Thalia Flora-Karavia

Thalia Flora-Karavia, 1871-1960
A Girl dressed in the traditional costume of Gida, 1905, pastel on paper, 0,73×0,40 cm, Athanasios Zahos Collection   

The outbreak of the First Balkan War in October 1912 found the painter Thalia Flora-Karavia in Munich. She hastily returns to Alexandria and undertakes the obligation of sending NEWS from the Front to the Alexandrian Ephimeris-Newspaper of the Greek Diaspora, which was published by her husband Niko Karavia. As she notes and I paraphrase… ” At that moment, the hostilities were in Macedonia, my particular homeland; shocking as it was…I wanted to watch the liberation struggle up close; with my pencils and crayons and the obligation to write for the Alexandrian ” Newspaper of the Greek Diaspora “, I passed through Athens to obtain the relevant ministerial permit and set off for Thessaloniki… Greek at last “.     https://www.kozanilife.gr/2016/10/24/thaleia-flora-karavia-polemika-sxedia-skitsa-siatista/

Born in Siatista in 1871, Thalia Flora-Karavia belonged to a generation of artists who followed the 19th-century Greek tradition of studying Art in Munich. She never attended the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, she could not do so as a woman. She did, however, take classes in design and painting in a private school, studying beside artists such as Nikolaos Vokos, Paul Nauen, Anton Ažbe and Walter Thor. Thalia Flora-Karavia followed the campaigns of the Greek army during the Balkan War of 1912-1913,  keeping a diary and sketching various impressions which she published in 1936 in a book entitled Εντυπώσεις από τον πόλεμο του 1912-1913. Μακεδονία-Ήπειρος (Impressions from the War of 1912-1913. Macedonia-Epirus). Today, Thalia Flora-Karavia, known as the painter of the Balkan Wars par excellence, impresses us with her unique personality, patriotic ethos, rich artistic abilities, and distinctive talent to catch the “moment” of countless Balkan War protagonists.     https://womennart.com/2020/05/27/who-was-thalia-flora-karavia/     and     https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painter/flora-karavia-thaleia.html

 Greek painter Thalia Flora-Karavia with Evzona, Preveza – October 1912, photograph in the Παναθήναια magazine, Γ. Μπόντα Archive

By November 25, 1912, the painter was in Thessaloniki, just a month after the city’s Liberation. She witnessed exciting days, historical developments and emotional moments… Hosted by the architect Athanasios Zachos and his wife Pagona, Thalia Flora-Karavia explored the city… its famous harbour, the Byzantine Churches, even Villa Allatini where the deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid was held under house arrest during the period 1909-1912. She also travelled to Thessaloniki’s countryside, in primitive conditions and by whatever means she could find…constantly recording her impressions! Could the small sketch of A Girl dressed in the traditional costume of Gida, be one of those impressions or was it painted earlier? I can’t tell but I like it a lot! Άγνωστα Έργα της Θάλειας Φλωρά-Καραβία στη Θεσσαλονίκη by Alkis Charalampidis is a good article to start your exploration.     https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/makedonika/article/viewFile/6049/5787

Thalia Flora-Karavia, 1871-1960
Refugees in Thessaloniki, December 1912, coloured drawing on paper, 0,46 X 0,305, Γ΄ ΣΣ/NRDC-GR Collection

Starting November 25, 1912, the painter travels with the Greek Army… visiting places where neither a journalist nor another citizen is allowed to be, and only in Art are such sacred privileges given… recording little of blood-stained fields and more of everyday life of the soldiers in the rear and the portraits of interesting men and women, priests, nurses, gendarmes, members of the Royal Family, her friends and hosts, refugees… Thalia’s Flora-Karavia artworks from the Balkan Wars are unique primary sources that document four months of incredible “adventures.” She was a sensitive eyewitness and a thoughtful observer who defied every difficulty and prejudice, recording moments of humanity under peril.     https://www.thinkfree.gr/thaleia-flora-karavia-kentro-istorias/

For a Student Activity on Thalia Flora-Karavia and Thessaloniki’s 1912 Liberation, please… Check HERE!

My Grade 2 students are happy with what they accomplished!
They are little STARS!!!

Louise Glück and William Waterhouse

William Waterhouse, 1849-1917
Penelope and the Suitors, 1912, oil on canvas, 129.8 x 188 cm, Aberdeen Art Gallery

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to the US poet Louise Glück… “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal. Louise Glück and William Waterhouse created Penelope’s Song and Penelope and the Suitors respectively. Could the thread between Penelope’s teeth be the “detail” that connects them? Little soul, little perpetually undressed one…     https://emuseum.aberdeencity.gov.uk/objects/2543/penelope-and-the-suitors?ctx=834e759eb70bc93f740b9ba0ca929699d45a9ea3&idx=0 and     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/     and     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/#interview

Brian Henry is so right when he writes… “Since Homer introduced that wily traveller Odysseus to the world, countless poets have attempted to resurrect the tale and make it their own. Odysseus’ ten-year voyage home has become an undeniable part of our collective unconscious.” The Odyssey is the greatest narration of the western civilization, and according to BBC, Homer’s famous epic is No. 1 of its Culture’s list with the 100 “fictional stories that shaped the world”. How successful is it for a contemporary poet to compare with the Odyssey?  Once more, I will quote Brian Henry, who believes that Louise Glück’s “weaving” in Meadowlands “is a dualistic narrative that juxtaposes an ordinary contemporary marriage against Odysseus’ famous one.”

Reading through Louise Glück’s Meadowlands, it is apparent that the poet “is less interested in the man (Odysseus) and more intrigued by the people around him – Penelope, Telemachus, Circe…” and, “…as suitors swarm the house, cleaning out the cupboards and basically wrecking the place, Penelope stoically weaves…” I particularly like Penelope’s Song, the book’s opening poem, as “it captures perfectly her (Penelope) vacillating personality. …The poem is worth quoting in full because it evinces both Glück’s mastery of this psychological complexity and her always-engaging language.”     Brian Henry’s 1998 article The Odyssey Revisited in the National Journal of Literature and Discussion:      https://www.vqronline.org/odyssey-revisited     and     https://yougoculture.com/news/first-place-odyssey-bbcs-list

Painted by William Waterhouse in1912, Penelope and the Suitors stirred much debate and discourse. Inspired by Homer’s famous story of fidelity and marital devotion, Waterhouse presents a crucial event in Penelope’s life… “For many years, her husband Odysseus had been absent at the siege of Troy. Pressed to make a second marriage, she stalls for time, telling the crowds of suitors that they must wait until she has finished weaving a shroud for her father-in-law. During the day she works at her weaving and at night, still convinced that Odysseus will return, she undoes all her day’s work.”

William Waterhouse was an enthusiastic follower of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the work of Rossetti in particular. Penelope is the central figure of the composition, dark-haired, dressed in dusk red, turns her back to the persistent suitors who woo her with all their persuasive might. My favourite “touch” is the thread between her teeth… it somehow unnerves me…

Penelope and the Suitors, completed in 1912, was the last of John William Waterhouse’s paintings on a mythological theme exhibited at the Royal Academy. Commissioned by Aberdeen Art Gallery, it was first displayed at its exhibition on New Year’s Eve 1911 before being returned to the artist for amendment and completion and then shown at the Royal Academy in the summer of 1912. The following year it was exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts.”     https://engole.info/penelope-and-the-suitors/     and     https://emuseum.aberdeencity.gov.uk/objects/2543/penelope-and-the-suitors?ctx=834e759eb70bc93f740b9ba0ca929699d45a9ea3&idx=0

For all of my POSTS, I try to introduce a PowerPoint or a Student Activity to facilitate my teacher/readers. For Student Activity on… Louise Glück and William Waterhouse, please… Click HERE!

Poet Louise Glück, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the 2015 National Humanities Medal and the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature.     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/     and     https://achievement.org/achiever/louise-gluck/#interview

The Month of October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

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

1st Day Back to School

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

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

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

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

1st Day back to School Lesson Plan

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

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

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

8 Steps to Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosa Bonheur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Archangel Gabriel of Hagia Sophia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a Student Activity, please… check HERE!

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

Parallel Stories of Byzantine Imperial Portraits

Roundel with Emperor John II Komnenos, ca. 1110 – 1118, marble, 90 x 90 x 7.5 cm, Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Museum
Angaran Roundel, marble, d. 100 cm,Campiello de Ca’Angaran, Dorsoduro in Venice

Parallel Stories of Byzantine Imperial Portraits is about our fascination with the ‘image’ of the Byzantine Emperor… “The Emperor had to conform to idealized standards of deportment. He had to be seen as fixed, stable, and unmovable, a ruler whose character and judgement were unswayed by emotional excess. Such a demeanor was described by the eleventh century courtier and orator Michael Psellos in a speech addressed to Isaac I Komnenos…  You are straight, true, stiff… steadfast, firmly fixed, lofty… an impartial judge, unwavering in justice… a secure counselor, noble, unshaken in stormy waves. Psellos stressed the ruler’s lack of emotions: Where is there any anger in you, where are there streams of laughter, where are there traces of rage, and where is the babbling of speech? Where is there boasting, or violence and a willing mind? Where is there a knitting of the brows or an angry expression? For there are no unseemly qualities in you, neither easily excited emotions… nor delight, nor any graces, nor much laughter.” Writes Henry Maguire on IMAGES OF THE COURT in The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261, page 186     https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Glory_of_Byzantium_Art_and_Culture_of_the_Middle_Byzantine_Era_AD_843_1261    

Two Byzantine Emperors – Two Parallel Lives

Roundel with Emperor John II Komnenos, ca. 1110 – 1118, marble, 90 x 90 x 7.5 cm, Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Museum
Silver Aspron Trachy of John II Komnenos, 1118-1143 AD, Thessalonica mint, 3.69 grams, 29/27 mm, (Iω/ΔЄC/ΠΟT/Tω/ΠOP – ΦV/PO/ΓЄ/NH/T, the Emperor standing facing, wearing divitision and loros, holding labarum and akakia), private collection     Copyright © 1998-2020, VHobbies.com
John II Comnenos, 1118, Komnenos Mosaic (John II Komnenos, Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, Irene of Hungary), mosaic, Hagia Sophia Museum

Standing on a decorated suppedion, the Emperor of Byzantium at Dumbarton Oaks faces us in all his glory! He wears his ceremonial attire with poise and distinction: “a sagion (cape), bound at the right shoulder with a simple fibula, over a divitesion (tunic) and a loros (the gemmed scarf wrapped around the emperor’s torso.” Crowned and bejewelled, the Emperor stands in front of a vividly decorated background of cloverleaf arranged in a radiant design, holding the imperial insignia: “in his right hand he holds a labarum, a staff with a square finial” and in his left hand “an ornate globus cruciger with, in this instance, a leaved patriarchal cross.”

Who is the impressive Emperor depicted in this Byzantine relief sculpture Roundel exhibited today at the Dumbarton Oaks Museum of Byzantine Art? Is this a unique example of Byzantine imperial portraiture? The answer is NO! There is a second, matching Roundel in Venice, known as the  Angaran Roundel, embedded on the exterior wall of a Venetian house in the Dorsoduro district, equally rare in Byzantine imperial representation. “It has been suggested that these two emperors are Alexios I and John II Komnenos, father and son, who reigned jointly between 1092 and 1118.”

Both Roundels, made of marble, date from the 12th century. For their creation, the unknown artist used a “marble piece of a horizontal slab that was cut from the top of a column shaft of unusually large diameter. The roundels therefore are reused architectural elements of an ancient monument of considerable size.”     http://museum.doaks.org/OBJ27169.htm

Angaran Roundel, marble, d. 100 cm,Campiello de Ca’Angaran, Dorsoduro in Venice

The Angaran Roundel is almost identical to the one exhibited at the Dumbarton Oaks. Both depict Byzantine Emperors looking straight, true, stiff… steadfast, firmly fixed, lofty… holding the symbols of their power, gazing at us with majestic authority… but detached. Created by a great Constantinopolitan artist as an Imperial Ensemble, we can imagine, if this is a correct supposition,  a third roundel with Christ in the middle. The Imperial Portraits somehow ended up in the Veneto area, most probably as the 4th Crusade loot. They were still in the Veneto until 1937 when Robert Woods Bliss acquired the one depicting Emperor John II, through Royall Tyler, who writes to Bliss “I went to Lugano yesterday, & saw the Emperor, who is magnificent… There’s no change in the amount (33,000). H.F. prefers to receive it direct… Volbach was wrong about the material of the Emperor. He is marble (not limestone): I should say he was of exactly the same light grey marble, not shiny, as the Campiello Angaran roundel, & he’s exactly the same in style & in every respect except a few details of costume (the loros is different), & details of the footstool… The chances are they came from Constantinople, as one doesn’t see why the Venetians should have representations of the Byz. Emperor made, when they had not long before shaken off his overlordship… I’m simply delighted that you’ve got this superb carving, the like of which is most unlikely to turn up again…”     https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/letters/25jul1937

On the 3rd of July, Ismail Safa Yalbaz, member of the Late Antique and Byzantine Studies Group, shared a POST on the Angaran Roundel that got me thinking… how many times have I been to Venice and missed visiting the Campiello de Ca’Angaran in Venice’s Dorsoduro district? I promised myself… next time in Venice, my respects to the Emperor will be the first thing to do!

For a Student Activity on the two Roundels, please… check HERE!

Ariadne on Naxos

Dionysos and Ariadne, 1st century AD, Pompeii, from the House of Capitelli Colorati, now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples

Ariadne on Naxos… what an inspiration… “Eros  /  The archipelago  /  And the prow of his seafoam  /  And the seagulls of his dreams  /  In his highest mast, the sailor flutters  /  A song” the Archipelago Song by Odysseas Elytis, 1979, Nobel Prize in Literature.     https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1979/elytis/biographical/     and     https://www.greeklyrics.gr/stixoi/to-tragoudi-tou-arxipelagous/

The Islet of Palatia in Naxos, where today, since the 6th century BC, stands “Portatra,” the entrance to the Temple of Apollo, Naxos’s most recognized monument.

Naxos is one of the most interesting destinations in Greece! In the center of the Aegean Sea, the biggest and greenest Cycladic island, with a glorious ancient Greek past and the strong influences of the Venetians and the Franks, Naxos is not simply beautiful… it breathes history …and Mythology I would like to add! Naxos was the playground of the Olympian gods, the place where virtuous or naughty, entangled with beautiful women and brave men, gods created a scenery of love and adventure, reality and imagination. The story I like most involves the god Dionysus, the Minoan princess Ariadne and the Islet of Palatia, where today, since the 6th century BC, stands “Portara,” the entrance to the Temple of Apollo, Naxos’s most recognized monument. https://www.greeka.com/cyclades/naxos/

Imagine the scene… Theseus and Ariadne flee Crete in a hurry. With the help of Ariadne, Theseus had just killed the horrible Minotaur in the depths of Knossos’s palace maze. Their first stop to rest on their way to Athens is the island of Naxos… where the story unfolds dramatically and excitingly. God Dionysus, in love with Ariadne, appears to Theseus in his sleep and convinces him to abandon Ariadne at Naxos and continue his trip alone. Ariadne, unaware of divine intervention, disembarks at Naxos, enchanted by the beauty of the island, happily explores it, and tired falls asleep on the beautiful islet of Palatia. When she wakes up… god Dionysus, the son of Zeus and Dione, looks at her adoringly and a new love-affair is in the making. A glorious wedding follows and an eternal gift is still with us to admire… the constellation known as Corona Borealis is said to be Dionysus’s wedding gift to Ariadne, a special ornament to adorn her beautiful head.

In Pompeii, the House of the Coloured Capitals is one of the oldest excavated, back in 1822, again in 1832/33 and 1846. It is one of the largest houses in Pompeii as well, with more than 40 rooms on the ground floor alone, beautifully decorated with frescoes and floor mosaics, combining architecturally, Samnite and Roman features.  The name of the house comes from the brightly coloured capitals of the columns of the central peristyle.

You enter the House through a rectangular Atrium (area marked b) with a central Impluvium and proceed to a porticoed Peristyle (area marked f). One of the bigger rooms opening to the peristyle (area marked h), the oecus, is beautifully decorated with frescoes in the 4th Pompeiian Style on a yellow ground. Dilapidated today and neglected since it was initially excavated in 1822, the house’ oecus featured central panels on each wall with a mythological scene. The single panel, faded yet still holding its original charm, character portrays Dionysus and the sleeping Ariadne on the island of Naxos. Dionysus, holding a thyrsus, standing tall in the center of the composition, gazes in wonderment at Ariadne, still sleeping at the knees of god Hypnos. A naughty cupid reveals Ariadne’s covered beauty to Dionysus while an old Silenus, in need of support, and an entourage of satyrs and maenads seem to follow the young god of revelry. https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-vii/reg-vii-ins-4/house-of-the-coloured-capitals

The fresco depicting Dionysus discovering the sleeping Ariadne was luckily removed and can now be seen in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. The scenes left in situ, however, have all but faded away…

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

Oecus is the Latinized form of Greek Oikos (House), used by Vitruvius for the principal hall or salon in a Roman house, which was used occasionally as a triclinium for banquets.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oecus

Bernardo Bembo and La Bencina

Hans Memling, 1433 –1494
Man with a Roman Coin (Bernardo Bembo), ca. 1471-1474, oil on panel, 31 x 23,3 cm, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen
Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519
Ginevra de’ Benci, 1474-78, oil on wood, 38,8 x 36,7 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC – On the reverse side of the portrait of Ginevra: juniper, laurel, palm branches: VIRTUTEM FORMA DECORAT (Beauty adorns Virtue)     https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.50724.html     and     https://www.nga.gov/collection/highlights/da-vinci-ginevra-de-benci.html and https://www.facebook.com/mauritshuis/posts/allow-us-to-introduce-bernardo-bembovarious-details-reveal-that-this-man-is-the-/1438404546228025/

“Therefore we will sing of the chaste love of Bembo, so that Bencia may rise up, made known by my verses. O lovely Bencia, Bembo marvels at your beauty, with which you could surpass the goddesses of heaven. Great Mars would wish to prefer this to his love for Venus, and Jupiter himself would abandon Europa and desire it. But Bembo in astonishment marvels more at you ancient virtue, you chaste heart and hands with the skill of Pallas…” writes Cristoforo Landino for the LOVE of Bernardo Bembo and La Bencina.    http://www.italianrenaissanceresources.com/units/unit-2/sub-page-03/poems-about-ginevra-and-bembo/?fbclid=IwAR34DOVq8MMQgt7ZBJ651Bd2l-HGxjM6gTJFNNx0CHHsp2hZVi26XyAkHkM

The Venetian Ambassador to Florence, the intellectual Bernardo Bembo, first saw Ginevra on the 28th of January 1475, during the splendid Giostra Giuliano de Medici staged in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. Ginevra de’ Benci, the daughter of Amerigo de’ Benci, director of the Medici Bank in Geneva and the second wealthiest man in Florence, seventeen years old, witty, enchanting and rich, married to Luigi di Bernardo Niccolini, a Florentine cloth-trader of importance, was present, dazzling with her charm, the elite of Florence. “In all the city you will not find a more beautiful girl, nor any more modest” wrote the poet Alessandro Braccesi. Suave Bernardo Bembo, a man in his early forties, married with children, with a mistress and a love-child, took little time in becoming La Bencina’s cavaliere servente. Among them, Leonardo da Vinci, young and amazingly talented, ready to immortalize an interesting story that still “haunts” us with its beauty and secrets, created one of his earliest masterpieces.    https://books.google.gr/books?id=KWCNItrBe6oC&pg=PT163&lpg=PT163&dq=Florence+1475+Giostra&source=bl&ots=jY6VGoEF7e&sig=ACfU3U3t2D0MaOTr2VF5cHfdBamVl8s_Zg&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwio79a81YHqAhXBw8QBHb37B5AQ6AEwEHoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=Florence%201475%20Giostra&f=false

Leonardo’s painting of La Bencina, characterized as “the earliest of all psychological portraits” and depicting “a new sense of mystery and uniqueness of the human personality” is for me an alluring mystery behind rich foilage and an “alabaster” façade. The surviving poems, however, of her beauty and character is another story…

The reverse side of Leonardo’s painting of Ginevra de’ Benci

“I beg for mercy; I am a wild tiger” LaBencina wrote in one of her poems, the only verse that survives of her entire oeuvre. We can only wonder about her response to Bembo’s “Courtly Love.”

“…Therefore, lovely Bencia, imitating such arts as these, you come as an example to Tuscan ladies. Well known, I confess, is the love of Paris and the frenzy of the Spartan woman, but it is known for its base adultery. You, Bencia, are more beautiful than Leda’s child and are known to all peoples for your rare chastity…” by Cristoforo Landino

“Ginevra shed tears as you go, Bembo./ May she desire long delays and / Beseech the Gods above that / Every difficulty may hinder your journey. / And may she wish that the kindly stars / With adverse winds and heavy storms / Prevent your departure” by Alessandro Bracessi

Lorenzo de’ Medici, on the other hand, addressed two poems to her praising her decision to “leave the passion and evil of the city and to devote herself to prayer in the country… never looking back!” https://books.google.gr/books?id=fMDoImNWqHQC&pg=PA302&lpg=PA302&dq=Lorenzo+de+Medici+sonnets+Ginevra&source=bl&ots=DFGL8O9riU&sig=ACfU3U1FKJK0wSGfLjtePymRgLwoRWYOPg&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi7jdXxvIPqAhUFNOwKHTZ3BIgQ6AEwAnoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=Lorenzo%20de%20Medici%20sonnets%20Ginevra&f=false    and    http://www.italianrenaissanceresources.com/units/unit-2/sub-page-03/poems-about-ginevra-and-bembo/?fbclid=IwAR34DOVq8MMQgt7ZBJ651Bd2l-HGxjM6gTJFNNx0CHHsp2hZVi26XyAkHkM

For a RWAP dedicated to Ginevra de’ Benci (RWAP stands for Research-Writing-Art-Project) please… Check HERE!

For student work on a RWAP dedicated to Ginevra de’ Benci, please… Check HERE!

Student work