Today I had wanted to talk about Rudolf Hess. He fascinates me, because of his flight to Scotland in 1941. It strikes me as highly idiosyncratic. And it made Hitler really angry, so you’ve got to give the man credit. But his approach to bring peace made little sense. He sent a letter to Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, who he not only didn’t know, but whom he was completely ignorant about in his position in the country. MI5 intercepted the letter, and Douglas-Hamilton never responded in any case. So Hess just got in his plane and flew to meet with this man. The thinking displays a childlike simplicity. Then there is the question of why he did it. Could he really have thought he had a chance in hell of brokering peace? There is no way that the British would ever have accepted a peace treaty with the Nazis. Even in 1938 they knew the Nazis could not be trusted. And didn’t Hess realize that his act would be seen as treasonous to Hitler? But as much as I’d like to give the day to Hess, he was still a Nazi. He was a nationalist and an imperialist and a racist. And I’m sure if he had stayed in Germany, he would have been fine with the Final Solution. But luckily, it’s a rather good day for births—especially for painters!
On this day in 1862, the great American Impressionist Edmund Tarbell was born. His life wasn’t that interesting, so forgive me for not going over it. No midnight flights to Scotland for him! But as a young man, he studied painting in Paris where he certainly picked up the Impressionist bug. Actually, I’m none too fond of his early work. It strikes me as rather too much like Monet. But even then, he had a clear talent for light. And he honed that talent in his later work that is beautiful and subtle. Here is a painting I especially admire that he did in his late forties, Girl Reading:
Happy birthday Edmund Tarbell!