Teaching with Domenico Ghirlandaio

Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1449-1494
An Old Man and his Grandson (detail), c. 1490, Tempera on wood, 62 x 46  cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris https://paintersonpaintings.com/clarity-haynes-on-domenico-ghirlandaio/

Domenico di Tommaso del Ghirlandajo, who, from his talent and from the greatness and the vast number of his works, may be called one of the most important and most excellent masters of his age, was made by nature to be a painter; and for this reason, in spite of the opposition of those who had charge of him (which often nips the finest fruits of our intellects in the bud by occupying them with work for which they are not suited, and by diverting them from that to which nature inclines them), he followed his natural instinct, secured very great honour for himself and profit for his art and for his kindred, and became the great delight of his age… This is how Giorgio Vasari describes Domenico Gh irlandaio, the artist who was …endowed by nature with a perfect spirit and with an admirable and judicious taste in painting! Teaching with Domenico Ghirlandaio is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Italian artist I admire. Domenico’ Portrait of An Old Man and his Grandson in the Louvre is one of my all-time favourite Renaissance paintings. It touches me in a very personal way. It reminds me of my father’s love and unconditional devotion to my son, his Grandson… Του παιδιού μου το παιδί, δυο φορές παιδί (My child’s child, is twice my child), he used to say and looked at him with unbelievable tenderness…     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/domenicoghirlandaio.htm

Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1449-1494
Madonna and Child (detail), 1470-75, Tempera on panel, 71 x 49 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC https://www.nga.gov/features/exhibitions/verrocchio-discoveries.html

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Domenico’s oeuvre I start with Giorgio Vasari description of how …He is said to have been so accurate in draughtsmanship, that, when making drawings of the antiquities of Rome, such as arches, baths, columns, colossea, obelisks, amphitheatres, and aqueducts, he would work with the eye alone, without rule, compasses, or measurements; and after he had made them, on being measured, they were found absolutely correct, as if he had used measurements. He drew the Colosseum by the eye, placing at the foot of it a figure standing upright, from the proportions of which the whole edifice could be measured; this was tried by some masters after his death, and found quite correct. I usually finish my presentation of Ghirlandaio with Vasari’s final sentence… Wherefore he has deserved to be held in honour and esteem for such rich and undying benefits to art, and to be celebrated with extraordinary praises after his death.     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/domenicoghirlandaio.htm

Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1449-1494
Last Supper (detail), 1480, Fresco, 400 x 880 cm, Ognissanti, Florence https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Domenico_ghirlandaio,_cenacolo_di_ognissanti,_1480,_03_giardino_con_uccelli.jpg

Teaching with Domenico Ghirlandaio Lesson Plan, PowerPoint and Activities…

For a List of ONLINE References on Domenico Ghirlandaio TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Domenico Ghirlandaio, please… Click HERE!

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

7 Steps to Success Lesson Plan

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

I hope that Teaching with Domenico Ghirlandaio will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name Teacher Curator?

Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1449-1494
Birth of St John the Baptist (detail), 1486-90, Frescoes on the right wall: Stories of St John the Baptist, W. 450 cm, Cappella Tornabuoni, Santa Maria Novella, Florence https://www.wga.hu/support/viewer_m/z.html

House of Venus in the Shell

Venus in the Shell (detail), 1st century AD, fresco, House of Venus in the Shell, Pompeii Archaeological Site, Pompeii, Italy, 2017 Photo courtesy of Klaus Heese http://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2003%2003%20part%2011.htm

…Ah, goddess, when the spring  /  Makes clear its daytime, and a warmer wind  /  Stirs from the west, a procreative air,  /  High in the sky the happy-hearted birds,  /  Responsive to your coming, call and cry,  /  The cattle, tame no longer, swim across  /  The rush of river-torrents, or skip and bound  /  In joyous meadows; where your brightness leads,  /  They follow, gladly taken in the drive,  /   The urge, of love to come. So, on you move /  Over the seas and mountains, over streams  /  Whose ways are fierce, over the greening leas,  /  Over the leafy tenements of birds,  /  So moving that in all the ardor burns  /  For generation and their kind’s increase… The amazing fresco of Venus in the House of Venus in the Shell inspired me to search for Roman Poems dedicated to the Goddess of beauty… and I “stumbled” upon Lucretius’s Hymn to Venus, the goddess of pleasure.     https://newepicurean.com/lucretius-hymn-to-venus-and-the-defense-of-pleasure/     and     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuqPhR8QTZQ

Entrance doorway, looking south, House of Venus in the Shell or House of the Marine Venus or House of D. Lucretii Satrii Valentes, Pompeii, 2012 Photo, courtesy of Michael Binns http://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2003%2003%20part%201.htm
Ground Plan of the House of Venus in the Shell or House of the Marine Venus or House of D. Lucretii Satrii Valentes, Pompeii http://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2003%2003%20plan.htm

The Via dell’Abbondanza, one of Pompeii’s two Decumani Maximus, formed the main east-west axis which traversed the entire urban area of the city. Facing Via dell’Abbondanza, in Regio II of the city, near the Porta Sarno, the Amphitheatre and the Large Palaestra, lies a private property of particular interest, the House of Venus in the Shell (Insula 3), also known as House of the Marine Venus or House of D. Lucretii Satrii Valentes.  Excavated between 1933-35, it was damaged by bombings during World War II in 1943, but was re-excavated and restored in 1952.     https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-ii/reg-ii-ins-3/house-of-venus-in-the-shell

House of Venus in the Shell, Frescoes in Room 4, 1st century AD, fresco, looking towards south-east corner and south wall, Pompeii Archaeological Site, Pompeii, Italy,  Photo courtesy of Buzz Ferebee. https://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2003%2003%20part%202.htm

The House of Venus in the Shell has all the characteristics of a typical Pompeiian House. A narrow corridor (1) (fauces) beautifully decorated in the 3rd Pompeiian Style opens directly onto a square atrium (2) with a central impluvium. Both areas were intricately decorated with red or yellow painted panels with small medallions in the center to enhance the visual effect. Three cubicula face the atrium, the one in the south east corner (4) is decorated in the 3rd Pompeiian Style “with framed white panels separated by fantastic architectural views above a lower dark red frieze. The central panel of the south wall contains a badly faded mythological scene of Hermes and Dionysus. The side panels on the north wall contain floating figures while on the east are two portrait medallions.” https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-ii/reg-ii-ins-3/house-of-venus-in-the-shell

House of Venus in the Shell, Frescoes in Room 6, 1st century AD, fresco, south wall of Triclinium, Pompeii Archaeological Site, Pompeii, Italy, https://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2003%2003%20part%203.htm   

Two more interesting rooms open to the Atrium (2), a Triclinium (6) and a large Tablinium  (5). The Triclinium (6) has vaulted ceilings and walls, painted in the 3rd Pompeian Style, with architectural themes framing floating figures within black panels, and on the uppermost part of the room’s decoration, small scenes and still lives. The Tablinum (5), “has lost most of its decoration but still impresses with its size. The tablinum has a second doorway on its south wall which opens onto the north side of the peristyle.”     https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-ii/reg-ii-ins-3/house-of-venus-in-the-shell

House of Venus in the Shell, 1st century AD, looking towards the south-west corner of the Atrium, with doorway into room 11, on the left, and rooms 5 and 6, on the right, Pompeii Archaeological Site, 2017 Photo courtesy of Klaus Heese
House of Venus in the Shell, 1st century AD, fresco in the Peristyle area, Pompeii Archaeological Site, Pompeii, Italy     http://janzen3journeys.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-ruins-of-pompeii.html    

The nicest part of the House, the Peristyle area, develops around a lovely garden with 9 fluted columns of stuccoed brickwork (11). Rooms and Porticos, sumptuously decorated, once more, with frescoes in the 3rd Pompeiian Style, display interesting scenes that reveal almost impressionistic qualities. “On the rear wall (17) of the peristyle are three large framed frescoes each set on a blue background. The lefthand painting, is of the god Mars shown standing naked on a plinth while holding a lance and a shield. Around him the foliaged garden is teaming with birdlife. The central painting on the rear wall is of Venus lying in a conch shell with a cherub either side of her. The nymph on the left side of the painting is shown riding a dolphin while the one on the right supports the conch shell. The righthand painting is of flowers and birds drinking at a fountain. The fresco incorporates a niche painted with plants.”     https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-ii/reg-ii-ins-3/house-of-venus-in-the-shell

Venus in the Shell, 1st century AD, fresco in the central panel of the Peristyle area South Wall, House of Venus in the Shell, Pompeii Archaeological Site, Pompeii, Italy, 2016 Photo courtesy of Buzz Ferebee https://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2003%2003%20part%2011.htm
Venus in the Shell (detail depicting one of the Cherubs), 1st century AD, Fresco, House of Venus in the Shell, Pompeii Archaeological Site, Pompeii, Italy https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Venus_Anadyomenes_in_the_House_of_Venus_(Pompeii)#/media/File:Casa_de_Venus_Pompeya_07.jpg

The star fresco in the House, after which the house, let’s not forget, was named, depicts Venus in the Shell. It portrays a large and striking depiction of the goddess Venus, naked but relaxed “giving no signs of modesty, yet no signs of overt sexuality,” reclining in a shell, swelling “sails” behind her, accompanied by a cortege of two Cherubs. This fresco may not be one of the finest discovered in Pompeii, but it is definitely eye-catching. Venus’s  head of curly hair and pale skinned body, resplendent with gold jewels, “looking off into the distance seemingly without a worry in the world” create a stunning vision. The Cherubs’ look of curiosity and astonishment is a strike of ingenuity. The combination of aquamarine blue and plum-hued violet, cool and refreshing, is precious! Simply put… I love it!!!     https://womeninantiquity.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/the-portrayal-of-venus-in-pompeian-frescoes/

For a student RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project), please… Check HERE!

Christmas-Time

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family, 1864, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 63.5cm, the MET, NY
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11258

I heard the bells on Christmas Day  /  Their old, familiar carols play,  /  And wild and sweet  /  The words repeat  /  Of peace on earth, good-will to men!…  Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)… a wonderful way to introduce Christmas-Time by Eastman Johnson and Wish you all Merry Christmas!!! https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1423.html and https://poets.org/poem/christmas-bells

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Eastman Johnson, 1890s, albumen print (cabinet card) by Edwin S. Bennett (detail), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Department of Image Collections
Self-portrait of Eastman Johnson, circa 890, oil on canvas, 60.9 x 50.7 cm, Brooklyn Museum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastman_Johnson

In 1846 Eastman Johnson was in Boston, where he was commissioned to create portraits of several of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s friends and family members. At the time, Eastman Johnson was a young man of twenty-two, but his draftsmanship was accomplished and thus he drew the attention of the established poet and Harvard professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. All of these portraits hang today in the Vassall/Craigie/Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a site that offers unique opportunities to explore 19th-century literature and arts. https://www.mainememory.net/artifact/15896     and     https://www.nps.gov/long/index.htm

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Portraits of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1846, Crayon and Chalk on Paper, 21 x 19 in. Oval, Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House
Scanned from Eastman Johnson: Painting America     https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastman_Johnson_portrait_of_Longfellow.jpg

Young Eastman Johnson was pleased to place himself under Henry Wadsworth Longfellow patronage, but like his patron, his dream was to travel and study in Europe… and this is exactly what he did in 1849, “when he travelled to Düsseldorf, Germany, and received rigorous training in drawing at that city’s academy. More congenial, however, was the time he spent in the studio of Emanuel Leutze,” the German/American artist who painted in 1851 Washington Crossing the Delaware “where he concentrated on painting. In 1851 he went to London to see the Universal Exposition and then relocated to The Hague, remaining for over three years. His lengthy stay at The Hague was somewhat unusual for an American artist, but he apparently found much inspiration in the Dutch Old Masters as well as ready patronage through August Belmont, the wealthy American ambassador. His European education ended with several months spent in the Parisian studio of Thomas Couture before the death of his mother brought him home in 1855.”     https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1423.html

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Negro Life at the South, 1859, oil on canvas, 129.5×154.9 cm, The New-York Historical Society, The Robert L. Stuart Collection

Back in the United States, Eastman Johnson spent his time painting in his rented studio in New York City or travelling extensively, visiting members of his family in Washington, D.C., or Lake Superior, where he sketched members of the Chippewa Tribe.  His reputation was established in 1859 when, at a time when slavery was heatedly debated,  he presented in a New York exhibition a painting of the backyard of his father’s house in Washington, D.C. titled Negro Life in the South. https://www.nyhistory.org/exhibit/negro-life-south-0

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family (detail), 1864, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 63.5cm, the MET, NY https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11258

In 1864, he was commissioned to paint Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family, a group portrait with interesting narrative elements. “It shows William Tilden Blodgett (1823–1875), a supporter of the Union cause and a founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum, with his family in the Renaissance Revival parlour of their house at 27 West 25th Street. Depicted during the Civil War, at a time of urban upheaval, the serene interior decorated for Christmas embodies the best sentiment of home, as a critic observed in 1865.”  https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11258

Eastman Johnson, 1824-1906
The Girl I Left Behind Me, 1872, oil on canvas, 106.7 x 88.7 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

One of the foremost painters of American life, Eastman Johnson’s reputation grew further with paintings like the A Ride for Liberty—The Fugitive Slaves, of 1862 or The Wounded Drummer Boy, of 1864-1870 or The Girl I Left Behind Me, of 1872. He was financially comfortable and professionally successful. He lived in a large house in Manhattan and vacationed on the island of Nantucket, the scene of many of his paintings. He was an active member of the National Academy, the Century and Union League Clubs, the Metropolitan Museum, and even the Society of American Artists. He is remembered for his humour and kindness in helping other artists, as a good story-teller, a short, rotund kind of a man. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/exhibitions/1664

For a Student Activity on It’s Christmas with Eastman Johnson, please… Check HERE!

Teaching with Domenico Veneziano

Domenico Veneziano,  c. 1410-1461
 Madonna and Child enthroned with St. Francis, John the Baptist, St. Zenobius and St. Lucy,
c. 1445, tempera on panel, 209 x 216 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

 (Domenico was) …a good and affectionate fellow, fond of singing and devoted to playing on the lute,  he would come together (with his friend Andrea del Castagno) every night to make merry and to serenade their mistresses” This is how Giorgio Vasari describes Domenico Veneziano, the artist from Venice who took Florence by storm! Teaching with Domenico Veneziano is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Italian artist I much admire. Domenico’  Madonna and Child enthroned with St. Francis, John the Baptist, St. Zenobius and St. Lucy Altarpiece in the Gallerie degli Uffizi is one of my favourite paintings in Florence. I am intrigued by its ethereal beauty, the balance of composition and harmony of pictorial planes. I can’t wait to be back to Florence… stand in front of it and have, once more, an aesthetically rewarding experience.     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreadelcastagno.htm

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Domenico’s oeuvre I start with Giorgio Vasari and his fictional story of how Domenico Veneziano was murdered by his friend Andrea del Castagno… a story masterfully said but totally untrue.

I start with Vasari’s condemnation of envy, wicket artistic rivalry and betrayal resulting from envy… “How reprehensible is the vice of envy, which should never exist in anyone, when found in a man of excellence, and how wicked and horrible a thing it is to seek under the guise of a feigned friendship to extinguish not only the fame and glory of another but his very life, I truly believe it to be impossible to express with words, …that in such men there dwells a spirit not merely inhuman and savage but wholly cruel and devilish, and so far removed from any sort of virtue that they are no longer men or even animals, and do not deserve to live.…” and explain the difference between a healthy competition among artists, which according to Vasari is “ …worthy to be praised and to be held in esteem as necessary and useful to the world” and pure, malicious envy capable in the case of Andrea del Castagno to “ …conceal and obscure the splendour of his talents.” http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreadelcastagno.htm

I finish my introductory presentation discussing Domenico’s famous anecdotal story of his assassination by Andrea del Castagno, absolutely fictitious as modern scholarship proved. “ …Andrea, …being blinded by envy of the praises that he heard given to the talent of Domenico, determined to remove him from his path; and after having thought of many expedients, he put one of them into execution in the following manner. One summer evening, according to his custom, Domenico took his lute and went forth from S. Maria Nuova, leaving Andrea in his room drawing, for he had refused to accept the invitation to take his recreation with Domenico, under the pretext of having to do certain drawings of importance. Domenico, therefore, went to take his pleasure by himself, and Andrea set himself to wait for him in hiding behind a street corner; and when Domenico, on his way home, came up to him, he crushed his lute and his stomach at one and the same time with certain pieces of lead, and then, thinking that he had not yet finished him off, beat him grievously on the head with the same weapons; and finally, leaving him on the ground, he returned to his room in S. Maria Nuova, where he put the door ajar and sat down to his drawing in the manner that he had been left by Domenico. Meanwhile, an uproar had arisen, and the servants, hearing of the matter, ran to call Andrea and to give the bad news to the murderer and traitor himself, who, running to where the others were standing around Domenico, was not to be consoled, and kept crying out: “Alas, my brother! Alas, my brother!” Finally, Domenico expired in his arms; nor could it be discovered, for all the diligence that was used, who had murdered him; and if Andrea had not revealed the truth in confession on his death-bed, it would not be known now.”     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreadelcastagno.htm

Domenico Veneziano,  c. 1410-1461
The Adoration of the Magi, 1435, tempera on panel, 90 cm diameter, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Teaching with Domenico Veneziano Activities…

For the List of ONLINE References on Domenico Veneziano TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Domenico Veneziano, please… Click HERE!

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

7 Steps to Success…

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

I hope that Teaching with Domenico Veneziano, will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name TeacherCurator?

Domenico Veneziano,  c. 1410-1461
The Annunciation, c. 1445/1448, tempera on panel, 27.3 x 54 cm, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

The Month of December

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

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

Torre Aquila and Garden in Castello del Buonconsiglio, in Trento, Italy

The Month of December is a fresco, and it comes from the 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. Today, only eleven of the original 12 panels survive as a 16th-century wooden spiral staircase, connecting the tower floors, destroyed the painted panel of March. The famous painted Cycle of the Months is divided into twelve panels, one for each month. Each one of the twelve panels is separated by a slender column, distinctive yet subtle, so as not to disturb the natural continuity between months and the seasons.

Months of September, October, November and December – Torre Aquila North Wall

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. It has been suggested and widely accepted that the painter of this extraordinary fresco Cycle of the Months was Maestro Venceslao, a Czech painter, popular in the Tyrol area of the time.     https://www.cultura.trentino.it/eng/Cultural-venues/All-cultural-venues/Documentation-centres2/Torre-Aquila-Eagle-Tower  

Fresco panels in Torre Aquila are rare and special. They document life in the Trentino area, with references to the aristocratic pastimes throughout the year, or the peasant activities and duties to their masters. They also depict a vivid landscape, romanticized…bare and covered with snow for the January panel, rich and fertile, autumnal, covered with fallen leaves, harsh and inhospitable for the scene depicting December.  

My attention turns to the upper right corner where on the frozen ground of a forest, the Trentino peasants are busy once more. Numb by the cold, wearing short white tunicles, one of them even bear-footed, with axes and hatchets in their hands, they are depicted wood harvesting. They chop forest trees down, pile wood logs up, carry heavy loads to the wagons, stack wagons up with neatly cut logs and finally carry precious firewood to the city, to heat the houses during the long winter days. What an accomplishment in such uninviting circumstances…

Trentino Torre Aquila frescoes love presenting anecdotal details. The depicted city, cold and bleak, is setting the tone … Icicles hang from the attics, neatly built in stone and wood, of the Buonconsiglio Castle and the top of its circular tower. The city boasts double defensive walls and plenty of gabled houses with red roof tiles that deftly form a neat residential area, with a decorated church on its left side. It is a stark and unembellished scene, yet… a caravan of mules, loaded with goods, heads towards the castle at the top of the city, while, on the lower part of the composition, two knights on horseback, escort a riding noble lady for a winter outing. Harry up… they seem to tell her, and water your horse before setting off! Let’s follow the stream and visit the Water Mill for an al fresco lunch. What a sight…

Maestro Venceslao painted a dream world for Prince-Bishop George of Liechtenstein… a world that collapsed in 1407 with a successful rebellion. The Prince was not particularly liked by the locals. He was a conservative, authoritative and harsh leader of anachronistic demands. The painted room of Torre Aquila was sealed up, almost forgotten… Walking back in time in a world of endlessly working peasants and privileged aristocrats was no more…          https://www.buonconsiglio.it/index.php/en/Buonconsiglio-Castle/collections/Introduction     and     https://books.google.gr/books?id=L3e0BgAAQBAJ&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=cycle+of+the+months+paintings&source=bl&ots=PDmmhZPn37&sig=ACfU3U0ZvpPwd-ZSa8dnhL4AUn2uBLt26g&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjVxcGIzNzmAhWRGewKHQiuD5g4ChDoATAGegQIBxAB#v=onepage&q=cycle%20of%20the%20months%20paintings&f=false

For a student Activity, please … Check HERE!

Watercolours by Howard Carter

Under the protection of the gods, marked and dated “Howard Carter 1908 “, watercolour on paper, 62 x 46 cm, private collection
https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-la-decouverte-des-tresors-de-carter.html
 “…Carter painted Under the Protection of the Gods (1908), a composite fantasy that depicts a vulture — representing the goddess Nekhebet, protector of Upper Egypt — above a solar disc wrapped in a cobra — representing the goddess Wadjet, protector of Lower Egypt. It’s likely that the iconography of the watercolour was inspired by some of Carter’s finds in Thebes, including the 18th Dynasty Tomb of Tetaki and a 15th Dynasty tomb with nine coffins.”     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/date/2014/11/page/3

“…as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words, ‘Yes, wonderful things.” This is how Howard Carter, the famous archaeologist, describes his discovery in 1922 of the Tomb of Tutankhamen. In my new BLOG POST, I want to introduce Watercolours by Howard Carter… his first steps on Egyptian Archaeology.

Statue of the Goddess Sakhmet, ca. 1390–1352 BC, New Kingdom – 18th Dynasty – reign of Amenhotep III, Granodiorite, 210 x 47.5 x 95.5 cm, the MET, NY

Could the Statue of the Goddess Sakhmet at the MET in New York be responsible for Howard Carter’s love for Egyptology? Well… According to THE HISTORY BLOG, young Carter was a frequent visitor to Didlington Hall, the estate William Amhurst Daniel-Tyssen, a patron of the accomplished artist and illustrator Samuel John Carter, Howard’s artist father, visited on several occasions on painting commissions. Didlington Hall is where the young Carter, home-schooled and trained in the arts by his father, first became exposed to Egyptology.

“Amherst was an avid collector of Egyptian antiquities. He, his wife Margaret Mitford (whose father had a passion for all things Egyptian as well) and their seven daughters traveled frequently to Egypt, constantly acquiring new artefacts. A whole wing of Didlington Hall was dedicated to housing his vast collection. Seven statues of the lion-headed warrior goddess Sekhmet guarded the door of the museum, one for each of the Amherst daughters. …The Amherst family didn’t just give Howard Carter the chance to explore Egyptian art through their extensive collection. It was their recommendations and contacts that secured him his first job in Egypt. He was just 17 years old when he was hired as a tracer — someone who copies inscriptions and artwork found in excavations onto paper for later study — for the Egyptian Exploration Fund (EEF) in 1891. This was an essential job in the age before colour photography. Watercolours were the only accurate recreations of tomb decorations available.”     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/33258

Howard Carter, 1874-1939
Hoopoe Bird, 1891, from the tomb of Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan, watercolour on paper, EES Lucy Gura Archive. https://www.ees.ac.uk/reuniting-the-carter-watercolours
“Carter was most interested in making carefully coloured drawings of the more
interesting and important details among these mural decorations”     https://www.academia.edu/8582513/The_Archaeological_Survey

Young Carter distinguished himself as a tracer for his artistic abilities, dedication and diligence. In 1891, hired by the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF), Carter assisted an Amherst family friend, Percy Newberry, in the excavation and recording of Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan. His Watercolours are accurate, innovative and charming.

Howard Carter, 1874-1939
Horus, 1895, Watercolour copy of a painted scene showing the Horus falcon from the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, Griffith Institute, University of Oxford
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p023dbvk/p023d3x7

Carter’ first steps to field “archaeology were taken on his next assignment at El-Amarna under pioneering Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1892. He was still an artist, recording artefacts as they were discovered, but Petrie allowed him to dig too, and Carter made some significant finds.” From 1894 to 1899, he worked with Édouard Naville at Deir el-Bahari, where he recorded the wall reliefs in the temple of Hatshepsut, joined in the excavation process of the temple and learned restoration techniques as well. Watercolours by Howard Carter of the Deir el-Bahari period are among his finest, as he frequently stated that “When reproducing an ancient art, let us, by all means, be accurate, and employ every kind of mechanical aid to obtain that objective; but let that mechanical aid be our assistant, not our master.”

Howard Carter, 1874-1939
Hieroglyphs, 1891, Deir el-Bersha, Tomb of Djehutihotep II – Temples of Sesostris II and Sesostris III, watercolour on paper, 42.3 x 28.7 cm, Griffith Institute, University of Oxford
http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/gri/4GI_wd_072.html

In 1899, Carter was “appointed Inspector of Monuments for Upper Egypt in the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS), and …supervised the systematic exploration of the valley of the Kings by the American archaeologist Theodore Davis.” His successful career, however, came to a halt because of a violent confrontation between Egyptian site guards, under Carter’s permission, and a group of aggressive French tourists. Carter resigned his position and for the next years “had something of a hard scrabble existence. He sold his watercolours or guided tours to make a living.” In 1907 “he hit the jackpot. French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero, Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service who had given Carter the Chief Inspector General job, introduced him to George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Carnarvon had deep pockets and was keen to fund archaeological excavations. He got the necessary licenses and made Carter the Supervisor of Excavations in Thebes.”  The rest is history…     http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/33258     and     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Carter

The student Activity on Watercolours by Howard Carter is inspired by the work on The Middle Kingdom Tombs at Deir el-Bersha, the Reconstruction of tomb wall-scenes using watercolours from the Griffith Institute Archive and the Tomb of Djehutihotep in particular, please… Click HERE!

Reconstruction drawing of the tomb of Djehutihotep (Drawing M. Hense)
“When reproducing an ancient art, let us, by all means, be accurate, and employ every kind of mechanical aid to obtain that objective; but let that mechanical aid be our assistant, not our master.” Howard Carter
https://www.digital-epigraphy.com/projects/recording-djehutihotep-digital-epigraphy-in-a-middle-kingdom-governors-tomb-at-dayr-al-barsha-part-1

Dioscurides and Krithamo

Portrait of the allegorical figure Epinoia (thinking power) holding a Mandragoa in the middle, Dioscurides describing the plant to the right, and a painter creating the image of the plant to the left, Vienna Dioscurides, Folio 5v, about 515 AD, Byzantine Greek Illuminated Manuscript of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscurides, vellum folios measure 37 by 30 cm, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

“The Vienna Dioscurides is a Byzantine Greek illuminated manuscript copy of “Medical Material” by Dioscorides, which was created in 515 AD. It is a rare surviving example of an illustrated ancient scientific and medical text… The original “De Materia Medica” or “On Medical Material” was first written between 50 and 70 CE by Pedanius Dioscorides. It is a pharmacopeia of medicinal plants and was widely read and used for more than 1,500 years… This specific manuscript copy was created in the Byzantine Empire’s capital, Constantinople, for the byzantine imperial princess, Anicia Juliana. She was the daughter of Anicius Olybrius, who had been one of the last Western Roman Emperors… The manuscript was presented to the princess in gratitude for her funding the construction of a church… The dedication miniature portrait of Anicia Juliana is the oldest surviving dedication portraits in a book…” I couldn’t better encapsulate the manuscript’s identification. The Vienna Dioscurides is one of the “canvases” I use for my Course on Cultural Geography of Greece and specifically my Lessons on popular Greek Plants like Dioscurides and Krithamo.     https://joyofmuseums.com/ancient-manuscripts-and-historically-influential-books/vienna-dioscurides/

The Protagonists

Portrait of Anicia Juliana flanked by Megalopsychia and Phronesis (detail), Vienna Dioscurides, Folio 6v, about 515 AD, Byzantine Greek Illuminated Manuscript of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscurides, vellum folios measure 37 by 30 cm, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

Anicia Juliana (462 – 527/528 AD)was an incredible woman, a prominent member of the up-to-date ruling Roman Imperial Dynasties. She was the daughter of Emperor Anicius Olybrius of the Western Roman Empire, the wife of the Magister Militum of the Eastern Roman Empire, Areobindus Dagalaiphus Areobindus and the mother of  Olybrius Junior, a Roman Consul. Anicia Juliana was the wealthiest woman in the Roman Empire and the greatest patron of the Arts at the time. She is the ktitorissa of religious edifices, the Church of Hagios Polyeuktos in Constantinople, built by the year 527, the most sumptuous of all,  and the recipient of a magnificent manuscript, a copy of De Materia Medica by Dioscurides, known today as Vienna Dioscurides. https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/anicia-juliana

Portrait of Dioscurides and Heuresis, Vienna Dioscurides, Folio 4v, about 515 AD, Byzantine Greek Illuminated Manuscript of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscurides, vellum folios measure 37 by 30 cm, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

Pedanius Dioscurides (c. 30-90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist who served in the Roman army of Emperor Nero during the1st century AD. He was a native of Anazarbus in Asia Minor and studied medicine at the nearby school in Tarsus. Following the Roman Army, Dioscurides collected information and samples of local medicinal plants and about 70 AD he published De Materia Medica, a five volumes treatise on the “medicinal properties of over one thousand natural medicinal substances; most of these… botanical in origin, but drugs of animal and mineral origin…” as well. The book’s subtitle, “On the Preparation, Properties and Testing of Drugs, sets the empirical, scientific tone of this work… Dioscorides didn’t accept anything on faith, or on the reputation of established authorities; he checked everything out and tested every drug clinically.  He personally travelled and researched the local folk medicine uses of every herb… The presentations of every herb and medicinal substance in Dioscorides’ herbal were very thorough.  It included plant names, synonyms and illustrations; plant habitat and botanical descriptions; properties, actions and uses of the drug; negative side effects if any; administration and dosage recommendations; directions on harvesting, preparation and storage of herbs or drugs…” One can only admire the painstaking work done by Dioscurides and the reasons why De Materia Medica “has been the prime authority and source work on herbs and other medicinal substances in the history of Western Civilization, and quite possibly in the history of the world.”     http://www.greekmedicine.net/whos_who/Dioscorides.html

Simply put… the Vienna Dioscurides is one of the most beautiful Byzantine Manuscripts in the world! The c. 512 AD Codex, written in vellum folios and magnificently illuminated, was created in a workshop in Constantinople, and granted, as a gift of gratitude, to the Imperial Princess Anicia Juliana for her patronage in the construction of a church in the quarter of Honoratae. The Vienna Dioscurides is one of the “canvases” I use for my Course on the Cultural Geography of Greece and specifically Lessons on popular Greek Plants like Dioscurides and Krithamo. Please CHECK my POWERPOINT HERE! for pictures of manuscript folios and interesting FACTS about it.

Crithmum Maritimum, Vienna Dioscurides, Folio 184v, about 515 AD, Byzantine Greek Illuminated Manuscript of De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscurides, vellum folios measure 37 by 30 cm, Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna

Crithmum Maritimum, according to Dioscurides, Krithamo and Rock Samphire today, grows on rocky beaches where there is a little sand and strong, salty winds. This is one of the plants presented in the Constantinopolitan Codex of Anicia Juliana, described as having detoxifying properties, good to treat liver, intestinal and renal dysfunction. Dioscurides refers to it as “λαχανεύεται εφθόν τε και ωμόν εσθιόμενον, και ταριχεύεται εν άλμη.” I use the illumination of Crithmum Maritimum in Dioscurides’s manuscript in my Cultural Geography of Greece Class to discuss the Plant’s characteristics and create an Inter-Disciplinary Activity my students enjoy doing… as you can see HERE! for the Activity’s instructions and HERE! and HERE!  for samples of student work.     https://www.itrofi.gr/fytika/votana/article/1623/kritamo-votano-toy-gialoy-poy-dynamonei-anosopoiitiko-kai-einai-gemato

Bulletin Board Presentation of a Grade 4 Activity on Dioscurides and Krithamo
Bulletin Board Presentation of a Grade 5 Activity on Dioscurides and Krithamo

Saint Mary of the Mongols

Byzantine church, known as Saint Mary of the Mongols in  Constantinople
Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection from 1930-1947
Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

«The Byzantine church known as Saint Mary of the Mongols, or Theotokos ton Mougoulion, was once the katholikon of the Monastery of the Theotokos tes Panayiotisses. It is situated in the modern quarter of Istanbul known as Fener, and is unique for being the sole Greek Orthodox sanctuary that has served the same function in Christian Constantinople as well as in Muslim Istanbul. Despite its unique status, the building has not received as much scholarly attention as other Byzantine religious monuments of similar historical importance…” writes Edmund C. Ryder, back in 2009/10.     https://journals.sfu.ca/jmh/index.php/jmh/article/view/260/263

My new POST on the surviving Byzantine Churches in Constantinople takes me to Mouchliotissa or Theotokos ton Mougoulion or Saint Mary of the Mongols. The name has an “exotic” appeal upon me, the fact that it is still Greek Orthodox in practice enhanced my interest… the journey… was fascinating. Right from the beginning, I wanted to establish my sources, scant on the church’s architecture, but informative and well written. Η Αρχιτεκτονική της Παναγίας του Μουχλίου στην Κωνσταντινούπολη by Charalambos Bouras      https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/deltion/article/viewFile/4126/3901.pdf     and     The Despoina of the Mongols and Her Patronage at the Church of the Theotokos ton Mougoulion by Edmund C. Ryder     https://journals.sfu.ca/jmh/index.php/jmh/article/view/260/263    

I love and use, for the purposes of this POST, the photographs taken by Nicholas V. Artamonoff from 1930-1947. I couldn’t find contemporary photos that surpass the atmospheric ambience of this unique place.  I am grateful to ICFA (Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives), part of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (an Institute of Harvard University located in Washington, D.C.) for making this Collection available to the world… to regard and admire…  http://images.doaks.org/artamonoff/collections/show/27

Byzantine church, known as Saint Mary of the Mongols in  Constantinople
Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection from 1930-1947
Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

Ch. Bouras describes “The Panaghia Mouchliotissa as a tetraconch, aisleless, domed church with a slightly later tripartite narthex.” Drawings by Poridis reveal that major architectural changes took place, most probably “during the eighteenth century, in order to increase its size to house a larger congregation.” For example, “the south conch and a large part of the narthex were demolished to make way for the addition of a large hypostyle room roofed with Ottoman pointed domes and an exonarthex.” Originally, “the Mouchliotissa was a tetraconch church with a narthex and two unusual features: the size of each conch was increased by opening three smaller niches in the thickness of the wall, and the dome was supported on four arches carried on columns at the four corners of the central square.” These features, Bouras continues, are rare in Byzantine architecture of the time,  “enliven the interior space enhancing its visual interest and imparting a certain originality.”     https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/deltion/article/viewFile/4126/3901.pdf

Byzantine church, known as Saint Mary of the Mongols in  Constantinople
Plan for the original church with the narthex added by Maria Paleologina
Plan for the current church. The surviving parts of the original are in bold
http://wwwbisanzioit.blogspot.com/2018/12/maria-paleologina-e-la-chiesa-di-nostra.html

I always felt for the well-bred Byzantine Princesses whose destiny was to play a role in Byzantine diplomacy through marriage. Maria Paleologina was no exception. She was the illegitimate daughter of Michael VIII Palaeologus, the skilful Byzantine Emperor who accomplished in 1261 the dream of all Byzantines: reconquering the City of Cities, Constantinople. The new Emperor needed strong allies in the East and Maria Paleologina (1258/9-1282), barely 8 years old was “dispatched” to marry Khan Hulagu of the  Il-Khanate of Persia, the conqueror of Baghdad, who dreamed of triumphing over the entire Muslim East…

While in Cappadocia, February of 1265, Maria and her magnificent entourage learned of the death of Khan Hulagu and her new proposal to marry Hulagu’s son and successor, Abaqa. Maria continued her journey… arrived in Persia, married the Khan, grew up in the Khan’s harem and succeeded in turning Abaqa into a protector of Christians until his death… Maria Paleologina or “Despina Khatun, for the Mongols, was revered for her kindness, wisdom and strong leadership. Sources portrayed her as leading a pious life and being quite influential in politics…” When her husband died and his brother, the Muslim Tekuder, became the new Khan… “Maria managed to escaped in time from his control and return to Constantinople… (where) unmoved by the pageantry of the court in Constantinople decided to embrace the religious life…” She used her considerable wealth to found the convent of Theotokos Panaghiótissa in 1285, where, as a respected widow, remained until her death.

Melane the Nun in the Deesis Mosaic with donors Isaac Komnenos, Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, Constantinople
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Palaiologina

The life of Maria Peleologina is wonderfully presented in Maria Paleologina and the Il-Khanate Khanate of Persia. A Byzantine Princess in an Empire between Islam and Christendom by María Isabel Cabrera Ramos of the Universidad de Granada     https://repositori.udl.cat/bitstream/handle/10459.1/60547/imatem_a2017n11p217.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Byzantine church, known as Saint Mary of the Mongols in  Constantinople

Teaching with Donatello

Donatello, 1386-1466
David, c. 1430, Bronze, Height: 158 cm, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

“Speak, damn you, speak!” Donatello allegedly cried to his sculptures whenever he desired depth in their expression! Teaching with Donatello is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Italian artist I much admire. I visited sites in Florence where Donatello left his mark, several times so far, and my hope is that I will be fortunate to visit them again. Every time I come face to face with his work, I think of Henry Moore, who “every day he strove to surpass Donatello, failed, but woke the next morning elated for another try…”     http://www.donatellosculptures.com/quotes/     and     https://www.theartstory.org/artist/giotto/life-and-legacy/

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Donatello’s oeuvre I start with Giorgio Vasari and his exciting stories.

I start with… “He may be said to have been the first to illustrate the art of sculpture among the moderns…” discussing how ancient Greek or Roman sculpture was a great source of inspiration for Donatello and continue with… “Donatello made his figures in such a way that in the room where he worked they did not look half as well as when they were put in their place.”

Donatello, 1386-1466
Santa Croce Crucifix, c.1406-1408, Polychrome Wood, Height: 165 cm, Capella Bardi di Vernio, Santa Croce, Florence

The famous anecdotal story of Donatello’s Crucifixion and his “contest” with Brunaleschi is important to review and stress… “… for the church of S. Croce in Florence…he (Donatello) made a crucifix of wood, which he carved with extraordinary patience; and when it was done, thinking it a very fine piece of work, he showed it to Filippo that he might have his opinion upon it. Filippo, who expected from what Donatello had said to see something better, when he looked at it could not help smiling a little. Donatello, seeing it, prayed him by their friendship to speak his mind truly, upon which Filippo, who was frank enough, replied that he seemed to him to have put on the cross a peasant and not Jesus Christ, who was the man most perfect in everything that ever was born. Donatello, feeling the reproach more bitterly because he had expected praise, replied, “If it were as easy to do a thing as to judge it, my Christ would not look like a peasant; but take some wood yourself and make one.” Filippo without another word returned home, and, saying nothing to any one, set to work upon a crucifix, and aiming to surpass Donatello that he might not condemn himself, he brought it to great perfection after many months. Then one morning he invited Donatello to dine with him. Donatello accepted his invitation, and they went together to Filippo’s house. Coming to the old market, Filippo bought some things and gave them to Donatello, saying, “Go on to the house and wait for me, I am just coming.” So Donatello, going into the house, found Filippo’s crucifix arranged in a good light; and stopping to consider it, he found it so perfect that, overcome with surprise and admiration, he let his apron drop, and the eggs and cheese and all the other things that he was carrying in it fell to the ground and were broken. Filippo, coming in and finding him standing thus lost in astonishment, said, laughingly, “What are you about, Donatello? How are we to dine when you have dropped all the things?” “I,” said Donatello, “have had enough. If you want anything, take it. To you it is given to do Christs, and to me peasants.” https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/vasari/vasari6.asp

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius,  c. 173-76, Gilded Bronze, Height: 4.2 m, Capitoline Museum, Rome
Donatello, 1386-1466,
Statue of Gattamelata, 1447-50, Bronze, 340×390 cm, Piazza del Santo, Padua

I finish my introductory presentation discussing Donatello’s character, the story of Gattamelata, and Padua’s admiration for the artist… “… the Signory of Venice, hearing the fame of him, sent for him to make the monument to Gattamelata in the city of Padua. He undertook it very gladly, and made the statue that stands in the Piazza of S. Antonio, with the horse chafing and neighing, and its proud, spirited rider. Donatello showed himself in this so admirable, both for proportion and execution, that truly it may be compared to any ancient work. The Paduans sought by every means to prevail upon him to become a citizen and to stay there, giving him much work to do; but finding himself considered a marvel, and praised on all sides, he determined to return to Florence, saying if he stayed there longer he should forget all he knew, being praised so much, and that he must return to his own city to be continually found fault with, for this faultfinding would be the cause of his studying more, and thereby winning greater glory.”     https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/vasari/vasari6.asp

Teaching with Donatello Activities…

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

For my PowerPoint on Donatello, please… Click HERE!

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

For Donatello’s Gattamelata Student Activity, please… Click HERE! (Student Activity) HERE! (Picture) and HERE! (Worksheet A)

For a WAC (Write Across the Ciciculum) Activity, titled “A Poem for Donatello’s Saint George”, please… Click HERE!

Donatello, 1386-1466
Cantoria, 1431-39, Marble, 348 x 570 cm, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence

I hope that Teaching with Donatello will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name TeacherCurator?

The Month of November

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

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! / One mellow smile through the soft vapoury air, / Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds ran, / Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare. / One smile on the brown hills and naked trees, / And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast, / And the blue Gentian flower, that, in the breeze, / Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last. / Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee / Shall murmur by the hedge that skim the way, / The cricket chirp upon the russet lea, / And man delight to linger in thy ray. / Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear / The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air. Wrote for The Month of November the American poet William Cullen Bryant… Hundreds of years earlier, another artist, Maestro Venceslao, decorated the walls of Torre Aquila in Trento, Italy, with paintings depicting the twelve months of the year. The Month of November is a striking example of his perception.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJOCrB7zH4g

Panoramic View of Trento in Italy

There is no way for the visitor of the beautiful Italian town of Trento to miss Castello del Buonconsiglio, this imposing, impressive and unique example of secular architecture! It is equally impossible for the Trento visitor not to explore the Castello, where, since the 13th century, the prince bishops of Trento resided and embellished with two Palazzos, an Italianate Park, a Gothic-Venetian Loggia and massive Towers.

Castello del Buonconsiglio

In 1973 the Castello became an Italian regional Museum of Art, known as Castello del Buonconsiglio Museum. This is where the Trento visitor can admire numerous art collections, ranging from paintings and manuscripts to period furniture and local archaeological finds. La piece-de-resistance among the Museum’s treasures is the so-called “Ciclo dei Mesi” in Torre Aquila.     https://www.trentino.com/en/highlights/castles/castello-del-buonconsiglio/

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

The fresco panels of September, October, November and December at Torre Aquila

Trento’s November fresco panel at Torre Aquila is characteristic of Maestro Venceslao’s, the artist who painted the “Ciclo dei Mesi”, creative abilities. It is rich, colourful and informative. It tells us of how hard the Trentino farmers worked and how idle and pleasure-seeking its aristocrats were.

For Maestro Venceslao, November is a month dedicated to the leisures of the nobles and their favourite activity… hunting! The upper and middle parts of the November composition show groups of aristocrats accompanied by their servants chasing a bear with her young. The scene is colourful, full of energy and thunderous! The sound of the Hunting Horn, barking dogs, a crowd of tree-beater servants and galloping hunters move effortlessly among rocky mountains, fields and trees clad in autumnal colours.

The fresco panels (detail) of November and December at Torre Aquila

The fields however are deserted and the peasants, with winter approaching, have little outdoors activities to perform. They have suspended their jobs but remain vigilant guards of the countryside and support the aristocrats in any way possible. The activity is now concentrated at the gates of the cities, where, in view of the approaching bad season, peasants provide food supplies and the products of the countryside.

The lower part of the composition depicts the city of Trento… fairytale like, white walled, well-built, comfortable and warm with lots of chimneys and graced with the pointed bell tower of a church. Trento is a major city and the composition, interrupted by the slender column that divides the fresco scenes of November and December, continues with activities of peasants and professionals that are attention-grabbing to say the least…

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!