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

bundnie-and-reesie
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.

nick-and-nora-1
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.

Trans Atlantic Caricature

I received an email yesterday from a gentleman who had been searching the internet for information on the great Swedish caricaturist Einar Nerman. He came across the series I did seven years ago taken from a long out of print little book called Caught in the Act. It was published when I was using BlogSpot and I had to do a bit of tiddling up to make it work with WordPress coding – not to my mind graphical the most pleasing but that doesn’t rob the pleasure to be derived from Nerman’s brilliant pen strokes. And I thought I’d renew that pleasure with another look at his work.

Willy Or Won't He


When I was writing about Al Hirschfeld last week I remembered a slender little book I had picked up many years ago on one of my – what was in those days – frequent trips to London. Einar Nerman – or simply as he was know Nerman – was a Swedish artist who in 1921 moved to London at the suggestion of playwright/composer/actor/producer Ivor Novello. For the next 19 years he chronicled the theatrical and social scene in London mostly working for The Tatler, a weekly society and gossip magazine and Eve – a weekly look at things classical in the music world.

I think this has to be my favorite drawing of one of my favorite playwrights. Nerman catches George Bernard Shaw at his most curmudgeonly and cocking a snood at the world as he poses in his pajamas and comfortable slippers.

Many of the West End…

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Throwback Thursday

Back in June of 2011 I made one of my frequent trips up to Milan for the opera. It was my last assignment for Opera Britannia – Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette conducted by Yannik Nézet-Séquin. As always I took an extra day or two to luxuriate in the wonders which that incredible city had to offer. The Museo Diocesano was a bit off the beaten track but it was, as Michelin use to say back in the days when they were an impeccable source, “worth the detour!”

Unfortunately with some of the older posts that were transferred over from BlogSpot I have not been able to reformat for a more pleasing page display.

On this day in 1872: Illinois becomes the first state to require gender equality in employment.

Willy Or Won't He

“You brought the sunshine with you from Roma,” beamed the always welcoming Vittoria as I checked in a week ago Monday at the Hotel Star in Milano.  And indeed after several days of continuous rain it seemed that the sun had returned to warm the Piazza Duomo and it was a glorious day for strolling through Centro.  However my gift was short-lived: the next morning Vittoria suggested that an umbrella and a sweater would be more appropriate than SF15 to the day.

Peck is a food lover’s paradise however the stern warning tells you – No dogs! No Photos!  And some of the staff give a new dimension to Milan attitude – except for Bruno behind the prepared food counter who is charm incarnate. Though at those prices everyone should be.

Fortunately even in the rain Milano has much to offer – it means spending a bit of extra time…

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Throwback Thursday

A week or two ago I recalled a visit to the Exhibition celebrating the reopening of the Vatican Library back in 2011. One of the many beautiful illuminated manuscripts that caught my eye was a choir book from the 16th century – the earliest compilation by one composer in their vast collection. I thought I’d revisit it today.

Willy Or Won't He

An engraving from 1578 by Etienne Duperac of the Sistine Chapel shows the full pomp of a papal religious ceremony with the singers in their “cantoria” (lower right) gathered around a lectern. The bottom of the hand coloured engraving has been cut off but other copies show that every important participant is identified by a number corresponding to a legend at the bottom of the page. (From the V&A website)

There was a time when the finest composers and musicians were attached to the Papacy. Music at both Saint Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel were of a quality equal to any in the world. Many great composers are recorded to have been associated with the music making in the Papal chapels and court: Dufay, Ninot le Petit, Festa, Josquin, Palestrina, de Morales,  Landi – a roll call of the major talents of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. …

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