Painter Hieronymus Bosch, new film


This video says about itself:

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN – The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch

20 September 2016

IN CINEMAS FROM 3 NOVEMBER 2016

Delve into the vivid imagination of a true visionary.

Who was Hieronymus Bosch? Why do his strange and fantastical paintings resonate with art lovers now more than ever? How does he bridge the medieval and Renaissance worlds? Where did his unconventional and timeless creations come from? Discover the answers to these questions and more with this remarkable new film from EXHIBITION ON SCREEN.

The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch features the critically acclaimed exhibition ‘Visions of a Genius’ at the Noordbrabants Museum in the southern Netherlands, which brought the majority of Bosch’s paintings and drawings together for the first time to his home town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch and attracted almost half a million art lovers from all over the world.

With his fascinating life revealed plus the details and stories within his works seen like never before, don’t miss this cinematic exploration of a great creative genius.

For more information go to www.exhibitiononscreen.com.

Medieval plague mass grave discovery in England


This video from England says about itself:

Digging Thornton Abbey Plague Pit

30 November 2016

When our Archaeology students discovered a medieval plague pit buried under the grounds at Thornton Abbey it was a huge surprise – but we weren’t unprepared…

Hugh Wilmott from The University of Sheffield Department of Archaeology takes us around the dig to explain how we understand and record such an incredible find, Diane Swales highlights the ancient DNA analysis lab work into Black Death that can tell us about those who fell to the disease and PhD student Pete Townend shows the 3D and GPS tech that’s helping us locate and map finds.

Read more about our work at Thornton Abbey plague pit on The University of Sheffield website here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Gruesome evidence of Black Death’s abbey visit

Wednesday 30th November 2016

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have uncovered almost 50 skeletons of Black Death victims — more than half of them children — at a 14th-century monastery in Lincolnshire.

The mass burial pit at Thornton Abbey, near Immingham, is said to be extremely rare. It contained the bones of 48 victims, a team from Sheffield University said yesterday.

The presence of such a large burial site suggests that the community was overwhelmed by pandemic and unable to cope with the number of dead.

The Black Death spread throughout Europe from 1346 to 1353. Estimates of the death toll range from 75 million to 200m people.

The disease is documented to have reached Lincolnshire in 1349.

Ancient Egyptian queens, exhibition


This 9 November 2016 Dutch video is about constructing the Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Exhibition shows luxury and power of Egyptian queens

17 November 2016

The Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities finally affords the wives of the pharoahs the attention they deserve. Thanks to guest curator Olaf Kaper, students and PhD candidates gained valuable experience in museum curating.

History and life at court

Like a child in a sweetshop. That’s how Kaper felt over the past year as he strolled around the world’s most prominent museums on Egypt. Kaper, an egyptologist at Leiden University, was given carte blanche by Leiden’s National Museum of Antiquities to come up with a concept for an exhibition on ancient Egypt. The exhibition had to complement the existing collection, which can be seen from 18 November in a completely new setting at the museum. Why did Kaper opt for ‘Queens of the Nile’? ‘Too little attention has been paid to the wives of the pharoahs, both in science and in the museum world. I wanted to tell their history and show different aspects of life at court.’

Divine status

The exhibition covers a period of some 500 years (1539-1077 BC) and focuses on the five queens of the New Empire: Ahmose Nefertari, Hatsepshut, Tiye, Nefertiti and Nefertari. These women had great political influence and were accorded divine status, Kaper explains. They surrounded themselves with luxury and that’s abundantly clear. The exhibition shows 350 objects, including royal portraits, statues of deities, sumptuous jewellery and valuable accessories such as mirrors set in bronze.

Murder of Ramses III

What does Kaper regard as the prize exhibits? ‘There are so many of them, but two are particularly special: the decorated granite cover of the sarcophagus of Queen Nefertari and a five-metre papyrus. This enormous document is a legal text that describes the conspiracy against and the murder of Pharoah Ramses III by a group of ladies from the harem and a number of officials. It proves that women at that time were by no means happy to accept a subordinate role.’

Students reconstruct the dress of the queens

Kaper carried out new research before the exhibition. Together with students, he reconstructed one of the outfits of the queens. ‘Pharoah Tutankhamun is the only royal whose clothing has been found. There is not a single item of clothing remaining that belonged to the queens, but there are portraits and images of the women from which we were able to reconstruct their dress.’ The result of their search can be seen at the exhibition that includes a mannequin wearing the outfit of a queen, including a stunning gold headdress.

Publications by PhD candidates

‘This exhibition was also an exceptional opportunity for my students and PhD candidates,’ Kaper explains. His students were able to gain research experience and the results of their work can be seen in the museum. Several PhD candidates published an article on their research in the exhibition catalogue. Irene Morfini wrote an article on the artists who constructed the tombs of the kings, and Steffie van Gompel and Petra Hogenboom published on their research on the position of women in Ancient Egypt. Kaper: ‘Thanks to this exhibition, young researchers have also been given a platform. It’s a great example of interaction between the worlds of the museum and academia.’

This is the first major exhibition on the queens of Egypt to be held in the Netherlands. The exhibition will run from 18 November to 17 April 2017. Most of the artefacts are from the Museo Egizio in Turin, the world’s second largest museum on Egypt.

This 17 November 2016 Dutch video is about the Queens of the Nile exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

Chinese ancient paintings undervalued


Mountains, Chinese export painting

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Chinese export paintings undervalued

16 November 2016

Chinese export paintings have a much greater cultural-historical and artistic value than was previously thought in the Netherlands, according to external PhD candidate Rosalien van der Poel. She advocates making these works accessible to the general public. PhD defence 30 November.

Not amateuristic artworks

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Chinese artists produced so-called export paintings: works that were specifically intended for Dutch clients. These clients were mainly traders, Jesuits, captains and officers visiting China, who wanted souvenirs to take home with them. These paintings showed people at home what life in the Far East was like. The paintings predominantly featured harbours (often with the client’s ship in the foreground), traditional dress, flora and fauna, and landscapes. These were not amateuristic artworks; they were expensive and some of the harbour scenes were up to two metres across.

Never previously exhibited

Many export paintings were passed on within Dutch families from generation to generation or found their way into private collections, finally ending up in museum depots. In the Netherlands there are around 4,000 such paintings in storage, most of which have never been exhibited. The reason is that to date the paintings were not thought to have any great artistic or cultural-historical value. Which is quite wrong, Van der Poel concludes, having made an inventory and a detailed examination of the works, and having spoken with family members of some of the original owners of these export paintings.

Unusual perspectives and bright colours

Van der Poel points out the cultural-historical value of these works. ‘Many of the paintings represent a specific time and place, about which the images give a wealth of information. The paintings also say something about Chinese and Western art conventions of the time. They had some distinctive traits, such as unusual perspectives, that buyers admired. In the course of the nineteenth century the colours – particularly of flora and fauna – became ever brighter and more unnatural. And, make no mistake, the works were not only produced by minor local artists, but also in the workshops of Chinese master painters.’ Van der Poel also concluded that the paintings are part of the Dutch heritage. ‘Many works have been handed on within families from generation to generation; there are some highly interesting stories behind them that come to light when a cultural biography of the works is being written. These stor[i]es need to be preserved.’

Plea from the heart

Van der Poel regards her dissertation as a plea from the heart to museums: put these works on display so that the public can view them! This could be by actually exhibiting them in museums and galleries, or it could equally mean making them accessible online. She is more than willing to act as torch bearer for export artworks in the Netherlands. ‘I could carry on with this subject until my dying day. A lot more research could be done on the original owners of the paintings: who were they, what role did the paintings play in their lives, and how were the paintings valued over the course of their lives?’ Van der Poel also hopes, depending on available subsidies, to start a restoration project shortly and to organise an exhibition of several paintings. Developing a user-friendly digital image bank is also high on her wish list.

Rosalien van der Poel studied art history in Leiden between 2001 and 2008. She carried out her PhD research in parallel with her regular job as Head of Cabinet at Leiden University. She is also coordinator of the Leiden Asia Year that will be taking place throughout 2017.

Dutch ship, Chinese export painting