Throwback Thursday

flowers-grandville
The Return of the Flowers – J. J. Grandville

The weather today suggests that Spring does actually happen here on PEI. Trees are starting to sprout leaves, the grass has gone from dead yellow to vibrant green to dandelion yellow, and the many tulip beds around town are breaking into bloom. Tulips are a very important industry here on PEI and many of the bulbs that are gracing flower beds in Canadian towns during this our sesquicentennial originate here at Vesey’s and Vancos. And of course this week is the wrap up week of the Tulip Festival in our old hometown of Ottawa.

JJGrandville2So to celebrate our tulips bursting forth, the industry here in PEI, and the Ottawa Festival I decided to stroll through a virtual garden that I started back in 2012 and always meant to revisit. And that stroll has led me to take another look at J. J. Grandville and Taxile Delord’s Les Fleurs Animées (Flowers Personified). I thought maybe that once again I’d delve into their allegorical recounting of what happen when flowers assumed human form and revive the Friday’s Flowers posts. And on the odd occasion highlight one or two of the flowers growing in my Virtual Garden.

Willy Or Won't He

Despite the snow fall earlier this week and this mornings minus temperatures Spring is really on its way here in Ottawa. No honestly it is!  A patch of early warm weather has nudged daffodils, hyacinths and other early spring flowers out of the earth.  Now mind you the near sub-zero temperatures have them hiding their heads but I’m always surprised how hardy so many of those seemly delicate flowers really are.

A few weeks ago to mark International Woman’s Day I sent out mimosas to the special women in my life in the form of a wonderful lithograph by J. J. Grandville from Les Fleurs Animées (Flowers Personified) a two volume set of 54 hand-coloured lithographs which propose that “Flowers are the expression of society.”

The introduction to Les Fleurs Animées was written by Alphonse Karr and the allegorical texts by Taxile Delord.  Grandville’s designs accompany their stories of the…

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Throwback Thursday

One of the oh so many joys of living in Rome was taking a walking tour with Nancy.  She is an American art historian who has lived most of her adult live in Italy and has a wealth of knowledge – both technical and anecdotal – on Italy ancient and modern. And she also seems to have access to things that you just don’t see on the average tour. On one occasion she managed to set up a private evening tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. After visiting it in a group of only 20 I was never able to go back during the crush of regular opening hours.

On another occasion she arranged a peek into the rare book collection of the Biblioteca Angelica – one of the first public libraries in the Western world. I thought I’d reblog three posts I wrote back in 2010 after that visit. At the end of this first repost there are links to the other two. I had several others in the works that were left unfinished and languishing in that very large “drafts” folder.

Willy Or Won't He

A week ago Tuesday I spent the morning at the public library here in Roma – well okay not just any old public library but one of the earliest public libraries in Europe. Biblioteca Angelica was founded in 1604 by Bishop Angelo (hence Angelica) Rocca, a writer and collector of rare books. He was also in charge of the Vatican Printing House during the pontificate of Pope Sextus V. He entrusted the care of some 20,000 volumes to the Monks at the convent of St Augustine, provided a building, an annuity, and regulations for its operation: the principle rule being that it was open to all people regardless of income or social status. It has functioned as a public library since 1609 and except for a few periods of renovation and civil upheaval has been a major source of learning and research material to anyone over the age of 16…

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Throwback Thursday

Willy Or Won't He

Jacek Goldman and his Sister Wanda, Krakw, 1924 Jacek Goldman and his sister Wanda. Krakw, 1924. “My mother Wanda Meloch (nee Goldman) was killed in Bialystok after the Germans invaded in the summer of 1941. Jacek left the Warsaw Ghetto to join the partisans and nobody ever heard from him again. I received this photograph from my family in New York.” Katarzyna Meloch, Warszawa

While attempting to clean up what I laughing call my office I knocked a box off a shelf – out tumble all the family photos I had found when I closed up my mother’s house. The photos I had promised myself I would scan and catalogue while there were still people around who could remember those faces and places. A well-intentioned task still not begun 10 years later.

That and a New York Times article about a photograph exhibition at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York had me turning to a bookshelf to…

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Thowback Thursday

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday and because Eamon Kelly was one of the great seanchaí of our time and his stories truly celebrate Ireland.

Willy Or Won't He

The tradition of the seanchaithe is as old as the history of Ireland – and in fact they were the folk history of Ireland from the earliest times.  Some were servants of the tribal chiefs and it was their duty to keep track of the history and stories of their clan and in absence of written records to pass them on.  Some were itinerant travellers, moving from community to community offering their abilities in exchange for food, shelter and, in times of war, protection.  Others were members of established settlements who told and retold the histories and tales of the community and the country at ceremonies, feasts and events. Their stories, and the art of telling them, were passed on from one to another without being written down in an oral tradition that stretches to the earliest days of settlement on the island.

They should not be confused with the…

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A Loving Father

Throwback Thursday – a day late.

Yesterday my friend Debra, over at She Who Seeks, posted a slightly tongue-in-cheek tribute to a player in the pageant that is Christmas, who is often overlooked in all the carry-on:  Saint Joseph.  I’ve always had a soft-spot for the good saint and on a trip to Ariccia discovered a lovely painting, a copy of which now figures amongst the art work in our home. In the spirit of the season I thought I’d share it once again.

Willy Or Won't He

Though the Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia is filled with many wonders, I think the most wonderful is this simple painting by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. And the subject is not all that common – the normal devotional painting is Madonna with Child but here the infant Christ is held by his Earthly father San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph).


It was executed in 1623 for the chapel of the Palazzo and is one of Bernini’s rare paintings. And it is the only known work actually signed by the artist. All religious significance aside I find it an incredible vision of paternal love.

11 lulgio – San Benedetto da Norcia

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