This blog recently underwent an intense and prolonged attack by spammers. When, after some days, it had still not died down, I felt obliged to take steps to make it more difficult to post comments. In the course of doing that, I somehow inadvertently deleted comments from actual and valued contributors. I very much regret that this happened, and apologize for the mishap.
The Book of Hours known as Huntington Library Manuscript HM 1174 is one of my favorites. If you like, you can take a quick look at many of its images here, with thumbnails, brief descriptions and much larger images.
The first twelve images are devoted to the typical medieval
calendar. Here's the description provided by the Huntington Library
catalogue of these pages:
Each month of the
calendar written across an opening; both sides with bracket borders
in the outer margins so as to almost enclose the
opening; in the lower margins, framed by gold columns and arches are, - on
the verso a monthly occupation; and - on the
facing recto, a smaller occupation scene continuing the activity of the
divided by a column from the adjacent zodiac
Here are the twelve, divided up according to season:
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, owner of a favorite museum website, has joined the Google Art Project. Looking over its 158 offerings there, I spotted the Six Tuscan Poets, 1544, by Giorgio Vasari. One is Dante and another is Petrarch. Who are the other four? According to ArtsConnected, the six are, from left to right: Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Giovanni Bocaccio, Francesco Petrarch, Dante Alighieri, and Cavalcanti.
Vasar is, of course, best known for his "Lives of the Florentine Artists." He was, however, an artist himself and, as we can see from this work, quite a good one.
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Having described the problem, Einstein then continues:
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
I remember reading this story in 2011 when it was first published in the New York Times. It's such a good story, though, so moving and real, that I like to go back from time to time and read it again.
It's all about a wallet that was lost in about 1970 in New York City and then unexpectedly found, sealed away behind some masonry, just over forty years later. Not long afterward, it was restored to its original owner. What affects me the most, I think, is reading about how emotional a moment it was for that man when he first took hold of the wallet again, with all its thirty-year-old memories suddenly reawakend.
This page at the New York Times site also has a short video that shows both the place where the wallet was hidden away in the old Times building and also the man's reaction when it is first handed back to him.
Sometimes I take this literally, but more often figuratively. Either way, I think it's beautiful and it does sum up much of what I want and feel:
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4) (NIV)
The Library of Trinity College, Dublin, has just placed the entirety of the Book of Kells online. I havent' figured out yet how to bookmark individual pages, and that may actually prove impossible. Take a look at these pages, however, to get a feel for some of the riches now available:
53 (symbols of the Four Evangelists); 55, 56 (beg. of Gospel of St. Matthew); 63 (Christ enthroned); 64 (carpet page); 66 (famous Chi Rho page); 226 (Christ arrested); 246; 257 (symbols of Four Evangelists); 258 (beg. of Gospel); 372, 373, 374 (beg. of Gospel); 398-402 (genealogy of Christ); 403 (temptation of Christ); 568 (a personal favorite); 579 (symbols of the Four Evangelists); 581, 582 (beg. of Gospel of St. John); 677 (last surviving side).
Only yesterday did I come across ex-voto paintings for the first time, and I find myself haunted by them. An ex-voto painting is one dedicated to God or a saint in thanks for a favor received, usually in answer to a prayer. The painting usually depicts the situation needing help, and the supernatural power who secured it, and has an inscription at the bottom explaining what has happened.
Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were both very interested in ex-voto paintings as they are an important form of folk art in Mexico. Here is one such painting that apparently belonged to Kahlo.
Just a few moments ago I discovered the Sacred Art Pilgrim website. It is dedicated to sacred art of our own era, a much-neglected area. People who enjoy this site (i.e., Something Beautiful) will probably find much to admire there.