Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Letters

Cambridge 02138

Unilateralism, Shakespeare's porcupine, guns, teachers

November-December 2004

ART FAKERY

When I saw the cover of the September-October issue, I wondered, Why would anyone want to fake a rather junky-looking piece of late-1800s cemetery statuary? Plunging eagerly into "Wrong!" (by Christopher Reed, page 40), I was surprised to read it was introduced as an ancient Roman piece. Perhaps I prove the point you make regarding fakes being products of contemporary aesthetics; in any case, put me in the camp who believe it to be a forgery. Your delightful story, on the other hand, was the genuine article.

John Ruch
Jamaica Plain, Mass.

 

I was fascinated to read the article about fakes and am writing to elaborate and correct the record on how the "Matisse" drawing, A Lady with Flowers and Pomegranates, was discovered to be by Elmyr de Hory [a.k.a. E. Raynal].

When I was assistant curator of drawings at the Fogg, and was working on an exhibition of twentieth-century master drawings, I talked to a dealer who had in his private collection a Picasso that I wanted to borrow. He offered me a Matisse drawing as well, indicating that his was authentic and that there were many forged ones. He told me that the provenance Raynal meant that the drawing was a forgery. That, of course, was the provenance of the Fogg's drawing, which I had planned to include in the exhibition. Not only had Agnes Mongan and Frederick Deknatel, a professor of twentieth-century art, accepted the drawing as authentic, but when I showed a photograph of it to Pierre Matisse, the artist's son and an art dealer, he, too, thought it was by his father — until I gave him the provenance.

With so many knowledgeable people fooled by the drawing, I was intrigued to find out what distinguished real from fake. I gathered as many photographs as I could of drawings with a Raynal provenance and related ones that I could trace back to Matisse himself. What I discovered was that Alfred Barr, in his book on Matisse published in 1951 shortly before de Hory made his "Matisse" drawings, had written about what Matisse described as a "Floraison" of drawing occurring in 1941 and '42. Almost 200 of these drawings were published in 1943. What de Hory did was to continue this earlier series of drawings and date them 1944.

Emily Rauh Pulitzer, A.M. '63
St. Louis

 

A NOTE TO READERS

Harvard Magazine, created by alumni in 1898, is published by Harvard Magazine Inc. A professional staff chooses, reports, and edits its contents on readers' behalf. Publication is sustained by readers' voluntary contributions, advertising revenue, and University funds.

President Lawrence H. Summers has asked to address alumni directly in these pages as well; the editors welcome his debut column.

Chasing E. Raynal was one of the highlights of my long law career. For me the story began when my client Joe Faulkner called. He was the proprietor of the Main Street Book and Art Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. With considerable concern, he reported a telephone conversation with Pierre Matisse of New York, who asserted that his father's works were being forged. It was readily determined that some of those forgeries had been in Faulkner's possession.

Calls to other Chicago dealers revealed that several had already sold forged Matisses. I was retained on behalf of several dealers. First, I advised them to accept the return of the forgeries in exchange for the monies paid for them. The offer was made to about 49 purchasers. Not a single one wanted to return the forged drawings or paintings or get his money back. I can only surmise that they would have had to admit they had been "taken."

In an effort to bring de Hory to justice, I joined with Judge Jim Parsons, then a U.S. attorney in Chicago assigned to Interpol and involved in activities crossing international borders. From time to time, we almost nabbed de Hory, but always seemed to be just a little late. Once, we heard he was in Miami Beach doing a land-office business. We engaged the U.S. attorney there to help us. We did get a court order enabling us to open a safe-deposit box; we found paper wrappings that had been around money but the currency was gone.

The trail continued to Mexico City, where through Interpol we got de Hory arrested and put in jail. He had hired a lawyer, who promptly sprung him. The lawyer's name was William O'Dwyer; he had been the mayor of New York City. As told to me, O'Dwyer got de Hory off and charged a legal fee of $6,000. De Hory said: I don't have $6,000, but I'll tell you what I'm going to do. So he painted O'Dwyer a Matisse, warning him not to sell it until it was dry.

We tracked de Hory next to Miami, where the judge insisted we get better evidence. I was not able to get a single curator or art dealer to testify. Instead, I arranged through Pierre Matisse to take a deposition of the wife of Henri Matisse, who was in Paris. I learned she had kept a card file describing all of Matisse's works.

We went to Paris to greet Mrs. Matisse. Unfortunately, she had left Paris. However, by chance, my wife and I were invited to join others at a dinner at the home of the owner of the Paris newspaper Le Monde. My host introduced himself as Madame Matisse's lawyer. I arranged for him to take her deposition and get me the information I needed to go back to the court to prove that de Hory had indeed been the forger. We got a judgment against de Hory, but we were never able to find him or collect on that judgment.

Marshall M. Holleb, M.B.A. '39,
IA '41, J.D. '42
Chicago

 

THE RISKS OF UNILATERALISM

Professor Lisa Martin does an excellent job in outlining the history and benefits of multilateralism and the costs of unilateralism in her call for the United States not to go it alone in today's world ("Self-Binding," September-October, page 33). She might also have noted that there are also clear examples of where unilateralism succeeded and the failure to act unilaterally cost a hegemonic nation dearly. For example, Ronald Reagan led the United States, in the 1980s, to embark on a unilateral and highly criticized military buildup that contributed heavily to the Soviet Union's implosion. Great Britain, described by Martin as "the former hegemonic state" at the end of World War II, could have acted unilaterally in the 1930s with respect to Germany. Great Britain, of course, paid an awful price for not acting unilaterally. One might reasonably conclude that a hegemonic nation needs to act both unilaterally and multilaterally. The challenge for policy makers is to apply the right approach to a given situation.

Howard Landis, M.B.A. '78
Naples, Fla.

 

Martin's article is entirely discredited by her failure to mention September 11, 2001. What analysis of recent changes in American foreign policy could possibly hold water when the central relevant event is ignored?

In any event, she is wrong on the merits, too. Our action in Iraq was taken to defend this country from Islamic terrorists, and every effort was made to secure the approval and participation of all our allies. We now know why France and Russia refused theirs (in a word, corruption). And Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's position was no more than a tool in his re-election campaign in Germany. There was no broad switch from multi- to unilateralism, just a decision to act rather than not act. The participation of several large, sovereign nations demonstrates the multilateral approach was preferred and in fact implemented.

As for the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court, the administration is hardly alone in its skepticism. Congress would not ratify either one. Cannot Martin concede the possibility that in these as in other international issues to which she refers, it is entirely possible that the United States will be fairly determined by history as having been right while those who opposed us were wrong? In my view, Martin's arguments are based on pure animus for our administration, not on the full range of readily accessible fact.

David G. Brown '90
Pittsburgh

 

I am astounded that Martin can write an article on unilateralism and fail to mention Kosovo. Unlike the United States-led invasion of Iraq, which could plausibly claim to enforce past UN resolutions, the NATO campaign against Serbia lacked even the shadow of UN authorization. I, for one, thought the Kosovo campaign was just and necessary, and that it illustrated the occasional need to step beyond multilateral bonds in protecting peace and security. Yet Martin's failure to mention it, even as she accuses the current administration of merely "go[ing] through the motions" of seeking UN support, makes me wonder whether her "multilateralism" is simply another word for the approval of France and Germany.

Stephen E. Sachs '02
New Haven, Conn

 

Martin gives numerous examples of the Bush administration's rejection of multilateralism but neglects the most glaring example: Palestine. President Bush has angered not only Muslims and Arabs, but also the UN and Europeans in his blanket support of Ariel Sharon. Bush's support for Israel's settlement expansion and repression of human rights of Palestinians helps al Qaeda and other terrorists, and has led to far more Israeli and Palestinian deaths in three years than occurred in the previous 10 years.

Edmund R. Hanauer
Executive director, Search for Justice
and Equality in Palestine/Israel
Framingham, Mass.

 

A+ ADVISERS

Anthony LewisJack Reardon
Courtesy of Anthony LewisPhotograph by Tom Fitzsimmons

Harvard Magazine depends on its board of directors — who volunteer their scarce time — for advice, counsel, and perspective. We wish to thank two directors who stepped down this October after six years of service. Former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis '48, Nf '57, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize (and our long-ago "Undergraduate" columnist), has been an inspirational voice for sound moral judgment and freedom of thought and expression. John P. Reardon Jr. '60, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association and associate vice president for University relations, is widely known as the people person at Harvard; he has helped us make and sustain countless productive relationships throughout the community. Both will continue to serve as incorporators. We also note with sadness the death in August of Henry Lyman '37 — editor, conservationist, sportsman, and a cherished incorporator and former director of the magazine.

~ The Editors

CONJURING PORCUPINES

Professor Stephen Greenblatt begins Will in the World by commenting on Shakespeare's line "his thighs with darts/ Were almost like a sharp-quilled porcupine" that "as a country boy, he had almost certainly seen his share of sharp-quilled porcupines" ("The Mysterious Mr. Shakespeare," by Jonathan Shaw, September-October, page 57). Unlikely, since the porcupine occurs in Europe only in Italy and perhaps formerly in the Balkans. A small error, but perhaps one that exemplifies the silliness of the assumption that imaginative writing need reflect the author's life experiences.

Daniel J. Milton '54
Vienna, Va.

 

Stephen Greenblatt replies: Ouch! Britannica says that old-world porcupines are found in Britain but were certainly introduced — it doesn't say when. I imagine it was after Shakespeare's time because I've now noticed that a German tourist in London in the late sixteenth century, Paul Hentzner, writes as follows:

On coming out of the Tower, we were led to a small house close by, where are kept a variety of creatures, viz. — three lionesses; one lion of great size, called Edward VI. from his having been born in that reign; a tiger; a lynx; a wolf excessively old — this is a very scarce animal in England, so that their sheep and cattle stray about in great numbers, free from any danger, though without anybody to keep them; there is, besides, a porcupine, and an eagle. All these creatures are kept in a remote place, fitted up for the purpose with wooden lattices, at the Queen's expense.

There would have been no point in keeping a porcupine if they had been common, so I evidently foolishly mixed up spiny hedgehogs (one of which lived at the bottom of my garden in England) and porcupines. Shakespeare, by the way, had certainly seen hedgehogs (referred to elsewhere in his plays) and he may have seen the Queen's porcupine!

 

There is a simple explanation to the mystery Stephen Greenblatt points out, "...how could you possibly connect what we know about his [W. Shaksper from Avon] life — real estate transactions, a last will and testament, parish records — with what we have, which is the greatest body of imaginative literature in the English language?" The plays of Shake-speare were written by Edward de Vere, the seventeenth earl of Oxford, whose life experiences and persona exactly fit those of the plays.

Eric Altschuler '90, A.M. '90, M.D.,
New York City

 

Stephen Greenblatt replies: Edward de Vere died in 1604. This would mean, among other things, that in the years that followed, his secret agents craftily and at proper intervals released the following new plays by "Shakespeare": All's Well That Ends Well, Timon of Athens, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles, Coriolanus, The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline, The Tempest, Henry VIII, and The Two Noble Kinsmen. The cunning rascals also managed to suborn John Heminge and Henry Condell (the editors of the First Folio), Ben Jonson, Francis Beaumont, Hugh Holland, Leonard Digges, and other contemporaries; alternatively, all of these were in on the plot and never revealed it to a soul. Come on. I think personally that Edward de Vere was one of Shakespeare's pseudonyms. After all, he was a professional actor.

 

THE DEBATE ABOUT GUNS

Contestable assertions in the piece about Professor David Hemenway's work ("Death by the Barrel," by Craig Lambert, September-October, page 52) are red meat for NRA fanatics and a disservice to efforts at rational gun control.

For instance, some variables regarding gun violence were omitted. There appear to be racial, economic, and age-related factors in homicide. Lumping all deaths together obscures social issues which may be more complicated and significant than simple gun possession. Similarly, there is research which shows that murderers are not just regular guys with guns. They're people with serious histories of criminal acts, substance abuse, and/or mental illness. Again, we may be looking at social ills, not evil technologies.

John Lott's widely publicized research on successful self-defense with firearms contradicts Hemenway's assertions that guns rarely repel criminals. Lott's work may be flawed; if so, we need to hear why.

Hemenway's demand for better safety features is laudable, but the article leaves the misimpression that little has been accomplished in this regard. Magazine safeties and loaded-chamber indicators exist on many firearms today. Additional safety improvements must be weighed against their impact on the ability of the user to deactivate them quickly, easily, and reliably in an emergency.

John Roemer, M.A.T. '61
Parkton, Md.

 

David Hemenway replies: Many variables affect homicide, many affect suicide, many affect gun accidents. Many variables are discussed in my book Private Guns, Public Health. When we talk about motor-vehicle fatalities, we initially lump all deaths together. Then we divide them up into pedestrian fatalities, motorcycle fatalities, two-car crashes, single-car collisions, etc. Then we disaggregate further, or in different ways. Similarly for firearm injuries. Murderers are far from a representative sample of the U.S. population. Similarly, motorists at fault in traffic deaths are far from a representative sample of the U.S. driving population (many have serious problems). Still, we have done and can do much to reduce traffic fatalities without focusing exclusively on the driver (e.g., by making cars and roads safer).

There are much better studies than John Lott's of the same issues he analyzes. The researcher most often cited by the gun lobby on self-defense is Gary Kleck (Lott is cited primarily for his studies on the effects of concealed carry laws). Again much better research has been done. All this research is discussed at length in my book.

The fact that some guns (but far from all) have certain safety devices simply underscores the fact that it is feasible to incorporate these technologies. New cars in the United States all have seat belts, safety glass, non-rupture gas tanks, and so forth. The public is for having these safety devices on all cars, as they are for having minimum safety standards for virtually all products. The public is also in favor of having reasonable safety standards for all firearms. The fact that many guns do not meet such standards has led to many injuries and deaths.

 

TEACHER EXODUS

It is not unions that cause people to leave the teaching field, as Professor Caroline Hoxby cites as a common hypothesis ("Blackboard Brain Drain," by Erin O'Donnell, September-October, page 19). It is large numbers of students per class, lack of support from parents, discipline problems, lack of resources, and administrative burdens that discourage the teachers of children in public schools. Wages may be a factor but far from the only issue. Many teachers feel called to a vocation of teaching, but the systems in our country drive them out.

Rev. Ann Fontaine, M.Div. '95
Lander, Wyo.

 

An additional reason for the decline in extraordinarily qualified faculty is the increasingly strict credentialing requirements that states and teachers' unions have insisted upon. It is ironic and sad that my Harvard J.D. degree "qualifies" me to teach at a law school, but does not qualify me to teach an introduction-to-law course at a local high school.

Steve Calandrillo, J.D. '98
Associate professor
University of Washington School of Law
Seattle

 

How do we define superior teachers? Not, I hope, as those whose students perform well. Some students are easier to teach than others. If successful students tend to live in more affluent areas, it follows that the same teacher may achieve better results in the suburbs than in the inner city. We might even suggest that some bright students will educate themselves even in spite of some remarkably bad teachers, while even the best teacher can not work miracles with students whose more basic needs remain as obstacles. I can think of little more discouraging to an aspiring teacher than the thought that her efforts would be evaluated by procrustean methods which do not take this into account.

Nancy W. Rader, M.Ed. '61
Acton, Mass.

 

THE STEM-CELL DEBATE

Critics ("Letters," September-October, page 2) object to my description of human embryos as human beings. Yet none can deny that human embryos are whole living members of the species Homo sapiens at an early stage of development.

Keith Blackman refers to embryonic human beings as "human tissue" analogous to human organs used in transplantation procedures. But hearts and livers are not whole living members of the human species. Unlike transplantable organs, an embryo is a complete organism possessing the internal resources for self-directed development into and through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages, and into adulthood with its unity, determinateness, and identity intact. The embryo requires a sustaining environment, but (as Blackman observes) that is true of human life in every stage and condition. One's moral status does not depend on whether one happens to be in an environment hospitable to one's well-being.

Charles Milligan claims that human embryos are merely "potential life," and "have life" only in the sense that sperm and ova before fertilization "have life." This is sophistry. While each of us was once an embryo, none of us was ever a sperm or ovum. The gametes whose uniting brought us into existence were not complete human organisms; they were genetically and functionally parts of other organisms — our parents. Unlike a human embryo, an ovum (or sperm cell) lacks the active disposition — irrespective of environmental factors — for development toward human maturity. Its "potential" is to unite with a sperm cell (or ovum), or die. A successful uniting of sperm and egg, however, brings into existence a genetically and functionally distinct and complete organism — the embryonic human being — whose "potential" is precisely to develop by internal self-direction toward maturity.

Nevertheless, Arnold Simmel insists that "until we are born, we are part of a woman's body." He does not say what the basis is for this claim. Perhaps it is a matter of metaphysical or religious dogma. However, public policy ought not to be made in defiance of biological facts. Modern embryology long ago exploded the myth that the developing embryo or fetus is a maternal body part. All of us are dependent in various ways on others throughout our lives. Humans in the embryonic and early fetal stages are profoundly dependent. Yet they, like the rest of us, are no less human for that; nor are they any less worthy of respect.

Robert P. George, J.D. '81, M.T.S. '81
Princeton, N.J.

 

WAR WORK

When I looked at the final page of the September-October issue, my heart stood still. In December of 1942, when the battle of Guadalcanal was over, I was evacuated from front-line warfare and landed in the Oak Knoll naval hospital in Oakland, California, with a mysterious tropical disease. One day a lively and stunningly beautiful young woman in a Red Cross uniform approached me. She said that she was Mrs. Young and that she had learned I had volunteered to stimulate the war effort by going on a speaking tour of San Francisco and telling of my war experiences. When she added that she would be my chauffeur, I nearly fell out of bed in my eagerness to get started.

Several weeks later I told her that I had a strange feeling that I had met her before. She smiled and asked me if I had seen Of Thee I Sing. When I said yes, she confessed that she was also Lois Moran.

Now, 60 years later, she is still smiling from your pages ("Wintergreen for President," page 100), and I am still wondering "Who Could Ask for Anything More?" What a doll!

Edward L. Smith, M.D. '38
Walnut Creek, Calif.

 

  

QUARTERBACK SNEAK

The surname of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick '05 was inadvertently transmuted to "Fitzgerald" at several points in the latter paragraphs of "Saturday Afternoon Improv" (September-October, page 85). We regret the unintentional handoff, apologize for the error, and speculate that former Crimson football captain Ryan FitzGerald '02 still lingers in memory. (A defensive lineman, FitzGerald specialized in tackling quarterbacks, not impersonating them.) The same piece also incorrectly identified offensive linemen Jamil Soriano '03 and Jack Fadule '03 as providing protection for Fitzpatrick in last fall's Yale game; Soriano and Fadule did block for Fitzpatrick, but not in that game, having graduated several months beforehand.    


SPEAK UP, PLEASE

Harvard Magazine welcomes letters on its contents. Please write to "Letters," Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138, or send comments by facsimile to 617-495-0324, or by e-mail to [email protected], or use this website. Letters may be edited to fit the available space.