Alma Tadema drawing discovery on flea market


The newly discovered Alma Tadema drawing, photo Fries Museum

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Drawing by Frisian artist Alma Tadema found at flea market

The Fries Museum in Leeuwarden has bought a drawing by Alma Tadema that has been found at a flea market. It is probably a portrait that the Frisian artist made of his niece Sientsje Tadema.

The work was presented to the museum by a Belgian who found it at the flea market in Brussels. He then contacted the Fries Museum.

Curator Marlies Stoter investigated the work and recognized Alma Tadema by the combination of the fine lines and strong pencil lines in the dark parts of the drawing.

Longing women

Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema (1836-1912) is an artist from Dronrijp who emigrated to England after his studies at the art academy in Antwerp. During his studies he regularly made portraits of people from his immediate environment.

In 2016 there was a large exhibition about the artist in the Fries Museum. It mainly showed his images of ancient Roman scenes with longing beautiful women. That was a great success: 158,000 visitors came to it.

The drawing can be seen from April 20 on at the exhibition Collected Work: the rich collection of Friesland, writes regional broadcasting organisation Omrop Fryslân. The museum now has 18 paintings and around 90 works on paper by the artist.

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Egyptian pyramid age tomb discovery


This 13 April 2019 video says about itself:

Egypt unveiled a 4,400-year-old tomb on Saturday. The site was discovered in early April in the Saqqara burial site in the Giza Governorate.

The tomb belonged to a Fifth Dynasty nobleman named Khuwy and consisted of chambers and sub-chambers decorated in colourful reliefs and well-preserved inscriptions.

Secretary General of Supreme Council for Egyptian Antiquities Mostafa el-Waziry said archaeologists were able to identify fingerprints of the tomb’s painter.

A group of reportedly 52 foreign ambassadors and cultural attaches, among them Egyptian actress Yousra, accompanied Waziry at the unveiling ceremony.

From AFP news agency, 13 April 2019:

Egypt unveils colourful Fifth Dynasty tomb

In a major archaeological discovery, Egypt on Saturday unveiled the tomb of a Fifth Dynasty official adorned with colourful reliefs and well preserved inscriptions.

The tomb, south of Saqqara, a vast necropolis south of Cairo, belongs to a senior official named Khuwy who is believed to have been a nobleman during the Fifth Dynasty, which ruled over Egypt about 4300 years ago.

“The L-shaped Khuwy tomb starts with a small corridor heading downwards into an antechamber and from there a larger chamber with painted reliefs depicting the tomb owner sitting at an offerings table” said Mohamed Megahed, the excavation team’s head, in an antiquities ministry statement.

Flanked by dozens of ambassadors, antiquities minister Khaled al-Enani said that the tomb was found last month.

It is mostly made of white limestone bricks.

Ornate paintings boast a special green resin throughout and oils used in the burial process, the ministry said.

The tomb’s north wall indicates that its design was inspired by the architectural blueprint of the dynasty’s royal pyramids, the statement added.

The excavation team has unearthed several tombs related to the Fifth Dynasty.

Archaeologists recently found an inscription on a granite column dedicated to Queen Setibhor, who is believed to have been the wife of King Djedkare Isesis, the eighth and penultimate king of the dynasty.

2-year-old crying refugee girl, World Press Photo winner


This 11 April 2019 video says about itself:

Viral Photo Of Crying Girl At The Border Wins 2019 World Press Photo Awards

A viral image of a crying Honduran child at the U.S.-Mexico border has won the 2019 World Press Photo contest’s Photo of the Year prize.

The Amsterdam-based World Press Photo Foundation announced the winners of the annual awards on Thursday, honoring the best photojournalism of the prior year.

The winning photo, “Crying Girl on the Border”, was taken by Getty Images photojournalist John Moore. It shows the 2-year-old child crying while her mother, a Honduran asylum-seeker, is detained by U.S. border agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas.

Translated from Dutch Nieuwsuur TV, 11 April 2019:

Winner World Press Photo: Crying toddler, the face of ‘Zero Tolerance’

This year’s World Press Photo award goes to the US American John Moore of Getty Images. Moore receives the prize for his photo Crying Girl At The Border. …

The winning photo shows the Honduran toddler Yanela standing crying next to her mother Sandra Sanchez. She is being searched by US border officials in McAllen, Texas.

Zero Tolerance

After the photo was published, public indignation arose worldwide. … the outrage at the practices at the border led President Donald Trump to adjust his “Zero Tolerance” policyseparating parents from their children.

The jury praises the photo for the details, the unique and relevant image. “The photo immediately tells you so much about the story. And at the same time you really feel connected to it. (…) This photo shows a different kind of violence, psychological violence.”

Italian painter Tintoretto, new film


This video is called Tintoretto. A Rebel in Venice [2019] Documentary.

On 1 April 2019, I went to see the film Tintoretto. A Rebel in Venice, by director Giuseppe Domingo Romano.

Another director, Peter Greenaway, explains some of Tintoretto’s works in it.

The film celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of Tintoretto (1518-1594). He is sometimes called the last great artist of the Italian Renaissance.

He was a productive person: over 300 paintings, including the biggest ones painted so far.

Like Titian and Paola Veronese, he worked in Venice city. Unlike the two others, he was born there.

To be able to have his work in public buildings, Tintoretto used tricks a bit typical of a commercial city like Venice, like undercutting the wage proposals of his rivals to get commissions.

Tintoretto was an innovative artist. He is sometimes seen as a predecessor of movies, as his paintings suggest movement.

Tarquin and Lucretia, by Tintoretto

This Tintoretto painting shows the ancient legend of Lucretia. According to Roman historiography tradition, Prince Sextus Tarquinius tried to rape her. In the painting, that causes the breaking of Lucretia’s pearl necklace. The pearls fall down; some are depicted as they move half way between Lucretia’s neck and the floor.

The rape of Lucretia story inspired many other artists, including Rembrandt. The legend says that in 509 BC the son of the king of Rome, Sextus Tarquinius, raped Lucretia. He thought he could commit that crime with impunity, as he was a man, Lucretia a woman; he was a prince, Lucretia a subject. Like in 2015 a scion of the Saudi royal family harassed women sexually in the USA, saying: ‘I am a prince and I do what I want. You are nobody!’ Sextus Tarquinius told Lucretia that if she would not submit to being raped, then he would kill both her and one of her slaves, place their bodies together, and claim he had defended her husband’s honour when he caught her having adulterous sex. In despair, after the rape Lucretia then committed suicide.

Anger in Rome about the rape and suicide of Lucretia led to a revolt in which the royal family was deposed and replaced by the Roman republic.

That Roman republic became an inspiration for later revolutions in which monarchs were overthrown and replaced by republics. Like the eighteenth century American revolution against King George III of Britain, in which the first president of the USA, George Washington, was compared to Roman republican statesman Cincinnatus. During the French revolution against King Louis XVI revolutionary painter David painted scenes from Roman republican history.

In the seventeenth century, the Roman republic was an inspiration for English revolutionaries who deposed and beheaded King Charles I and made England a republic.

Why did Rembrandt, why did Tintoretto consider Lucretia a worthy subject? The film does not ask that question. According to ancient Roman historiography, Sextus Tarquinius’ royal dynasty were tyrants, killing people and taxing their subjects heavily. Like taxation and bloodshed had been causes of the Etruscan-Roman royal dynasty’s downfall, Spanish royal taxes and the Spanish inquisition burning Protestants at the stake had also been factors in the Dutch revolt. May Rembrandt not have seen a parallel between the royal dynasty of Rome and King Philip II and his successors in Spain; and between the successful republican revolt in Rome, and the succesful (at least in the northern Low Countries) Dutch revolt against the monarchy?

And may Tintoretto not have thought similarly, as his Venice, like later the northern Low Countries, was one of few republics in a Europe full of monarchies? I cannot say for sure, as I don’t know writings by Tintoretto, or Rembrandt, about this.

The film begins by pointing out that in Tintoretto’s 16th century, plague epidemics weakened Venice. The Venetian republic had been economically and politically important in the late Middle Ages. However, in the 16th century, commercial sea routes in the Mediterranean became proportionally less important than western Europe, the Americas and Asia. Yet, Venice was still artistically important.

Some of Tintoretto’s work is inspired by these plague epidemics; which he survived, but Titian did not.

Another review of this film is here.

Paper animal sculptures from Canada


This 2 January 2019 video from Canada says about itself:

Calvin Nicholls takes cutting and pasting to a new level with sculptures made from hundreds of pieces of paper.

When you think of using paper as an art medium, you might think first of origami or kids’ crafts. But when Calvin Nicholls uses paper, it turns into something else altogether. Nicholls’s pieces featuring animals are all made of tiny hand-cut pieces of paper, layered and glued in a painstaking and intricate act.

The result? Incredibly accurate depictions of wildlife with a magical effect. Nicholls has been a lover of nature ever since he can remember. And that love is evident in his artwork.

He explains: “My inclination is to dig deeper and appreciate differences like: how are the primary features different on the vulture from the robin? That’s what seems to add to the effect, or to the moment or the authenticity of these gorgeous creatures.”

Paper is a tricky material to work with, which means Nicholls’s larger pieces can take up to four months to create. But paper also offers a quality and depth that’s distinct from painting, which is why he’s chosen it as his medium. “When people look at my artwork, they love to be surprised. ‘What is that material? Is that bone? Is that clay?’ At a distance it’s not clear.” In this video, get inside Nicholls’s appreciation for detail as you watch the process unfold.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, March 2019, about Canada:

These Amazingly Detailed Bird Sculptures Are Made Out of Paper

Calvin Nicholls’s breathtaking paper sculptures use light, shadow, and shape to create fantastically detailed birds that leap, lean, and fly straight out of their frames. From a flamboyant bird-of-paradise to a humble upside-down nuthatch, prepare to be awed at Nicholls’s exquisite detail and talent—all made from paper.

Birds in prehistoric rock art


This 2014 video is called Paleolithic Art.

From the University of Barcelona in Spain:

Palaeolithic art featuring birds and humans discovered

An exceptional milestone in European Palaeolithic rock art

March 11, 2019

Summary: A new article tells how researchers found — in the site of Hort de la Bequera (Margalef de Montsant, Priorat) — an artistic piece from 12,500 years ago in which humans and birds try to interact in a pictorial scene with exceptional traits: figures seem to [tell]a narration on hunting and motherhood.

It is not very common to find representations of scenes instead of individual figures in Palaeolithic art, but it is even harder for these figures to be birds instead of mammals such as goats, deer or horses. So far, historians have only found three scenes of Palaeolithic art featuring humans and birds in Europe.

Now, an article published in the journal L’Anthropologie tells how University of Barcelona researchers found -in the site of Hort de la Bequera (Margalef de Montsant, Priorat)-, an artistic piece from 12,500 years ago in which humans and birds try to interact in a pictorial scene with exceptional traits: figures seem to star a narration on hunting and motherhood. Regarding the Catalan context in particular, this is an important finding regarding the few pieces of Palaeolithic art in Catalonia and it places this territory within the stream of artistic production of the upper Palaeolithic in the Mediterranean.

The piece they found is a 30-centimeter long limestone which shows two human figures and two birds, which the researchers identified as cranes. Since they found the piece in 2011, they underwent all cleaning, restoration and 3D copying procedures to study it in detail. Those figures were engraved in the stone board with a flint tool so that they created an organized composition compared to the other pieces of the same period.

“This is one of the few found scenes so far which suggest the birth of a narrative art in Europe, and this theme is unique, since it combines an image of hunting and a motherhood one: a birth with its young one,” says the first signer of the article, ICREA researcher and lecturer at the UB Inés Domingo. “In the represented scene the birds catch the attention, they are copied or chased by two human figures,” continues Domingo. “We do not know the meaning of the scene for prehistoric peoples, but what it says is that not only they were regarded as preys but also as a symbol for European Palaeolithic societies,” she continues.

“We do not doubt this is an exceptional milestone in European Palaeolithic rock art due its singularity, its excellent conservation and the chances to study it within a general context of excavation,” say the authors of the article; members of the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP). Apart from Domingo, other signers are the UB lecturers of Prehistory Pilar García Argüelles, Jordi Nadal, directors of the excavation in Host de la Boquera, Professor Josep Maria Fullola, director of SERP, and José L. Lerma and the researcher Miriam Cabrelles, from Universitat Politècnica de València, who worked on the 3D reproduction of this piece.

Palaeolithic art in Montsant valley

The other sites in Europe researchers had found so far with human and bird figures are rock paintings in the site of Lascauz, a perforated baton in Abri Mege (Teyjat, Dordogne), and the Great Hunter plaque in the site of Gönnersdorf (Germany).

SERP researchers have been excavating in the valley of Montsant since 1979, an exceptional area regarding findings of this period of the late upper Palaeolithic. In particular, excavations have taken place in Host de la Boquera since 1998 and it provided a great amount of flint tools and structure such as rooms for a fireplace.

The director of the excavation, Pilar García Argüelles notes that “the findings of the engraved scene are exceptional, and proves the importance of the site and the area regarding Palaeolithic art in the peninsular north-east area; where we can find nearby the only Palaeolithic cave engraving in Catalonia, the deer in the cave of Taverna (Margalef de Montsant), and about 40 kilometres away there is Molí del Salt (Vimbodí), with an interesting series of stone blocks with engraved animals and a representation of huts.”

The first to identify the engraving was the co-director of the excavation, Jordi Nadal, who remembers that moment with excitement: “Since the first moment I was aware of the importance of this finding, of its uniqueness; these things do not happen very often, this is seeing a figure that has been forgotten and buried for 12,500 years.”