08 January 2012

It's WAR as Downton begins

When Downton Abbey resumes for viewers in the States on Sunday pause to remember: the series ended on August 4th, 1914 , with the announcement that Britain was at War with Germany.  Germany invaded a neutral Belgium at 8:02 am (local time), violating Belgian's neutrality and setting off the chain of events throughout Europe that would change lives forever.

 Romaine Brooks La France Croisee 1914

DAILY MIRROR, 4 August, 1914
Great Britain is in a state of war with Germany. It was officially stated at the Foreign Office last night that Great Britain declared war against Germany at 7pm. The British Ambassador in Berlin has been handed his passport.
War was Germany's reply to our request that she should respect the neutrality of Belgium, whose territories we were bound in honour and by treaty obligations to maintain inviolate.
Speaking in a crowded and hushed House the Premier yesterday afternoon made the following statement: 'We have made a request to the German Government that we shall have a satisfactory assurance as to the Belgian neutrality before midnight tonight.'
The German reply to our request, officially stated last night, was unsatisfactory.

Just prior to the War  in 1913, Gabrielle Chanel had opened a boutique in Deauville, France; liberating women from their corsets with tailored suits & chain-belted jerseys.

Charlie Chaplin makes his film debut in the comedy short Making a Living.
Suffragette Mary Richardson damages Velázquez' painting Rokeby Venus in London's National Gallery with a meat chopper.
Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinates Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Duchess Sophie, in Sarajevo.

 de Chirico's Love Song

Cubist Artists Picasso and Braque continue to challenge the Art World with their work and Italian painter de Chirico emerges with the first canvas of the Surrealist Movement.
A new Pope is named-Pope Benedict XV.
The Kennedy Dynasty begins- Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr. marries Rose Fitzgerald in Boston.


British and German soldiers interrupt World War I to celebrate Christmas, beginning the Christmas Truce of 1914.

 & in the Second Season of Downton, Christmas is celebrated too- such are the pitfalls of being a rebellious little settlement of colonies-
& it's a bit late for US to celebrate- as we are racing already to the next holiday-
but still...



  1. It is impossible for me to feel anything but tremendous grief over all of the lives lost in battle in the 20th c. How many millions over men's egos? Have we learned anything, yet? Mary

  2. You have increased my excitement for Downton tonight. I love having more of a back story to make it all the richer!!! T

  3. Fascinating post, Gaye. You show the confluence of events in the arts and in political affairs that set the stage for the 20th century. I am reminded that this period is not only a century ago, but that their position is rather like our own -just inside a new century, perhaps a new era. I also cannot help but think of what was then called the inevitability of war, and that parallel today with those who possess singular recklessness and perversity. There seems to be unfinished business with this era, and I can only hope that we can also be as bold in new pictorial arrangements, and like Chanel's discarded corsets, shed ignorance. As always Gaye, you take us on a marvelous, thought provoking journey of history, the arts and ideas. Thank you.

  4. i am so happy i dropped by.
    i am hooked on downton abby. i can't wait for tonight.

    this post was wonderful!!

    thank you xxx

  5. A brilliant setting of the scene. Thought provoking, indeed! Thank you, pgt. ox

  6. I was unable to watch it last night. Will be watching on my treadmill in about another hour. You have set the stage beautifully. Such a time in history, such a time.......

  7. I love the era, your post, Philip Bewley's on target comment, and de Chirico's "Love Song."

  8. As the first episode of Downton ended I realized how invested in these characters I already was from episode 1.The backdrop of war makes it more so. Look forward to next week. pgt

  9. i kept that first image on my wall
    in a flat in london
    for years
    thank you for reminding me of it again

  10. Thought I would share this with you.


    Interesting, but I do hope the show does not become over commercialized.



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