The Portrait of Alexander Cassatt and Robert Cassatt by Alexander’s sister Mary Stevenson Cassatt is a perfect example of what an American artist could achieve in Paris… the Mecca of Modern Art, and Old World charm. Starting in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, traveling to Europe became an American institution! Americans were attracted by French culture and bohemian life. They attended social events, art exhibitions, and archaeological monuments. They studied art or collected antiquities, artworks of the Old Masters, or paintings by contemporary artists. This phenomenon is best described by Henry James who wrote…It sounds like a paradox, but it is the simple truth that when, today, we look for American art, we find it mainly in Paris. When we find it out of Paris, we at least find a great deal of Paris in it. https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/americans-in-paris–1860-1900
How more affectionate can a father/son moment be! The great Alexander J. Cassatt is depicted sitting comfortably on a plush armchair reading his paper while his son Robert sits on the chair’s arm embracing him. Both portraits share similar characteristics… focused gazes, flushed cheeks, and black clothing. Mary Cassatt achieved to depict an intimate moment, the special bond between father and son, and the natural physical resemblance between them. Clad in black Alexander and Robert stand out, further emphasizing their tender rapport… Mary Cassatt’s famous double Portrait of Alexander Cassatt and Robert Cassatt was painted in December of 1884, during a surprise visit to Paris by her relatives. https://philamuseum.org/collection/object/104479
Alexander J. Cassatt was the first vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and one of the most powerful businessmen in the United States. He was also Cassatt’s beloved older brother, whom she painted on several occasions. Every time she did so, he is depicted casually posing in his sister’s house, a dear relative rather than a famous public persona, absorbed in his thoughts, revealing both the kindness and formality that were attributed to him. In a letter home to the United States, Alexander’s wife wrote: “Mary has painted a very good portrait of Aleck for which he has been posing every morning for two hours for two weeks.” http://art.seattleartmuseum.org/objects/10259/portrait-of-alexander-j-cassatt;jsessionid=14B64D561385E3770309506FB79F6022
Images of Mary Cassatt’s friends and family constitute a pivotal, according to the Sotheby’s experts, a component of the artist’s prolific body of work. Robert Kelso Cassatt was Mary’s favourite nephew and one of her favorite models. Robert first bonded with his expatriate aunt during the summer of 1880, when he visited the artist and his grandparents at their rented villa in Marly, in the countryside outside of Paris. Robert was not the easiest of Mary’s models… he wouldn’t sit still… but Cassatt grew fond of him, hoping for a time that he would become an artist himself… https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2017/american-art-n09689/lot.45.html
Happy Father’s Day
For a Student Activity on the Portrait of Alexander Cassatt and Robert Cassatt, please… Check HERE!
I read Brenda Riley-Seymore’s poem on The Horses… Don’t cry for the horses that life has set free. / A million white horses, forever to be. / Don’t cry for the horses now in God’s hands. / As they dance and prance to a heavenly band. / They were ours as a gift, but never to keep / As they close their eyes, forever to sleep. / Their spirits unbound, forever to fly. / A million white horses, against the blue sky. / Look up into Heaven. You will see them above. / The horse we lost, the horse we loved. / Manes and tails flying, they gallop through time. / They were never yours, they were never mine… and I think of The magnificent Bronze Horses in San Marco… and imagine them… dance and prance to a heavenly band… https://www.horsesofhope.org/horses/tribute-to-first-horse
The bright bronze quadriga came to Venice as part of the rich war plunder gathered by the Venetians, under doge Enrico Dandolo, after the conquest of Constantinople at the end of the 4th Crusade in 1204, together with other works of inestimable value, many of which are still housed in the Basilica’s Treasury. The Quadriga is magnificent, and the introduction by the experts of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice was enlightening. The Quadriga story is that of admiration, greed, plunder… and artistic inspiration… http://www.basilicasanmarco.it/basilica/scultura/la-decorazione-delle-facciate/quadriga-marciana/?lang=en
Charles Caryl Coleman is according to the Smithsonian experts, a decorative and genre painter who has been largely overlooked by the American art community since his death. He studied art in New York, and later, in Paris, under Thomas Couture. He served with the Union during the Civil War and established himself as an artist by exhibiting his work, regularly, at the Boston Athenaeum, the Brooklyn Art Academy, and the National Academy of Design. Early in 1867, he moved to Italy and rarely looked back. There, he joined a vibrant, international community of artists that included Vedder, Maitland Armstrong, William Graham, Thomas Hotchkiss, Frederic Leighton, Giovanni (Nino) Costa, and other artists in the circle of the Macchiaioli. In 1876, while in Italy, Colemanfinished his pivotal painting, titled The Bronze Horses of San Marco. https://www.aaa.si.edu/blog/2019/08/charles-caryl-coleman-rediscovered
Coleman’s painting of San Marco’s Bronze Quatriga is, I believe, one of the finest painted representations of Venice’s magnificent treasure. The artist depicted the bronze horses as they stood on the porch of the Basilica of San Marco, using foreshortening, and displaying an unusual diagonal perspective for his composition. Placing the bronze horses on the central/right side of the painting, he was able to add a refreshing view of the upper section of the Piazza’s monumental Clocktower in all its decorative glory. Cool tones of paint, restrained brushstrokes, and the artist’s love of the decorative, combined with fine art created a painting that greatly exemplifies Coleman’s qualities as a leading artist of the International Aesthetic Movement. https://collections.artsmia.org/art/2607/the-bronze-horses-of-san-marco-charles-caryl-coleman
A flabellum (plural flabella), in Christian liturgical use, is a fan, made of metal, leather, silk, parchment, or feathers, intended to keep away insects from the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ and from the priest, as well as to show honour. The Apostolic Constitutions, a work of the fourth century, state (VIII, 12): “Let two of the deacons, on each side of the altar, hold a fan, made up of thin membranes, or of the feathers of the peacock, or of fine cloth, and let them silently drive away the small animals that fly about, that they may not come near to the cups.”. The 6th century Silver Flabellum in the Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks is not only liturgical but a work of great art as well! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flabellum
The Bliss-Tyler Correspondence, always fascinating, provides two references to the purchase of the Silver Flabellum/ Rhipidion (in Greek)/Fan of the Dumbarton Oaks Collection by Robert Woods Bliss in 1936, in Paris, France. The first reference is made in a letter dated February 1, 1936… I’m much excited about your recent acquisitions. Hurrah for the Drey cross! And for the Rhipidion (fan). And I’m prepared to enthuse about the pyx when I see it or a photo. The second reference is dated March 6, 1936… The rhipidion (flabellum) is certainly early VIe cent. The hallmarks make that certain, and the style is perfectly consistent. https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/letters/01feb1936 and https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/letters/06mar1936
During the turbulent years (7th century) of the Sasanian and then the Arab invasions of Syria, devoted Christians buried a precious collection of liturgical vessels for safekeeping, hoping they will be able to reclaim them when peace would have prevailed. The silver Rhipidion, along with an amazing Paten and a Chalice, all three of them in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection today, were discovered at Riha, a small village south of Aleppo in central Syria. It has been written by Stephen Zwirn of the Dumbarton Oaks, that the Riha Treasure along with silver treasures from nearby Stuma, Hama, and Antioch were discovered at about the same time, and it has been suggested that these hoards actually constituted one large group brought together for protective burial, which was divided into smaller sets after it was unearthed early in the twentieth century. The original owners never came back to retrieve their treasures… and thus, many centuries later, they ended up in different Museums and private collections around the world! http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27007http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27007 and https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/annotations/silver-treasure
The Riha chalice, paten, and fan were each impressed, writes Stephen Zwirn, with stamps that indicate the emperor’s reign during which they were made. The chalice was fabricated during the reign of Justinian I (527–65), while the paten and fan belong to the reign of his successor, Justin II (565–78)… They form a set for use in the Orthodox Eucharist, or Communion: the paten held the leavened bread, still a tradition in Orthodox worship, the chalice contained the wine, and the fan was used to keep insects away from the bread and the wine. It has been suggested that they were produced in Constantinople and purchased by Megalos and Nonnous, a couple named in the inscription of the paten, for presentation to a church in Syria soon after 577. http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27007 and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century.pdf pages 617-18
The silver Flabellun/Rhipidion/Fan in the Dumbarton Oaks is engraved with sixteen peacock feathers around its scalloped rim. On its central disk, the 6th-century silversmith, engraved a tetramorph cherubim, the four-winged creature described in Ezekiel 1:4–21. The same tetramorph has been, summarily, engraved on the reverse side as well. The luxury of all liturgical vessels discovered in Syria indicates the splendor of the Early Christian Church Service, and the magnificent silver Rhipidion in particular, the ceremonial status altar fan had during the Orthodox Eucharist or Communion Service. file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century.pdf pages 617-18
For a Student Activity inspired by the Silver Flabellum in the Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks, please… Check HERE!
It was but recently the whole human race celebrated various ten-year periods for the great Emperor with festive banquets. It was but recently we ourselves hymned the conqueror with praises for his twenty years, taking the floor at the Council of God’s ministers. Just now we wove garlands of words also for his thirty years, in the very palace hardly yesterday to crown his sacred head. But today our thought stands helpless, longing to express some of the conventional things, but at a loss which way to turn, stunned by the sheer wonder of the amazing spectacle. Wherever it casts its gaze, whether east or west, whether all over the earth or up to heaven itself, every way and everywhere it observes the Blessed One present with the Empire itself… writes Eusebius PamphiliOn the Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantineback in the 4th century AD. Today, celebrating Emperor Constantine’s Name-Day, I present you a Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine from the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and wish every person named Constantine or Constantina… Health, Happiness, and Prosperity! http://archive.eclass.uth.gr/eclass/modules/document/file.php/SEAD260/%CE%95%CF%85%CF%83%CE%AD%CE%B2%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%82%2C%20Life%20of%20Constantine%20%28trans.%20Averil%20Cameron%20-%20Stuart%20Hall%29.pdf
Emperor Constantine is often described as the most important emperor of Late Antiquity. His political and military acumen, foresight, and sagacity mark his rule as a significant pivot point between Ancient History and the Middle Ages. His reign was eventful and brutal, but his momentous decisions created a whole new world for Europe and parts of the Eastern Mediterranean… He legalized and supported Christianity, and he founded the “New Rome,” mythical Constantinople, the city that ruled supreme in beauty, and power, for a thousand years! Emperor Constantine, while alive, was revered and feared at the same time. He was the greatest of statesmen… he became a Saint of the Christian faith, and a shining example for Emperors to come into the world! https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/constantine
Originally in the Collection of the famed connoisseur of European paintings and of objects of fine art from many cultures, Count Grigory Sergeievich Stroganoff (1829-1910) of Rome, Paris, and St Petersburg, the Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine entered the Dumbarton Oaks Collection in 1947. The small ivory representation of a Saint dressed in Imperial attire, a loros wrapped around his body and a crown with pendilia, is identified with Emperor/Saint Constantine I (208?-337 AD). Along with his mother St. Helena, according to John Hanson of Dumbarton Oaks, also dressed in royal robes, these saints were often shown flanking a representation of the True Cross. In all probability, this is the case for the Dumbarton Oaks Ivory panel. It was the left-wing of a precious triptych.. http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27455
There were no less than eleven Byzantine Emperors by the name of Constantine, the number rising to twenty-two if children and relatives with little or no independent power were added to the list. They all wanted to connect with the Empire’s founder and share his legacy. It is perhaps for this reason that the saint’s features resemble, as stated by John Hanson, the facial features of early 10th century Byzantine Emperors, the time when the Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine was created. If the identity of the emperor was specifically Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, the resemblance creates a complex sign of authority and sanctity, aligning the living emperor with his imperial namesake.https://www.persee.fr/doc/numi_0484-8942_2005_num_6_161_2594 and http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27455
For a Student Activity on the Triptych Leaf with St. Constantine, please… Check HERE!
On the 20th of May… Let’s celebrate World Bee Day! Let’s observe the importance of the 25,000 to 30,000 species of bees as effective pollinators. According to the United Nations pollinators allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce. Indeed, the food that we eat, such as fruits and vegetables, directly relies on pollinators. A world without pollinators would equal a world without food diversity – no blueberries, coffee, chocolate, cucumbers and so much more. The ancient Greeks understood the importance of pollination and revered Bees as the “Divine Queens” of their ecosystem. The 7th century BC Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess from Eleutherna in Crete is proof enough! https://www.un.org/en/observances/bee-day/background
The so-called Dark Ages of Greece, when the Eleutherna Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess was created, were not dark at all! They were years of adjustment to a new reality, the aftermath years of the Homeric Epos, the years of the naissance of the great Greek art of antiquity. The small Bee Goddess of Eleutherna, a wonderful amalgam of old, and current Cretan traditions, is persuasive in its purpose and beautiful in its artistry. Whoever the pendant’s artist was, he was familiar with the Minoan past of female divine potency and the Homeric, rich literary tradition of metaphors relating the bee to human society. Let’s not forget how Homer (8th cent. BC) compares the Achaean warriors leaving the ships to attend an assembly to a swarm of bees leaving their hive in search of flowers: From the camp the troops were turning / out now, thick as bees that issue from some / crevice in a rock face, endlessly pouring / forth, to make a cluster and swarm on / blooms of summer here and there, glinting / and droning, busy in bright air. / Like bees innumerable from ships and huts / down the deep foreshore streamed those / regiments toward the assembly ground. (Iliad II 86-93, trans. Robert Fitzgerald) https://www.apiservices.biz/documents/articles-en/beekeeping_in_mediterranean.pdf
The city of Eleutherna, on the island of Crete, was of great importance in prehistoric times and continued to be so from the dawn of Hellenic Civilization to the Byzantine era. Systematic excavations organized by the University of Crete under the directorship of Professors Petros Themelis, Athanasios Kalpaxis, and Nikos Stampolidis since 2009, brought to light three sectors of the city and the necropolis at Orthi Petra, enhancing our knowledge of the political, economic, social, religious, and artistic history of the whole of Crete, particularly during the so-called “Dark Ages.” Eleutherna, close to Mount Ida, where the Νεφεληγερέτης (Cloud Gatherer) Zeus was safely born, raised with milk and honey, and protected by the Kourites warriors, is a city that eloquently bespeaks the continuity of the island’s prosperity and its seminal contribution to the genesis of Hellenic civilization. Discover its importance with the help of ELEUTHERA, by Nikolaos Chr. Stanmpolidis, LAMDA DEVELOPMENT, 2020. https://www.latsis-foundation.org/content/elib/book_29/eleytherna-english-l.pdf and https://www.latsis-foundation.org/content/elib/book_29/eleytherna-greek-f.pdf
For a Student Activity inspired by the 7th century BC Gold Pendant with the representation of a Bee Goddess from Eleutherna in Crete, please… Check HERE!
The American children’s poet Annette Wynne introduces us to charming spring with… May / Has such a winsome way, / Loves to love and laugh and play, / To be pretty all the day, / Never loves to sulk and frown, / As April does; when rain comes down, / May is sorry, says: “Rain, please / Go away soon, flowers and trees / Love the merry shining sun, / Want to laugh now, every one, / For the happy time’s begun.” / All you people who love play, / Love to love the livelong day, / Do you not love May / With her winsome way? The artist of the Golf Book, one of the finest manuscript illuminators of the Northern Renaissance introduces us to the month of May with an amazing miniature… Let’s celebrate with Simon Bening’s May…a day of boating, merriment, and joy! https://discoverpoetry.com/poems/may-poems/
Folio 22v of the Golf Book, showing the Month of May, is one of the most glorious pages Simon Bening, the renowned Flemish artist from the Netherlands, ever created. It is a characteristic Renaissance Maying scene in its depiction of a spring landscape (Bening is known for his landscapes), with green leaves, and branches of greenery… and much more! At first glance, it presents two distinctive scenes related to May Day and a glorious river-side cityscape background scene of fortification walls, several well-constructed secular buildings, and what seems like two impressive Gothic churches. It also includes an anecdotal scene of a small gate leading to the river and a young going down the gate steps leading to the river with a container in each hand, perhaps to fill them with water… so typical Flemish! http://www.digitalmedievalist.com/2004/05/01/its-may-2/ and https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/159
The main scene, in the foreground of the composition, depicts a May Day boating trip along the local canals. In this scene, two boatmen, one at each end of the boat, are rowing a nobleman and two well-dressed ladies along a river, just about to glide under an impressive arched bridge. Enjoying the trip are a man dressed in a large, loose French gown with a sable collar, playing, appropriately I would add, an ambiguous-looking wind instrument that could be a flute, and two women, dressed in gold-toned garments, one of whom plays the lute, equally appropriate for a female, with a plectrum. The boat is filled with flowering branches reminding the viewer that this is a May Day excursion indeed. https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/11/ and https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/159
The middle ground scene focuses on the activity taking place on the bridge connecting the city to the riversides. Horses are depicted crossing the bridge, and Bening directs the attention of the viewer to an aristocratic couple, well-dressed, crowned with large, white flowers and carrying branches. They seem to be returning “home” after a day of merriment in the countryside. Were they part of the elegant group of riding aristocrats depicted strolling through the wood in the bas-de-page scene of folio 23r? It would have been interesting to know what Simon Bening thought! https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/11/
For a PowerPoint on the Golf Book, please… Check HERE!
For references to Student Activities on Simon Bening’s May Day page, please… Check HERE!
Praise the spells and bless the charms, / I found April in my arms. / April golden, April cloudy, / Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy; / April soft in flowered languor, / April cold with sudden anger, / Ever changing, ever true — / I love April, I love you…wrote Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971), the 20th-century American writer of humorous poetry! Could Simon Bening’s Calendar page for the Month of April be an example of a Renaissance April Love? https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/always-marry-an-april-girl/
Folio 21verso of Simon Bening’s Book of Hours, known as the Golf Book,is dedicated to the Month of April and exhibits a magnificent scene of Renaissance courtship! It all takes place in a beautiful garden, possibly in a town, surrounded by a low fence containing three trees, whose crowns are rather sparse because of their recent blossoming, grass, flowers, and a hexagonal fountain topped by a bronze-colour statue of a discreet Venus pouring water into a hollow in the garden, where a dog drinks. Simon Bening, the inventive painter of the Book of Golf presents the viewer with a detailed vista of impressive Flemish buildings, a magnificent Italianate colonnaded tower, and a lovely vignette… of a pair of storks nesting on a chimney, one of them flying over it. The scene, apart from the courting couple, is quite busy with a lady strolling about the garden alone… a couple of sweethearts talking and a man with a falcon perched on his left hand. In the foreground of the composition, Bening painted a boy, picking up flowers, and a young girl stretching her hands out towards the water, enjoying a crisp day of Spring. https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/603
The protagonists of Bening’s April arrangement, depicted in the center of the composition, outshine everything else! The young Lady, beautifully dressed in the latest of 16th-century fashion, wears a loose-fitting blue gown, revealing a red petticoat underneath when raised, with a wide, square neckline with a white ruff (a large round collar of intricately pleated muslin). She demurely gives her left hand to a gentleman, even more impressively dressed, who sits on the edge of the fountain, holding with his right hand a hooded falcon, and leaning towards her. The depicted man seems older than his mistress. He wears French garb consisting of a square-necked gown over a fastened shirt with a high, ruffled-edge collar, a skullcap (close-fitting cap), and a hat, long, dark-coloured hose, a very short type of footwear that appeared in the last quarter of the 15th century, and, hanging from his belt, an impressive, long sword. https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/603
This is an elegant scene of courtship between members of the aristocratic society. A romantic scene of a couple emotionally and socially attached is a symbol of a tacit agreement of commitment between the two persons. What I like most in Bening’s April scene is how the young Lady lowers her eyes shyly while her gallant suitor looks at her…amorously smiling! What a scene! https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/603
For a PowerPoint on the Golf Book, please… Check HERE!
For a Student Activity on Simon Bening’s April Page, please… Check HERE!
The diarist Christiane Lüth (1817–1900), whose husband was appointed personal chaplain to Queen Amalia of Greece wrote about Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris in her diaries: Of the two young ladies-in-waiting, Miss von Wiesenthau was not very well mannered, Catholic and not very pretty, although she talked constantly. The Greek, very beautiful Rosa Botzaris was not agreeable, but stingy and hated everything German. She was poor, but the glory which surrounded the name of her father, the freedom hero, Marko Botzaris, shone its light over her. When she travelled with the Queen, she was much celebrated for her beauty, which was highlighted by her national costume. She hid the fact that she understood the German language and spread dangerous political comments around her which much damaged Their Majesties, her benefactors. It is obvious Christiane Lüth did not like much, either of Queen Amalia’s Ladies in Waiting, but Rosa’s beauty is undisputed, and Joseph Karl Stieler’s Portrait of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris is an excellent testimony! https://www.kathryngauci.com/blog-105-25-3-2021-a-literary-world-katerina-rosa-botsaris/
Between 1827 and 1850 Joseph Karl Stieler, court painter of Bavaria, was commissioned by King Ludwig I to create 36 portraits of the most beautiful women from the nobility and middle classes of Munich, Germany. These portraits were to decorate the south pavilion of Ludwig’s Nymphenburg Summer Palace. Among these very popular portraits was that of a Greek lady, Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris, the daughter of Markos Botsaris, the hero of the 1821 Greek Revolution. https://arrayedingold.blogspot.com/2011/11/gallery-of-beauties.html
Katerina’s life was not easy. Born to the prominent Souliot Botsaris family, Katerina was the daughter of Chrysoula Kalogirou and Markos Botsaris, the famed, and revered leader of the Greek War of Independence, who died on the night of August the 8th, 1823, at Kefalobryso in Karpeisi, while with 450 Souliotes, ambushed the enemy camp of Mustafa Pasha of Shkoder (modern northern Albania) inflicting serious casualties. At the time, a child of 5 or 3 years old, Katerina Botsaris lived the life of a “hostage” in the city of Drama, at the harem of Dramali Mahmud Pasha, under the protection of upper-class Ottoman women. Katerina was apparently a particularly charming child, so much so that one of her “protectresses” wanted to officially adopt her. It was not meant to be, and during a prisoner exchange initiative, Katerina was returned to her family and reunited with her mother. Many “adventures” later, the orphaned family of Markos Botsaris settled at the newly created Greek state where members of the Botsaris family were to play an important role. https://archive.org/details/poikilstoaethni02raphgoog/page/n299/mode/2up?view=theater
While in Athens, the importance of the Botsaris name, her delightful personality, and great beauty attracted the attention of Amalia of Oldenburg, Queen of Greece from 1836 to 1862 as the spouse of King Otto (1815–1867), who appointed Katerina as her 1st Greek Lady-in-Waiting. In 1841, Katerina Botsaris accompanied Queen Amalia to Munich, the birthplace of King Otto of Greece. Tradition has it that upon arrival, as she was getting out of her carriage King Ludwig of Bavaria noticed Katerina’s Mediterranean beauty and hurried to assist her. Later on, the royal couple of Greece, Otto, and Amalia, suggested Katerina’s Portrait for the Gallery of Beauties, and King Ludwig wholeheartedly agreed. It is said that she was given the name Rosa, leaving behind her real name, from the ruby color of the rose … that her lips and cheeks had… https://www.bovary.gr/oramatistes/15798/roza-mpotsari-i-ellinida-kalloni-kori-toy-markoy-mpotsari-poy-emeine-sto-pantheon and https://www.patris.gr/2021/01/30/katerina-roza-mpotsari-i-kori-toy-iroa/
Stieler’s Portrait of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris shows a great Mediterranean beauty. Her complexion is glowing and creamy, her cheeks blushed with youth. High arched eyebrows frame a long straight nose and brown heavy-lidded eyes, which look out at us kindly, a light smile drawn at the corners of her mouth. Glossy chestnut hair flows down her neck, blending into the tassel of her jauntily placed hat and the fur collar of her jacket. She poses in front of the blue, tranquil Aegean Sea, and the pale blue but luminous Greek sky… a landscape that is atmospheric and tranquil, matching her character and demeanor. She wears an exquisite, fitted Kontogouni (vest)of crimson velvet, embroidered with gold cords, a crisp white Poukamisa (shirt), and a full, silk, pleated skirt, emphasizing her feminine shape. The Kontogouni survived time and it is still a prized treasure of the National History Museum of Greece. The artist Joseph Karl Stieler, trained in the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and in the Parisian atelier of François Gérard, a student of Jacques-Louis David, created, inspired by the Greek beauty of Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris, the perfect example of a controlled and romanticized Neoclassical portrait. https://www.art-theoria.com/painting-of-the-month/katerina-rosa-botzaris/ and https://www.nationalgallery.gr/images/docs/books/athina-monacho.pdf pages 546-548
In 1845 Katerina “Rosa” Botsaris married Prince George Karatzas. a military man of Fanariot descent and had four children, two of whom died at a young age. The marriage was not particularly happy due to her husband’s strict and authoritarian character and the death of her children. The beautiful Souliotissa died at the age of 57 in January 1875. https://www.patris.gr/2021/01/30/katerina-roza-mpotsari-i-kori-toy-iroa/
According to a popular Epirote legend… the anonymous “πρωτομάστορας” (master architect), commissioned to build the Church of the Parigoritissa in Arta was accomplished, famous, and much in demand! Hired to design plans for another church, while still working in Arta, the “πρωτομάστορας” was obliged to travel away, leaving his assistant in charge. The assistant, anonymous as well, was young, ambitious, innovative, and highly creative. He decided to change the original plans… implement a novel architectural proposal, and, in the process, created an original Church design we still admire today! Upon his return, the “πρωτομάστορας” was stunned, envious and… vengeful! He wanted revenge and he planned carefully… He tricked his unsuspecting assistant into climbing to the roof under the pretext that he was going to show him a mistake he made and then… the plan was, to push him over. But the plan did not materialize as wished! As the young assistant was falling, he grabbed the master-builder dragging him along to their death. The mother of the young assistant was devastated… but one night the Virgin Mary appeared to her dream and “την παρηγόρησε,” consoled her for her unjust loss. Mary’s consolation was considered a miracle and thus… the Church in Arta was called “Παναγία η Παρηγορήτισσα,” the Church of the Virgin Mary of Consolation. https://www.mixanitouxronou.gr/o-thrilos-tou-protomastora-pou-zilepse-to-epitevgma-tou-voithou-tou-ke-ton-dolofonise-panagia-i-parigoritissa-i-vizantini-ekklisia-tis-artas-me-ton-protoporiako-troulo-pou-eorite/
Ιn Arta the Parigoritissa Church is considered the city’s Αρχόντισσα… most Aristocratic edifice! Built on the western slope of Peranthis hill, the church is associated with the Komnenos Doukas ruling family of the Despotate of Epiros. Archaeologists discern 2 construction phases. The older 1st phase dates to the middle of the 13th century and is associated with Michael II Komnenos Doukas (1230 until his death in 1266/68 ruler of the Despotate of Epirus) and his wife Theodora Petraliphaina (canonized as Saint Theodora of Arta, ca. 1225 – after 1270). Recent archaeological discoveries show that large parts of its original masonry were preserved to a sufficient height and incorporated via various modifications for the construction of the church’s 2nd phase which materialized under the sponsorship of Nikiphoros I Komnenos Doukas (c. 1240-1297) and his wife Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene (d. 1313). On the western wall of the main church, over the entrance, an inscription verifies the fact that the Parogoritissa church was founded in the period 1294-1296 by the despot of Epirus Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas, his wife Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene, and their son Thomas. The aspiration of the princely couple was to create a Metropolitan Church worthy of a Byzantine Capital, impressive and original in design, luxurious and imposing on its exterior and interior decoration! http://www.peartas.gov.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:2011-06-15-08-30-45&catid=23:2011-06-10-06-28-51&Itemid=26
The church of Parigoritissa was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and was formerly the Katholikon of a large Monastery, of which 16 cells and the Refectory are also preserved. It is one monumental, voluminous, cubic in essence (has dimensions of 20,30×22 m) building, which external masonry and design “elusively” resemble the Italian mansions of the Early Renaissance period. The exterior façade of the church is divided into three zones: The lowest one is irregularly built and unadorned because until 1865 it was covered by a portico, as evidenced by the existence of 12 pilasters on the three sides of the temple to support its roof. The two upper zones of the church are meticulously built according to the isodomic “cloisonne” system, adorned with a large number of double (dilova) windows with a colonnette in between, and further embellished with elaborate brick decorations. The Parigoritissa like many other churches in Arta, uses bricks and clay tiles in a variety of colours and designs, to decorate their walls with designs like meanders, concentric rhombuses, and toothed strips to name just a few. Finally, the church is crowned by five domes, from which the central one is larger and taller. Among the two western domes, there is a smaller, open dome, which gives the impression of a ciborium. http://www.peartas.gov.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:2011-06-15-08-30-45&catid=23:2011-06-10-06-28-51&Itemid=26 and https://issuu.com/efaartas/docs/parigotitissa_arta_fylladio_32sel
Never mind, March, we know / When you blow / You’re not really mad / Or angry or bad; / You’re only blowing the winter away / To get the world ready for April and May… writes Annette Wynne… just as in Simon Bening’s March Page preparations for Spring are in order! What a magnificent scene… an introductory full-page miniature showing the agricultural labours associated with the beginning of the agricultural season. https://discoverpoetry.com/poems/march-poems/ and https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/calendars/page/11/
The main miniature on f. 20v of the Golf Book by Simon Bening, shows, in the foreground, an organized, enclosed Medieval Garden. The depicted labourer, a neatly dressed peasant, is presented to stop digging and to dock his cap to an aristocratic lady who gestures eloquently and energetically to him with her left hand as if she is instructing him on what his gardening chores should be. Followed by her lady-in-waiting the “principal” female figure of the composition is quite impressively dressed in a tunic with a fur collar and wide sleeves with a small, white dog in her right hand. Even her companion/maid is beautifully groomed in a dress with a generous neckline that is straight across the lower edge and covered by a high ruff of thick fabric. This is a lovely introductory scene to medieval gardening and the importance of medicinal plants for the people of the Middle Ages. https://www.moleiro.com/en/books-of-hours/the-golf-book-book-of-hours/miniatura/158
What I find particularly interesting about this composition, is the depicted garden or orchard – possibly containing medicinal herbs and vegetables – that Bening depicted in the left forward part of his March verso page composition. For my students, the March page is a perfect opportunity to discuss Gardening during the Middle Ages, the importance of herbal or medicinal gardens, and how they are depicted in art. A fascinating book to read, beautifully illustrated is Sweet Herbs and Sundry Flowers: Medieval Gardens and the Gardens of The Cloisters by Tania Bayard, which I use for a Student Activity…HERE! https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Sweet_Herbs_and_Sundry_Flowers_Medieval_Gardens_and_the_Gardens_of_The_Cloisters
For a PowerPoint on the Golf Book, please… Check HERE!