Tuesday, December 31, 2013

La Muse

La Muse by Alexander Bourganov, Carré des Ambassadeurs, Jardins des Champs-Élysées, Paris
“La Muse” by Alexander Bourganov, 2005
Carré des Ambassadeurs
Jardins des Champs-Élysées, 8e arrondissement
Paris, July 2012

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fountain of Juno

Fountain of Juno by Bartolomeo Ammannati, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Fountain of Juno by Bartolomeo Ammannati
Museo Nazionale del Bargello
Florence, October 2013

“A year after Giorgio Vasari had entered the services of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, Bartolomeo Ammannati returned to Florence. He was ordered to carve a fountain for the great hall of the Palazzo Vecchio where the audiences took plane. The fountain was planned for the west wall of the Udienza, across from Bandinelli’s set of statues in niches flanked by columns, and it was to be a pendant consisting of marble and bronze statues as well as columns. The initial plans of a wall fountain for the palace were transformed by Ammannati. Michelangelo’s advice was sought and, finally in his letter of 25th April 1560 to Duke Cosimo, he gave his approva] to Ammannati's ideas underlining the beautiful fantasy of the setting. Ammannati carved a multi-wiewed fountain which included six allegorical, life size figures, two peacocks, and a marble rainbow. The oval-shaped fountain showed Juno suited upon the rainbow and flanked by the peacocks, her attribute, Ceres standing in the centre with the rainbow resting on her head, with Florence and Temperance at her sides analogously standing, and the latter statues were accompanied by reclining figures, the river Arno and the fountain Paruassus. This fountain visualized ‘il generare dell'acqua’ as Raffaello Borghini put it.”
(A note on the chronology of Ammarmati’s Fountain of Juno, Hildegard Utz)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Arco del Paradiso

Arco del Paradiso, Arch of Paradise, Calle del Paradiso, Castello, Venice
Arco del Paradiso (Arch of Paradise)
Ponte del Paradiso / Calle del Paradiso
Venice, September 2013

“On the side of the arch facing the street, the Madonna protects two worshipers, a nobleman and a woman. The coats of arms on the sides of the Madonna belong to the Foscari (a lion) and Mocenigo families (two flowers). On the side facing the bridge, the Madonna protects one worshiper, a friar. Only the coat of arms of the Foscari family is displayed on this side, twice, one on each side of Mary. The origin and date of this arch are controversial. Some historians believe that the Foscari family commissioned the arch to celebrate the marriage of Pellegrina Foscari and Alvise Mocenigo which took place in 1491. This would date the arch as late XV century. However, the arch is clearly Gothic and more in the style of the XIV or early XV century. In addition, the coat of arms of the Foscari family is next to the man and that of the Mocenigo family next to the woman, contradicting the notion that the woman represents a Foscari and the man a Mocenigo. According to the records, the two houses next to the bridge were rebuilt by the abbot of the church of Santa Maria della Pomposa (near Ravenna) and in 1407 passed to the Foscari and Mocenigo families. According to other historians, the arch would commemorate this event. The image of the friar on the bride side seems to confirm this idea. This would date the arch as early XV century. To add just one more sliver of confusion, a plaque near the arch reads: ‘Arte Gotica, s. XIV’”
(Calle del Paradiso, A Lover of Venice)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

World of Disney

New York
World of Disney store, Fifth Avenue
New York, September 2007

“When critics write that Picasso was the most influential artist of the twentieth century, they forget Disney. His influence has operated at a number of levels for eighty years now, and one suspects it is only just beginning. That Disney was an artist is unquestionable, and part of the Modern Movement too, for the influence of Futurism on his early cartooning is obvious. A study of his Alice's Wonderland (1923) is instructive about his voracious artistic appetite and vocabulary. But Disney was a businessman of genius, and in his own way a moral force. Unlike Picasso, he was incapable of cynicism and his sincerity, like Della Robbia's, radiates from every line he drew. His masterpiece Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is not only a highly inventive piece of animation but the Ur-document of a school which had branched out into over two hundred different systems of animated cartooning by the end of the century. Disney himself trained over a thousand artists, almost as many as the Académie Julian. Cartoons were the basis of most fashion art during the second half of the century and they also had a direct influence on clothes, interior decoration, furniture and architecture. Post-Modernism is part of Cartoon Land.”
(Paul Johnson, Art: A New History)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fixing the Louvre

Maintenance crew in the Cour Carrée, Palais du Louvre, Paris
Maintenance crew in the Cour Carrée (Square Courtyard)
Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace), 1er arrondissement
Paris, July 2012

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dancing in the Academy

Dancing in the Galleria dei Prigioni (Prisoners' Hall)
Galleria dell'Accademia, via Ricasoli
Florence, October 2013

“Used in the nineteenth century for the display of ancient paintings from the collections of museum, the Galleria was later altered to house several very important sculptures by Michelangelo, thus creating a specific and unified itinerary that culminates in the centre of the Tribune where the statue of David stands.
The Galleria takes its name from the four large sculptures showing male nudes known as the Slaves or Prisoners. They were begun by Michelangelo for the tomb of Pope Julius II which was to have been built in the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. Left unutilised, after the death of Michelangelo they were presented to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I, who placed them in the Grotta del Buontalenti in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where they remained up to 1909.”
(Galleria dei Prigioni, Galleria dell'Accademia)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cometa di Vetro

Cometa di Vetro, Comet Glass Star by Simone Cenedese, Campo Santo Stefano, Murano, Venice
“Cometa di Vetro” (Glass Comet) by Simone Cenedese
Campo Santo Stefano, Murano
Venice, September 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zentrale Wandelhalle

Central Hall, Gemäldegalerie, Kulturforum, Berlin
Zentrale Wandelhalle (Central Hall), Gemäldegalerie
Berlin, September 2011

See also: Gemäldegalerie Skylight - Greyscale

“The paintings in the collection have been on show in their present home at the Kulturforum since 1998. The design proposals for the Gemäldegalerie’s new building were submitted in an architectural competition in 1986, with the contract awarded to the architects Hilmer & Sattler the following year. With distinctly Prussian austerity of expression, the simple building rises above the sloping piazzetta, while inside its individual galleries are grouped around a light-filled central hall.”
(Gemäldegalerie, Official Website)

Monday, December 23, 2013


La vanité mise à nue par ses thuriféraires by Daniel Hourdé, Place Saint-Germain des Prés, Paris
“La vanité mise à nue par ses thuriféraires” by Daniel Hourdé, 2009
Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 6e arrondissement
Paris, July 2011

La vanité mise à nu par ses thuriféraires is another thought-provoking sculpture by Daniel Hourdé, installed just across the road from Désillusion totale, that perfectly represents the stripping of vanity to reveal the fundamentals, the depth beneath this layer of superficial mask. We are vulnerable under it all; usually only the most devoted see this side of us, with the truest standing by us unconditionally. Trust of this kind is hard to come by and if you have earned it, never take it for granted.”
(Daniel Hourdé around St-Germain, Lil & Destinations…)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Michelangelo's Tomb

Basilica of the Holy Cross, Basilica di Santa Croce, piazza Santa Croce, Florence
Tomb of Michelangelo Buonarroti by Giorgio Vasari
Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross)
Piazza Santa Croce
Florence, October 2013

“Michelangelo died at Rome in 1564. The general design of his tomb, which we are now examining, was by Vasari. The bust of the great master, seen above the central figure, is by Battista Lorenzi, and, if a good likeness, does not show Michelangelo to have been a very handsome man. The figure of architecture - the one on the right - is by Giovanni dall'Opera. The central figure represents Painting and is by Lorenzi ; while the third represents Sculpture and was executed by Cioli.”
(Michelangelo's Tomb, Michelangelo Models)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

House of the Seven Chimneys

Casa dei Sette Camini, House of the Seven Chimneys, Fondamenta Tron, Dorsoduro, Venice
Casa dei Sette Camini (House of the Seven Chimneys)
Fondamenta Tron, Dorsoduro
Venice, September 2013

“Across the canal are the natural sciences laboratories of the Ca' Foscari University and beyond, the Santa Marta quarter housing complex. This used to be one of the poorest sections of Venice. The first inhabitants were fishermen that made a meager living off the lagoon and these humble origins are still reflected in the name of their church, San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, Saint Nicholas of the Beggars. On Rio de le Terese, Fondamenta Tron, a few yards away from the church, is the House of the Seven Chimneys (Casa dei Sette Camini) built in the 1700's as a housing project. It underwent a major retrofit in 1995-1996.”
(Around Dorsoduro, A Lover of Venice)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chess & Bridge

Table, chairs and chessboard outside Chess & Bridge, Baker Street, London
Chess & Bridge, Baker Street
Marylebone, City of Westminster
London, October 2009

Thursday, December 19, 2013

VAB Azure

VAB AZURE, Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé, Armoured Vanguard Vehicle, avenue de Wagram, Paris
VAB AZURE (Action en Zone URbaine) - Urban warfare vehicle
Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé (Armoured Vanguard Vehicle)
Just before the Bastille Day military parade
Avenue de Wagram, 8e arrondissement
Paris, July 2012

“VAB AZURE (Action en Zone URbaine) - Urban warfare vehicle equipped with a dozer blade and with panoramic periscopes to observe and monitor.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nicola Demidoff

Monument to Nicola Demidoff (Nikolai Nikitich Demidov) by Lorenzo Bartolini
Piazza Demidoff
Florence, October 2013

“Nikolai Demidov served as chamberlain to the Tsar, a Hereditary Commander of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and member of the privy council. In 1819 he was made Russian ambassador to the court of Tuscany. After divorcing his wife, who moved back to France, he lived his last years in France and Italy among scholars, financing the creation of schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions in Tuscany. He bought 42 acres (170,000 m2) of marshland north of Florence from the Catholic Church and there built the Villa San Donato from 1827 to 1831 (now destroyed), where he set up richly-decorated private rooms, a suite of 14 rooms housing his enormous art collection, a theatre and a foreign languages academy. That collection, reputed among the most lavish private collections in Europe, was divided between his residences in San Donato, Saint-Petersburg, Paris and Moscow, included works by Flemish and Italian masters, decorative art objects and a famous collection of weapons now in the Wallace Collection in London. His collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures is now at the Hermitage Museum. By decree of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, on 23 February 1827 Demidov was made ‘count of San Donato’ for the services he had rendered to Tuscany by setting up a silk factory. A public Monument to Nicola Demidoff designed by Lorenzo Bartolini is located on ‘Piazza Demidoff’ overlooking the river Arno in Oltrarno.” (Nikolai Nikitich Demidov, Wikipedia)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Synagogues of Europe

Synagogues of Europe poster by The Studio Michal Meron, Venetian Ghetto, Cannaregio, Venice
Synagogues of Europe poster by The Studio Michal Meron
Venetian Ghetto, Cannaregio
Venice, September 2013

External links: Synagogues around the world by Michal Meron's Studio

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

The Seven Pillars' rock formation in Wadi Rum, Jordan
The “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” rock formation
Wadi Rum (The Valley of the Moon)
Jordan, May 1995

“The cliff currently called the ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ is at the entrance to the Wadi Rum. The new ‘Gate’ to the Wadi Rum protected area is close beside it, and the new Visitors' Centre looks out over it. Just behind this jebel is Jebel Um Ishrin. Most people assume that T.E. Lawrence's book was named after this cliff. In fact the reverse is true, and the name has only become generally accepted locally in the last 10 years or so. If you count the ‘pillars’ carefully, you will only find 6 of them!”
(Wadi Rum, Ruth Caswell)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Age of Bronze

The Age of Bronze, L'Âge d'airain by Auguste Rodin, place Rodin, Paris
The Age of Bronze (L'Âge d'airain) by Auguste Rodin
Place Rodin, 16e arrondissement
Paris, July 2012

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fontana del Carciofo

Fontana del Carciofo, Fountain of the Artichoke by Francesco Susini, Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Fontana del Carciofo (Fountain of the Artichoke) by Francesco Susini, 1639
Palazzo Pitti
Florence, October 2013

“Once inside the main entrance of Pitti Palace, one passes through the wide Ammannati courtyard, closed off on three sides by the inner façades of the building and on the fourth by a single storey topped by the Artichoke Fountain (Fontana del Carciofo, 1639-41), the work of Francesco Susini.”
(Pitti Palace - The Official Guide, Marco Chiarini)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Palazzo Barbarigo

Palazzo Barbarigo seen from the Grand Canal, Venice
Palazzo Barbarigo, Campo San Vio
Seen from the Canal Grande (Grand Canal)
Venice, September 2013

“Palazzo Barbarigo was originally built in the 16th century. Its architecture follows the Renaissance style and consists of three levels: an open loggia which gives access to the canal, a first floor with open loggias, decorated columns and a second floor above this. The modern mosaics, which were added later on, probably covered some of the original windows and obscured the original design. Not much information is available on the early history of Palazzo Barbarigo except that the Murano mosaics were added in 1886. When Palazzo Barbarigo became the headquarters of Pauly & C. – Compagnia Venezia Murano, a leading Venetian company that produced glass art, the company employed master glass workers to decorate the facade of the Renaissance palazzo with complex mosaic designs. They took the idea from the exterior mosaics on the facade of St Mark’s Basilica.”
(Palazzo Barbarigo, Travel Signposts)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sotto Sopra

Chairs and tables outside Sotto Sopra, Italian restaurant, rue des Archives, Paris
Chairs and tables outside Sotto Sopra (Upside Down)
Rue des Archives, 3e arrondissement
Paris, July 2012

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monumental Sundial

Monumental sundial by Filippo Camerota, Luise Schnabel, Giorgio Strano, Museo Galileo, piazza dei Giudici, Florence
Monumental sundial by Filippo Camerota, Luise Schnabel, Giorgio Strano
Outside the Museo Galileo, Piazza dei Giudici
Florence, October 2013

“Conceived as a ‘mathematical ornament’ for the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, the sundial indicates true solar time for the place where it is located. The shadow cast by the glass globe atop the large bronze gnomon indicates the date and time. The hours from 9:00am to 2:00pm are marked out by radial brass lines while the date is indicated by the travertine traversal lines which signal the Sun’s diurnal course for various periods of the year – precisely when the star enters the signs of the Zodiac. The shadow cast by the gnomon changes in length during the course of the days and seasons, and indicates a different time than that of our wristwatches. In respect to true solar time, mean time indicated by our wristwatches has a periodic variation that during the course of a year can exceed a quarter of an hour. Moreover, when it is daylight saving time, during the spring and the summer, the hands of a clock are moved forward one hour. For example, true midday in the month of February would be indicated by the sundial around 12:28 pm while in the month of July it would be indicated around 13:20 pm daylight saving time.”
(The sundial, Museo Galileo)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Inside a Vaporetto

Inside a vaporetto (water bus) of the Linea 2 (Route 2), San Zaccaria boat stop, Bacino San Marco, Venice
Inside a vaporetto (water bus) of the Linea 2 (Route 2)
San Zaccaria boat stop, Bacino San Marco
Venice, September 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Statue of Nelson Mandela by Ian Walters, Parliament Square, London
Statue of Nelson Mandela by Ian Walters, 2007
Parliament Square
London, October 2009

“It's easy to pinpoint the problem with Ian Walters's 9ft bronze statue of Nelson Mandela. It's the hands. They're too big. Walters, who died last summer before the work could be cast, has chosen to depict the former South African president mid-speech, hands scything the air to underpin his rhetoric. So while the face may be an acceptable likeness, the oversize, puffy fingers draw too much attention to themselves, over-emphasising the gesture.
As a result, Mandela looks like he is ever so slightly dizzy and reaching out for balance. The effect, unfortunately, is less elder statesman, more unsteady granddad, which is unjust for such an historically important figure. No wonder Charles Saumarez Smith, the former director of the National Gallery, was so scathing when it was announced that Walters would undertake the commission. ‘He [Walters] is not regarded by anyone, even including the supporters of the project, as a sculptor of any public distinction or artistic merit,’ wrote Saumarez Smith.
Sadly, the finished cast of Walters's statue has not proved him wrong: it feels lumpish and clumsy. The best you can say about it is that it's mounted on a surprisingly low plinth. This brings Mandela closer to his viewers - appropriately enough for a figure so indelibly associated with democracy.”
(Clumsy tribute to a great man by Alastair Sooke, The Telegraph)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Charging the Eiffel Tower

La France renaissante by Holger Wederkinch, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Île aux Cygnes, Paris
“La France renaissante” by Holger Wederkinch, 1930
Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Île aux Cygnes
Paris, July 2012

“It was made in 1930 by the Danish sculptor, Holger Wederkinch, and given as a gift to Paris by the Danish community. Originally, the rider on the horse was supposed to represent Joan of Arc. But the character of the figure was judged to be too emphatic and war-like, contrary to the iconography at that time of this heroine. It was not appreciated by the Paris city council, who issued an unfavorable opinion about it in 1956. To avoid a diplomatic incident, Denmark’s embassy decided to rename the statue ‘La France Renaissante,’ making it simply a decorative statue. The erection of the statue in the Place was authorized later in 1956, and it was inaugurated on that spot in 1958, in the presence of the Danish ambassador.”
(Saturday, July 30, 2011, Barbara Cooley's Paris Journal)

Friday, December 6, 2013

San Luca

Copy of San Luca, Luke the Evangelist by Giambologna, Orsanmichele, Via dei Calzaiuoli, Florence
San Luca (Luke the Evangelist) by Giambologna, 1601 (copy)
Orsanmichele, Via dei Calzaiuoli side
Florence, October 2013

See also: Christ and St. Thomas - Madonna delle Grazie Altar - San Matteo - Santo Stefano

“The exterior of the church is infinitely interesting - decorated with niches containing statues of saints commissioned by the various guilds of Florence (along with other carvings and architectural decorations). Fourteen guilds, including the silk workers, bankers, and the blacksmiths are represented. Although the program began during the late middle ages, the sculptures were not begun in earnest until the early fourteenth century. As a result, the entire range of Renaissance sculpture is represented, from the Early - Ghiberti's St. John the Baptist of 1414 (the first life-sized bronze cast in the Renaissance) - to the Late Renaissance - Giambologna's Saint Luke of 1601. All of the original works have been removed for restoration and replaced by copies.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Santa Bibiana Mosaic

The Santa Bibiana Mosaic, Boiler room, Centrale Montemartini, Rome
The Santa Bibiana Mosaic, 400
Sala caldaie (Boiler room) of the former Montemartini power plant
Centrale Montemartini, via Ostiense
Roma, April 2013

“The interior also preserves the historic architecture of the power plant, with massive iron steps leading to an upper platform that was once used to oversee the generators but is now another element in the cinematic scene. You can mount the stair to look down upon the ancient mosaic floor with its hunting scenes, for instance. The vast windows of the former plant allow for natural light to flood the space, and the clouds in the sky seem to be another artwork.”
(Centrale Montemartini, anothertravelguide.com)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Washington Irving

Bust of Washington Irving by Friedrich Beer, Irving Place, New York City
Bust of Washington Irving by Friedrich Beer, 1885
Outside Washington Irving High School, Irving Place
New York, September 2008

“They also contain one of the most extensive art projects in a New York City public school, with four separate mural projects and sculpture contributed by two additional artists. In addition to these works commissioned specifically for the high school, a bust of Washington Irving by Friedrich Beer was placed in front of the building in 1935.”
(Washington Irving High School, Preserve & Protect)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Scruffy Sparrow

Sparrow resting on a plant, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
Scruffy sparrow resting on a plant
Jardin du Luxembourg
Paris, July 2011

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bridges of Florence

Ponte Vecchio, Old Bridge, Ponte Amerigo Vespucci, Ponte alla Carraia, Florence
The Ponte Vecchio with the Ponte Santa Trinita almost hidden behind
Ponte Amerigo Vespucci, Ponte alla Carraia
Ponte alla Vittoria, Ponte della Tramvia
(One of the towers of the Ponte dell'Indiano is also visible beyond the trees)
Florence, October 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

San Francesco della Vigna

The cloister of San Francesco della Vigna, Venice
The cloister of San Francesco della Vigna
Campo San Francesco della Vigna
Venice, September 2013

“The name ‘della Vigna’ is derived from a wineyard documented in several 13th century documents concerning the noble Ziani family, who lived in a ‘palatium’ in the near parish of Santa Giustina. Still today, despite later urbanisation, the area is characterised by green space.”
(Campo San Francesco della Vigna, Architecture of Venice)