Some later summer sounds have been very much in evidence in recent evenings. One of the most prominent here is that of the common katydid. This page has both photos and links to a few audio files. The exact call I've been hearing is here.
How could I possibly have missed this special exhibition, and the accompanying website, on paintings that tell American Stories? Looks like it has a lot to offer.
The exhibition is divided into four parts:
As just one example, have a look at Tea Leaves, 1909, by William McGregor Paxton. You'll need to use the large version, of course.
For an especially nice detail, you could try this: go to Francis William Edmonds' painting The New Bonnet (1858), enlarge it, and check out the great produce in the lower right corner. Makes me want to eat!
Note: This exhibition reminds me of two other online exhibitions devoted to Americana: Picturing America (at the NEH) and Seeing America (actually a book published by RIT).
Today I was (am) in more than usual need of something beautiful. It occurred to me to try Google Art, and so I proceeded to that site. Somewhat to my surprise, I rather quickly found a portrait that seemed a real candidate. As I looked at it through the extraordinary Google Art zoom feature, I could feel myself relaxing, that invariable, telling physical response to the truly beautiful.
I've postponed giving the title of the work and the artist's name because both of them are quite surprising, although in different ways. You might be -- as I was -- prejudiced against the lady who is portrayed, and thus dismiss the work without really looking. Please don't, as the portrait is truly fine.
For me, the first surprise was that a portrait of that lady exists which could defensibly be deemed beautiful. My second surprise was that the artist was a woman, Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. Who knew?
Remember: you'll need to zoom in order really to appreciate this work.
I'm feeling sad today and so have just looked up sadness at Wikipedia. The article there is brief but rather helpful.
Sadness, it says, is emotional pain associated with loss. The loss may be smaller or greater, involving simple disappointment or actual death of a loved one. People experiencing sadness usually are more quiet and have less enthusiasm and energy than their ordinary selves. It represents a lowering of mood, usually temporary.
Sadness is viewed as one of the four main emotions -- sad, mad, glad and afraid.
(Some would add disgusted and surprised.)
Sadness is regarded, somewhat surprisingly, as a useful emotion. (I suppose they are all useful? at least at times?) According to Wikipedia, for actor John Cleese, "the idea that sadness was actually useful was probably the most important, and for me the most surprising single thing" that he learned in therapy.
A main function of sadness is to help the person experiencing it to adjust to the very loss that has given rise to the feeling. The associated drop in energy is accompanied by an introspective withdrawal. The latter creates the opportunity to mourn the loss, and to grasp its significance and consequences. Once those are absorbed, the experiencer can begin planning a new phase of his or her life.
As a result, sadness can represent 'a healthy and appropriate response to experiences of loss and disappointment, whether personal or global'. (K. Masman, The Uses of Sadness, pp. 1-2.)
The Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry, have twelve leaves setting out the yearly calendar at the very beginning of the manuscript. You can read a little about them here and see them all, one by one, here:
January: Youth and Old Age, Aquarius (f. 2r) February: Man Warming his Hands, Pisces (f. 3r) March: Cultivating Vines, Aries (f. 4r) April: Courtier Smelling a Flower, Taurus (f. 5r)
May: Falconing, Gemini (f. 6r) June: Scything Hay, Cancer (f. 7r) July: Harvesting Wheat, Leo (f. 8r) August: Threshing Wheat, Virgo (f. 9r)
September: Treading Grapes, Libra (f. 10r) October: Sowing, Scorpio (f. 11r) November: Feeding Pigs, Sagittarius (f. 12r) December: Slaughtering a Boar, Capricorn (f. 13r)
I've mentioned Les Belles Heures of the Duc de Berry once or twice in the past. In recent days I've been looking more closely at the blog entries made during the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition in 2010.
There's quite a lot to say on the subject and I'm not quite ready yet. In case you'd like a preview, though, you could take a look at this page of thumbnails which covers all the sides containing a miniature.
Compare those to a typical text page (f. 166r) in order to appreciate the artistry of the miniaturists.
One of the things I've learned in the last week is that, in addition to the standard contents, the Belles Heures of Jean de Berry also includes seven “picture book” cycles that tell stories through a set full-page illuminations. On these pages the text is limited to a few lines in alternating red and blue ink. The brief texts included on the pages are not devotional, like the texts in a typical book of hours, but rather relate stories from the lives of the saints.
Different pages have different-sized miniatures. There are two main sizes:
The Morgan Library building itself is a work of art. You can best appreciate this by clicking on the photo of the building (white, on the left) and checking out the slideshow. Note that some rooms have multiple views.
Alternatively, you could just make your way down this list of the four rooms depicted in the slideshow:
You can also see a floorplan of the entire campus. You can get a somewhat different viewpoint of the whole by exploring the interactive floorplan. Note the four main, or original, rooms in the upper right corner of both maps.