Throwback Thursday

As I mentioned I’ve been going through exhibition catalogues. Of course when I say going through I mean I’ve been pulling one off the shelf and then spending the next three hours thumbing through it and reliving the experience. One of the most memorable, of so many memorable, was an exhibition I went through twice at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence: Bronzino – Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici. As a Throwback Thursday I thought I’d revisit that exhibition again over the next day or two.

On this day in 1897: Dreyfus affair: Émile Zola is brought to trial for libel for publishing J’accuse.

Willy Or Won't He

Despite my constant complaining about their website TrenItalia does make travel within Italy remarkably easy to most of the major cities. With their new Frecce high speed trains Napoli is only 90 minutes from Roma as is Firenze in the other direction. So Sunday it came as no surprise heading back on the 2010 out of Firenze to see a fair number of people in our car clutching – as where my friend Peter and I – programmes from the Maggio Musicale performance of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and catalogues from the Bronzino exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi.

We had taken a morning train up and arrived – in the pouring rain – at Santa Maria Novella with enough time to catch the exhibition, have a leisurely lunch at Trattoria 4 Leoni and make the late afternoon performance at the Teatro Communale. And we were back home in…

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Throwback Thursday

Two or three days ago I was making a half-hearted attempt to cull the books in the den. Many of them haven’t moved since they were put on the shelves almost three years ago. I came across Volumes 1 and 3 of John Julius Norwich’s trilogy on the history of Byzantium. I then recalled that I had never been able to lay my hands on Volume 2 and had no idea what happened between the reigns of Irene of Athens and Alexios I Komnenos. Who had been beheaded, blinded, castrated or otherwise mutilated in what was considered the apogee of the Empire. I immediately put in an order for a copy which should be on its way to me in the next day or two.

In the meantime I thought I’d take a look back at a particularly fascinating piece from the exceptional Byzantine Collection at the Bode in Berlin. So it was off to the Hippodrome for a day at the races.

On this day in 1747: The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.

Willy Or Won't He

A day at the Hippodrome was a big event when Constantinople was the jewel of the Eastern World. Festivals – religious and secular – triumphs, marriages, births, events of all sorts, particularly when an unpopular Emperor was trying to curry favour with a fickle people – were celebrated with chariot races surrounded by pomp and ceremony. So popular were these races that the political parties took their colours from the four racing teams. The colour you supported indicated not only who was your favorite team but what political party you belonged to. In his marvelous triptych history of Byzantium hardly a chapter goes by without John Julius Norwich making some reference to the Hippodrome and the races as part of not only daily life but the tumultuous history of Constantinople.

This piece of carved stone, found in the Byzantine Collection at the Bode Museum, served two purposes – as…

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Throw Back Thursday

A conversation with my friend Yannis earlier this week brought back memories of our many visits to Greece during the four years we lived in Italy.

Aetos Dios – Eagle of Zeus on the verso of a drachma.

I had mentioned our anniversary in Arachova which led to a day spent at Delphi – the navel or omphalos of the world in Greek mythology. It is told that Zeus, in his attempt to locate the centre of the earth, sent two eagles from the two ends of the world. The eagles, starting simultaneously and flying at equal speed, crossed their paths above the area of Delphi, and so was this was the place where Zeus placed the Omphalos stone .

Amongst all the wonders at Delphi the most wonderful was coming face to face with the Charioteer.

To my friends who received an notification of the updating I did to the original 2008 post – I apologize for any unwanted or repetitive emails.

On this day in 1857: The University of Calcutta is formally founded as the first fully fledged university in South Asia.

Willy Or Won't He

After all these years of travelling I’m still taken aback when I turn a corner and come face to face with something I’ve read or heard about since I was a child.

I recall a picture of the Charioteer of Delphi in a school history book from perhaps grade 5 or 6 – and yes we had printed books back then, Gutenberg had just invented the printing press.

The Charioteer of Delphi

For some reason his impassive gaze stayed in my mind. And last Saturday when I entered the room where he is housed in the Delphi Museum I found myself once again transfixed by that calm stare but this time it was not a picture – it was the real thing.

The eyes of the Victor

It is rare that the eyes of a bronze of this age are found intact but the white enamel with black stone insets were perfectly preserved and still look out betraying no…

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Thowback Thursday

The gift of a catalogue from the recent exhibition of Zurbarán’s Jacob and His Twelve Sons at the Frick reminded me of photographs I took at the Iglesia de los Santos Juanes in Valencia. It also reminded me of a smaller but equally fascinating exhibition that we saw at the Rijksmuseum in 2012. I’m working on something about Santos Juanes but in the meantime thought I’d throwback to Amsterdam six years ago.

Willy Or Won't He

On of the great joys of museum going is when a curator successfully leads you from one contrasting media to another.  I always remember stumbling out of the Green Vault at the Albertinium Museum in Dresden bedazzzled with the baroque splendor of its gems, gold and silver and being confronted by the stark Tim Burton-like sculptures of Thomas Reichstein and Andreas Feininger’s black and white photographs of a long past Amercia.  It was a strange juxtaposition of periods and medium and even stranger it worked.

Much the same effect was achieved with the Rijksmusuem’s mounting of a small exhibition to mark the publication of a catalogue of the complete works of the Dutch engraver Hendrik Goltzius (left in a self-portrait).  In the preceding room are two enormous works: the most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum’s collection, Rembrandt’s The Militia Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch (The…

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Throwback Thursday on Friday

And once again we look back on earlier days…..

… when the Hounds from Hell were merely Puppies from Purgatory

Reesie (left) always had that slightly woeful look while Bundnie was all-knowing.

On December 26, 2007 we had to say goodbye to our Reesie. We were living in Chicago in 1992 when he came into our lives and he travelled with us and Bundnie – who had found us in Cairo – to each new home in Ottawa, Montreal, Warsaw, and back to Ottawa. Bundnie was no longer with us when we made the move to Rome that summer of 2007 but the Reeserman was there for one final trip. After he died I swore that there would be no more dogs and each time the subject was brought up would assume that look and those pursed lips I learned at my mother’s knee that said: NO, AND I MEAN IT.

On the left we have Eleanora di Capena (Nora) and on the right Fantastico Nicky (Nicky) as we prepare to leave la Casa degli orsi in Capena on April 25, 2009.

And that resolve lasted a full year and a half until Spring of 2009. On April 25 of that year we pulled away from the Casa degli orsi in Capena with me sitting in the backseat of the car,  Nora cowering in the corner and a whining Nicky on my lap with his sharp little claws digging into my cashmere sweater.  Nora gave up cowering very quickly – when being chastised her normal demeanour is to simply stare you down.  Nicky’s claws are no longer little needles but he still whines.

To celebrate, and in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d repost a few of the many videos I took back when the Hounds from Hell first came into our lives.  I was very busy with the camera back in those days and the HFH videos became a tedious fixture here for a goodly number of months.

The first appearance by the HFH on video and on the blog:

Followed by quite a few more

There were many more videos during that time in Rome and a few back in Ottawa – yes our dogs travel!

Here’s a full grown Nicky showing the stuff he’s made of:

And our Nora, now a mature lady, being very very vocal and frankly a bit of a nag:

I’m glad my lips unpursed and resolve faltered back in 2009 – they are the Hounds from Hell but they are Our Hounds from Hell.

On this day in 1667: John Milton, blind and impoverished, sells the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10.