Face to Face with Emperor Ioannis VIII Palaiologos

Pisanello’s Medallion of Ioannis VIII Palaiologos, a loan from the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti at the Ca’ D’Oro, Venice, as exhibited in the Hôtel de la Marine, in Paris, France, My amateurish attempt at photography…

A page of Pisanello’s sketchbook in the Louvre Museum presents the mounted figure of the Byzantine Emperor Ioannis VIII Palaiologos and the short descriptive passage reads… The hat of the Emperor should be white on top and red underneath, the profile red all round. The doublet is green damask and the mantle on top crimson. A black beard on a pale face, hair and eyebrows alike. The eyes between grey and green, and the stooped shoulders of a small person. The boots of pale yellow leather; the sheath of the bow brown and grained, and also that of the quiver and of the scimitar. On the 5th of March, while in Paris, I visited the Hôtel de la Marine, and I came Face to Face with Emperor Ioannis VIII Palaiologos. Pisanello’s famous Medallion of the penultimate Byzantine Emperor was among the selected artifacts presented at the Exhibition Ca’ d’Oro, Masterpieces of the Renaissance in Venice (November 30, 2022 – May 7, 2023). I was touched… Some Preparatory Drawings for Pisanello’s Medallion of John VIII Palaeologus, by Michael Vickers, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 60, No. 3 (Sep. 1978), pp. 417-424 (8 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/3049816?read-now=1&seq=8#page_scan_tab_contents

Pisanello’s Medallion and two pages with preparatory drawings and comments, by Pisanello as well, one in the Louvre, the other in the Art Institute of Chicago, are vital in reconstructing the features and the physique of the Emperor. The Medallion I saw in Paris, like the rest of the exhibited artworks, loans from the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti at the Ca’ D’Oro, Venice, was an opportunity to read and refresh my knowledge of Ioannis VIII Palaionogos… his ‘works and days.’ https://www.thealthanicollection.com/hdlm/ca-doro-masterpieces-of-the-renaissance-in-venice

Ioannis VIII Palaiologos (or John VIII Palaiologos) was a Byzantine Emperor who ruled from 1425 to 1448. He was born on December 18, 1392, as the oldest son of Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos and Helena Dragaš. He was an intellectual, well-educated, and a patron of arts and learning. He was fluent in several languages, including Greek, Latin, and some Turkish. His reign was marked by a series of desperate attempts to save the Byzantine Empire from its rapid decline, particularly due to the increasing pressure from the Ottoman Empire.

In an effort to save his empire, he sought the aid of the West by advocating for a union of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This led him to attend the Council of Ferrara/Florence (1438-1439), where he personally negotiated with Western leaders and agreed to a theological compromise that would allow for the churches to reunite. However, this decision was met with strong opposition from many within the Byzantine Empire, particularly the clergy and the people who saw the reunion as a betrayal of their Orthodox faith. Ultimately, the church union failed to secure the military and financial assistance Ioannis had hoped for, and the empire’s decline, continued, with a loss of territory and influence. Ioannis VIII Palaiologos died on October 31, 1448. Five years later, the Byzantine Empire ceased to exist. It was the 29th of May, 1453.

The Medallion of John VIII Palaiologos is a bronze portrait medal created by the renowned Italian artist Pisanello in 1438. This medallion, an outstanding example of Renaissance art, is considered one of the earliest examples of portrait medals in the history of art and stands as a testament to the diplomatic, cultural, and artistic exchanges that occurred during this tumultuous period in history. The medal is not only significant for its portrayal of the Byzantine Emperor but also for its role in the development of the art of medal-making in Europe.

Pisanello, c. 1395 – 1455
Medal with John VIII Palaeologus (Ioánnis VIII), Emperor of Constantinople, 1438, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA
https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.2228.html#works

Looking at Pisanello’s portrait of the Emperor, I wonder how John VIII Palaiologos felt during his trip to Italy. I am sure he hoped that by engaging in negotiations and pushing for the reunification of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, he could secure much-needed assistance from Western Europe. At the same time, he was also likely to have felt anxiety and pressure. The theological differences between the two churches were deeply rooted, and reaching a compromise would be a delicate and complex process. Furthermore, the Byzantine Emperor had to navigate diplomatic and protocol arrangements that were probably, at times, difficult and offensive, to put it politely.

Pisanello keeps his distance from the political intrigues and nuances. On the obverse side, the Emperor is depicted, in profile, dignified, imposing, and elegantly groomed. The artist displays individualized facial features, such as his well-groomed beard, high forehead, and strong nose. These details suggest an attempt to capture the likeness of the Emperor, rather than relying on stylized or idealized forms that were common in earlier periods. The clothing and adornments the Emperor wears, like his characteristic hat, reflect the luxurious aspects of Byzantine culture and provide a sense of authenticity to his portrayal. Around the perimeter of the obverse side, an inscription, in Greek, identifies the Emperor by name and title.

The reverse side of Pisanello’s Medallion, ‘signed’ by the artist in Latin and Greek, shows something entirely different. The Emperor, identified by his characteristic hat, is depicted astride his famous Eastern European horse, groomed for hunting. He is probably presented in the area of his residence, a convent outside Ferrara, where he indulged in his passion for the chase during the autumn of 1438. Was the Emperor depicted enjoying ‘personal time’ of relaxation, away from tension and stress? I wish he did…

For a PowerPoint inspired by Face to Face with Emperor Ioannis VIII Palaiologos, please… Check HERE!

For Face to Face with Emperor Ioannis VIII Palaiologos and Pisanello’s Medallion, please Check…

Some Prepatory Drawings for Pisanello’s Medallion of John VIII Palaeologus, by Michael Vickers, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 60, No. 3 (September 1978), pp. 417-424 (8 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/3049816?read-now=1&seq=8#page_scan_tab_contents

Some Notes on Pisanello and the Council of Florence, by James A. Fasanelli, Master Drawings, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring, 1965), pp. 36-47+84-93 (22 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1552781?read-now=1&seq=10#page_scan_tab_contents

The Emperor John VIII Slept Here… by Kenneth M. Setton, Speculum, Vol. 33, No. 2 (April 1958), pp. 222-228 (8 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/2850780?read-now=1&seq=8#page_scan_tab_contents

The Tomb of Tutankhamun


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Twelve Months of Flowers, March

Pieter Casteels III (Flemish Painter- 1684–1749), H. Fletcher (British Engraver- active 1715–1738), Robert Furber (British Horticulturist and Publisher- c. 1674–1756)
March, from Twelve Months of Flowers, 1730, Hand-colored Etching on
Paper, 53.9 × 43.8 cm, Private Collection
https://www.artic.edu/artworks/127982/march-from-twelve-months-of-flowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Art of the Amarna Period

The Bust of Nefertiti by Thutmose, 1340 BC, Limestone, and stucco, Height 48 cm, Egyptian Museum, Berlin, Germany
https://www.dw.com/en/egypt-vows-to-step-up-hunt-for-nefertiti/a-18753507

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diana and her Companions by Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer, 1632-1675
Diana and Her Companions, circa 1653-1656, oil on canvas, 98.5×105 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vermeer_-_Diana_and_Her_Companions.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

New Kingdom Rock Cut Tombs

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the New Kingdom Timeline, please… Check HERE!

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

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

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

New Kingdom Temple Architecture

The Cult Temple of Amun-Ra, Hypostyle Hall, was begun by Ramesses I (19th Dynasty, 1292-1290), continued by his son, Seti I (19th Dynasty, 1306-1290 BC), and completed by Ramesses II (19th Dynasty, 1303-1213), Karnak, Egypt
https://www.worldhistory.org/image/12797/great-hypostyle-hall-columns-karnak/

Late in the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1650–1550 B.C.), the Theban rulers (Dynasty 17) began to drive the Hyksos kings (Dynasty 15) from the Delta. This was finally accomplished by Ahmose I, who reunited Egypt, ushering in the New Kingdom—the third great era of Egyptian culture. Ahmose’s successors in Dynasty 18 conducted military campaigns that extended Egypt’s influence in the Near East and established Egyptian control of Nubia to the fourth cataract. As a result, the New Kingdom pharaohs commanded unimaginable wealth, much of which they lavished on their gods, especially Amun-Re of Thebes, whose cult temple at Karnak was augmented by succeeding generations of rulers and filled with votive statues commissioned by kings and courtiers alike. New Kingdom Temple Architecture is the next step in exploring the Art of Pharaonic Egypt!

Thebes became the cultural and religious capital of New Kingdom Egypt. The Pharaohs lavished their gods with luxurious Cult Temples and built their Mortuary Temples on Thebe’s west bank, where they were also buried in huge rock-cut tombs decorated with finely executed paintings or painted reliefs illustrating their everyday life, and religious texts concerned with the afterlife. For the talented artists working diligently for the Pharaohs, a town was established in western Thebes, where archaeologists discovered a wealth of information about life in an ancient Egyptian community of artisans and craftsmen. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nking/hd_nking.htm

Known especially for monumental architecture, Cult and Mortuary Temples dedicated to Gods and Pharaohs, the New Kingdom, a period of nearly 500 years of political stability and economic prosperity, produced an abundance of architectural masterpieces we must explore… starting with our 4-Steps to Success… and an Essential Question… What did ancient Egyptian Temples represent?

Egyptian Temples were holy centers where priests served the gods (Cult Temples) and the memory of the diseased Pharaoh (Mortuary Temple). Cult Temples were the earthly houses of one or more deities. Egyptians believed that the worshiped God or Goddess lived within the statues kept in the Temple’s Sanctuary. Temples were also the centers where cultural knowledge was stored and curated in libraries and scriptoria.

Each Temple represents the universe as the ancient Egyptians understood it. To exemplify their point of view, Temple walls and Columns were divided into three zones. The lower zone, the closest to the ground, is decorated with “physical” images of the Egyptian land like plant motifs. The middle zone represents the world of the living. It is dedicated to the Pharaoh and presents scenes like the king conducting rituals and worshipping the gods. Finally, the third zone, the ceiling of the Temple, is covered in stars and constellations representing the world of their deities.

It is important to remember that ancient Egyptian Temples shared structural similarities, but they were also singular and distinctive. The beauty of their Architecture is that they evolved over Egyptian history like living organisms. They started as small edifices built of organic materials like river reeds, into large stone monuments. In places like Karnak, Luxor, and even Abu Simbel, they dazzle the viewer with their grandeur and splendor.

During a class period dedicated to New Kingdom Temple Architecture, we will discuss the specific characteristics each Cult Temple shared… the Pylon, the open Court, the Hypostyle Hall, and the Sanctuary. Two very unique Cult Temples, that of Amun-Ra at Karnak, and the Ramesside Temple of Abu Simbel will be presented and further investigated.

Mortuary Temples, equally important to Cult Temples, were places of worship dedicated to the Pharaoh and his cult under whom they were constructed. During the New Kingdom period (1539–1075 BC) the kings were buried in rock-cut tombs, in the Valley of the Kings in the area of western Thebes. Their Mortuary Temples, constructed in the vicinity of the royal tombs, served as depositories for gifts and food to the dead monarch. They were economically independent through endowments of estates and lands to ensure religious services and offerings in perpetuity and fully staffed with priests, to perform the necessary rituals. The finest example of a New Kingdom Mortuary Temple was commissioned by Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty, r. 1507-1458 BC) at Deir el-Bahri.

For the PowerPoint ‘The Art of the 2nd Intermediate Period’, please… Check HERE!

For the PowerPoint ‘New Kingdom Temple Architecture’, please… Check HERE!

For the New Kingdom Timeline, please… Check HERE!

Enjoy a Travel Video by Rick Steve titled Luxor, Egypt: The Karnak Temple Complex… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqO4PE4uZhc  

Another Video about New Kingdom Architecture and the Karnak Cult Temple Complex by Manuel Bravo… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_6inr3KLx0

A Khan Academy Video on the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and Large Kneeling Statue, New Kingdom, Egypt, very informative and educational… https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/ancient-mediterranean-ap/ancient-egypt-ap/v/mortuary-temple-of-hatshepsut-and-large-kneeling-statue-new-kingdom-egypt

The dynamic Middle Kingdom

Model of a Boat from the Tomb of Meketre  12th Dynasty, ca. 1981–1975 BC, Wood, paint, plaster, linen twine, linen fabric, Length: 132.5 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wooden_tomb_model#/media/File:Model_Paddling_Boat_MET_20.3.5_EGDP011930.jpg

The dynamic reunification of the Two Lands in ancient Egypt, in the period we call the Middle Kingdom, created new requirements for the Egyptian Pharaohs. No longer an aloof divine representative of the gods on earth, the king in the Middle Kingdom was expected to be more available to the people. This period also saw increased interactions with the outside world, the re-establishment of connections with Syria to the north and the establishment of forts reaching south deep into Nubia. Rich in literature (often of great knowledge and wit), this era also produced exquisite works of art. The cult of Osiris grew as did the number of Egyptians who could equip themselves for the afterlife, what we might recognize as a “middle class.” The dynamic Middle Kingdom represents an amazing period in Egyptian history worth exploring… https://smarthistory.org/middle-kingdom-and-second-intermediate-period-introduction/

During the Middle Kingdom, a period stretching from about 2040 to 1650 BC, Egyptian cultural principles were reimagined. We will start with my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline… our Goal is to “travel” through the Middle Kingdom timeline and discuss aspects of cultural and social developments, changes in religious perspectives, and new artistic viewpoints. Let’s not forget that the Middle Kingdom is considered by some scholars the ‘classical’ period of the ancient Egyptian era.

Credited with reuniting Egypt, Mentuhotep II of the 11th Dynasty, brought back peace and prosperity to Egypt and became the first Pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom. During the extended period of his reign, a unique burial complex in Deir el-Bahri was constructed, and a fresh style in Pharaonic representation took shape. By the end of the 12th Dynasty art production reached new heights in architecture, sculpture, painting, relief decoration, and jewelry.

Statues of Senusret or Sesostris or Senworset III, 12th Dynasty, c. 1878-1839 BC, Granodiorite, Height: 122 cents, British Museum, London, UK
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senusret_III  

If the art of the Old Kingdom appears majestic and confident, let’s not forget the solid stone pyramids, and the youthful, serene, self-assured statues of the pharaohs, the new Middle Kingdom era captivates us with its sense of maturity, and realism. The key development in art is the invention of the Portrait. The transition towards a humanizing tendency in portraiture is captivating. The Portrait of Senwosret III is a good example, as the ruler seems to have consciously chosen to represent his humanity rather than an idealized image of eternal kingship.

Fascinating is the Middle Kingdom’s penchant for symbolic jewelry. The cloisonné pectoral of Princess Sithathoryunet, for example, is astounding. Inlaid with 372 carefully cut pieces of semiprecious stones the pectoral presents us with high-quality craftsmanship and a new  Egyptian love for rendering detail… even on the back part of a jewelry piece, the part visible solely to the Egyptian who wore it!

Finally, the increase in the number of private monuments, like the rock-cut tombs in Beni Hasan, the lavish fresco decoration on the walls of these monuments, and the vast production of simple, yet enchanting, funerary gifts like the wood models of workshops, food-production facilities, and domestic structures, is compelling. It shows that a group of talented workmen served the provincial ‘aristocracy’ with fine quality work in every medium, suggesting that during the Middle Kingdom afterlife was ‘democratized’ to allow nonroyal individuals access to a different type of afterlife, and a wider range of ‘available’ symbols to use.

For the PowerPoint ‘The Art of the Middle Kingdom’, please… Check HERE!

For the Middle Kingdom Timeline, please… please Check HERE!

Learn about Pharaoh Mentuhotep II and his achievements through a DW World History Videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNArI5Y8MOg

Watch a Video about the small MET Model of an Offering Lady  Bearer from the Tomb of Meketrehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4k9JklNrTk

The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators is very informative and easy to download… https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Art_of_Ancient_Egypt_A_Resource_for_Educators

Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519
Saint John the Baptist, 1508–1519 (?), Oil on walnut wood, 69×57 cm, the Louvre, Paris, France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John_the_Baptist_(Leonardo)#/media/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Saint_John_the_Baptist_C2RMF_retouched.jpg

…an Angel who raises in the air an arm whose part from the shoulder to the elbow, coming forward, appears in foreshortening, while with the other he brings his hand to his heart. And it is an admirable thing that this genius (Leonardo), having the desire to give the greatest relief to his works, had, with the dark shade, gone to find some of the darkest backgrounds, so much so that he was looking for blacks that shade and were darker than the other blacks, so that by their means the light would be more lucid, and that, in the end, there would have resulted from it this manner so dark that, not remaining there any light, his works had the appearance of things. made to counterfeit night rather than the finesse of daylight; but all this was intended to give a greater relief, to reach the end and the perfection of the art. This is how Vasari describes a now-lost Leonardo painting in the collection of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. Could Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci be the natural development of a previous composition by the master? https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010062374

I carefully read Vincent Delieuvin, July 2021 text, on the Louvre presentational page for Saint John the Baptist. I also read The Mysterious Meaning of Leonardo’s “Saint John the Baptist” by Paul Barolsky, and Vasari’s Life of Leonardo just to remind myself of the painter’s significance. The bibliography is exhaustive… the scholarly opinions diverse… and I need to read more! https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010062374 and https://www.jstor.org/stable/23202683 and http://www.artist-biography.info/artist/leonardo_da_vinci/

I particularly like how Paul Barolsky relates the painting in the Louvre, to the first verses of the Gospel according to Saint John: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not stopped it. There was a man sent by God; his name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness to the Light, that all might believe through him. This man was not the Light, but he was there to bear witness to the Light. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/1 and https://www.jstor.org/stable/23202683

For Vincent Delieuvin of the Louvre, Leonardo’s Saint John the Baptist is undoubtedly the most accomplished illustration of the Gospel’s text where the last prophet is defined as the witness of the light. The artist uses chiaroscuro to stress the spirituality of the scene. He also uses the characteristic gesture of the upraised hand, expressive as well as prophetic, to create the ideal twist of a body, the perfect rendering of the play of light and shadow to magnify movement, build volume and enliven the smile, with an extraordinary economy of means, almost colourless.

What a journey… so many questions I cannot answer!

For a PowerPoint on St John’s ‘gesture’, please… Check HERE!

Winter by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Winter, 1563, oil on linden wood, 66,6×50,5 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arcimboldo_Winter_1563.jpg

Shivering, frozen mid the frosty snow in biting, stinging winds; running to and fro to stamp one’s icy feet, teeth chattering in the bitter chill.     /     To rest contentedly beside the hearth, while those outside are drenched by pouring rain.     /     We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously, for fear of tripping and falling. / Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground and, rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up. / We feel the chill north winds coarse through the home despite the locked and bolted doors… / this is winter, which nonetheless brings its own delights. This is Antonio Lucio Vivaldi’s (1678 – 1741) Sonnet L’Inverno (Winter). The great composer wrote it as a descriptive accompaniment, experts believe, for the music of his “Four Seasons.” Today the first day of Winter, I took the time to listen, read and look at Winter by Giuseppe Arcimboldo! It was a magical time! https://www.charlottesymphony.org/blog/vivaldis-four-seasons-poems/

Arcimboldo’s friend, the Milanese art critic, and travelogue author, Paolo Morigia writes for him… This is a painter (Arcimboldo) with a rare talent […] having proved his worth both as an artist and as a bizarre painter, not only in his own country but also abroad, he has been given the highest praise, in that word of his fame has reached the Emperor’s court in Germany.” The “court” Morigia refers to, is the court of the Habsburg rulers in Vienna first, where Arcimboldo moved in 1563 at the age of thirty-six, and Prague later, where he served as court painter for twenty-five years. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/arcimboldo-giuseppe/life-and-legacy/#biography_header and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Renaissance%20Mannerism/Arcimboldo%20ScoopNGA.pdf

While in Vienna, to celebrate the reign of Emperor Maximilian II, Arcimboldo created his “ signature Portraits of the 4 Seasons,” composed of imaginatively arranging elements of nature like plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. For each “Portrait” (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter), created in 1563, Arcimboldo combined plants associated with a particular season to form a portrait of that time of year. The series proved extremely popular in the Habsburg court, and Arcimboldo reproduced it several times so the emperor could send versions to friends and important political figures. file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Renaissance%20Mannerism/Arcimboldo%20ScoopNGA.pdf

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1527-1593
The Four Seasons – Winter (detail), 1563, oil on linden wood, 66,6×50,5 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giuseppe_Arcimboldo_-_Winter_(detail)_-_WGA0809.jpg

Closely associated with Mother Earth, Arcimboldo’s “Winter”, the last in his Four Seasons series, takes the form of a withered old man whose skin is rough and wrinkled and whose craggy features are sculpted out of the folds and cracks in the tree’s bark. “Winter’s” face is fashioned out of a single tree and its parts. Giuseppe Arcimboldo used broken branches, cracks in the tree trunk, abrasions, and swellings.  http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/arcimboldo-s-gift–the-fantast/fourseasons/winter

“Winter’s” hair, a mess of twisted branches and small leaves, completes the look at the back part of the head… but the leaves crowning his head are not as bright as the leaves of other seasons’ portraits. Further down, the artist represented the eye as a small blackish split in the log, the ear by a broken small piece of a branch and the nose as a curved stump from a broken branch. “Winter’s” beard is composed of poorly kept, thin roots, and branches, while the mouth is cleverly created by placing two mushrooms just below the nose. https://www.thehistoryofart.org/giuseppe-arcimboldo/winter/

From the neck down the feeling of the composition is different. Clad with a woven mat, “Winter” provides a bit of warmth and the promise of life and renewal beyond the cold.  From “Winter’s” chest a thin branch sprouts an orange and a lemon, and the woven mat is there to protect the fruit, provide warmth and get them through the months of winter. Their bright colors provide a small, cheery note to an otherwise dreary portrait, and assure the painting’s viewers that despite the chill, spring is not long behind. http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/arcimboldo-s-gift–the-fantast/fourseasons/winter

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 – Winter, 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/