|Girl with a Pearl earring, Johannes (Jan) Vermeer, 1665|
The popularity of the Baroque style of art had been encouraged by the Catholic Church at The Council of Trent (1545-1563) as a weapon in the Counter-Reformation's struggle against the rise of Protestantism. It was determined that the arts should communicate religious themes and direct emotional involvement. The Baroque style is characterised by exaggerated motion and clear detail used to produce drama, exuberance and grandeur in the arts. This includes the use of a technique known as chiaroscuro, developed during the Renaissance, which employs exaggerated light contrasts to create the illusion of volume. This all relates to Vermeer's work. His early works were of a religious nature but he soon started to produce genre works - scenes of everyday domestic life - and continued in this way all through his career. Most of his work seems to have been located one or two rooms of his middle-class home and often featuring the same few models repeatedly. Typical of this period is The Milkmaid.
The girl in this portrait is possibly his daughter, Maria who some experts believe may have painted as many as a fifth of the works attributed to her father. Turbans were not fashionable at that time but it gives the artist an opportunity to display his skill with drapes and folds. The large amount of blue paint around her head and at the end of her scarf would have been made from lapis lazuli probably ground by the artist himself. This would have been very costly at that time and usually used in religious paintings but clearly not exclusively. The girl is captured as though looking round in mild surprise to be frozen for eternity. The pearl earring is huge and some have suggested it may have been fashioned from tin but it does seem to have appeared in other paintings. The eyes are like molten liquid, the lips are moist and slightly parted. Oh dear, I think I'm falling in love!Of course the novel by Tracey Chevalier and later film have helped to spread her fame over the world. After a sensationally popular world tour the picture is back home in the Mauritshuis in The Hague where it will stay indefinitely, being deemed too fragile to travel again.
Probably Vermeer self-portrait, 1654
Jan Vermeer lived and worked all his life in Delft in The Netherlands where he lived until his death at 43 having achieved some local fame but he was forgotten for two hundred years after his death until being rediscovered in the 19th century. It is fair to say that he is now recognised as one the greatest artists of the Dutch Golden Age of painting.
He fathered 11 children. So he did have some other interests; always healthy not to be obsessed by one's work I think......
I'm listening to Mahler's Fifth Symphony trying not to think of where it was used in Death in Venice.
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Saturday, 11 November 2017
Sunday, 5 November 2017
|Strawberry Field, Liverpool, England|
|John Lennon. 1940-1980|
Sunday, 29 October 2017
And how about these video titles?: "Download Your Brain into Another Body? To No Longer Die Changes Everything", "Why A.I. Might Run the World Better Than Humans" (by Richard Dawkins) and "What Does it Mean to Fully Be Human? Opening Yourself to Uncomfortable Truths" - this video is by Bryan Cranston, yes Breaking Bad's Walter White!
I believe that most people who visit this site are thinkers who are curious about the world and possess a certain level of intelligence and so would be enthralled by Big Think.
Find it here and I hope you enjoy it.
Monday, 23 October 2017
Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Notable versions have been sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and famously by Lena Horne in the 1943 film Stormy Weather. There are many other great versions also available- too many to name here!
But I have to say that my personal favourite is the version by Etta James. Listen here.
|Etta James 1938 - 2012, not a natural blonde.|
There's no sun up in the sky
Since my man and I ain't together
Keeps raining all of the time
Life is bad
Gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather, stormy weather
And I just can't get my poor self together
Oh, I'm weary all of the time
The time, so weary all of the time
Oh, yeah if he stays away
Old rocking chair's gonna get me
All I do is pray
The Lord will let me
Walk in the sun once more
Sunday, 1 October 2017
|Leonard Cohen, 1934 - 2016|
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah.
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Tuesday, 26 September 2017
|Piet Mondrian, Still Life with Gingerpot II, 1911-12|
Mondrian is more well-known for his later work using only horizontal and vertical lines and black plus the primary colours. He rejected references to the outside world pushing toward pure abstraction. His use of asymmetrical balance and of simplification were crucial in the development of modern art, and his iconic abstract works remain influential in design and familiar in popular culture to this day.
Composition in Blue, Yellow and Red. Piet Mondrian 1942
"...forbidding, ascetic, pure, impersonal, ideal, clear beyond the mess of an ordinary life...."
I'm listening to Mozart's Symphony No.40 K550)in G Minor,
the familiar first movement - Allegro. Listen here.
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Sunday, 10 September 2017
|The Kings Head pub in Chigwell Village|
One of the most famous buildings in Chigwell is the Kings Head pub, much beloved of Charles Dickens. He actually based The Maypole pub in Barnaby Rudge upon this one. Each floor overhangs the one below and there is a story that King Charles I hid there when he was on the run. While quite possibly being true, that claim is made by many other places as well! The building is now owned by local resident, Lord Sugar. Former patrons include the highwayman Dick Turpin and Sir Winston Churchill.
Chigwell School is famous for many things, one of which is that a former pupil William Penn was the founder of Pennsylvania. Other former pupils include the actors Sir Ian Holm and Ken Campbell and the TV presenter Ben Shepard. Harsnetts House built in the late 1500s was purchased for the school in 1627.
Chigwell School today
The finest building in Chigwell is Grange Court which lately was used as a residence for boarding pupils at the school. However when I saw it recently it looked empty and neglected. It is a Grade II* listed building so would be an expensive undertaking for any purchasers - and there have been many famous ones in the past.
Grange Court, a late 18th century house in Chigwell Village
St Marys church in Chigwell High Road was founded in the 12th century. The view below shows the only Norman parts remaining. The door way is completely original but the bell tower is 15th century and there was extensive 19th century enlargement of the building. The church is also Grade II* listed.
St Mary the Virgin, Chigwell
Two other local features are Rolls Park, a former Stately Home that was once the lifetime residence of Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey who fought alongside Admiral Nelson as one of the key figures in the Battle of Trafalgar. He was the Captain of The Fighting Temeraire in Turner's famous painting.
JMW Turner, The Fighting Temeraire
The other local feature worth seeing is Chigwell Meadows Nature Reserve, a 21 acre park land with hard paths providing a circular route around the tree and flower lined walkways. Among others Poplar, Oak, Walnut and Willow trees provide shade while a plethora of indigenous wild flowers such as bluebells, creeping cinquefoil, red and white clover, cow vetch and yarrow provide colour and texture to the landscape.
The swale that runs through the centre of the meadow is a man-made water feature and is part of a sustainable urban drainage system connected to the tranquil pond. It is of special scientific interest as its ecological development can be studied from construction through to maturity. The reeds within the Swale help to filter the water and they also create valuable habitat for wildlife.
Postscipt: When I led my walking group through Chigwell Village a couple of weeks a go I told them as we entered a field through a Kissing Gate that I would like their opinion on whether or not a recent excavation on the far side of the field was a Roman bath. What I knew was that there was an abandoned modern bath-tub in among the long grass. When we came across it there was hysterical laughs all round. I don't know how long the bath had been there but you can just make it out on Google maps!
I'm listening to the magical Granada from the Suite Española by Isaac Albéniz, possibly my favourite composer. You can hear it here.
Saturday, 2 September 2017
|Three of the many recordings of Roll Over Beethoven|
Chuck Berry was always took care to write intelligible lyrics and to make sure they could be heard properly. He wanted to avoid the fate of Little Richard's records which were covered in sanitised versions and provided bigger hits for Pat Boone.
Roll Over Beethoven lyrics:
Gonna mail it to my local DJ
It's a jumpin’ little record
I want my jockey to play
Roll Over Beethoven, I gotta hear it again today
You know, my temperature's risin'
And the jukebox blowin’ a fuse
My heart's beatin' rhythm
And my soul keeps a-singin' the blues
Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news
I got the rockin' pneumonia,
I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I caught the rollin' arthritis
Sittin' down at a rhythm review
Roll Over Beethoven, they’re rockin' in two by two
Well, if you feel it an’ like it
Go get your lover, then reel and rock it
Roll it over and move on up just
A trifle further and reel and rock with one another
Well, early in the mornin' I'm a-givin' you my warnin'
Don't you step on my blue suede shoes
Hey diddle diddle, I am playin' my fiddle,
Ain't got nothin' to lose
Roll Over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news
You know she wiggles like a glow worm,
Dance like a spinnin' top
She got a crazy partner,
You oughta see 'em reel and rock
Long as she got a dime the music won’t never stop
Roll Over Beethoven, Roll Over Beethoven,
Roll Over Beethoven, Roll Over Beethoven,
Roll Over Beethoven, dig these rhythm and blues
Friday, 25 August 2017
Friday, 18 August 2017
Q2. Which 1967 novel that tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family?
Q3. For which scientist and broadcaster did Broca's Brain win a Pulitzer Prize in 1978?
Q4. What do the titles of John Updike's In the Beauty of the Lilies and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath have in common?
Q5. Who, after asking “why is a raven like a writing-desk?”, admitted that he "hadn't the slightest idea" when the person he asked gave up?
Q6. What book is the first in the series A Song of Ice and Fire?
Q7. What was the name of Holden Caulfield's younger sister in Catcher in the Rye?
Answers will be posted in one week - probably.
Sunday, 13 August 2017
The name of Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920 - 1958) should be as well-known to us as those of James Watson and Frances Crick who were awarded a Nobel Prize for their discovery of the structure of DNA but it is not. She died at the tragically young age of 37 of ovarian cancer. That, however, is not the only tragedy in this story.
|I like this picture of Rosalind as a young woman; actually she was only ever young.|
Click HERE to listen. The whole cast appear to be visibly moved by the event.