Book of Kells.

7 Mar

book-of-kells-chi-rho-iota-resized-600

The Book of Kells is a manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. It symbolizes the power of learning, the impact of Christianity on the life of the country, and the spirit of artistic imagination. The decoration combines traditional Christian iconography with the swirling motifs typical for insular art, the art of the islands. Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colours, enliven the pages. As many as ten different colors were used in the illuminations. Today, the manuscript, made with high-quality calfskin, comprises 680 individual pages and, since 1953, has been bound in four volumes and is kept in Dublin.

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Germanic wonder at Sutton Hoo.

5 Mar
The Cloisonné Shoulder Clasps

The Cloisonné Shoulder Clasps

Different from the Roman Culture, only few relics from the Germanic Culture were found. The accent of Germanic Culture laid mainly on ornamental arts and jewellery design. In Sutton Hoo, in the English county of Suffolk, 6th- and early 7th-century cemeteries were discovered. One of the cemeteries contained an undisturbed ship burial, excavated in 1939. It is one of the most magnificent archaeological finds in England for its completeness, the quality and beauty of its contents, and the profound interest of the burial ritual itself. The burial chamber included a suite of metalwork dress fittings in gold and gems, a ceremonial helmet, shield and sword and many pieces of silver plate from the Eastern Roman Empire. The gold and garnet ensemble found in the upper body space are among the true wonders of Sutton Hoo. Their artistic and technical quality is exceptional. The most significant artefacts from the ship-burial are displayed in the British Museum in London. They sheds light on a period of English history that is on the margin between myth, legend and historical documentation.

Theodora, a Byzantine Mosaic of a powerful woman.

4 Mar
Theodora, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Theodora, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Art produced during the Byzantine Empire was marked by the development of a new aesthetic. One of the features was its abstract or anti-naturalistic character. If classical art was attempting to create representations that mimicked reality closely, Byzantine art abandoned this attempt in favour of a symbolic approach. Mosaic art flourished in the Byzantine Empire from the 6th to the 15th century. Church interiors were generally covered with golden mosaics. Brightly coloured, the mosaics were without any emotion and rather ceremonial and static. This mosaic shows the empress Theodora, a former actress and courtesan, who moved to Constantinople, where she meets Justinian, a powerful person and the nephew to the Emperor Justin. Justinian lobbied very hard to change the law that prohibited men of standing to wed a courtesan, and when emperor Justin dies in 527, Justinian ascended the throne and crowned Theodora his empress and co-ruler. A true love story.

Roman Underground.

3 Mar

Bird and Fruit fresco

Frescos in Rome’s catacombs witness to a strong devotion to religion. These underground cemeteries, solely reserved for Christians, were decorated with paintings of great importance to understand the history of early Christianity. Still-lives and portraits at that time, inspired by Roman and Greek imagery, gained strongly in symbolism. For Christians the fruit symbolized abundance, the gift of God, while the bird could represent the Holy Spirit, the soul of the believer. The fish, Ictus, is the symbol of Christ. Ictus means fish but is also an acronym for Jesus, the Christ, Son of God, Savior. The Good Shepherd holding a lamb is another symbol of Christ carrying his faithful disciples. In 313, with emperor Constantine, Christianity was officially recognized. The citizens of Rome converted in mass crowds and the catacombs expanded greatly.

Pompeian Red.

1 Mar

Pompeian Fresco

This magnificent and well-preserved ancient Roman fresco from the villa of P. Fannio Sinistore in Boscoreale (Pompeii) makes remarkable use of perspective and colour. There are visual ambiguities to tease the eye and create illusion, including architectural details painted to resemble real ones, such as masonry, pillars and columns that cast shadows into the viewer’s space. Objects of daily life were presented in such a way as to seem real, with metal and glass vases on shelves or tables appearing to project out from the wall. These teasers reveal the owner’s pleasure in impressing guests at his comfortable summer retreat.

Sappho.

28 Feb

Sappho, roman fresco

Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that began growing on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Of the paintings which survive from the Roman classical world, many are frescoes from the area of Campania around Naples. Campania includes Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other towns whose buildings, paintings, and sculptures were preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. Romans used painted decoration to visually open up and lighten their living spaces. They copied or imitated many of their paintings from Hellenistic Greek originals. This Roman fresco was found in Pompeii. It shows the young woman ‘Sappho’, who was an ancient Greek poet greatly admired in all ages for the beauty of her writing style.

Fallen warrior.

27 Feb

Dying Gaul Hellenistic Greece

This statue shows a fallen warrior straining to support himself on one arm as blood gushes from a wound in his side. He represents a Gallic warrior with a typically Gallic hairstyle and moustache. He lies on his fallen shield while his sword and other objects lie beside him. Hellenistic sculptures, situated around 330 – 146 BC, where an absolute highlight because of their vividness and individuality. There is a clear appearance of anatomy and movement: the musculature is accentuated and the artists showed a great preference for complicated compositions. In essence we can talk about an extreme realism. The human being is no longer placed forward as an ideal image, but as a reality. Expressions of feelings and passions are no longer hidden. People are shown just as they are.

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