In this day in 1748, the great French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David was born. How great was he? All you have to do is check out Mars Being Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces from about a year before he died.
Perhaps the greatest Romantic period English author, Mary Shelley was born in 1797. Look, I know. Frankenstein is kind of slow by modern standards. But Shelley’s sense of plot and tempo is amazing. If you haven’t read the book, you really should do so. The movies, as much as I love them, are candy compared to the book. It is also, in addition to everything else, an indictment of who we are. The real monster in Frankenstein is not the creation of our modern Prometheus, but rather us.
The German chemist, one of the founders of physical chemistry, Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff was born in 1852. Mathematician Carl David Tolme Runge of Runge–Kutta fame, was born in 1856. Russian landscape painter Isaac Levitan was born in 1860. The father of nuclear physics Ernest Rutherford was born in 1871.
Actor Fred MacMurray was born in 1909. He was really great at playing awful characters as he did in Double Indemnity and The Apartment. Baseball player Ted Williams was born in 1918. Abstract painter Guy de Lussigny was born in 1929. And writer Molly Ivins was born in 1944.
The day, however, belongs to the great cartoonist Robert Crumb who is 70 today. I don’t know what to say about him. I’ve admired him since I was very young. He has a very distinct style that is becoming less so because of his huge effect on the profession. But what most comes across is his extreme honesty. It is hard to read his first person work and not uncomfortably identify with him. But that probably says more about me than anything. I think there is something about being a skinny, shy, but opinionated guys that binds us together.
Happy birthday Robert Crumb!