Margaret Bourke-White, a mighty photographer

104191302_3004722992897327_6141170769344365171_nA Mighty Girl

Margaret Bourke-White, one of the pre-eminent photographers of the 20th century, pictured here atop New York City’s Chrysler Building, was born on this day in 1904. A staff photographer for Life magazine since its founding in 1936, one of her photos was featured on the cover of the very first issue of the famous news magazine. For decades, Bourke-White traveled the world photographing key events of her time. Early in her career, she took dramatic pictures of architecture and inside steel mills and factories, pioneering a new style of magnesium flare that allowed her to capture incredible details and earned her national renown. In 1930, she became the first Western photographer allowed to take pictures of Soviet industry during the Soviet five-year plan. Like her contemporary Dorothea Lange, she spent much of the 1930s photographing the downtrodden victims of America’s Great Depression.

When World War II broke out, Bourke-White was the first woman permitted to work in combat zones. She was the only foreign photographer in Moscow when German forces invaded and she captured the bombardment of the Kremlin in a series of dramatic photos. LIFE staff started referring to her as “Maggie the Indestructible” after repeatedly coming under fire and surviving being on a torpedoed ship in the Mediterranean, stranded on an Arctic island, and getting pulled out of Chesapeake Bay after a helicopter crash.

While attached to General Patton’s forces in Germany, she was one of the first photographers to document the horrors of the Buchenwald concentration camp after it was liberated. The following year, she photographed Mahatma Gandhi in India, including taking a now iconic photo of him at his spinning wheel. She is considered “one of the most effective chroniclers” of the violence that erupted during the partition of India and Pakistan. Bourke-White had a reputation for being relentless in her pursuit of the perfect photograph to embody her subject. “I feel that utter truth is essential,” she asserted, “and to get that truth may take a lot of searching and long hours.”

For a historical fiction novel about Margaret Bourke-White, check out “Girl with a Camera: Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer” for ages 12 and up at

She is also one of the women featured in “Reporting Under Fire: 16 Daring Women War Correspondents and Photojournalists” for ages 12 and up:

For two children’s books about another famous female photographer, Dorothea Lange, we recommend “Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth,” for ages 6 to 10 ( and “Dorothea Lange” for ages 5 to 8 (

To introduce children and teens to more trailblazing women like Margaret Bourke-White, visit our “Role Models” biography section at

Credit: This photo of Margaret Bourke-White was taken by her dark room assistant Oscar Graubner.


This post was taken from A Mighty Girl’s Facebook page.

The wonders of Padua (Padua, part 3)

Padova or Padua is a big subject! I’ve recently posted 2 times about it, here, here, here and here.  And, still, I am far from done!

This post includes a list of the major features that grace this lovely, historic town. But first, a sweet little video about the town itself:


Undoubtedly the most notable things about Padova is the Giotto masterpiece of fresco painting in the The Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni).  This incredible cycle of frescoes was completed in 1305 by Giotto.

It was commissioned by Enrico degli Scrovegni, a wealthy banker, as a private chapel once attached to his family’s palazzo. It is also called the “Arena Chapel” because it stands on the site of a Roman-era arena.

The fresco cycle details the life of the Virgin Mary and has been acknowledged by many to be one of the most important fresco cycles in the world for its role in the development of European painting. It is a miracle that the chapel survived through the centuries and especially the bombardment of the city at the end of WWII.  But for a few hundred yards, the chapel could have been destroyed like its neighbor, the Church of the Eremitani.
The Palazzo della Ragione, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe; the hall is nearly rectangular, its length  267.39 ft, its breadth 88.58 ft, and its height 78.74 ft; the walls are covered with allegorical frescoes. The building stands upon arches, and the upper story is surrounded by an open loggia, not unlike that which surrounds the basilica of Vicenza.

The Palazzo was begun in 1172 and finished in 1219. In 1306, Fra Giovanni, an Augustinian friar, covered the whole with one roof. Originally there were three roofs, spanning the three chambers into which the hall was at first divided; the internal partition walls remained till the fire of 1420, when the Venetian architects who undertook the restoration removed them, throwing all three spaces into one and forming the present great hall, the Salone. The new space was refrescoed by Nicolo’ Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara, working from 1425 to 1440. Beneath the great hall, there is a centuries-old market.
In the Piazza dei Signori is the loggia called the Gran Guardia, (1493–1526), and close by is the Palazzo del Capitaniato, the residence of the Venetian governors, with its great door, the work of Giovanni Maria Falconetto, the Veronese architect-sculptor who introduced Renaissance architecture to Padua and who completed the door in 1532.

Falconetto was also the architect of Alvise Cornaro’s garden loggia, (Loggia Cornaro), the first fully Renaissance building in Padua.

Nearby stands the il duomo, remodeled in 1552 after a design of Michelangelo. It contains works by Nicolò Semitecolo, Francesco Bassano and Giorgio Schiavone.

The nearby Baptistry, consecrated in 1281, houses the most important frescoes cycle by Giusto de’ Menabuoi.

The Basilica of St. Giustina, faces the great piazza of Prato della Valle.

The Teatro Verdi is host to performances of operas, musicals, plays, ballets, and concerts.

The most celebrated of the Paduan churches is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio da Padova. The bones of the saint rest in a chapel richly ornamented with carved marble, the work of various artists, among them Sansovino and Falconetto.

The basilica was begun around the year 1230 and completed in the following century. Tradition says that the building was designed by Nicola Pisano. It is covered by seven cupolas, two of them pyramidal.

Donatello’s equestrian statue of the Venetian general Gattamelata (Erasmo da Narni) can be found on the piazza in front of the Basilica di Sant’Antonio da Padova. It was cast in 1453, and was the first full-size equestrian bronze cast since antiquity. It was inspired by the Marcus Aurelius equestrian sculpture at the Capitoline Hill in Rome.

Not far from the Gattamelata are the St. George Oratory (13th century), with frescoes by Altichiero, and the Scuola di S. Antonio (16th century), with frescoes by Tiziano (Titian).

One of the best known symbols of Padua is the Prato della Valle, a large elliptical square, one of the biggest in Europe. In the center is a wide garden surrounded by a moat, which is lined by 78 statues portraying illustrious citizens. It was created by Andrea Memmo in the late 18th century.

Memmo once resided in the monumental 15th-century Palazzo Angeli, which now houses the Museum of Precinema.

The Abbey of Santa Giustina and adjacent Basilica. In the 5th century, this became one of the most important monasteries in the area, until it was suppressed by Napoleon in 1810. In 1919 it was reopened.

The tombs of several saints are housed in the interior, including those of Justine, St. Prosdocimus, St. Maximus, St. Urius, St. Felicita, St. Julianus, as well as relics of the Apostle St. Matthias and the Evangelist St. Luke.

The abbey is also home to some important art, including the Martyrdom of St. Justine by Paolo Veronese. The complex was founded in the 5th century on the tomb of the namesake saint, Justine of Padua.

The Church of the Eremitani is an Augustinian church of the 13th century, containing the tombs of Jacopo (1324) and Ubertinello (1345) da Carrara, lords of Padua, and the chapel of SS James and Christopher, formerly illustrated by Mantegna’s frescoes. The frescoes were all but destroyed bombs dropped by the Allies in WWII, because it was next to the Nazi headquarters.

The old monastery of the church now houses the Musei Civici di Padova (town archeological and art museum).

Santa Sofia is probably Padova’s most ancient church. The crypt was begun in the late 10th century by Venetian craftsmen. It has a basilica plan with Romanesque-Gothic interior and Byzantine elements. The apse was built in the 12th century. The edifice appears to be tilting slightly due to the soft terrain.

Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)

The church of San Gaetano (1574–1586) was designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, on an unusual octagonal plan. The interior, decorated with polychrome marbles, houses a Madonna and Child by Andrea Briosco, in Nanto stone.

The 16th-century Baroque Padua Synagogue

At the center of the historical city, the buildings of Palazzo del Bò, the center of the University.

The City Hall, called Palazzo Moroni, the wall of which is covered by the names of the Paduan dead in the different wars of Italy and which is attached to the Palazzo della Ragione

The Caffé Pedrocchi, built in 1831 by architect Giuseppe Jappelli in neoclassical style with Egyptian influence. This café has been open for almost two centuries. It hosts the Risorgimento museum, and the near building of the Pedrocchino (“little Pedrocchi”) in neogothic style.

There is also the Castello. Its main tower was transformed between 1767 and 1777 into an astronomical observatory known as Specola. However the other buildings were used as prisons during the 19th and 20th centuries. They are now being restored.

The Ponte San Lorenzo, a Roman bridge largely underground, along with the ancient Ponte Molino, Ponte Altinate, Ponte Corvo and Ponte S. Matteo.

There are many noble ville near Padova. These include:

Villa Molin, in the Mandria fraction, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi in 1597.

Villa Mandriola (17th century), at Albignasego

Villa Pacchierotti-Trieste (17th century), at Limena

Villa Cittadella-Vigodarzere (19th century), at Saonara

Villa Selvatico da Porto (15th–18th century), at Vigonza

Villa Loredan, at Sant’Urbano

Villa Contarini, at Piazzola sul Brenta, built in 1546 by Palladio and enlarged in the following centuries, is the most important

Padua has long been acclaimed for its university, founded in 1222. Under the rule of Venice the university was governed by a board of three patricians, called the Riformatori dello Studio di Padova. The list of notable professors and alumni is long, containing, among others, the names of Bembo, Sperone Speroni, the anatomist Vesalius, Copernicus, Fallopius, Fabrizio d’Acquapendente, Galileo Galilei, William Harvey, Pietro Pomponazzi, Reginald, later Cardinal Pole, Scaliger, Tasso and Jan Zamoyski.

It is also where, in 1678, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia became the first woman in the world to graduate from university.

The university hosts the oldest anatomy theatre, built in 1594.

The university also hosts the oldest botanical garden (1545) in the world. The botanical garden Orto Botanico di Padova was founded as the garden of curative herbs attached to the University’s faculty of medicine. It still contains an important collection of rare plants.

The place of Padua in the history of art is nearly as important as its place in the history of learning. The presence of the university attracted many distinguished artists, such as Giotto, Fra Filippo Lippi and Donatello; and for native art there was the school of Francesco Squarcione, whence issued Mantegna.

Padua is also the birthplace of the celebrated architect Andrea Palladio, whose 16th-century villas (country-houses) in the area of Padua, Venice, Vicenza and Treviso are among the most notable of Italy and they were often copied during the 18th and 19th centuries; and of Giovanni Battista Belzoni, adventurer, engineer and egyptologist.

The sculptor Antonio Canova produced his first work in Padua, one of which is among the statues of Prato della Valle (presently a copy is displayed in the open air, while the original is in the Musei Civici).

The Antonianum is settled among Prato della Valle, the Basilica of Saint Anthony and the Botanic Garden. It was built in 1897 by the Jesuit fathers and kept alive until 2002. During WWII, under the leadership of P. Messori Roncaglia SJ, it became the center of the resistance movement against the Nazis. Indeed, it briefly survived P. Messori’s death and was sold by the Jesuits in 2004.

Paolo De Poli, painter and enamellist, author of decorative panels and design objects, 15 times invited to the Venice Biennale was born in Padua. The electronic musician Tying Tiffany was also born in Padua.


Gio Ponti and me, once upon a time…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked in a Gio Ponti building.  I loved being in that great building (Denver Art Museum).

So when I came across this cool pic of Ponti in Milano, I thought, it’s about time I said something about him.


Celebrating the Milano Design Week with a picture of Gio Ponti at the top of the Grattacielo Pirelli (Milan-1959).
(c)Archivio Gio Ponti

Le Marais, Paris, partie un (1): Place des Vosges

Behold Le Marias!



This famous district began its life in the history of Paris as the home of the king and the capitol city’s many aristocrats.  Le Marais spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris, on the Rive Droite.



Today Le Marais is enjoying the latest of its many incarnations as the trendiest shopping district in Paris with the top stores in Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue des Rosiers. The most famous stores are BHV Marais, Merci, and Uniqlo Le Marais.

From the 13th century forward, Le Marais was developed as the French nobility’s favorite place of residence. Things reached a crescendo in 1605 when King Henri IV of France built Place Royale (today called the Place des Vosges), and subsequently French nobles built their urban mansions, or hôtels particuliers, such as the Hôtel de Sens, the Hôtel de Sully, and the Hôtel de Beauvais, throughout the district, so they could be near the seat of power.



The Royal Square is also notable because it was the oldest planned square in Paris.  Comprised as a true square (140 m × 140 m), the Place embodied the first European program of royal city planning.



One of the many new aspects about the Place Royale in 1612 was that the house fronts were all built to the same design, probably by Jean Baptiste Androuet du Cerceau.


The facades are all composed of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars. The steeply-pitched blue slate roofs are pierced with discreet small-paned dormers above the pedimented dormers that stand upon the cornices.





One section of the square’s 4 long vaulted arcades:



This section of the arcade is the home to this small but fine art gallery:



This section of the arcade is also home to one of the city’s most exclusive restaurants. Our guide told us that Michelle and Barack Obama were taken here during their state visit. He promised us that they won’t let Trump come there…just checking to see that you are still reading my text!


Le Marais is the closest you will get to the feel of medieval Paris and has more pre-revolutionary buildings and streets left intact than any other area in Paris. A glance at some of the beautiful buildings and houses indicates the wealthy status of the former residents. After the French Revolution, much of the area was abandoned by the rich, and poor bohemian types moved in.  You should keep in mind that before Napoleon showed up the Marais is what most of Paris looked like— a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys.

The rest of Paris was razed by Napoleon and Haussman who wanted to build huge avenues and gigantic squares such as the Place Concorde. These are now the glory of Paris, but they were originally conceived so that armies and artillery could be moved around the city to keep the poor in check and defeat invaders.

On a more metaphysical level, the purpose of such broad space is to make the citizen feel small and powerless when faced with the giant civic machine of government, or an obedient army. In the Marais we are privy to the small and approachable Paris of the past, the place to wander in maddening circles and never find your way, the place to hole up and read Sartre or Camus in a café window or watch the Parisian life go by.

The Marais is also the most famous Jewish quarter in Paris and in much of Europe, still maintaining strong traditions.

The area was considered so squalid at this point it was nearly destroyed by city officials who wanted to modernize Paris. (A huge avenue cutting through the center of the Marais was only avoided by the start of WWI.) Fortunately, Le Marais was one of the first areas in Paris to establish very strict preservation laws. Beginning in the 1960’s, efforts have been made to restore and preserve the façades of historically important (in the case of The Hotel Albert for instance) and typically Parisian (in the case of charming early 20th-century boulangeries for instance). That’s why in this neighborhood, you’ll see bars with Boulangerie signs and a Nike store that looks like a bookstore from the outside.





Fashion shoot in Paris

What a fun afternoon!  I was enjoying a guided tour through a private garden in the center of old Paris and, all of a sudden, I noticed a fashion model and photographer.  There were working hard and took lots of photos.  The model was beautiful, as you would expect!

And oh, p.s., I saw the same model in the New York Times today, modeling for Valentino.



Oh, and I might add, it was cold today!  About 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  The model was not dressed in warm clothes, but rather a top and mini skirt, tights and boots and a pretty, but not warm, coat.


You can well imagine how beautiful the architecture of this small square is! Obviously its a perfect backdrop for selling fashion!