On This Day
1554 – Bayinnaung, who would go on to assemble the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia, is crowned King of Burma.
Bayinnaung Kyawhtin Nawrahta (Burmese: ဘုရင့်နောင် ကျော်ထင်နော်ရထာ [bəjɪ̰ɴ nàʊɴ tɕɔ̀ tʰɪ̀ɴ nɔ̀jətʰà]; Thai: บุเรงนองกะยอดินนรธา, RTGS: Burengnong Kayodin Noratha; 16 January 1516 – 10 October 1581) was king of the Toungoo Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1550 to 1581. During his 31-year reign, which has been called the “greatest explosion of human energy ever seen in Burma”, Bayinnaung assembled the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia, which included much of modern-day Burma, the Chinese Shan states, Lan Na, Lan Xang, Manipur and Siam.
Although he is best remembered for his empire building, Bayinnaung’s greatest legacy was his integration of the Shan states into the Irrawaddy-valley-based kingdoms. After the conquest of the Shan states in 1557–1563, the king put in an administrative system that reduced the power of hereditary Shan saophas, and brought Shan customs in line with low-land norms. It eliminated the threat of Shan raids into Upper Burma, an overhanging concern to Upper Burma since the late 13th century. His Shan policy was followed by Burmese kings right up to the final fall of the kingdom to the British in 1885.
He could not replicate this administrative policy everywhere in his far flung empire, however. His empire was a loose collection of former sovereign kingdoms, whose kings were loyal to him as the Cakkavatti (Universal Ruler), not the Kingdom of Toungoo. Indeed, Ava and Siam revolted just over two years after his death. By 1599, all the vassal states had revolted, and the Toungoo Empire completely collapsed.
He is considered one of the three greatest kings of Burma, along with Anawrahta and Alaungpaya. Some of the most prominent places in modern Myanmar are named after him. He is also well known in Thailand as Phra Chao Chana Sip Thit (พระเจ้าชนะสิบทิศ, “Victor of the Ten Directions”).
Born On This Day
1673 – Rosalba Carriera, Italian painter (d. 1757)
Rosalba Carriera (12 January 1673 – 15 April 1757) was a Venetian Rococo painter. In her younger years, she specialized in portrait miniatures. It is for this that she was able to establish a career in portraiture. Carriera would later become known for her pastel work, a medium appealing to Rococo styles for its soft edges and flattering surfaces. She is remembered as one of the most successful women artists of any era.
Born in Venice with two sisters, Rosalba Carriera was a prominent and greatly admired portrait artist of the Italian Rococo. Her family was from the lower-middle-class in Venice, and as a child, she began her artistic career by making lace-patterns for her mother, who was engaged in that trade. However, when interests in lace waned and the industry began to falter, Carriera had to find a new means of providing for herself and her family.
The popularity of snuff-taking gave her an opportunity to do just that. Carriera began painting miniatures for the lids of snuff-boxes, and was the first painter to use ivory instead of vellum for this purpose. Gradually, this work evolved into portrait-painting, for which she pioneered the exclusive use of pastel. Prominent foreign visitors to Venice, young sons of the nobility on the grand tour and diplomats for example, clamored to be painted by her. The portraits of her early period include those of Maximilian II of Bavaria; Frederick IV of Denmark; the 12 most beautiful Venetian court ladies; the “Artist and her Sister Naneta” (Uffizi); and August the Strong of Saxony, who acquired a large collection of her pastels.
By 1700 she was already creating miniatures and by 1703 she completed her first pastel portraits. In 1704, she was made an ‘Accademico di merito’ by the Roman Accademia di San Luca, a title reserved for non-Roman painters.
By 1721, during Carriera’s left Venice for Paris, as portraits by her were in great demand. While in Paris, as a guest of the great amateur and art collector, Pierre Crozat. She painted Watteau, all the royalty and nobility from the King and Regent downwards, and was elected a member of the Academy by acclamation. Her brother-in-law, the painter Antonio Pellegrini, married to her sister Angela, was also in Paris that year. Pellegrini was employed by John Law, a British financier and adventurer, to paint the ceiling of the Grand Salle in Law’s new Bank building.
Carriera’s other sister, Giovanna, and her mother, were members of the party in France. Both sisters, particularly Giovanna, helped her in painting the hundreds of portraits she was asked to execute. This was because she undertook a lot of work in order to support her family. Carriera’s diary of these 18 months in Paris was later published by her devoted admirer, Antonio Zanetti, the Abbé Vianelli, in 1793. Her extensive correspondence has also been published.
In the short time she spent in Paris, her work contributed to forming the new aristocratic tastes of the court and by extension, the tastes of Parisians. No longer did art serve only the monarchy’s needs. Her freedom, colorfulness and charms were injected into the Rococo style (which she was the face behind) which soon dominated the arts.
Despite her triumph in Paris, she returned to her home in Grand Canal, Venice in 1721. Carriera, with her sister Giovanna in tow, visited Modena, Parma, and Vienna, and was received with much enthusiasm by rulers and courts.
In later life, Carriera made a long journey to the royal court in Vienna, Poland. While there, Holy Emperor Charles VI became her benefactor and was fully committed to supporting her work. The Emperor amassed a large collection of more than 150 of her pastels. In return, the empress worked underneath her and received formal artistic training. The works she executed there were later to form the basis of the large collection in the Altemeister Gallery in Dresden.
After her sister Giovanna’s death in 1738, Carriera fell into a deep depression which was not aided by the loss of her vision (which might have been damaged by miniature-painting in her youth) some years later. She underwent two unsuccessful cataract surgeries for but ended up losing her vision completely. She outlived all her family, spending her last years in a little house in the Dorsoduro district of Venice, where she died at the age of 84.
By the time of her death, the Rococo style was not as popular as before. Despite this, she was still a strong influence for many of the women artists that came after her, such as Catherine Read, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.
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