Unidentified Byzantine Building in Constantinople known today as Kefeli Mosque

Nicholas V. Artamonoff, 1908-1989
Kefeli Mosque in Istanbul, Nave and Apse from the south, March 1936, Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection     http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/items/show/245

The moment was grave… it was the 22nd of July 838, hot and humid, and Emperor Theophilos,  was besieged by the army of Caliph al-Mu’tasim near the hill of Dazimon. Earlier on “while the sky darkened and rain begun to fall in torrents… (he) saw that his opposite wing was in difficulties and (omitting to tell his junior commanders what he was about to do) led 2,000 men round behind the center to reinforce it… his unexpected disappearance immediately gave rise to a rumour that he had been killed. Panic broke out, followed – as always – by flight; and when the rain stopped and the light returned Theophilos realized that he and his men were surrounded.” The moment was grave… but when the Khurramite soldiers in the emperor’s entourage reportedly began planning to surrender the Emperor to the Arabs, Manuel the Armenian, Domestic of the Schools, commander of the elite tagma of the Scholae and de facto commander-in-chief of the entire Byzantine army, seized the Emperor’s horse by the bridle and threatening the confused emperor with his sword, forcibly broke through the Arab lines, and brought Theophilos to safety in the nearby village of Dorylaeum. Although Byzantine military history is not my forte when I researched the history of the Unidentified Byzantine Building in Constantinople known today as Kefeli Mosque and the name of Manuel the Armenian came up, I was intrigued and I did my reading…      John Julius Norwich, Byzantium – The Apogee, 1993 Penguin Books, pp. 48     and     Warren T. Treadgold, The Chronological Accuracy of the “Chronicle” of Symeon the Logothete for the Years 813-845, DOP Vol. 33 (1979), p. 180, 181     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291437?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae308c8234dcf2fe514aff96de764bb09&seq=23#page_scan_tab_contents

Codex Græcus Matritensis Ioannis Skylitzes or Madrid Skylitzes, The Byzantine army under Emperor Theophilos retreats towards a mountain (detail), fol. 54r, 12th-13th centuries, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid

It seems that there is a bit of a controversy between Byzantine Chronographers of what was the fate of the brave general… Some of the Chronographers report that Manuel the Armenian died of wounds that he received in the fateful battle of Dazimon (most probable) and was buried in the Monastery of Manuel in Constantinople, traditionally identified with the Kefeli Mosque. Other chronographers narrate how Manuel survived the battle, returned to Constantinople, took part in the second battle of Dazimon, and died, in the late 850s, a devoted Iconodule, during the reign of Emperor Michael III.     Warren T. Treadgold, The Chronological Accuracy of the “Chronicle” of Symeon the Logothete for the Years 813-845, DOP Vol. 33 (1979), p. 182, 183     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291437?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae308c8234dcf2fe514aff96de764bb09&seq=23#page_scan_tab_contents

Unidentified Byzantine Basilica Building in Constantinople known today as Kefeli Mosque, 9th century, Istanbul

Kefeli Mosque’s history is intriguing, to say the least. It is not yet established if it was originally part of the Byzantine Monastery of Manuel, founded in the mid 9th century, rebuilt by Patriarch Photius, restored once more by Romanos I Lekapenos and used by Emperor Michael VII to retire after his deposition. Scholars are not even sure if the ΚΤΗΤΩΡ(founder) of the Monastery was indeed Manuel the Armenian, and if the Monastery was founded within Manuel’s residential complex. More importantly, scholars can not be certain if the surviving building was originally a Church or a Monastic refectory. It seems that all scholars agree that it was never the Katholiko of a Monastery.

Alexandros Georgiou Paspates, 1814-1891
Byzantinai meletai topographikai, 1877, Constantinople
https://ia800304.us.archive.org/0/items/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog.pdf page 332 and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moni_tou_Manouil.jpg

The building was a basilica, according to Paspates a “κτίριον δρομικόν” and recent studies describe it as an interesting example of how the early Christian Basilica form developed or adapted during the Middle Byzantine period. It is believed that Kefeli Mosque was a 3-aisled basilica building with an apse (polygonal outside, but semicircular inside with two niches) facing north.

What can be said with certainty, is that the presented Byzantine building successively served the Greek Orthodox population of the city, the Catholics along with the Orthodox Armenians, and since 1630 the Muslim population of Karagümrük neighbourhood in Fatih district of Istanbul. Its name comes from Caffa (Kefe) in Crimea.     https://ia800304.us.archive.org/0/items/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog.pdf     and    http://suleymankirimtayif.com/pdf/ByzantineChurchesinIstanbul.pdf     and     http://www.istanbulvisions.com/kefeli_mosque.htm

An interesting Collection of Photographs of Kefeli Mosque can be seen in the ARIADNE – Digital Archaeology in Europe site put together by The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) Istanbul photo archive:     https://arachne.dainst.org/project/fotoistanbul     and     https://arachne.dainst.org/project/fotoistanbul/search?q=%22Kefeli%20Camii%22     In addition, the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection – Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, is equally interesting to explore     http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/items/show/244

 For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Map of Byzantine Constantinople: The Red star marks the location of Kefeli Mosque

Clean Monday Feast

Spero Vassiliou, 1903-1985
Clean Monday Feast, 1950, oil on wood, 125×78, Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art

Could Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1–20) introduce us to the theme of Clean Monday with his Old Testament verses? “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Are the following Matthew verses (Matthew 6:14–21)  indicative of the Greek Orthodox festive, springtime atmosphere of Clean Monday? “When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret…” I like to think that the painting Clean Monday Feast by Spero Vassiliou embodies Matthew’s recommendations and presents the glorious Greek Clean Monday at its best!     https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Isaiah%201:1%E2%80%9320&version=nrsv     and     https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew%206:14%E2%80%9321&version=nrsv

Austerity and Affluence… two words that best describe, in my humble opinion, Vassiliou’s painting Clean Monday Feast in the Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art. Let me explain…

Austerity… in the green, tripod, metal table, centrally displayed, full of traditional νηστίσιμα(fasting foods) humble delicacies that mark the beginning of Lent… for the day, Clean Monday, when relatives and friends celebrate the upcoming period of humility, self-criticism and mutual forgiveness. Vassiliou’s green coloured table displays a piece of Lagana, the unleavened popular bread of the day, Throubes, sun-dried black olives, crunchy spring onions, the grocer’s halva with tasty almonds, the heart of tender lettuce, a deep yellow plate full of crisp, local “greens,”  a white plate with salty, but so tasty red fish roe, and retsina, the Greek resinated white wine, popular in Greece for at least 2,000 years.

Affluence… in the love the artist held for the simple things of everyday life, insignificant at first sight, yet eloquent, meaningful and deeply moving for all the initiates of Greek Clean Monday rituals. Spero Vassiliou’s family tradition for Clean Monday was to invite his friends for a day’s feast on the roof(ταράτσα) of his house, below the Acropolis of Athens! The 1950 painting, titled Clean Monday Feast, is glowingly colourful, brightly sunny, gloriously festive!

Spero Vassiliou “studied painting at the “School of Arts” (later Athens School of Fine Arts) from 1921 to 1926. He was among the students who struggled for the reorganization of the School and who attended the studio of the newly elected professor, Nikos Lytras.” An active member of the Greek Artists Association, Vasiliou put together solo exhibitions as early as 1929, participated in creating stage design and costumes for about 140 plays, and won the prestigious Academy of Athens Award for designing the frescoes in the church of Saint Dionysius Areopagites in Athens. By the late 1940s, Vassiliou was an active member of the Greek intelligentsia representing a style linked to surrealism or pop art with a dominant dose of “aspects of contemporary Greek life in a picturesque and vivid way, sometimes inspired by folklore forms…”     http://dp.iset.gr/en/artist/view.html?id=1080

Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art – The original Historic Building in Symi Square

The painting Clean Monday Feast by Spero Vassiliou is part of the Collection of the Municipality of Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art. The driving force behind the creation of the Municipality Museum was Andreas Ioannou, “a distinguished scholar of modern Greek art, writer and prefect of Dodecanese.” He foresaw the leading role Rhodes could play as a cultural center of international fame and decided, back in the 1950s, to create an emblematic Museum of Modern Greek Art. “For this reason he came in contact with the leading Greek artists, acquired their emblematic works and housed them in the historic building of Symi Square at the entrance of the Medieval City of Rhodes, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”     https://www.mgamuseum.gr/el/to-mouseio/  

Today, the Municipality Museum has 4 very distinct Art Galleries. The original Historic Building on Symi Square is the center where Engravings of the 19th – 20th centuries, Publications and Posters will be exhibited. The “Nestorideion Melathron” houses the Museum’s permanent collection of 20th century Modern Greek Art, including Vassiliou’s Clean Monday Feast. The Modern Art Centre, situated at the main thoroughfare in the Medieval Town “Palaio Syssitio,” has been chosen as the center for the first permanent exhibition dedicated to the famous and characteristic Rhodesian Ceramic Art. Finally, in 2010, the Museum inaugurated a new center dedicated to the cultural activities of the island.     https://www.mgamuseum.gr/el/to-mouseio/

Get enthused by Spero Vassiliou’s Painting Clean Monday Feast and prepare a Student Activity inspired by the depicted Kites! Use a List of ONLINE sites to find out what best suits your students! Click HERE!

Teaching with Andrea Mantegna

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
Camera degli Sposi, The West Wall: The Meeting, (detail of the left panel), 1465-74, Walnut oil on plaster, Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua

“How great is the effect of reward on talent is known to him who labors valiantly and receives a certain measure of recompense, for he feels neither discomfort, nor hardship, nor fatigue, when he expects honor and reward for them; nay, what is more, they render his talent every day more renowned and illustrious. It is true, indeed, that there is not always one to recognize, esteem, and remunerate it as that of Andrea Mantegna was recognized. This man was born from very humble stock in the district of Mantua; and, although as a boy he was occupied in grazing herds, he was so greatly exalted by destiny and by his merit that he attained to the honorable rank of Chevalier, as will be told in the proper place…” This is how Giorgio Vasari introduces Andrea Mantegna, the artist who was is “seen to have been wrought with much art and diligence.” Teaching with Andrea Mantegna is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Italian artist I admire. To visit Andrea’ Camera degli Sposi in the Palazzo Publico in Mantua was for years an unreachable dream. In 1988 along with a group of students/friends my dream came to fruition and I was finally, in the middle of this amazing room… moved, I confess, and emotional.     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreamantegna.htm

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
The presentation of Christ in the temple (detail-Probably Self-portrait), 1465-1466, tempera on canvas, 86×67 cm, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Mantegna’s oeuvre I start with Giorgio Vasari’s final words. “Andrea was so kindly and praiseworthy in all his actions, that his memory will ever live, not only in his own country, but in the whole world; wherefore he well deserved, no less for the sweetness of his ways than for his excellence in painting…” and continue with the artist’s tutelage under Squarcione, who “made him practise much on casts taken from ancient statues and on pictures painted upon canvas which he caused to be brought from diverse places, particularly from Tuscany and from Rome. By these and other methods, therefore, Andrea learnt not a little in his youth…” I finish my presentation of Andrea Mantegna’s contribution to world art with his reaction to Squarcione’s criticism that “his pictures resembled not living figures but ancient statues of marble or other suchlike things.” My students are intrigued and a discussion takes place by how “This censure piqued the mind of Andrea; but, on the other hand, it was of great service to him, for, recognizing that Squarcione was in great measure speaking the truth, he set himself to portray living people, and made so much progress in this art, that, in a scene which still remained to be painted in the said chapel, he showed that he could wrest the good from living and natural objects no less than from those wrought by art. But for all this Andrea was ever of the opinion that the good ancient statues were more perfect and had greater beauty in their various parts than is shown by nature, since, as he judged and seemed to see from those statues, the excellent masters of old had wrested from living people all the perfection of nature, which rarely assembles and unites all possible beauty into one single body, so that it is necessary to take one part from one body and another part from another.”     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreamantegna.htm

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
The San Zeno Polyptych (detail), 1457-60, Tempera on panel,  480 x 450 cm, San Zeno, Verona

Teaching with Andrea Mantegna References – References, a PowerPoint and Activities…

For the List of ONLINE References on Andrea Mantegna TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Andrea Mantegna, please… Click HERE!

I always feel confident discussing an artist with my students when I prepare my 7 Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline

For Student Activities (5 Activities), please… Click HERE!

I hope that Teaching with Andrea Mantegna will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name Teacher Curator?

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
Ceiling decoration of the Camera degli Sposi (detail), 1465-74, Walnut oil on plaster and fresco, Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua

Boat of Greeks

Dionysis Tsokos, 1820-1862
Boat of Greeks, 1844 to 1847, oil on canvas, 29×23 cm, Averoff Museum, Metsovo, Greece

“…Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!  /  On Suli’s rock, and Parga’s shore,  /  Exists the remnant of a line  /  Such as the Doric mothers bore;  /  And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,  /  The Heracleidan blood might own.          /          Trust not for freedom to the Franks—  /  They have a king who buys and sells;  /  In native swords and native ranks  /  The only hope of courage dwells:  /  But Turkish force and Latin fraud  /  Would break your shield, however broad….” Writes George Gordon Byron in The Isles of Greece and makes the best possible introduction for Dionysis Tsokos’s Boat of Geeks at the Averoff Museum in Metsovo.     https://englishverse.com/poems/the_isles_of_greece

Dionysis Tsokos’s painting Boat of Geeks is closely connected to the fate of the small city of Parga on the Ionian Coast of Epirus. Parga, a small city/fortress, was always closely connected to the European political interests of the Ionian Islands. Since 1360 when the fortress of Parga was built with the help of the Normans who held, at the time the island of Corfu, the Pargians faced countless Ottoman attacks while they were under Venetian, French or British rule. In 1815 the inhabitants of the city of Parga rebelled against the French rule, under the instigation of the British, and a short period of British rule started. Seeing Parga as the stepping stone to achieving their final goal: to occupy the Ionian Islands, the British, in 1817, sold Parga to Ali Pasha for 150,000 pounds.     https://www.kastra.eu/castleen.php?kastro=parga

Edward Lear, 1812-1888
Parga, Journals of a Landscape painter in Albania etc., London, Richard Bentley, 1851,  14×21 cm, Benaki Museum Library

What happened next is best described in the October 1819 edition of the Edinburgh Review… “As soon as the notice was given [of how much Ali was to be charged for their homeland] every family marched solemnly out of its dwelling, without tears or lamentation; and the men, preceded by their priests, and followed by their sons, proceeded to the sepulchres of their fathers, and silently unearthed and collected their remains, – which they placed upon a huge pile of wood which they had previously erected before one of their churches. They even took their arms in their hands, and, setting fire to the pile, stood motionless and silent around it, till the whole was consumed. During this melancholy ceremony, some of Ali’s troops, impatient for possession, approached the gates of the town; upon which a deputation of citizens was sent to inform our Governor, that if a single Infidel was admitted before the remains of their ancestors were secured from profanation, and they themselves, with their families, fairly embarked, they would all instantly put to death their wives and children, – and die with their arms in their hands, – and not without a bloody revenge on those who had bought and sold their country. Such a remonstrance, at such a moment, was felt and respected, as it ought by those to whom it was addressed. General Adam succeeded in stopping the march of the Mussulmans. The pile burnt out – and the people embarked in silence…”      http://newsteadabbeybyronsociety.org/works/downloads/sale_parga.pdf     and      https://books.google.gr/books?id=7kNBAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA12&lpg=RA1-PA12&dq=Edinburgh+Review+Sale+of+Parga&source=bl&ots=hZxwnxM1hD&sig=ACfU3U3ac4JXKloQ18zhWLsbpAsGjXXTtQ&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjug-2Ly5jvAhVfQhUIHaLnBgkQ6AEwB3oECAkQAw#v=onepage&q=Edinburgh%20Review%20Sale%20of%20Parga&f=false pp. 22-23

Boat of Geeks by Dionysis Tsokos depicts the final act of Parga’s sale by the British to Ali Pasha… “a boat full of refugees – resistance fighters, a priest, and a woman – floundering on the waves as it heads for foreign shores. One gallant lad stands embracing the mast and holding the Greek flag, gazing intently at the fatherland he is abandoning, while the captain holds fast to the helm.”     https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/boat-of-greeks/?lang=en

Dionysis Tsokos, 1820-1862
The Flight from Parga, after 1847, oil on canvas, 37×47 cm, E. Koutlidis Foundation Collection, National Gallery of Greece, Athens

Dionysis Tsokos created two paintings on the theme of Greeks fleeing Parga after the shocking 1819 British sale to Ali Pasha. The earliest, chronologically, of the two paintings, is today exhibited in the Averoff Museum at Metsovo, one of my favourite Art Museums in Greece, the second painting, dated a little later is part of the E. Koutlidis Collection and is exhibited in Athens at the National Gallery. For a Student “Compare and Contrast” Activity on Dionysis Tsokos’s paintings, please… Check HERE!

If you wish to learn more about the Greek War of Independence and the Bicentennial Celebrations in 2021, please VISIT the official Greece 1821-2021 Bicentennial site http://www.greece2021.gr, Twitter, https://twitter.com/Greece_2021, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Greece2021/, and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/greece2021/?hl=el

Villa Poppaea

Villa Poppaea (garden view), 1st century AD, ancient Roman town of Oplontis (Torre Annunziata between Naples and Sorrento, in Southern Italy)     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Poppaea

A traveller cruising by boat in the Bay of Naples during the 1st century AD would have marvelled at the continuous chain of private villas lining the coast. Although evidence of these villas survives to the present day, our knowledge is mostly fragmentary due to the fact that many are buried beneath Vesuvius’s ashes, modern estates or have been swallowed by the sea. Travellers would have been amazed by the opulence of the architectural features exhibited in these structures: porticoes, panoramic exedras, artificial or natural grottos, galleries, nymphaea, and piscinae. Travellers would have been equally amazed by the diverse interior designs and luxurious materials used by the artists. Villa Poppaea, in the ancient Roman town of Oplontis (Torre Annunziata between Naples and Sorrento, in Southern Italy) was one such extraordinary Villa…

Villa Poppaea by Jean-Claude Golvin

“Villa A of Oplontis, attributed by some to Poppaea the second wife of emperor Nero, was, strictly speaking, a maritime villa. It commanded a panoramic view from the top of a sheer cliff more than 14 m high that overlooked the ancient shoreline. To the south the view ranged from the limestone cliffs of the faraglioni (tall formations that resemble lighthouses) of Rovigliano, the islet near the port of Pompeii at the mouth of the Sarno River, to the length of the coast of the Sirens as far as Capri. To the west the superimposition of various layers of lava that created the Capo Oncino promontory during the Middle Ages had not completely concealed the Neapolitan and Phlegraean coast.”     https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=acls;idno=heb90048.0001.001;rgn=div1;view=text;cc=acls;node=heb90048.0001.001:18

Villa Poppaea, built on a plateau, fourteen meters above sea level, took advantage of all the scenic pleasures of the Bay of Naples. Rooms were in such a way organized so that its residents and their guests would be able to enjoy the open air and the dramatic view of the sea in an environment of the utmost luxury. Please allow me to explain why Villa Poppaea was, for me, worth exploring…

Tabula Peutingeriana, a 12th-century copy of a 4th century Roman illustrated Itinerarium (ancient Roman road map), parchment, Austrian National Library https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=acls;idno=heb90048.0001.001;rgn=div1;view=text;cc=acls;node=heb90048.0001.001:20

Tabula Peutingeriana, a unique twelfth-century copy of a fourth-century Roman map, marks Oplontis, the area where Villa Poppaea was discovered, as a large square building fronting the sea with twin, gabled, entrances. Interestingly, this is the only Roman reference to a site named Oplontis available to scholars. The name Oplontis is an intriguing mystery!     https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=acls;idno=heb90048.0001.001;rgn=div1;view=text;cc=acls;node=heb90048.0001.001:20

Poppaea Sabina, 1st century AD, Parian Marble, Archaeological Museum of Olympia, Greece

The luxurious Villa Maritime in Oplontis is believed to have been one of the residences of Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of Emperor Nero. Poppaea Sabina, born in nearby Pompeii, was the grand-daughter of Gaius Poppaeus Sabinus, Imperial Proconsul of Greece and the daughter of Poppaea Sabina the Elder, a celebrated Roman matron praised by Tacitus for her wealth and loveliness.

Villa Poppaea Architectural Plan https://www.storiesbysoumya.com/villa-oplontis-pompeii-itinerary/

Villa Poppaea, uninhabited and under reconstruction at the time of Vesuvius’s eruption, was a massive residence of more than one hundred rooms and thirteen gardens. Construction started in the 50s BC, while renovations and extensions occurred regularly until the 79 AD volcanic eruption. This sumptuous villa was probably the model house for many of the smaller and less opulent houses built in the area at the same time. The oldest part of the house developed around the atrium, with a number of private or public rooms to serve its purpose for leisure and formalities. By 54 AD, the house extended to the east, with the addition of peristyles with collonaded porticoes extending out from the building’s core, an immense swimming pool and formal gardens.     http://pompeiisites.org/en/oplontis-en-2/villa-poppaea/

Villa Poppaea, fresco in the W. Triclinium, the ancient Roman town of Oplontis (Torre Annunziata between Naples and Sorrento, in Southern Italy)     

The 4th reason why Villa Poppaea was, for me, worth exploring, is its interior decoration… please bear with me as I will discuss the Villa’s frescoes in Villa Poppaea, Part II.

For a PowerPoint on Villa Poppaea, please… Check HERE!

The model of a Cubiculum (Room 11 in Villa Poppaea), one of the richly decorated bedroom-sitting rooms. Room 11 is located between the Villa’s atrium and the grand reception room and offers splendid examples of Second Style Pompeian wall painting.    https://exhibitions.kelsey.lsa.umich.edu/oplontis-leisure-and-luxury/cubiculum.php

The Labours of the Months: March

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: March, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London

Dear March – Come in – / How glad I am – / I hoped for you before – / Put down your Hat – / You must have walked – / How out of Breath you are – / Dear March, how are you, and the Rest – / Did you leave Nature well – /Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –/I have so much to tell –     /     I got your Letter, and the Birds – / The Maples never knew that you were coming – / I declare – how Red their Faces grew – / But March, forgive me – / And all those Hills you left for me to Hue – / There was no Purple suitable – / You took it all with you –     /     Who knocks? That April – / Lock the Door – / I will not be pursued – / He stayed away a Year to call / When I am occupied –  / But trifles look so trivial / As soon as you have come     /     That blame is just as dear as Praise / And Praise as mere as Blame –   Dear March, Come in!, a poem by Emily Dickinson, is about the love and joy it brought to her… She personifies March as if he were a friend… and I find it a fitting introduction to the new POST The Labours of the Months: March!     https://poets.org/poem/dear-march-come-1320     and     https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/emily-dickinson

Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos, or Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropolis, 12th or 15th century, Athens

Depicting The Labours of the Months in works of art is a tradition that goes back to ancient Greek times. The charming Church of Hagios Eleutherios in Athens, also known as the Panagia Gorgoepikoos or the Mikri (Small) Metropolis, made up entirely of spolia of both ancient and Christian monuments, is a good example to start with. Above the main entrance to the Church and under the roof cornice, the builders of this extraordinary church placed “a frieze of Pentelic marble, which shows the months of the Attic Calendar, some festivals, and the complete circle of the Zodiac.” This ancient frieze “attempts to put together and coordinate the lunar calendar (Attic months and festivals) and the solar calendar (the signs of the Zodiac).” Amazing…     https://hellenismo.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/the-frieze-of-the-attic-calendar/

Calendar Frieze at the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos or Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropolis (Date of the Calendar Frieze: 2nd century BC- Date of the Church: 12th or 15th century) Athens
Photo credit: http://surprisedbytime.blogspot.com/2011/10/cyriaco-and-little-metropolis.html

Drawings of the Calendar Frieze in the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos or Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropoli (Date of the Calendar Frieze: 2nd or 15th  century BC- Date of the Church: 12th century) Athens

Olga Palagia, Professor of Classical Archeology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, argues that the Calendar Frieze, in most probability,  was created in Athens for the Great Panathenaic festivities of the year 142/3. If this small Attic Calendar Frieze, Palagia still argues, is tied to Herodes Atticus, who presented Athens with a number of public buildings…if this Calendar Frieze was part of the grand Athenian marble Panathenaic Stadium complex, built entirely at the expense of Herodes Atticus for the Great Panathenaia that fell in 142/3… well,  makes it most interesting evidence of public Calendar representation… but in the realm of pure speculation!     The date and iconography of the calendar frieze on the little metropolis, Athens, JdI 123, 2008, by Olga Palagia,     https://www.academia.edu/843544/The_date_and_iconography_of_the_calendar_frieze_on_the_little_metropolis_Athens_JdI_123_2008

SO… The Calendar of the Months during Antiquity and the Labours of the Months later in history attracts our attention in Calendar works of Art adorning public buildings, Churches and Cathedrals of the time, striking Vitreaux Windows, amazingly colourful manuscripts, and paintings, monumental, like the eleven surviving panels in Torre Aquila I presented in 2020 (check: https://www.teachercurator.com/?s=torre%20aquila&cat=plus-5-results), or small, like the paintings in the National Gallery, in London, we will explore in 2021… month by month…     https://archive.org/details/labormonth00webs/page/n9/mode/2up Webster, James Carson – 1905-1989, The labors of the months in antique and mediaeval art to the end of the twelfth century, 1938, Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University,     and      https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: March (detail) , about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London

For the Venetian Month of March at the National Gallery, we have yet another outdoor scene. “A bearded man wearing a yellow tunic trims vines that have been trained to grow up two trees. The branches of the vine are bare, while the trees have a few brownish leaves. Pruning vines is an activity carried out in Italy in winter, when the plant is dormant, and in spring when the new leaves have started to grow.” Once more, young farmers need to bundle up and take care of the daily chores…     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march

For a PowerPoint on The Labours of the Months at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: March, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march
Calendar Frieze at the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos, Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropoli (Date of the Calendar Frieze: 2nd century BC- Date of the Church: 12th or 15th century) Athens     http://surprisedbytime.blogspot.com/2011/10/cyriaco-and-little-metropolis.html

Cleobis and Biton

Polymides of Argos, a Greek sculptor of the Archaic Period (6th century BC)
The two Kouroi of Argos, known as Cleobis and Biton, dedicated to Delphi by the city of Argos, 580 BC, marble, H. 1.97 m, Archaeological Museum of Delphi

Cleobis and Biton,” according to Herodotus “were of Argive stock, had enough to live on, and on top of this had great bodily strength. Both had won prizes in the athletic contests, and this story is told about them: there was a festival of Hera in Argos, and their mother absolutely had to be conveyed to the temple by a team of oxen. But their oxen had not come back from the fields in time, so the youths took the yoke upon their own shoulders under constraint of time. They drew the wagon, with their mother riding atop it, traveling five miles until they arrived at the temple.  When they had done this and had been seen by the entire gathering, their lives came to an excellent end, and in their case the god made clear that for human beings it is a better thing to die than to live. The Argive men stood around the youths and congratulated them on their strength; the Argive women congratulated their mother for having borne such children.  She was overjoyed at the feat and at the praise, so she stood before the image and prayed that the goddess might grant the best thing for man to her children Cleobis and Biton, who had given great honor to the goddess. After this prayer they sacrificed and feasted. The youths then lay down in the temple and went to sleep and never rose again; death held them there. The Argives made and dedicated at Delphi statues of them as being the best of men.” What a story…     http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126%3Abook%3D1%3Achapter%3D31    and     https://www.jstor.org/stable/4476541?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A696d910b4f58214d895c34828b1f43ce&seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

The two statues affectionately called The Twins of Argos hold me in fascination! They were sent to Delphi by the Argives back in the early 6th century BC… the first monumental commemorative monument to grace Apollo’s sanctuary. Many, resplended monuments followed… but the Kouroi of Cleobis and Biton forever bedazzle us with their monumentality and grace.

Unearthing Biton, 1894, the sanctuary of Apollo, Delphi, Greece
Archaeologists excavating Cleobis, 1894

The Twins of Argos were excavated in Delphi by French archaeologists in 1893 and 1894. The discovery of two extremely similar statues of idealized nude male youths is a rare find of the kouros type. Like other kouroi, they are “naked except for boots, which distinguish them from images of Apollo and may mark them as travellers. They are stockily built, short though over-life-size, with broad shoulders and broad faces… The round eyes are set within curving upper and lower lids, the entire eye unit cut deeply into the head beneath heavy brows. The mouth is full. The large ears are set far back at the side of the head; the lobe is a flat disk. The transition between the front and sides of the head is very abrupt. A single row of large disk-like curls line the forehead. The rest of the hair, emphasizing the flat top of the head, is combed and then subdivided into large bead-like elements. In back the hair springs out from beneath the double cord which holds it in place, at the top of the ears and, again, at the base of the neck. Each of the tendrils, front and back, is neatly finished with a tie… The abdomen is defined linearly… The round knees are set off by incision as well as by modeling. The arms are held close to the body, the clenched hands securely attached to the thighs, the thumbs facing outward…”     http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Delphi%2C+Kleobis+and+Biton&object=Sculpture

Polymides of Argos, a Greek sculptor of the Archaic Period (6th century BC)
The two Kouroi of Argos, known as Cleobis and Biton (detail), dedicated to Delphi by the city of Argos, 580 BC, marble, H. 1.97 m, Archaeological Museum of Delphi

To introduce my students to ancient Greek Archaic Art and the Kouros Brothers from Argos, Cleobis and Biton, I use the Inquiry-based teaching method known as Visual Thinking Strategy introduced by Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine which “uses art to teach visual literacy, thinking, and communication skills—listening and expressing oneself. Growth is stimulated by looking at artworks of increasing complexity, answering developmentally based questions, and participating in peer-group discussions carefully facilitated by teachers.” Philip Yenawine, Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines, 2013  https://www.amazon.com/Visual-Thinking-Strategies-Learning-Disciplines-ebook/dp/B00XO20380

For a student “RWAP”, (RWAP stands for Research – Writing – Art – Project), please… Check HERE!

In 2016, after visiting the Archaeological Museum of Delphi… one of my Grade 7 students, inspired by Cleobis and Biton, presented me with the above poster!

Areskon is my Name and I am an Actor

Funerary Altar-Shaped Stele of Actor Marcus Varinius Areskon, 170-200 AD, Marble with traces of the original paint, 1670×70-72×52-66 cm, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
Photo Credit: Kostas Papantoniou https://www.amth.gr/en/exhibitions/highlights

O man, with your wonderful dower, / O woman, with genius and grace, / You can teach the whole world with your power, / If you are but worthy the place. / The stage is a force and a factor / In moulding the thought of the day, / If only the heart of the actor / Is high as the theme of the play.     …     No matter what role you are giving, / No matter what skill you betray, / The everyday life you are living, / Is certain to colour the play./ The thoughts we call secret and hidden / Are creatures of malice, in fact;/ They steal forth unseen and unbidden, / And permeate motive and act. Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was an American author and poet who wrote THE ACTOR…an appropriate, in my humble opinion, introduction to our new POST… Areskon is my Name and I am an Actor.  http://www.ellawheelerwilcox.org/poems/pactor.htm     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ella_Wheeler_Wilcox

Funerary Altar-Shaped Stele of Actor Marcus Varinius Areskon, 170-200 AD, Marble with traces of the original paint, 1670×70-72×52-66 cm, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki Photo Credit: Kostas Papantoniou https://www.amth.gr/en/exhibitions/highlights

Marcus Varinius Areskon… I seek him out every time I visit the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. I introduce him to my students every time I guide them around this wonderful “shrine” of the Muses… and yet I know so little about him. An inscription introduces himself.  Carved above his portrait and under it, the epitaph inscription reads… Λ(ούκιος) Σηνάτιος Οἴκιος καὶ Οὐαρε | νία Ἀρέσκουσα Μάρκῳ Οὐαρ[ε] | νίῳ Ἀρέσκοντι τῷ τέ | κνῳ μνήμης χάριν Lucius Senatius (probably an unknown member of the family) and Var(e)inia Areskousa to her son Marcus Var(e)inius Areskon in memory… I am intrigued… can the portrait of a young man and an inscription help us unravel the knot?     https://www.amth.gr/en/exhibitions/highlights

Areskon was the son of Var(e)inia Areskousa, he was related? to Lucius Senatius, he was Roman, he lived in Thessaloniki, and he died painfully young. This beautiful funerary memorial, in marble and vividly painted, the colours remain remarkably well-preserved, testifying to the economic ability of the family to honour their young demised member with a worthy memorial.     https://m.flickr.com/photos/69716881@N02/50914350016/in/faves-36551225@N05/

Areskousa and Areskon, mother and son, members of a popular family of actors, were probably entertainment “stars” of the time. This is what their names connotate (Areskon/Areskousa= one who pleases, who is popular). The mother was probably an actress of the popular mime theatre, while the son managed to elevate himself and become a young, versatile tragic actor of fame and fortune. His funerary monument is a proper testament to his popularity and wealth.

The portrait on his rectangular funerary altar shows him en face, upright, attired in military gear. His right hand is raised in salutation, the left seems to hold a sword?  In the upper left corner of the composition, still beautifully coloured, a mask, worn by male actors for a female theatrical role, identifies the male portrait as an actor of versatile abilities.

1917, Trip to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki… my respects to Areskon… Photo Credit: Kostas Papantoniou

The Portrait of Areskon is shown in the middle of a simple yet elegantly proportioned structure described by the Museum archaeologists as a funerary altar. It is simply framed, sits on a pedestal and is crowned by an inscribed pediment with a central rosette, leaves and stylized acroteria. It was discovered near the eastern fortification walls of Thessaloniki, almost embedded in an apartment building of modern times. Today, exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, it is considered one of the Museum’s highlights!

For a PowerPoint presenting a School Trip to the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Funerary Altar of Areskon, please… Check HERE!

For a StudentActivity, please… Check HERE!

2017, Grade 4 STARS in front of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki! Photo Credit: Kostas Papantoniou

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867
Photograph by Dick Osseman, East Façade, https://pbase.com/dosseman/atikmustafa
East Façade, Analysis of Masonry (after Mathews) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=8#metadata_info_tab_contents

It’s bitter cold, a snowy Sunday in the συμβασιλεύουσα του Βυζαντίου and I enjoy reading “Notes on the Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii in Istanbul and its frescoes” by Thomas F. Mathews and Ernest J. W. Hawkins in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 39 (1985), pp. 125-134. My goal is to prepare for a new POST, titled… Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii.     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867
Photograph by Dick Osseman https://pbase.com/dosseman/atikmustafa

Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii is a historic Byzantine church in Constantinople, an Ottoman Mosque of great importance for the Muslims, and an intriguing building for the expert Art Historians in the academic world. I have to confess I never visited the building and that makes it difficult to talk about it… I rely, however, on Mathews and Hawkins Dumbarton Oaks Paper, the Encyclopedia of the Hellenic World presentation, the Byzantine Legacy report, and the precious photographs taken by Dick Ossemann. This may not be “all-inclusive,” it is the groundwork for my next trip… στην Πόλη!    https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents,    http://constantinople.ehw.gr/forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11785,     https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/atik     and     https://pbase.com/dosseman/atikmustafa

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867, drawing of 1877, from A.G. Paspates’ Byzantine Topographical Studies

References to early 20th-century bibliography and logical deductions lead Mathews and Hawkins to a first acceptance that the Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii is “the earliest Constantinopolitan example of a cross-domed church (and indeed the first Constantinopolitan church after Iconoclasm).” The authors further studied the articulation of the East End of the building, the design of the Apses (p. 127), the windows in the apses, drew comparisons to many Constantinopolitan churches for plausible similarities and drew the conclusion that the Atik share the most similarities with “the Theotokos of Lips (church) of 907 and the Myrelaion 920-22. With these churches the Atik shares the basic plan of three triple-faceted apses in which surfaces begin to be broken up by windows and niches set at varying levels.” Further comparisons (pp.127-128) on where apse windows were placed and the lack of horizontal cornices enhanced the belief that Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii “while closely related to the Lips and the Myrelaion, seems to represent an earlier stage in the evolution of apse design. Very likely it belongs to the second half of  the ninth century in the new surge of church building known from literary sources to have followed the defeat of Iconoclasm in 842 and the accession of Basil I in 867.”     https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=4#metadata_info_tab_contents

The Dumbarton Oaks Paper by Mathews and Hawkins is an inexhaustible source of information I enjoyed reading. Groundwork accomplished, I feel ready for a future trip… στην Πόλη

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Unidentified Byzantine Church in Constantinople known today as Atik Mustafa Paşa Camii, original Byzantine construction date: 842-867
South Wall Frescoes, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291520?seq=8#metadata_info_tab_contents

Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure

PRINCESS FRESCO – The idyllic life of the daughters of Pharaoh, circa 1343-1335, painted plaster, 40×165, Ashmolean Museum

“With the move to Amarna the art becomes less exaggerated, but while it is often described as ‘naturalistic’ it remains highly stylised in its portrayal of the human figure. The royal family are shown with elongated skulls and pear-shaped bodies with skinny torsos and arms but fuller hips, stomachs and thighs. The subject matter of royal art also changes. Although formal scenes of the king worshipping remain important there is an increasing emphasis on ordinary, day-to-day activities which include intimate portrayals of Akhenaten and Nefertiti playing with their daughters beneath the rays of the Aten… While traditional Egyptian art tends to emphasise the eternal, Amarna art focuses on the minutiae of life which only occur because of the light – and life-giving power of the sun.” writes Dr Kate Spence for BBC History and I use this quote as an introduction to Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure, my new POST on Egyptian Art.     http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/akhenaten_01.shtml

I would like to continue with another short quote by Dr Kate Spence “Akhenaten is a source of endless fascination and speculation – this often masks the fact that we actually know very little about him.” This quote marks the beginning of my Grade 7 Unit on the Art of the Amarna Period. I have been teaching this Unit for years and I can only testify to the fact that the Amarna Period allure attracts my student’s attention and captivates their imagination. They like to read and listen to their teacher describe the genesis of an almost “monotheistic” religion, the dynamics within a powerful royal family, the building of a new capital city, and how Egyptian Art of the period moved towards naturalism and informality.

The Amarna Idiom is an artistic style that captivates human reaction. My students are “hypnotized” by the unique Amarna pictorial beauty of deformation. They are charmed, yet question how in the depiction of faces, thin, long necks, hold greatly elongated skulls… facial folds are the norm, narrow, slitted eyes are prominent and jaws seem to be “hanging” low. The Amarna style body rendering amazes my students as well, particularly the discrepancy between the upper, lower and middle parts of the human body… the dropped, thin shoulders, heavy potbelly, large hips and thighs, and the rather thin, almost frail, legs.

PRINCESS FRESCO – The idyllic life of the daughters of Pharaoh, circa 1343-1335, painted plaster, 40×165, Ashmolean Museum

At some point, towards the end of my Amarna Unit, I ran a survey, titled “My Favourite Amarna Work of Art,” as I am always interested to understand what artistic qualities attract the admiration of my students. Among the finalists in my survey is the fresco painting of Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure, coming from Akhenaton’s capital city Akhetaten, known today as Tell el- Amarna, and exhibited in the Ashmolean Museum. Students love the bright, warm, terracotta-coloured palette, the casual, relaxed composition theme, the depicted stylistic exaggerations, and the overall sense of family affection that embraces the pictorial arrangement.

This fresco, fragile and precious, was discovered in the early 1890s by William Flinders Petrie, the renown archaeologist, at Akhetaten, “The horizon of the Aten,” where the visionary Pharaoh Akhenaton lived with his queen, Nefertiti, their six daughters, Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure among them, and the rest of the royal family. “The painting was made on a thin layer of gesso – powdered gypsum mixed with a glue – applied to mud plaster on a brick wall… (Petrie) discovered that the wall had been much damaged by ants and its preservation is a tribute to Petrie’s remarkable skills as an archaeologist.” https://www.ashmolean.org/princess-fresco     and     https://www.amarnaproject.com/pages/amarna_the_place/central_city/index.shtml

Plans of the King’s House in Amarna and the area where the fresco of the two Princesses was located. The discussed fresco, with the figure of the discoverer (F. Petrie), added to give scale. The scene of princesses (Ashmolean Museum) as it was originally located on a wall in the King’s House, with the painted dado restored

Unearthed in the King’s House, “an enclosure measuring 123 by 140 meters, inside of which the building took the form of a U around a garden, with the actual residence of the king at the rear,” the Princess’s fresco depicts “Akhenaten and Nefertiti relaxing with their daughters, two of which are sitting casually on floor cushions in the foreground. The red sash of Nefertiti’s dress falls behind them, and to the right are Akhenaten’s sandaled feet. Between them stand three more daughters; the sixth daughter was probably shown seated on her mother’s lap, as suggested by a surviving fragment depicting a baby’s hand. The style and subject of this painting are in direct contrast to conventional Egyptian art and reflects the revolutionary character of the period.” Simply but beautifully said…     http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/royalestate.htm     and     https://www.ashmolean.org/princess-fresco

For a PowerPoint on Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure, please… Check HERE!

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

If interested in smart Amarna period Resources and Activities, please… Check https://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/current-projects/life-ancient-egypt-amarna-resources-schools/ancient-amarna