Teaching with Giotto di Bondone

Giotto di Bondone, 1266/7 – 1337
Joachim meets Anna at the Golden Gate, 1303-06, Cappella degli Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Giotto once said… “Take pleasure in your dreams; relish your principles and drape your purest feelings on the heart of a precious lover.” Teaching with Giotto di Bondone is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Italian artist I so much admire. I visited the Arena Chapel, the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and sites in Florence where Giotto left his mark, several times so far, and my hope is that I will be fortunate to visit them again. Every time I came face to face with his work I felt I saw, like Matisse said, “the summit of my desires…”     http://www.giotto-di-bondone.com/quotes/     and     https://www.theartstory.org/artist/giotto/life-and-legacy/

Giotto di Bondone, 1266/7 – 1337
Lamentation Scene Angels (detail), 1303-06, Cappella degli Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Giotto’s oeuvre I start with Quotes on Giotto di Bondone by famous artists and writers.

Dante Alighieri, in his Divine Comedy (Canto XI, lines 91–95), compares teacher to student, Cimabue to Giotto and writes… “O empty glorying in human power!  /  How short a day the crown remains in leaf,  /  If it’s not followed by a duller age!  /  In painting it was Cimabue’s belief  /  He held the field; now Giotto’s got the cry  /  And Cimabue’s fame is dim…”     https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/everyones-talking-about-giotto/

Boccaccio, for example, placed Giotto on the same level as Apelles, the most famous of the Greek painters and described him as “one of the lights of Florentine glory.” Most important of all, Boccaccio wrote that Giotto “[…] had a genius of such excellence, that nothing gives nature, mother of all things and operator with the continuous turning of the skies, that he, with style and with pen or brush, did not paint so similar to that, which is not similar, indeed more quickly it seemed, so much so that many times in the things he did it is found that the visual sense of men took error in it, believing it to be true that it was painted. […] ”     http://www.rose.uzh.ch/static/decameron/seminario/VI_05/intratestgiotto.htm

Cennino d’Andrea Cennini (c. 1360-1427) author of Il libro dell’arte, a treatise on artistic production of the late Medieval and early Renaissance period, writes that Giotto “translated the art of painting from Greek to Latin.”     https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/everyones-talking-about-giotto/

Finally, I present my students with a 1952 quote by no other than Pablo Picasso  “But when I am alone, I do not have the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand old meaning of the word: Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya were great painters. I am only a public clown-a mountebank. I have understood my time and have exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine, more painful than it may seem. But at least and at last it does have the merit of being honest.”     http://babailov.homestead.com/PicassoConf.html

Teaching with Giotto di Bondone Activities…

For a list of “Internet” Lesson Plans, References and Student Activities “teachercurator” put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Giotto di Bondone, please… Click HERE!

For the 3 Madonnas RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) and PowerPoint, please… Click HERE! and HERE!

Student (Alexandra Diamantopoulou Grade 9, 2020) RWAP on the the 3 Madonnas

For Giotto’s Angels RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) and a PowerPoint with student work, please… Click HERE! and HERE!

For a Word Search Activity, please… Click HERE!

For a WAC (Write Across the Ciciculum) Activity, titled “Giotto’s Musicians through Cinquain Poetry”, please… Click HERE!

I hope, Teaching with Giotto di Bondone will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name as teachercurator?

Giotto di Bondone, 1266/7 – 1337
Baroncelli Polyptych Musicians (detail), c. 1334, tempera on wood, 185 x 323 cm, Baroncelli Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

Daughters of Eleutherna

Lady of Auxerre, c. 640-630 BC, from Crete, limestone statuette, H. 0.63 m, the Louvre, Paris
Daughter of Eleutherna, 7th century BC, limestone statuette, the surviving height of 60 cm, so a total of about one meter, Museum of Ancient Eleutherna
 https://www.akg-images.com/archive/Dame-d%E2%80%99Auxerre-2UMDHUH75U8W.html
http://en.mae.com.gr/exhibits.html
https://burgondiart.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/la-mysterieuse-dame-dauxerre-est-elle-vraiment-bourguignonne/

The two statues Professor Nicholas Chr. Stampolidis, so affectionately calls Daughters of Eleutherna, hold me in fascination… “Crete was obviously the most important centre and it is the place where most of the stone sculptures of the Daedalic style originate. In contrast to the works that were directly influenced by oriental standards, the Daedalic sculptures depict mostly feminine forms. They are characterized by a complete frontality, and are represented with the hands placed on the thighs, with the hair combed into horizontal layers that were considered to be wigs -the known layered wig-like hair- usually with their head quite broadened and with clothes without folds. These elements can be seen in the known “Auxerre Kore”, who wears the characteristic large belt and her clothes are decorated with engravings and painted with a geometric pattern…” and, I would like to add, the badly damaged lower part of another Daedalic Kore at the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna. Foundation of the Hellenic World –  http://www.fhw.gr/chronos/04/en/culture/321arts_sculp_daedalic.html

The Daughters of Eleutherna were exhibited side by side at the Museum of Cycladic Art during the ELEUTHERNA Exhibition. The two statues can be barely seen at the right side of the Museum Photograph.

Back on December 1, 2004, until September 1, 2005, the Daughters of Eleutherna were exhibited side by side in a Museum of Cycladic Art Exhibition, titled, ELEUTHERNA, whose purpose was to bring together “…the results of systematic excavations conducted by the University of Crete at the site of ancient Eleutherna over the past 20 years… (and) to demonstrate the continuity of human presence and habitation in a city from the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC) to the Middle Ages (12th-13th c. AD), that is, a period of some 4500 years.” This exhibition marked the beginning of a new Lesson Plan for ancient Greek Archaic Art!     https://cycladic.gr/en/page/eleutherna

The Daughters of Eleutherna were exhibited side by side at the Museum of Cycladic Art during the ELEUTHERNA Exhibition.

This Lesson Plan uses the Inquiry-based teaching method known as Visual Thinking Strategy introduced by Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine which “uses art to teach visual literacy, thinking, and communication skills—listening and expressing oneself. Growth is stimulated by: looking at artworks of increasing complexity, answering developmentally based questions, and participating in peer-group discussions carefully facilitated by teachers.” Philip Yenawine, Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines, 2013     https://www.amazon.com/Visual-Thinking-Strategies-Learning-Disciplines-ebook/dp/B00XO20380

8 Steps to a Lesson Plan Success

Prepare by  Reading… https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/lady-of-auxerre-0010215 and https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/statue-woman-known-lady-auxerre and https://www.tovima.gr/2008/11/24/culture/h-epistrofi-mias-kyrias/ and http://en.mae.com.gr/museum.html

Introduction Essential Questions: How do we communicate thoughts and feelings in the visual arts? – How do the arts of each period reflect the values of the culture? and Goals: Help students understand the importance of Daedalic Art in the development of Ancient Greek Sculpture – Assist students to connect the past with the present

Visual Learning PP: Show students what PP “teachercurator” has prepared, please… Click HERE!

Be Inquisitive 1: Ask Visual Learning Strategy Questions… and conduct a constructive conversation

Visual Learning Video: Show students the following Video titled “HALL B: THE LADY OF AUXERRE” directed by Andonis Theocharis Kioukas for the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna http://en.mae.com.gr/films.html

Be Inquisitive 2: Ask Questions… on the information provided by the Video on the Lady of Auxerre

Enduring Understanding: Daedalic Sculpture was the 1st step in the development of Ancient Greek Sculpture.

Assessment Activity: For an RWAP Activity, please… check HERE!     (RWAP stands for Research-Writing-Art-Project)

Daughter of Eleutherna, as exhibited in the Museum of Ancient Eleutherna

The Month of October

The Month of October, latest 1407, possibly by Maestro Venceslao, Fresco, Torre Aquila, Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento, Italy

I’m not sure everyone has understood, October,  /  your great beauty:  /  in those fat vats, as large as a full stomach,  /  you brew must and inebriation, you brew must and inebriation.  /  On my mountains, like mournful birds,  /  mad clouds flee,  /  on my copper-tinged mountains  /  low clouds raise like smoke, low clouds raise like smoke.          –         Oh days, oh months that run away endlessly, /  my life is always similar to you,  /  different every year, yet the same every year,  /  a hand of tarot cards one never learns to play,  /  one never learns to play… writes for The Month of October Francesco Guccini in his Canzone dei dodici mesi.   https://lyricstranslate.com/el/canzone-dei-dodici-mesi-song-twelve-months.html

The Month of October fresco comes from Torre Aquila in the Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento, Italy. It is part of an amazing fresco Cycle of the Twelve Months painted on the walls of the tower’s 2nd-floor main room and presents autumn at its best. This exceptional room, 6 x 5,8 x 3 m in size, was commissioned by Prince-Bishop George of Liechtenstein, as a quiet, atmospheric retreat, away from the rest of the Castello’s busy and noisy state quarters. Master Wenceslas, a Bohemian painter active in Trento since 1397, creates a rich October scene, full of natural beauty and pastoral activities. There is no doubt that Prince-Bishop George of Liechtenstein, looking at the October scene, was tasting his top-quality Trentino wine as well!

Torre Aquila in Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento, Italy and the Month of October fresco to the right of the picture…

October is a busy month for farmers in Trento and Master Wenceslas is documenting it in the best possible way. The scene is rich, dense and joyful… inspired by real-life but immensely beautified. The commissioner of this fresco, Prince-Bishop George of Liechtenstein wants to present the idea that his territories flourish under his good governance and prudent guidance. The painter, Master Wenceslas, understood this very well, and created an autumn scene of dazzling green colours, verve and dynamism!

The Month of October Torre Aquila scene is dedicated to wine making, from the very beginning of the process, picking up the grapes, to pressing, grape must preparation and tasting…

The sun is bright and shining over the Trentino valleys, and well-tended rows of vines cover the painted scene, touching the colourful mountains at the very top. Trentino was at the time a famous wine-producing territory, and Master Wenceslas presents extensive vineyards, their branches heavy with grapes, ready to be harvested. Everyone must work hard… everywhere you look, there is a zeal for activity.

The first thing you notice are the Trentino peasants, men and women, all dressed in white robes assigned to different harvesting tasks. Some of them pick up clusters of white or red grapes while others carry them on their shoulders in large baskets. On the left side of the composition, a screw-press is in action. What a luxury! Only gentlemen of great wealth could afford such an item, let alone a screw-press large enough to require at least two people to operate it. Master Wenceslas was apparently quite familiar with pastoral activities like that because he renders the process with fine precision! We can only assume that as a European travelling artist, Master Wenceslas had acquired first-hand experiences and visions of such joyful harvest events… where… aristocrats and farmers can, for once, forget the worries of everyday life, and “work” together enjoying the small pleasures of life. 

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

The Monastery of Pantokrator in Constantinople and the Pala d’Oro in Venice

The Pala d’Oro (the altar retable of San Marco in Venice) is an altarpiece with about 250 Cloisonné enamels of different sizes and epochs (10th – 12th century) on sheet gold. It was commissioned in Byzantium by the Venetians. The Archangel Michael is believed to have come from the Monastery of Pantokrator in Constantinople.

“Pala d’Oro (Italian, “Golden Pall” or “Golden Cloth”) is the high altar retable of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. It is universally recognized as one of the most refined and accomplished works of Byzantine enamel, with both front and rear sides decorated.” Have you ever wondered what the connection might be between The Monastery of Pantokrator in Constantinople and the Pala d’Oro in Venice?     https://www.projectexpedition.com/tour-activity/venice/vip-alone-in-st-marks-basilica-after-hours/36173/

The Monastery of Pantokrator, I wrote a few days earlier, consists of three churches: the South Church, the North Church, and the Middle Church or the “Heroon.” The South Church dedicated to Christ the Pantocrator is the oldest and the largest of the three…     https://www.teachercurator.com/art/the-monastery-of-pantokrator-in-constantinople/

The Monastery of Pantokrator of Constantinople, 12th century
Imperial Church of the Komnenian Dynasty
Şeyh Süleyman Mescidi of Istanbul

The amazing Monastic Complex of Pantokrator, however, built by Emperor John II Komnenos, served a dual purpose… to honour the wishes of Empress Piroska-Eirene, tending to the needs of the “poor, sick, and suffering souls…” and be used as a mausoleum for the Komnenos Imperial family.

The Monastery of Pantokrator of Constantinople, 12th century, Les Eglises de Constantinople by Jean Ebersolt, Adolphe Thiers, 1910

As you look at the elegant domes crowning all three Pantokrator Churches, your eyes slowly tumble down to embrace the graceful arches… allow your imagination free to envision the splendour that once graced their interiors, and ponder over the lives of all Byzantine Royals entombed under their stylish vaults.

The North Church, dedicated to Mary Eleousa was built after the death of Empress Piroska-Eirene, between 1124-1136, by Emperor John II Komnenos. The Church, built within the Monastic complex of Pantocrator, was dedicated to services offered by lay clergy but open to a wider congregation and attended by laymen. Smaller in size compared to the South Church, it follows a similar architectural style to the South Church and according to scholars, it was equally resplendent in its interior decoration.     https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/pantokrator-monastery

The smaller Middle Church, the last to be built, bridged and opened to the two original, free-standing, side Churches. Dedicated to Archangel Michael, affectionately called the Heroon, the Middle Church was the smallest of the three Pantokrator Churches and served as an Imperial Mausoleum. The architectural style and use of the Heroon, capped by two elliptical domes, was probably inspired by the roughly contemporary, Crusader Martyrium of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem as the arrangement of the Imperial Burials in its interior further testifies. “While several Arcosolia are still evident in the western bay, the identities of their occupants remain unresolved. The only exception is that of Emperor Manuel I (1118-1180), whose black marble sarcophagus was located in the passageway from the South Church to the (middle) Chapel. It is likely that its two domes had two separate functions, the one in the east serving as the liturgical area, and the western one, where the tombs were located, functioning as a funerary space.”     https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/pantokrator-monastery     and     http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11770

The Emperors and Empresses buried in the Heroon spared no funds in embellishing the Pantokrator Churches with amazing examples of monumental Art as well as items of luxurious Minor Arts. Visitors to the Monastery of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Pantokrator describe it as impressive in importance, resplendent in its decoration and dazzling in luxury! Unfortunately, “…under Latin rule of the city (1204-1261), the region in which the monastery stood belonged to the Venetians, who transported many of the holy utensils, relics and icons of the monastery to Venice.”  It is most probable “that some of the panels of the Pala D’Oro in San Marco originally came from the Pantokrator Monastery. While it was originally ordered from Constantinople by the doge Ordelaffo Falier in 1102, it was reworked following the Fourth Crusade’s sacked Constantinople in 1204.” http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11770

Fragments of the original Mosaic decoration of the Middle Church at the Monastery of Pantocrator in Constantinople.

The Treasury of San Marco, Venice, Basilica di San Marco, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1984) is informative and Free to Download ONLINE companion Catalogue of the synonymous Exhibition that took place in New York in 1985. Sergio Bettini’s article Venice, the Pala D’Oro, and Constantinople is “illuminating” to say the least, on how the Palla D’Oro is connected to the Monastery of Pantokrator. (Please read pp. 33-64)     https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/the_treasury_of_san_marco_venice

After Hagia Sofia, present-day Şeyh Süleyman Mescidi or popularly called Zeyrek Camii, is the second-largest religious structure from the Byzantine Empire to survive in Istanbul.

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Exterior View of the Monastery of Pantokrator in Constantinople (The South Church to the right, the Middle Church to the left)

1st Day Back to School

School Lesson, Attic red-figure Kylix from Cerveteri by the painter Duris, around 480 BC, 11.5×28.5 cm, . Altes Museum, Pergamonmuseum

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.” Said young Malala Yousafzai and I couldn’t agree more! Today, September 14, 2020, is the 1st Day Back to School for all students in Greece and I want to celebrate it with a new Lesson Plan. https://www.shutterfly.com/ideas/school-quotes/

Have you ever thought about how the 1st Day Back to School was during ancient Greek time? We can only guess by examining an amazing ancient Greek Kylix in the Altes Museum, in Berlin by the Duris Painter. Using it as an example, I will introduce my students to school reality in Greece – 2.500 years ago!   

“Every student has a teacher, every teacher teaches a different discipline; the picture unites what actually took place in different rooms. One side of the shell begins on the left with lessons in the lyre game, teacher and student play in unison. A particularly worthy teacher follows in a comfortable armchair; for the viewer of the picture he has opened the scroll with the beginning of the heroic song, which the pupil standing there in a cloak has to recite by heart. On the right a strange spectator, half belonging, half excluded. He sits there with his legs crossed in a casual, ignoble style: we have to see him as the pedagogue (‘boys’ leader’), the servant who accompanies the distinguished boy to school and back home. – On the opposite side, on the left, a young teacher is playing the melody with the double flute, to which the schoolboy sings. The fourth teacher corrects a work of his pupil on the blackboard. The scene ends again with a pedagogue.”     http://www.smb-digital.de/eMuseumPlus?service=direct/1/ResultLightboxView/result.t1.collection_lightbox.$TspTitleImageLink.link&sp=10&sp=Scollection&sp=SfilterDefinition&sp=0&sp=2&sp=1&sp=Slightbox_3x4&sp=12&sp=Sdetail&sp=0&sp=F&sp=T&sp=15   

1st Day back to School Lesson Plan

Essential Question: Compared to antiquity, how similar or how different is Education and subsequently, School Classrooms, today?

Goals: Help students understand the importance of Education in the development of Mankind – Assist students to connect the past with the present – Help students learn about Education through works of art

Enduring Understanding: Education is the process of helping students acquire knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.

8 Steps to Success

Introduction to the Lesson -Essential Question: Compared to antiquity, how similar or how different is Education, and subsequently School Classrooms, today?

Visual Learning – Part 1, “My Classroom … then”: Show students what PP “teachercurator” has prepared, please… Click HERE!

Be Inquisitive – Questions and Answers: Discuss each picture and then ask students the questions “teachercurator” prepared for you … Q&A click HERE!

Goals: To help students understand the importance of education – Assisting students to connect the past with the present- To help students learn about education from works of art.

Visual Learning – Part 2, “Classrooms … now”: Show students the “33 Eye-Opening Pictures Of Classrooms Around The World” so you can discuss it.     https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/gabrielsanchez/this-is-what-going-to-school-looks-like-around-the-world

Be Inquisitive: Guide students to Comparisons between the past and the present. Compare pictures to their own classroom. Furthermore, discuss with students what they like/dislike in each picture and what they would like to have in their own classroom. Be creative!!!

Enduring Understanding: Education is the process of helping students acquire knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.

Assessment Activity: For a “Writing across the Curriculum” Activity, please… check HERE!

OR… Music was a very important component of Ancient Greek Education and students were expected to learn how to play musical instruments. Inspired by the 2nd and 3rd Slides, have students do the Getty Museum “Classy Cardboard Lyre” Art Activity because it is easy, exciting, creative, fun, and educational! https://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/classroom_resources/tips_tools/downloads/aa_cardboard_lyre.pdf

Rosa Bonheur

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, 1835–-55, oil on canvas, 244.5 cm × 506.7 cm, the MET, NY

“Ah! If nations could only agree to employ their resources to perfect agriculture and improve transportation, and to bring all their girl children a good education, what an explosion of happiness there would be on earth!” Rosa Bonheur said and I couldn’t agree more… She was a formidable lady and I like her!     https://www.quotetab.com/quote/by-rosa-bonheur/ah-if-nations-could-only-agree-to-employ-their-resources-to-perfect-agriculture

Anna Klumpke, 1856–1942
Rosa Bonheur, 1898, oil on canvas, 117.2 x 98.1 cm, the MET, NY

Rosa Bonheur was a lucky, talented lady! Her progressive painter father, Oscar-Raymond Bonheur, trained her to become a commercially successful painter and a spirited woman of staunch belief in women’s equality. “To my father’s doctrines, I owe my great and glorious ambition for the sex to which I proudly belong and whose independence I will defend until my dying day.” She was the oldest of four children, two girls and two boys, born to a pianist mother, who patiently and ingeniously taught her reluctant daughter how to read and write. Sophie Bonheur, Rosa’s mother noticed how reluctant her spirited daughter was to do her homework and how enthusiastic she was to draw. As the artist recalled ‘…One day she had a bright idea…She told me to draw an ass opposite the A and a cow opposite the C and so on…’ Rosa not only learnt how to read and write but, but inspired by her mother’s teaching method, she developed a lasting love and deep understanding of animals.   https://www.theartstory.org/artist/bonheur-rosa/life-and-legacy/

Rosa’s formal education started at a boarding school run by Mme. Gilbert, but “…The Gilberts refused to harbour… such a noisy creature as I and sent me back home in disgrace…my tomboy manners had an unfortunate influence on my companions, who soon grew turbulent… ” Her father decided to take charge. She was 13 years old when Rosa started working at her father’s Studio first training to do pencil drawings of plaster casts and engravings, later still life paintings working from nature, landscapes, animals, and birds. Finally, she was sent to study painting and sculpture at the Louvre, the youngest of all students as she was only 14 years old.

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
Ploughing in Nevers, 1849, oil on canvas, 1,340×2,600 mm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

In 1841 Bonheur exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time. By 1843 she was successful and selling her paintings regularly so much so that she was able to travel the country for inspiration and more paintings of French landscapes and animal studies. At the 1848 Salon Rosa Bonheur was awarded a gold medal, and the French government commissioned her to paint Ploughing in Nevers, exhibited at the 1849 Salon, to honour the age-old tradition of field ploughing by animal power.     https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/avant-garde-france/realism/v/rosa-bonheur-plowing-in-the-nivernais-1849     and     https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/painting/commentaire_id/ploughing-in-nevers-2040.html?tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=509&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=841&cHash=60f905d6af

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, 1855, reduced version, 120 cm × 254.6 cm, National Gallery, London

Bonheur’s most famous painting was accomplished in 1855. Titled The Horse Fair, it is monumental in size and shows the famous horse market in Paris, on the tree-lined Boulevard de l’Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière, where Rosa Bonheur, dressed as a man by special police permission, sketched, preparing the painting, twice a week, from the summer of 1850 to the end of 1851. Rosalia Shriver writes that “When (the painting) was finally finished and exhibited at the Salon of 1853, its creator was only 31 years old. Yet no other woman had ever achieved a work of such force and brilliance, and no other animal painter had produced a work of such size.” Bonheur herself said that when she paints horses her “…dream is to show the fire which comes out of the horses’ nostrils; the dust which rises from their hooves. I want this to be an infernal waltz.” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/435702      and     Rosalia Shriver, Rosa Bonheur: With a Checklist of Works in American Collections, Art Alliance Press, Philadelphia 1982

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, ca. 1852, oil on canvas, 26.67 x 63.5 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The original version of the The Horse Fair is part of the collection, and proudly exhibited, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York along with two small studies of the painting on paper. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has also a small oil on canvas study. Finally, a reduced version of the painting, dating in 1855, is exhibited in the London National Gallery of the United Kingdom, where Bonheur was highly successful , more so than in France. Interestingly, Bonheur’s fame and popularity in Britain led to a meeting with the Queen of England who, along with many of her countrymen appreciated Bonheur’s sentimental approach to landscape and rendering of animals.     https://mymodernmet.com/rosa-bonheur-facts/

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, 1840–99, black chalk and graphite, 18.4 x 41.1 cm, the MET, NY
The Horse Fair, 19th century, black chalk, grey wash, heightened with white, 13.7 x 33.7 cm, the MET, NY

For a RWAP (RWAP stands for Research-Writing-Art-Project) student Activity, please… check HERE!

“Art is a tyrant. It demands heart, brain, soul, body. The entireness of the votary. Nothing less will win its highest favor. I wed art. It is my husband, my world, my life dream, the air I breathe. I know nothing else, feel nothing else, think nothing else.”     https://www.quotetab.com/quotes/by-rosa-bonheur

Aristide Maillol and La Méditerranée

Aristide Maillol, 861–1944
La Méditerranée, between 1923 and 1927, marble , 110.5 x  117.5 x  68.5 cm, Musée d’ Orsay, Paris

I like what Aristide Maillol said or wrote about Art! To his biographer, for example, Judith Cladel (1939 – 1944) he remarked I seek beauty, not character. For me portraiture and statuary are completely opposed to each other.”He is also quoted saying “I make [figures] in which I try to give an impression of the whole…” and “A [figure] interests me when I can bring architecture out of it.” Can I do justice to what he said in my new POST on Aristide Maillol and La Méditerranée? This is my wish…https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Aristide_Maillol

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, as he turned from a career as a painter and a graphic and tapestry designer to concentrate on sculpture, Aristide Maillol was shaping what would become the leitmotif of his career. The subject that inspired him was the female nude, carefully observed but transmuted by underlying geometric forms into a kind of architecture, evoking the timeless rather than the individual. Without losing sight of nature, Maillol strove for simplicity, balance, and serenity in composing his beloved type of full-bodied, youthful beauty.” This is how Alison Luchs describes Aristide’s Maillol’s first steps to sculpture and I have nothing else to add! Every summer as I lay on the Aegean shores, enjoying the golden sun and the blue of the sky… as I feel the freshness of the sea breeze on my skin, I think of Maillol’s  La Méditerranée, his vision on female beauty, and enjoy definitive summer bliss!    https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.93096.html

Aristide Maillol is a French artist who started as a painter, matured artistically as a tapestry designer and finally reached international fame as a sculptor. Born on December 8, 1861, in Banyuls-sur-Mer, a small town located in the south of France in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales of the French region Languedoc-Roussillon, Maillol is today famous for his unique statues of monumental female nudes that closely resemble the statues of Greek Classical antiquity. It all started in 1881, when Maillol, a young man of twenty, moved to Paris to study art and become a painter. It was a tough decision he took, but four years of dire struggle later, he was accepted in the École des Beaux-Arts to study art under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel. Interested in the avant-garde of the time, Maillol befriended Paul Gauguin who encouraged him to pursue his growing interest in decorative art, and specifically to take up tapestry design. In 1893 he opened a tapestry workshop in his hometown producing tapestries of the highest technical and aesthetic quality, so much so that he is considered today as the man responsible for reviving this old art form in France. In 1895 his experimentation with sculpture began, a new passion flourished and the rest is history…     http://www.artnet.com/artists/aristide-maillol/     and     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristide_Maillol

It took Maillol five years, a creative process that started in 1900 and culminated in 1905, to finalize his first major success as a sculptor. La Méditerranée is the “image of a woman seated on the ground, her head bent forward, one leg at rest on the earth with the foot crossing under the archway formed by the opposite raised knee.” A series of drawings, small clay or larger statuettes in plaster, were among his first attempts, until in 1905, the “final plaster version, 110 centimetres high and called simply Woman, appeared in the center of a room at the Salon d’ Automne in Paris.” It caused a sensation and Maillol’s friend André Gide wrote that Maillol’s Woman “is beautiful, she means nothing; it is a silent work. I believe one must go far back in time to find such complete neglect of any preoccupation beyond the simple manifestation of beauty.”

Aristide Maillol, 1861–1944
La Méditerranée, c. 1906, marble, 21.6 x 17.2 x 12.7 cm, National Gallery, Washington DC

As popular as it became, Aristide Maillol was asked to create many versions of his original La Méditerranée plaster statue and he did! His greatest patron, the German count Harry Kessler, commissioned a full-sized stone version, now at Winterthur, Oskar Reinhart Collection, and the French state commissioned a marble statue of La Méditerranée in 1923 that is now exhibited in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. The artist created bronzes of the statue as well cast from the exhibited plaster, exhibited today in the Jardin du Carrousel, in Paris and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. A smaller version in marble, now in the National Gallery in Washington DC, equally enchanting, differs from the large versions in the way the artist placed the woman’s left hand closer to her cheek than to the top of her head.

The Woman was baptized La Méditerranée in the early 1920s with Aristide Maillol saying “I had thought of calling her Young Girl in the Sun; then, on a day of beautiful light, she appeared to me so alive, so radiant in her natural atmosphere that I baptised her Mediterranean. Not The Mediterranean, a sea that we know well. That’s not what I was after. My idea in sculpting her Mediterranean spirit? That’s why I chose her name and why I want her to keep it.”

“Does she not incarnate the land of light, the region of radiant intelligence, the Greco-Roman zone where she had her birth and the ancient race that populates its shores?” Wrote the critic Judith Cladel.

Valuable information was drawn from     https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.93096.html     and     https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire_id/the-mediterranean-3182.html

For a Student Activity, please…check HERE!

Maillol tapestry workshop in Banyuls, around 1895 © archives Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol Foundation, Paris

Émile Zola by Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet, 1832-1883
Portrait of Émile Zola, 1868, oil on canvas, 146,0 x 114,0 cm., Musée d’Orsay

“My dear Zola, – I am making up my mind to hold a private show. I have at least two score pictures to exhibit. I’ve already been offered a site in a very good location near the Champ de Mars. I am going to stake the lot and seconded by men like yourself, am hopeful of success. See you soon. Cordially, yours ever, All of us here are delighted with your article, and I am instructed to send you thanks.” This is a quote of Manet’s letter to Zola, Wednesday, 2 January 1867. My new POST Émile Zola by Édouard Manet further shows the relationship between the two men.     https://quotepark.com/quotes/1886775-edouard-manet-my-dear-zola-i-am-making-up-my-mind-to-hold-a-p/

It was 1866 and Émile Zola, disappointed with the way the French Academy and critics treated Édouard Manet’s work in the Salon of 1866 wrote an article on Manet in La Revue du XXe siècle and defended him. He did not stop, however, with this first article. The following year, 1867, when Manet organized a private exhibition on the fringes of the Universal Exhibition, Zola was once more present, supporting his friend, writing about Manet’s New Manner in Art, in the January La Revue du XXe siècle. Later in 1867, Zola republished the 1867 article in the form of a separate pamphlet. Zola wrote that he “instinctively loved” Manet’s Art replying to the critics who vilified the painter by saying  “I replied to them [to the crowd and to the art critics] that fate had undoubtedly already marked at the Louvre Museum the future place of the Olympia and of the Luncheon on the Grass.” This pamphlet was distributed on May 22, 1867, the opening day of the Private Exhibition of Edouard Manet, organized at his expense by the painter in a pavilion near the Pont de l’Alma.     https://www.librairie-faustroll.com/librairie-en-ligne/6684-zola-emile-edouard-manet-1867-dentu-edition-originale-de-cette-rare-plaquette-complet-de-l-eau-forte-d-apres-olympia.html     and     https://msu.edu/course/ha/446/zolamanet.htm

According to the Musée d’Orsay presentation “To thank him, Manet offered to paint Zola’s portrait. The sittings took place in Manet’s studio, rue Guyot. The setting was arranged for the occasion with items characteristic of Zola’s personality, tastes and occupation. On the wall is a reproduction of Manet’s Olympia, a painting which sparked a fierce scandal at the 1865 Salon but which Zola held to be Manet’s best work. Behind it is an engraving from Velazquez’s Bacchus indicating the taste for Spanish art shared by the painter and the writer. A Japanese print of a wrestler by Utagawa Kuniaki II completes the décor. The Far East, which revolutionised ideas on perspective and colour in European painting, played a central role in the advent of the new style of painting. A Japanese screen on the left of the picture recalls this. Zola is seated at his work table. He is holding a book, probably Charles Blanc’s L’Histoire des peintres frequently consulted by Manet. An inkwell and a quill on the desk symbolise the writer’s occupation. This portrait sealed the start of a loyal friendship between Manet and Zola, both eager for success.”     https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire_id/emile-zola-313.html

The symbolist artist Odilon Redon (1840-1916), known today for the “dreamlike” paintings, observed penetratingly Zola’s Portrait and in his Salon review (La Gironde, 9 June 1868), wrote… “It is rather a still life, so to speak, than the expression of a human being”. Apparently Zola himself was not entirely delighted with his portrait, which Manet presented to him, and Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans (1848-1907) the French novelist and art critic noticed that he had relegated the painting to an antechamber of his home.     http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/portrait-of-emile-zola.htm

For a Student Activity, please… check HERE!

Albenga Baptistery

Albenga Baptistery, interior view, early 6th century, Albenga, Italy

“Early Christian Baptisteries were more than simply convenient shelters for liturgical rites. They functioned as symbols in themselves; their shape and decoration reflected and reinforced the theological significance or meaning of the ritual. Whereas the shapes and their furnishings were specially built to accommodate a complex ceremony having regional and indigenous variations, certain details of their design were intended to express the meaning and purpose of the rite…” writes R. Jensen in his 2010 book Living Water. The Albenga Baptistery intends to briefly explore a magnificent example of Early Christian Baptistery Architecture.    https://brill.com/view/book/9789004189089/Bej.9789004188983.i-306_008.xml

Albenga is an old Italian city with a rich history. Built on the Gulf of Genoa, in the province of Savona in Liguria, Albenga is charmingly nicknamed, City of a Hundred Towers. During the Roman period, Albenga was a busy port town called Albium Ingaunum. Interestingly, the city’s ancient Roman structure survived time, and today, the two Roman main streets, the “Cardo” and “Decumanus” intersect at its modern centre. The city is also famous for the wreck of the Roman ship, exhibited in the Naval Museum. This  Marine Archaeology find is the “largest Roman transport vessel known to date in the Mediterranean, with a load exceeding 10,000 amphorae, and therefore with a net capacity of 450/500 tons. The amphorae contained wine from Campania destined for the markets of southern France and Spain. Along with wine, black-glazed ceramics…” and other types of export pottery were discovered as well.  https://www.scoprialbenga.it/en/roman-naval-museum.htm     In addition to Roman ruins, Albenga boasts splendid Early Christian and Medieval monuments like the city’s 12th-century Cathedral, the famous early 6th-century Baptistery we will further discuss, and “hundred” of Medieval Towers.  

The Albenga Baptistery was built during the early sixth century AD, when the city, following a perilous period of unrest, was reconstructed by Emperor Flavio Costanzo in his attempt to rebuild the Roman Empire. The Albenga Baptistery can be described as an octagonal room with a baptismal font in the middle and “inner walls articulated in two arcades, one above the other, and originally covered by a dome.” The lower arcade presents eight arches followed by niches, one of both on each of the eight walls. Each niche has a semicircular or rectangular ground plan and a small window for illumination. “Two of the niches, to the south-west and the south-east, have doors connecting the octagonal room with the outside.” The Baptistery’s upper arcade has sixteen arches, seven of which are large windows, one smaller in size, and the rest of the arches, in between windows, simply closed. Interestingly, “while the octagonal shape dominates the inside of the building and also the outside of the upper part, the thicker, lower part has an irregular, decagonal outer shape, probably in order to adapt to surrounding buildings of which little is known.” Bottom line, this is an ambitious Early Christian architectural project “realized through important economic and architectural efforts.”          https://www.academia.edu/14528427/Photomodelling_as_an_Instrument_for_Stratigraphic_Analysis_of_Standing_Buildings_the_Baptistery_of_Albenga_con_Cristian_Aiello_Federico_Caruso_Chiara_Cecalupo_Elie_Essa_Kas_Hanna_in_Rivista_di_Archeologia_Cristiana_90_2014_pp_259_293    

The Baptistery’s interior was, it is believed, decorated with a bold mosaic pictorial program that covered, most probably, the niches, the walls and the pavement surrounding the baptismal font of the Baptistery. Today, the only part covered with mosaics is the barrel vault over the northeastern interior niche. Reading Nathan S. Denis’s Visualizing Trinitarian space in the Albanga Baptistery, we learn that “the early sixth-century baptistery in Albenga, Italy, contains one of the earliest attempts to render the Christian Trinity in pictorial form.”

This mosaic is made of two parts. The bigger part of the two presents “a tripartite group of interlocking Chi-Rho monograms imprinted upon an equally tripartite gradient-blue nimbus” of golden-yellow and white marble tesserae for the Chi-Rho and a circular field of light-blue glass mosaic for the nimbus. “Surrounding the monogram are twelve white doves; immediately above the monogram is a small orb containing a golden cross; and… eighty-six eight-pointed white stars against a deep, lapis-coloured background…” The smaller of the two is on the lunette above the window and shows two lambs flanking a jewelled cross in a paradisiacal landscape of green and blue background.

Both compositions are framed by a thick rinceaux border on a striking white background. There is a second border, both geometric and floral, on the underside of the window arch flanking a white anchor, and again, over the entrance to the niche, flanking an inscription that reads “NOMINAMVS QVORVM HIC RELIQVIAE SVNT,” or “We call upon [them] whose relics are here.” The inscription is accompanied by the names of  “Sts. Stephen, John the Evangelist, Lawrence, Nabor, Protasius, Felix, and Gervasius, with the two missing names on the lowest register generally believed to have been St. Victor and Sixtus I.”    

On Albenga’s Baptistery, an article worth reading: https://www.academia.edu/37328427/Bodies_in_Motion_Visualizing_Trinitarian_Space_in_the_Albenga_Baptistery

For a Student Activity, please… check HERE!

The Archangel Gabriel of Hagia Sophia

Archangel Gabriel, 9th century, south side of the Bema of the Holy Apse, entire figure seen through scaffolds, photographed in 1938, MS.BZ.004-03-01-02-016-029, The Byzantine Institute, Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. the late 1920s-2000s, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives at Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

“Whittemore is now working on a huge archangel, on the S. face of the arch in front of the E. semi-dome. On the same scale as the Virgin, he was one of her two guards. Whether his colleague, on the N. face, is preserved or not Whittemore doesn’t yet know. But the one on the S. face is very well preserved indeed: enough tests have been made to establish that. And he may be of the early Macedonian period: X or even IX—after 842, when images were finally restored. You may imagine with what thirst I await the revelation.” This is an excerpt from a letter Royall Tyler wrote to Mildred Barnes Bliss, back on October 11, 1936 about the Uncovering of the Mosaics of Hagia Sophia and The Archangel Gabriel of Hagia Sophia in particular.     https://www.doaks.org/research/library-archives/dumbarton-oaks-archives/historical-records/bliss-tyler-correspondence-excerpts#uncovering-of-the-mosaics-of-hagia-sophia–constantinople–october-1936

Archangel Gabriel, Mosaic on the Southside of the Bema of the Holy Apse, 9th century, Hagia Sophia of Constantinople

The 1902 to 1953 correspondence between Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, the founders of Dumbarton Oaks, and their close friend and art adviser, Royall Tyler, and his wife, Elisina, are important primary sources and document the formation of the Blisses’ art collection. They also discuss contemporary history, literature and poetry, music, politics, and expatriate life… https://www.doaks.org/research/library-archives/dumbarton-oaks-archives/historical-records/bliss-tyler-correspondence-excerpts

Two monumental mosaic Archangels, Michael and Gabriel, over 10 meters in height, stood guard flanking Mary with Christ Child on her lap at the Great Church of the Holy Wisdom of God in Constantinople. Dating from the 9th century, they were epic in size, towering over the Bema Soffit of the Holy Apse, massive and solid, yet… wherever you were standing and however you were looking at them, they seemed majestic, imposing and ethereal as they levitated on the golden mosaic bed of divine light. Archangels Michael and Gabriel stood regal and imposing, members of a celestial court of honour for Christ and his mother, splendidly dressed in white and gold just like the members of the Imperial Court stood next to the Emperor.

Today, the presentation of Archangel Michael on the north side of the Bema soffit is regretfully almost totally missing. Gabriel, however, is still well preserved, helping us understand the magnificence of Hagia Sophia’s Holy Apse composition. My fascination stands with Gabriel’s face and the amazing ability of the Byzantine mosaicist to use hundreds of different-size tesserae and countless different coloured stones or glass to create a face of spirituality and transcendentalism on such a grand scale, with facial contours and a sense of three-dimensionality that astounds the viewer.

To quote Bob Atchison “The flesh tones used in the face and neck are fine-grained white marble, Proconnesian white marble, Proconnesian grey, cream marble (used very sparingly), and two or three tones of pink marble. Extensive use is made, furthermore, of off-white milky glass which has sometimes a bluish, sometimes a purplish tinge; this forms the right outline of the face, the left outline of the forehead, the pockets under the eyes, the area of light shadow to the left of the nose, etc. Olive glass is used for strong shadows to the left of the nose, round the eyes, the dimple under the nose, and for the shadow under the mouth, where it is mixed with lighter shades of glass and with pink marble. The tip of the nose and parting of the mouth are in deep red glass. Vermilion glass is used in the lips (in the lower lip it is mixed with pink marble) and one line of it forms the end of the chin. The nostrils are in black glass. No green or yellow-green occurs in the archangel’s face.”     https://www.pallasweb.com/deesis/angel-bema-hagia-sophia.html

“It seems too good to be true that there is such a mass of the noblest mosaics ever created, waiting there to be revealed… And I needn’t say that in the whole field of art, there’s nothing that seems to me to touch this work, for importance, and for the unutterable joy these things give when they are uncovered.”     https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/letters/11oct1936

For a Student Activity, please… check HERE!

Workers tracing the lower part of Archangel Gabriel, the south Angel, in the Bema soffit of Hagia Sophia, 1939. From the collection: The Byzantine Institute, Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers, ca. the late 1920s-2000s. Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives.