Tags: art, Culture, funny things, picture of the day
People are asking, prompted by a new special on Mermaids, whether mermaids exist or not.
A look over the years shows that many people around the world have sighted or even directly experienced mermaids. Here’s a timeline of some of the major sightings and experiences, including Christopher Columbus, John Smith, and William Shakespeare.
First Century AD: Pliny the Elder writes about Nereids, or women with rough, scaly bodies like fish. They are “sitting upon dolphins, or ketoi, or hippocamps,” in some cases, he writes in Natural History.
Pliny describes how the legatus of Gaul wrote to the late Emperor Augustus about “a considerable number of nereids” being “found dead upon the seashore.” Further, “I have, too, some distinguished informants of equestrian rank, who state that they themselves once saw in the ocean of Gades a sea-man,” Pliny writes, according to a translation by the University of Chicago.
Fifth Century AD: In the book Physiologus, which is said to have been written or compiled in Greek by an unknown author, there is a portion dedicated to “The Nature of the Mermaid” that is translated by graduate student Mary Allyson Armistead as follows:
“In the sea there are many marvels.
The mermaid is like a maiden:
In breast and body she is thus joined:
From the navel downward she is not like a maid
But a fish very certainly with sprouted fins.
This marvel dwells in an unstable place where the water subsides.
She sinks ships and causes suffering,
She sings sweetly —this siren—and has many voices,
Many and resonant, but they are very dangerous.
Sailors forget their steering because of her singing;
They slumber and sleep and wake too late,
And the ships sink in a whirlpool and cannot surface anymore.
But wise and wary men and are able to return;
Often they escape with all the strength they have.
They have said of this siren, that she is so grotesque,
Half maid and half fish: something is meant by this.”
Sometime between 1040 and 1105: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, or Rashi, describes mermaids in the Talmud.
“There are fish in the sea with which half is in the form of man and half in the form of a fish, called sereine in Old French,” he wrote.
Also, not too long after, the Moshav Zekeinim, a commentary on the “Torah” by the medieval Tosafists, explains mermaids while calling them sirens, according to the book Sacred Monsters.
“This refers to the creature in the sea which is similar in part to a person, from the navel upwards, and it is similar to a woman in all aspects, in that it has breasts and long hair like that of a woman, and from the navel downwards it is a fish,” it is written in the commentary. “And it sings beautifully, with a pleasant voice.”
13th Century: Bartholomew Angelicus, in De Propietatibus Rerum, describes a mermaid, and tells of her stealing sailors from their ships.
Middle of 13th Century: Speculum Regale, or The King’s Mirror, is written in Old Norse, a translated version appearing several centuries later.
In the book there is a description of a creature found off the shores of Greenland.
“Like a woman as far down as her waist, long hands, and soft hair, the neck and head in all respects like those of a human being. The hands seem to be long, and the fingers not to be pointed, but united into a web like that on the feet of water birds. From the waist downwards this monster resembles a fish, with scales, tail, and fins. This shows itself, especially before heavy storms. The habit of this creature is to dive frequently and rise again to the surface with fishes in its hands. When sailors see it playing with the fish, or throwing them towards the ship, they fear that they are doomed to lose several of the crew ; but when it casts the fish from the vessel, then the sailors take it as a good omen that they will not suffer loss in the im-pending storm. This monster has a very horrible face, with broad brow and piercing eyes, a wide mouth and double chin.”
1389: The book Eastern Travels of John of Hesse is published, in which many perils during a voyage are relived. At one point the author writes: “We came to a stony mountain, where we heard syrens singing, mermaids who draw ships into danger by their songs. We saw there many horrible monsters and were in great fear.”
1403: A mermaid drifts inland through a broken dyke on the Dutch coast during the heavy storm. She was spied by some local women and their servants, “who at the first were afraid of her, but seeing her often, they resolved to take her, which they did, and bringing her home, she suffered herself to be clothed and fed with bread and milk and other meats, and would often strive to steal again into the sea, but being carefully watched, she could not.”
The mermaid later learned how to sew but never spoke. She died 15 years after she was discovered. John Swan, an English minister, describes the story in the 1635 book Speculum Mundi.
The book also includes the following describing mermaids:
“Transform’d to fish, for their bold surquedry :
But th’ upper half their hew retayned still,
And their sweet skill in wonted melody
Which ever after they abused to ill,*
T’ allure weake travellers whom gotten they did kill.”
1493: Christopher Columbus spots three mermaids rise high from the sea. Columbus wrote in his ship’s journal: “They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to some extent they have a human appearance in the face.” He also noted that he had seen similar creatures off the coast of West Africa.
1560: According to Curious Myths of the Middle Ages by Sabine Baring-Gould: “Near the island of Mandar, on the west of Ceylon, some fishermen entrapped in their net seven mermen and mermaids, of which several Jesuits, and Father Henriques, and Bosquez, physician to the Viceroy of Goa, were witnesses. The physician examined them with a great deal of care, and dissected them. He asserts that the internal and external structure resembled that of human beings.”
1590: William Shakespeare is believed to have written Midsummer Night’s Dream between 1590 and 1594. In it, he writes:
“I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.”
Soon after, he continues. “Come over here, Puck. You remember that time I was sitting on a rocky coast when I head a mermaid? She was riding on a dolphin’s back. Her singing was so sweet and pure that the rough sea grew calm and stars sot madly about the sky on hearing the sea-girls song.”
1608: Explorer Henry Hudson recounts an experience in the ship’s journal that happened on June 15, while sailing through the Bering Sea off the top of Norway.
“This morning one of our company, looking overboard, saw a mermaid, and calling up some of the company to see her, one more came up, and by that time she was come close to the ship’s side, looking earnestly on the men. A little while after a sea came and over- turned her. From the navel upward her back and breast were like a woman’s, as they say that saw her ; her body as big as one of ours ; her skin very white, and long hair hanging down behind, of colour black. In her going down they saw her tail, which was like the tail of a porpoise, and speckled like a mackerel. Their names that saw her were Thomas Hilles and Robert Rayney.”
Later, in the mid 1800′s, in an analysis of the incident in The Romance of Natural History, naturalist Philip Henry Gosse says that the usual claim of sailors mistaking manatees for mermaids won’t work here.
“Whatever explanation may be attempted of this apparition, the ordi-nary resource of seal and walrus will not avail here. Seals and walruses must have been as familiar to these polar mariners as cows to a milkmaid. Unless the whole story was a con-cocted lie between the two men, reasonless and objectless, and the worthy old navigator doubtless knew the character of his men, they must have seen some form of being as yet unrecognized.”
1614: Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, sees a mermaid off the coast of Massachusetts.
He writes that “the upper part of her body perfectly resembled that of a woman, and she was swimming about with all possible grace near the shore.” It had “large eyes, rather too round, a finely shaped nose (a little too short), well-formed ears, rather too long, and her long green hair imparted to her an original character by no means unattractive.”
1619: Two senators in Norway capture a merman, according to Adventures in Unhistory. The senators, Ulf Rosensparre and Christian Hollh, decided to release the merman back into the sea.
1739: The Gentleman’s Magazine describes in an issue an experience with a creature.
“Some fisherman near the City of Exeter drawing their nets ashore, a Creature leap’d out, and run away very swiftly, not being able to overtake it, they knock’d it down by throwing sticks after it,” the description reads, according to Adventures in Unhistory.
“At their coming up to it, it was dying, having groan’d like a human creature: Its feet were webb’d like a duck’s, it had eyes, nose, and mouth resembling those of a man, only the nose somewhat depress’d; a tail not unlike a salmon’s, turning up towards its back, and is four feet high.” It was publicly shown in the city.
1797: William Munro, a schoolteacher in Scotland, writes a letter to a Dr. Torrance in Glasgow, which is published in The Times of London on Sept. 8, 1809.
“About twelve years ago when I was Parochial Schoolmaster at Reay, in the course of my walking on the shore of Sandside Bay, being a fine warm day in summer, I was induced to extend my walk towards Sandside Head, when my attention was arrested by the appearance of a figure resembling an unclothed human female, sitting upon a rock extending into the sea, and apparently in the action of combing its hair, which flowed around its shoulders, and of a light brown colour. The resemblance which the figure bore to its prototype in all its visible parts was so striking, that had not the rock on which it was sitting been dangerous for bathing, I would have been constrained to have regarded it as really an human form, and to an eye unaccustomed to the situation, it must have undoubtedly appeared as such. The head was covered with hair of the colour above mentioned and shaded on the crown, the forehead round, the face plump. The cheeks ruddy, the eyes blue, the mouth and lips of a natural form, resembling those of a man; the teeth I could not discover, as the mouth was shut; the breasts and abdomen, the arms and fingers of the size in which the hands were employed, did not appear to be webbed, but as to this I am not positive. It remained on the rock three or four minutes after I observed it, and was exercised during that period in combing its hair, which was long and thick, and of which it appeared proud, and then dropped into the sea, which was level with the abdomen, from whence it did not reappear to me, I had a distinct view of its features, being at no great distance on an eminence above the rock on which it was sitting, and the sun brightly shining.”
“Immediately before its getting into its natural element it seemed to have observed me, as the eyes were directed towards the eminence on which I stood. It may be necessary to remark, that previous to the period I beheld the object, I had heard it frequently reported by several persons, and some of them person whose veracity I never heard disputed, that they had seen such a phenomenon as I have described, though then, like many others, I was not disposed to credit their testimony on this subject. I can say of a truth, that it was only by seeing the phenomenon, I was perfectly convinced of its existence.
If the above narrative can in any degree be subservient towards establishing the existence of a phenomenon hitherto almost incredible to naturalists, or to remove the scepticism of others, who are ready to dispute everything which they cannot fully comprehend, you are welcome to it from,
Your most obliged, and most humble servant,
1801: Dr. Chisolm recounts a visit four years prior to the island of Berbice in the Carribbean. The residents call mermaids mene mamma, or mother of waters. Governor Van Battenburgh gives the following description to Chisolm:
“The upper portion resembles the human figure, the head smaller in proportion, sometimes bare, but oftener covered with a copious quantity of long black hair. The shoulders are broad, and the breasts large and well formed. The lower portion resembles the tail-portion of a fish, is of immense dimension, the tail forked, and not unlike that of the dolphin, as it is usually represented. The colour of the skin is either black or tawny. The animal is held in veneration and dread by the Indians, who imagine that the killing it would be attended with the most calamitous consequences. It is from this circumstance that none of these animals have been shot, and, consequently, not examined but at, a distance. They have been generally observed in a sitting posture in the water, none of the lower extremity being discovered until they are disturbed; when, by plunging, the tail appears, and agitates the water to a considerable distance round. They have been always seen employed in smoothing their hair, or stroking their faces and breasts with their hands, or something resembling hands. In this posture, and thus employed, they have been frequently taken for Indian women bathing.”
1822: A young man, John McIsaac of Scotland, testifies under oath that he saw an animal that had a white upper half with the shape of the human body, while the other half was covered with scales and had a tail, according to a story in the London Mirror. The sighting took place in 1811. McIsaac describes the creature as having long, light brown hair, being between four and five feet long, and having fingers close together.
“It continued above water for a few minutes, and then disappeared,” according to the article. “The Minister of Campbeltown, and the Chamberlain of Mull, attest his examination, and declare that they know no reason why his veracity should be questioned.”
1830: Villagers at Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland saw a small woman on shore. They tried capturing it, but failed, so they pelted it with rocks. A few days later,its corpse washed ashore, according to Hidden Animals. They then examined it. “The upper part of the body was about the size of a well-developed child of three or four years of age, with an abnormally developed breast. The hair was long, dark, and glossy, while the skin was white, soft, and tender. The lower part of the body was like a salmon, but without scales.” The creature was buried in a coffin later on.
1842: Phineas Barnum, of Barnum and Brothers fame, got connected with what was said to be a mermaid who had been caught near the Feejee Islands in the South Pacific. There is much debate whether the mermaid was a mermaid or something else.
On the supporting side, the New York Sun had a review which in part said: “We’ve seen it! What? Why that Mermaid! The mischief you have! Where? What is it? It’s twin sister to the deucedest looking thing imaginable—half fish, half flesh; and ‘taken by and large,’ the most odd of all oddities earth or sea has ever produced.”
In a portion of an autobiography written by Barnum, published by the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, Barnum says that he obtained the specimen from the estate of a dead sailor, who had purchased it from Japanese sailors.
Barnum recounts going to his naturalist to ascertain the “genuineness of the animal.” His naturalist tells him that he cannot conceive of how it was manufactured, “for he never knew a monkey with such peculiar teeth, arms, hands, etc., nor had he knowledge of a fish with such peculiar fins.”
Writes Barnum: “Then why do you suppose it is manufactured?” I inquired. “Because I don’t believe in mermaids,” replied the naturalist. “That is no reason at all,” said I, “and therefore I’ll believe in the mermaid, and hire it.” Barnum showed the animal in his museum in New York and got out of it quite a bit of money.
Others say that the whole thing was a hoax, and that it was created by Japanese artisans.
1857: The Shipping Gazette reported that Scottish seaman had spotted a creature off the coast of Britain.
“We distinctly saw an object about six yards distant from us in the shape of a woman, with full breast, dark complexion, comely face, and fine hair hanging in ringlets over the neck and shoulders. It was about the surface of the water to about the middle, gazing at us and shaking its head. The weather being fine, we had a full view of it and that for three or four minutes,” said John Williamson and John Cameron.
1947: A old fisherman in Scotland reported that he had seen a mermaid in the sea about twenty yards from the shore, sitting combing her hair on a floating herringbox used to preserve live lobsters, according to Sir Arthur Waugh in The Folklore of the Merfolk. “Unfortunately, as soon as she looked round, she realized that she had been seen, and plunged into the sea,” he writes. “But no questioning, says Mr Maclean, could shake the old fisher- man’s conviction: he was adamant that he had seen a mermaid. So one never knows!”
2008: A sighting of a mermaid happened in Suurbraak, a village in the Western Cape of South Africa, reported Aldo Pekeur, a correspondent for the New Zealand Herald. A resident of the village, Daniel Cupido, said he and his friends were next to the river around 11:30 p.m. when they heard something like someone “bashing on a wall.” Cupido went toward the sound, and found a figure “like that of a white woman with long black hair thrashing about in the water”.
Cupido said he tried to help the woman but the woman made “the strangest sound,” which Dina, Cupido’s mother, said was so sorrowful “my heart could take it no more.” The creatures are described as Kaaiman, or half human and half fish creatures living in deep pools. Suurbraak tourism officer Maggy Jantjies said she knew the people who saw the Kaaiman well, and that they did not misuse alcohol.
2009: The reports from dozens of people of seeing mermaids spurred the town council in Kiryat Yam, near Haifa, to offer $1 million to anyone who can prove by photo or capture that mermaids do exist.
“Many people are telling us they are sure they’ve seen a mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News. “People say it is half girl, half fish, jumping like a dolphin. It does all kinds of tricks then disappears.”
2012: An official in Zimbabwe said that mermaids were hounding government workers off dam sites in several different areas. Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo told a senate committee in March that traditional chiefs were going to perform rituals to get rid off the mermaids believed to live in reservoirs in Gokwe and Mutare, where workers are afraid to go, according to Voice of America. Some workers reportedly went missing while others have refused to go back to install water pumps.
Traditional leader chief Edison Chihota of Mashonaland East told the media outlet that mermaids exist. “As a custodian of the traditional I have no doubt,” chief Chihota said. “For anyone to dispute this is also disputing him or herself.”
Daniel He contributed research to this article
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Tags: Culture, exhibition, picture of the day
NEW YORK—The English-speaking world has the tales of King Arthur. The Arab world has “One Thousand and One Nights.” The Scandinavian people of Iceland have the “Íslendingasögur,” or “The Sagas of Icelanders”—which are arguably more embedded in the landscape of its people than other ancient tales.
While the English might speculate about the location of Camelot, Icelanders know the exact locations of the sagas, even down to the farms featured in the stories.
“We have people living in the same farms,” said renowned Icelandic photographer Einar Falur Ingólfsson.
A new exhibit of paintings and photographs at Scandinavia House, in Midtown Manhattan, tiptoes across the centuries to make the sagas vividly come to life.
Tags: Culture, Music, picture of the day, pop music
Artist: Andrew Talbot (Lancashire – England, born 1972) Paintings.
Music by the Swedish singer and songwriter:
Sophie Zelmani – This Room
Tags: Culture, picture of the day
Middle-class art brings beauty to stark homes
SAN FRANCISCO—The Cult of Beauty exhibit, currently at The Legion of Honor in San Francisco, presents works from the height of the British Aesthetic period 1860–1900. Calling the period a gentle time would be an understatement. The exhibit gives an understanding not only of the elite world but also of the needs and wants of the working-class home.
Other works of art, such as furniture, jewelry, wallpaper, and the first trinkets found in Victorian homes purely for decoration, are shown and give a feeling that all classes of this period wanted something of beauty brought into their homes.
But the paintings make the exhibit. From John Spencer Stanhope’s “Love and the Maiden” (1877) to James McNeil Whistler’s “Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander” (1872–1874), they show the depth of art from that period.
One of my favorite pieces at the exhibition was “Laus Veneris” (1873–1878), by Edward Burne-Jones. It shows a lady sitting back in her chair, with a gold crown on her lap, listening to other ladies discussing medieval scriptures.
The details of the painting with the single rose thrown carelessly on the ground and intricate tapestries in the background bring a sense of life and thoughtfulness to the picture.
Edward Reiner of San Francisco said, “I love the beauty of the paintings that to me show a simpler, calmer life whilst in reality this time period was an extremely hard one for most. I loved the drops of a piece of furniture or a tea set which in some ways threw me off of what the exhibit was about, but in reality I enjoyed the variety.”
The exhibit reflects the feeling of owning things and tells of the middle class beginning to want things to put on a dresser or fireplace. They don’t just want to show off the piece but also show that they are the same as the upper classes.
With over 180 examples of artworks on view, you get an idea of not only paintings but also fashionable trends in architecture, interior decorations, furniture, and much more.
San Francisco is the only U.S. venue for this exhibition, and once it leaves here, it will be on its way back to Europe.
Curator Lynn Federle Orr explained in her catalogue essay: “Like a fine Victorian novel, the story of the Aesthetic Movement is one centered around serious social debates—shifting class structures, the confrontation between science and religion, art’s place in society, the impact of new market forces and a unique emphasis on the middle-class home.”
Victorians loved Asian art and embodied it in their furniture, art, and decorations, as seen in this exhibit.
Wallpaper, which has recently made a comeback in homes, was very fashionable in homes during the British Aesthetic period. Morris & Co. marketed wallpapers, fabrics, and decorative items such as the Flora and Pomona (1883–1885) tapestries. They were designed and executed by the team of Edward Burne-Jones and John Henry Dearle.
The exhibit runs until June 17 at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco.
Tags: Culture, picture of the day
Some of the greatest artists in history represented
NEW YORK—Sotheby’s will hold its spring sale of 19th century European art on Friday, May 4, offering 110 quality works. Public viewing of the auction in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries begins Friday, April 27.
A diverse group of artists are represented, including William Bouguereau, Giovanni Boldini, John William Godward, James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot, Jean Béraud, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, and Gustave Courbet.
Timed to coincide with Sotheby’s May auctions of impressionist and modern art, the sale provides further insight into the cultural and artistic developments in the 19th century. The end of the century was a tipping point, where the art world began to divide, and the traditional techniques of great masters started to be disregarded by more-popular art movements, leading to the state of modern art today.
The sale includes superb works by some of the greatest artists in history, many of whom are the same artists included in Christie’s 19th century European art sale on April 23, so it will be interesting to compare results. The following are some of the highlights.
Descriptions From Sotheby’s
‘The Morning Ride.’ Works from the estate of noted collector Mrs. Monique Uzielli will be led by James-Jacques-Tissot’s “The Morning Ride,” estimated at $2 million to $3 million.
Unrecorded until now, ‘A Fair Reflection’ marks an important discovery in the oeuvre of John William Godward.
This painting was last offered at auction in 1944, at Parke Bernet in New York. Like many of the works in this sale, the painting has re-emerged in the market after decades in a private collection. Depicting the bright, fleeting azalea blossoms of spring, the painting is well-timed for the May auction.
‘L’Orientale à la Grenade.’ A selection of six paintings by William Bouguereau will be highlighted by “L’Orientale à la Grenade,” a rare example of the artist’s Orientalist subject matter. It’s estimated at $500,000 to $700,000.
Bouguereau seems to have been particularly fascinated by Egypt, and the girl’s intricate silver jewelry is typical of North African design.
This work had not been seen in public for nearly a century after descending through an American family.
Also featured in the May sale is “Orpheline à la Fontaine,” from 1883, estimated at $700,000 to $900,000. Bouguereau painted the work in La Rochelle, his birthplace and summer holiday destination. While the identity of the model is currently unknown, she was probably a local girl from La Rochelle and was the inspiration behind some 10 summer pictures painted between 1879 and 1883.
‘Fair Reflection.’ Unrecorded until now, “A Fair Reflection” marks an important discovery in the oeuvre of John William Godward, and is estimated at $400,000 to $600,000.
The large-scale oil undoubtedly marks the most significant painting undertaken by the artist in 1915 and is among the most ambitious from the time he spent in Italy.
Unlike most of the paintings from this period, “A Fair Reflection” did not return to London to be exhibited and sold. Instead, it remained in Italy until it was acquired by an American collector in the 1940s, descending through the same family to the present owner.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Culture, Nature, photo, picture of the day, Spirituality, today's thoughts
Here I was sitting yesterday, enjoying the sun, listening to happy birds singing and to the water swirling around. A moment of harmony and peace.
Tags: art, Culture, picture of the day
Puerto Rico’s little known art museum has a surprisingly important art collection
Though Puerto Rico is known as “the jewel of the Caribbean” for its good food, warm weather, and sandy beaches; it is not often thought of as a destination for European fine art.
However, in the heart of its second largest city, the Museo de Arte de Ponce is home to a very important collection.
Despite the building’s relatively small size, the collection is comprised of over 4,500 works of art.
Its walls are hung with Lord Leighton’s iconic painting of “Flaming June,” Edward Burne-Jones’ “The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon,” and his fully worked out studies of the “Briar Rose” series, William Bouguereau’s “Le Collier de Perles,” and “Loin du Pays.”
Continuing around the museum you’ll find major works by William Holman Hunt, John Evert Millais, Frederick Sandys, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gustave Doré, James Tissot, Jean-Leon Gerome, Jusepe de Ribera, and Konstantin Makovsky.
Other artists included in this museum are Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Baptistes’ “Carpeaux”, Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Le Brun, as well as many other fantastic works by lesser known artists.
With a collection this important, it is surprising more tourists have not heard of this museum and more visitors do not take advantage of this treasure trove of art.
The museum’s founder, Luis A. Ferré, first traveled to Europe in 1950 where he fell in love with European paintings and sculpture. By 1956, he had started his own collection.
He wanted to allow all the people of Puerto Rico to have access to high quality works that the majority of residents would never get to enjoy otherwise.
He started collecting with this greater vision in mind and his dreams were realized beyond his expectations.
The museum has loaned many of its works to important museums around the globe and it has become part of the island’s heritage.
Although the museum’s collection spans from the early Renaissance to the present, Ferré fell in love with what was considered in the 1950s through the 1980s as “unfashionable” art; that being the classical art of the 19th century.
Leading artists from the era include artists such as Frederick Lord Leighton, William Bouguereau, and many of the other names listed above.
At the time, the greatest works of the period could be purchased for only a few thousand dollars or less. During the 1980s this period of painting started to attract more attention from collectors and today many of these artists are considered masters alongside artists from earlier centuries such as Rembrandt, who was at one time also a forgotten painter.
Ferré, although his choices were unfashionable at the time, trusted his instincts and had the foresight to put together a world class museum of forgotten painters who have now been brought back into the public light.
As the reputations and love of these artists are expanding every year, their re-appreciation still being only recent history, there is no doubt that the museum’s fame and reputation will grow as more and more people become aware of its importance, not only to Puerto Rico, but the world.
You can find more information on the Museo de Arte de Ponce on the museum’s official page.
Kara Lysandra Ross is the director of operations for the Art Renewal Center and an expert in 19th century European painting.
Tags: Culture, picture of the day
NEW YORK—The eye-opening aspect of one of the current exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art does not lie in the beauty and perfection of the paintings. Instead, carefully selected and arranged pieces allow visitors to witness the striking evolution of Renaissance painting.
Bartolomeo Vivarini’s “Death of the Virgin” (1485) boldly experiments with perspectives. Painted as an altarpiece for a chapel in the Certosa at Padua, Italy, it presents a traditionally pious scene.
On a throne, Christ holds a miniature Virgin Mary, which represents her soul to be carried to heaven by eight angels. Eleven apostles surround Mary’s body lying in state. They gaze up at the spiritual figures.
Foreshortening is a technique to create an illusion of depth in two dimensions. Objects closer to the viewer appear larger, and images recede into the distance. In Bartolomeo’s painting, with exaggerated foreshortening, the apostles’ faces appear squished in cartoon-like distortions. Starkly outlined figures, painted in bright tempera, add to the vivid but slightly crude result.
Depth and perspectives are hallmark innovations of Renaissance art. Paintings, such as Bartolomeo’s remind us that these kinds of advances did not occur overnight. Bartolomeo was influenced by artists like Andrea Mantegna, a painter well-known for experimenting with creative perspectives.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit, Art in Renaissance Venice, 1400–1515, benchmarks these types of developments, leading to the High Renaissance. The 44 drawings and paintings embody the influences in Venice of artists from Florence, Padua, and other Italian cities, according to Alison Nogueira, the assistant curator in the Robert Lehman Collection who organized the exhibit.
Artists traveled to Venice to work on commissions, including at the Doge’s Palace, the symbolic seat of Venetian power. The confluence of artists fertilized change.
Influential Artist Families
Although they were both powerful families in the art world, the Bellinis historically overshadowed the Vivarinis (Bartolomeo’s origin).
Jacopo Bellini is often called the father of painting — Alison Nogueira
“Jacopo Bellini is often called the father of painting,” Nogueira said. “He was the father of Giovanni and Gentile, who were both extremely successful. But also philosophically, he was the founder of a new school of painting that introduced the Renaissance style.”
The Bellini family ran the most successful painting workshop in Venice, Nogueira said. Art historian Giorgio Vasari, in “The Lives of the Artists,” noted that Jacopo convinced his daughter, Nicolosia, to marry Mantegna. Giovanni and his brother-in-law, Mantegna, learned from one another and widely influenced artists throughout the region.
Jacopo initiated the half-length Madonna sitting behind a ledge. Unlike a life-size model, the waist-up Madonna provided a close-up, intimate relationship with the viewer. This perspective suited well the Bellinis’ commissioned paintings for private devotional uses. The painting’s information card notes that the window-like frame of the parapet referenced the Virgin as the “window of heaven” through which God shed light on the world.
The exhibit’s sequence of Jacopo’s “Madonna and Child” followed by Giovanni’s three paintings of the same subject directly illustrates developments in Renaissance art. Jacopo’s painting (circa 1440s) evokes Byzantine icons. Flat, gold halos circle faces with aquiline noses. Christ sits in a full-frontal position.
Giovanni’s “Madonna Adoring the Sleeping Child” (1460s) bears strong resemblance to his father’s work, from the painted arched top to the face of the Madonna. Giovanni’s “Madonna and Child” (circa 1470) uses a similar composition, but in blended tempera and oil. This hybrid medium shows a midway transition, pushing through a stiff opaqueness toward a more refined depiction of beauty and virtue.
In the fourth piece, Giovanni painted “Madonna and Child” (late 1480s) fully in oil. The oil paint allowed gradients of rich colors, luminosity, and softly modeled features.
The work of Jacopo’s mentor, Gentile de Fabriano, hangs in the gallery dedicated to an earlier period of Gothic, Venetian art. But Nogueira noted that Fabriano’s painting “Madonna and Child with Angels,” even dating back to 1410, “marks an increased sense of naturalism.”
She pointed to its drapery of cloth and muscles on the Christ child as examples of stylistic influences in the Bellinis’ later works. And after all, according to Vasari, Bellini named his son, Gentile, after Fabriano.
The intertwining of the artists’ lives affected styles, techniques, and ideas across time and geographic distances. This exhibit demonstrates how painting as an art form dynamically evolved to reflect a civilization.
The exhibit Art in Renaissance Venice is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through Feb. 5.
Betsy Kim has worked as a lawyer and a TV reporter. She is now a writer living in New York City.
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Tags: Nature, picture of the day
The oriental sweetlips, Plectorhinchus vittatus or P. orientalis, inhabit coral reefs in the Indo-West Pacific.
Tags: Culture, Photos, picture of the day, Travels
Here, at HDR Tutorial, you can see how he made this photo.
Tags: Culture, picture of the day
Welcome to Visit My Photo Blog
I would like to give you a personal touch by sharing some of the views I see and have seen in my life. So here is my Photo Blog that I’ve had in mind for some time now
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MacDougall Auctions regularly breaks records in sales of its specialist area of Russian art and is consistently one of the top three auction houses in the world for Russian Art.
On June 8 and 9, MacDougall’s will showcase many works during Russian week in London, highlighted by a Boris Kustodiev masterpiece, a rare work thought to be lost, and one only before seen in a black-and-white photo.
The sale items will be on exhibition in London June 3–7.
Descriptions From MacDougall’s
Following are the auction house’s descriptions of a few key paintings and their histories.
‘The New Bracelet.’ Another rediscovery of art-historical significance is Genrikh Semiradsky’s “The New Bracelet” (c. 1883) estimated at $400,000–$500,000. “The New Bracelet,” also known as “Dolce Far Niente,” is a rare and happy discovery, not only for the art market, but also for the academic world.
Alongside Victorian artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Semiradsky was one of the most significant Neoclassical painters of the late 19th century. A particularly fine example of the artist’s oeuvre, “The New Bracelet” was acquired by the great-grandfather of the present owner and remained in the same North American collection for more than a century. Illustrated in a pre-revolutionary monograph, the painting was until recently believed to be lost.
Tags: art, Culture, picture of the day
Tags: art, Culture, picture of the day
New Waterhouse Found: An undiscovered Waterhouse painting was recently found in a Canadian farmhouse called Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Experts estimate that it will sell for around $7 million when it goes up for auction at Christie’s in London in November. The title comes from a Robert Herrick poem:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying;
And the same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
Tags: art, Culture, exhibition, photo, picture of the day
Exhibition: Cooper & Gorfer My Quiet of Gold
February 25–May 15 2011
HASSELBLAD FOUNDATION The work of Gothenburgbased artist duo Sarah Cooper (USA) and Nina Gorfer (Austria) belongs to a narrative tradition within photography, with roots in 18th and 19th century painting. Their staged photographs hold distinct reference to fables and myths. Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer are choreographers behind their images. Their working process is intuitive and organic. Curiosity attracts them to unknown places where they tactfully and sensitivelly observe the surroundings. Ideas come about and are realized in close collaboration with the people they portray. The exhibition at the Hasselblad Center focuses on the photographs from a journey to Kyrgyzstan, which depict the collective memories and folk tales of a people. The images are processed digitally, forming picturesque collages in which the stories are never linear. Instead they suggest multifaceted and dream like realities.