A famous and pristine example of the The “Ides of March”, the 90% silver denarius that was struck by Marcus Brutus, brought a hefty $546,250 at the Long Beach Numismatic Auctions in Long Beach, California. The sale represented the most ever paid for a Roman silver coin. The event celebrated on the coin is, of course, the murder of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar who was stabbed (23 times) to death at a meeting of the Senate on March 14, 44 BC. The coin, about the size of a dime, shows on its obverse the likeness of Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the murderers himself, while the reverse displays a dome-shaped liberty cap, two drawn daggers and the Latin inscription “EID MAR” (Ides of March - the day on the Roman calendar that corresponded to March 15. This day was a religious holiday as well as the Roman deadline for settling debts). Ironically Brutus, who was characterized as both a hero and a traitor, used the same dagger that he used to murder Julius Caesar to take his own life following a demoralizing military defeat on October 23, 44BC.
“His work is disturbing, grotesque, erotic and even pornographic!” This is the way in which some art critics have portrayed the oeuvre of Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918). His focus was mainly on portraits of himself and others as well as nudes. Renowned artist Gustav Klimt saw such promise in Schiele’s talents that he agreed to mentor young Egon. Klimt himself purchased Egon’s drawings and even exchanged some of his own works for his protege’s. Klimt sometimes arranged models for him and frequently introduced Egon to potential buyers. Although Schiele was greatly influenced by his mentor, as can be seen in many of his earlier works, he soon developed his own definitive style. Schiele is comparable to comedian Lenny Bruce in that he suffered at the hands of the law for his controversial work. Schiele was once found guilty of “exhibiting erotic drawings” and given prison time . During his time behind bars, Egon created a series of twelve paintings portraying the discomfort of incarceration. A judge once burned one of Egon’s paintings in court! Sadly, Egon and his young pregnant wife were among the victims of the horrific 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic (1918-1920) which killed as many as 100 million people worldwide. Egon was only 28 years old.
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