Tuesday, 20 September 2016

My half a day in London - Victoria and Albert Museum - The 8th of September 2016

I managed to sleep quite well and despite having realised my feet weren't in a much better condition than they had been the previous evening I risked nevertheless to head towards the Victoria and Albert Museum in order to visit it, once I had visited it almost forty years back.

Natural History Museum

Mia and I didn't realise then that we would spend the next three hours strolling around one single floor exhibition, having therefore seen just a limited number of artefacts the Museum has to offer its visitors. I did recall very little of what I had seen many years ago but it was irrelevant because the truth is I was in my element among those majestic sculptures.

Samson slaying a Philistine - about 1562 by Giovanni Bologna.  Giambologna as the sculptor was know worked at the court of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tucani and is said to have become the most famous and influential sculptor of his day.This spectacular marble group was his first major commission.

The rape of Proserpina - about 1565. Probably based on a model by Vincenzo de Rossi.This dramatic sculpture shows Pluto, the king of the underworld carrying off Proserpina whom he had fallen in love.

Water spout cast in about 1490-1520. This mask and pipe channelled water from a cistern to fall into a basin below. The peculiar design shows a dragon's face which emerges from a lion's head.


Effigy of Don Garcia de Osorio -  alabaster - 1499

Dom Garcia, a knight of the Order of Santiago was buried in the church of San Pedro in Toledo. Though he wears a chain mail and armour, his helmet has been removed and placed at his feet with a symbolic figure of mourning.
The cross on the left breast of his cloak shows that he belonged to the Order of Santiago, a combined military and religious order dedicated to St. James and founded in the 12th century. The lowest arm of the cross resembles a sword blade and reflects the dual nature of the Order.

Effigy od Dona Maria Perea - 1499-1505
Dona Maria, whose husband 's effigy is shown nearby holds rosary beads as a sign of piety. This piety is also symbolised by the books at her feet. Her sober, modest dress is nonethless expensive, as suggested by the delicate eçbroidery edging her undergarment. It is believed both effigies may originally have been painted.

Virgin of Misericordia - About 1440-41 by Bartolomeo Bon and workshop.
A Venetian scuola (confraternity) commissioned this sculpture to sit over the entrance of their meeting house. Members of the confraternity shelter under the Virgin's cloak. Surrounding the Virgin are prophets seated in the tree of jesse. They hold scrolls announcing the coming of Christ, who is shown as a baby on the Virgin's breast. The pointed arch reflects the Gothic style of the original setting. Bartolomeo Bon was a member of the confraternity and one of the most important scupltors in Renaissance in Venice. The mandorla (from the Italian word for "almond") was a type of halo that enclosed the entire body and was usually used to depict moments that transcend time and space.


The Boppard Altarpiece - limewood and pine, painted and gilded - About 1500-10.
The central scene shows the Virgin presenting the Christ Child to her Mother St. Anne. The altarpiece probably comes from the Church of the Carmelites in Boppard, near Koblenz.

The death of the Virgin -  Walnut, painted and gilded - About 1430-40
Her Christ shown with his hand raised in blessing, has returned to transport his Mother's soul and body to Heaven upon her death. Some of the Apostles are reading  prayers. On the far right, one apostle holds a censer so another can pour incense into it from an incense boat.

Altarpiece with the adoration of the shepherds - Poplar, painted and gilded -  About 1500- Probably by Giovan Pietro de Donati and Giovani Ambrogio de Donati.
This example of pala with figures on both high and low relief is typical of sculptors from Lombardy.

The Brixen Altarpiece - limewood and pine, painted and gilded - About 1500-10 by Rupert Potsch and Philipp Diemer.
The Virgin Mary sits in the centre, flanked by St. Florian and St. John the Baptist. The lower section was a cupboard for relics. Its two central panel showing St. Dorothy and St. Catherine of Alexandria, qre hinged and served as doors.

St. Margaret and the dragon - limestone - About 1530-40
St. Margaret is shown with her symbol of the dragon. Pregnant women called upon her to protect them in childbirth because of her miraculous escape from the belly of a dragon.

The adoration of the kings - tin glazed terracotta - About 1500-10 by Andrea della Robbia
The arms on the lower panel show that the wealthy Albizzi family commissioned this altarpiece. The exotic heargear worn by the King's followers signifies that they were from the East.

The raising of Lazarus - fresco transferred to canvas - About 1538-40 by Perino del Vaga.
This fresco is all that survives of the decoration commissioned by the magistrate Angelo Massimi for his chapel in Rome. Perino de Vaga trained with Raphael in Rome but was later influenced by Michelangelo. Here Christ extends his hand towards Lazarus, whom he has miraculously revived from the dead. 


Section from a screen -  Marble - About 1272 by the workshop of Nicola Pisano.
This relief came from a screen that separated the clergy's seating area from the choir in Sienna Cathedral. The lion and cub are a symbol of Christ's resurrection, as it was believed that cubs were born dead and revived at the touch of a parent's breath.

(To be continued)


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