July 6 marks the birthday of a man who sought to build little paradises on the Adriatic Sea before plunging into an American misadventure. Emperor Maximilian’s 1867 death by firing squad drew the attention of the painter Édouard Manet.

L. Author photo of Iron Throne now housed near Dubrovnik. R. Edouard Manet. 1832–1883. Paris. L’exécution de l’Empereur Maximilien. Execution of the Emperor Maximilian. 1869. Mannheim. Kunsthalle.” by jean louis mazieres is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In 2015, the leader of the beautiful Croatian city of Dubrovnik was pleased with the bargain he got from the television network behind the popular “Game of Thrones” series.

Then Dubrovnik Mayor Andro Vlahušić told the Croatia’s RTL Direkt that he had snagged a key prop, the Iron Throne, as souvenir of the series. GoT, as the series is known, had been filmed partly in his city.


Happy coincidence on this July Fourth led me to read about both the significance of AOC’s 2019 swearing-in outfit and the WTO director-general’s dedication to African wax cloth prints known as Ankara.

L. “DG selection process 2020: Presentation to the General Council — Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria” by World Trade Organization is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, R. Screenshot on photo on Instagram feed of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

While cleaning up my email this afternoon, I found the link for a replay of the recent interview that World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala did with the Economist.

As a journalist, I report on wonky issues in health care, and not at all on trade. I had not known about Okonjo-Iweala before logging into this excellent interview. In it, the WTO chief and the top Economist editor touched on many topics, including the effects of the pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala also noted how persisting market failures can lead to unemployment in many nations, resulting in a rise in populism and…


June 15 is the birthday of a leader whose plans to expand China’s global influence can be seen by the Adriatic Sea.

While having coffee yesterday by the old walls of the Croatian city of Split, my husband asked me how old Chinese President Xi Jinping is. It’s not as odd a question as it may appear, and it turned out to be a timely one.


Feb. 18 is the birthday of an American painter whose talent for business provided work for many other artists. His commercial success made his name synonymous with beautiful glasswork.

Which of the images below best represents what the word ‘Tiffany’ means for you?

Three works by Tiffany further described below in this essay.

It’s likely that what sprang to mind was something like this picture of one of Tiffany’s famous windows.


Feb. 8 is the birthday of a German artist who turned to painting animals when mankind disappointed him. Marc was a member of the Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) group whose members advanced abstract art in the early 20th century.

Marc, “Das Äffchen (The Monkey),” 1912. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München. CC BY-SA 4.0

Franz Marc (1880–1916) took refuge in other creatures when his fellow humans fell short of expectations.


Jan. 12 is the birthday of a sophisticated Euro-American painter who could find a beautiful play of light even in a pile of gators.

Sargent, “Muddy Alligators,” 1917. Worcester Museum of Art. Wikiart copy of image in public domain.

Few artists can capture light as did John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). You can feel the warmth of the sun in some of his paintings.

Sargent’s “Breakfast in the Loggia,” seen below, has rescued me from many a chilly day in Washington, D.C.


Dec. 31 is the birthday of an artist who repeatedly painted women captivated by books. It’s a relevant theme for pandemic life, in which reading has been a refuge for many of us.

Henri Matisse (1869–1954) often captured his models as if they were unaware of his presence. Over and over, Matisse painted women who appear to be sunk into the worlds created by the authors of good books.

He did this even before he evolved into the Matisse known so well by many art lovers. Would you have guessed the 1895 painting below was done by Matisse? The same Matisse was a leader in the early 20th experiments with bold colors and exuberant brushwork known as Fauvism?


Dec. 18 is the birthday of a painter who instructed us on how to read his vibrant abstract works.

Klee, “White Blossom in the Garden,” Guggenheim Museum. 1920. Wikimedia copy of image in public domain.

Paul Klee (1897–1940) explored shapes and geometry in his paintings as did the famous leaders of a movement in art called Cubism. But Klee’s works somehow remain emotional even when abstract, a trait not seen in all Cubist works.

Compare Pablo Picasso’s 1914 Cubist painting, “Pipe, Glass, Bottle of Vieux Marc,” seen below on the left, with one of Klee’s most important works, “Temple Gardens.” (His last name Klee is pronounced Clay.)


Dec. 12 is the birthday of an artist whose iconic painting, “The Scream,” overshadowed a career in which he excelled in depicting dark and tragic moments of life.

Munch, “Anxiety,” 1894. Munch Museum, Oslo. Norway. Wikimedia copy of image in public domain.

Edvard Munch (1863–1944) excelled at painting anxiety, the subject of the work seen above.

The Norwegian artist is best known for “The Scream,” seen below, which has been borrowed for products including plastic vases, socks, phone cases and, in recent times, neck gaiters and face masks.


Dec. 8 is the birthday of an artist whose studies of Italian, French and Spanish paintings evolved into a mural style that is seen as distinctly Mexican.

Rivera, “Portrait of Adolfo Best Maguard,” 1913. Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL), Mexico City, Mexico

What do we see in the 1913 painting? We have Mexican artist Adolfo Best Maugard (1891–1964) depicted as the epitome of a Parisian dandy. He radiates elegance. It even appears that the iconic ferris wheel of the Belle Époque — Grande Roue de Paris — spins on the tip of his gloved hand.

Kerry Dooley Young

Journalist fascinated by art, food, architecture, justice, politics, history and business. Has visited museums on six continents, eaten in more than 60 nations.

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