The Art of the Old Kingdom Period

Statue of Ka Aper from Saqqara (detail), c.2450-2350 BC, 5th Dynasty, Wood, Eyes: Eyes: Rock crystal, calcite, copper, black stone, Height: 112 cm, The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt https://www.reddit.com/r/OutoftheTombs/comments/vi7q9q/the_4500_years_old_wooden_statue_of_kaaper_the/

Ancient Egyptian art must be viewed from the standpoint of the ancient Egyptians to understand it. The somewhat static, usually formal, strangely abstract, and often blocky nature of much Egyptian imagery has, at times, led to unfavorable comparisons with later, and much more ‘naturalistic,’ Greek or Renaissance art. However, the art of the Egyptians served a vastly different purpose than that of these later cultures. The Art of the Old Kingdom Period is rich in masterpieces… awaiting us to explore them! https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/beginners-guide-egypt/a/egyptian-art?modal=1

Let’s start with my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline… Today, our Goal is to “travel” through the Old Kingdom timeline and identify important artworks that reflect aesthetic values, fascinating funerary traditions, or daily life.

Let’s focus on Old Kingdom three-dimensional, and two-dimensional Sculpture

Statue of Ka Aper from Saqqara, c.2450-2350 BC, 5th Dynasty, Wood, Eyes: Eyes: Rock crystal, calcite, copper, black stone, Height: 112 cm, The Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt https://www.reddit.com/r/OutoftheTombs/comments/vi7q9q/the_4500_years_old_wooden_statue_of_kaaper_the/

Sculpture played an important part in the lives of ancient Egyptians. They used sculpture to appease their gods, honor their kings and queens, and satisfy the needs of the afterlife. Old Kingdom three-dimensional art sets the tone. Always facing forward, towards eternity, Egyptian statues in the round, appear powerful, motionless, firm, serene, and self-possessed. The represented Egyptians look formal and idealized. They either sit regally, as if expecting to be served, or stand upright, one foot forward, firmly placed on the ground, as if they are about to walk. The form is closed, the arms are held close to the sides, and stone fills spaces between limbs for extra security and support.

Old Kingdom two-dimensional art was equally important, particularly ‘relief’ sculpture. Two-dimensional art was for the Egyptians a way to present, but not replicate, aspects of the ‘real world.’ What they did is interesting… each object or element in a scene was rendered from its most recognizable angle and these were then grouped together to create the whole.  This is why images of people show their face, waist, and limbs in profile, but eyes and shoulders frontally. The finished scenes are complex composite images that provide complete information about the various represented elements as if designed from different viewpoints. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/beginners-guide-egypt/a/egyptian-art?modal=1

Ancient Egyptians used two kinds of ‘relief’ sculpture. Very popular is the so-called ‘bas-relief’ where the design stands out from the surrounding surface and the background of the composition is cut away and smooth. Equally popular is the ‘sunk relief’ where the outlines of designed forms are carved within a flat surface beyond which the forms do not project.

The Old Kingdom was an incredibly dynamic period of Egyptian history. The Old Kingdom was equally dynamic in Art. It astonishes us with the serene beauty exhibited in its statues, the displayed Pharaonic, or not, power and confidence, and the amazing dexterity of craftsmanship. Simply put…Amazing!

Follow The Art of the Old Kingdom Period PowerPoint and examine more than forty-five Old Kingdom works of art…  statues, jewelry, furniture, frescoes, and relief carvings. The presented Old Kingdom ‘highlights’ range in date from about 2600 BC to 2400 BC. Please… Check HERE!

For an Old Kingdom Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Learn about the Pyramids at Giza, Egypt’s Ancient Wonders  through a Rick Steves Videohttps://classroom.ricksteves.com/videos/pyramids-at-giza-egypt-s-ancient-wonders

Watch a Video about the Mastaba of Mererukahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wQJ9AH2so0

Watch a National Geographic Video (6:13min) on how Ancient Egypt contributed to society with its many cultural developments, particularly in language and mathematics… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO1tzmi1V5g&t=303s

Simon Bening’s December

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book December (f. 29v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Last, for December, houses on the plain,  /  Ground-floors to live in, logs heaped mountain-high,  /  And carpets stretched, and newest games to try,  /  And torches lit, and gifts from man to man  /  (Your host, a drunkard and a Catalan);  /  And whole dead pigs, and cunning cooks to ply  /  Each throat with tit-bits that shall satisfy;  /  And wine-butts of Saint Galganus’ brave span.  /  And be your coats well-lined and tightly bound,  /  And wrap yourselves in cloaks of strength and weight,  /  With gallant hoods to put your faces through.  /  And make your game of abject vagabond  /  Abandoned miserable reprobate  /  Misers; don’t let them have a chance with you. My new BLOG POST, Simon Bening’s December starts with a sonnet by Folgore Da San Geminiano (c. 1250-1317), translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his book “Dante and His Circle,” (Roberts Brothers, Boston, 1893).     http://www.sonnets.org/folgore.htm

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, December (f. 29v and f. 30r), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r

The 16th-century Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, is a very unique and special manuscript in the Collection of the British Library. Unfortunately, the Golf Book is not, in its present state, a complete manuscript as most of the text is now missing. Thirty parchment leaves, however, remain, twenty-one pages of which, are full-page miniatures, in colours and gold, surrounded by a historiated border (12 pages are part of the Calendar section). The remaining forty pages feature historiated borders as well, that incorporate medallions, architectonic decoration, and cameos in grisaille and semi-grisaille. The text pages present large and small initials and line-fillers, in colours and gold. Simon Bening (d. 1561), with the assistance of his workshop, was the artist from Bruges responsible for this amazing manuscript. Bening’s accomplishments will feature in the Month of February Presentation. http://searcharchives.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?docId=IAMS032-002031376&fn=permalink&vid=IAMS_VU2

December is the Month to celebrate the Birth of Christ, it is also preparation time for the festivities that are about to begin! Simon Bening’s December (f. 29v) page introduces the viewer to a composition depicting the December Labours of the Month.

The painting’s December scene takes place in the courtyard of a country estate between two separate buildings. The estate, neatly fenced, extends to the hills in the background where two gentlemen with their huntsmen can be seen in the background setting off to hunt a stag being hounded in the top part by a pack of dogs. Further in the background, a church’s spire indicates the presence of a Flemish village. https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/167

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, December (Details, f. 29v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r
Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, December (Detail, f. 29v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r

The foreground of the composition depicts a slaughterman pinning an animal down with his right knee whilst slitting its throat and moving its leg to make its blood flow quickly into the skillet held by a female assistant. Behind them, preparation for baking bread is underway. To the right, a woman kneads bread dough in a large well-constructed trough. To the left side of the composition, a woman breaks branches of firewood with her hands to feed the fire of the oven where bread was baked, two loaves are ready and resting on a wooden bench. It is obvious more baking will take place, as a peasant harries up bringing four more loaves on top of a wooden try. This is a scene full of energy and anticipation… for the aristocracy and the depicted peasants days of festivities and feasting are about to come… for the depicted magpie perched on the estate’s fence, anticipation will end very soon.. the peasants will soon finish their jobs and he will be able to taste the leftovers of their labours.

For a PowerPoint on the  Golf Book, please… Check HERE!

Freedom From Want by Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell, American Artist, 1894-1978
Freedom From Want, 1943, Oil on canvas, 115.16×89.20 cm, Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, March 6, 1943. Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA, USA https://www.nrm.org/2016/11/freedom-want-1943/

On Thanksgiving Day remember Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882) and Give thanks for each new morning with its light, / For rest and shelter of the night. / For health and food, / For love and friends, / For everything they goodness sends… and ‘feast’ your eyes with Freedom From Want by Norman Rockwell.

The ‘Four Freedoms’ speech, the 1941 State of the Union Address by US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is the only Presidential speech in American history that inspired a multitude of books and films, the establishment of its own park, a series of paintings by a world famous artist, a prestigious international award and a United Nation’s resolution on Human Rights. On the 6th of March 1943, The Saturday Evening Post published Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want, a painting inspired by the ‘Four Freedoms’ speech, and one of my favourite Rockwell paintings.  https://fdr.blogs.archives.gov/2016/01/06/four_freedoms/

Norman Rockwell had a long-standing collaboration with The Saturday Evening Post, which he considered to be the greatest show window in America. The collaboration started in 1916, when the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for the magazine, and continued over the next 47 years. By 1963, when the collaboration with the Post ended, 322 Rockwell paintings had appeared on the cover of the magazine. https://www.nrm.org/about/about-2/about-norman-rockwell/

Freedom From Want is an iconic Rockwell painting we associate with Thanksgiving. Did Norman Rockwell paint Freedom from Want to celebrate a Thanksgiving feast?

No, he did not! Freedom From Want was one in a series of four paintings Rockwell made in response to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address known as the “Four Freedoms.” (The other freedoms were “freedom of speech,” “freedom of worship,” and “freedom from fear.”) He offered the series to the Office of War Information (OWI). The Office turned him down ‘unceremoniously,’ answering back to him… ‘The last war, you illustrators did the posters. This war, we’re going to use fine arts men, real artists.’ https://news.artnet.com/art-world/norman-rockwell-thanksgiving-freedom-from-want-three-facts-1926485

Norman Rockwell, American Artist, 1894-1978
Freedom From Want was reproduced in millions of posters promoting the sale of War Bonds. Charleston Museum, USA https://news.artnet.com/art-world/norman-rockwell-thanksgiving-freedom-from-want-three-facts-1926485

However, Ben Hibbs, editor of the Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell’s devoted ‘employer,’ had a different opinion! Rockwell’s paintings of the Four Freedoms were published, and they became so popular, that the magazine decided to offer prints for sale. The OWI, which had turned down Rockwell just a few months earlier, asked to use prints of the paintings in a war bond campaign that would ultimately garner over $132 million in bonds and stamps. Bottom line, millions of posters of Rockwell’s paintings were distributed across the country and posted in schools, libraries, and post offices. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/norman-rockwell-thanksgiving-freedom-from-want-three-facts-1926485

Freedom From Want depicts an idealistic white, middle-class family seated around a crisply adorned dinner table. The patriarch, placed at the head of the table, presides over the holiday gathering accompanied by the family matriarch, who presents a roasted turkey, the ‘piece de resistance’ of the artist’s painting. In a typical Rockwell manner, the people portrayed in the painting were his friends, family, and neighbors in the town of Arlington, Vermont, whom he photographed in his studio and painted into the complex composition individually (they never sat together). https://news.artnet.com/art-world/norman-rockwell-thanksgiving-freedom-from-want-three-facts-1926485  and https://www.nrm.org/2012/10/collections-four-freedoms/

Norman Rockwell, American Artist, 1894-1978
Freedom From Want, detail, 1943, Oil on canvas, 115.16×89.20 cm, Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, March 6, 1943. Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA, USA https://news.artnet.com/art-world/norman-rockwell-thanksgiving-freedom-from-want-three-facts-1926485

Rockwell’s painting has its critics and its supporters. Even Rockwell himself thought that it ‘lacked a wallop.’ There are, however, many more who treasure it. Like Deborah Solomon, his biographer, who goes so far as to call the light-filled canvas ‘one of the most ambitious plays of white-against-white since Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 1.’ For me, the composition is highly organized, the colour tones are warm (even the whites), and light is soft. This is a family scene we have all experienced, a moment we cherish, and a Norman Rockwell painting we love! https://news.artnet.com/art-world/norman-rockwell-thanksgiving-freedom-from-want-three-facts-1926485

I would like to draw your attention to page 82 of Picturing America, and how masterfully the controversy over Rockwell the artist, or Rockwell the illustrator, is addressed… Rockwell had been born into a world in which painters crossed easily from the commercial world to that of the gallery, as Winslow Homer had done. By the 1940s, however, a division had emerged between the fine arts and the work for hire that Rockwell produced. The detailed, homespun images he employed to reach a mass audience were not appealing to an art community that now lionized intellectual and abstract works. But Rockwell knew his strengths did not lie in that direction: “Boys batting flies on vacant lots,” he explained in 1936, “little girls playing jacks on the front steps; old men plodding home at twilight, umbrella in hand — all these things arouse feeling in me.” https://picturingamerica.neh.gov/downloads/pdfs/Resource_Guide/English/English_PA_TeachersGuide.pdf

For a PowerPoint on Norman Rockwell’s paintings of the ‘Four Wants,’ please… Check HERE! 

The Architecture of the Old Kingdom Period

The Great Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramid Complex at Giza consists of the three 4th Dynasty pyramids: Khufu (c. 2560 BC), Khafre (2558-2532 BC), and Menkaure (c. 2530-2510 BC), the Sphinx, attendant temples and outbuildings, and the private mastabas of the nobility. 
http://giza.fas.harvard.edu/archaeology/

Viewed as a golden age by later Egyptians, the Old Kingdom was a period of great confidence, stability, organization, and administrative control. Exemplified by the soaring pyramids and royal representations that project a remarkable level of poise and serenity, this period demonstrates the stability and wealth that resulted from the success of the storehouse-based economic system. The kings devoted huge resources to provisioning their mortuary cults via state-run building projects. Power was delegated to elite overseers who administered these massive endeavors, earning royal ‘endowments’ for their own afterlife in the process. Labor, both highly-skilled and untrained, was derived from the native population (mostly during the flooding season, when fields could not be worked) and there is archeological evidence that they were fairly compensated… The Architecture of the Old Kingdom Period is interesting to explore! https://smarthistory.org/old-kingdom-first-intermediate-period-introduction/

Let’s start with my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline… and continue with the development of ancient Egyptian funerary architecture.

It is important to understand that afterlife was the core of ancient Egyptian religion. In order to achieve life after death, Egyptians believed that the body of the deceased had to be preserved from corruption and damage. The body of the deceased was sacred because it served as the Ka’s eternal sanctuary. It was the duty of those alive to do everything in their power to preserve the body… through mummification and the construction of funerary edifices that will protect the body/mummy and celebrate the deceased memory.

At the very beginning, of the Pre-Dynastic period, Egyptians believed that the souls (Ka) of their deceased Pharaohs were immortal and enjoyed life after death along with their gods. The Ka of the nobles, on the other hand, needed the Pharaoh’s assistance so as to continue its journey to eternity. The Ka of both Pharaohs and nobles needed a well-constructed Tomb to serve as a House of Eternity, and a well-preserved body (mummy) for the Ka to inhabit, whenever needed. It was essential that the memory of the deceased would never be forgotten, and his/her tomb was furnished with all the necessities the Ka needed to live in luxury.

The first step in Egyptian Funerary Architecture is the construction and use of the Mastaba Tomb or Pr-djt, meaning House of Eternity, in Ancient Egyptian. Mastabas are flat-roofed, rectangular-shaped Egyptian structures, with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mudbricks. These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period and the Old Kingdom. The word Mastaba comes from the Arabic language, and it means stone bench.

The next step in Egyptian funerary architecture is the Pyramid. Nearly all Pyramids were built on the west bank of the river Nile, where, as the site of the setting sun, was, according to Egyptian mythology, the realm of the underworld. Today, archaeologists identify at least 118 Egyptian Pyramids built as part of a funerary complex during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.

It is believed that the shape of the Pyramid symbolizes the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created, or… the descending rays of the sun. Let’s not forget that the pyramids, finished with polished, highly reflective white limestone, mirrored the sunlight, and served as brilliant beacons of light when viewed from a distance.

The pyramids were, undoubtedly, funerary monuments. Egyptologists, however, are not certain if and how the Pyramids served additional theological beliefs. Could the pyramids serve as a giant ‘magical staircase’ that led the Ka of the deceased Pharaoh directly to the abode of the gods? I like to think so…

The first Pyramid was commissioned by the powerful Pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty, Djoser. It is the splendid Step Pyramid in Saqqara, designed by the Pharaoh’s vizier/architect Imhotep. Imagine the Pyramid of Djoser as a square mastaba-like structure with six tiers of receding size. During the 4th Dynasty, the transition from Step Pyramid to a true Pyramid shape took place. The great Pyramids of Meidum, Dahshur, and Giza are truly amazing. The Great Pyramid of Khufu, popular since antiquity, was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It still is the oldest of the Ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.

For the Lesson 2 PowerPoint, please… Check HERE!

For a Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMkoX1kfyDs a National Geographic, about 3 minutes, Youtube Video on The Evolution of Ancient Egypt’s Pyramids | Lost Treasures of Egypt

Learn about the characteristics of the Mastaba Tomb of Perneb through a Metropolitan Museum Videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zou4hzeUOLg

If Netflix is available… Check Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb

Saving Egypt’s Oldest Pyramid by National Geographic Channel, a 48min Video about The Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqarahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvSbtf68AOg

A 2022 TED-Ed Video questions… How did they build the Great Pyramid of Giza? … and explores how the ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramid, a tomb created for Pharaoh Khufu which took over 20 years to complete.

La Carmencita by John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent, American Artist, 1856-1925
La Carmencita, c. 1890, Oil on Canvas, 229,0 x 140,0 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/artworks/la-carmencita-9161

Celebrated as the leading society portraitist of his era, write the NGA experts, John Singer Sargent influenced a generation of American painters. His personal captivation with Spain resulted in a remarkable body of work that documents his extensive travels from the north to the south and to the island of Majorca. Over three decades Sargent responded to the country’s rich culture by producing landscapes and marine scenes, pictures of everyday life, and architectural studies, as well as sympathetic portrayals of the locals he encountered. La Carmencita by John Singer Sargent is one such painting I would like to learn more about… https://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2022/sargent-and-spain.html

In 1889, while visiting the Exposition Universelle in Paris, John Singer Sargent had his first encounter with Carmen Dauset Moreno, known as La Carmencita (1868 – 1910), the famous Spanish-style dancer, who danced at the Nouveau Cirque with great acclaim. Sponsored by theatrical agent Bolossy Kiralfy at first, La Carmencita became a theatrical sensation in the United States dancing in the ballet Antiope. In 1890, under the management of John Koster and Albert Bial, she performed in their 23rd Street Concert Hall with great success. Carmencita is the first woman performer to appear in front of an Edison motion picture camera and may have been the first woman to appear in a motion picture in America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmencita

Sargent, enamored with Spanish music, and dancing since the 1880s, described La Carmencita as a bewildering superb creature. In 1890, the same year William Merritt Chase did his portrait of the famous dancer, Sargent persuaded a restless and demanding Carmencita pose for him. He was restless as well… and he made many studies of her dancing, but in the end, he opted to portray her in a stationary pose. According to the MET Museum experts the critics were divided… how dare did Sargent represent ‘a common music hall performer in such a monumental way…https://www.culturezohn.com/culturedpearls/tag/The+Met

John Singer Sargent, American Artist, 1856-1925
La Carmencita (and detail), c. 1890, Oil on Canvas, 229,0 x 140,0 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France https://www.facebook.com/artic/photos/pcb.10156398108568150/10156398121923150/?type=3&eid=ARAJqnf0ffscPXNE5DuZvOr1KSTg38J0yvdUPccBTitulGvhVU0Wpt-1YLwxNsNS_whsdRXHa7EE0-w9

Painted in bold colours, hands on hip, right leg extended, against a dark background to highlight his skills as a painter Sargent creates the portrait of a snapshot posing dancer. Her posture is elegant and majestic, projecting her magnetism. Her face, like that of several of Sargent’s models of the time, is rendered white and masklike from cosmetics, with arched eyebrows, hinting at a proud, even haughty presence. Using a charming theme, swift brushstrokes, and washes of warm earthy colours, Sargent created a magnificent painting of feminine allure. When during 1890 La Carmencita was exhibited in Chicago, crowds of visitors went to the Art Institute to admire the famous painting. In 1892, two years after its creation, the painting was purchased from the artist by the French state. Today La Carmencita is in the collection Musée d’Orsay. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/21453

For a PowerPoint on Sargent and Spain, please…  Click HERE!

John Singer Sargent, American Artist, 1856-1925
La Carmencita, c. 1890-1910, Brush on Paper, 0.346 x 0.226 m, Louvre Museum, Paris, France, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl020500419

From the Library of Congress, Washington DC, La Carmencita, the Spanish Performer, as she danced in front of an Edison motion picture camera. Filmed by William Heise, March 10-16, 1894, in Edison’s Black Maria studio… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-15jwb1ZTMA

The Sargent and Spain Exhibition can be seen in the National Gallery in Washington DC (October 2, 2022 – January 2, 2023). According to the NGA Experts, the Sargent and Spain  Exhibition presents for the first time, approximately 120 dazzling oils, watercolors, and drawings, many of which are rarely exhibited. Also featured from the artist’s travels are some 28 never-before-published photographs, several almost certainly taken by Sargent himself. It is an Exhibition worth visiting! https://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2022/sargent-and-spain.html

Introduction to Egypt of the Pharaohs

The Palette of Narmer, c. 3200-3000 BC, Siltstone, 64 × 42 cm, Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narmer_Palette

The Ancient Egyptian civilization, famous for its pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, and tombs… flourished for thousands of years. How important was it, and what was its lasting impact? Our first Lesson: Introduction to Egypt of the Pharaohs will set the tone!!!

First, I will turn to Herodotus, nicknamed the “Father of History” for his writings on various nations, and the author of the first comprehensive history of Egypt. According to Herodotus, the Theban priests of Egypt believed… that the first man who became king of Egypt was Min; and that in his time all Egypt except the district of Thebes was a swamp, and none of the regions were then above water which now lie below the lake of Moiris, to which lake it is a voyage of seven days up the river from the sea: and I thought that they said well about the land; for it is manifest in truth even to a person who has not heard it beforehand but has only seen, at least if he have understanding, that the Egypt to which the Hellenes come in ships is a land which has been won by the Egyptians as an addition, and that it is a gift of the river… https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2131/2131-h/2131-h.htm

We will then proceed to discuss the Geography of Egypt, its Chronology, and how it all started with the unification of Upper (Southern) Egypt and Lower (Northern/Delta) Egypt under a single ruler, Narmer or Menes, that occurred c. 3000 BC.

Ceremonial Palette of Narmer (Menes), 1st Dynasty, c. 3100 BC, the Back side

1. The surface is divided into 3 registers. 2. The larger middle register depicts Narmer wearing the White Crown of Upper (Southern) Egypt. On the other side of the Palette, he wears the Red Crown of Egypt indicating he is the ruler of both lands. 3. The pharaoh is ready to execute a submissive enemy. 4. The same story is told symbolically by the figure of the falcon, the god Horus representing the king, which leads a captive man whose body is shown as a papyrus clump representing the defeated people of the Delta (Lower Egypt). 5. The living pharaoh is the embodiment of god Horus. 6. The sandal bearer holds Narmer’s sandals indicating that he stands on holy ground, so what he did was an act approved by the gods. 7. The lower register depicts dead enemies. 8. At the top of the palette between the heads of goddess Hathor (cow head, goddess of the heavens) is shown the serekh containing the king’s name.

Ceremonial Palette of Narmer (Menes), 1st Dynasty c. 3100 BC, the Front side

1. The palette is divided into four registers. 2. The top register is the same on both sides. 3. The second register from the top presents king Narmer, wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and accompanied by his officials, inspecting the decapitated corpses of his enemies. Once more, he is depicted barefoot. 4. In the third register the entwined necks of two animals form the central hollow of the palette, where kohl was placed. The stylized representation of the two animals suggests Mesopotamian influence and probably symbolizes unity. 5. In the lower register, Narmer depicted as a bull is presented storming an enemy citadel.

Finally, we will conclude the day’s Introductory Lesson, by discussing the Longevity of the Egyptian civilization, its need for Stability and Consistency, and the role of the Pharaoh.

For the Lesson 1 PowerPoint, The Art Of Ancient Egypt- Introduction – The Palette of Narmer, please… Click HERE!

For a Timeline of Ancient Egypt, please… Click HERE!

Learn, through a National Geographic Video, how Ancient Egypt contributed to society with its many cultural developments, particularly in language and mathematics… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO1tzmi1V5g

Simon Bening’s November

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 28v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death… writes Lin Yutang (1895-1976) in  My Country and My People. Do we see sorrow and a premonition in Simon Bening’s November page? https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/123171-i-like-spring-but-it-is-too-young-i-like

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 28v and f. 29r), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Simon Bening, combining autumnal tones of cool, greys and blues, and warm ochre and reds, organized a “busy” three parts composition. The background sets the tone! Outside a well-tended, fenced farm, the Flemish countryside turns to winter. The land has been harvested, and the tall (poplar?) trees are thinning out, dropping their leaves. The sky is clear, but the birds fly low, suggesting a change in the weather. The middle ground of folio 28verso is my favourite. The depicted Flemish farm is bustling with activity! Peasants, male and female, can be seen feeding their chickens and pigs, while laborers are busy preparing the farm’s buildings for winter!

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 28v and f. 29r, Details), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

While the farmers are shown busy with various activities, the scene in the foreground of folio 28verso, the return of the group of hunters, presents the aristocratic activity of hunting. The portrayed nobleman, in the center of the foreground area, dominates the composition. Riding his auburn mount, wearing gloves and carrying a fine javelin or thin whip in his left hand, he gallops next to a white horse, that carries the trophy of the day, a magnificently antlered stag. The two horses and their “riders” are flanked by the servants who must have hounded and attacked the “trophy” animal. The servant in front, the master of the hunt, with a spear leaning on his left shoulder and a large, sheathed knife hanging from one side of his belt and a hunting horn hanging from the other, holds the leashes of two whippets. The only visible part of the servant at the back of the group is the lance leaning on his right shoulder. They are followed by two pairs of dogs. The full-page miniature scene for November is dedicated to Hunting which takes center stage! https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/166

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, November (Detail, f. 28v), c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_24098_fs001r

The 16th-century Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book, is a very unique and special manuscript in the Collection of the British Library. Unfortunately, the Golf Book is not, in its present state, a complete manuscript as most of the text is now missing. Thirty parchment leaves, however, remain, twenty one pages of which, are full-page miniatures, in colours and gold, surrounded by a historiated border (12 pages are part of the Calendar section). The remaining forty pages feature historiated borders as well, that incorporate medallions, architectonic decoration, and cameos in grisaille and semi-grisaille. The text pages present large and small initials and line-fillers, in colours and gold. Simon Bening (d. 1561), with the assistance of his workshop, was the artist from Bruges responsible for this amazing manuscript. Bening’s accomplishments will feature in the Month of February Presentation.  http://searcharchives.bl.uk/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?docId=IAMS032-002031376&fn=permalink&vid=IAMS_VU2

For a PowerPoint on the  Golf Book, please… Check HERE!

For a Student Activity on Simon Bening’s November page, please… Check HERE!

Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 29r)c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/
Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop
Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book November (f. 29r, Detail)c. 1540, 30 Parchment leaves on paper mounts, bound into a codex, 110 x 80 mm (text space: 85 x 60 mm), British Library, London, UK
https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/10/

Smash the Hun

Edward Hopper, American Artist, 1882–1967
Smash the Hun, 1918, WWI poster by Edward Hopper for the in-house magazine of the Morse Dry Dock and Repair Company in Brooklyn, where Hopper worked as an illustrator (issue of Feb 1919)
https://rockwellcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Hopper-Smash-the-Hun1.jpg

The American artist Edward Hopper is acknowledged as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. He is known for his oil paintings of urban life scenes, behind windows and across streets, dating from the 1920s to the 1960s, some of which have become highly popular images, like the Nighthawks (1942, Oil on canvas, 84.1 x 152.4 cm, Art Institute of Chicago). He is less known for the attention he has paid to landscapes, particularly landscapes of New England, like Cape Ann Granite (1928. Oil on canvas, 73.5 x 102.3 cm. Private Collection). He is even less known for his early illustrations… like Smash the Hun…his ticket to success.

Edward Hopper, American Artist, 1882–1967
Self-Portrait, 1925–1930, Oil on Canvas, 64.5 × 51.8 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, USA https://whitney.org/collection/works/6068

In 1918 Edward Hopper was thirty-six years old and still struggling for artistic recognition. He was born on July 22, 1882, in the charming riverfront village of Upper Nyack, New York, where he spent his formative years. He grew up, comfortably, embraced by an educated family that was involved in the arts, and went to museums, concerts, and other cultural events. Inclined to draw as a child, Hopper was supported by his family to pursue the arts, but being of practical mind, his parents suggested he chose to study Illustration for a career that would provide him a steady income. Hopper took courses at the Correspondence School of Illustrating and at the New York School of Art. Noted illustrator/painters Arthur Keller, Frank Vincent Du Mond, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Robert Henri were among his teachers, and John Sloan, who worked regularly as a commercial illustrator prior to 1916, was an early influence. His strong, and dynamic illustrations for trade publications are memorable… but this is not what he really wanted, and by 1918 he was getting restless… https://www.thoughtco.com/edward-hopper-biography-4165484 and https://www.mutualart.com/Exhibition/Unknown-Hopper–Edward-Hopper-as-Illustr/3CFFF3BDEE4BBFF2

Unduly… it was the art of illustration that won Hopper his first kind of fame. According to Gail Levin, who wrote Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, Bert Edward Barnes, editor of the Morse Dry Dock Dial, liked his work and probably persuaded him to enter the contest for a propaganda poster sponsored by the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation in 1918. The agency had been created in September 1916 with the authority to build, purchase, lease, or requisition vessels needed for the war effort.

Barnes encouraged Hopper to visit the shipyard to get the right feel, and volunteered one of his employees, Pete Shea, to model for the poster. He also had Shea photographed in the pose and gave a print to Hopper, who recalled in an ironical sketch:I got this big Irishman to pose for me in the shipyards, with the background of ship’s ribs, that sort of things. I had his swigging a maul, and the maul was aimed at a bloody bayonet sticking unpin one corner. I titled it ‘Smash the Hun’; it was pretty awful and I don’t think it was ever published.” In fact, Hopper’s design appeared on the cover of the Morse Dry Dock Dial for February 1919.

The four-colour poster won Hopper the three-hundred-dollar first prize among fourteen hundred contestants. Since the armistice was declared before the poster could be reproduced for mass distribution, Hopper’s fame came from the exhibition of Smash the Hun along with nineteen other finalists in August 1918, in the window of Gimbel’s department store on Broadway, where, according to the press, ‘thousands’ saw the ‘stirring pictures placed on vie.’ The papers reported that the wave of popular excitement swept up Hopper’s model, Shea: he enlisted in the Navy.

Interesting to read… Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography by Gail Levin https://books.google.gr/books?id=6Dh2gFK-lecC&pg=PA117&lpg=PA117&dq=Hopper+Smash+the+Hun&source=bl&ots=qjJ-w8SQPt&sig=ACfU3U2U_AkbuBJuhjWMNGjQXS_edv90bw&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwif6dug0Yf6AhXGSPEDHWFXCpw4ChDoAXoECBQQAw#v=onepage&q=Hopper%20Smash%20the%20Hun&f=false pp. 108, 116-117

For a PowerPoint, titled Edward Hopper: The Early Years, please… Check HERE!

An interesting Video Presentation of The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator. The Video was created for the Exhibition that was on view at Norman Rockwell Museum between June 7, 2014 to October 26, 2014… https://www.facebook.com/historyofart2016/videos/200213034763003

The origins of Edward Hopper’s earliest oil paintings by Louis Shadwick “cuts straight through the widely held perception of Hopper as an American original,” and helps the reader understand Hopper’s artistic journey. https://burlington.org.uk/media/_file/generic/202010-42790.pdf and https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/some-edward-hoppers-earliest-works-were-copies-180975958/

Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Autumn, 1573, oil on canvas, 76×64 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris, France https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arcimboldo_Oto%C3%B1o.jpg

The peasant celebrates with song and dance the harvest safely gathered in. The cup of Bacchus flows freely, and many find their relief in deep slumber.     /     The singing and the dancing die away / as cooling breezes fan the pleasant air, / inviting all to sleep / without a care.     /     The hunters emerge at dawn, / ready for the chase, / with horns and dogs and cries. / Their quarry flees while they give chase. / Terrified and wounded, the prey struggles on, / but, harried, dies. This is Antonio Lucio Vivaldi’s (1678 – 1741) Sonnet L’Autunno (Autumn). The great composer wrote it as a descriptive accompaniment, experts believe, for the music of his “Four Seasons.” Today, I took the time to listen, read and look at Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo! It was a magical time! https://www.charlottesymphony.org/blog/vivaldis-four-seasons-poems/

A scion of a noble and artistic family, his father was an artist, and his uncle held the position of Archbishop of Milan, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593) was in all probability introduced to artists, scholars, and writers from a young age. Born and raised in Milan, the cradle of Renaissance naturalism, young Arcimboldo learnt a mode of artistic expression based on the direct observation of nature. Well-trained as an artist Arcimboldo was commissioned to do exceptional work at the age of 21. For example, in 1549 he was commissioned to design stained glass windows for the Duomo, in 1551 he painted coats of arms for the future Emperor, Ferdinand I, in 1556, he created frescoes for the Cathedral of Monza; and, in 1558, he drew the cartoon for the Dormition of the Virgin tapestry, which remains on display in the Como Cathedral in Lombardi to this day. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/arcimboldo-giuseppe/life-and-legacy/#biography_header and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Renaissance%20Mannerism/Arcimboldo%20ScoopNGA.pdf

In 1573 Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted a series of paintings of the four seasons for Habsburg Emperor Maximillian II. Autumn is one of them… with a berry for an eye, a pear for a nose, and grapes and leaves for a crown of hair, Arcimboldo’s Autumn is as captivating and quizzical as it was 500 years ago. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/giuseppe-arcimboldo-autumn-three-things-2039018

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Autumn (detail), 1573, oil on canvas, 76×64 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/giuseppe-arcimboldo-autumn-three-things-2039018

Interestingly, while Spring and Summer appear as youthful women, Autumn and Winter have the faces of grizzled old men. Autumn is presented with rough features looking to the left. His thick neck, made up of pears and root vegetables, emerges from a partially destroyed wine barrel. His face is made of apples, and pears, a chestnut for his mouth, and a pomegranate for his chin. The mushroom ear is adorned with a fig-shaped earring, and the hair, made up of bunches of different-coloured grapes, is crowned with a pumpkin bonnet! How more Autumnal Arcimboldo’s portrait can be!

For a PowerPoint of the Four Seasons by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, please… Check HERE!

I would like to draw your attention to a modern take of Arcimboldo’s The 4 Seasons paintings… a set of four-and-a-half meters high fiberglass sculptures of the Four Seasons by American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas, created in 2012. Interesting… to say the least! https://crystalbridges.org/blog/the-four-seasons-philip-haas-interprets-giuseppe-arcimboldo/

Philip Haas, b. 1954
The Four Seasons – Autumn, 2012, fiberglass, H. 4.572 m, first seen in the garden of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK
https://laughingsquid.com/giant-head-sculptures-representing-four-seasons/

The Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic in Delos

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus, 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#/media/File:Delos_Museum_Mosaik_Dionysos_05.jpg

In Euripides’s Bacchae, it is Teiresia’s role, addressing Pentheus, to introduce Dionysus to the audience, just like the Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic in Delos does… visually! …You have a rapid tongue as though you were sensible, but there is no sense in your words… [270] This new god, whom you ridicule, I am unable to express how great he will be throughout Hellas. For two things, young man, [275] are first among men: the goddess Demeter—she is the earth, but call her whatever name you wish; she nourishes mortals with dry food; but he who came afterward, the offspring of Semele, discovered a match to it, the liquid drink of the grape, and introduced it [280] to mortals. It releases wretched mortals from grief, whenever they are filled with the stream of the vine, and gives them sleep, a means of forgetting their daily troubles, nor is there another cure for hardships. He who is a god is poured out in offerings to the gods, [285] so that by his means men may have good things! http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0092%3Acard%3D266

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus (Detail), 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece  https://www.greece-is.com/why-mykonos-became-a-muse-for-the-worlds-most-discerning-travelers/

There is no easy way to describe God Dionysus. The Homeric Hymns 26 on Dionysus is, I believe, a wonderful introduction… [1] I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele. The rich-haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully [5] in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet-smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train [10] with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry.    /    And so hail to you, Dionysus, god of abundant clusters! Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season, and from that season onwards for many a year. The Homeric Hymns 26 on Dionysus is, I believe, a wonderful introduction! https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0138%3Ahymn%3D26 

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus (Face Close Up), 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#/media/File:Face_of_Dionysos_(detail),_mosaic_of_the_House_of_Dionysos,_Delos,_Greece,_2nd_century_BC.jpg

The Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic in Delos shows the God exactly as Homer describes him… splendid, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel, god of abundant clusters of grapes! An anonymous 2nd century BC mosaicist, created on the island of Delos, at the House of Dionysus to be exact, a stunning mosaic emblema depicting Dionysus in all his glory. Against a black background, the God of wine and theater, ivy-crowned, wings outstretched, holding with his right hand a ribboned thyrsus like he is holding a spear, is shown on the back of a tiger that wears a necklace wreath of vines and grapes around its neck. They seem to ride within the boundaries of a landscape mosaic composition of plants, a beetle, and a kantharos-type cup. Is Dionysus depicted coming back from India, magnificently winged like a daemon? It would be nice if we were certain.

The mosaic in the House of Dionysus is one of the finest examples of Opus Vermiculatum. The tesserae used for carrying it out, measuring about one-millimeter square, were made of glass, faience, terracotta, and natural stones. Their small size made it easier for the mosaicist to produce a realistic figured scene, shading, known to the Greeks as skiagraphia, for three-dimensionality, and a sense of illusionism. The name and origin of the mosaicist are a mystery. The name and origin of the owners of the so-called ‘House of Dionysus’ in Delos is a mystery as well. Today, the House of Dionysus stands out from afar thanks to its huge marble columns that surround the courtyard where the Epiphany of Dionysus Mosaic, one of the most exquisite creations of the Hellenistic art of mosaic-making was placed, for all visitors, to admire.

For a PowerPoint on God Dionysus, please… Check HERE!

House of Dionysus, Epiphany of Dionysus (Detail of Panther), 2nd century BC, Mosaic, Delos Island, Greece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#/media/File:Delos_Museum_Mosaik_Dionysos_09.jpg