Tippin' the Scales

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Small Bells, Big Meaning

doge01The buttons on the jacket of the doge of Venice are called campanoni d’ori, ‘big golden bells’, and if you’ve seen them once, they will never escape you. Venetian painting is Republican painting and the ceremonial cloak of the doge, the head of state, is also omnipresent. When I saw this picture of Doge Leonardo Loredan in London, I heard the knots tinkling, very softly. Tick, tick, ting, ting, as hollow wooden bells.

Loredan was the elected leader of the Venetian Republic from 1501 to 1521 (okay, chosen by two committees, not by the whole people). I tried to imagine how our own elected leaders in this cape would look like. That did not quite succeed.

doge02Doge Leonardo Loredan had the choice of three coats: white with gold, crimson or scarlet. The latter was only for mourning. From the 12th century until the collapse of the Republic in the 18th century the Venetian doge wore such a robe, and the details always meant something. When he stood still, he wore the golden bells on the front, like a statue, as in this painting that resembles a classical bust. When he moved, he pushed the buttons sideways, and if he was to appear as a warrior in armor, then he placed the row of bells on his right shoulder in chivalrous tradition. Everyone knew that, so everyone knew what was going on.

Maybe our elected leaders should still wear such a cloak, so we finally know what they’re up to …

Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan (1501-04) by Giovanni Bellini, in National Gallery, London.


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Life Of Man

The curtain is lifted to give us a clear view of an inn, where young and old are enjoying eating, drinking, playing and flirting.

But for Jan Steen, it was not just about cheerful conviviality. His message is concealed in a small detail by the window. Up in the dark attic, a boy is blowing bubbles next to a skull. Although life is wonderful, eventually it will burst like a bubble.

Jan Steen, The Life of Man, c. 1665, Mauritshuis Den Haag


Details of Art

In the huge, 13 meter wide The Feast in the House of Levi (formerly the Last Supper), this little cat is secretly fishing for a bone from under the table cloth.

The Feast in the House of Levi or Christ in the House of Levi is a 1573 painting by Italian painter Paolo Veronese and one of the largest canvases of the 16th century, measuring 555 x 1280 cm (18 x 42 feet). It is now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. It was painted by Veronese for the rear wall of the refectory of the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a Dominican friary, as a Last Supper, to replace an earlier work by Titian destroyed in the fire of 1571.

However, the painting led to an investigation by the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Veronese was called to answer for irreverence and indecorum, and the serious offence of heresy was mentioned. He was asked to explain why the painting contained “buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities” as well as extravagant costumes and settings, in what is indeed a fantasy version of a Venetian patrician feast. Veronese was told that he must change his painting within a three-month period; instead, he simply changed the title to The Feast in the House of Levi, still an episode from the Gospels, but less doctrinally central, and one in which the Gospels specified “sinners” as present. After this, no more was said.

Take a visit to the Details of Art website

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The Details Of Art

tumblr_nmqkg7x3h41ta7etlo1_500Every Saturday, together with Volkskrant newspaper, comes a supplement magazine called ‘Sir Edmund’. The magazine is about new ideas and the latest developments in thinking, from science to art, from literature to new media.

One part of the magazine interest me most, ‘Details of Art’. One full page shows you a detail of a painting, a part you would normally not see, but the interesting story which goes with it makes you think.

There’s also a website that features these ‘details’, like the one to the right, graffiti on a pillar in the New Church of Delft, next to the tomb of William the Silent. (Gerard Houckgeest, The Tomb of William the Silent in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, 1651. At Maurits Huis Museum, The Hague)

Things we take for granted as a sign of our time are as old as the road to Rome.

Have a look around at above mentioned website and see paintings from another perspective.

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Smell Of Pines…

CIMG5863An unplanned day is sometimes a good one. Yesterday was such a day. I promised my ‘boss’ I would visit the Kröller-Müller museum sculpture gardens to see one of the projects members of our Guild helped to make and construct. Officially I would go last Sunday, but due to the weather forecast I stayed home.

Yesterday, it was Sunny, a bit windy and some clouds, but great to travel. A bus from Valys picked me up at home and brought me and my electric scooter to the entrance of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Some 62 miles / 100 km from Amsterdam. If you go there buy tickets in advance (e-ticket).

From the entrance to the museum is about 2 miles / 3 km, you can take a free white bike and cycle all the way, while you sniff the smell of pines, and for a change they don’t come out of an aerosol can. Or drive by car (beware you buy a parking ticket too when you buy your tickets online.)

I just went to see The Circle of Clothing, a project by Pet van de Luijtgaarden, he’s a collector of collections. 100 designers and tailors worked together on this project, a fifth of them members of the Guild.

Afterwards I drove further into the park on my way to Jachtslot St Hubertus, the summer residence of the former owners of the grounds. Next time I buy a ticket in advance just to see the interior of that building, a Gezamtkunstwerk by architect / designer Berlage.

BTW, the second largest collection of paintings by Van Gogh hangs in the Kröller-Müller Museum. So what you’ve missed at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, can be seen there.

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Sand Castle

Friend Mitchell (is moving) tells regularly of the sand sculptures which are build in front of his home in Spain.

These guys tell their story of how they carve a castle in a single grain of sand.

Brazilians artists Vik Muniz and Marcelo Coelho have visualized a monumental project on a microscopic scale: the two have etched grandiose castles onto the surface of individual, miniscule grains of sand.

Reversing the traditional notions of these fortresses being built in three dimensions from the sand itself, Muniz and Coelho instead reinterpret the term ‘sandcastle’ by intricately carving the form directly onto a single grain. With a canvas of just a half a millimeter in length, the precise portrayals are naked to the human eye, created with the use of a focused ion beam and scanning electron microscope, and are later blown up as four-feet-wide macro photos, which describe the elaborate detail in high quality.



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A Moving Musical

Wednesday afternoon my Dad and I went to see ‘Soldaat van Oranje’ – the musical. It was a gift from my sisters and brother. We talked a lot over the past 2 years about seeing it, but I wasn’t sure if my Dad could handle it.

World War 2 is not a subject we kids talk about, when Dad is around. He lost many friends in that period, and during Remembrance Day, May 4, he’s very still.

Okay, he had some bad spells during the performance, but was glad he had seen the play. Most of the people in the theater were 60+, so they had support from each other. We where not sitting next to each other, I was in row 2, with my nose right on the stage, and he was sitting in row seven, with a good view on the performance.

The musical is based on the book by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema which was made into a movie in 1977 Soldier of Orange.  The show takes place in a former flight hangar, that is converted into a theatre. The location of the so called TheaterHangaar is former military airport Valkenburg between Wassenaar, Katwijk en Leiden, a suitable, historical place. The stage circles the seats, so from scene to scene the audience moves to the next scene. At the end of the performance you can see all scenes next to each other as you make a 360 degrees turn.

Most remarkable is the scene on the beach, real dunes, real sand, real waves, and at the back a giant screen on which you see the German bomber planes going to Rotterdam, 4 days after the war started on May 18, 1940, known as the Rotterdam Blitz. I wasn’t sure how he would react to the ‘Execution by firing squad’ in the Waalsdorper Dunes, but the woman sitting next to Dad took care of that.

At the end when HRH Queen Wilhelmina returns to Dutch soil is impressive too. She steps from a real Dakota plane and the doors from the hangar are half open, so you feel the wind blowing into to theater.

It’s a long performance, it started at 14.00 / 2 pm and closed at 17.30 / 5.30 pm with a break of less then half an hour. But well worth it, we both agreed on that.

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