Archive for December, 2013

masterpiecedaily: John Singer Sargent Portrait of Madame Paul…

Sunday, December 29th, 2013


John Singer Sargent

Portrait of Madame Paul Poirson


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rorschachx: The threatened island fox (Urocyon littoralis),…

Sunday, December 29th, 2013


The threatened island fox (Urocyon littoralis), numbering less than 100, can only be found on the Channel Islands of California | image by George H.H. Huey

Fun fact #1: Island foxes are really small. They’re basically the size of a house cat. Also: adorable-looking. :-)

Fun fact #2: This information is out of date. The “numbering less than 100” number refers to the low point in the fox population, which occurred around 2000. As of 2010 there were more than 1,700 island foxes in the wild, and the number is higher now. See:

Basically, island foxes are the poster child for successful intervention to save a critically endangered species.

Fun fact #3: I grew up visiting the Channel Islands on sailboats, and have seen island foxes in the wild several times. The first time was in 1980, when I was 18. A friend of mine and I were throwing a frisbee on the beach at Coches Prietos Cove on Santa Cruz Island when an island fox came out of the brush and sat on its haunches watching us from about 50 feet away. After a few minutes I flicked the frisbee in its direction, thinking it would run off, but it didn’t. It just sat there watching the frisbee until it came to a stop, trotted over and sniffed it, then trotted away.

My most-recent sighting of an island fox in the wild was in the summer of 2011. I was hiking by myself along the dirt road that leads north from that same cove (Coches Prietos), and had stopped to sit in a shady spot when an island fox emerged from the brush and crossed the road about 50 feet away from me. I’m pretty sure it was aware of my presence, because it looked right at me, but it seemed unconcerned.

In each of those fox sightings the animals displayed island tameness, in which island species lose their fear of predators when those predators are absent from their island habitats. This in turn makes them vulnerable to extinction when human activities introduce new predators. That’s exactly what happened with the island fox.

European sailors in the 1700s and 1800s introduced pigs to the Channel Islands, which provided a potential food source for golden eagles. The endemic (fish-eating) bald eagle population of the islands kept the golden eagles away, but in the late twentieth century, when the introduction of DDT into the Southern California ocean had led to a decline in fish-eating species like the bald eagle, the golden eagles were able to move in. Unfortunately, the foxes’ island tameness (including their shift to being active during the daytime, as opposed to the nocturnal habits of mainland foxes) made them easy prey for the golden eagles.

The island fox recovery effort has involved a number of interlocking pieces: banning DDT, removing nonnative pigs, removing golden eagles and reintroducing bald eagles, vaccinating island foxes against canine distemper (probably introduced to the islands by human visitors with unvaccinated pets; thank you, Jenny-McCarthy pet owners), and captive breeding.

It’s encouraging that a charismatic species like the island fox can be saved from extinction once we figure out the details of what’s going on and make a sufficient effort. On the other hand, the fox’s recovery is a rare outlier in the context of the ongoing Anthropocene mass extinction.

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buggy-heichou: letsgetfit-wecandothis: thefitlifeisthelifeforme…

Sunday, December 29th, 2013






This guy would defiantly survive a zombie apocalypse

how even

A combination of traction and magic

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ransomriggs: Home for the holidays, I was inspired to make a…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013


Home for the holidays, I was inspired to make a short film about the strange place I grew up, and how my feelings about it have changed over the years. 

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rainbowrowell: yadykates: As a goodbye present my roommate let…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013



As a goodbye present my roommate let me go through his facebook and find 5 pictures of him cosplaying as Levi…

1.Levi moves into off campus housing. The couch will come later in the day.

2. There was a boy in her room. Is there such a thing as co-ed rooms?

3. A good cup of coffee is a good cup of coffee even if it ins’t pumpkin mocha breve.

4. Summer break on the ranch (the book is to make his mom happy).

5. “No, seriously, look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything.”

Brought to you by Nico and Kady’s last regularly scheduled Teen Wolf Friendship Brunch.




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demcats: SPRORTS And here someone was just telling me…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013



And here someone was just telling me there’s no sports content on Tumblr.

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eyrequotes: The many ways Rochester found to avoid packing were…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013


The many ways Rochester found to avoid packing were astounding.

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Lounging in Boats – John Singer Sargent By the River – 1885, oil…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Lounging in Boats – John Singer Sargent

By the River – 1885, oil on canvas

Autumn on the River (detail) – 1889, oil on canvas

A Boating Party (detail) – ca. 1889, oil on canvas

Paul Helleu Sketching His Wife – 1889, oil on canvas

Gondoliers’ Siesta (detail) – 1905, watercolor

On the Steps of the Salute (detail) – ca. 1906, watercolor

The Rialto, Venice (detail) – 1909, oil on canvas

Sargent loved to paint his subjects lying in (or occasionally next to) small boats. These are some of my favorites.

Sargent painted By the River when he was 29. He’d achieved early fame as a portraitist a few years before, but since the outcry surrounding Portrait of Madame X in 1884 the commissions had dried up. So he left Paris and spent several years traveling, visiting friends like Henry James in London and Claude Monet in Giverny. Perhaps due in part to the influence of Monet, many of Sargent’s works during this period, including this one, are fairly Impressionist.

I’ve been unable to learn where By the River is set or who the model is, though it certainly looks like Giverny. I love the lavender color, and the birds in the background (which I must reflexively identify as mute swans, Cygnus olor). I also like the detail of the curved oar blade, making it clear what kind of boat this is. Mostly, though, I love the way Sargent conveys mood via details of his subject’s expression and body language.

In Autumn on the RiverSargent painted one of his favorite subjects: his baby sister Violet. Born in 1870, she was 14 years younger than he was, which would have made her about 19 in 1889, when Autumn on the River was painted. Their father, Dr. FitzWilliam Sargent, had died in April of that year, and John had canceled a planned visit to Monet at Giverny to spend time in England with his mother and his two sisters. By now his career as a portraitist had taken off again, with as many commissions as he could handle from wealthy patrons in New York, Boston, and London.

Violet lies back in the boat, wrapped in a dark fur stole and blanket, a gloved hand on the gunwale as she looks out on what I’m guessing is the river Avon (his mother and sisters lived at Fladbury Rectory, Pershore). The cold and the autumn colors make it a somber scene.

A Boating Partyis merrier. Also painted in 1889, it features a woman sitting on a dock (or on a larger boat?), while a young man reclines in a canoe, his leg draped over the gunwale to hold his craft alongside, a paddle in one hand and his other hand behind his head. The woman wears the same hat and stole as Violet does in Autumn on the River, and the sources I’ve read favor the idea that she is, in fact, Violet, which would make it possible that the young man is Francis Ormond, with whom Violet was in a relationship at the time. Their mother did not approve of the match, and had John take Violet with him in December when he traveled to New York, intending for her to be introduced to eligible Americans. The tactic failed, however, and Violet married Ormond two years later.

Paul Helleu Sketching His Wife was also painted in 1889. Helleu was French, but as one of Sargent’s closest friends, I wonder if he and his wife Alice visited Sargent at this time, such that the painting actually depicts the same canoe as the one visible in A Boating Party. It looks similar, at least, and it’s such a lovely view of it, including the reflection in the varnish on the bow, that I had to include this painting in the set, even though Alice is technically not lounging in the canoe, but only alongside it.

Sargent traveled regularly, including visits to Venice in his late 40s/early 50s that inspired him to paint many people lounging in boats, including in Gondoliers’ SiestaOn the Steps of the Salute, and The Rialto, Venice. Carter Ratcliff has written:

Though the Sargent family was not rich by the standards of the Victorian plutocracy, his mother and father had enough money between them to maintain a respectable front in their travels through Italy, Switzerland, and France. Raised amid servants, Sargent took no notice of the poor who so disturbed a democrat and idealist like Burne-Jones. When peasants and workers appear in Sargent’s art, they belong to the scenery.

I’ve cropped in tight on details in these three paintings to highlight those aspects of the scenery.

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cabinporn: Books we love: The Stars by H. A. Rey ($12) Who,…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013


Books we love:

The Stars by H. A. Rey ($12)

Who, upon leaving the city on a dark, clear night hasn’t been suddenly struck by the intensity and intricacy of the rural sky?  And who hasn’t wished they knew more about what’s up there?  

Lovingly devised & illustrated by the creator of Curious George, The Stars is easily the most accessible and enjoyable guide we’ve found for developing a casual & practical familiarity with the celestial world. 

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dendroica: Taken around Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia in…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013


Taken around Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia in the morning. (Photo and caption by Pimpin Nagawan/National Geographic Photo Contest) (via 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest – Photos – The Big Picture –

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But we’re not bad people. We’re like our emblem, the snake:…

Friday, December 27th, 2013

But we’re not bad people. We’re like our emblem, the snake: sleek, powerful, and frequently misunderstood.

Reblogging this under the “All the Sargent” rule. Because I’ve been getting heavily into my awesome Christmas present, and I immediately recognized the left image in the bottom row as Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth.

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colourthysoul: Oksana Kravchenko

Friday, December 27th, 2013


Oksana Kravchenko

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kleinecharlotte: Art History Meme [3/8] Artists ↳ Giovanni…

Friday, December 27th, 2013


Art History Meme [3/8] Artists
↳ Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931)

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Friday, December 27th, 2013

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bofransson: Princess Bibesco (Marthe Lahovary), 1920 Edouard…

Thursday, December 26th, 2013


Princess Bibesco (Marthe Lahovary), 1920

Edouard Vuillard

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dendroica: An over/under water split level image of beautiful…

Thursday, December 26th, 2013


An over/under water split level image of beautiful crimson red waratah anemones in a rock pool at low tide. What I really love about over/under photographs is that it gives the underwater element a sense of place. For the viewer it marries the underwater environment with our own familiar world. It links the unknown with the known. (Photo and caption by Matt Smith/National Geographic Photo Contest) (via 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest – Photos – The Big Picture –

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exponential63: dionyssos: Maurice de Vlaminck – Das Seine -…

Thursday, December 26th, 2013



Maurice de Vlaminck – Das Seine – Tai bie Carrieres at Staatsgalerie – Stuttgart Germany by mbell1975 on Flickr.

According to La colline à Bougival / The Hill at Bougival (1906)

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I’m beginning to suspect Santa follows my Tumblr. Or at…

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

I’m beginning to suspect Santa follows my Tumblr. Or at least had an elf check it at some point.

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scienceyoucanlove: This tiny little rascal is a Tufted…

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013


This tiny little rascal is a Tufted Coquette (Lophornis ornatus), found in eastern Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana and northern Brazil. The males are beautifully decorated with large, red crests on their heads and tufts beneath their throats, which they use to attract the females. At no more than 7 cm long, these little hummingbirds are sometimes mistaken for large bees when in flight.

Image: Michael Giraud-Audine (

Judge me by my size do you?

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Reblog if you’re a nobody on Tumblr but you’re still very proud of your blog.

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

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