Sunday, 22 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

An illustration from Eliza F. Manning's book The Coming of Father Christmas (1894).
It's time to rejoice! The breaking news of the month was that British Library has published one million public domain images on their Flickr account. What a splendid Christmas present for all us history enthusiasts! Coming from 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and covering all kind of themes, the pictures offer an endless treasure trove for studying, crafting and graphic design. The museum is also planning to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year to gather more knowledge about the images. Next year you will also hear of me again. Merry Christmas and My Best Wishes for 2014!

Monday, 2 December 2013

A Cavalcade of Sculpted Lions

A lion roaring in Musei Capitolini.
The shimmering white landscape - what does it make you think about? Well, lions of course! More precisely, Aslan, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, the lord of Narnia, the great Lion himself. C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) was one of my beloved childhood books and it inevitably belonged to the winter season. I'm not sure which came first: was Aslan fascinating because he is a lion, or are lions fascinating because of Aslan? In any case, I'm always spotting lions everywhere, along with other intriguing beasts such as dragons and gryphons. You may remember my previous posts about the study trip to Rome last spring. Indeed, I did take around 5,000 photos during those two hectic weeks, so not surprisingly I was able to capture a whole pride of lions while there. In this post I concentrate on the most presentable shots of sculptural art. A cavalcade of one-dimensional lions will follow soon.
A lion guarding the courtyard of Lateran cloister.
A black lion on the top of Corinthian column in the Lateran cloister yard.
Here is an interesting composition I don't recall seeing before. A lion holding Baby Jesus? The pair on the right (not shown in the photo) holds a lamb. The lion here could refer to the Lion of Judah, the symbol of the tribe Jesus originated from. The statues guard the entrance of Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.
A nicely tarnished lion head on the lid of an antique sarcophagus, close to the entrance of  Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.
A lion attending the holy Mass, Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.
A lion relief in the staircase of Palazzo Barberini.
A lion relief outside Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
A clumb of lions in Musei Capitolini.
A great lion lying in Musei Capitolini.
A hook-nosed lion on an antique sarcophagus, Musei Capitolini.
A majestic lion in black marble, Musei Vaticani.
A lion with very conscious eyes. Note also the lion shaped table feet on the back. Musei Vaticani.
An intricate lion head on an antique sarcophagus, Musei Vaticani.
A lion attacking a wild boar. A fragment of sarcophagus (AD end of the 3rd century), Musei Vaticani.
Daniel in the lions' den. On the left you see Habakkuk bringing him food. The lions look rather obedient. A detail of so called Sarcophagus of Two Brothers (AD 325-350), Musei Vaticani.