Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pomona statue in Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza

Photo: Pomona statue in Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza across from Plaza Hotel

Monument of Flora, Szczecin, Poland

Photo: Monument of Flora on White Eagle square, Szczecin.

Szczecin, formerly also known as Stettin, is the capital city of West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea.

Nils Möllerberg's Pomona in Lund, Sweden

PD Photo: Nils Möllerberg's Pomona Statue in Stadsparken (City Park) in Lund, Scania, southern Sweden.

Nils Möllerberg (1892-1954) was a Swedish sculptor, painter and graphic artist. He was the son of Carl Möllerberg, who was a fruit grower and photographer in Tomarp outside Kristianstad in southern Sweden, where Möllerberg settled back at 56 years of age. From 16 years of age he was apprenticed to senior artists in Copenhagen. He lived in Paris between 1919 and 1928 and was influenced by artists such as Aristide Maillol and Auguste Rodin, whose influence is particularly evident in his female figures.

Corpse Flower in Wilhelma Botanical and Zoological Gardens Stuttgart

Photo: Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum) in Wilhelma Botanical and Zoological Gardens Stuttgart, Germany - photo dated October 20, 2005 by Lothar Grünz.

The interesting news of thousands of residents of Tokyo queuing up to view a rare flower known as the Corpse Flower, also known as Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), came after such flowerings of the plants cultivated in botanical gardens in Berkeley and Houston, USA. The rare flower of the plant drew in thousands of visitors because it bloomed after about 20 years.

The Corpse Flower emits the stench of rotten dead bodies (and hence the name) but it is quite gorgeous to look at. It is the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. The distinction of the largest single flower goes to Rafflesia arnoldii, and largest branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera).

Both Titan arum and Rafflesia arnoldii are natives of Indonesia, mainly found in the tropical rain forests of Sumatra, and both share the common name Corpse Flower (bunga bangkai in Indonesian - bunga means flower and bangkai means corpse or cadaver). Flowers of the category Carrion flowers or stinking flowers generally emit an odor that smells like rotting flesh to attract mostly scavenging flies and beetles as pollinators.

Many plants in the genus Amorphophallus are carrion flowers. Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) presents an inflorescence or compound flower composed of a spadix or stalk of small and anatomically reduced male and female flowers, surrounded by a spathe that resembles a single giant petal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Barbra Streisand, the timeless American star

Photo: Barbra Streisand (1962), source: Library of Congress, New York, World Telegram & Sun Collection, Author: Al Ravenna, World Telegram staff photographer (Public Domain photo: No copyright restriction known. Staff photographer reproduction rights transferred to Library of Congress through Instrument of Gift.)

Barbra Streisand, born Barbara Joan Streisand on April 24, 1942, is an American singer, actress, director and songwriter, who has won two Academy Awards, nine Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, an American Film Institute award, a Special Tony Award and a Peabody Award. She has been credited with more than 71.5 million music albums sold in USA and 140 million albums sold worldwide. Along with Frank Sinatra, Cher, Jamie Foxx and Shirley Jones, she shares the distinction of being awarded an acting Oscar and also recording a number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Streisand holds the record for the most top ten albums for any female recording artist with a total of 31 to her credit since 1963. With her 2009 album, “Love Is the Answer”, she became the only artist to achieve number-one albums in five consecutive decades. According to the RIAA, she has released 51 Gold albums, 30 Platinum albums, and 13 Multi-Platinum albums in USA.

'The rest of the model' by Antonio Cortina Farinós

PD Photo: El descanso de la modelo (The rest of the model), oil painting on canvas (1890) by Antonio Cortina Farinós (1841-1890), dimensions 56 cm x 42 cm, located at Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Murchison Falls (River Nile), Uganda

Murchison Falls on River Nile, Uganda

Murchison Falls seen from above

Murchison Falls (also known as Kabalega Falls or Kabarega Falls), is a waterfall on the River Nile. The waterfall breaks the Victoria Nile, which flows from Lake Victoria across northern Uganda to Lake Kyoga and then to the north end of Lake Albert in western arm of the East African Rift Valley. On top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a narrow gap in the rocks, only 7 meters (23 feet) wide and falls down 43 meters (141 feet), and then flows westward into Lake Albert. Lake Victoria sends out around 300 cubic meters per second (11,000 cubic feet/second) of water over the Murchison Falls squeezed through a gorge less than ten meters (30 feet) wide.

Sir Samuel Baker named the falls after the name of Sir Roderick Murchison, who was the president of the Royal Geographical Society. Murchison Falls also lend its name to the Murchison Falls National Park, lying inland from the shore of Lake Albert around the Victoria Nile.

The 1970s the name Murchison Falls was changed to the Kabarega Falls during the reign of Idi Amin, after King Kabarega of Bunyoro (a region of Uganda), although it was never legally promulgated. However, after the downfall of Idi Amin the name was reverted back to Murchison Falls, though it is still sometimes referred to as Kabarega Falls.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Famous Americans Series of 1940: Commemorative Stamps

In 1940 the US Post Office issued a set of 35 Commemorative Stamps, over the course of approximately ten months, commemorating America's famous authors, poets, educators, scientists, composers, artists and inventors. One of the famous artists included in the series was American-born British-based artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose Commemorative Stamp is shown separately below:

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) featured in the ‘Famous Americans Series of 1940’ commemorative stamps issue by the US Post Office