Tag Archives: art history

Mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale

We’ve already established that I suck at history, and while we’re on the topic of embarrassing self-disclosures, I confess I didn’t realize until recently that Normans were French.  Here’s what I do know about Normans (other than that they all seem to have been named William): they built some gorgeous Romanesque buildings.  In Sicily, once […]

Bernini’s Saint Teresa: ecstasy made of marble

We’re all bombarded daily with urgent demands: buy now! renew now! click now! save the environment!  save your soul!  I too have a demand for you and while it won’t whiten your teeth, update the virus protection on your computer, or reward you with salacious celebrity gossip, it’s truly urgent: get yourself to Rome.  Walk rapidly, dodging Vespas with a […]

In which St. Francis preaches to the birds, tames a wolf and jumps the shark

What saint could be more endearing than St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals?  St. Francis (1182 – 1226) grew up as a rich, fashionable boy in Assisi, but a religious epiphany turned him from a dandy to a monk.  He “married” poverty, founded the Franciscan order of friars, and was a hugely influential […]

Giotto’s Scrovengni chapel: betrayal, revenge and dorky camels

It’s a devastating moment in the life of Joachim, a pious and generous man.  He wants most of all to give to the poor and sacrifice to the Lord, but the rabbi rudely rejects him.  As Joachim and his wife Anna are growing old but still childless, the rabbi declares they are cursed by God and unwelcome […]

Saint Sernin Basilica, Toulouse: Romanesque enchantment (just ignore the parking lot)

By now you know that I feel all warm in my ladyparts just thinking about Romanesque art and architecture, most especially French Romanesque.  The juiciest of all French Romanesque buildings are the pilgrimage churches, and Saint Sernin is a delightful representation of a French Romanesque pilgrimage church, complete with stunning well-preserved stone carvings, medieval frescos, capital carvings, an […]

Bamberg Cathedral’s Last Judgment tympanium: some kings go to heaven, some kings go to H-E-double hockey stick.

See, there’s Christ in the center, with Virgin and St. John at his feet.  Some happy naked people are popping up out of graves under his feet.  On the left, some annoyingly self-satisfied folks are headed to their eternal reward, on the right, well, the facial expressions say it all. I know, I know,  I […]

Gothic sculpture in Bamberg: disputing prophets and apostles, a touch of anti-semitism, and a secret tip

Do you love Gothic sculpture?  Well, what are you waiting for?  Get yourself over to Bamberg, Germany asap, run up a steep hill past all the college kids drinking smoked beer, past the City Hall that may or may not have been designed by Jeff Koons, to the cathedral.  Don’t miss the superb tympanum and the […]

The cloister of Monreale Cathedral

There’s a certain reaction I have, when looking though an art history book, an “Aha, there you are!” recognition that’s–let’s face it– a sense of entitlement.  I study the reproduction of a building or artwork and say to myself with certainty,  “I am going to go see that.”  Without fail, I have always felt just that […]