Nearchos the Potter

Archaic Black-Figure  Terracotta Aryballos (oil flask) by Nearchos, Archaic – ca. 570 BC, 7.8 cm, MET, NY
Archaic Black-Figure  Terracotta fragment of a Kantharos (drinking cup) by Nearchos, Archaic – ca. 550 BC, 15,5 cm, National Archaeological Museum, Athens
Antenor Kore,  525-500 BC, Parian Marble, Acropolis Museum, Athens

In the words of Simonides of Ceos, “Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.” (Quoted by Plutarch, De Gloria Atheniensium 3.346f).  I wonder if Nearchos, the celebrated Athenian painter and potter, was a poet at heart!

Looking at Attic Black-Figure pottery, you get the impression that sometime during the second quarter of the 6th century, an artistic revival takes place. The artists of the time, pottery makers and pottery painters show an exquisitely refined technique and draughtsmanship of a very high order indeed. Among them, Nearchos, potter and vase painter, stands at the very top.

Nearchos comes from Attica and is considered today a great master of the Black-Figure style. His career as a potter most probably started as a student in the workshop of Kleitias and Ergotimos, the famous creators of the François Vase. He lived and prospered in Athens, sometime between 570 and 555 BC, where he established a flourishing workshop. He raised two sons, Tleson and Ergoteles, who trained to become famous potters themselves. Later in his life, established, respected and wealthy, a “poet” at hart, he commissioned a beautiful Kore for the Acropolis of Athens, and acquired further admiration and fame.

Archaic Black-Figure  Terracotta fragment of a Kantharos (drinking cup) by Nearchos, Archaic – ca. 550 BC, 15,5 cm, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

A small ostracon of a Kantharos vase in the National Archaeological Museum at Athens was my introduction to his artistic abilities. I like how precise, dense and detailed his “incisions” are in depicting contour details and how the use of colour, white and purple enhances his composition. I also feel for the depicted story, the dialogue between Achilles and his god-sent horses… his fierce admonition “Xanthus and Balius, Podarge’s famous foals, this time think of a way to bring your master back alive when the fight is done, not leave him dead on the field, as you did brave Patroclus” and Xanthus’s devastating answer “This once, mighty Achilles, we will save you, yes, even though the hour of your doom draws nigh, nor indeed will we be the cause of your death even then, rather a mightier god and relentless Fate…” (Iliad, Rhapsody Τ) https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Greek/Iliad19.php#anchor_Toc239246279

Archaic Black-Figure  Terracotta Aryballos (oil flask) by Nearchos, Archaic – ca. 570 BC, 7.8 cm, the MET, NY

The small Aryballos at the MET is another Nearchos favourite of mine. This is a small, “intimate” item of great ergonomic qualities. Imagine… admiring it as it comfortably fits the palm of your hand, filled with your chosen perfumed oil! The shape is perfectly balanced and the design is rowdy and exotic… pygmies fighting cranes, satyrs, Hermes, Perseus and two tritons! Think… your new aryballos will be the talk of your fellow athletes in your favourite Palestra!!!     https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/252451

Antenor Kore, 525-500 BC, Parian Marble, the Acropolis Museum, Athens

The Antenor Kore was found, battered and in several fragments, during the 19th century excavations on the Athenian Acropolis, in the so-called Perserschutt, the “Persian debris” level. It is a late Archaic statue of a young girl, her long, auburn hair beautifully groomed in locks and curls, dressed in chiton and an Ionian Peplos, adorned with jewelry, smiling, happy to honour goddess Athena. Fragments of a Pentelic marble statue base identify Nearchos  the Potter as the  donor and Antenor, son of Eumares as the sculptor. The dedicatory inscription, translated, reads: Nearchos the potter dedicated this work as an offering to Athena / Antenor the son of Eumares made the statue.

If you still wonder whether Nearchos, the celebrated Athenian painter and potter, was a poet at heart! My answer would emphatically be… YES! https://museum.classics.cam.ac.uk/collections/casts/antenor-kore     and     https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/sites/default/files/antinor_gr_0.pdf

For a student-friendly Activity Worksheet on Learning from Ancient Greek Pottery… Click HERE!

The Rotunda Ambo

Rotunda Ambo, early 6th century, marble, originally from Thessaloniki, present location: Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Photo Credit: OMNIA http://www.omnia.ie/index.php?navigation_function=3&europeana_query=Arch%C3%A4ologisches+Museum&europeana_cursor=%2A&europeana_prev_cursor=%2A&dpla_nav_start=0&prev_obcnt=-807

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St. Augustine once said and the Rotunda Ambo, where many books were read, in front of many “travellers,” came to my mind.

As a ‘traveller,’ interested in Byzantine Art,  the Rotunda Ambo is a ‘page in my book’ I like to read about again and again. I imagine… a 6th-century pilgrim entering the great Rotunda of Thessaloniki for Vespers… uplifted and overwhelmed by its size and domed inner space, awe-struck by its shimmering mosaics, stirred by the opulence of the service, the ‘logos’ and the chanting, moved by the sculptural decoration on the walls of its impressive Ambo…

The most important (my humble opinion) monument of Thessaloniki, The Rotunda, was constructed in the early 4th century AD, probably as a temple or as a mausoleum. Not long after, the Rotunda was turned into a Christian church, its interior decorated with wall mosaics of unique artistry and beauty. http://galeriuspalace.culture.gr/en/monuments/rotonta/

As a young student reading and ‘travelling’ through the pages of Ralph F. Hoddinott’s book of 1963, Early Byzantine churches in Macedonia and southern Serbia – A Study of the Origins and the Initial Development of East Christian Art, I was intrigued to enrich my ‘world book’ with stories and pictures and memories.  Many more ‘travels’ later, many more written pages, I take out Hoddinott’s book to read and further explore one specific monument of great importance,  the Rotunda Ambo of Thessaloniki!     http://macedonia.kroraina.com/en/rheb/index.htm

Rotunda Ambo, early 6th century, marble, Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Photo copyright: Dick Osseman
https://pbase.com/dosseman/image/58466693

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, an “Ambo…”, is “a raised stand formerly used for reading the Gospel or the Epistle, first used in early basilicas. Originally, the ambo took the form of a portable lectern. By the 6th century, it had evolved into a stationary church furnishing, which reflected the development and codification of the Christian liturgy…” We know that the position of each Ambo in an Early Christian Church, centrally placed or on the sides of the nave, varied consisting of “…raised platforms on three levels reached by steps and protected by railings. Each level was consecrated to a special part of the service.”     https://www.britannica.com/topic/ambo-church-architecture

The Rotunda Ambo, the only Early Christian sculptural piece to have survived, in fragments and quite battered, still impressive and beautiful, is now exhibited in the Museum of Antiquities in Istanbul while its marble base survives in Thessaloniki.  Dates suggested for the Rotunda Ambo vary, starting as early as the late 4th century. Most scholars, however, believe that the carving of the ornamental decoration of the ambo should date to the early 6th century.

According to Hoddinott… “Below bands of delicately worked acanthus and vine motives, the ambo, in its original state, presented the Adoration of the Magi. Each figure is set individually beneath scalloped niches and between Corinthian columns, the three Magi are shown on one side of the ambo searching for the Christ Child, and on the other bringing Him their gifts. The Virgin, enthroned upon a round backed chair, holds the Child upon her knees. An angel introduces the Magi. Another figure, the upper part of which has been lost, represents a shepherd with his sheep around him and the skin of an animal over his shoulders. Eagles, or other large birds, their wings outstretched, occupy the spandrils between the scalloped niches.”

An interesting article for further reading…, by Nino Zchomelidse  The Epiphany of the logos in the Ambo in the Rotunda (Hagios Georgios) in Thessaloniki

For a PowerPoint on the Rotunda Ambo and a Collection of old photos, please… Click HERE!

Renaissance Student Revisited

Vincenzo Foppa, 1427- 1515
The Young Cicero Reading, c.1464, fresco, 101.6×143.7 cm, Wallace Collection, London
https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/the-young-cicero-reading-209572

Renaissance Student Revisited is my new post. It is inspired by the 15th century Italian Renaissance painting of The Young Cicero Reading, a wonderful example of a Renaissance Student engrossed in his studies!

BEST WISHES to all students, parents and teachers who are about to start a new and exciting academic adventure! May their trip be fruitful, productive and successful!

Some suggestions for Renaissance Student Revisited Activities

Discuss with students where and how Young Cicero is presented READING. Ask students to write a paragraph describing WHERE and HOW they like to READ a book.

This next Activity is for younger students. Use the provided Worksheet, and ask students to answer the recommended questions.

Ask students to pick up a favourite BOOK and then POSE like CICERO. Take their pictures and create a Renaissance Student Revisited Bulletin Board Presentation with your students READING!

This is a Grade 6 Social Studies Activity. Ask students to create an A3 size poster on CICERO. The Poster should include a well-thought title, pictures of artworks depicting CICERO, and information about his life and work.

For the teachercurator Worksheets… Click HERE!

My precious Grade 2 students

Nebamun

Hunting Scene, c 1350 BC, Wall Painting from the Tomb of Nebamun, British Museum
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tomb_of_Nebamun.jpg

Among the many treasures exhibited in the British Museum is a set of 11 frescoes from the tomb of an Egyptian official called Nebamun who lived in the ancient city of Thebes during the 18th Dynasty circa 1325 BC. He was an educated man, a scribe, and an administrator in charge of grain collection for the Temple of Amun at Thebes. His Tomb, discovered in the Theban Necropolis, on the west bank of the Nile, present-day Luxor, was richly decorated with high-quality frescoes depicting scenes of Nebamun and his family engaging in everyday life activities like hunting, attending a banquet and overseeing a count of geese and cattle.

The British Museum frescoes of Nebamun’s Tomb were discovered back in 1820 by a young man called Yanni d’Athanasi, who was at the time working for Henry Salt, the British Consul-General and collector of Antiquities. The Tomb, its location unknown today, was probably badly destroyed by d’Athanasi’s team of tomb robbers. The frescoes, however, were sold to Henry Salt and then, in 1821, by Salt, to the British Museum. Since 2009, beautifully restored, the frescoes have been displayed in a new gallery at the British Museum.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/galleries/ancient_egypt/room_61_tomb-chapel_nebamun.aspx and https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/egypt-art/new-kingdom/a/paintings-from-the-tomb-chapel-of-nebamun and http://www.artinsociety.com/lost-masterpieces-of-ancient-egyptian-art-from-the-nebamun-tomb-chapel.html

For an interesting 3D interactive animation of the tomb-chapel of Nebamun check… https://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/galleries/ancient_egypt/room_61_tomb-chapel_nebamun/nebamun_animation.aspx

Please check the PowerPoint on Nebamun’s frescoes “teachercurator” prepared… Here!

Student Activity on the Tomb of Nebamun frescoes can be found if you… Click HERE!

Still Life Paintings

This is the case with the Peale family of Philadelphia and the extraordinary Still Life Paintings they created during the early 18th century.

Food for thought: Why is Still Life painting so popular during periods of national growth and prosperity?

James Peale, younger brother of portrait painter Charles Wilson Peale, is one of the best American miniaturists of the Federal Era, and a fine artist of Still Life painting. As a young man, he enlisted (1776) in the Continental Army and fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Princeton, and Monmouth. Three years later, he resigned from his commission, and, in Philadelphia, he started a new career as an artist. James Peale is known for his large, oil portraits, his popularity, over 200, miniature portraits (watercolour on ivory) and his Still Life paintings. He was a popular and well-exhibited artist throughout his life. https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.6676.html

Still Life Painting has been a popular genre since antiquity. To quote: “A still life (also known by its French title, nature morte) painting is a piece that features an arrangement of inanimate objects as its subject.” From ancient Egypt to Greece, Rome, the Renaissance, Impressionism, Cubism to the Present, Still Life painting evolved reflecting social conditions, changed from realism to abstraction, and never ceased to surprise us with its popularity. https://mymodernmet.com/what-is-still-life-painting-definition/

Post-Revolution… Still Life is a RWAP (Research Writing Art Project) for my Grade 8 class on American Art. For student work… click HERE!

Impressionism and Japonism

La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume), 1876, by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 231.8 x 142.3 cm, MFA Boston
Student RAP Project on Impressionism and Japonism
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Claude_Monet-Madame_Monet_en_costume_japonais.jpg

How the West met the East and how Impressionism was influenced by Japanese Art!

My Summative Projects, I call them RWAP (Writing Research Art Project), ask students to focus on 4 parts: 1. Write a well thought Project Title 2. Provide colored copies of at least 2 artworks related to their Project, correctly identified. For the correct identification, I expect them to write the name of the artist (if known), the title of the work, date, medium, and current location, 3. Prepare the required Writing Assignment, 4. Do the Art Assignment which is open to student imagination and creativity.

For the Impressionism and Japonism RWAP Project students are asked to Investigate Impressionism and Japonism, and how the first was influenced by the second. Students are asked to focus on Monet’s painting La Japonaise exhibited in 1876, and attracting a lot of attention, of his wife Camille, dressed in a fine kimono, in front of a background of Japanese Uchiwe fans.

Japonism is the word used to describe the influence of Japanese art on European art and culture. Astounded by the great influence of Japanese art, the French journalist Philippe Burty wrote an article to describe strong European interest for Japanese artworks. The article was published in 1876 and the word Japonism became instantly popular. Students are asked to study the following articles:

https://www.theartstory.org/movement-japonism.htm

La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume), 1876, by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 231.8 x 142.3 cm, MFA Boston
Painted Fans Mounted on a Screen, Early 17th century, Tawaraya Sōtatsu , (Japanese, fl. ca. 1600-1643), Edo period, Color, gold, and silver over gold on paper
H: 170.2 W: 378.5 cm, Freer Gallery of Asian Art, Washington DC s

Impressionism and Japonism: the Activity

Students are further asked to read on Monet’s La Japonaise:

http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/la-japonaise-camille-monet-in-japanese-costume-33556\

For Painted Fans Mounted on a Screen Read:

http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1900.24

The Writing Assignment for this RWAP on Impressionism and Japonism is to write about: A. A paragraph on fans in Japanese culture and art, the folding fan or the Uchiwa type, B. Why were fans so popular then? Was their use simply practical? How else were fans used by both men and women? Students can write about the use of fans in Japanese or European culture.

For Japanese fans Read:

http://www.fancircleinternational.org/history/japanese-fans/

For student Art Assignment I can only suggest… decorate the pages of your RWAP Sketchbook, like Monet, with Uchiwa fans a or dazzle us with something glitzy like the Edo Screen. Most important… Be imaginative, Creative, Original!!!

For Student Project Worksheet… Click HERE!

For a PP on student Work (Grade 9 ESL students of different levels)… Click HERE!

June in Greece is so hot…, I use a Japanese Fan!!!

"Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain" Activity Bulletin Board Presentation

Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain

"Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain" Activity Bulletin Board Presentation
“Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain” Activity Bulletin Board Presentation

The end of the Academic year approaches fast and my wonderful Grade 5 students created an inspiring final Poster/Project on “Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain.”

As the Grade 5 Host Country Studies teacher, I thoroughly enjoy exploring, along with my students, various aspects of Greek Cultural Geography! During the last 8 Lessons, we focused on the region of Epirus and its rich cultural heritage. We talked about the region’s geography, history, art, culture, heritage, and mythology. The “Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain” Activity was the Unit’s culminating student challenge. I believe they all passed with flying colors!!!

Enjoy PowerPoints and Student Activity. Bear in mind that it can easily be adapted for whichever Mountain, wherever in the world, you choose to explore!!

The following quote and site will introduce you to the Pindos Mountain National Park. “The park is, for the most part, a large wooded valley encircled by peaks, all over 2000 meters. Almost eighty species of birds live in the Pindos area, including the Imperial, golden, and short-toed eagles, the lanner falcons, the Egyptian vulture, and quite a few species of breeding woodpeckers. This is also one of the areas where bears, wolves, and wild cats are found, as well as red squirrels, wild boar, roe deer, beech martens, and otters (along the streams). A large variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects complete the picture.”
http://pindosnationalpark.gr/en/

ARCTUROS is a non-profit, non-governmental, environmental organization (NGO) founded in 1992, focusing on the protection of wildlife fauna and natural habitat, in Greece and abroad. The ARCTUROS site greatly helped students find information so as to finish their project. Explore their site… it’s amazing, as amazing is the work they do!

http://www.arcturos.gr/en/

“Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain” Activity 

For a PowerPoint on Epirus and Pindos Mountain… Click HERE!

For Instructions on the Project… Click HERE!

For a PowerPoint on Student Work… Click HERE!

For a DRONE experience over Pindos Mountain and its famous Vickos Gorge… Click HERE!

Enjoy… and think creatively!

Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero

Could “Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero” help you better understand… How do heroes accomplish such amazing feats? Or what turns an ordinary man into a hero? Have you ever wondered if we are all a little bit of a hero? What do great cities like Uruk look like?

The Sumerians, like many people of the Bronze Age (starts about the mid 4th millennium BC to about 1000 BC the latest), had a very spirited oral tradition. There were no books at the time, available for people to enjoy reading and get their imagination run uncontrolled and wild. Storytellers played an important role, getting people excited with stories about the great Heroes, fantastic achievements, strict morals and ethics. Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero, never failed to dazzle the Sumerians and he dazzles us today!

Gilgamesh was, the story tells us, one of the kings of the Sumerian city of Uruk.  His name is on the list of kings of Sumer recovered from the library at Nineveh.  Did he exist as a real person or was he just made up by the Sumerians?  We may never know.  Like many other Heroes around the world, he was a part god and part human. He was also endowed with divine powers, a great sense of duty and ethics. Could we call Gilgamesh the first superhero?

Imagine… the unimaginable, and Gilgamesh did it. Along with his faithful friend Enkidu (friendship is always important for a Hero) they traveled the world fighting terrible monsters, rescuing people in need, moving mountains and rivers… in other words, protecting and saving the people of Sumer from any imaginable calamity. How do we know all these amazing facts? Clay tablets, preserved at the Library of ancient Nineveh and written in cuneiform writing, inform us with interesting details!

“Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero,” Educational Videos and Interesting PowerPoints

Introduction to Mesopotamia and the Epic story of Gilgamesh
Based on a 4000 year old story the Epic of Gilgamesh, this is an animated comic created by Sean Goodison for his degree project for his final year of studying computer graphic design.

http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/geography/story/sto_set.html

https://studylib.net/doc/5237467/gilgamesh—the-first-superhero-

For the PP on “Gilgamesh,” the “teachercurator” prepared… Click HERE!

“Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero” and Interesting Student Activities

For Information on Student Activities… Click HERE!

For Student Worksheets… Click HERE!

Vessel with Palm Trees


A small Bronze Age Vessel with Palm Trees became the focal point of my interest and a simple yet creative Activity. It was love at first sight!

While visiting the “Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures from Saudi Arabia” Exhibition, a small 5,000-year-old Chlorite Vessel decorated with Palm Trees caught my eye. I was at the Benaki Museum in Athens and I was stunned and intrigued. So much so that I began searching and thus a journey started to an island in the Persian Gulf, called Tarout. The journey revealed a Near Eastern island site where creativity, imagination, craftsmanship, and trade, throughout the ancient Near East, from Syria to the Indus Valley, reigned supreme!

The Palm Tree decoration used by the Tarout artists became an “interlude” kind of Activity for many of my classes. I used the PP and the Worksheets I prepared with my Grade 3 students when aspects of the Bronze Age were discussed and with Grade 6 Social Studies students while we explored the Indus River Valley trade routes. It gives me a chance to examine along with my students, how ideas, artistic endeavors, and goods “traveled” around the world, influenced people and created connections and relations.

For valuable information, please check…

https://alaintruong2014.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/725.jpg

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/17.190.106/

For my PP in Vessel with Palm Trees in Bronze Age Art… Check HERE!

“Artists and designers are always looking for inspiration, and what better place to find it than an art museum’s encyclopedic collections of great treasures.” Realizing how important this is, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collaborates with establishing artists and designers “to create a range of art-inspired products, from T-shirts and fragrances to jewelry and bags.” Check out this Observer article and check my Worksheets … HERE! … get inspired to create your own Palm Tree artwork!

Palm Trees and a Student Activity

For the “Vessel with Palm Trees” Activity I use the recommended PP and the Worksheets I created. Photocopy them, and if you wish, enlarge them, so as students have more space to work on. Show students the prepared PP, then discuss how the Palm Tree is used as a decorative motif by the artists of the Bronze Age in the Near East and in Minoan Crete as well.

Show students how designer Kendall Conrad was inspired by the LACMA chlorite handled weight. “This artwork first caught my eye because it was in the shape of a bag, but the carved image is what I fell in love with,” she said.