April by Lucien Pissarro

Lucien Pissarro, French Artist, 1863–1944
April, Epping, 1894, Oil paint on canvas, 603 × 730 mm, Tate, London, UK

Oh, to be in England / Now that April’s there, / And whoever wakes in England / Sees, some morning, unaware, / That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf / Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, / While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough / In England—now! Robert Browning probably wrote Home-Thoughts, from Abroad in 1845, while he was staying in Italy, homesick of the English countryside during a glorious April morning! Interestingly, April by Lucien Pissarro is an Impressionistic painting of a similar April morning by a French artist living in England! https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43758/home-thoughts-from-abroad

Lucien Pissarro was a French painter, printmaker, and etcher. He was born on February 20, 1863, in Paris, France, and was the oldest son of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. He began his artistic education at a young age, studying under his father and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1884, he began exhibiting his work in Impressionist exhibitions, and in 1886, he participated in the 8th and final Impressionist exhibition. In 1888, Pissarro moved to London, where he became a member of the New English Art Club and began to develop his own unique style, influenced by the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and Japanese prints. He spent the next two decades in London, exhibiting his work and participating in the city’s art scene. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/lucien-pissarro-r1105344

Portrait of Lucien Pissarro, c.1937, Photograph, black and white, on paper, taken by Lafayette Ltd, London, Tate Archive, London, UK

In 1910, Pissarro returned to France and settled in the small town of Éragny-sur-Epte, where he focused on painting landscapes and rural scenes. He continued to exhibit his work, and in 1913, he was awarded the Légion d’honneur. Pissarro’s work is characterized by his use of vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes, and a focus on nature. He is considered to be one of the most important Impressionist painters of the 20th century. Pissarro died on July 10, 1944, in Éragny-sur-Epte, France. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/lucien-pissarro-r1105344

According to the TATE experts David Fraser Jenkins and Helena Bonet, …Lucien Pissarro exhibited April, Epping at the New English Art Club in November–December 1904, where he renewed contact with artists, he had met more than ten years earlier. He was invited to join Walter Sickert’s Fitzroy Street Group in 1907, and so became acquainted with those who went on to form the Camden Town Group in 1911. For the younger artists of the group in particular, Pissarro represented a direct link to the origins of impressionism and neo-impressionism, his father Camille being a great inspiration, as well as his friends Seurat, Signac, and van Gogh. The influence of Pissarro’s style and technique can be traced in the work of Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, William Ratcliffe and James Bolivar Manson in particular. Sickert wrote of this influence in the New Age in May 1914: ‘Mr. Pissarro, holding the exceptional position at once of an original talent, and of the pupil of his father, the authoritative depository of a mass of inherited knowledge and experience, has certainly served us as a guide, or, let us say, a dictionary of theory and practice on the road we have elected to travel.’ https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/lucien-pissarro-r1105344

Created just a few years after he settled in England, April, Epping is for Lucien Pissarro a new approach to Landscape painting. He breaks away from the ‘teachings’ of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, the ‘neo-impressionist’ or ‘divisionist’ artists with whom he had been friend in Paris, and he creates a landscape painting characterized by thick, visible brushstrokes, and a strong emphasis on light and color. He uses ordered, criss-crossed touches of paint, mostly light green but with a variety of other colours, showing recession by means of colour, and he uses touches of orange, mauve and blue paints among the green of the meadow, to re-introduce the key principle of impressionism, that, of coloured shadows. In May 1894 Lucien Pissarro wrote to his father asking for new materials and …short brushes, like the ones Cézanne used … because I am going to try to paint in an entirely different way. Did he? https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/lucien-pissarro-april-epping-r1139298

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Raiment of the Soul

Photographer Vangelis Kyris and Artist of Embroidery Anatoli Georgiev
Costume of Dimitrios Mavromichlis, 19th century, Hand finished silver embroidery, using silver stitching carousel and cord, on printed cotton canvas, 126×104 cm. https://gallerykourd.gr/el/raiment-of-the-soul-2/

”The focus of this exhibition is the traditional Greek costume. Simple or more elaborate, everyday or festive, with embroidery and gold decorations, it is not a simple garment. It is a complex semiotic portrait of the person who wears it” said President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou in her greeting at the opening of the exhibition Raiment of the Soul at the Acropolis Museum (December 20, 2022, until April 2, 2023).https://www.greeknewsagenda.gr/topics/culture-society/7819-raiment-of-the-soul

There are seventy artworks presented in this fine exhibition. They are embroidered photographs of garments and costumes mostly of the 19th century, safeguarded in the past and present with the love and care of people, mainly the personnel of the National Historical Museum of Athens, but also of other Greek Museums. Two artists are responsible for this unique body of work, photographer Vangelis Kyris and artist of embroidery Anatoli Georgiev. They collaborated with Museums holding these precious costumes and chose the ‘right’ contemporary models to wear them. Then, Vangelis Kyris photographed each model capturing the essence of the costume she/he wore. When the photos were printed on large pieces of cotton canvases, majestic like Renaissance paintings, Anatoli Georgiev, using gold or silver thread stitching, silk or cotton threads, cord, sequins, metallic or knitted buttons… embroidered seminal parts of the costume’s original needlework, creating ‘poetry’ through texture. https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/temporary-exhibitions/raiment-soul

The artists see their project, as a  journey from the past to the future, with the present as a boat. For Vangelis Kyris beauty is what soothes your gaze and educates your soul, and for Anatoli Georgiev, it is Measure, balance, the feeling that what you see elevates your aesthetics.https://www.ifocus.gr/magazine/editors-choice/3044-xronia-polla-ellada-me-endyma-psyxis and https://www.womantoc.gr/stories/article/afto-pou-anakoufizei-to-vlemma-sou-mia-ksexoristi-ekthesi-gia-tin-oraiotita-ton-pragmaton/

For me, Raiment of the Soul is the best way to Celebrate Greece and its  Independence Day!

Photographer Vangelis Kyris and Artist of Embroidery Anatoli Georgiev
Costume of Dimitrios Mavromichlis, 19th century, Hand finished silver embroidery, using silver stitching carousel and cord, on printed cotton canvas, 126×104 cm.

Demetrios Mavromichalis was the fifth son of Petrobeis Mavromichalis. He was born in Mani, and lived for many years in Paris, upon his return he followed a military career, reaching the rank of lieutenant general. He was a supporter of King Otto I of Greece and took part in the revolution of 1862. As a politician, he participated in the governments of Voulgaris, Kanaris, and Benizelos Roufos. Presented by Kyros and Georgiev in the Acropolis Museum Exhibition, Mavromichalis’s Portrait comes alive and embodies the spirit of Greece through colours, movement, and texture.

Photographer Vangelis Kyris and Artist of Embroidery Anatoli Georgiev
Esther Mastrogianni wearing the Epirote Costume of Kyra Frosyni, 18th century, Hand finished gold embroidery using cord, stitching, and metal sequins on printed cotton canvas, 130×170 cm. https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/temporary-exhibitions/raiment-soul
Acropolis Museum View of the Exhibition Raiment of the Soul with the original Costume of Kyra Frosyni in the Collection of the National Historical Museum of Athens https://www.okmag.gr/lifestyle/protaseis/endyma-psychis-mia-monadiki-ekthesi-me-endymasies-istorikon-prosopon-sto-mouseio-tis-akropolis-me-protovoulia-tis-mariannas-vardinogianni/

Euphrosyne Vasileiou is better known as Kyra Frosini. She lived in Ioannina, in Epirus and she was famous for her beauty and spirit. Kyra Frosyni was executed for adultery in Ioannina by the Ottoman governor Ali Pasha of Ioannina along with 17 other women. She was allegedly executed for political reasons and was thereby viewed as a national heroine. Her violet-coloured dress represents the finest of 18th century Greek craftsmanship. The Kyros and Georgiev Portrait of Kyra Frosyni is ‘alive’ and stunningly ‘beautiful’ in its regal disposition.

Photographer Vangelis Kyris and Artist of Embroidery Anatoli Georgiev
Anatoli Georgiev wearing the attire of Vaso Brajević a Serbian general who became a hero of the Greek War of Independence known by the nickname Mavrovouniotis (“Montenegrin”), 19th century Greek traditional costume, Hand finished gold embroidery using gold  metal thread, stitching, cord and metal sequins, on printed cotton canvas, 126×103 cm. https://www.greeknewsagenda.gr/topics/culture-society/7819-raiment-of-the-soul
Protected…until the day…detail from the costume of Vasos Mavrovouniotis… by Vangelis Kyris https://www.facebook.com/v.kyris/photos/a.598821666844976/2920413098019143?locale=el_GR

Vaso Brajević was a Serbian general who became a hero of the Greek War of Independence known by the nickname Mavrovouniotis (“Montenegrin”). His life was adventurous, risk-taking, and bold. Anatoli Georgiev wearing the attire of Vaso Brajević  Mavdovouniotis presents a striking and dramatic Portrait of a truly revolutionary personality of a harsh but ‘Romantic’ era.  

For Student Activities on the Greek War of Independence, please… Click HERE!

For a short Video on the Exhibition Raiment of the Soul, prepared by the Acropolis Museum, Click… https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/temporary-exhibitions/raiment-soul

GIOVANNI BELLINI Influences croisées

Giovanni Bellini, c. 1435/40 – 1516
The Madonna and Child at a Ledge with an Apple: “The Philips Madonna”, c.1459-1460, tempera, oil and gold on a panel of poplar, 76.8 x 53 cm,  Private collection

Giovanni Bellini opened the way to the art of colour and tones that came to be characteristic of the art of the sixteenth century in Venice… write the Musée Jacquemart-André experts, Neville Rowley and Pierre Curie, introducing the Exhibition GIOVANNI BELLINI Influences croisées (Paris, from 3 March to 17 July 2023). For a private, intimate, Museum like the Jacquemart-André, gathering fifty artworks of the great Venetian master, from public and private European collections, some of which were put on display for the first time, this exhibition was one more great accomplishment. The Exhibition’s goal is to compare the artist’s works with those of his intellectual models, and thus showcase how his artistic language has never ceased to renew itself while developing its very own unique style. Not an easy task… but in creating an effective ‘dialogue’ between Bellini’s works and the ‘models’ that inspired them… the Museum experts were successful in organizing a most interesting Exhibition! While in Paris for four days, the Musée Jacquemart-André Exhibition on Bellini was the first to visit, and thoroughly enjoy it! https://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/giovanni-bellini

The Exhibition Poster at the Musée Jacquemart-André

Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430 – 1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, considered one of the greatest Venetian painters of the 15th century. Born in Venice, he was part of a famous family of artists, including his father Jacopo Bellini, his brother Gentile, and his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna. His style is characterized by the use of rich, glowing colors, an interest in light and atmospheric effects, and his ability to create a sense of depth and space in his paintings. He is known for his religious paintings, which often featured devotional themes such as the Madonna and Child.

Giovanni Bellini, c. 1435/40 – 1516
The Madonna and Child at a Ledge with an Apple: “The Philips Madonna”, c.1459-1460, tempera, oil, and gold on a panel of poplar, 76.8 x 53 cm,  Private collection

The Madonna and Child at a Ledge with an Apple, also known as The Philips Madonna, caught my eye. I am always attracted to Byzantine-influenced Venetian paintings of the Madonna, and Bellini’s Phillips Madonna, painted circa 1460 was no exception. In 1453, when Constantinople fell into the hands of the Ottoman Empire, thousands of refugees flocked to Venice, bringing with them many Greek manuscripts, icons, and relics. It was only natural for the young artist, who had just set up an independent workshop in 1459 in the parish of San Lio, near the Rialto Bridge, to be attracted to an artistic tradition with deep roots in his native city. https://www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com/en/giovanni-bellini

My amateurish iPhone attempt…

Yet, Bellini’s progressive approach to the subject of the Madonna and Child is evident. The Philips Madonna gold ground on which the image is painted represents the Byzantine influence still evident and popular in the city of Venice, but the dynamism of the pose of the figure of the infant Christ… demonstrates Bellini’s awareness of the “new style” being formulated throughout Italy. https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2022/master-paintings-sculpture-part-i/the-madonna-and-child-at-a-ledge-with-an-apple-the

Giovanni Bellini, c. 1435/40 – 1516
The Madonna and Child at a Ledge with an Apple: “The Philips Madonna”, c.1459-1460, tempera, oil and gold on a panel of poplar, 76.8 x 53 cm,  Private collection
Attributed to Donatello, 1386–1466
Madonna and Child (The Borromeo Madonna), circa 1450, terracotta, 83.5×52.1 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, TX, USA https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donatello_Borromeo_Madonna_Kimbell.jpg
Putti of the throne of Saturn, 1st century AD, marble, 58,5 x 69 cm, National Archaeological Museum of Venice https://www.facebook.com/archeovenezia/photos/a.335181736569328/3017256798361795/?type=3

According to Sotheby’s experts, who auctioned the painting on the 27th of January 2022, Bellini’s composition echoes the terracotta reliefs of this same theme by Donatello, whose own work had made such an impression in Venetian artistic circles during the previous two decades. The painting’s Child is also connected, by Mauro Lucco, to the putti in the so-called “Trono di Saturno,” a pair of ancient reliefs that decorated an archway between Piazza San Marco and the Frezzaria. These amazing Roman bas-reliefs furnished inspiration not just for Donatello and Giovanni Bellini, but also for Mantegna, Titian, and Sansovino.

A delightful painting in an Exhibition worth visiting!

For a Student Activity on GIOVANNI BELLINI Influences croisées, please… Check HERE!

The Tomb of Tutankhamun

Howard Carter with Innermost Coffin of Tutankhamun photographed by Harry Burton, 1922 (Tutankhamun Archive, Griffith Institute, University of Oxford) https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/a/tutankhamuns-tomb

“It was sometime before one could see, the hot air escaping caused the candle to flicker, but as soon as one’s eyes became accustomed to the glimmer of light the interior of the chamber gradually loomed before one, with its strange and wonderful medley of extraordinary and beautiful objects heaped upon one another.” This is how Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered The Tomb of Tutankhamun describes the moments he first set eyes on the Pharaoh’s place of rest… At first, Carter continues, I thought I was looking at wall paintings; it was a moment before I realized I was seeing actual three-dimensional objects. Carnarvon, my patron, couldn’t bear it any longer. “Can you see anything?” he demanded… Yes, wonderful things… was all I could say! https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-howard-carter-discovered-king-tuts-golden-tomb-180981052/

There is so much to explore… A PowerPoint (…please Click HERE!) presenting over one hundred artifacts will help us understand the ‘secrets’ of Tutankhamun’s Tomb, the story of its incredible discovery, and the beauty of the artifacts found inside. The Golden Mask of the Pharaoh, his Aton Throne, the Golden figure of Tutankhamun, the Harpooner, and the actual mummy, are just four of the over five thousand items discovered inside the Tomb… clues to our exploration and a path for exciting discoveries! Four answers to four questions… and our 4-Steps to Success Lesson Plan will keep us… on track!

Who was Tutankhamun? Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled during the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt. He was born around 1341 BC, during the reign of his father, the pharaoh Akhenaten. He became pharaoh around the age of 9 or 10, reigned for around 10 years, and he died at the age of 18 or 19. The exact details of Tutankhamun’s life and reign are not well-known, as he was not a particularly powerful pharaoh during his lifetime. However, his tomb and its contents have provided valuable insights into the art, culture, and society of ancient Egypt during the New Kingdom period.

Was the reign of Tutankhamun important? If so, explain why or why not. Tutankhamun came to the throne at a young age, and his rule was short, lasting around ten years. He was the son of Akhenaton, the pharaoh who introduced a new religious system in which the god Aton was worshipped as the main deity, and the traditional Egyptian gods were largely eliminated. This significant departure from the established religious practices of ancient Egypt caused upheaval and destabilization during Akhenaten’s reign. While on the throne of Egypt, Tutankhamun chose to abandon the religious reforms introduced by his father and take steps toward the restoration of the traditional gods and religious practices of ancient Egypt. This religious decision was a key factor in bringing back stability to the country, and an important accomplishment of his reign.

Why was the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun important? The discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 by Howard Carter is considered important for several reasons. Firstly, the tomb was found almost completely intact, providing an unprecedented glimpse into the burial practices and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. Additionally, the tomb contained a wealth of valuable artifacts, including a solid gold coffin, jewelry, and other grave goods. Finally, the discovery of the tomb helped to reignite global interest in Egyptology and continues to be an important cultural and historical discovery.

What do Tutankhamun’s funerary possessions reveal about Egyptian Art? The artifacts found in the tomb, such as the jewelry, statues, and furniture, provide insight into the materials and techniques used by ancient Egyptian artists and artisans. They also reflect the religious beliefs and practices of the time, as well as the status and wealth of the pharaoh buried in the tomb. Furthermore, the tomb provided a glimpse into the daily life of the Egyptian elite… their fashion, beauty products, and the importance of the afterlife in their culture. The artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb are also considered masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art, their quality, and preservation are considered unmatched.

For the New Kingdom, the Amarna Period, Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Enjoy Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered This documentary was produced by the Discovery Channel and aired in 2020. It presents new evidence and theories about the life and death of Tutankhamun, as well as the discovery of his tomb. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI-1eZ2SiRs

Another Video about Tutankhamun’s Treasures by National Geographichttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-obKX-mqjXQ

A Khan Academy Presentation on Tutankhamun’s Tomb… https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/a/tutankhamuns-tomb

Eleanor of Aquitaine

The effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England, 1122-1204, Fontevraud Abbey, France https://www.medievalists.net/2013/11/eleanor-queen-of-france-and-england-and-duchess-of-aquitaine/

Imagine a gender-equal world. A world, free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Today, the 8th of March, many countries around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, or political. The United Nations page on Women’s Day reminds us how… the growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.  A BLOG POST on Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most celebrated political figures – male or female – in the Middle Ages, will be my humble contribution to the importance of the day. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/ and https://www.un.org/en/observances/womens-day/background

Admired for her intellect and physical beauty, an astute manager of her estates and finances, a renowned patron of the arts, considered to be the queen of troubadour poetry, Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of two Kings, Louis VII of France (r. 1137-1180), and Henry II of England (r. 1154-1189), and mother of two other, Richard the Lionheart (r. 1189-1199), and John Lackland (r. 1199-1216), was a political force to reckon. As the Duchess of Aquitaine,  Eleanor controlled much of southwestern France, making her one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most sophisticated women of the Middle Ages.   

In 1147 Eleanor took part in the Second Crusade along with her ladies-in-waiting, her ‘Amazones,’ and a combat unit of 300 non-noble Aquitainian vassals under the leadership of commander Geoffrey III of Rancon. As the Duchess of Aquitaine, she was the feudal leader of the soldiers from her duchy, and although she was accused of carrying a mile-long baggage train for adornments, and behaving, at times, as if she was attending a palace ball, the same people who criticized her, made clear she was admired, trusted, and respected by her troops.

I can only imagine how Eleonor must have felt when, during November of 1147, she arrived at the Gates of Constantinople… To the Byzantines, she stood out from the rest (her ‘Amazons’) as another Penthesilea, and from the embroidered gold which ran around the hem and fringes of her garment,  was called Chrysópous (Goldfoot). Niketas Choniates, in his O City of Byzantium (Book 1 on Emperor Manuel Komnenos, page 35), singles her out, compares her to the mythical Queen of the Amazons, and compliments her on her style. https://www.academia.edu/36547117/O_City_of_Byzantium_Annals_of_Niketas_Choniates_Ttranslated_by_Harry_J_Magoulias_1984_pdf

Donor portrait, A noble lady kneeling, maybe Eleanor of Aquitaine, (KB 76 F 13, folium 028v), ca. 1180-1185, Manuscript with Illuminations on Vellum, Height: 232 mm, Width: 169 mm, Royal Library of the Netherlands https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donor_portrait_-_A_noble_lady_kneeling_-_Psalter_of_Eleanor_of_Aquitaine_(ca._1185)_-_KB_76_F_13,_folium_028v.jpg

Many years later, while married to Henry II of England, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, one of the poets patronized by Henry II and a member of the Queen’s literary circles in her court of Aquitaine, wrote for her… For this, truly, I fear to be blamed / by her who has so much kindness/ who has nobility, esteem and merit, / honesty, wisdom and honour, / goodness, temperance and cleanness, / noble generosity and beauty; / in whom the misfits of many ladies / are by her goodness extinguished; / In whom all science abounds, / and she is second to none / who may be in the world in any law. / The great lady of the great king, with no evil, wrath, or sadness, / may you always have joy” file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/Dialnet-TheQueenOfTroubadoursGoesToEnglandEleanorOfAquitai-3867018.pdf page 28

Judy Chicago, American Artist, b. 1939
The Dinner Party, Eleanor of Aquitaine place setting, 1974–79. Mixed media: ceramic, porcelain, textile, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, NY, USA https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/place_settings/eleanor_of_aquitaine

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, a milestone in 20th-century feminist art, presents a ‘symbolic’ ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table, for thirty-nine carefully chosen female guests, all of them exceptional and unique! Each guest is represented with a bespoke place setting, consisting of an intricately embroidered runner executed in a historically specific manner, a china-painted porcelain plate rendered in a style appropriate to the individual woman being honored, and a gold chalice and utensils. Eleanor of Aquitaine, independent, spirited, inquisitive, and resilient, is one of these thirty-nine women… and rightly so! https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/place_settings/eleanor_of_aquitaine

For a Student Activity titled An Interview with Eleanor of Aquitaine, please… Check HERE!

For Student Activities inspired by Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, please Check… http://s3.amazonaws.com/brooklynmuseum.org-public/education/docs/Dinner_Party_Edu_resources.pdf

Fontevraud Abbey in France and the Interior of the Church
The four tombs belong to Henry II of England (r. 1154-1189) and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (l. c. 1122-1204), Richard I of England (r. 1189-1199), and Isabella of Angoulême (c. 1186-1246), wife of King John of England (r. 1199-1216) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontevraud_Abbey

Cameo of two Emperors

Busts of Two Emperors, late 3rd century – early 4th century, Chalcedony on Gold, 3.5 cm x 4.3 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, USA

The period of the Tetrarchy in the Roman Empire began around 293 CE, twenty years into the rule of the emperor Diocletian. Due to the sheer size of the empire, Diocletian established four regions and appointed two augusti and two caesars, one to govern each section. During this time period, there was an explosion of art being produced emphasizing peace, or concordia. This trend is best shown in official artworks and coins presenting the four rulers in incredible similarities. Such artworks, displayed across the empire were intended to illustrate the unity of the empire despite the 4 rulers and the hierarchy of power ranking them. The Cameo of two Emperors in the Byzantine Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks is one such artwork of incredible beauty! https://sites.rhodes.edu/coins/imperial-imagery-tetrarchy

It was Christmas break 1977, a university student at the time when I first visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and saw the Dumbarton Oaks Cameo of two Emperors. Visiting the Exhibition Age of Spirituality was a ‘Christmas gift’ I will never forget! Many years later… many ‘Exhibitions’ later, I am still surprised and excited when I stand in front of small ‘gems’ like the Dumbarton Oaks Cameo…

According to James D. Breckenridge, the Dumbarton Oaks Cameo presents… two male busts carved in dark stone against an opaque white background. The man on the left of the cameo is frontal, with head turned right, bearded and mustached; his chlamys is fastened at his left shoulder – apparently an arbitrary choice of the gem cutter – with a round brooch. The man on the right appears younger – beardless and without moustache; he is slightly behind his senior and slightly lower. Whereas the older man’s hair and beard are in short curls, his hair is in wavy strands. Pupils and irises of both men are incised. https://books.google.gr/books?id=efLuB7QPDm8C&printsec=frontcover&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false  

Busts of Two Emperors, late 3rd century – early 4th century, Chalcedony on Gold, 3.5 cm x 4.3 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, USA

Unfortunately, it is not clear who the depicted men are. The roughly incised inscription DIOCL(etianus) MAXim(ianus) AVG(ustus) on the gold plaque at the back of the gem, the style of execution and details of its iconography, identify, by the majority of scholars, the Cameo portraits, as a product of the Tetrarchy, and subsequently, the depicted men as members of it. Taking into added consideration that the Dumbarton Oaks gem is cut from a larger work, it is highly plausible that the original gem might have shown all four Tetrarchs.  

Back in 1956, Richter suggested Diocletian and Maximian as the represented Tetrarchs, and James D. Breckenridge put forward the names of Maximianus Herculeus and Maxentius. Interestingly, Dumbarton Oaks expert J. Hanson, sets forth the popular, among experts, identification of the two presented leaders as Diocletian and Galerius, who jointly ruled the Eastern half of the Empire from 293 to 305, and the two Western tetrarchs on the lost/missing section, as Maximian and Constantius Chlorus. https://books.google.gr/books?id=efLuB7QPDm8C&printsec=frontcover&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false and http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%223671%22&sort=0&page=466

For a Student Activity on the Cameo of two Emperors, please… Check HERE!

Busts of Two Emperors, late 3rd century – early 4th century, Chalcedony on Gold, 3.5 cm x 4.3 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, USA
Map of the Roman Empire, The Period of Tetrarchy, around 293 AD https://sites.rhodes.edu/coins/imperial-imagery-tetrarchy

The Twelve Months of Flowers, March

Pieter Casteels III (Flemish Painter- 1684–1749), H. Fletcher (British Engraver- active 1715–1738), Robert Furber (British Horticulturist and Publisher- c. 1674–1756)
March, from Twelve Months of Flowers, 1730, Hand-colored Etching on
Paper, 53.9 × 43.8 cm, Private Collection

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,     /     Showery, Flowery, Bowery,     /     Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,     /     Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy… wrote George Ellis, best known as a satirical writer in both prose and verse, and I think of The Twelve Months of Flowers, March… the wonderful set of hand coloured engravings masterminded by Pieter Casteels III, Henry Fletcher, and Robert Furber! https://allpoetry.com/The-Twelve-Months

Who was Pieter Casteels III? Pieter Casteels III was a leading Flemish artist of lavish Still Life paintings. He was born in Antwerp, the son of Pieter Casteels II, a painter of landscapes and history paintings. He trained with his father, but soon, as early as 1708, he traveled to England where he established himself first as a copyist of Old Masters, and later, after 1717, as a successful painter of exotic Still Life paintings of flowers, game, and birds that chiefly served a decorative purpose, as over-door and over-chimney pieces of ornamentation. In England, Pieter became an active participant in London’s artistic community, subscribing to the Kneller Academy of Painting and Drawing in 1711 and becoming a member of the Rose and Crown Club. https://en.artsdot.com/@@/A2686B-Pieter-Casteels-Iii-Bouquet-of-flowers-in-an-urn-on-postamente

Pieter Casteels III (Flemish Painter- 1684–1749), H. Fletcher (British Engraver- active 1715–1738), Robert Furber (British Horticulturist and Publisher- c. 1674–1756)
March, from Twelve Months of Flowers (Detail), 1730, Hand-colored Etching on Paper, 53.9 × 43.8 cm, Private Collection https://www.aspireauctions.com/#!/catalog/98/545/lot/25670/image

Who was Henry Fletcher? Fletcher was a London-based engraver possessing artistic merit. He excelled as an engraver of flowers, notably The Twelve Months of Flowers and The Twelve Months of Fruits, engraved from drawings by Pieter Casteels, made in 1730 for a publication by Robert Furber, the well-known gardener. His vignettes for the first edition of Voltaire’s Henriade, published in London in 1728, were equally noted by the art critics of the time, along with his set of Views of Venice, engraved after Canaletto. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Fletcher_(engraver)

Who was Robert Furber? Robert Furber was a British horticulturist and the author of the first seed catalogue produced in England. He had a nursery in Kensington in London, near modern Hyde Park Gate, from around 1700 until his death in 1756. Furber was also a member of the “English Society of Gardners”, a group formed in 1724 to protect the reputations of plant growers.

During the 1730s Casteels became interested in the business of printing and came into partnership with leading professionals like the engraver Henry Fletcher, and the nurseryman Robert Furber. Each one of the three invested £500, and undertook the commercial venture of designing, producing, and selling sets of hand-coloured engravings to a group of subscribers. The Twelve Months of the Year is one such set, the most popular and ambitious of all sets, the team had created.

The Twelve Months of Flowers, March is the third month of the year presentation of the first illustrated nursery catalogue published in England. It presents twelve pages of different flower arrangements, one for every month of the year, that illustrate seasonal flowers, more than 400 different species, that could be ordered from Furber’s nursery. To facilitate the subscriber of the set, each presented flower is marked by a number, and the list of the corresponding species names is provided at the bottom of each page. No wonder the well thought and carefully executed business venture by Casteels, Fletcher, and Furber became an instant artistic hit and a great economic success! https://en.artsdot.com/@@/A2686B-Pieter-Casteels-Iii-Bouquet-of-flowers-in-an-urn-on-postamente

For a PowerPoint of the set The Twelve Months of Flowers, March, please… Check HERE!

The Art of the Amarna Period

The Bust of Nefertiti by Thutmose, 1340 BC, Limestone, and stucco, Height 48 cm, Egyptian Museum, Berlin, Germany

“With the move to Amarna the art becomes less exaggerated, but while it is often described as ‘naturalistic’ it remains highly stylized in its portrayal of the human figure. The royal family is 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 emphasize 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 The Art of the Amarna Period, my new BLOG 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 can actually mark the beginning of any 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.

Known especially for Akhenaton’s radical religious reforms, the Amarna period leads to endless speculation about the Pharaoh’s background and motivation, the role played by Nefertiti and the Royal women, and the new artistic quest for naturalism and informality. From ca. 1353 to 1336 BC, Egypt stood still… went through changes, the country never experienced before… and then, radically, once more, moved back to its familiar norms!

There is so much to explore… A PowerPoint, presentation of over fifty artifacts will assist us in further understanding the ‘secrets’ of Art during the Amarna Period, and our 4-Steps to Success Lesson Plan will keep us… on track!

For the PowerPoint ‘The Art of the Amarna Period’, please… Check HERE!

For the New Kingdom/Amarna Period Timeline, please… Check HERE!

For a Teacher Curator BLOG POST on The Formidable Queen Tiye, mother of Pharaoh Akhenaton, please check… https://www.teachercurator.com/ancient-egypt/the-formidable-queen-tiye/?fbclid=IwAR2eC69pTXFUqA3Yg2fR4SoWp_3dmiezQ-hLeNt83piI-sRSLLfGTl0twv0

Enjoy a BBC Documentary titled Amarna, Egypt’s Lost Cityhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ucVQj9eNBA

Two more Videos about Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Three Daughters and the Portrait head of Queen Tiye with a crown of two feathers by Khan Academyhttps://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/x7e914f5b:new-kingdom-third-intermediate-period/v/house-altar-depicting-akhenaten-nefertiti-and-three-daughters and https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/x7e914f5b:new-kingdom-third-intermediate-period/v/portrait-head-of-queen-tiye-with-a-crown-of-two-feathers

A National Geographic Video on The Mystery of Queen Nefertiti | Lost Treasures of Egypthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eex2Vu6iGy8

Diana and her Companions by Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer, 1632-1675
Diana and Her Companions, circa 1653-1656, oil on canvas, 98.5×105 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

I read Homeric Hymn 27 dedicated to Goddess Artemis… I sing of Artemis, whose shafts are of gold, who cheers on the hounds, the pure maiden, shooter of stags, who delights in archery, own sister to Apollo with the golden sword. Over the shadowy hills and windy peaks she draws her golden bow, rejoicing in the chase, and sends out grievous shafts. The tops of the high mountains tremble and the tangled wood echoes awesomely with the outcry of beasts: earthquakes and the sea also where fishes shoal. But the goddess with a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts: and when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, this huntress who delights in arrows slackens her supple bow and goes to the great house of her dear brother Phoebus Apollo, to the rich land of Delphi, there to order the lovely dance of the Muses and Graces. There she hangs up her curved bow and her arrows, and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed, while all they utter their heavenly voice, singing how neat-ankled Leto bare children [20] supreme among the immortals both in thought and in deed. Hail to you, children of Zeus and rich-haired Leto… and examine the painting Diana and her Companions by Vermeer. Why am I so attracted to this very early painting, probably a surviving first, by the great Dutch painter of the Baroque period? What can I learn? https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0138%3Ahymn%3D27

Well, the answers require a trip to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, for a very special Exhibition… https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/whats-on/exhibitions/vermeer

Never before have the Rijksmuseum visitors had the opportunity to see so many of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings in one Exhibition titled Vermeer (February 10 – June 4, 2023). The Museum managed to bring most of Vermeer’s paintings together from all over the world, and give visitors a chance to get to know the painter and get closer to his oeuvre. Intrigued by Diana and her Companions, an early mythological painting, rare in theme and unique in its rendering, I decided to learn… more! https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/whats-on/exhibitions/vermeer

According to the experts of Mauritshuis, the famous Art Gallery of The Hague where the painting is housed, goddess Diana is depicted taking a rest with her nymphs. She is the goddess of hunting and of the night, which explains the hound at her feet and the moon on her forehead. The dreamy atmosphere of the scene is typical of Vermeer’s work. The mythological theme of the painting is not so typical. Vermeer however, is best known for his small intimate genre paintings, early on in his career, painted a few larger biblical and mythological scenes, including the painting of Diana and her Companions. https://www.mauritshuis.nl/en/our-did collection/artworks/406-diana-and-her-nymphs/

Explore http://www.essentialvermeer.com/index.html for the most interesting information, and please… Check HERE! for a PowerPoint on Vermeer’s thirty-five surviving Paintings as presented in the Rijksmuseum https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/stories/themes/vermeer/story/all-paintings-by-vermeer

New Kingdom Rock Cut Tombs

Tomb of Ramose, 18th Dynasty, c. 1350 BC, Vizier of  Amenhotep III, Western Thebes, Egypt – Two male guests… the man in front is “the overseer of the hunters of [Amun], Keshy”. The one in the back is unknown. In front of them is Werel, the “Mistress of Goddess Mut.”https://www.flickr.com/photos/manna4u/11288833674

Digital Egypt for Universities site experts ( https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/thebes/tombs/index.html ) discussing their Unit on Thebes, some tombs of the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) write… The typical (elite) Theban tomb type is the rock-cut tomb. Several hundred were cut into the rock on the west of the city. These tombs consist of two main parts. There is the underground burial chamber, most often undecorated and there is the decorated chapel accessible for the living. The chapel was the place for the cult of the dead. The quality of stone is not very good at Thebes, and therefore most of the tomb chapels were plastered and painted rather than decorated with reliefs. My new Lesson Plan on the same subject is titled… The New  Kingdom Rock Cut Tombs and, may I add, their amazing interior decoration.

Two PowerPoints, one dedicated to the Tomb of Nebamun, and the other to six incredible New Kingdom Tombs of importance and beauty, will assist us in further understanding the ‘secrets’ of Egyptian art. To access the two PowerPoints, please… Click HERE! and HERE!

I use the 4-Steps to Success ‘grid’ to organize my presentation… and focus on what the Enduring Understanding of this presentation will be… New Kingdom Tomb Paintings/Reliefs tell the history of people & events, recording not only facts but the spirit and emotions of the time of ancient Egypt.

The New Kingdom was Egypt’s Golden Age, as years of stability within its boundaries, on one hand, diplomacy, trade, and war, on the other, brought immense prosperity and political power. Money poured into Egypt from its foreign lands, particularly Nubia, home to the richest gold mines in the ancient world. Much of this money was used by the pharaohs and their administrators to give thanks to the gods who had helped them in their success. The New Kingdom became one of the most creative periods in Egyptian history and the wall paintings or relief carvings in the Theban Rock Cut Tombs, are an example of their extraordinary artistic achievements. https://www.pbs.org/empires/egypt/newkingdom/architecture.html

During the New Kingdom period (ca. 1539 – 1075 BC) the Pharaohs established the new funerary trend of building Rock Cut Tombs in the area across Thebes, the capital of Egypt, on the Western bank, of the river Nile. Building their tombs in what became known as the Theban Valley of the Kings, the Pharaohs were followed, as the tradition was, by their queens, members of their families, and members of their administration. These Tombs were exquisitely decorated with fine paintings or carved reliefs of religious texts that would help the dead successfully navigate their way to the afterlife. Not only so… Tombs of New Kingdom administrators contained idealized images of everyday life that represented the life of the tomb’s occupant and his or her hopes for paradise in the afterlife. https://www.pbs.org/empires/egypt/newkingdom/architecture.html

For the New Kingdom Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Enjoy a National Geographic Documentary titled Egypt Eternal: The Quest for Lost Tombs (2002)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgWbZvMSCGM  

Another Video about Egyptian Art History from Goodbye-Art Academyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibp_i7bekQU

A Khan Academy Video on the Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis… https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/v/ancient-thebes-unescotbs