Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leda och svanen, sculpture by Helge Högbom

Photo: Public fountain ‘Leda och svanen’ (Leda and the Swan), sculpture by Helge Högbom, located in central Eslöv, Sweden.

Leda and the Swan, 3rd century tile mosaic

Photo: Tile mosaic depicting ‘Leda and the Swan’ from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, Palea Paphos, now in the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia, Cyprus. The mosaic is estimated to be of 3rd century AD, by an unknown artist.

The Cyprus Archaeological Museum, founded in 1882 during the British occupation of the island is the oldest and largest archaeological museum in Cyprus, housing artifacts discovered during excavations on the island. Located on Museum Street in central Nicosia, Cyprus Museum is home to the most extensive collection of Cypriot antiquities in the world, and it displays only artifacts discovered or excavated from the island.

Venus and Amor, ivory sculpture by Adam Lenckhardt

Photo: Venus and Amor (1640), ivory sculpture by Adam Lenckhardt (1610-1661), from the collection Kunstkammer Würth, Sammlung Würth (Inv. 3680), photographed by Andreas Praefcke at the Bode-Museum Berlin in 2007.

Sculpture by Kanai Kunhiraman at Shankumugham Beach, Thiruvananthapuram

Photo: Sculpture by Kanai Kunhiraman at Shankumugham Beach, Thiruvananthapuram

Shankumugham Beach is a beautiful beach on the western side of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) city, adjacent to Trivandrum International Airport, in Kerala, India. There is a vast stretch of white sand and the serene atmosphere away from the crowd in the city that attracts a lot of visitors, both local people and tourists, as it is one of the cleanest beaches in India.

Tora Bora Mountains in Afghanistan

Photo 1: Tora Bora Mountains in Afghanistan

Photo 2: US air strikes on Tora Bora

Tora Bora is a cave complex situated in the White Mountains, sometimes called Tora Bora Mountains, in eastern Afghanistan, in the Pachir Wa Agam District of Nangarhar province, approximately 50 km (31 miles) west of the Khyber Pass and 10 km north of the border of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. During the US invasion of Afghanistan it was one of the strongholds of the Taliban and its Arab Al Qaeda allies. As the suspected hide-out of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, it was the location of the December 2001 Battle of Tora Bora.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, India

Photo: A leopard at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, India

Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), earlier known as Borivali National Park, is a large protected area on the northern fringes of suburban Mumbai city in India, covering an area of 104 sq km (40 sq miles). It is one of the few national parks existing within a metropolis limit in Asia and it attracts more than two million visitors annually. The 2400-year-old Kanheri Caves sculpted out of the rocky cliffs which lie within the park.

Photo: A monkey and its baby at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, India

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is home to a number of species of flora and fauna. Visitors can easily spot animals including leopards, spotted deer, Indian hares, barking deer, porcupine, Asian palm civet, mouse deer, monkeys, Indian flying fox, Sambar deer and reptiles such as crocodiles, pythons, cobras, monitor lizards, Russell's vipers, bamboo pit vipers and Ceylonese cat snakes.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Garden at Bayou Bend Estate, MFAH

Photo: Garden at the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, MFAH, Houston, Texas

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens feature one of USA’s best collections of American decorative art and furniture at the former home of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg and designed by architect John F. Staub in 1928. Miss Hogg donated the home and its collections to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) in 1957 and it was opened to the public in 1966.

The Large Horse (1914) sculpture by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Photo: Le cheval majeur (Large Horse), created by French sculptor Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918) in 1914 and enlargement done in 1966, located at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas (Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, acquired in 1980)

Photo: Two views of The Large Horse (1914), a bronze sculpture by Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Eve, bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin

Photo: Eve, 1881 bronze sculpture (cast before 1932) by French sculptor Auguste Rodin (François-Auguste-René Rodin, 1840-1917), at the Nasher Sculpture Center museum (Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection) in Dallas, Texas specializing in modern and contemporary sculpture at a site adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art in the heart of the Dallas Arts District - photo by Andreas Praefcke.

Photo: Eve, 1881 bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin at the Nasher Sculpture Center museum, view from the back, photo by Andreas Praefcke.

Adam and Eve in Islamic tradition

Image: Painting (1294/99) from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful Animals), depicting Adam and Eve, from Maragh in Mongolian Iran by Abu Said Ubaud Allah Ibn Bakhitshu.

According to the Qur’an, Adam first ate the forbidden fruit, followed by Eve (Hawwa), for which God later forgave them and sent them to earth as God’s representatives. Nevertheless, Adam was a prophet, and according to the Islamic traditions prophets are sinless.

The early Islamic commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari records that to create Adam, God sent Gabriel (Jibril) and Michael (Mika'il) to fetch clay from the earth. But the earth resented that they came to deform it and the angels returned empty-handed. God responded by sending the Angel of Death who took clay from all regions, which provides an explanation for different looks of different races of humans.

A Prophetic Hadith recalls that after leaving Eden, Adam descended in India whereas Eve descended in Jeddah. They searched for each other, and finally found each other at the Plain of Arafat (near Mecca) which means recognition.

A Yemeni doctor examines an infant

Photo: A female physician in the Republic of Yemen examines an infant in a USAID-sponsored health care clinic, photo (2006) by Ben Barber (USAID). Over the past several fiscal years, Yemen has received on average between $20 and $25 million annually in total U.S. foreign aid.

Muslims were in fact the first to employ women in hospitals, as it was necessary due to the segregation between male and female patients in Islamic hospitals. A unique feature of medieval Muslim hospitals was the role of female staff, including female nurses. Muslim hospitals were also the first to employ female physicians, the most famous being two female physicians from the Banu Zuhr family who served the Almohad ruler Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur in the 12th century AD. Later in the 15th century, female surgeons were illustrated for the first time in Şerafeddin Sabuncuoğlu's Cerrahiyyetu'l-Haniyye (Imperial Surgery).


Fruits are, generally, the seed-bearing parts of plants and they are the fleshy structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state, such as apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, juniper berries, bananas, and the fruit-like structures in other plants such as lemons and olives. Seed-bearing parts of plants that are not called fruits are called by other names such as vegetables, pods, nuts, ears and cones.

Fleshy fruits like apple, peach, pear, kiwifruit, watermelon and mango are nutritionally highly valuable as human food, eaten both fresh and in raw state, and as jams, marmalade and other preserved forms. Some fruits are used to make beverages such as fruit juices or alcoholic beverages such as wine or brandy. Fruits are also used for gift-giving.

Fruit Basket, oil on wood painting (1632) by Balthasar van der Ast (1593-1656). Fruit Basket and Fruit Bouquet are some common forms of fruit gifts.

Some vegetables are in fact botanically fruits, for instance, tomato, bell pepper, eggplant, okra, squash, pumpkin, green bean, cucumber and zucchini. Olive fruit is crushed or pressed for extracting olive oil. Spices like vanilla, paprika, allspice and black pepper are derived from berries, which are also fruits.

From the point of view of nutrition, fruits are generally high in fiber, water, vitamins, complex sugars and some rare nutritional elements. Regular consumption of fruits is advised by nutrition-specialists for reducing risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases (heart), strokes, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts and functional disorders associated with aging.

Diets that include sufficient amounts of potassium from fruits and vegetables help reduce the chance of developing kidney stones and may help reduce the bone disorders. Fruits are low in calories, and hence help fight obesity and help lower one’s calorie intake as part of a weight-loss diet.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Favorite of the Emir by Benjamin Constant

Image: Favorite of the Emir (1879) by French painter Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (1845-1902), oil on canvas painting, 142.24 cm x 220.98 cm (56 in x 87 in), located at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA.

The painting depicts the favorite woman of the Emir, a slave or Eunuch and another woman of the Emir’s harem. A harem refers to the sphere of women in a polygynous in households or palaces and their quarters which is enclosed and forbidden to men. The word originated in the Near East and came to the West via the Ottoman Empire, and the word has been recorded in the English language since 1634. A centuries-old theme in Western culture is the depiction of European women forcibly taken into Oriental harems.

The harem exerted a certain fascination on the European imagination, especially during the Age of Romanticism, due in part to the writings of the adventurer Richard Francis Burton. Many Westerners imagined a harem as a brothel consisting of many sensual young women lying around pools with oiled bodies, with the sole purpose of pleasing the powerful man to whom they had given themselves.

A harem need not necessarily consist of women with whom the head of the household has sexual relations (wives and concubines), but also their children and other females. It may include staff such as slave women and eunuchs. It is being more acknowledged today that the purpose of harems was for the royal upbringing of the future wives of nobles and royal men. Some women of Ottoman harem played very important political roles, and at times it was said that the empire was ruled from the harem.

It is claimed that harems existed in Persia under the Ancient Achaemenids and later Iranian dynasties -- the Sassanid Chosroes II reportedly had a harem of 3000 wives, as well as 12,000 other women -- and lasted well into the Qajar Dynasty. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs are said to have made a ‘constant demand’ of provincial governors for more beautiful servant girls. In Mexico, Aztec ruler Montezuma II, who met Cortes, kept 4,000 concubines; every member of the Aztec nobility was supposed to have had as many consorts as he could afford.

Harem is also the usual English translation of the Chinese language term hougong, meaning the palaces behind. Hougong are large palaces for the Chinese emperor's consorts, concubines, female attendants and eunuchs. The women who lived in an emperor's hougong sometimes numbered in the thousands.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Leda and the swan by Jules Roulleau

Photos: Leda and the swan, sculpture by French sculptor Jules Roulleau (1855-1895) located at Musée de Picardie, Amiens, France – four different views.

Bronze sculptures by Benvenuto Cellini

Photo: Replica of the bronze statue of Danaë in the pedestal of Perseus, by Italian goldsmith, sculptor, painter, soldier and musician Benvenuto Cellini, in the basement of Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy. The original is on display at the Museo del Bargello in Florence.

Photo: Replica of a bronze statue in the pedestal of Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini in the basement of Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy. The original is on display at the Museo del Bargello in Florence.

Psyche by Louis Emile Decorchemont

Photo: Psyche, sculpture by Louis-Émile Décorchemont (1851-1921)

Monday, July 5, 2010

French Artist Paul Cezanne

Photo of Paul Cézanne taken in 1861

French artist and Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) is credited with works that laid the foundations of transition from the 19th century concept of art to a radically different art form of the 20th century. Cezanne is also considered as the bridge between Impressionism and the early stages of Cubism.

Paul Cezanne's works symbolize mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship, and a style dominated by repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes. He used vibrant colors and brushstrokes that built up the perceptions for the observers’ eyes, from an abstraction of the observed nature, thereby exploring the complexity of human visual perception.

At the age of ten, Paul Cezanne entered the Saint Joseph school in Aix where he studied drawing under the Spanish monk Joseph Gibert. In 1852 Cézanne joined the College Bourbon (now College Mignet) where he became friends with Emile Zola and Baptistin Baille.

His early work is often concerned with figures and landscapes. Later, he became more interested in painting from direct observations. Throughout his life he struggled to develop an authentic observation of the seen world by the most accurate method of representing it in paint that he could find. For this, he structurally incorporated whatever he perceived into simple forms and colour planes.

Cezanne tried to simplify whatever he observed to their geometric elements such as cylinders, spheres, cones and other geometric forms. As a result, his painted observations of nature resulted in an exploration of binocular vision, which results in two slightly different simultaneous visual perceptions. Such visual representation coupled with Cézanne's desire to capture the truth of his own perception compelled him to render the outlines of forms so as to display the distinctly different views of both the left and right eyes. Thus Cezanne's work augments and transforms the earlier ideas of perspective, in particular single-point perspective.

Cezanne's paintings were shown in the first exhibition of the Salon des Refusés in 1863, which displayed works not accepted by the jury of the official Paris Salon. The Salon rejected Cézanne's paintings every year from 1864, and Cézanne continued to submit his works to the Salon until 1882, when, through the intervention of fellow artist Antoine Guillemet, Cézanne exhibited Portrait of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, Father of the Artist (l'Evénement). It was his first and last successful submission to the Salon.

Cezanne exhibited his works twice with the Impressionists -- at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877. Despite his increasing popularity and financial success, Cézanne chose to work in isolation. He concentrated on a few themes and was proficient in genres like still lives, portraits, landscapes and studies of bathers.

Image: Léda au cygne (1880-82), Paul Cezanne’s version of ‘Leda and the swan’, dimensions 59.8 cm x 75 cm, located at The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

One day Paul Cezanne was caught in a storm while working in the field. After working for two hours under a downpour he decided to go home but on the way he collapsed. He was taken home by a passing driver. The next day too he insisted on working, but later on he fainted. The model with whom he was working called for help and he was put to bed, and he died of pneumonia a few days later, on 22 October 1906. Paul Cezanne was buried at the old cemetery in his hometown of Aix-en-Provence.

The Forest Pool, painting by Elliot Daingerfield

Image: The Forest Pool (1915) by Elliot Daingerfield

The American painter Elliot Daingerfield (1859-1932) is considered one of the most prolific artists of North Carolina. Elliot was born in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before he moved to New York to study art at the age of 21.

Elliot Daingerfield's works were inspired by the European Symbolist movement, and elements of influences Impressionism and Romanticism can also be observed in his works. Daingerfield's first exhibition was at the National Academy of Design in 1880. In 1971 the North Carolina Museum of Art displayed 200 of Daingerfield's paintings and now the museum displays his works ‘Grand Canyon’ and ‘Evening Glow’.

Image of the painting ‘Leda and the Swan’ by Elliot Daingerfield