[Daily article] February 15: Léal Souvenir

Léal Souvenir is a 1432 oil-on-oak panel portrait by the Early
Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. The panel was purchased in 1857 by
the National Gallery, London, where it is on permanent display. The
sitter has not been identified, but his individualistic features suggest
a historical person rather than the hypothetical ideal usual in
contemporary northern Renaissance portraiture. The portrait contains
three layers of painted inscriptions, each rendered to look as if
chiseled into stone. The first inscription is in a form of Greek and
seems to spell “TYΜ.ωΘΕΟC”, which has not been satisfactorily
interpreted but has inspired some to title the work Timotheus. The
middle lettering reads in French Leal Souvenir (“Loyal Memory”) and
indicates that the portrait is commemorative, completed after the man’s
death. The third records van Eyck’s signature and the date of execution.
The sitter’s features have been described as “plain and rustic”, yet he
is presented as thoughtful and inward-looking. Art historians have
detected mournfulness in his expression.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1823:

James McBrien made the first official discovery of gold in
Australia at Fish River in New South Wales.

1898:

The United States Navy battleship USS Maine exploded and sank
in Havana, Cuba, killing more than 260 people and precipitating the
Spanish–American War.

1942:

Second World War: Japanese forces led by General Tomoyuki
Yamashita captured Singapore, the largest surrender of British-led
military personnel in history.

1989:

The Soviet Union officially announced that all of its troops
had withdrawn from Afghanistan after a nine-year conflict.

2013:

A previously undetected meteor exploded in mid-air over
Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, with the resulting shock wave injuring more
than 1,500 people.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

dumpee:
(informal) One who is dumped (rejected romantically).

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  I guess my favorite thing in the world is when I look at a piece
of art, or read a story, or watch a movie where I walk away feeling like
“Oh my god — I have to do something, I have to make something or talk
to someone — things are not the same anymore” — and so I try to
make work where you come away with that feeling. It’s like, yeah, you’re
thinking about what you just saw, but even more than that — you feel
able, you feel like, kind of propelled.  
–Miranda July

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