Aleksandra Michajlovna Kollontaj : Mother Russia

The worker-mother must learn not to differentiate between yours and mine; she must learn that there are only our children, the children of Russia’s communist workers

Aleksandra Michajlovna Kollontaj was born in St. Petersburg in 1872 and died in Moscow in 1952.

She was a Russian revolutionary who after the Revolution of October 1917, when the Bolshevik party came to rule the country, served as minister. She was the first woman in the history oh humanity to be appointed to this position.

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In such a role she worked and succeeded in granting women the right to vote, in establishing kindergartens and systems for ensuring assistance during the maternity period. Kollontaj was one of the founder of the Zenotdel, an agency designed to promote the participation of women in public life. Thanks to her work Russian women gained the right to vote and to be elected the right to divorce and to abort.

Kollontaj was also married for a short period of time during her youth and was a mother. She was throughout her entire life author of books and pamphlets that promoted communism and equality between men and women.

Cleopatra: the last pharaoh

“The queen of queens”

Cleopatra was born in 69 BC at Alexandria of Egypt. Her father was pharaoh Photolomy XII. She lived in a period of time that saw the creation and expansion of the Roman Empire. Her history was told century after century by historians and in our days by Hollywood. The most known version of the story of her life is the one of Plutarch. He speaks of a beautiful and dangerous (for Rome) queen who put the Roman Empire to her knees by seducing, first one of the most powerful man of history, Julius Caesar, and then one of his strongest lieutenant Marc Antony.

Now we have to remember that the story of Cleopatra has been written by her roman contemporaries, that were also her enemies, while everything written from the Egyptians during her reign has been lost. In fact Cleopatra’s Alexandria is at the moment under the Mediterrenian seas. On the other hand the Arab historians who lived after her death, instead, paint a very different portrait from the Roman one.

They tell of a wise queen who liked to read and foster cultural and artistic progress. In the Arab stories one cannot find any mention to her physical appearance. In absence of any direct Egyptian source ( we don’t even have a certain portrait or a statue of her) is difficult to separate the fiction from the reality that ‘s why Cleopatra is probably become a legend.

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The facts are: she belonged to a Greek lineage of pharaohs who came to rule Egypt after the conquest of the country of Alexander the Great in the IV century BC. These Greek pharaohs adopted Egyptian costumes and in particular the cult of life after death and the cult of the pharaoh representing the divinity on Earth. But not all of the Greek Pharaohs adopted for example the Egyptian language and during their reigns revolts busted the region. Cleopatra tried to stay closer to the population by adopting their language, fighting the corruption, protect the commercial exchanges with the Arabs on the caravan route, that went from the Nile to the Red Sea, and, as said above, by fostering the Arts. For example she rebuilt the Alexandria Library that was the biggest in the world before a fire destroyed it and she was the first to exploit a porphyry quarry to embellish her palace. The same stone was to be used in the following years by the Romans for their statues.

She became queen at the age of 18. At the time Rome was conquering country after country. At the age of 21 she started a relationship with the Roman chief Julius Caesar.

Giulio-CesareWe don’t know if her choice was based on love or ambition. The point is that she had a child from Caesar to whom she gave a roman name Caesarion. Julius Caesar didn’t recognize the child but brought him and Cleopatra to Rome reserving them the highest honors. The reason why Caesar didn’t recognize Caesarion is unknown but we can imagine that Rome was a dangerous place for the baby as many were against the union between Cleopatra and Caesar fearing the end of the Republic and the beginning of a monarchy. Actually Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. and Cleopatra fled to Egypt. She continued to see her son as the heir of Egypt and Rome together as testified by the inscriptions on the Dendera temple that she has it built to show Caesarion as the future governor of the reign.dendara10

In the meanwhile the Roman Empire was split in two parts. The West under Octavian the nephew of Caesar who declared himself the true heir of the dead chief. The East was under Marc Antony lieutenant of Caesar who supported the son of Cleopatra as heir of his former general.

M_AntoniusCleopatra entered in an alliance with Marc Antony, and also in a relationship from which were born 3 children. The couple finally was defeated next to Actium in Greece by Octavian, and they both preferred to commit suicide than to be brought to Rome as slaves.

Marc Antony decided to die in a roman way, with a sword. Cleopatra chose to die by a bite from a cobra, a sacred animal in Egypt, protector of the country and its pharaohs.

Cleopatra was a proud woman and an ambitious mother who lived and died for preserving the traditions and independence of her country through her son.

Tamara de Lempicka, she comes forth bold

a cold and disturbing beauty through which pierces a formidable being

Auto Journal (1974)

Polish, born in 1898. Tamara de Lempicka belonged to a wealthy family who allowed her to dedicate completely to visual art during her youth. At 15 years old de Lempicka moved to Russia where in a short time she found a husband, the lawyer Tadeus Lempicki. When the Russian Revolution exploded in 1917 and Taudeus was arrested by Bolsheviks, the artist exercised all her charm, richness and diplomacy to free him. And she made it, leaving Russia for London first and later for Paris. For the 3 decades onwards Tamara de Lempicka despite giving birth to a baby fully committed to her works and social life.

Her lifestyle was definetly bohemian, entertaining romantic relationships with both women and men, and her social life was frenetic; Tamara’s circle of friends included Picasso, Cocteau, D’Annunzio and Tyrone Power. De Lempicka had commissions from King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and Queen Elizabeth of Greece, her works were exposed in the major exhibitions of the era all around the western world.

The economic downturns caused by the Great Depression and Second World War had no effect on her works and introits.The interest in her art plunged during the 60s but soared again in the 70s. She died in 1980 as a prominent artist of Art Deco and XIX century in general.