The Bronze Hellenistic Dancer at the MET

Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer, 3rd–2nd century BC, Bronze, 20.5 × 8.9 × 11.4 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/255408?pkgids=351&pos=20&nextInternalLocale=en&ft=*&oid=255408&rpp=4&exhibitionId=%7Bc81fa618-19f5-47a1-a089-fd1b22309109%7D&pg=1

Dance is an ephemeral art. Is it about sentiment, imagination, and expression? Is The Bronze Hellenistic Dancer at the MET the quintessence of a Hellenistic Dancer’s soul?

The MET Dancer emerges, as if from the shadows, draped in layers of gleaming veils that conceal and reveal her movements. With each step, she gracefully twists and turns to the left, casting a downward gaze. As she dances, her left hand lifts a veil over her left hip, while her right arm, holding folds of fabric, shields the lower part of her veiled head, which arches backward. The ethereal dance causes her dress to swirl around her body, and the edges of her enveloping cloak flare out at her sides.

The complex motion of this dancer, the MET experts tell us, is conveyed exclusively through the interaction of the body with several layers of dress… This Hellenistic Bronze statuette of a Dancer not only provides insights into the cultural context of its creation but also invites speculation about the statue’s original owner. Questions arise: Where was this captivating figure displayed? What thoughts and emotions did she elicit? How much joy did she bring to those who beheld her? https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/255408?pkgids=351&pos=20&nextInternalLocale=en&ft=*&oid=255408&rpp=4&exhibitionId=%7Bc81fa618-19f5-47a1-a089-fd1b22309109%7D&pg=1

Quoting the MET experts… The bronze Dancer performs a private dance for the viewer—a kind of dance of the seven veils—that is both alluring and surprisingly contemporary in appearance, having been rendered in a realistic style. Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly very much a product of the ethos of the Hellenistic Age, the work of a master sculptor perhaps from Alexandria, Egypt… This dancer has been convincingly identified as one of the professional entertainers, a combination of mime and dancer, for which the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria was famous in antiquity… https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/2016/pergamon and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/255408?pkgids=351&pos=20&nextInternalLocale=en&ft=*&oid=255408&rpp=4&exhibitionId=%7Bc81fa618-19f5-47a1-a089-fd1b22309109%7D&pg=1

She is, luckily, not alone. In addition to the captivating Hellenistic Bronze statue showcased at the MET, the collection also features a charming array of clay statuettes portraying dancers.

Terracotta statuette of a Dancing Woman, 3rd century BC, Terracotta, 24.1 × 10.2 × 8.3 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248712
Terracotta statuette of a Dancing Woman, 3rd century BC, Terracotta, 15.2 × 6.2 × 8.6 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/248601
Terracotta statuette of a Veiled Dancer, 3rd century BC, Terracotta, H. 20.0 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/251216

Sculptures of dancers from this era often captured the dynamic and graceful movements of the human body, showcasing the Hellenistic fascination with naturalism and the portrayal of emotion. These sculpted dancers, whether in bronze or clay, reflected the cultural significance of dance as a form of entertainment, religious ritual, and social expression. The intricate detailing of their poses and flowing garments not only celebrated the physical prowess of the human form but also conveyed a sense of vitality and joy, providing a testament to the Hellenistic commitment to aesthetic excellence and the embodiment of life in art.

For a Student Activity on Hellenistic Dancing, please… Check HERE!

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1526/1530–1569
The Tower of Babel, 1563, Oil on Panel, 1,140×1,550 mm, Collection      
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria https://www.bruegel2018.at/en/the-tower-of-babel/

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there. / 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” / 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” / 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. This is how the construction of the Tower of Babel is described in Genesis 11:1–9. The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the painting in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, portrays this description within the context of Netherlandish Art. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2011%3A1-9&version=NIV

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a prominent Netherlandish Renaissance artist, lived from around 1525 to 1569. Known for his distinctive style and masterful compositions, Bruegel excelled in depicting scenes of everyday life, landscapes, and complex narrative paintings. His works often showcased a keen observation of human behavior and a meticulous attention to detail. The Tower of Babel, The Peasant Wedding, and The Hunters in the Snow are among his notable paintings. Bruegel’s contributions to art extended beyond mere technical skill; he played a significant role in influencing subsequent generations of artists, leaving a lasting impact on the Northern Renaissance.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1526/1530–1569
The Tower of Babel (details), 1563, Oil on Panel, 1,140×1,550 mm, Collection      
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria https://www.bruegel2018.at/en/the-tower-of-babel/

Among the artist’s many notable paintings, The Tower of Babel in Vienna vividly captures the viewer’s imagination. The composition is a bustling panorama of a colossal tower in progress, set against a sprawling landscape that showcases Bruegel’s meticulous attention to detail. The architectural marvel dominates the canvas, with countless workers toiling at various tasks, creating a bustling scene of organized chaos. The painting skillfully combines elements of biblical storytelling with a keen observation of human behavior, portraying the futility of human arrogance and the inevitable consequences of divine intervention. Bruegel’s use of color, texture, and intricate details adds depth and complexity to the narrative, making The Tower of Babel a masterpiece that continues to captivate viewers with its rich storytelling and artistic brilliance.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1526/1530–1569
The Tower of Babel, 1563, Oil on Panel, 1,140×1,550 mm, Collection      
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
The building of the tower of Babel, circa 1568, Oil and Wood, 59.9×74.6 cm, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tower_of_Babel_(Bruegel)

The Renaissance artist painted two versions of the Tower of Babel. One is in Vienna, my favourite, and the other is housed in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, in Rotterdam. Seen side by side, the two paintings may depict the same subject in a similar setting, but there are a number of important differences between the two compositions. The most obvious difference is the size of the Vienna panel, which is almost four times bigger than that of the Tower in Rotterdam – but if we were able to enter the compositions, we would realize that the Tower in Rotterdam is in fact 250 % bigger than the one in Vienna. https://www.bruegel2018.at/en/the-tower-of-babel/

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s two renditions of The Tower of Babel, exhibit subtle yet significant distinctions. In the Vienna painting, the tower commands a central and meticulously detailed position, with a slender design featuring a distinctive spiral staircase. The foreground is bustling with a multitude of workers engaged in various construction tasks, contributing to a sense of organized chaos. On the other hand, the Rotterdam version offers a slightly elevated perspective, showcasing a more massive and block-like tower positioned towards the left side. The architectural structure differs, and the foreground activity, while still busy, is less intricately detailed, allowing for a broader view of the expansive landscape. These variations in composition, architectural design, foreground activity, and atmospheric elements highlight Bruegel’s nuanced approach to depicting the same biblical narrative, providing viewers with unique visual experiences in each rendition.

For a Student Activity, inspired by Pieter Bruelel’s paintings, titled The Tower of Babel, please… Check HERE!

The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, circa 1500, Wool and Silk, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lady_and_the_Unicorn#/media/File:Lady_and_the_Unicorn_1.jpg

In the heart of the Cluny Museum in Paris, six exquisite masterpieces from the late 15th century quietly captivate visitors—The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. These splendid works of art, steeped in mystery and allure, weave a narrative that transcends time. As we embark on a visual journey through the intricacies of this enchanting work of art let’s remember the oldest reference to the Unicorn… there are in India certain wild asses which are as large as horses, and larger. Their bodies are white, their horns dark red, and their eyes dark blue… The quotation comes from the 4th century BC book Indica, a combination of geography, and zoology, by Greek physician, Ctesias from Cnidos. http://printedpearls.com/unicorns-in-medieval-manuscripts

Introduction

The Lady and the Unicorn is a series of six tapestries dating back to the late 15th century, widely regarded as masterpieces of medieval European art. Each tapestry depicts a Lady interacting with a Unicorn in a lush garden setting, with accompanying elements such as a lion, monkeys, and various flora and fauna. The symbolism within the scenes is rich, revealing the Medieval world of the human Senses and conveying themes of romance, chivalry, and morality. The precise meaning of the tapestries remains open to interpretation, adding to their mystique and enduring allure. Despite the passage of centuries, The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries continue to captivate viewers with their timeless beauty and enigmatic narrative.

The Patrons

Introducing the captivating narrative woven into The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry, the coat of arms featured, a vivid red shield with a blue band adorned with three silver crescent moons, offers a crucial historical clue. This distinctive heraldry connects the commission of the tapestries to the Le Viste family, notable figures in the Paris parliament during that era. The family’s ascent in social status is reflected in the tapestries, adorned with a profusion of heraldic symbols and emblems, a deliberate assertion of their collective and individual power. The full coat of arms, potentially linked to Jean IV Le Viste or his cousin Antoine, suggests a weaving date around 1500. The presence of the initials A and I in the “Mon seul désir” motto hints at a celebration, possibly related to an engagement between the groom and bride, particularly Jean IV and Jacqueline Raguier. Stylistic connections to the workshop of the Master of the Très Petites Heures manuscript and the intricate symbolism throughout the tapestries add depth to the rich tapestry, making it a fascinating exploration of familial power, social ascent, and symbolic storytelling.

The Discovery

Crafted around 1500, The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries have captivated the imagination and curiosity of admirers for centuries. Their historical emergence gained momentum in the 19th century when they were rediscovered at the Château de Boussac, a small castle in central France. Notably, novelist George Sand played a significant role in elevating their prominence by featuring the enigmatic tapestries in her 1844 novel Jeanne, where she described them as masterpieces with intriguing historical significance. Concurrently, Prosper Mérimée, the inspector general of historic monuments in France, became aware of their artistic importance through Sand and recognized their exceptional originality and quality. Motivated by concerns about their condition, Mérimée fervently advocated for the state’s acquisition of the tapestries. Following prolonged negotiations, the town of Boussac ultimately agreed to sell these exceptional artworks to the state in 1882. Since then, they have found a permanent home at the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge in Paris, where they continue to inspire awe and admiration.

Description and Interpretation

The six tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn form a harmonious ensemble characterized by balanced and understated compositions, unfolding against a striking red Mille Fleur background. Each tapestry features a central narrative where the protagonist, an elegant, aristocratic Lady, occasionally accompanied by her lady companion, is consistently flanked by a Lion and a Unicorn who carry banners with the Le Viste family coat of arms. The profound mystery embedded in these tapestries, a source of fascination for George Sand, primarily resides in their elusive meaning, subject to interpretations. While five of the six pieces are widely accepted as representations of the Five Senses, Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing, and Sight, there is a sixth tapestry, the meaning of which, remains enigmatic, leaving viewers to ponder if this is a tapestry depicting a Sixth Sense!

The tapestry presenting Touch is captivating… The Lady demands attention with her commanding presence, her untamed tresses, and opulent attire, as she stands, her right hand firmly lifting the Le Viste family banner while her left delicately touches the Unicorn’s horn. A departure from the norm, this piece unveils unique elements like the Unicorn’s small size and the Lion’s bulging eyes, wide mouth, and pointed ears. The background introduces an array of captivating creatures, including two captive monkeys and collared animals – a wolf, a panther, and a cheetah.

Taste is the second scene presented in the Cluny tapestry series… Here, the protagonist engages in a delicate gesture, accepting a sweet from her lady companion to feed the parrot perched on her gloved hand. The harmonious arrangement centers around the triangular formation of the two women, their relaxed postures, and calm gestures in stark contrast to the lively movements of the Lion and Unicorn, adorned in billowing, armored capes. A rose-covered fence in the background adds depth and frames the elegant scene. The Mille Fleur background, however, teems with life, featuring a hornless young unicorn among other creatures.

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, Smell, circa 1500, Wool and Silk, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France https://theconversation.com/explainer-the-symbolism-of-the-lady-and-the-unicorn-tapestry-cycle-91325

In this picturesque tapestry scene presenting Smell, the third Sense… the Lady is occupied in crafting a floral garland using carnations from a tray tendered by her lady companion. The symbolic gesture is accentuated by a monkey in the background, engaged in the act of smelling a rose. Both women are fashionably groomed, showing luxurious inner and outer garments. The Lady’s hair, mostly concealed, is adorned with a short headdress intricately divided by rows of pearls and bordered with gems, creating a regal allure. Contrastingly, the lady companion’s hair is elegantly styled on the sides, secured with ribbons, and covered with a modest short band, adding a touch of sophistication to this enchanting tableau.

Hearing is presented with a captivating tapestry moment… the Lady is immersed in the melodious pursuit of playing a portative organ, its bellows deftly operated by her lady companion. Set upon an oriental rug, the instrument’s posts are adorned with intricate depictions of a Unicorn and a Lion, lending an air of regality to the scene. The composition, though narrow, exudes elegance, with banners gracefully concealing the trees behind them.

In this poignant tapestry tableau depicting the fifth Sense of Sight… the Lady assumes a seated posture, tenderly caressing the Unicorn with her left hand. The Unicorn reciprocates by resting its front legs on her lap, its gaze fixated on a mirror, a precious piece of gold work. Meanwhile, in the background, a lion cub, a dog, and a rabbit participate in the looking game, enriching the tapestry with additional layers of charm and symbolism.

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, Mon Seul Désir, circa 1500, Wool and Silk, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France https://theconversation.com/explainer-the-symbolism-of-the-lady-and-the-unicorn-tapestry-cycle-91325

In front of a captivating blue pavilion bearing the enigmatic inscription, Mon Seul Désir/My sole desire, a mysterious scene unfolds, prompting contemplation of its profound meaning. This is the sixth Tapestry in The Lady and the Unicorn series! Interpreted as a part of a larger allegory of the senses, this tableau is thought to convey the essence of a ‘sixth sense.’ In medieval symbolism, this transcendent sense could signify the soul, the mind, or the heart – the very core of moral life and carnal desire. The crux of the allegory lies in the phrase ‘My sole desire,’ which, while evoking courtly romanticism, also hints at moral reason or ‘free will.’ The ambiguity of the lady’s actions adds to the intrigue: is she adorning herself with jewels taken from the casket, or is her gesture one of renunciation? Whether embracing or rejecting the pleasures of the senses, her actions are driven by her own free will, epitomizing her ‘sole desire’ for agency and self-determination in this enigmatic tapestry scene.

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry series at the Cluny Museum is an exquisite embodiment of medieval aesthetic refinement. Crafted around 1500, these masterpieces showcase a harmonious interplay of vibrant colors, intricate details, and symbolic depth. The balanced and elegant compositions feature an aristocratic Lady, a Unicorn, and a Lion against a rich Mille Fleur background, with each tapestry encapsulating a unique allegory of the human Senses. The tapestries’ aesthetic allure lies not only in their technical brilliance but also in the subtle conveyance of narratives, inviting viewers into a timeless world where beauty, symbolism, and craftsmanship intertwine seamlessly.

For a PowerPoint on The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries in the Cluny Museum, please… Check HERE!

Bibliography: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/artboards/theladyandtheunicorn/ and https://bloginfrance.com/french%20life/2017/11/22/lady-and-unicorn.html and https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/en/collection/the-lady-and-the-unicorn.html and https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/media/documents-pdf/fiches-de-salles/fichesalle13damelicorne-histoireiconographie-ang.pdf

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Romantic Love

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A., R.W.S., British Artist, 1836-1912
A Solicitation, 1878, pencil and watercolour on paper, 22.9 x 45.1 cm, Private Collection https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/A-Solicitation/8FB915CF2DFA260B4CC9A753186F8298

On Saint Valentine’s Day, I think of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Romantic Love. I think of his many paintings portraying the emotional nuances of romantic interactions, the courtship scenes with a heightened sense of intimacy, the use of rich colors and the exquisite settings often applied to evoke a romantic ambiance.  I reflect upon his gentle gestures, unambiguous glances, and subtle expressions that capture the essence of romantic relationships in a bygone era. Alma-Tadema’s paintings, whether set in ancient Rome, Greece, or other historical periods, convey a sense of timeless beauty and the universal aspects of love and courtship. The artist’s ability to infuse his works with a sense of elegance and emotion allowed viewers to connect with the theme of courtship on a deeply human level, transcending the specific historical context of each painting. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was a master in representing Romantic Love!

On the 13th of December 2022, a small watercolour painting by Alma-Tadema, titled A Solicitation, was auctioned at Christie’s, with great success. The composition is entirely typical of his work, with a young woman sitting upright on a marble bench, listening to the entreaties of the young man who reclines beside her. Is she swayed by his ‘words? I do not know… I see her holding on to her lap the flowers ‘he’ probably gave her contemplating his ‘proposition’. https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-6408828?ldp_breadcrumb=back&intObjectID=6408828&from=salessummary&lid=1

The painting A Solicitation has all the characteristics of the Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema artistic style. Renowned for his expertise in portraying various facets of sun-soaked, glowing marble, the artist, for example, presents a large, almost luminescent bench to the viewer, by skillfully utilizing watercolour transparency to evoke the hues of the marble. Equally interesting is how the depicted young couple, dressed in off-white clothes, stands out, due to Alma-Tadema’s adept handling of different textures. Finally, it is essential to mention the Mediterranean oleander tree in the right part of the middle ground, which the artist used to harmonize the rectangular shape of the composition, and the blue hues of the sea and distant coast in the background that seamlessly merge with the bright sky, creating a splendid morning scene. https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-6408828?ldp_breadcrumb=back&intObjectID=6408828&from=salessummary&lid=1

Alma-Tadema’s patrons were captivated by the romantically appealing compositions depicting courtship, prompting the artist to create multiple versions of this theme. The inaugural scene, titled “Pleading,” was crafted in 1876 and is currently housed in the Guildhall Art Gallery in London. Following this, in approximately 1877, Alma-Tadema produced another courtship scene titled “The Question,” now part of the Colección Pérez Simón in Mexico City. The third installment in this series is the watercolor painting from 1878, named “A Solicitation.” Subsequently, three additional paintings, dating back to 1883, are dispersed across prominent locations—the British Museum (Op. CCLVIII), a private collection, and the Walters Art Museum in the United States (Op. CCLIX). Throughout these various iterations of the courtship composition, Alma-Tadema maintained a consistent portrayal of the fundamental relationship between the two figures: a contemplative female and a beseeching, submissive male gazing up at her. The compositions also feature an expansive, almost panoramic view extending beyond the edge of the bench, revealing the vast sea and its miniature sailing boats. https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-6408828?ldp_breadcrumb=back&intObjectID=6408828&from=salessummary&lid=1

The photograph shows Alma-Tadema’s studio at Townsend House, after its reconstruction following the destruction caused by an explosion on a barge on the Regent’s Canal in 1874. Alma-Tadema decorated the small first-floor studio in a Pompeian style, with a dark red ceiling and red and yellow wall panels with garlands and medallions. Over the fireplace can be seen a bronze bust of his wife backed by a curtain of cloth of gold. On the easel appears to be a variation of the watercolour ‘A Declaration’ 1883 and just below it, on the floor, is a reproduction of ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’, 1883. The studio also housed Alma-Tadema’s extensive collection of photographs. https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/art-artists/work-of-art/sir-lawrence-alma-tadema-r-a

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) was a renowned Dutch-born Victorian painter who achieved international acclaim for his vivid and meticulously detailed depictions of classical antiquity. Known for his mastery of historical accuracy and meticulous attention to architectural and ornamental details, Alma-Tadema’s paintings often showcased scenes from ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt. His works, characterized by their sumptuous colors, intricate compositions, and a focus on the opulent lifestyles of the classical world, captivated audiences during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Alma-Tadema’s artistic contributions left an enduring impact on the academic art scene, and his legacy continues to be celebrated for the way he brought ancient history to life through his extraordinary talent and dedication to historical accuracy.

For a PowerPoint Presentation of six paintings by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, presenting Courtship Scenes, please… Check HERE!

Musée de Cluny

View of the 3 architectural phases of the Musée de ClunyMusée national du Moyen Âge (Roman, 20th century, Renaissance) in Paris, France https://www.paris.fr/pages/reouverture-de-cluny-le-musee-qui-modernise-le-moyen-age-21099

The Cluny Museum, officially known as the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge, is a captivating institution located in the heart of Paris, France. Housed in the former Cluny Abbey, a medieval Benedictine monastery, the museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of artifacts from the Middle Ages. Its rich collection spans from the Late Roman Period to the 16th century and includes a diverse range of artworks that provide a fascinating glimpse into medieval life. The architecture of the Cluny Museum itself is a marvel, blending the 20th century, Medieval, and Renaissance elements, with beautiful gardens adding to its charm. Visitors can explore the intimate courtyards, chapels, and thermal baths, which are among the best-preserved Roman baths in France. The Cluny Museum stands as a unique space, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the art, history, and culture of the medieval period in an enchanting setting.

View of the Musée de ClunyMusée national du Moyen Âge, in Paris, France
https://joinusinfrance.com/episode/episode-8-cluny-museum-walking-tour/

Visitors to the Cluny Museum in Paris can explore a rich and diverse collection of artifacts from the Middle Ages. https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/en/ Some of the highlights include:

Medieval Sculptures and Architectural Fragments: The museum houses a remarkable collection of medieval sculptures, including statues, reliefs, and architectural fragments from churches and cathedrals. The sculptures depict saints, biblical figures, and scenes from religious narratives, revealing the profound influence of Christianity on medieval art. Additionally, the architectural fragments provide insights into the grandeur of medieval structures, allowing visitors to appreciate the ornate details and exquisite craftsmanship that adorned sacred spaces like the Notre Dame of Paris or Sainte-Chapelle.

Illuminated Manuscripts: The Cluny Museum features a splendid collection of illuminated manuscripts, showcasing the intricate and detailed illustrations found in medieval books. These manuscripts often include religious texts, literary works, and scientific treatises.

Stained Glass Windows: The museum displays a selection of medieval stained glass windows, offering a glimpse into the stunning visual artistry that adorned churches and cathedrals during the Middle Ages. These windows, meticulously crafted with vibrant colors and intricate designs, provide a vivid representation of the storytelling and symbolism embedded in medieval Christian traditions.

Musée de Cluny Faces, For more information on the depicted ‘Faces’, please check the attached PowerPoint https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/en/

Everyday Life Artifacts: Visitors can explore a variety of everyday objects from medieval life, such as ceramics, textiles, and metalwork. These artifacts provide insights into the daily lives, customs, and technologies of people during the medieval period.

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries: This famous series of six tapestries is considered a masterpiece of medieval art. Each tapestry represents one of the senses, and the intricate designs and vibrant colors are a testament to the craftsmanship of the time.

Roman Baths, Gardens, and Courtyards: The Cluny Museum is situated on the site of ancient Roman baths, and visitors can explore the well-preserved frigidarium (cold room) and caldarium (hot room), gaining an understanding of Roman engineering and architecture. Additionally, the museum features charming gardens and courtyards, offering peaceful spaces for visitors to relax and enjoy the historic surroundings.

Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge,  View of the interior, Paris, Francehttps://www.studiogardere.com/en/projects/museum/musee-de-cluny-musee-national-du-moyen-age/

The Cluny Museum in Paris offers a unique and alternative experience for visitors exploring the French capital due to its singular focus on the Middle Ages. Amidst the iconic landmarks and modern attractions of Paris, the museum provides a serene escape into the rich tapestry of medieval history, art, and culture. Its diverse collection offers an immersive journey into a bygone era. The atmospheric setting of the former Cluny Abbey, complete with Roman baths and picturesque gardens, enhances the distinctive charm of this museum. It provides a more intimate and specialized encounter, allowing visitors to delve into the intricate details of medieval life, religious practices, and artistic achievements, creating an enriching contrast to the contemporary allure of Paris.

For a PowerPoint Presentation of Masterpieces from the Cluny Museum, please… Check HERE!

February and the Waterloo Cup

George Derville Rowlandson, British, 1861-1918
The Month of February: Coursing, the Waterloo Cup, unknown date, pen & ink and w/c on paper, Private Collection https://www.meisterdrucke.uk/fine-art-prints/George-Derville-Rowlandson/179537/The-Month-of-February:-Coursing-%28pen-and-ink-and-wc-on-paper%29.html

I’ll tell of the Magna Charter / As were signed at the Barons’ command / On Runningmead Island in t’ middle of t’ Thames / By King John, as were known as “Lack Land.”    /    …”We’ll get him a Magna Charter,” / Said Fitz when his face he had freed; / Said the Barons “That’s right and if one’s not enough, / Get a couple and happen they’ll breed.”    /    So they set about making a Charter, / When at finish they’d got it drawn up, / It looked like a paper on cattle disease, Or the entries for t’ Waterloo Cup… humorously wrote Edgar Marriott, and I think of February and the Waterloo Cup by George Derville Rowlandson. https://allpoetry.com/Magna-Charta

George Derville Rowlandson (1861–1928) was a British artist known for his contributions to the field of illustration and watercolour painting. Rowlandson was born on the 11th of December 1861 in Secunderabad, Madras, India, the son of George Rowlandson an Indian Army colonel, and studied at the Gloucester Art School as well as the Westminster School of Art, London, and in Paris. He was part of the Rowlandson artistic family, his grandfather being the famous caricaturist and satirist Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827).

His works often depicted charming rural scenes, equestrian portraits, sporting scenes and military subjects as he was one of the first official WWI artists of the UK. At first, that is between 1897 and 1900, Rowlandson worked as an illustrator for The Illustrated London News, and then, from 1899 to 1900, he worked for the English Illustrated Magazine. As a freelance artist, he exhibited oil paintings and watercolours at the British Institution and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Derville_Rowlandson

On the 1st of February, I present you with a lovely watercolour by George Derville Rowlandson, titled February, The Waterloo Cup. It is part of a set of twelve small watercolour paintings depicting a sporting event, one for each month of the year.  

Every Month, a different Sporting Event, unknown date, pen & ink and w/c on paper, 11.4 x 14.9 cm, Private Collection https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-4210691

Christie’s experts have identified the Months along with their corresponding sporting events as: January, the skating championships; February, the Waterloo cup; March, point to point; April, cross country; May, Rotten Row; June, Hurlingham; July, not out; August, common objects by the sea; September, his first fish – a fifty pounder at least; October, a rocketer; November, forward away; December, well passed sir all signed with initials ‘G.D.R.’ (seven lower right); and five (lower left) and inscribed ‘January, the skating championships’ (lower centre); ‘February, the Waterloo cup’ (lower centre); ‘March, point to point’ (lower centre); ‘April, cross country’ (lower centre); ‘May, Rotten Row’ (lower centre); ‘June, Hurlingham’ (lower centre); ‘July, not out’ (lower centre); ‘August, common objects by the sea’ (lower centre); ‘September, his first fish -a fifty pounder at least’ (on the reverse); ‘October a rocketer’ (lower centre); ‘November, forward away’ (lower centre); ‘December, well passed Sir’ (lower centre) respectively. https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-4210691

Artistically, the scene depicting February and the Waterloo Cup stands out as my favourite, distinct from it being a favoured sporting event. Full of energy and excitement, the scene presents a renowned coursing event organized by the National Coursing Club (NCC). Established in 1836, the competition held a prestigious status in the world of greyhound coursing. The event took place annually at Altcar near Liverpool in England and was named after the Waterloo Hotel, which hosted the inaugural meeting.

Coursing involves setting greyhounds after a hare, and the Waterloo Cup was a prominent fixture attracting participants and spectators alike. The competition’s history spans decades, contributing to the rich tapestry of traditional British sporting events. Not only did it showcase the speed and agility of greyhounds, but it also became a social and cultural phenomenon. The Waterloo Cup held its last meeting in 2005, marking the end of an era in coursing history due to changes in legislation related to animal welfare. Despite its closure, the Waterloo Cup remains a significant historical chapter in the world of coursing and sportsmanship.

For a PowerPoint presentation, please… Check HERE!

Puabi’s Tomb and Magnificent Jewels

Puabi’s Jewelry, 2600-2450 BC, Gold and semi-precious stones, Penn Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA https://www.penn.museum/collections/object_images.php?irn=1138

Back on the 4th of January 1928, Sir Leonard Wooley wrote about Puabi’s Tomb and magnificent JewelsI found the intact tomb, stone built and vaulted over with bricks of Queen Shubad (Puabi) adorned with a dress in which gems, flowers, crowns and animal figures are woven. Tomb magnificent with jewels and golden cups…

Queen Puabi, a name that has endured over millennia, lived during the peak of Ur’s dominance around 2600 BC. This is the Early Dynastic Period of Mesopotamia, which is often referred to as the Early Bronze Age. During her era, the ancient city-state of Ur wielded considerable influence over the Sumer region, which was situated between the southern territories of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This period witnessed a flourishing trade environment in Ur, with trade routes extending from present-day India to Sudan.

Puabi was apparently one of Ur’s most powerful Ladies…  Her name and title are known from the short inscription on one of three cylinder seals found on her person. Although most women’s cylinder seals at the time would have read “wife of ___,” this seal made no mention of her husband. Instead, it gave her name and title as queen. The two cuneiform signs that compose her name were initially read as “Shub-ad” in Sumerian. Today, however, we think they should be read in Akkadian as “Pu-abi” (or, more correctly, “Pu-album,” meaning “word of the Father”). Her title “eresh” (sometimes mistakenly read as “nin”) means “queen.” https://www.penn.museum/collections/highlights/neareast/puabi.php

This amazing Lady was immortalized through the discovery of her undisturbed Tomb in the ancient city of Ur, in present-day Iraq. Designated as PG 800, Puabi’s Tomb was excavated by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1920s as part of his extensive work at the Ur archaeological site. The tomb, located in the Royal Cemetery of Ur, is one of the most famous archaeological discoveries in Mesopotamia. In the years following the discovery of Puabi’s tomb, her legacy has continued to captivate researchers and the public alike, shedding light on the fascinating history of ancient Mesopotamia.

Inside Puabi’s tomb, archaeologists found a rich collection of artifacts, including jewelry, elaborate headdresses, musical instruments, and pottery that reflect the advanced craftsmanship and culture of ancient Sumer. She was buried with great ceremony and luxury, suggesting that she held a high status in Sumerian society, possibly as a queen or priestess.

I am particularly fascinated by her ‘formal’ attire… golden, carnelian red, and lapis-lazuli blue! I can imagine her, resplendent in her jewels attending official banquets, shining under the golden light of oil lamps. What a powerful impression she must have been!

Puabi’s Jewelry, 2600-2450 BC, Gold and semi-precious stones, Penn Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA https://www.penn.museum/collections/object_images.php?irn=1138

According to the Penn Museum experts, where a significant part of her treasure is housed… Puabi’s ornate headdress and pair of earrings were found with her body in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The headdress is made up of 20 gold leaves, two strings of lapis and carnelian, and a large gold comb. In addition, the queen wore chokers, necklaces, and large lunate-shaped earrings. Her upper body was covered by strands of beads made of precious metals and semiprecious stones that stretched from her shoulders to her belt. Ten rings decorated her fingers. A diadem or fillet made up of thousands of small lapis lazuli beads with gold pendants depicting plants and animals was apparently on a table near her headhttps://www.penn.museum/collections/highlights/neareast/puabi.php

What an indelible and commanding presence she has left!

For a PowerPoint titled Puabi’s Tomb and Magnificent Jewels, please… Check HERE!

For the Penn Museum Video, titled Dressing Queen Puabi, please Check… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZngHY1nriA

Interesting articles on The Royal Tombs of Ur, Mesopotamia, New Investigations, New Results from the Examination of Metal Artifacts and other Archaeological Findshttps://www.bergbaumuseum.de/fileadmin/forschung/zeitschriften/metalla/22.1/metalla-22-1-royal-tombs-of-ur-mesopotamia-klein-hauptmann.pdf

Bliss Madonna by Luca della Robbia

Luca della Robbia, 1399/1400–1482
Virgin and Child in a niche, ca. 1460, Glazed terracotta with gilt and painted details, 47.3 × 38.7 × 8.9 cm, 13.2 kg, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/204722

…It then occurred to Luca della Robia that clay can be manipulated with ease and little trouble, and that the only thing required was to discover a means whereby work produced in this material could be preserved a long time. By dint of many experiments he discovered a method of protecting it from the injury of time, for he found that he could render such works practically imperishable, by covering the clay with a glaze made of tin, litharge, antimony and other materials, baked in the fire in a specially constructed furnace. For this method, of which he was the inventor, he won loud praises, and all succeeding ages are under an obligation to him… The MET Bliss Madonna by Luca della Robbia is one such fine example of his skillful use of clay and a tin glaze! https://www.artist-biography.info/artist/luca_della_robbia/ Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, first published in 1550 and dedicated to Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici

Luca della Robbia (1399/1400–1482) was an Italian sculptor and ceramist renowned for his contributions to the Renaissance artistic movement. Born in Florence, he hailed from a family of artists and began his career as a sculptor. However, Luca is best known for perfecting the technique of glazed terracotta sculpture, a medium he elevated to new heights. His innovative use of vibrant polychrome glazes brought a lifelike quality to his works, distinguishing him from his contemporaries. His artistry, marked by a harmonious blend of classical influences and innovative techniques, left an enduring legacy and influenced later generations of artists.

The artist was an innovator. Before him, sculptors primarily worked with marble or bronze, and clay was mostly used for preparatory models rather than finished works of art. Luca’s innovation was to take terracotta, a material that had been traditionally associated with architectural decoration, and elevate it to the status of a refined artistic medium. His breakthrough was the development of a tin glaze that, when applied to terracotta, created a smooth, lustrous surface. This glazing technique not only added a layer of protection to the sculptures but also allowed for the application of vibrant and enduring polychrome colors. This marked a departure from the monochromatic nature of traditional terracotta works.

Luca’s creations, ranging from religious reliefs to freestanding sculptures, were characterized by a newfound vibrancy and a lifelike quality. This innovation made his sculptures more accessible to a broader audience and contributed to the democratization of art during the Renaissance. He even began a practice of reproducing his clay sculptures in casts, which members of his family and large workshop continued into the sixteenth century. His influence extended beyond his family workshop, inspiring other artists to explore the potential of terracotta and glazing techniques, thus contributing to the dynamic and transformative period of artistic flourishing in Renaissance Florence. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/204722

The artwork of the day is the Bliss Madonna by Luca della Robbia in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Luca della Robbia, 1399/1400–1482
Virgin and Child in a niche (detail), ca. 1460, Glazed terracotta with gilt and painted details, 47.3 × 38.7 × 8.9 cm, 13.2 kg, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/204722

A classic masterpiece by Luca della Robbia, the Bliss Madonna captivates the viewer’s attention with its serene beauty and religious devotion. In front of a niche defined by gilded ribs against a lively turquoise backdrop, the Virgin Mary is depicted tenderly cradling the infant Jesus, who stands at the niche’s edge, leans towards her, and equally tenderly embraces her. The intimate connection is palpable as Christ reaches around her neck, and their heads gently touch, revealing blue-gray eyes that engage the viewer. The composition’s frame is adorned with an intricate floral design, and the upper corners proudly bear the Bartorelli and Baldi coats of arms, symbolizing a probable union between these prominent Florentine families.

Luca della Robbia’s terracotta sculptures of the Madonna with the Child, like the MET’s Bliss Madonna, represent a high point of Renaissance sculpture, showcasing the artist’s innovative approach to the medium. The application of polychrome glazes, like the turquoise in the discussed artifact, allowed him to achieve a luminous, almost ethereal quality in his artworks. The delicate expressions on the faces of the Madonna and Child, coupled with the intricacies of drapery and the overall harmonious composition, reflect della Robbia’s deep understanding of both classical ideals and the spiritual essence he sought to convey. These amazing, glazed terracotta sculptures became iconic representations of religious devotion during the Renaissance and contributed to the broader artistic movement’s exploration of new materials and techniques.

For a PowerPoint depicting 10 Masterpieces by Luca della Robbia, please… Check HERE!

Oedipus Rex and Jocasta by Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French Artist, 1841-1919
Panel for Oedipus: Jocasta, and Panel for Oedipus: King Oedipus
Both Panels: circa 1895, Oil on Canvas, 96.1 x 36.5 cm, Private Collection
https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-6452011?ldp_breadcrumb=back&intObjectID=6452011&from=salessummary&lid=1

Citizens of my beloved Thebes!  See now your great Oedipus!
That famous man who knew the answers of great riddles.  That man whose good fortune every man in Thebes envied!  See now in what monstrous storm of misfortune he has fallen… Let’s not praise a man for his good Fate unless he has arrived at his final day, having escaped bad Fate…
The last Chorus lines of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex convey a sense of profound realization and acceptance of the futility of human efforts against fate and destiny. Do the paintings of Oedipus Rex and Jocasta by Renoir reflect Sophocles’ point of view? How did the great Impressionist artist decide to explore such a subject matter? https://bacchicstage.wordpress.com/sophocles/oedipus-rex/

The myth of Oedipus revolves around a tragic prophecy that foretells Oedipus, the son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, would kill his father and marry his mother. In an attempt to avoid this fate, Oedipus is abandoned as a baby but is later adopted and raised by another royal family. Unaware of his true parentage, Oedipus grows up and, through a series of unfortunate events, unwittingly fulfills the prophecy by killing his father, King Laius, in a chance encounter on the road and subsequently marrying his mother, Queen Jocasta. When the truth is revealed, Jocasta tragically takes her own life, and Oedipus blinds himself in horror and shame. The Oedipus myth explores themes of fate, free will, and the inevitability of destiny, serving as a classic example of Greek tragedy.

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex stands as a timeless masterpiece of Greek tragedy, skillfully weaving a narrative that delves into the complexities of fate and the human condition. The play’s exploration of the inevitable clash between individual free will and the predetermined course of destiny is masterfully executed. The intricate use of dramatic irony, the relentless pursuit of truth, and the psychological unraveling of Oedipus and that of his mother Jocasta, contribute to the play’s enduring impact, making it a powerful and thought-provoking work that continues to captivate audiences and provoke contemplation on the intricacies of human existence.

These characteristics of drama seem to have inspired none other than the famous Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who, in 1895, created two panels moved by Sophocles’ tragedy, depicting the protagonists of the play, Oedipus Rex, and Jocasta.

When viewed side-by-side, Christie’s experts tell us, Renoir’s two panels depicting Jocasta and Oedipus illustrate the full tension of the tragedy, their bodies seeming to push away from one another, whilst an unseen magnetic connection– an allegory for the inescapable strength of the prophecy– pulls them together. Renoir skillfully employs dynamic poses to enhance the drama of the narrative, and his vibrant choice of red alludes to the bloodshed in the tale. The artist embellishes the central figures on both panels with grisaille bas-reliefs and trompe l’oeil imitation of columns and stone, a rare example of Antique-inspired decoration within the artist’s oeuvre. https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-6452011?ldp_breadcrumb=back&intObjectID=6452011&from=salessummary&lid=1

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French Artist, 1841-1919
Panel for Oedipus: Jocasta, and Panel for Oedipus: King Oedipus
Both Panels:circa 1895, Oil on Canvas, 96.1 x 36.5 cm, Private Collection
https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-6452011?ldp_breadcrumb=back&intObjectID=6452011&from=salessummary&lid=1
https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Panneau-pour-Odipe–Odipe-roi/676741683B0A87196FE13FBA024B87C8

Both paintings are indicative of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s interest in the world of Antiquity, and particularly his reaction to the Pompeiian wall paintings he saw, and deeply admired, when he visited Italy in the fall of 1881 to mid-January 1882. In an 1882 letter to Mme George Charpentiere, he wrote… J’ai beaucoup étudié le Musée de Naples, les peintures de Pompéi sont extrêmement intéressantes à tous points de vue… https://chat.openai.com/c/c667ff6c-ca07-41ec-a3b0-29c824c174c3 Renoir’s Trip to Italy by Barbara Ehrlich White, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Dec., 1969), pp. 333-351 (29 pages) p.350

Mythology, figures of ancient tragedy, (Project for Oedipus), 1895, oil on Canvas, 41,2 x 24,4 x 2 cm, Musée Picasso, Paris, France
https://www.palazzoroverella.com/renoir-alba-di-un-nuovo-classicismo/
Mythology, figures of ancient tragedy, (Project for Oedipus), 1895, oil on Canvas, 41,2 x 24,4 x 2 cm, Musée Picasso, Paris, France
https://www.palazzoroverella.com/renoir-alba-di-un-nuovo-classicismo/

The paintings of Oedipus and Jocasta were part of a commission by Paul Sébastien Gallimard, one of the artist’s most important patrons, and a close friend. They were meant to decorate a room in Gallimard’s country house, dedicated to Greek theatre. Once more quoting Christie’s experts Renoir’s panels reveal a combination of influences, from Ancient wall painting, to Louis XVI panelling and the Directoire style of furniture and ornament. A related study depicting mythological figures that Renoir worked on for this commission is now in the collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris and was previously owned by Pablo Picasso himself. For reasons that remain unknown, the room was never completed and the panels remained in Renoir’s studio until the artist’s death. https://www.christies.com/en/auction/ancient-to-modern-art-from-the-mougins-museum-of-classical-art-part-i-29973/

Both paintings were auctioned by Christie’s on the 7th of December 2023 (Ancient to Modern Art from the Mougins Museum of Classical Art).

For a Student Activity inspired by Oedipus Rex and Jocasta by Renoir, please… Check HERE!

Europa on the Bull in the House of Jason in Pompeii

Europe on the Bull, 20-25 AD, Fresco Painting,125×95 cm, from Pompeii, Room ‘f’ in the House of Jason, today, in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy https://ancientrome.ru/art/artworken/img.htm?id=2092

In 1878 archaeologists discovered a most wonderful fresco of the Myth of Europa on the Bull in the House of Jason in Pompeii! Let’s explore the ‘where’, ‘which’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ of this amazing fresco by posing some questions!

What is the Myth of Europa and Zeus? In the myth of the Abduction of Europa, Zeus, the king of the gods, is captivated by the beauty of Europa, a Phoenician princess and daughter of King Agenor. Seized by desire, Zeus transforms into a magnificent bull and approaches Europa with an air of gentleness. Europa, charmed by the bull’s allure, climbs onto its back, only for Zeus to swiftly take off, and carry her across the sea to the island of Crete. Upon reaching Crete, Zeus discloses his identity, and Europa becomes his queen. This myth of love and adventure, steeped in symbolism and divine intrigue, has left a lasting legacy, not only in the naming of the continent of Europe but also in its enduring influence on art, literature, and the understanding of ancient cultural values.

How does Ovis describe the Myth of the Abduction described in his Metamorphoses? So the father and ruler of the gods, who is armed with the three-forked lightning in his right hand, whose nod shakes the world, setting aside his royal sceptre, took on the shape of a bull, lowed among the other cattle, and, beautiful to look at, wandered in the tender grass.  /   In colour he was white as the snow that rough feet have not trampled, and the rain-filled south wind has not melted. The muscles rounded out his neck, the dewlaps hung down in front, the horns were twisted, but one might argue they were made by hand, purer and brighter than pearl. His forehead was not fearful, his eyes were not formidable, and his expression was peaceful. Agenor’s daughter marvelled at how beautiful he was and how unthreatening. But though he seemed so gentle she was afraid at first to touch him. Soon she drew close and held flowers out to his glistening mouth. The lover was joyful and while he waited for his hoped-for pleasure he kissed her hands. He could scarcely separate then from now. At one moment he frolics and runs riot in the grass, at another he lies down, white as snow on the yellow sands. When her fear has gradually lessened he offers his chest now for virgin hands to pat and now his horns to twine with fresh wreaths of flowers. The royal virgin even dares to sit on the bull’s back, not realising whom she presses on, while the god, first from dry land and then from the shoreline, gradually slips his deceitful hooves into the waves. Then he goes further out and carries his prize over the mid-surface of the sea. She is terrified and looks back at the abandoned shore she has been stolen from and her right hand grips a horn, the other his back, her clothes fluttering, winding, behind her in the breeze. This is how Ovid describes in Bk II:833-875 Zeus’s abduction of Europa. https://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Metamorph2.htm#476707521

House of Jason in Pompeii, Ground Plan, Photo of the entrance hall ‘a’ of Jason’s House looking towards the Atrium ‘b’, central living room and Photo of the internal garden/Atrium ‘b’, looking west towards room ‘f’, where three amazing fresco panels, including the Abduction of Europa, were discovered https://ermakvagus.com/Europe/Italy/Pompeii/jason.html and https://www.pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R9/9%2005%2018%20p1.htm    and https://www.pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R9/9%2005%2018%20p9.htm

Where did archaeologists discover the Roman fresco of Europa’s Abduction? The fresco was discovered in the House of Jason, in 1878, in Pompeii, in Region IX, Insula 5, Entrance 18. Today, the building is in a fairly sad dilapidated condition due to weather erosion. It is a relatively small residence compared to other Pompeiian Houses, but rich in exceptional frescoes which, taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, are currently exhibited.

Which famous fresco panels, exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, were discovered in the House of Jason? In Room ‘d’, one of the House’s cubicula (bedrooms), archaeologists discovered three large mythological scenes (they have long been removed to the National Museum in Naples) depicting Paris waiting for Aphrodite, Medea, and Phaedra. Two more frescoes, Phoenix and Polyxena, and Jason and Pelias were discovered in the triclinium marked as ‘e’. Finally, Room ‘f’ provides us with three more fresco panels presenting the Abduction of Europa, Pan and the Nymphs, and Hercules, Deianira, and Nessus. https://ermakvagus.com/Europe/Italy/Pompeii/jason.html

What do we know about the discovery of the Pompeiian fresco of the Abduction of Europa? The House of Jason was originally discovered in 1878 in Pompeii, Italy. On the western side of the House, in a small Room, marked ‘f’ in the Plan, archaeologists discovered three frescoes, exhibited today in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, the Abduction of Europa being one of them.

Europe on the Bull (detail), 20-25 AD, Fresco Painting,125×95 cm, from Pompeii, Room ‘f’ in the House of Jason, today, in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy https://www.sciencesource.com/1719661-europa-fresco-pompeii.html

How can the Abduction fresco be described? The Abduction fresco captures the poignant opening of the famous Myth of Europa, where the Phoenician king Agenor’s young daughter finds herself captivated by the bull’s gentle demeanor and striking beauty. Overwhelmed by the creature’s tranquil presence, her initial fear gradually dissipates, encouraging her to daringly mount its back. Positioned on the right side of the fresco are three of Europa’s companions, with one leaning forward to tenderly caress the bull’s face. The entire composition unfolds against a backdrop of breathtaking ‘Hellenistic’ scenery, characterized by intricate rock formations, architectural motifs such as the central column, and lush greenery.

For a PowerPoint of all frescoes discovered in the House of Jason and exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, please… Check HERE!