The Art of Translating Hamilton into German: “So Kribbeln Schmetterlinge, Wenn Sie Starten”

The city of Hamburg’s nickname is Tor zur Welt– the gateway to the world.

If the German language production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s record breaking hiphop musical now in previews in that city’s St. Pauli Theater is as warmly received as the English original has been in London, Melbourne, and, of course, the US, it may earn itself with an additional one – Hamiltonburg.

Excitement has been building since early summer, when a dual language video mashup of the opening number placed the original Broadway cast alongside their German language counterparts.


One need not speak German to appreciate the similarities in attitude – in both performance, and internal assonances, a lyrical aspect of hip hop that Miranda was intent on preserving.

Translator Kevin Schroeder quipped that he and co-translator rapper Sera Finale embraced the motto “as free as necessary, as close as possible” in approaching the score, which at 46 numbers and over 20,000 words, more than doubles the word count of any other musical:

At least we had all these syllables. It gave us room to play around.

Good thing, as the German language abounds with multisyllabic compound nouns, many of which have no direct English equivalent.

Take schadenfreude which the creators of the musical Avenue Q summed up as “happiness at the misfortune of others.”

Or torschlusspanik – the sense of urgency to achieve or do something before it’s too late.

Might that one speak to a translating team who’ve devoted close to four years of their lives to getting everything – words, syllables, meter, sound, flow, position, musicality, meaning, and double meanings – right?

Before Schroeder and Finale were entrusted with this herculean task, they had to pass muster with Miranda’s wife’s Austrian cousin, who listened to their samples and pronounced them in keeping with the spirit of the original.

As translators have always done, Schroeder and Finale had to take their audience into account, swapping out references, metaphors and turns of phrase that could stump German theatergoers for ones with proven regional resonance.

In a round up demonstrating the German team’s dexterity, the New York Times Michael Paulson points to “Satisfied,” a song wherein Hamilton’s prospective sister-in-law recalls their first encounter:

ORIGINAL

So this is what it feels like to match wits

With someone at your level! What the hell is the catch?

It’s the feeling of freedom, of seeing the light

It’s Ben Franklin with a key and a kite

You see it right?

 

GERMAN

So kribbeln Schmetterlinge, wenn sie starten

Wir beide voll auf einem Level, offene Karten!

Das Herz in den Wolken, ich flieg’ aus der Bahn

Die Füße kommen an den Boden nich’ ran

Mein lieber Schwan!

 

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF GERMAN

So that’s how butterflies tingle when they take off

We’re on the same level, all cards on the table!

My heart in the clouds, I’m thrown off track

My feet don’t touch the floor

My dear swan!

Miranda, who participated in shaping the German translation using a 3 column system remarkably similar to the compare and contrast content above, gives this change a glowing review:

That section sounds fantastic, and gives the same feeling of falling in love for the first time.The metaphor may be different, but it keeps its propulsiveness.

And while few German theatergoers can be expected to be conversant in Revolutionary War era American history, Germany’s sizeable immigration population ensures that certain of the musical’s themes will retain their cultural relevance.

The Hamburg production features players from Liberia and Brazil. Other cast members were born in Germany to parents hailing from Ghana, the Philippines, Aruba, Benin, Suriname…and the United States.

For more of Michael Paulson’s insights into the challenges of translating Hamilton, click here.

Hamilton is in previews at Hamburg’s St. Pauli Theater, with opening night scheduled for October 6.

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Tour of All the Pizza Styles You Can Eat in the United States (and the History Behind Your Favorite Slices)

When it comes to chili, Texas, Kansas City and Cincinnati, will cede no quarter, each convinced that their particular regional approach is the only sane option.

Hot dogs? Put New York City and Chicago in a pit and watch them tear each other to ribbons.

But pizza?

There are so many geographic variations, even an impartial judge can’t see their way through to a clear victor.

The playing field’s thick as stuffed pizza, a polarizing Chicago local specialty that’s deeper than the deepest dish.


Weird History Food’s whirlwind video tour of Every Pizza Style We Could Find In the United States, above, savors the ways in which various pizza styles evolved from the Neapolitan pie that Italian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi introduced to New York City in 1905.

Wait, though. We all have an acquaintance who takes perverse pleasure in offbeat topping choices – looking at you, California – but other than that, isn’t pizza just sauce, dough, and cheese?

How much room does that leave for variation?

Plenty as it turns out.

Crusts, thick or thin, fluctuate wildly according to the type of flour used, how long the dough is proofed, the type of oven in which they’re baked, and philosophy of sauce placement.

(In Buffalo, New York, pizzas are sauced right up to their circumference, leaving very little crusty handle for eating on the fly, though perhaps one could fold it down the middle, as we do in the city 372 miles to the south.)

Sauce can also swing pretty wildly – sweet, spicy, prepared in advance, or left to the last minute – but cheese is a much hotter topic.

Detroit’s pizza is distinguished by the inclusion of Wisconsin brick cheese.

St. Louis is loyal to Provel cheese, a homegrown processed mix of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone and liquid smoke.

Miami pizzas cater to the palates of its Cuban population by mixing mozzarella with gouda, a cheese that was both widely available and popular before 1962’s rationing system was put in place.

Rhode Island’s aptly named Red Strips have no cheese at all…which might be preferable to the Altoona, Pennsylvania favorite that arrives topped with American cheese slices or – the horror – Velveeta.

(This may be where we part ways with the old saw equating pizza with sex – even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.)

Cut and size also factor in to pizza pride.

Washington DC’s Jumbo slices are pretty much the standard issue New York-style thin crust slice, writ large.

Not only does size matter here, it may be the only thing that matters…to the point where a local business improvement district had to intervene on behalf of sidewalk rubbish bins hard pressed to handle the volume of greasy super-sized slice boxes Washingtonians were tossing away every evening.

In the land of opportunity, where smaller towns are understandably eager to claim their piece of pie, Weird History Food gives the nod to Old Forge, Pennsylvania, optimistically dubbed “the Pizza Capital of the World by Uncovering PA’s Jim Cheney, and Steubenville Ohio, home of the “oversized LunchableAtlas Obscura refers to as America’s most misunderstood pizza.

For good measure, watch the PBS Idea Channel’s History of Pizza in 8 slices, below, then rep your favorite local pizzeria in the comments.

We want to try them all!

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Architect Breaks Down Five of the Most Iconic New York City Apartments

Real estate is a perennially hot topic in New York City, as is gentrification.

Above, architect Michael Wyetzner, breaks down the defining features of several typical NYC apartments.

You’re on your own to truffle up the sort of rent a 340 square feet studio commands in an East Village tenement these days.

The ancestors would be shocked, for sure. My late mother-in-law never tired of causing young jaws to drop by revealing how she once paid $27/month for a 1 bedroom on Sheridan Square…and her mother, who immigrated at the turn of the century, couldn’t wait to put the Lower East Side behind her.


He may not truck in final sales figures, but Wyetzner drops in a wealth of interesting factual tidbits as he sketches layouts with a black Pentel Sign Pen. His tone is more Lower East Side Tenement Museum tour guide than the comments section of a real estate blog where salty New Yorkers flaunt their street cred.

For instance, those enfilade tenement apartments–to employ the grand architectural term Wyetzner just taught us–were not only dark, but dangerously under-ventilated until 1901, when reforms stipulated that air shafts must be opened up between side by side buildings.

This public health initiative changed the shape of tenement buildings, but did little to stop the poverty and overcrowding that activist/photographer Jacob Riis famously documented in How the Other Half Lives.

(Another measure decreed that building owners must supply one indoor toilet …per 20 people!)

While we’re on the topic of toilets, did you know that there was a time when every brownstone backyard boasted its own privy?

Homeowners who’ve spent millions on what many conceive of as the most romantic of New York City buildings (then millions more on gut renovations) proudly display old bottles and other refuse excavated from the site where privys once stood. The former residents turn their outhouses into garbage chutes upon achieving indoor plumbing.

Laying aside its distinctive color, a brownstone’s most iconic feature is surely its stoop.

Stoops grabbed hold of the American public’s imagination thanks to Sesame Street, the Harlem photographs of Gordon Parks and the films of Spike Lee, who learned of Martin Luther King’s assassination as an 11-year-old, sitting on his.

“Not porch!,” he emphasized during a Tonight Show appearance. ”In Brooklyn, it’s stoops. Stoops!”

(Forgive me if I delve into NYC real estate prices for a sec: the Bed-Stuy brownstone from Lee‘s semi-autobiographical Crooklyn, above, just went on the market for $4.5 million.)

There’s no question that brownstone stoops make excellent hang out spots, but that’s not the reason they rose to prominence.

As Esther Crain writes in Ephemeral New York, the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 which led to the city’s gridlike layout negated the possibility of alleys:

Without a back door to a rowhouse accessed through an alley, servants and workers would enter and exit a residence using the same front stoop the owners used—which wasn’t too popular, at least with the owners. 

But a tall stoop set back from the sidewalk allowed for a side door that led to the lower level of the house. While the owners continued to go up and down the stoop to get to the parlor floor (and see and be seen by their neighbors), everyone else was relegated to the side…And of course, as New York entered the Gilded Age of busy streets filled with dust, ash, refuse, and enormous piles of horse manure, a very high stoop helped keep all the filth from getting into the house. 

Flash forward a hundred and fifty some years, and, as Wyetzner notes, a stoop’s top step offers a highly scenic view of the Hefty bags the neighbors haul to the curb the night before New York’s Strongest roll through.

Wyetzner also provides the historical context behind such architecturally distinctive digs as SoHo’s astronomically priced light-filled lofts, the always desirable Classic Six residences on the Upper East and Upper West Sides, one-room studios both modern and original flavor, and our blighted public housing projects.

If you’re itching to play along from home, check out the New York Times’ regular feature The Hunt, which invites readers to trail a single, family, or couple deliberating between three properties in New York City.

A sample: “After a mouse infestation at her West Village rental, a single mother needed a better spot for her family, including a son with autism.”

Review the layouts and click here to see whether she chose a brand-new 127-unit building with a rooftop pool, a Harlem brownstone duplex with a backyard rights, or an updated one bedroom in a downtown co-op from 1910.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto. She has lived in all manner of New York City apartments, but hopes to never move again. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Behold a Secret Gallery of Art Created Using Discarded Gum on London’s Millennium Bridge

Throughout history, determined artists have worked on available surfaces – scrap wood, cardboard, walls…

Ben Wilson has created thousands of works using chewing gum as his canvas.

Specifically, chewing gum spat out by careless strangers.


His work has become a defining featuring of London’s Millennium Bridge, a modern structure spanning the Thames, and connecting such South Bank attractions as Tate Modern and the Shakespeare’s Globe with St. Paul’s Cathedral to the north.

A 2021 profile in The Guardian documents the creation process:

The technique is very precise. He first softens the oval of flattened gum a little with a blowtorch, sprays it with lacquer and then applies three coats of acrylic enamel, usually to a design from his latest book of requests that come from people who stop and crouch and talk. He uses tiny modelers’ brushes, quick-drying his work with a lighter flame as he goes along, and then seals it with more lacquer. Each painting takes a few hours and can last for many years.

Unsurprisingly, Wilson works very, very small.

For every Millennium Bridge pedestrian who’s hip to the ever-evolving solo exhibition underfoot, there are several hundred who remain completely oblivious.

Stoop to admire a miniature portrait, abstract, or commemorative work, and the bulk of your fellow pedestrians will give you a wide berth, though every now and then a concerned or curious party will stop to see what the deal is.

Wilson, who works sprawled on the bridge’s metal treads, his nose close to touching his tiny, untraditional canvas, receives a similar response, as described in Zachary Denman’s short documentary, above:

They make think I’ve fallen over and they may think I’ve had a cardiac arrest or something, so I’ve had lots of ambulances turning up…I’ve had loads of police.

His subjects are suggested by the shape of the spat out gum, by friends, by strangers who stop to watch him work:

I’ve had to deal with people memorializing people who have been murdered. People who have been so lonely, or remembering favorite pets; people who are destitute in all sorts of ways. It goes from proposal pictures, ‘Will you marry me?’, to people who I drew when they were kids and they now have their own kids.

Like any street artist, Wilson’s had his share of run ins with the law, including a wrongful 2010 arrest for criminal damage, when a crowd of schoolchildren who’d been enthusiastically watching an itty bitty St. Pauls taking shape on a blob of gum witnessed him being dragged off by his feet. (He asked if he could finish the picture first…)

He may not get permission to create the public works he goes out daily to create, but he contributes by clearing the area of litter, and as he points out, painting on discarded gum doesn’t constitute defacing anyone’s actual property:

Technically in one sense, I’m working within the law …if I paint on chewing gum, it’s like finding No Man’s Land or common ground. It’s a space which is not under the jurisdiction of a local or national government.











See more of Ben Wilson’s work in his online Gum Gallery.

Photos in this article taken by Ayun Halliday, 2022. All rights reserved.

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Japanese Restaurants Show You How to Make Traditional Dishes in Meditative Videos: Soba, Tempura, Udon & More

Despite having recently begun to admit tour groups, Japan remains inaccessible to most of the world’s travelers. Having closed its gates during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has shown little inclination to open them up again too quickly or widely. The longer this remains the case, of course, the more intense everyone’s desire to visit Japan becomes. Though different travelers have different interests to pursue in the Land of the Rising sun — temples and shrines, trains and cafés, anime and manga — all of them are surely united by one appreciation in particular: that of Japanese food.

Wherever in the world we happen to live, most of us have a decent Japanese restaurant or two in our vicinity. Alas, as anyone with experience in Japan has felt, the experience of eating its cuisine anywhere else doesn’t quite measure up; a ramen meal can taste good in a California strip mall, not the same as it would taste in a Tokyo subway station.


At least the twenty-first century affords us one convenient means of enjoying audiovisual evocations of genuine Japanese eateries: Youtube videos. The channel Japanese Noodles Udon Soba Kyoto Hyōgo, for instance, has captivated large audiences simply by showing what goes on in the humble kitchens of western Japan’s Kyoto and Hyōgo prefectures.

Hyōgo contains the coastal city of Kobe as well as Himeji Castle, which dates back to the fourteenth century. The prefecture of Kyoto, and especially the onetime capital of Japan within it, needs no introduction, such is its worldwide renown as a site of cultural and historical richness. Right up until the pandemic, many were the foreigners who journeyed to Kyoto in search of the “real Japan.” Whether such a thing truly exists remains an open question, but if it does, I would locate it — in Kyoto, Hyōgo, or any other region of the country — in the modest restaurants of its back alleys and shotengai market complexes, the ones that have been serving up bowls of noodles and plates of curry for decade upon decade.

Ideally the décor never changes at these establishments, nor do the proprietors. The video at the top of the post visits a “good old diner” in Kobe to show the skills of a “hard working old lady” with the status of a “veteran cook chosen by God.” In another such neighborhood restaurant, located near the main train station in the city of Amagasaki, a “super mom” prepares her signature udon noodles. But even she looks like a newcomer compared to the lady who’s been making udon over in Kyoto for 58 years at a diner in existence for a century. Soba, tonkatsu, oyakodon, tempura, okonomiyaki: whichever Japanese dish you’ve been craving for the past couple of years, you can watch a video on its preparation — and make your long-term travel plans accordingly.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Italian Advice on How to Live the Good Life: Cigarettes, Tomatoes, and Other Picturesque Small Pleasures

“I guess everybody’s got a dream and we’re all hoping to see it come true,” muses Giovanni Mimmo Mancusou, a philosophical native of Calabria, the lovely, sun-drenched region forming the toe of Italy’s boot, above. “A dream coming true is better than just a dream.”

Filmmakers Jan Vrhovnik and Ana Kerin were scouting for subjects to embody “the very essence of nostalgia” when they chanced upon Mancusou in a corner shop.

A lucky encounter! Not every non-actor – or for that matter, actor – is as comfortable on film as the laidback Mancusou.


(Vrhovnik has said that he invariably serves as his own camera operator when working with non-actors, because of the potential for intimacy and intuitive approach that such proximity affords.)

Mancusou, an advocate for simple pleasures, also appears to be quite fit, which makes us wonder why the film’s description on NOWNESS doubles down on adjectives like “aging”, “older” and most confusingly, “wisened.”

Merriam-Webster defines “wizened” with a z as “dry, shrunken, and wrinkled often as a result of aging or of failing vitality” … and “wisened” not at all.

Perhaps NOWNESS meant wise?

We find ourselves craving a lot more context.

Mancusou has clearly cultivated an ability to savor the hell out of a ripe tomato, his picturesque surroundings, and his ciggies.

“Serenity, joy, ecstasy” is embroidered across the back of his ball cap.

His manner of expressing himself does lend itself to a “poetic thought piece”, as the filmmakers note, but might that not be a symptom of struggling to communicate abstract thoughts in a foreign tongue?

We really would love to know more about this charming guy… his family situation, what he does to make ends meet, his actual age.

Home movies accompany his nostalgic reverie, but did he provide this footage to his new friends?

Did they hunt it down on ebay? It definitely fits the vibe, but is the man with the eyebrows Mancusou at an earlier age?

Our star pulls up to a small petrol station, declares, “All right, here we go,” and the next frame shows him wearing a headlamp and magnifier as he peers into the workings of a pocket watch:

Time out of mechanical. It’s magic.

Is this a hobby? A profession? Does he repair watches in a darkened gas station?

The filmmakers aren’t saying and the blurred background offers no clues either. Curse you, depth of field!

We’re not even given his home coordinates.

The film, part of the NOWNESS series Portrait of a Place, is titled Paradiso, and there is indeed a village so named adjacent to the town of Belvedere Marittimo, but according to census data we found on line, it has only 14 residents, 7 male.

If that’s where Mancusou lives, he’s either 45-49, 65-69, 70-74, or one of two fellows over age 74…and now we’re really curious about his neighbors, too.

No shade to Signor Mancuso, but we’re glad to know we’re not the only viewers left unsatisfied by this portrait’s lack of depth.

One commenter who chafed at the lack of specificity (“this video is a random portrait of basically anyone in the world that is happy with the little he has”) suggested the omissions contribute to an Italian stereotype familiar from pasta sauce commercials:

People in Italy actually work and have ambitions you know? And often are very well-educated and hard-working. The perspective of Italy that you have comes from the American media and Italian post-war neorealism. Indeed, Oscar-winning Italian people complained about the fact that what the media wants is seeing Italians wearing tank tops doing nothing if not mafia or smelling the roses.

Watch more entries in the NOWNESS Portrait of a Place series here.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

 

Exploring the Greatest of Italy’s 6,000 Ghost Towns: Take a Tour of Craco, Italy

When Americans think of ghost towns, we think tumbleweeds and crumbling Old West saloons. These abandoned settlements are mere babies compared to Italy’s ancient necropolises. We know, of course, the famous dead cities and towns of antiquity – Pompeii, the ruins of Rome, etcetera. Such famous sites are only the most obvious haunted ruins on any itinerary through the venerable boot-shaped country. Can they be considered ghost towns? The first fell prey to a natural disaster that encased its residents in ash before they had the time to leave; the second thrives as the eighth-most populous city in Europe. It may be full of ghosts, but it’s hard to catch them in the throngs, traffic, and noise.

That said, there are no shortage of towns that fit the bill. Italy contains “more than 6,000 abandoned villages,” the video above explains, and “according to conservative estimates, another 15,000 have lost more than 95 percent of their residents.” That’s an awful lot of abandonment. In the video tour above, we get to explore the “Capital of all Ghost Towns,” Craco, a towering village on the high cliffs of a region known as Basilicata in Southern Italy, nestled in the instep of the boot. Founded in the 8th century AD by Greek settlers, the village survived Black Plague, “bands of marauding thieves,” writes Atlas Obscura, and the usual political instability and internecine conflict of Italian towns, duchies, city states, etc. before the country’s 19th century unification. In the end, “a landslide finally forced residents from Craco in 1991.”


The very location that kept the town safe for centuries from those who would sack it also exposed it to the elements. “Once a monastic center, a feudal town and center of education with a university, castle, church, and plazas,” Ancient Origins writes, Craco has now become a destination for adventurers and a set for several films, “including Saving Grace, James Bond’s Quantum of Solace and the hanging of Judas scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.” Charming, no? While such towns are hardly found in the usual history text or guidebook, ancient Italian ghost towns and abandoned castles have inspired actual ghost stories for hundreds of years and are the very origin of the gothic as a literary genre, via Horace Walpole’s haunted castle novel, The Castle of Otranto.

Walpole might just as well have written about the castle of Craco, which you can explore above with Marco, Till, Tobi, and Sam, hosts and producers of Abandoned Italy, a web series devoted to exactly that. In several seasons online, they travel to other ghostly towns, villages, and islands, asking questions like, “what if humans go extinct?” Answering that one is a bit like pondering the tree-falling-in-the-forest question. If no one’s there to see it…. ?

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Great Art Cities: Visit the Fascinating, Lesser-Known Museums of London & Paris

Gallerists James Payne and Joanne Shurvell understand that institutional big gorillas like the Louvrethe Musee d’OrsayTate Britain, and London’s National Gallery require no introduction. Their new art and travel series, Great Art Cities Explained, concentrates instead on the wonderful, smaller museums the biggies often overshadow.

First time visitors to London and Paris may be left scrambling to rearrange their itineraries.

The first two episodes have us persuaded that Sir John Soane’s MuseumKenwood Housethe Wallace Collection, Le Musée National Eugène DelacroixLe Musée de Montmartre à Paris, and Atelier Brancusi are the true “don’t miss” attractions if time is tight.


Credit Payne, whose flair for dishy, far ranging, highly accessible narration made his other web series, Great Art Explained in Fifteen Minutes, an instant hit.

The three British institutions featured above were once grand private homes, whose owners decided to donate them and the magnificent art collections they contained to the public good.

Whatever motivated these wealthy men’s generosity — vanity, the quest for immortality, or, in one case, the desire to cut off a churlish and morally lax son whom Payne compares to the central figure in William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, a Sir John Soane’s Museum favorite — Payne holds them in higher regard than today’s investment-obsessed art collectors:

The world needs more men like (William) Murray(Sir John) Soane, and (Sir Richard) Wallace, men who saw that art can transcend social class. They understood that art should enrich the soul, not the bank balance.

His peeks into their circumstances are every bit as fascinating as the tidbits he drops about the artists whose work he includes.

Rather than giving a sweeping overview of each collection, he focuses on a few key works, sharing his curatorial perspective on their history, acquisition, subject matter, creation, and reception:

Rembrandt’s Self Portrait with Two Circles (1669)

Vermeer’s The Guitar Player (1672)

Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (1732)

Canaletto‘s Venice: the Bacino di San Marco from San Giorgio Maggiore and Venice: the Bacino di San Marco from the Canale della Giudecca (c. 1735 – 1744)

Fragonard’s The Swing (1767)

Frans Hal’s Laughing Cavalier (1624)

Payne’s rollicking approach means each episode is crammed with plenty of artwork residing outside of the featured museums, too, as he compares, contrasts, and contextualizes.

One of his most interesting tales in the London episode concerns an 18th-century portrait of William Murray’s great-nieces, Dido Belle and Elizabeth Murray, raised by their abolitionist great-uncle at Kenwood House:

Dido Belle was the illegitimate daughter of a Black slave and William Murray’s nephew and was raised by Murray as part of the aristocracy. By all accounts, Dido and her cousin were raised as equals and this portrait of the two was seen as an image of sisterhood, reflecting their equal status. But looking at it with modern eyes, we can see it more in the vein of traditional servant and master portraits of the time. Belle’s exotic clothing is designed to differentiate her from her cousin and the painting reflects the conservative views of the time.

Artist David Martin places the cousins on a bench outside the Hampstead Heath mansion, with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background. For years, it was the only known portrait of Belle.

It hangs, not in Kenwood House, but in Scone Palace‘s Ambassador’s Room.

Meanwhile, one of Kenwood House’s latest acquisitions is a 2021 portrait of Belle by young Jamaican artist Mikéla Henry-Lowe, on display in the library.

Next up on Great Art Cities Explained: New York. Look for it on this playlist on Great Art Explained’s YouTube channel.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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