David Armitage, Francis Lieber, and Civil Wars

Francis Lieber (1815–1888) authored General Orders No. 100 for the Union army in 1863—in the midst of the U.S. Civil War. The work codified the laws of war for the first time and prefigured the Geneva and Hague conventions. The military still references the “Lieber Code.” This engraving of Lieber, by H.B. Hall & Sons of New York City, appears in The Supreme Court of the United States: its history, 1901, by Hampton L. Carson. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The concept for the book Civil Wars: A History in Ideas, David Armitage’s examination of bloody conflicts from ancient times to the present, germinated in the idyllic surroundings of The Huntington. When the author revisited The Huntington more than a decade later to deliver the Crotty Lecture last month, he recounted the coincidence that led him to a topic he never expected to investigate.

“You could say the subject found me,” said Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University.

In 2006–7, Armitage was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at The Huntington. The Second Gulf War raged. Between October 2006 and January 2007, an average of 3,000 people a month—including soldiers, civilians, Iraqis, and invaders—were dying in Iraq.

Manuscript from the drafts of the Lieber Code. The first sentence reads: “The adoption by the legitimate government of the common rules of regular war in insurrections or rebellions, is necessarily subject to the greatest modification regarding the treatment of the inhabitants of the revolted provinces, by the commander of the legitimate army, in all those cases for which the distinct law of his country or the positive orders of his government do not provide.” The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

At the same moment, Armitage discovered The Huntington’s Francis Lieber papers, a collection of roughly 6,000 items, including notes, correspondence, manuscripts, and printed materials. Francis Lieber (1815–1888) authored General Orders No. 100 for the Union army in 1863—in the midst of the U.S. Civil War. The work codified the laws of war for the first time and prefigured the Geneva and Hague conventions. The military still references the “Lieber Code,” as it’s commonly known.

Lieber, a lawyer and professor of political science, was uniquely qualified for the challenge. Prussian by birth, he immigrated to the United States, where he taught first at the University of South Carolina and then at Columbia College (now Columbia University) in New York City. He had three sons, two of whom fought for the Union, one for the Confederacy. In May 1861, Lieber wrote, after the death of one of his sons in battle, “Behold in me the symbol of civil war.”

As Armitage read through Lieber’s letters, he experienced Lieber’s grappling with issues such as the status of enemy combatants, the treatment of prisoners taken on the battlefield, and the rules of military justice. The mid-19th-century correspondence resonated with daily headlines about the George W. Bush administration’s “Global War on Terror.”

Annotated draft of the Lieber Code. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“I found the past rhyming with the present,” said Armitage. In 2006, media, commentators, and the administration pondered what to call the Iraq War. The Los Angeles Times and some other major dailies called it a civil war. The administration and voices on the right objected. Lieber had been equally perplexed about what to call the war in which his sons fought.

He found it difficult to distinguish among the terms “civil war,” “rebellion,” “insurrection,” and “invasion.” A draft of the code that Lieber sent to Henry Wager Halleck (1815–1872), the international lawyer and Union general who had commissioned Lieber’s work, avoided defining civil war. Halleck wrote, “To be more useful at the present time it should embrace civil war as well as war between states or distinct sovereignties.” In March 1863, Lieber replied, “I am writing my 4 sections on civil war and ‘invasion.’ Ticklish work, that.”

Armitage came to view 1863 and 2006 as but two stops along a long journey that starts in the Republic of Rome and extends to the present day. He noted that, in 2016, there were some 50 armed conflicts around the globe—all but two of them within a single country. Civil wars were the most destructive of these. Economists estimate the human, material, and economic cost of such civil wars at $123 billion per year.

Annotated photostat of the Lieber Code. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Armitage believes the historian should not attempt to define civil war—“definitions never satisfy everyone”—but to excavate the conflicts. Civil Wars, recently released in paperback, provides perspective on the roots and dynamics of civil war and its shaping force in today’s world.

Armitage concluded his Crotty Lecture with “tempered hope” for the future. “What humanity has invented,” he said, “they can uninvent.”

You can listen to David Armitage’s Crotty Lecture, “Civil War: A History in Ideas,” on SoundCloud.

Linda Chiavaroli is a volunteer in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Yone Noguchi and Haiku in the United States

Photograph of Yone Noguchi, inscribed to Charles Warren Stoddard, April 1903. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Haiku is arguably the best-known form of poetry in the United States. Nearly every schoolchild in the U.S. has attempted to write a poem in three lines of seventeen syllables, arranged in the now familiar 5-7-5 syllable pattern. Traditionally, haiku focuses on natural themes and provides philosophical insight through the juxtaposition of two subjects. But how did this distinctly Japanese art form first come to the States?

The answer is a turn-of-the-20th-century Japanese man named Yonejirō Noguchi (1875–1947), better known in the U.S. as Yone Noguchi. Noguchi was the first Japanese writer to publish novels and poetry in the English language. His accomplishments have often been overshadowed by his son Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), an internationally known sculptor and the product of a somewhat scandalous affair between Yone and American Léonie Gilmour (1873–1933).

Noguchi’s poetry was first published in the United States in The Lark, a magazine edited by Gelett Burgess in San Francisco. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Born in Tsushima, Japan, Noguchi was fascinated with English at a young age. Bored with his prep school studies, he travelled to San Francisco in 1893 to immerse himself in the language. There he befriended the poet Joaquin Miller (1837–1913), who introduced him to other literati, including Charles Warren Stoddard (1843–1909) and Gelett Burgess (1866–1951). Burgess published Noguchi’s poetry in his magazine The Lark.

The first volume of Noguchi’s poetry, Seen and Unseen, or, Monologues of a Homeless Snail, appeared in 1897. Filled with his Whitmanesque free verse and imperfect English, it also included translations of two haiku by the 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694) in the introduction. To Noguchi’s surprise, the volume was a success, and he began to earn a reputation as a man at the convergence of East and West.

Noguchi’s The American Diary of a Japanese Girl, published in 1902, was the first novel published in the United States by a Japanese writer. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Noguchi moved to New York City, and in 1902, his The American Diary of a Japanese Girl became the first novel published in the United States by a Japanese writer. Riffing on the popularity of Pierre Loti’s 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème and John Luther Long’s 1898 short story “Madame Butterfly,” Noguchi also fictionalized some of his own experiences in California for the tale. Initially attributed to the pseudonymous “Miss Morning Glory,” the purported autobiography follows an 18-year-old Japanese girl on her transcontinental visit to the United States with her uncle. As she prepares to leave San Francisco, she writes a farewell haiku:

Sayonara no
Ureiya nokore
Mizu no neni!

Remain, oh remain,
My grief of sayonara,
There in water sound!

Noguchi’s novel The American Diary of a Japanese Girl was initially attributed to the pseudonymous Miss Morning Glory, an 18-year-old Japanese girl on a transcontinental tour of the United States. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In February 1904, Reader magazine published an essay by Noguchi: “A Proposal to American Poets.” In it, Noguchi encourages American poets to try writing Japanese haiku, or hokku, as he preferred to call them, using an older term. He compares hokku to “a tiny star . . . carrying the whole sky at its back” and “a slightly open door, where you may steal into the realm of poesy.” Simplicity and the power of suggestion, Noguchi argues, offer a superior poetic form. In contrast, he notes that “I always compare an English poem with a mansion with windows widely open, even the pictures of its drawing-room visible from the outside. I dare say it does not tempt me much to see the within.”

Noguchi goes on with examples of his translations of poems by Bashō, as well as a few hokku of his own creation. He admonishes: “Pray, you try Japanese Hokku, my American poets! You say far too much, I should say.”

Miss Morning Glory’s farewell haiku, the first original haiku published in an English novel. Translated, the poem reads: “Remain, oh remain, / My grief of sayonara, / There in water sound!” The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In August 1904, Noguchi returned to Japan and accepted a position as a professor of English at Keio University. He married a Japanese woman and continued publishing in English. He received critical success in Europe through the 1910s, where his ideas about haiku sparked the interest of the U.S. poet Ezra Pound (1885–1972) and the Imagists. American poets slowly explored the form, which gained serious traction during the Japanophilic 1960s. Today, English-language haiku is a staple of American poetry.

The quality of Noguchi’s poetry, and his translations, have been debated by scholars over the years, as has the extent of his influence on the popularity of haiku. But his early attempts to bring a taste of Japan to America are undeniable.

Natalie Russell is assistant curator of literary collections at The Huntington.

The Auction Catalogs of Martin Folkes

Mezzotint of Martin Folkes (1690–1754) with a bust of Isaac Newton (1643–1727) by J. Faber Jr., after the portrait by J. Vanderbank, between 1769 and 1774. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

During my time at The Huntington as a short-term fellow, I was researching and writing a biography of Martin Folkes (1690–1754). A protégé of Sir Isaac Newton’s, Folkes was an English antiquary, mathematician, numismatist (coin expert), and astronomer whose unique distinction was his simultaneous presidency of both the Royal Society of London, a renowned scientific academy, and the Society of Antiquaries. He was president of the Royal Society from 1741 to 1753 and president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1750 until his death in 1754.

Folkes was perhaps the best-connected and most versatile natural philosopher and antiquary of his age, an epitome of Enlightenment sociability, yet he is today a surprisingly neglected figure. His was an intellectually vibrant world in which the long shadow of Newton—Folkes’s patron and hero—has tended to obscure those who followed him.

Title page of A Catalogue of the Entire and Valuable Library of Martin Folkes, Esq., 1756. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

One way we can rescue this Newtonian scientist and connoisseur from obscurity is to examine the auction catalogs of his vast library and art collections, sold at auction after his death by his daughter Lucretia. Understanding his library is to understand his mind. The Huntington’s magnificent holdings include the original 1756 library auction catalog, helpfully annotated by an attendee, an invaluable resource for a historian of the book.

Not surprisingly, we see several broadly scientific works in Folkes’s collection, including the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the publications of the French Royal Academy of Sciences, a reflection of his role as Royal Society president.

We also see in the catalog some of Folkes’ own works, particularly his tables on English Silver and Gold Coins (1745), the first numismatic history of English coinage ever written; his exactitude and his and the Royal Society’s analysis of specific gravities of metals made his research a reference point for popularized manuals of weights and measures.

Page 14 of A Catalogue of the Entire and Valuable Library of Martin Folkes, Esq., 1756. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Folkes conferred with several collectors to assemble his volume, including the Earl of Pembroke and the antiquary William Stukeley, best known for his work on Stonehenge. Its publication was a continuation of the Newtonian program in the Royal Society; Newton had served as Warden, then Master of the Mint to reform the English coinage. In the manuscripts section of the Folkes’s auction catalog, we indeed spot “Sir Isaac Newton’s Letter to the Treasury on the Coin in the Year 1717.”

Folkes also was a collector of rare books, art, and—as the first member of the gentry to marry a London actress, one Lucretia Bradshaw—a devotee of the theater. He possessed a first folio of Shakespeare, which sold for £3.3s, a small fortune at the time.

Title page of Martin Folkes’s A Table of English Silver Coins from the Norman Conquest to the Present Time, printed for the Society of Antiquaries, 1745. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In 1756, a separate auction was also held of Folkes’s massive art collection, and The Huntington’s copy of the art catalog led me, with the help of Keith Moore, the Royal Society librarian, to find four original portraits that hung in the Royal Society when it was in Crane Court in the early 18th century. The auction catalog indicated that Folkes collected a number of images by John Smith, who created mezzotints after the original oil portraits painted by Godfrey Kneller.

In the Royal Society’s Journal book for 1716, shortly after Folkes was elected to the Council, an entry indicates that Folkes donated five mezzotints of past Royal Society presidents to the Society, including portraits of Lord Carbery, Lord Somers, the Duke of Montague, and Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Mezzotint by John Smith of English architect and scientist Christopher Wren (1632–1723) by John Smith, after the portrait by Godfrey Kneller. The ragged edges indicate where the portrait had been taken out of the frame; the verso has acid wood marks. Image courtesy of the Royal Society, London.

Tucked away in the Royal Society archives, Keith Moore and I subsequently found the donation by Folkes, which would have been gratefully accepted by Newton, a gift which no doubt raised Folkes’s status and esteem in the Royal Society. Folkes would succeed Sir Hans Sloane as president of the Royal Society in 1741. The Huntington, in fact, has one of the letters sent to the Royal Society during Folkes’s tenure as president and endorsed with his characteristic signature; it concerned a new edition of the works of Francis Bacon, the Royal Society’s philosopher-king.

At some point in the past, the mezzotint portraits were taken out of their wooden frames, but the gilt dedications and descriptions are still intact; the mezzotints are currently being conserved in London. With the help of an auction catalog at The Huntington, Keith Moore and I realized the significance of items in the Royal Society archives, promoting them from being just another set of prints into esteemed Royal Society memorabilia. And, thanks to The Huntington’s auction catalogs, we now have a much clearer picture of the remarkable career of Martin Folkes.

Anna Marie Roos is reader at the University of Lincoln, member of the Library Committee of the Royal Society of London, and has recently been named the new editor of Notes and Records of the Royal Society, the Society’s journal of the history of science. An article by Roos concerning Folkes’s travels to Italy in the 1730s—“Taking Newton on Tour”—has been recently published by the British Journal of the History of Science.

A Designing Pre-Raphaelite

Detail of the lower portion of The Nativity, by Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833–1898), in which Mary, Joseph, and a small group of angels gaze at the infant Jesus in wonderment. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Before I saw The Nativity by Edward Burne-Jones, I asked myself if The Huntington really needed another design for a piece of 19th-century decorative art? We already had more than 1,000 drawings for wallpapers, carpets, tapestries, and ceramics by members of a British group of 19th-century artists called the Pre-Raphaelites.

Inspired by the art and culture that preceded the period of the great Renaissance artist Raphael (1483–1520), the Pre-Raphaelites emulated artists of the 1400s because they depicted nature more realistically than idealistically, and because their medieval craft guilds offered an alternative type of community to the industrialization of the mid-19th century.

After I saw The Nativity in person, the answer to whether we needed it was a decisive “yes.” This work of art, a moving and exquisite depiction of the birth of Jesus, was unlike anything The Huntington already owned.

Artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898) rendered this work—which measures almost five feet high—in various dreamy shades of blue offset with touches of gold. The elongated scene is divided into two sections by a swooping “S” curve, reminiscent of historiated letters in manuscript illuminations. In the upper portion of the painting, a crowd of angels appears before shepherds, who shield their eyes from the dazzling vision. The background is filled with a tangle of skeletal trees. In the lower portion of the painting, Mary, Joseph, and a small group of angels gaze at the infant Jesus in wonderment. Here the artist painted a cave in the background, creating a sense of protection and quiet piety that contrasts with the decorative brilliance above.

Detail of the upper portion of The Nativity, showing a crowd of angels appearing before shepherds. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

It is a beautiful thing . . . but, what, exactly, is it? We know that it is fully painted with opaque pigments on two joined sheets of paper that have been mounted to cloth, so, we could as easily call it a drawing as a painting. That the artist himself designed the gilded frame for the work means that he intended it to be a finished work of art. However, we know that it also served as a preparatory design for another work: a stained-glass window in the cathedral of the artist’s hometown of Birmingham, England.

A little research revealed that the Victoria and Albert Museum in London owns a large-scale photograph—actually many smaller photographs pieced together—of this work on paper. It seems that the artist first made a rough design for the window, photographed it and enlarged it to a scale the size of the window, and then painted over the photographic image to fine-tune the figures and bring out the details that were important for stained glass.

For example, the feathers in the angels’ wings and the rocks above the cave were delineated more carefully since, as a window in a cathedral, they needed to be legible from a distance. Given the success of the design on paper, the artist then decided to work the image up more fully, adding highlights in gold and designing a frame to make it the ravishing and finished work of art that it is today. Yes, it is a beautiful thing . . . but it’s also fascinating because of what it can tell us of the artist’s working process. Because of its sensitivity to light, this new acquisition is on display for a very brief time in The Huntington Art Gallery’s Works on Paper Room from Feb. 22 to March 19, 2018. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this exquisite work in person.

Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833–1898), The Nativity, watercolor and bodycolor, heightened with gold, on two joined sheets of paper, 56 3⁄4 x 231⁄8 in. (144.1 x 58.7 cm.). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Catherine Hess is interim director of the Art Collections.

Coming Home

Phillip E. Bloom is the June and Simon K.C. Li Curator of the Chinese Garden and Director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies at The Huntington. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Before Phillip E. Bloom applied to become The Huntington’s Curator of the Chinese Garden, he spent two days exploring and contemplating Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance—first alone and later with his wife, Yurika Wakamatsu, who had just taken a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Occidental College.

Coming to San Marino from Indiana University, where he was an assistant professor of East Asian art, Bloom was enthralled by the thoughtfulness that marked the garden’s planning and construction; the exacting placement of plants, rocks, and water in relation to the architectural features; and the use of poetry and literature to name and enliven each pavilion. But what really surprised Bloom, who grew up in Montana and has lived in many far-flung locales both in the United States and abroad, was Southern California itself.

“Neither of us had spent much time here before, but when Yurika came for her job interview, she felt more at home than anywhere she’d ever been,” says Bloom. “I could see why. It’s exciting to live in a place where Asia really matters. And there are so many other ethnic communities and cultures that coexist with a fluidity we’d never seen before.”

Pavilion of Three Friends and Lake of Reflected Fragrance in The Huntington’s Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. Photo by Martha Benedict.

Bloom and Wakamatsu met while in graduate school at Harvard University, where they both earned their doctorates in East Asian art history. Bloom specializes in the visual culture of China’s Song Dynasty (960–1279).

Since becoming the new June and Simon K.C. Li Curator of the Chinese Garden and Director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies in September, Bloom has loved watching the way people from the region’s diverse communities interact with the space. True to the way it was conceived, the 10-year-old Liu Fang Yuan functions as a place where different cultures gather not only for beauty but also for inspiration, to create something new, from art and friendships to cultural understandings. “In just the short while I’ve been here, I’ve loved watching the range of experiences—from young schoolchildren learning about poetry and plants, to grown-up crowds enjoying the food, art, and musical performances,” says Bloom. (And he’ll no doubt witness more such experiences when visitors come to celebrate the Chinese New Year Festival at The Huntington on Feb. 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

The Huntington will celebrate the Chinese New Year with a cultural festival on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 (Sat. and Sun.), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can enjoy music, dance, demonstrations, exhibitions, Chinese cuisine, and performances, including those by lion dancers. Photo by Martha Benedict.

Continuing to engage the region’s diverse communities is Bloom’s paramount goal, and he is eager to collaborate with his counterparts at other museums and institutions of higher learning to share ideas and to develop partnerships that will lead to exhibitions and new public programs.

“Part of the appeal of coming to Southern California was that there’s a higher density of historians of Asian art than almost anywhere else in the U.S,” says Bloom.

As coordinator of the institution’s East Asian garden lecture series, Bloom also sees great potential in sharing the dynamic scholarship from Huntington-hosted symposiums with a wider audience—especially college students and interested members of the general public—by developing a publication series and a digital journal.

“I am eager to create a body of scholarship that can be used for university teaching,” says Bloom. “When you read scholarly articles on East Asian gardens, they somehow tend to make the garden feel quite dead, so I am eager to create a body of scholarship that can be used for teaching undergraduates.”

The Waveless Boat pavilion and the Lake of Reflected Fragrance in Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. Photo by Martha Benedict.

With all this on his plate, Bloom and Wakamatsu have still found time to become full-fledged Angelenos, indulging their love for art, music, and food. With Los Angeles’s status as an important hub of Asian culture and influence and The Huntington’s own critical role in promoting the appreciation of Asian culture as part of our shared global heritage, Bloom says they have found an exciting and comfortable place to call home. And, he says, “I don’t ever want to leave.”

You can listen to Phillip Bloom’s inaugural lecture at The Huntington, “The Ecology of Eternity in a Song-Dynasty Buddhist Monastery,” on SoundCloud.

Manuela Gomez Rhine is a freelance journalist based in Pasadena, California.

Ancestor in a Japanese Guest Book

Akira Chiba (middle left), the consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, and his wife, Yuko Chiba (middle right) look at a guest book for a welcome party organized by the Japanese Red Cross to honor Sir Frederick Treves, personal physician to King Edward VII, on May 3, 1904, in Tokyo. The guest book, which contains signatures by Akira Chiba’s great-grandfather, was acquired and recently donated to The Huntington by Frank and Toshie Mosher (Toshie Mosher is on the far right). Li Wei Yang (far left), is curator of Pacific Rim Collections. Photo by Jim Folsom.

When Akira Chiba, the consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, came to visit The Huntington, he had an opportunity to look at one of the Library’s recent acquisitions—a guest book that contains the signature of one of his illustrious forebears.

Chiba’s great-grandfather was the esteemed physician and bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato (1853–1931), who was best known for his research on such diseases as tetanus, tuberculosis, and bubonic plague, as well as his administrative efforts to improve public health in Japan. He went on to found the Kitasato Institute, the forerunner to today’s Kitasato University, in Tokyo.

As a young man in 1885, Kitasato was sent by the Japanese government to Germany to study with the best microbiologists of the time. He spent seven years in Germany, jointly publishing his breakthrough work on tetanus immunization with Emil von Behring, who had done similar work regarding diptheria. (Von Behring would go on to win a Nobel Prize for this work in 1901.) In 1891, Kitasato became the first foreign scientist to receive the honorary title of professor from the German government. Kitasato returned to Japan in 1892, where he founded a lab to study bacteriology, and the institute grew in stature and size under his leadership.

Front cover of the guest book. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Kitasato’s government-sponsored time abroad was not unique. Only a few decades after the opening of Japan to the West, many of the nation’s brightest had been sent to foreign lands to acquire skills and knowledge in a variety of fields. Many of them gathered at a welcome party organized by the Japanese Red Cross to honor Sir Frederick Treves (1853–1923), personal physician to King Edward VII, on May 3, 1904, at the Maple Club in Tokyo. (Treves saved the life of King Edward in 1902 with his surgical treatment of appendicitis; he is also famous for his friendship with Joseph Merrick (1862–1890), better known as the “Elephant Man.”)

The guest book for the welcome party was acquired and recently donated to The Huntington by Frank and Toshie Mosher. When Chiba was told about the guest book, he wondered if his great-grandfather’s signature would be inside. In fact, when he was shown the book by Li Wei Yang, The Huntington’s curator of Pacific Rim Collections, he found two signatures by his ancestor.

The first pair of Japanese and Roman-letter signatures on page 17 of the guest book belongs to the physician and bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato (1853–1931), Akira Chiba’s great-grandfather, who founded the Kitasato Institute—the forerunner to today’s Kitasato University in Tokyo, Japan. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“One of Kitasato’s signatures was in Japanese characters, and the other one was in Roman letters,” explains Robert Hori, The Huntington’s gardens cultural curator and program director, who facilitated Chiba’s visit. “Like most of his fellow guests, Kitasato signed in two languages, a common practice for people like himself who had studied abroad,” Hori says.

In his memoirs, Treves recounts his meeting with this group of Japanese physicians.

“I also became acquainted with the Japanese Red Cross Society. This business-like organization is the most remarkable and efficient of its kind in the world. During six months of terrible fighting and exposure in a foreign country [Japan was in the midst of the Russo-Japanese war at the time] there was only a fraction of 1 per cent of loss from preventable disease.

In the Boer War 13,250 soldiers died of disease. It may be safe to conclude that the greater proportion of these deaths were due to preventable disease. It is a little distressing to reflect how many lives might have been saved if the methods of the Japanese Medical Service had been adopted by the British Army.”

Sir Frederick Treves, personal physician to King Edward VII, 1908. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Doctors who had introduced modern medical practices to Japan were now surpassing their Western counterparts in results. The dinner honoring Treves was both a reunion with his students and a celebration of their success.

Commenting on the Library’s remarkable holdings, Consul General Chiba remarked, “Never would I have imagined finding my ancestor here in the collections of The Huntington.”

Kevin Durkin is editor of Verso and managing editor in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

An 18th-Century Star in Stripes

George Stubbs (British, 1724–1806), Zebra, exhibited 1763, oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

What do a zebra and a musical genius have in common? In the case of George Stubbs’ painting Zebra and Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of his friend, the composer and musician Karl Friedrich Abel, there is, surprisingly, more than one connection.

First, both the zebra herself and the portrait of the composer were at one time in the collection of Britain’s Queen Charlotte (1744–1818). And, from Feb. 3 to April 30, 2018, both will be on view in the Huntington Art Gallery.

Thomas Gainsborough (British, 1727–1788), Karl Friedrich Abel, ca. 1777, oil on canvas, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The female zebra painted by Stubbs was among the first of her species to be seen in England. She had been sent by the colonial governor of South Africa in 1762 as a gift for the young queen. When she arrived in London, the zebra was placed in the queen’s menagerie at Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace) and became an instant celebrity. As one observer noted, the beast “was pestered with visits, and had all her hours employed from morning to night in satisfying the curiosity of the public.” Dubbed the “Queen’s she-ass,” she became an instrument of satire in the hands of caricaturists, and rude songs appeared in broadsheets inviting the public to visit the “Queen’s A–.”

Dubbed the “Queen’s she-ass,” the zebra depicted by Stubbs became an instrument of satire in the hands of caricaturists, and rude songs about her appeared in broadsheets. The asses of Great Britain, an answer to Harry H—-d’s ass by fart-inando a modern political astrologer, 1762. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Zebra is the first in a series of portraits of exotic animals that Stubbs would later produce for his friends and patrons, the Scottish anatomists William and John Hunter, though this particular canvas remained in his studio at his death. It was likely William, one of the queen’s doctors, who arranged for the artist’s access to the zebra, and her portrait displays all the hallmarks of Stubbs’ careful observation of animal form. The artist was famous for his ability to accurately portray the muscles and bone structure of horses, as seen in The Huntington’s painting of a jockey and racehorse in action, Baronet with Sam Chifney Up. Stubbs coupled his artistic interest in equines with scientific study, performing dissections and even publishing a treatise, The Anatomy of the Horse (1766).

Stubbs’ attention to anatomy is in full evidence in Zebra, which accurately depicts the differences between this species and the horse, including the backward position of the ears and the tufted tail. In fact, he has so accurately painted the pattern of stripes on the zebra’s hide that zoologists have been able to identify this particular animal as a Cape Mountain zebra.

George Stubbs (British, 1724–1806), Baronet with Sam Chifney Up, 1791, oil on canvas, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Stubbs’ Zebra is more, however, than a record of precise scientific observation. A powerful example of an artist’s ability to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, this poignant image tugs at our heartstrings. Rather than depict her as she would appear in her native habitat, Stubbs places the zebra alone amidst the lush green of an English forest. The trees overwhelm her little figure, and her striped hide, meant to provide camouflage in the grass of the savanna, stands out sharply against the deep shade of the foliage. Her body is turned to the side in an exposed and vulnerable pose, and her expression, ears slightly flattened and eye seemingly heavy-lidded, gives the sense that she is aware of her displacement, and is perhaps longing for her faraway home.

Stubbs’ ability to endow his Zebra with a sense of life and personality has endeared this painting to audiences for more than 200 years, making it one of the best loved animal paintings of all time. On loan from the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Conn., George Stubbs’ Zebra will be charming audiences in the Huntington Art Gallery for a limited time only (Feb. 3 to April 30, 2018). Come visit this loveable stripe-clad celebrity while you can.

Melinda McCurdy is associate curator of British art at The Huntington.

A Botanical “Feathered” Friend

Mammillaria plumosa, nestled where two cracks in a cliff converge in Huasteca Canyon. The canyon is located near Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Photo by John Trager.

As The Huntington’s curator of desert collections, I, along with my staff, care for 2,000 species of succulents, including a vast range of cacti, in the 10-acre Desert Garden, plus thousands more in 20,000 square feet of greenhouse and other nursery space.

Over the years, specimens have come to us from a variety of sources, including other botanical gardens, nurseries, and private collectors. In the early days, when Henry E. Huntington’s superintendent William Hertrich (1878–1966) presided over the gardens, and up until a few decades ago, it was common for plants to be collected during expeditions to their natural habitats. (We still do this, but it’s become more and more rare because of the international restrictions in place meant to protect plant material in their native habitats.)

The cliffside habitat of Mammillaria plumosa in Huasteca Canyon. Photo by John Trager.

That’s how we came to grow an example of the feather cactus, Mammillaria plumosa. This plant is on the opposite end of the prickly spectrum from the spiny cactus varieties with which most people are familiar. Its spines are soft and feathery, as its name implies.

As the plant grows, it forms more and more pincushion-like heads. We propagated these plants by separating the heads to root on their own and then shared many specimens with other institutions and private collectors. This is good insurance for us because, if we lose a plant, others can return the favor by sharing one of their propagations to restore the collection. One head we planted about a decade ago has multiplied into dozens of heads, forming a mounding cushion about a foot in diameter. It lives in the Desert Conservatory, where we invite visitors to touch it.

A magnified spine cluster showing the feather-like nature of the spines. Photo by Raquel Folgado.

But, admittedly, as much as we love presenting the plants here at The Huntington, it’s especially rewarding to see them in their natural habitat. So, when the opportunity arises, I’m eager to tear myself away from the greenhouse to do fieldwork. The experience can yield insights into natural variability, associated flora, and ecological relationships with habitat, plants, and animals. It can also help inform our cultivation practices so that we can better grow the plants in our care.

When I set out on a fieldtrip last summer to northern Mexico, I didn’t know what to expect. I was exploring a cliffside in Huasteca Canyon near Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo Leon, when a companion asked me to identify two species of mammillaria. I scanned the cliff and identified Mammillaria formosa and Mammillaria winterae and, lo and behold, nestled where two cracks in the cliff converged, was our old friend, the feather cactus, Mammillaria plumosa.

After returning from Mexico, I was inspired to take a closer look at our Mammillaria plumosa. With the help of The Huntington’s research botanist, Raquel Folgado, we captured some close-ups through a dissecting microscope. Under magnification, the spines radiating from each areole look like ostrich feathers.

A view from under the spines of Mammillaria plumosa. Photo by Raquel Folgado.

Peering beneath the spines revealed spine clusters that resemble little parasols, held aloft on small conical projections called tubercles. These not only shade the plant from the most intense sunlight, but also diffuse light, rather like a photographer’s diffusing umbrella, shedding light evenly to all sides of the green tubercles—and rendering Mammillaria plumosa one of the most beautiful cacti, in my opinion.

It is also a marvel of efficiency in how it makes best use of available light. Plants that inhabit cliffs can be alternately exposed to blazing sun or dry shade. During a shady Mexican afternoon, the cliff still radiates the warmth of the day, and the plants still have several hours of photosynthetic work to be done before darkness falls.

I have always appreciated Mammillaria plumosa, but seeing it in the wild gave me newfound curiosity and respect for this botanical wonder. Visitors can see—and even touch—this cactus in the Desert Conservatory, which is open every Saturday during public hours.

John N. Trager is The Huntington’s curator of the desert collections.

For the Love of Flowers

William King (British, active mid to late 18th century), Granadilla Foliis Trilobatis, 1763, watercolor on vellum. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Have you ever found yourself fascinated by the intricate shapes and features of plants, or even taken the time to draw or photograph a beautiful flower that caught your eye? In the exhibition “In Pursuit of Flora: 18th-Century Botanical Drawings from The Huntington’s Art Collections,” you’ll find 16 drawings by a range of artists who were struck by the beauty of flowers. It’s on view in the Huntington Art Gallery’s Works on Paper Room through Feb. 19, 2018.

Some of these artists were among the most important botanical illustrators of their day; they made the images to disseminate knowledge about particular species of plants, often as reproductions in scientific publications. Several of the works, however, are the products of amateurs—in the 18th-century meaning of the word. Back then, being called an amateur did not imply any lack of artistic skill.

William King (British, active mid to late 18th century), Granadilla Foliis Trilobatis (verso, showing annotations by Thomas Skinner), 1763. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The word comes from the Latin “amare,” meaning to love. An amateur referred to someone who was passionate about a subject and practiced a skill without regard for monetary compensation. Most amateur artists of the period were members of the aristocracy or landed gentry—people with the wealth and leisure time to deeply follow their passions. Botany was another interest in which they could readily indulge.

Take, for example, several generations of botanical artists from the Conyers family of Essex. These women had ample opportunities to study a variety of plants on the family estate, called Copped Hall, known for its splendid garden. The family also owned properties on the Caribbean islands of Antigua and St. Kitts. These exotic locations may point to the origins of the Marvel of Peru, (Mirabilis jalapa), shown here by Matilda Conyers (1698–1793).

Matilda Conyers (British, 1698–1793), Marvel of Peru, 1767, watercolor and gouache on vellum. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The Conyers may have taken drawing lessons from one of the most important botanical illustrators of the day, Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708–1770), a collaborator of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, as the family owned several of the artist’s works. Whether or not Matilda Conyers received instruction from Ehret himself, his influence is clearly evident in her drawing, which displays a careful rendering of variegated yellow and red flowers, and includes both open and closed buds to show as much botanical information as possible.

The drawings of English botanical illustrator William King (active mid to late 18th century) reflected the specimens he recorded from the garden of amateur botanist Thomas Skinner, who had collected several plants from the Americas, species that seemed decidedly exotic to his neighbors in suburban London. King’s intricate watercolor shows a passionflower (Passiflora), with its delicate twining tendrils. Skinner recorded his own observations about these exotic plants on the backs of King’s drawings. On one he describes the plant as “a very hardy out-door perennial” that “continues growing and flowering till the Frosts cut it down towards the latter end of Autumn.”

Peter Brown (British, active 1766–1791), Belladonna Amaryllis, ca. 1780, watercolor on vellum. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Artist Peter Brown (active 1766–1791) had been tutoring a number of aristocrats who engaged in botanical illustration before being appointed botanical painter to the Prince of Wales. His striking image of Belladonna Amaryllis is similar to one that once formed part of an album of botanical illustrations made by Elizabeth Montagu (1741–1832), Duchess of Manchester. The presence of a number of Brown’s drawings inside the Duchess’s albums suggests that he may even have been her tutor.

Could the love of flowers expressed in these images encourage you to become an amateur artist yourself? Further inspiration is right outside the gallery in The Huntington’s extensive botanical gardens. Even if you are just as an observer, why not enjoy the beauty of these exquisitely rendered plants and flowers?

Georg Dionysius Ehret (German, 1708-1770), Climbing Lily, 1763, watercolor on vellum. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Melinda McCurdy is associate curator of British art at The Huntington.

British Theater Censorship in the Georgian Era

Edward Dayes (British, 1763–1804), Drury Lane Theatre, 1795, 15 x 22 in. (38.1 x 55.9 cm.), pen and watercolor. Gilbert Davis Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

I am convening a conference at The Huntington titled “The Censorship of British Theatre, 1737–1843,” which will take place on Jan. 12 and 13 in The Huntington’s Rothenberg Hall. Leading experts on 18th- and 19th-century theater will explore the implications of statutory theater censorship as Britain grappled with issues of modernity, race, gender, and religion during a period of imperial expansion and conflict.

For the literary historian or the student of Georgian culture, the most intriguing consequence of the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 was the establishment of the office of the Examiner of Plays. The Examiner assessed the suitability of new dramatic manuscripts for public performance in patent—that is, royally licensed—theaters. Reporting to the Lord Chamberlain, the Examiner had quite remarkable power to determine what might be consumed by audiences.

John Larpent (1741–1824) is the best known Examiner of Plays. Formerly a clerk at the Foreign Office, he took up the position in 1778 and held it until his death in 1824. Fortunately for us, his wife, Anna Larpent, sold his papers—which included most of the plays submitted to previous Examiners from 1737—and they eventually made their way to The Huntington in 1917.

The Larpent Collection comprises more than 2,500 separate manuscript items, many of which contain the various excisions and emendations introduced by the Examiners. While it was rare that a play would be prohibited outright, a significant portion of the collection items have lines or speeches marked “unfit for representation,” “to be omitted,” or are simply scored out, boxed, or marked with an “X.” (Our conference will bring the rich archive of the Larpent plays at The Huntington into dialogue with the British Library’s Lord Chamberlain’s Plays, a repository of theater manuscripts after 1824.)

A censored page of John O’Keeffe’s Jenny’s Whim; or, The Roasted Emperor, 1794. Larpent Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The introduction of the Stage Licensing Act in 1737 formalized a censorship regime that had operated on an ad hoc basis since the restoration of King Charles I in 1660 and the subsequent reopening of the theaters. The genesis of the act is complicated and variegated but the repercussions were certainly potent and long lasting: the censorship of the British stage by the state did not cease until 1968.

One might imagine that there would have been widespread opposition to the Stage Licensing Act in 1737, a time when Britain prided itself on the “liberties” its mixed government (where monarchy was tempered by parliament) was believed to facilitate, so different from the “tyranny” of Continental absolute monarchies. But while there was some unease, notably from politician Lord Chesterfield (1694–1793) and writer Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), the general view was that censorship of the theater was a benign way to ensure the morality, stability, and well-being of the nation and its people—an indication of the centrality of theater to Georgian cultural life.

What might raise an Examiner’s hackles? For the most part, censorship was related to political matters. Then, as now, leading political figures became incensed at satirical impersonation. The introduction of the Stage Licensing Act was motivated partly by prime minster Robert Walpole (1676–1745), who became increasingly irked by the mockery he endured at the hands of the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding (1704–1754) and others. The first play refused a license was Henry Brooke’s Gustavus Vasa (1739), ostensibly a paean to a 16th-century Swedish patriot, but which was really a visceral attack on the perceived self-interest, ambition, and greed of Walpole’s ministry.

Playwrights occasionally protested their outrage at censorship. In this extract from the preface to Killing No Murder (1809), Theodore Hook insists he had no intention of maligning Methodists in his play. The preface is annotated by an equally irate John Larpent, marking up the falsehoods in Hook’s account of their meetings. Larpent Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Political censorship can be traced right through the years 1737 to 1843, particularly at moments of national crisis: the French Revolution provoked a fraught debate on political reform in Britain which increased nervousness about what might be staged in front of “the people.” John O’Keeffe’s Jenny’s Whim; or, The Roasted Emperor (1794) gives us some idea of contemporary sensitivities. Although the play takes aim at the Emperor of Morocco, the rather frenetic marks on the manuscript make it clear that a satirical attack on any dramatic representation of monarchy was not to be tolerated in the wake of the execution of France’s King Louis XVI.

Matters of sex, religion, and economics were also likely to furrow the brow of an Examiner.  Suggestions of lewd behavior on the part of the upper classes, mockery of religious figures, or references to harsh levels of taxation were systematically excised from the theatrical repertoire. The Larpent manuscripts provide a remarkably revealing narrative of the sensitivities of British society in the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can read more about the conference program on The Huntington’s website.

David O’Shaughnessy is assistant professor in 18th-century studies at Trinity College Dublin. He is the author of William Godwin and the Theatre and co-editor of The Diary of William Godwin. He is currently editing Ireland, Enlightenment and the English Stage, 1740-1820 for Cambridge University Press.