Soviet secret police during the Great Purge, which took place in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, he lost many friends, among them were peasants, Red Army leadership, Old Bolsheviks and unaffiliated persons. Appalled by the events taking place in the Soviet Union during the Great Purge, Pasternak appealed directly to Stalin. He wrote about his family’s strong Tolstoyan convictions. Pasternak was certain that he would be instantly arrested, but he was not. Stalin is said to have crossed Pasternak’s name off an execution list during the Great Purge.

After the outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Pasternak was elated. With the end of the war in 1945, there was a great expectation that the Soviet people would not only see the end of the devastation of Nazism, but also the end of Stalin’s Purges. However, sealed trains began carrying large numbers of prisoners to the Soviet Gulags. Some were Nazi collaborators but most were ordinary Soviet officers and men. Pasternak watched as ex-POWs were directly transferred from Nazi to Soviet concentration camps. White emigres who had returned due to pledges of amnesty were also sent directly to the Gulag, as were Jews from the Anti-Fascist Committee and other organizations. Many thousands of innocents were incarcerated as part the Leningrad Affair and the Doctor’s Plot, while whole ethnic groups were deported to Siberia. :O

Pasternak’s translation of the first part of Faust caused contorversy and he was accused of distorting Goethe’s “progressive,” meanings to support “the reactionary theory of ‘pure art’”, as well as introducing aesthetic and individualist values. When Stalin died of a stroke on 5 March 1953, there were waves of panic, confusion, and public displays of grief Across the nation. Pasternak wrote, “Men who are not free… always idealize their bondage. For so long we were ruled over by a madman and a murderer, and now by a fool and a pig. The madman had his occasional flights of fancy, he had an intuitive feeling for certain things, despite his wild obscurantism. Now we are ruled over by mediocrities.” During this period, Pasternak delighted in reading a clandestine copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm in English. In conversation with Ivinskaya, Pasternak explained that the swine dictator Napoleon, “vividly reminded,” him of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Doctor Zhivago was completed in 1956 and imediately caused controvery – The author, like his protagonist Yuri Zhivago, showed more concern for the welfare of individual characters than for the “progress” of society. Censors also regarded some passages as anti-Soviet, especially the novel’s criticisms of Stalinism, Collectivisation, the Great Purge, and the Gulag. As a result Russian people were unwilling to publish it, however Thanks to the efforts of a Communist Italian Journalist and Helped considerably by the Soviet campaign against the novel, Doctor Zhivago became an instant sensation throughout the non-Communist world upon its release in November 1957. Pasternak also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, an event which both humiliated and enraged the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. By the time of his death from lung cancer on 30th May 1960, the campaign against Pasternak had severely damaged the international credibility of the U.S.S.R. He remains a major figure in Russian literature to this day. Furthermore, tactics pioneered by Pasternak were later continued, expanded, and refined by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and other Soviet dissidents.

Peter Paul Rubens

imageGerman born Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens sadly passed away 30 May 1640. Born 28th June 1577 he was a proponent of extravagant Baroque style that emphasised movement, colour, and sensuality, who was known for his Counter Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintingso mythological and allegorial sujects.In addition to running a lare studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educatdhumanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, andChares I, King of England was raised as a Catholic. Religion figured prominently in much of his work and Rubens later became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting (he had said “My passion omes from the heavens, no from earthly musings”).In Antwerp, Rubens received ahumanist education, studying Latin and classical literature. By fourteen he began his artistic apprenticeship with Tobias Verhaeght. Subsequently, he studied under two of the city’s leading painters of the time the late Mannerist artists Adam van Noort and Otto van een.Much of his earliest training involved copying earlier artists’ wrks, such aswoodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger and Marcantonio Raimondi’s engravings after Raphael. Rubens completed his education in 1598, at which time he entered the Guild of S. Luke as an independent masterIn 1600, Rubens travelled to Italy. He stopped first in Venice, where he saw paintings by Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, before settling in Mantua at the court of Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga. The coloring and compositions of Veronese and Tintoretto had an immediate effect on Rubens’s painting, and his later, mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian.

With financial support from the Duke, Rubens travelled to Rome by way of Florence in 1601. There, he studied classical Greek and Roman art and copied works of the Italian masters, the Hellenistic sculpture Laocoön and his Sons was especially influential on him, as was the art of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. He later made a copy of that artist’s Entombment of Christ, recommended that his patron, the Duke of Mantua, purchase The Death of the Virgin(Louvre), and was instrumental in the acquisition of The Madonna of the Rosary (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) for the Dominican church in Antwerp. During this first stay in Rome, Rubens completed his first altarpiece commission, St. Helena with the True Cross for the Roman church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.Rubens travelled to Spain on a diplomatic mission in 1603, delivering gifts from the Gonzagas to the court of Philip III. While there, he studied the extensive collections of Raphael and Titian that had been collected by Philip II. He also painted an equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma during his stay (Prado, Madrid) that demonstrates the influence of works like Titian’s Charles V at Mühlberg (1548; Prado, Madrid). This journey marked the first of many during his career that combined art and diplomacy.He returned to Italy in 1604, where he remained for the next four years, first in Mantua and then in Genoa and Rome. In Genoa, Rubens painted numerous portraits, such as the Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), and the portrait of Maria di Antonio Serra Pallavicini, in a style that influenced later paintings by Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. He also began a book illustrating the palaces in the city, which was published in 1622 as Palazzi di Genova. From 1606 to 1608, he was mostly in Rome.

Rubens returned to Antwerp in 1608 and His return coincided with a period of renewed prosperity in the city, he was appointed as court painter by Albert VII, Archduke of Austria and Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, sovereigns of the Low Countries. In 1610, Rubens moved into a new house and studio that he designed. Now the Rubenshuis Museum, in the centre of Antwerp, it accommodated his workshop and made the most of his extensive collection of paintings, and his personal art collection and library,. During this time he created.Altarpieces such as The Raising of the Cross (1610) and The Descent from the Cross (1611–1614) for the Cathedral of Our Lady which were particularly important in establishing Rubens as Flanders’ leading painter . The Raising of the Cross also demonstrates the artist’s synthesis of Tintoretto’s Crucifixion for the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, Michelangelo’s dynamic figures, and Rubens’s own personal style. The Spanish Habsburg rulers also entrusted Rubens with a number of diplomatic missions, Between 1627 and 1630, Rubens’s diplomatic career was particularly active, and he moved between the courts of Spain and England in an attempt to bring peace between the Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces. He also made several trips to the northern Netherlands as both an artist and a diplomat. It was during this period that Rubens was twice knighted, first by Philip IV of Spain in 1624, and then by Charles I of England in 1630. He was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree fromCambridge University in 1629.

In 1621, the Queen Mother of France, Marie de’ Medici, commissioned Rubens to paint two large allegorical cycles celebrating her life and the life of her late husband, Henry IV, for theLuxembourg Palace in Paris. The Marie de’ Medici cycle (now in the Louvre) was installed in 1625, While Rubens’s international reputation with collectors and nobility abroad continued to grow during this decade, he and his workshop also continued to paint monumental paintings for local patrons in Antwerp. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1625–6) for the Cathedral of Antwerp is one prominent example. Rubens’s last decade was spent in and around Antwerp. Major works for foreign patrons still occupied him, such as the ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House at Inigo Jones’s Palace of Whitehall. In 1630, the 53-year-old painter married 16-year-old Hélène Fourment who inspired the voluptuous figures in many of his paintings from the 1630s, including The Feast of Venus (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), The Three Graces and The Judgment of Paris (both Prado, Madrid). In the latter painting, which was made for the Spanish court, the artist’s young wife was recognized by viewers in the figure of Venus. In an intimate portrait of her, Hélène Fourment in a Fur Wrap, also known as Het Pelsken Rubens’s wife is even partially modelled after classical sculptures of the Venus Pudica, such as theMedici Venus. In 1635, Rubens bought an estate outside of Antwerp, the Steen, where he spent much of his time. Landscapes, such as his Château de Steen with Hunter (National Gallery, London) and Farmers Returning from the Fields (Pitti Gallery, Florence), reflect the more personal nature of many of his later works. He also drew upon the Netherlandish traditions of Pieter Bruegel the Elder for inspiration in later works like Flemish Kermis (c. 1630; Louvre, Paris)

Sadly.Rubens died from heart failure, which was a result of his chronic gout on 30 May 1640. He was interred in Saint Jacob’s church, Antwerp. The artist had eight children, three with Isabella and five with Hélène; his youngest child was born eight months after his death.Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He painted portraits, especially of friends, and self-portraits, and in later life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed tapestries and prints, as well as his own house. He also oversaw theephemeral decorations of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635.His drawings are mostly extremely forceful but not detailed; he also made great use of oil sketches as preparatory studies. He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium, even for very large works, but he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems.His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the terms ‘Rubensian’ or ‘Rubenesque’ for plus-sized women.Rubens was a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci’s work. Using an engraving done 50 years after Leonardo started his project on the Battle of Anghiari, Rubens did a masterly drawing of the Battle which is now in the Louvre in Paris.

“The Only One that I Know”

imageTim Burgess, English singer with English alternative rock band The Charlatans was Born 30th May 1967. The band’s line-up currently comprises Tim Burgess (vocals), Mark Collins (guitar), Martin Blunt (bass), Tony Rogers. In the UK, all of the band’s eleven studio albums have charted in the Top 40 in the UK Albums Chart, three of them being number ones. They have also achieved seventeen Top 30 singles, and four Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart.The original members of the Charlatans were located in the West Midlands, however many sources state that they formed in Northwich, Cheshire. This is because the band relocated to the home town of new lead singer Tim Burgess (who lived in Northwich) before the 1990 release of The Charlatans’ debut single “Indian Rope”, on the band’s own Dead Dead Good Records label. This means that, based on the definition of the hometown used by Guinness World Records, the band formed in Northwich and consequently, Northwich is recorded as their home town in such publications as British Hit Singles & Albums.The debut single, “Indian Rope” proved an indie hit and the group soon found a major label, Beggars Banquet off-shoot Situation Two, in time for the release of “The Only One I Know” which reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. A further single, “Then”, and debut album Some Friendly, were released later that year.

The Charlatans were forced to add UK to their name for an American tour due to competing claims by a 1960s rock band also known as The Charlatans. Baker left the band after 1991′s “Over Rising” single to be replaced by Mark Collins (no relation to Rob), and the band brought in producer Flood for their second album Between 10th and 11th (named after the address of the New York Marque, site of the group’s first US concert). Released in early 1992, the album failed to reach the Top 20 in the UK Albums Chart. However, the Top 20 success of the lead single “Weirdo” and a double weekend of gigs (‘Daytripper’) in Blackpool and Brighton with Ride kept them in the public eye.The follow-up album, Up To Our Hips (1994) reached number 8 in the UK Albums Chart. In 1995 the band’s self-titled fourth album saw them become major UK stars again, topping the UK albums chart and spawning the Top 20 single “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over”.The fifth album Tellin’ Stories was released in 1997 and contained the singles “One to Another”, “North Country Boy” and “How High”. In 1998 they released the career-spanning compilation Melting Pot. The band also helped put “The B-sides collection Songs From The Other Side” and DVD “Just Lookin’ 1990 – 1997″ together? Following the album Us And Us Only,The band released their ninth full-length album on 10 April 2006. Titled Simpatico, it was a reggae and dub tinged album and featured tracks like the fan favourite “NYC (There’s No Need to Stop)” and “Blackened Blue Eyes”.

Their follow-up to Simpatico was another career-spanning singles compilation entitled Forever: The Singles which was released on CD and DVD on 13 November 2006. In an October 2007 issue of the NME, the band contributed the song “Blank Heart, Blank Mind” to the magazine’s free Love Music, Hate Racism compilation CD. Later the same month, the new single “You Cross My Path” was released as a free download exclusively through the XFM website.

On the 3 March 2008, The Charlatans teamed up with Xfm again to become the first UK band to release an album completely free to download via a radio station. This was preceded a week earlier by the second single from the album, “Oh! Vanity”. The album, titled You Cross My Path, is The Charlatans’ tenth studio album and received a physical CD/LP release on 19 May 2008. Their eleventh studio album, Who We Touch, was released on 6 September 2010 and The first single release was “Love Is Ending”.On March 28th 2011 Universal Music re-released a deluxe edition of the band’s Us & Us Only album, originally released in 1999, featuring a collection of bonus tracks including B-sides, live recordings, radio sessions and rare remixes. In March/April 2011 Tim Burgess and Mark Collins played an acoustic tour of the UK. To coincide with the acoustic tour the band released Warm Sounds EP. Featuring six stripped-down and reworked versions of Charlatans tracks including “North Country Boy”, “The Only One I Know” and “Smash The System. Tragically though Jon Brookes, the Drummer with the Charlatans Died: August 13, 2013. Following this tragedy The latest Charlatans album Modern Nature was eventually released in 2015.