On this day in 1755, Nathan Hale was born. He is know for his death. When he was being hanged by the British as a spy, he said, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Maybe he didn’t actually say it. But after people die, they become mythical. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” And so of course Nathan Hale said that his only regret was blah blah blah. He was 21 when he was put to death.
Speaking of the Revolutionary War, American painter John Trumbull was born in 1756. He really wasn’t very good. The Russian Romantic poet Alexander Pushkin was born in 1799. Radio pioneer Karl Ferdinand Braun was born in 1850. And scandalous Flowers in the Attic author V. C. Andrews was born in 1923.
And speaking of lesbians, Sandra Bernhard is 58. The great tennis player Bjorn Borg is 47. Borg allows me to spend a moment talking about how much watching tennis on TV sucks. Borg was known for his heavy top-spinned fore and backhands. But watching tennis on TV, you would never know that they put spins on the ball at all. In other words, 90% of the craft of tennis playing is lost on TV. It’s a great game, but you really have to be there.
But as much as I admire Borg and Near, the day belongs to the great Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velazquez who was born in 1599. He is mostly known for his portraiture, but I prefer his historical and “everyday” painting.
Happy birthday Diego Velazquez!