Vivien Thomas- During the 1940’s he rose above racism and poverty to become a pioneer in cardiac surgery.
Although little is known about Giulia Tofana, I find her mystery, badassery, and general amazingness too potent to pass up.
To start it all, dear Giulia was accused of poisoning her husband. Do we know if she really did? Not really. Does it matter? Nope. Because whether or not she did or didn’t kill that inconvenient husband of hers, she went into the poison business, together with her daughter Girolama. They created that staple poison found in the retinue of even the most amateur connoisseurs of political intrigue; Aqua Tofana. Giulia and Girolama then went on to sell this poison to every hard pressed and abused wife in town, who all in a space of twenty years disposed of their pesky husbands.
Now, tons of insufferable married men up and dying in one area is bound to be noticed, unfortunately. Authorities were sent to apprehend the purveyor of these potent potions (um, alliteration anyone?). Now you would think Giulia’s run would be over. WRONG - Because everyone in the community loved her so much they just hid her in the church (and back then you were always safe from police if you managed to hightail it into a church in time). Now, of course, I do wonder if maybe at least some of those people (probably the men) hid her because they were absolutely terrified of her…But is that important? Not really.
The thing that sucks though is that all good things must come to an end — including sympathetic murdering sprees. The police finally got tired of being completely effeminized by a badass lady with a chemistry set and unfortunately broke into the church, grabbed her, and took her for questioning and torture. She eventually confessed to the rough estimate of 600 murders over 20 years — mostly of abusive husbands. That’s 1 murder a week, kids.
I have a thing for dangerous women.
Walker Evans, Untitled (Man and Movie Poster, New Orleans, Louisiana or Vicksburg, Mississippi), 1936
Walker Evans, Untitled (Subway Portrait, New York City), c. 1938
From the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History:
Inspired by the incisive realism of Honoré Daumier’s Third-Class Carriage, Walker Evans sought to avoid the vanity, sentimentality, and artifice of conventional studio portraiture. The subway series, he later said, was “my idea of what a portrait ought to be: anonymous and documentary and a straightforward picture of mankind.”