Fly your flag today: Columbus Day 2012

October 8, 2012

Falling down on the job here as arbiter of your flag-flying habits.  How could I forget that some of America celebrates this day as Columbus Day?  (No one in this household gets the day off.)

Fly your U.S. flag today. Fly it to honor Columbus’s discovery of the Americas.  Or, fly your flag to honor exploration and explorers, and to remember the people who suffered so greatly as a result of the collision of European cultures in search of money, and American cultures lacking gunpowder and steel.

The second Monday in October is celebrated as Columbus Day, a federal holiday (though not widely honored in private enterprise).  Columbus made landfall in the Americas for the first time on October 12, 1492, 520 years ago.

John Vanderlyn Oil on canvas, 12 x 18 Commissioned 1836/1837; placed 1847 Rotunda    Christopher Columbus is shown landing in the West Indies, on an island that the natives called Guanahani and he named San Salvador, on October 12, 1492. He raises the royal banner, claiming the land for his Spanish patrons, and stands bareheaded, with his hat at his feet, in honor of the sacredness of the event. The captains of the Niña and Pinta follow, carrying the banner of Ferdinand and Isabella. The crew displays a range of emotions, some searching for gold in the sand. Natives watch from behind a tree.  John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) had studied with Gilbert Stuart and was the first American painter to be trained in Paris, where he worked on this canvas for ten years with the help of assistants.

John Vanderlyn, Oil on canvas, 12′ x 18′ – Commissioned 1836/1837; placed 1847 in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Christopher Columbus is shown landing in the West Indies, on an island that the natives called Guanahani and he named San Salvador, on October 12, 1492. He raises the royal banner, claiming the land for his Spanish patrons, and stands bareheaded, with his hat at his feet, in honor of the sacredness of the event. The captains of the Niña and Pinta follow, carrying the banner of Ferdinand and Isabella. The crew displays a range of emotions, some searching for gold in the sand. Natives watch from behind a tree. John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) had studied with Gilbert Stuart and was the first American painter to be trained in Paris, where he worked on this canvas for ten years with the help of assistants.

Did you notice?  In the painting in the U.S. Capitol, Columbus isn’t flying the U.S. flag.  Acccuracy over political correctness winds, eh?

Below the fold:  A description of the painting in the Capitol Rotunda, from the Architect of the U.S. Capitol (the “official” version.)

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