The Colosso del’Appennino by Giambologna

Giambologna, 1529-1608
Colosso del’Appennino, 1570s, Rock, lava, brick, etc., H. 10 m, Garden of the Villa Medici, Park of Pratolino, Italy
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Demidoff_01.jpg

Introducing his book Ambitious Form: Giambologna, Ammanati, and Danti in Florence, Michal W. Cole refers to an October 1580 letter by the Urbinate Ambassador to Florence, Simone Fortuna, addressed to his employer, Francesco Maria II della Rovere, on a meeting he had had with Giambologna, the star artist of Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici’s Florentine court. The Flemish sculptor, the ambassador wrote, was “the best person you could ever meet, not greedy in the least, as his absolute pennilessness shows. Everything he does is in the pursuit of glory, and he has ambition in the extreme to match Michelangelo. In the judgment of many, he has already done this, and they say that if he lives much longer he will overtake him. the Duke, too, is of this opinion.” This is a wonderful quotation to start my new BLOG POST, The Colosso del’Appenino by Giambologna. https://books.google.gr/books?id=gOo9DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=Ambassador+Simone+Fortuna&source=bl&ots=HJTneuvYgR&sig=ACfU3U1NuLNaBnQxPDDmLEuHkFbr52HrEQ&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjrgr6k7tXyAhWqgf0HHWlDBq0Q6AF6BAgUEAM#v=onepage&q=Ambassador%20Simone%20Fortuna&f=false

Giusto Utens or Justus Utens, died 1609
Villa di Pratolino, 1599-1602, one of the 14 surviving Lunette Paintings of Medici Villas, Gallery at Petraia Villa Medici, Italy
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pratolino_utens.jpg

Villa di Pratolino, on the Florentine hills heading into the Mugello valley, was meant to be a dream Villa with a fairy-tale Garden, designed as a gift to Bianca Cappello, mistress, wife by 1579, of Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Every artist involved in the process was a master. Bernardo Buontalenti, court architect, and engineer completed the construction of the Villa in 1581, and Giambologna, designed the Colosso del’Appennino, a monumental statue of a brooding, bearded man, personifying the Apennine Mountains or a great river god kneeling on a garden pond, respectful to the glory of the Medici.

This epic colossal statue, half-man, half mountain, erected in the late 1570s, was originally placed within the niche of a local rock area that made it appear as if it was emerging from the surrounding landscape. Today, standing 10 m. tall, The Colosso del’Appennino by Giambologna still hides a wonderful secret, grottoes, passageways, and rooms with different functions that made this colossus come to life. The Colosso’s left hand, for example, holds spewed water from an underground stream, and it is rumored that space in his head was made for a fireplace which, when lit, would blow smoke out of his nostrils. Back in the 1570s, the statue was not standing alone. It was surrounded by other bronze statues, many of which have now gone lost or stolen. The Colosso, however, withstood centuries in the same spot, managing to maintain its figurative composition in all that time. A fitting testimony to Giambologna’s genius! https://www.boredpanda.com/appennino-sculpture-colossus-giambologna-florence-italy/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic and https://mymodernmet.com/giambologna-colosso-dell-appennino/

Unfortunately, the Villa and the largest part of this amazing garden were destroyed in 1819 to make an easy to maintain “English garden”. Few parts survived including the Colosso del’Appennino, Cupid’s Grotto, a chapel, and a series of crayfish pools. In 1872 Villa di Pratolino and its gardens were sold to the Russian Prince Paolo II Demidoff, who renovated the Gardens, restored the buildings within the property, and enlarged one of the remaining outer structures into a villa that then took his name. In 1981, the Florence Province Council bought the property to turn it into a public park, known today as Villa Demidoff and Park of Pratolino. https://www.discovertuscany.com/mugello/pratolino-park.html

More on Giambologna, the great artist of the 16th century… http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giambologna.htm

On Bianca Cappello, and her extraordinary life… please go to my Teacher Curator Post: https://www.teachercurator.com/art/what-a-life-you-had-bianca-cappello/

For a PowerPoint on Giambologna’s work, please check HERE!

The Labours of the Months: October

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: October, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The young man in the new BLOG POST The Labours of the Months: October, seems startled… he gestures to something in front of him, and turns to look over his shoulder as if talking to someone outside the picture. He is sitting on a rock but appears to be about to start ploughing. “Make sure the lines are straight” his foreman calls “use the simple wood and metal plough I gave you, push it hard on the ground, move it to either side to make an open shallow furrow. Our patrone hasn’t decided yet what we will plant, but whatever it is, it will look nice in February…” https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-october and https://www.teachercurator.com/art/the-labours-of-the-months-february/

This small painting is one of 12 small pictures that together show the ‘Labours of the Months’ – the activities that take place each month throughout the farming year. They were meant to decorate the recessed panels of a pair of doors, and seem to have been planned in pairs with the figures facing each other. This set of painted Doors combine simplicity in execution and extravagance in visual effect! The paintings, very small in size, about 13.6 x 10.6 cm, were achieved in vivid, bright, luxurious colours, like ultramarine blue for the sky, strong vermilion and red lake for the clothing, with rich greens and yellows in the landscape. The restricted and repeated use of colour gives the group of little pictures a charming, decorative simplicity. All but one of the scenes show a man working outdoors on what appears to be the estate of a large villa, seen in several of the paintings, at the foot of the distant blue mountains. The small panel paintings in the National Gallery are rare and special. They document life in the Veneto area, with the peasant activities and duties to their land. They also depict a vivid landscape, romanticized even then, from bare and covered with snow, to rich and fertile, to autumnal, covered with fallen leaves. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: October (detail), about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The Labours of the Months had a role in highlighting authority and privilege, hard work and occasionally, small, everyday pleasures. They are often perceived as a link between the work of man, the seasons of the year and God’s ordering of the Universe. As a theme, it recurred in the sculptural decoration of cathedrals and churches across Europe, in illuminated manuscripts like the popular Books of Hours, palace frescoes and rarely, panel painting. The Trentino Fresco Panels at Torre Aquila for example, present trained and obedient peasants busy with their seasonal activities, but dominated by the local aristocracy who seem to only care for their idler activities. (I presented the eleven surviving Torre Aquila frescoes in 2020. Please Check https://www.teachercurator.com/?s=torre%20aquila&cat=plus-5-results)

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

Weaving in Ancient Greece

Attributed to the Amasis Painter, active around 550–510 BC
Terracotta Black-Figure Lekythos (oil flask) depicting the preparation of wool and the weaving of cloth, ca. 550–530 BC, H. 17.15 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253348?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=560&rpp=80&pos=573

First some god breathed the thought in my heart to set up a great web in my halls and fall to weaving a robe—fine of thread was the web and very wide; and I straightway spoke among them: ‘Young men, my wooers, since goodly Odysseus is dead, be patient, though eager for my marriage, until I finish this robe—I would not that my spinning should come to naught—a shroud for the lord Laertes against the time when the fell fate of grievous death shall strike him down; lest any one of the Achaean women in the land should be wroth with me, if he were to lie without a shroud, who had won great possessions…’ spoke Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey (Book 19, 138-147). Weaving in Ancient Greece is a fascinating topic to explore… https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0136%3Abook%3D19%3Acard%3D89

Searching for information on the famous Black-Figure Lekythos by Amasis Painter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York of women making woolen cloth, I came across a site I would like to share… and acting more like a Curator rather than a Teacher, I present you with THE PENELOPE PROJECT site I am fascinated about. I like the way it was founded, how it operates, and the wealth of information on the topic of Weaving in Ancient Greece. I wish I was a member of this amazing group of scholars… who at the Institute for the History of Technology and Science at Deutsches Museum in Munich… aim to integrate ancient weaving into the history of science and technology, especially digital technology… encompasses the investigation of ancient sources as well as practices and technological principles of ancient weaving… and setting up in Munich a PENELOPE laboratory they detect the models and topologies of weaves and develop codes to make them virtually explorable. https://penelope.hypotheses.org/It is worth exploring and you will most definitely enjoy browsing it!

Back to the Black-Figure Lekythos by Amasis Painter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York of women making woolen cloth… I love every decorated part f it… from top to bottom! https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253348?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=560&rpp=80&pos=573

Attributed to the Amasis Painter, active around 550–510 BC
Terracotta Black-Figure Lekythos (oil flask) depicting the preparation of wool and the weaving of cloth (neck view of women dancing), ca. 550–530 BC, H. 17.15 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253348?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=560&rpp=80&pos=573

According to the Metropolitan experts, on the shoulder, a seated woman, perhaps a goddess, is approached by four youths and eight dancing maidens. The depicted dance is a group performance of women, and it looks synchronized, with pre-planned movements. Could this scene depict a women’s religious dance… something like the Ierakio (Ιεράκειο) performed in honour of the goddess Hera? https://books.google.gr/books?id=fkSuDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84&dq=%CE%99%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%B1%CE%BA%CE%B9%CE%BF+(%CE%99%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%BA%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%BF)+dance&source=bl&ots=0Dt8N4ENqf&sig=ACfU3U36X2qnvm01sqhovtng8da1yfMc1g&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmkIyAqdrxAhVE_7sIHSydAUAQ6AEwD3oECAoQAw#v=onepage&q=%CE%99%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%B1%CE%BA%CE%B9%CE%BF%20(%CE%99%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%BA%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%BF)%20dance&f=false

Attributed to the Amasis Painter, active around 550–510 BC
Terracotta Black-Figure Lekythos (oil flask) depicting the preparation of wool and the weaving of cloth (three sides of the pot’s body), ca. 550–530 BC, H. 17.15 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253348?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=560&rpp=80&pos=573

On the body of the Metropolitan Lekythos, women are making woolen cloth. In the center, two women work at an upright loom. To the right, three women weigh wool. Farther to the right, four women spin wool into yarn, while between them finished cloth is being folded. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253348?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=560&rpp=80&pos=573

Attributed to the Amasis Painter, active around 550–510 BC
Terracotta Black-Figure Lekythos (oil flask) depicting the preparation of wool and the weaving of cloth (detail), ca. 550–530 BC, H. 17.15 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253348?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=560&rpp=80&pos=573

Making cloth is one of the most important responsibilities women of Ancient Greece were entrusted with. They were responsible to create the clothing worn by all members of their family, as well as textiles for household needs. Their craftsmanship was testimony to their industriousness, ‘value’ as a wife, and ‘beauty’ as a woman. According to Homer, making cloth, was the work of elite women: Helen, Andromache, Penelope, Arete, as well as goddesses. Circe and Calypso wove, to say nothing of Athene herself, warrior and weaver both. They wove patterned cloth which, in the case of the first three, expressed their own qualities, as well as their relationship to particular men. Helen weaves the story of the Trojan War, Andromache weaves flowery love charms, not knowing that Hector is dead, and Penelope weaves a stratagem to forestall betrayal of Odysseushttps://chs.harvard.edu/susan-t-edmunds-picturing-homeric-weaving/

The Metropolitan Lekythos is attributed to Amasis the Painter, an artist whose real name is a mystery, known today by the name of the Potter Amasis whose works he most often decorated. They were both leading black-figure artists active around 550–510 BC. This Metropolitan Lekythos displays characteristics the Amasis the Painter incorporated in his oeuvre like symmetry, precision, clarity, harmony, and a preference to small scale figures.

For a PowerPoint on the work of Amasis, please… Check HERE!

An interesting 1985 Book to read, prepared to accompany an exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1985-1986… is titled The Amasis Painter and His World: Vase Painting in Sixth-Century B.C. Athens by Dietrich von Bothmer and Alan L. Boegehold, and you can download it… https://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0500234434.html

Portrait of a Halberdier

Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo, 1494 – 1557
Portrait of a Halberdier (Francesco Guardi?), 1529–1530, Oil (or oil and tempera) on panel transferred to canvas, 95.3 × 73 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, CA, USA
http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/824/pontormo-jacopo-carucci-portrait-of-a-halberdier-francesco-guardi-italian-florentine-1529-1530/?dz=0.5000,0.5000,0.62 

Reading Vasari’s Life of Jacopo da Pontormo, and preparing for the artist’s Portrait of a Halberdier, I would like to quote three remarks about his extraordinary abilities, by great masters of the time… Jacopo’s first work was, a little Annunciation, Raphael, upon seeing this, he marvelled, and foretold Jacopo’s future success. When Andrea del Sarto saw the figures of Faith and Charity painted by Pontormo for the central arch of the portico of the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata, he is reported saying to Jacopo, …your work is so good that I am sure you could not do better, and as you will have no lack of employment, use these designs (Pontormo wanted the painting changed and had created new designs for the portico) for something else. His work was of such beauty, continues Vasari, that for its new style and the sweetness of the heads of the two women and the charm of the infants it was the finest fresco ever seen till then. Michelangelo, on seeing it, and knowing it to be the work of a youth of nineteen, said… This youth, if he lives and continues to pursue art, will attain to heaven. http://www.artist-biography.info/artist/jacopo_da_fontormo/ and http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/Santissima-Annunziata.html

Jacopo Carucci, known as Pontormo, was a Mannerist  Florentine artist, the son of Bartolomeo di Jacopo di Martino Carrucci, an artist as well. He was famous for his ambiguous approach to pictorial space and perspective, wherein his figures, spiritual rather than physical, painted in vivid, crisp colours with fluid contoured lines, float in space, twist, swirl, and entwine, defying the forces of gravity. Pontormo was a versatile painter famous for religious scenes, secular compositions, and insightful portraits. His portraits presenting the ruling Medici dynasty in Florence, the educated elite, and his less aristocratic friends, possess a rare psychological dignity that is enhanced by the artist’s fine eye for symbolism (which, in the case of the Medici’s, alluded to their political and economic power). https://www.theartstory.org/artist/pontormo-jacopo-da/

Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo, 1494 – 1557
Study of Francesco Guardi as a Halberdier, 1529-30, Red Chalk, 209 x 169 mm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/Jacopo_Pontormo_-_Halberdier_-_WGA18130.jpg

My favourite Pontrormo Portrait, in the Getty Museum, presents a young, fashionably dressed, Florentine foot soldier, holding a roncone or a halberd, a combination spear and battle-axe weapon, standing before a fortress wall. His direct stare and swaggering pose are strikingly poignant, given the smooth unlined face and slim body that betray him as no more than a teenager. According to Vasari, during the siege of Florence in about 1529, Pontormo painted a “most beautiful work, a portrait of young nobleman Francesco Guardi as a soldier.” It was common practice during the 1529 siege, boys too young to fight took up arms and followed their fathers on patrols in defense of the republic. The historian Benedetto Varchi remarked that these Florentine youths offered “the most beautiful sight… because they were as well armed as they were splendidly dressed.”  Could the Portrait of the Halberdier portray young Francesco Guardi? I can only imagine how proud his father must have been! http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/824/pontormo-jacopo-carucci-portrait-of-a-halberdier-francesco-guardi-italian-florentine-1529-1530/?dz=0.5000,0.5000,0.62 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/821849?&exhibitionId=%7b2c98eb4f-1cd0-43dc-912e-1fd5d5ef9c00%7d&oid=821849&pkgids=689&pg=0&rpp=20&pos=8&ft=*&offset=20

Pontormo’s Portrait of a Halberdier or young Francesco Guardi is currently exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, part of the magnificent Exhibition The Medici, Portraits & Politics, 1512-1570 (June 12-October 11, 2021). According to the MET experts… Through an outstanding group of portraits, this major loan exhibition will introduce visitors to the various new and complex ways that artists portrayed the elite of Medicean Florence, representing the sitters’ political and cultural ambitions and conveying the changing sense of what it meant to be a Florentine at this defining moment in the city’s history. The exhibition features over 90 works in a wide range of mediums, from paintings, sculptural busts, medals, and carved gemstones to drawings, etchings, manuscripts, and armor. Included are works by the period’s most celebrated artists, from Raphael, Jacopo Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino to Benvenuto Cellini, Agnolo Bronzino, and Francesco Salviati. I wish I could visit… to explore and marvel! https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2021/medici-portraits-and-politics

For a PowerPoint on Portraits by Pontormo, please… Check HERE!

Portrait Medallion of Gennadios

Will we meet again? He is waiting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York… musically accomplished, all ‘chiseled’ up… and I have to face COVID traveling restrictions, a long trip, and a rather bad knee… He is Gennadios, a young man from Alexandria whose portrait is simply fabulous… one of my favourite works of Art in the world! Our story goes back to 1977 when, as a University student I visited, for the first time ever New York City, I marveled at the ‘Age of Spirituality’ Exhibition, and I set my amazed eyes on his Portrait Medallion…the rest is part of my life story. Ever since, and every time I visit New York I simply have to see him… These days, the Portrait Medallion of Gennadios, a fine example of Alexandrian ‘Good Life,’ welcomes MetropolitanMuseum visitors to ‘The Good Life: Collecting Late Antique Art at The Met’ Exhibition (May 24, 2021–May 7, 2023)… It’s an invitation I somehow have to meet… https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2021/good-life-collecting-late-antique-art

Introducing Gennadios, the Metropolitan Museum site reads: This exquisitely vivid image of an educated youth of the powerful port city of Alexandria probably celebrates his success in a musical contest. The medallion worked in gold on dark blue glass, was made to be mounted and worn as a pendant. There is so much more to Gennadios’s story… https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/466645?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&showOnly=openAccess&ft=*&offset=480&rpp=80&pos=510

The Metropolitan MuseumPortrait Medallion, thanks to the inscription, and its grammatical variants, ΓΕΝΝΑΔΙ  ΧΡΩΜΑΤΙ  ΠΑΜΜΟΥCΙ, introduces us to an upper-class young man from Alexandria named Gennadios, a young man most accomplished in the musical art. This portrait served as an exceptional piece of Jewelry, a disk to be framed as a pendant… proudly worn by Gennadios… in the aftermath of a victorious musical competition, one may wonder. Age of Spirituality – Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. (1979), page 287 https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century

Portrait Medallion of Gennadios (detail), 250–300 AD, made in Alexandria, Egypt. Gold Glass, D. 4.2 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://twitter.com/rubsmontoya/status/1224314731885998080

Worked in gold on sapphire-blue glass… to be specific, the drawing of Gennadios’s face was scratched with a fine point on gold leaf applied to the surface of a thin layer of glass… the Metropolitan Museum Medallion is a masterpiece of portraiture on a small scale. There is a group of similar jewel-like glass medallion portraits exhibited in museums around the world, but none is so exquisitely engraved. Scholars believe a lot of these Medallions come from Alexandria where a tradition in gold glass portraiture, like that of Gennadios’s, was active and popular. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Autumn 1977, page 46 file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/The_Late_Roman_World_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_35_no_2_Fall_1977.pdf

The Gold Glass technique was particularly popular throughout the Roman Empire during the 4th century AD. Images in this technique were etched in gold leaf and then, the leaf was fused between two layers of glass… like a sandwich! Items of Gold Glass were usually created into circular bottoms of luxurious drinking vessels since the Hellenistic period. A popular practice for the Romans of the later period was to cut out the Gold Glass decorated roundel of a cup and cement it to the wall of a catacomb Grave to serve as a grave marker for the small recesses where bodies were buried. In Rome, where this practice was particularly popular, archaeologists discovered over 500 pieces of Gold Glass used in this way. Decoration themes for Gold Glass items vary from pagan mythology and portraits to purely Jewish or Christian imagery. Chapter 13 Making Late Antique Gold Glass by Daniel Thomas Howells, pp.112-120 https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20190801105206/https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/research_publications_series.aspx#AllResearchPublications

Here is a wonderful Video on the Gold Glass making technique by the Corning Museum of Glass https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALNMn6DGQJg

I greatly enjoyed reading: The Ficoroni Medallion and Some Other Gilded Glasses in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Joseph Breck, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Jun. 1927), pp. 352-356 (5 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/3046553?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae1a77ea3960c80fa8029287c7789e3cd&seq=5#page_scan_tab_contents and Portraits, Pontiffs and the Christianization of Fourth-Century Rome by Lucy Grig, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 72 (2004), pp. 203-230 (28 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/40311081?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

For a PowerPoint on Gold Glass Portrait Medallions, please… Check HERE!

The Labours of the Months: September

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: September, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

Another smell of autumn / sweet sweet smell / of Concord grapes / warming ripening/ ready to burst with flavor / strong urgent smell / lured me closer/ spreading outward /from the makeshift arbor / a plume twenty feet wide / enticing, coaxing / me to linger /luxuriate in its aroma smile at the memory / of other pickings / long ago / Sweet fruit / high above me, / out of reach up in the canopy / formed by wire and bush… lovely and short, by Raymond Foss, a lawyer from New Hampshire who writes poetry in his spare time… a wonderful introduction for my new BLOG POST on The Labours of the Months: September. https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/08/01/harvesting-grapes-812007/

A man in the National Gallery painting sits beneath a tree inform us the Renaissance experts in the London Museum, through which a vine has been trained. A large bunch of red grapes hangs from a leafy stem. He uses both hands to squeeze the juice from another bunch into a wooden vat on the ground at his feet. The grape juice will be turned into wine and possibly stored in the barrel we see being made in an earlier scene. This is a fitting scene for any painting depicting the Labours of the Months and particularly the scene representing September. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-september

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: September (detail), about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

Europeans of the Renaissance period created, in various Art media, Calendars of specific religious events celebrated every month of the year. These Calendars were often embellished with scenes of seasonal, agricultural activities and popular scenes of the life of the elite courtiers as well. These iconographic scenes are traditionally called the ‘Labours of the Months’. They can be seen in manuscripts like Psalters, Breviaries, and Books of Hours, sculptural decorations of Cathedrals, and like in the case we explore this year, a set of decorated doors for a Venetian Palazzo. Their artistic rendering and content varies depending on the date, location, and purpose of each artwork

A typical Calendar depicting agricultural Activities present, often but not always, scenes of Feasting for January, Sitting by the fire for February, Pruning trees or digging for March, Planting and enjoying the country or picking flowers for April, Hawking and courtly love for May, Hay harvest for June,  Wheat harvest for July, Wheat threshing for August, Grape Harvest for September,  Ploughing or sowing for October,  Gathering acorns for pigs for November and Killing pigs or baking for December.

The small painting in London presenting September as a man squeezing the juice from a bunch of grapes is part of a special set of Renaissance painted Doors. The unknown artist who created this painting used vivid, bright, luxurious colours, like reds, blues, white and green. He combined simplicity in execution and extravagance in visual effect, creating a charming decorative effect.

For a PowerPoint on the painting under focus at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!

Maiolica Credenza

Nicola da Urbino, active by 1520–died ?1537/38
Armorial Plate (tondino): The story of King Midas (This plate is part of the Isabella D’Este Credenza), ca. 1520–25, Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware), Diam. 27.5 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/459198?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=Nicola+da+Urbino&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=1

Maiolica, the refined, white-glazed pottery of the Italian Renaissance, we are informed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art experts, was adapted to all objects that were traditionally ceramic, such as dishes, bowls, serving vessels, and jugs of all shapes and sizes. It was also used as a medium for sculpture and sculptural reliefs, as well as floor and ceiling tiles. The latter were rectangular, laid side by side across specially adapted joists. Maiolica Credenza is a new BLOG POST about a very special set of plates that connects important people of the Renaissance… Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua, Eleonora Gonzaga, Isabella’s daughter and Duchess of Urbino, and the artist Nicola da Urbino, a great innovator of the humble art of pottery-making. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/maio/hd_maio.htm

Replicas of the twenty-three surviving dishes that make up Isabella D’Este’s Maiolica Credenza by Mantuan artist Ester Mantovani
https://milano.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/15_novembre_01/i-piatti-raccontano-rinascimento-mostra-gioielli-isabella-d-este-71ab65c2-80b2-11e5-aac9-59b4cd97071f.shtml
 

I have had made a credenza (service, of a kind that could be displayed on a buffet) of earthenware vessels and I am sending it… since the maestri of this country of ours (the Duchy of Urbino) have some reputation for good work. And if it pleases Your Excellency I shall be happy and you might make use of it at Porto (Porto Mantovano, Isabella’s country villa) since it is a villa thing (Cosa da Ville)… elegantly wrote Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino to her mother Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua describing a magnificent gift of maiolica plates by Nicola da Urbino, the Raphael of Maiolica, the most important creator of the maiolica narrative (istoriato) painting. https://books.google.gr/books?id=2i_ADAAAQBAJ&pg=PA172&lpg=PA172&dq=Letter+of+Eleonora+Gonzaga+e+Isabella+d%27Este+on+a+credenza&source=bl&ots=hRCkXjAsnh&sig=ACfU3U08yg2DA0SUvn2Nvmyd4awltOnmMg&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiR48z7xM3xAhU3gf0HHWvcBU8Q6AEwEnoECBYQAw#v=onepage&q=Letter%20of%20Eleonora%20Gonzaga%20e%20Isabella%20d’Este%20on%20a%20credenza&f=false

Gian Cristoforo Romano, ca. 1465-1512
Portrait Medal of Isabella d’Este, 1495-98, Gold with diamonds and enamel, D. 7 cm,
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

Today I would like to act more like a Curator rather than a Teacher and present you with a site I am fascinated about. It is titled… IDEA Isabella D’Este Archive and I like the way it was founded, how it operates, and the wealth of information on the current topic. I wish I was in Mantua this summer and over gelato, listen to the stories the scholars of IDEA tell… how maiolica… was a popular type of earthenware in sixteenth-century Europe. How… this type of ceramic was fired at a low temperature and covered in a thin glaze that created a white ground for colorful narratives and personal emblems…How the IDEA scholars reunite in their site the surviving twenty-three individual maiolica dishes from Isabella’s credenza for study. Isabella d’Este’s maiolica dishes can no longer be viewed as a single service, and are now divided among museums and private collectors across three continents. By viewing all twenty-three dishes together, researchers have a better sense of service as a whole, in which the individual dishes, painted narratives of Ovid and Virgil, read like pages in a book. https://ideaart.web.unc.edu/idea-ceramics/

For the time being, I put together a PowerPoint of all surviving maiolica plates of the famous Isabella D’Este Credenza… HERE!

Two interesting IDEA Videos on the Isabella D’Este Maiolica Credenza by Nicola da Urbino can be seen… https://ideaart.web.unc.edu/the-illustrated-credenza/

I somehow feel this is the beginning of a fascinating journey…

The Labours of the Months: August

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: August, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The quiet August noon has come; / A slumberous silence fills the sky; / The winds are still, the trees are dumb, / In glassy sleep the waters lie     /     And mark yon soft white clouds that rest / Above our vale, a moveless throng; / The cattle on the mountain’s breast / Enjoy the grateful shadow long     /     Oh, how unlike those merry hours, / In early June, when Earth laughs out, / When the fresh winds make love to flowers, / And woodlands sing and waters shout     /     When in the grass sweet voices talk, / And strains of tiny music swell / From every moss-cup of the rock, / From every nameless blossom’s bell.     /     But now a joy too deep for sound, / A peace no other season knows, / Hushes the heavens and wraps the ground, / The blessing of supreme repose.     /     Away! I will not be, to-day, / The only slave of toil and care, / Away from desk and dust! away! / I’ll be as idle as the air… wrote William Cullen Bryant and I thought of the tired man in the National Gallery panel of The Labours of the Months: August. https://www.lieder.net/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=24951

The quiet August noon has come; / A slumberous silence fills the sky; / The winds are still, the trees are dumb, / In glassy sleep the waters lie     /     And mark yon soft white clouds that rest / Above our vale, a moveless throng; / The cattle on the mountain’s breast / Enjoy the grateful shadow long     /     Oh, how unlike those merry hours, / In early June, when Earth laughs out, / When the fresh winds make love to flowers, / And woodlands sing and waters shout     /     When in the grass sweet voices talk, / And strains of tiny music swell / From every moss-cup of the rock, / From every nameless blossom’s bell.     /     But now a joy too deep for sound, / A peace no other season knows, / Hushes the heavens and wraps the ground, / The blessing of supreme repose.     /     Away! I will not be, to-day, / The only slave of toil and care, / Away from desk and dust! away! / I’ll be as idle as the air… wrote William Cullen Bryant and I thought of the tired man in the National Gallery panel of The Labours of the Months: August. https://www.lieder.net/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=24951

The Cycle of the Twelve Months is a favourite theme in the arts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Often linked to the signs of the Zodiac, the Cycle of the Months is often perceived as a link between the work of man, the seasons of the year, and God’s ordering of the Universe. As a theme, it recurred in the sculptural decoration of cathedrals and churches across Europe, in illuminated manuscripts like the popular Books of Hours, palace frescoes, and rarely, panel painting.

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: August (detail), about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The small panel paintings in the National Gallery are rare and special. They document life in the Veneto area, with the peasant activities and duties to their land. They also depict a vivid landscape, romanticized even then, from bare and covered with snow, to rich and fertile, to autumnal, covered with fallen leaves. The twelve small panels in London were part of a set of painted Venetian Doors. They combine simplicity in execution and extravagance in visual effect! The paintings, very small in size, about 13.6 x 10.6 cm, were achieved in vivid, bright, luxurious colours, like “ultramarine blue for the sky, strong vermilion and red lake for the clothing, with rich greens and yellows in the landscape. The restricted and repeated use of colour gives the group of little pictures a charming, decorative simplicity. All but one of the scenes show a man working outdoors on what appears to be the estate of a large villa, seen in several of the paintings, at the foot of the distant blue mountains.”     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The National Gallery experts believe that the labourer in this scene, which may represent August, is so exhausted that he has fallen asleep. He sits beside a tree, his head resting on his crossed arms, his elbows on a stone bench, his eyes shut. Perhaps he has been picking grapes or fruit. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-august

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

Teaching with the Kritios Boy

Kritios Boy, 480  BC, Marble from the island of Paros, Height: 116.7 m, Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/youth-statue-kritios-boy

Teaching with the Kritios Boy is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by an awe-inspiring work of art created by a remarkable artist, a daring creator, and an amazing innovator! According to the Acropolis Museum experts, The statue’s torso was found in 1865-1866 southeast of the Parthenon, while the head in 1888 near the south walls of the Acropolis. It is one of the most important works of ancient Greek art and the most characteristic of the so-called “Severe Style”. Archaeologists have dubbed it the “Kritios Boy”, after the name of the sculptor believed to have created it. The “Kritios Boy” is depicted standing in the nude. He supports his weight on his left leg, while the right one remains loose, bent at the knee, in the characteristic posture of the “Severe Style”. His expression is solemn and his eyes, which were originally crafted from another material, have not survived. His hair follows the shape of his scalp and is tightly gathered around a ring with a few scattered strands falling on his temples and the nape of his neck. Traces of red dye are preserved on his hair. The attribution of this statue to the sculptor Kritios is based on the similarities it presents with the statue of Harmodios from the bronze group of the Tyrannicides, a work of Kritios in collaboration with Nesiotes. This group, known to us today through marble copies of the Roman period, was erected in the Ancient Agora of Athens. Who does this statue portrays, however, is not known. Some scholars believe he represents a young athlete, the winner of an event in the celebration of the Greater Panathenaia. Others claim he depicts a hero, most likely Theseus. Moreover, they link the dedication of the statue on the Acropolis with the activities of 476/5 BC, when Kimon transferred Theseus bones from the island of Skyros to Athens. https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/youth-statue-kritios-boy

Kritios Boy – face detail, 480  BC, Marble from the island of Paros, Height: 116.7 m, Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece http://ancientrome.ru/art/artworken/img.htm?id=5960

Teaching with the Kritios Boy References, PowerPoint, and Activities…

For a List of ONLINE References on the Kritios Boy TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on the Kritios Boy, please… Click HERE!

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

For Student Activities (3 Activities), please… Click HERE!

Marble statue of a kouros (youth), ca. 590–580 BC, Marble from the island of Naxos, (194.6 × 480 BC51.6 × 63.2 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/253370
Aristodikos Kouros, 510-500 BC, Marble from the island of Paros, Height: 1.9 m, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece http://nam.culture.gr/portal/page/portal/deam/virtual_exhibitions/EAMS/EAMG3938
Kritios Boy, 480  BC, Marble from the island of Paros, Height: 116.7 m, Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/youth-statue-kritios-boy  

I hope, Teaching with the Kritios Boy, will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name Teacher Curator?

Marble statue of a kouros (face), ca. 590–580 BC, Marble from the island of Naxos, (194.6 × 480 BC51.6 × 63.2 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://gr.pinterest.com/pin/682436149758725905/
Aristodikos Kouros (face), 510-500 BC, Marble from the island of Paros, Height: 1.9 m, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece https://arthistorykmg.omeka.net/items/show/106
Kritios Boy (face), 480  BC, Marble from the island of Paros, Height: 116.7 m, Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece http://ancientrome.ru/art/artworken/img.htm?id=5960

Mosaics from the Ilissos Basilica in Athens

Exhibition of Mosaics from the Ilissos Basilica in Athens, 5th century AD, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece http://www.byzantineathens.com/betaalphasigmaiotalambdaiotakappaeta-iotalambdaiotasigmasigmaomicronupsilon.html

How do they call him, how do they call him / the river? / Ilissos, Ilissos. / Let me tell you my little secret. / I love you, I love you.     /     Babies yell at their mom, / but I am desolate and orphaned. / Birds fly with their wings, / but I fly in the dance.     /     How do they call him, how do they call him / the river? / Ilissos, Ilissos. / Let me tell you my little secret. / I love you, I love you… Back in the late 50’ Ilissos was popularly sung by everyone in Greece. With music by Manos Hadjidakis and Lyrics by George Emirzas, it was a musical hit that made the little river that crossed Athens, legendary… Very few, if any, of those who sang along Nana Mouskouri knew about the Byzantine Basilica, let alone, of the Mosaics from the Ilissos Basilica in Athens… https://midifiles.gr/lyrics/ilisos-nana-mushuri-giovana-1956/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cDeEYeR_0k

Ilissos Basilica Archaeological Site,  5th century AD, Athens, Greece http://www.byzantineathens.com/betaalphasigmaiotalambdaiotakappaeta-iotalambdaiotasigmasigmaomicronupsilon.html

Ilissos Basilica is one of the most important Early Christian monuments in the city of Athens… today, a “sad” archeological site, hardly anyone visits. Back in 1916 and 1917, George Sotiriou. a prominent scholar in the field of Christian Archaeology, excavated the area, discovered the Basilica and the lovely mosaics that are now exhibited in the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. The Basilica was originally built on an islet in the middle of  Ilissos river (the islet was known as Βατραχονήσι – Frog Island)… located to the east of the Olympieion, popularly called today, the Columns of the Olympian Zeus, a colossal Athenian Temple that started during the 6th century BC, at the time of the Athenian tyrants, and finished by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, 638 years later. The fifth-century Basilica was dedicated to Saint Leonides, the third-century Bishop of Athens who was put to death along with seven female martyrs… in 250 AD during the persecutions of Decius.https://athensattica.com/things-to-see/ancient-sites/ilissos-basilica/ and http://www.byzantineathens.com/betaalphasigmaiotalambdaiotakappaeta-iotalambdaiotasigmasigmaomicronupsilon.html

The Ilissos Basilica was probably founded in the years 423-450 by the Byzantine Empress Athenais-Eudocia, wife of the Emperor Theodosius II and Sotiriou excavations of 1916/17 revealed a Basilica of the transitional type – from the simple, timber roofed to the domed basilica. Excavations also brought to light a crypte-martyrium, where Leonides’ relics were kept, and another edifice, a baptisterium, in all probability for the needs of the growing Christian group of Athenian citizens. The basilica, according to the experts, was very carefully built and richly decorated with marble walls, mosaics, and sculptures. This Early Christian monument of Ilissos properly fills the gap in the continuous artistic and cultural evolution of the city of Athens. https://www.archaeology.wiki/blog/issue/the-early-christian-basilica-of-ilissos/

Ilissos Basilica Mosaic depicting a Stork pecking at a Snake,  5th century AD, Floor Mosaic, 92 x 98 cm, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece https://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/permanentexhibition/ancient_world_to_Byzantium/temples_of_the_new_religion/?bxm=1756
Ilissos Basilica Mosaic depicting a Laurel Wreath,  5th century AD, Floor Mosaic, 98 x 97 cm, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece https://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/permanentexhibition/ancient_world_to_Byzantium/temples_of_the_new_religion/?bxm=1755

The group of mosaics, coming from the Ilissos Basilica and exhibited in the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens are of exceptional quality combining the best of Roman and Christian floor mosaic traditions. Inspired by the Roman tradition, the Ilissos Basilica mosaics show decorative features such as interlace in the form of chains (“guilloche”), stylized round flowers (rosettes), trailing ivy, motifs resembling fish scales and water birds. The Early Christian designs exhibited are vine scrolls from which hang bunches of grapes and vine leaves (symbol of the Christian Paradise), wreaths of laurel leaves (a well-known symbol of victory from Roman times), small crosses, and other geometrical and plant motifs. The 5th-century artist who designed these mosaics was a master colourist who favoured gentle hues of white, black, deep red, orange, grey, pale violet, brown, yellow, pink, blue and green. His drawing technique also showed an artist who liked discreet and charming lines, light touch, and great care in arranging the tesserae to follow the outlines. https://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/permanentexhibition/ancient_world_to_Byzantium/temples_of_the_new_religion/?bxm=1753

For a PowerPoint on the Mosaics from the Ilissos Basilica in Athens, please… Check HERE!

Part of a Mosaic pavement decorated with a winding stem with leaves and grapes, 5th century AD, Floor Mosaic, 62 x 151 cm, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece https://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/permanentexhibition/ancient_world_to_Byzantium/temples_of_the_new_religion/?bxm=1758
Part of a Mosaic pavement decorated with a winding stem with leaves and grapes,
5th century AD, Floor Mosaic, 63 x 147 cm, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece https://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/permanentexhibition/ancient_world_to_Byzantium/temples_of_the_new_religion/?bxm=1759