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This week: A Degas plaster, Jefferson’s original Declaration & more
The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women: A Social History by Elizabeth Norton (Pegasus Books):Although most will associate the Tudor Period as it pertains to women with the courtly histories of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Queen Elizabeth I, and the like, The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton points out that the grim realities of womanhood at this time were far more complex and pedestrian than commonly imagined. Norton’s book is, as she writes in the preface, “a collective biography, sampling, to different extents, the diverse lives enjoyed—or endured—by women living in Tudor England.” Organized according to Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” from his famous “All the world’s a stage” speech in As You Like It,the book tracks the social history of key women in the Tudor period as well as the less-discussedexperiences of the “Tudor Everywoman”—nurseries, apprenticeships, contractual marriages, brothel houses, inquisitions, and more. As such, the book tells an alternately fascinating and repugnant story of this exciting period. —AS
Book talk: Dr. Gregory Hedberg discusses Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, The Southampton Historical Museum, July 1: In 2004,art historian Gregory Hedberg initiated what has become a long-running debate surrounding a recently discovered plaster cast of Edgar Degas’s famous sculpture, “Little Dancer.” In brief, Hedberg made the significant assertion that this plaster was not a copy made of the original work after the artist’s death in 1917, but was instead created by Degas as “an earlier conception” of the 1881 sculpture—making the plaster a significant object in the history of not only Degas’s own oeuvre, but also modern art more generally. Although this theory was initially refuted by general consensus among art historians, recently, Arthur Beale, the former chairman of Conservation and Collections Management at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, has come out in its support. On Saturday, July 1 at 5:30 pm, Hedberg will be giving a talk on his book Degas’ Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, which lays out the various arguments for his theory, in the 1843 Rogers Mansion of the Southampton Historical Museum. —AS
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto numbers 2 & 3 by Khatia Buniatishvili (Sony Classical): Early-summer recording season continues: this week, I'm listening to an album by Khatia Buniatishvili on the Sony Classical label from back in March. Buniatishvili is one of the newer pianists on the A-list concert circuit, her star having ascended mostly in the last few seasons. In her latest album she takes on Rachmaninoff's second and third piano concerti, touchstone works if ever anything were. Her take on the two is unusually cool—where most pianists dive headlong into the works and tear at every bar, Buniatishvili's more level-headed approach shows a more conflicted side of Rachmaninoff, revealing a number of surprising subtleties in the music. —ECS
Showcase Reading: David Ferry and Gerald Stern, Poet’s House, June 27: Tomorrow night, acclaimed poets David Ferry and Gerald Stern will read original works at the Poet’s House in Tribeca. Ferry (b. 1924), who has won renown for his translations of great works from classical antiquity, draws upon his intimate relationship with Horace and Virgil to create original works of subtle poignancy. Stern (b. 1925) is the distinguished poet-in-residence at Drew University’s MFA Program in Poetry and has garnered wide recognition for his emotionally incisive poems. Co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America. —AS
The Declaration of Independence, Handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, June 29–July 3: Among the many treasures that live at the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is one of two original “complete” manuscripts of the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s own handwriting that exist today. After Jefferson finished drafting the Declaration, Congress, in one of the most famous editing jobs in history, made significant changes to the document without Jefferson’s approval. Any writer who has experienced such treatment at the hands of his publisher can imagine how Jefferson took the revisions. In retaliation, he wrote up several copies of his original text, underlining the areas that had been changed or cut, and sent them off to friends (the version at the NYPL is thought to have been that given to George Wythe, Jefferson’s law professor). The library displays the document for a few days every year around July 4th, so go see this important historical document—as Jefferson intended it to be seen—while you can.—RH
From the archive: “Bonnard and ‘the stupidities’” by Hilton Kramer: On Bonnard, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. (October 1998)
From the current issue: “A higher education” by Justin Zaremby: On seventy years of Directed Studies at Yale.