Tag Archives: Museums

Creative Juice #94

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Creative Juice #94

A dozen articles to quench your creative thirst.

Creative Juice #92

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Creative Juice #92

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. ~John Keats

Creative Juice #88

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Creative Juice #88

May these offerings be like a spring breeze to your spirit:

Guest Post: “The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci ~from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for today’s guest post.

Painting of Mona Lisa

“The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is a portrait which he started in Florence around 1503. It is thought to be of Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine cloth merchant. Leonardo took this painting with him to France when he joined the court of the French King, and after his death, the picture entered King François I’s collection. The Mona Lisa became part of The Louvre collection in 1797 and is considered to be one of the world’s best-known paintings, the most written about and the most parodied works of art in the world.

In 1911, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa painting was stolen from the Louvre, and the Louvre closed for an entire week during the investigations.  The theft created a media sensation and rewards were offered. Pablo Picasso was on the original list of suspects questioned and jailed for the robbery, but he was later released. After many false leads and claims, the Mona Lisa thief was caught when he attempted to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was returned to the Louvre in 1914 and the thief, a Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia only served six months in prison for the crime.  Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy as he claimed he wanted to return the Mona Lisa to the country that gave birth to the Mona Lisa and Leonardo. Perugia argued, that the Mona Lisa had been stolen from Florence by Napoleon and that he deserved a reward for doing his patriotic duty and returning it to its real home in Italy.

Monalisa uffizi 1913

The Mona Lisa is on display in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence (Italy), just before it was returned to the Louvre.

Before the 1911 theft, the Mona Lisa was not widely known outside the art world. The nearly two-year hunt across multiple continents helped to publicise the Mona Lisa to the public imagination. In 1956, the painting was damaged when a vandal threw acid at it, which provided more publicity and notoriety. That same year, a rock was thrown at the canvas which left some minor damage.

Bulletproof glass was then used to protect the Mona Lisa. Which was fortunate when in 1974, a woman, upset by the museum’s policy for disabled people, sprayed red paint at the Mona Lisa. More recently in 2009, a Russian woman, upset for being denied French citizenship, threw a ceramic teacup at the famous painting.

The painting has been exhibited in New York City, Washington, D.C, Tokyo and Moscow with great success. Before the US tour, in 1962 the picture was assessed for insurance at $100 million. In today’s terms that translates to approximately $800m, considered to be the most valued painting in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa (detail) - WGA12713

In art terms, the Mona Lisa is the earliest Italian portrait to focus firmly on the sitter in a half-length portrait and set the standard for future artists. Depicting the subject in front of an imaginary landscape, Leonardo was one of the first painters to use perspective in this way. Da Vinci pioneered a shadowing technique at the corners of her lips and the corners of her eyes which give her a remarkably lifelike appearance and look of amusement.

An unexpected historical copy of the Mona Lisa was discovered in 2012 at as part of the Prado collection in Madrid. When the painting was cleaned, scientific analysis revealed that the copy was probably painted by another artist, possibly an apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci, who sat beside Leonardo and copied his work, brush-stroke by brush-stroke. The Prado painting suggests what the Mona Lisa might look like if layers of yellowed varnish could be removed from the original. The face, especially the smile, does look slightly different but it is a close copy in many other respects and dates to a similar time. The painting cannot be considered as a workshop copy due to its careful and thorough execution, as well as its use of materials such as lapis lazuli or red lacquer, which were used by Leonardo.

The Joconde by a student of Leonardo da Vinci

A copy of the Mona Lisa that was discovered in 2012 at as part of the Prado collection, in Madrid.

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, scientist and an engineer who was already famous in his lifetime and is today considered a genius. Leonardo’s masterpiece had considerable influence during his lifetime and continued to influence and attract lovers of history and art in our life.

Mona Lisa:

  • Title:           Mona Lisa
  • Français:    La Joconde, La Gioconda
  • Artist:         Leonardo da Vinci
  • Created:     1503
  • Periods:      High Renaissance
  • Subject:      Not certain, possibly Lisa Gherardini
  • Media:        Oil paint on poplar wood
  • Dimensions: 77 cm x 53 cm
  • Museum:    The Louvre (since 1797)

Leonardo da Vinci:

  • Name:               Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
  • Born:                 1452 – Vinci, Republic of Florence (present-day Italy)
  • Died:                  1519 (aged 67) – Amboise, Kingdom of France
  • Movement:      High Renaissance
  • Masterpieces:

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“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” Leonardo da Vinci

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Photo Credit 1) By Sambodhi Sakhare (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 4) Robert L. Knudsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 5) Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ; Museo del Prado [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest Post: The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries by The Joy of Museums

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Guest Post: The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries by The Joy of Museums

Thank you to The Joy of Museums for this wonderful exploration of one of my favorite topics–unicorn tapestries!

The lady and the unicorn Taste

The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, is over 500 years old, and has inspired books, songs and movies and have stirred debate amongst historians. “The Lady and the Unicorn” is regarded as the Mona Lisa of woven artworks due to its symbolism, history and mystery. The tapestry’s meaning is obscure but has been understood to represent “love or understanding”.

Woven in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium, from wool and silk, the “Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries” consist of six tapestries designed from drawings that originated from Paris. Five of the tapestries, illustrate the five senses using a woman to interact with a unicorn, a lion and a monkey. The sixth tapestry remains more of a mystery with the prominent wording “À Mon Seul Désir” (To my only desire) on the tent.

The Lady and the unicorn Touch

In the “Touch Tapestry”, the lady stands with one hand touching the unicorn’s horn, and the other holding up the pennant.

The Lady and the unicorn Sight

In the “Sight Tapestry”, the lady is seated, holding a mirror up to the unicorn.

The lady and the unicorn Taste

In the “Taste Tapestry”, the lady is taking sweets from a dish.

The Lady and the unicorn Smell

In the “Smell Tapestry”, the lady stands, making a wreath of flowers.

The Lady and the unicorn Hearing

In the “Hearing Tapestry” the lady plays the organ on top of a table.

In all the five tapestries, the unicorn is to the lady’s left and the lion to her right, a common theme to all the tapestries.

The sixth, “À Mon Seul Désir” Tapestry is wider than the others and has a different style. The lady stands in front of a tent, across the top of the entrance to the tent is written “À Mon Seul Désir”. An obscure motto, the unicorn and the lion stand in their standard positions framing the lady while holding onto the tent pennants.

Tapestry weavers use to create the design as they progressed using their imagination, from the fourteenth century onward they copied from a broad sheet of paper (cartone) or from a drawing or painting (cartoon). “The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries” are one of the most significant surviving examples of tapestry art from the Middle Ages.

Historians argue that in five of the six panels, the mysterious lady with the unicorn is Mary Tudor, third wife of Louis XII and sister of Henry VIII, who was Queen of France from August 1514 to 1 January 1515. This Middle Ages masterpiece was “rediscovered” in poor condition in 1841 in the castle of Boussac.

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Essential Facts:

  • Title:                       The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
  • Artist:                     Woven in Flanders based on drawings from Paris
  • Year:                       1500
  • Medium:                Wool and Silk
  • Dimensions          H: 3.68m  w: 2.00m
  • Discovered:           1841
  • Museum:               Musée National du Moyen Age

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“A bad craftsman blames his tools.” French Proverb

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Creative Juice #72

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Creative Juice #72

Fourteen servings of beauty and creativity:

  1. Animated photos.
  2. These houses are for the birds.
  3. Beautiful quilts by Diana McClun.
  4. Two-dimensional reclaimed wood portraits.
  5. An interesting glimpse at Da Vinci’s genius, and two more books I want to read.
  6. A sculptor talks about the Period Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  7. Oliver Sacks said imitation and mastery of form precede creativity.
  8. Embroidery beyond the hoop.
  9. Nonfiction reading list.
  10. Illustrators celebrate Christmas.
  11. This Christmasy blog post is just so pretty I had to share it.
  12. A quick trip around the world in photographs.
  13. Some lovely menorahs.
  14. An artist’s (slightly twisted) process for writing a Christmas book.

Creative Juice #62

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Creative Juice #62

Thirteen articles to help you get your creativity on:

  1. Cute little paintings.
  2. A trip to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
  3. What playing the piano does for your brain.
  4. Wildlife photography in black and white.
  5. Beautiful waterfalls.
  6. Lovely ceramics.
  7. What happens when you let seniors wear costumes for ID picture day.
  8. I love this artist’s sketches.
  9. Award-winning quilts. (Click on the small images for enlargements.)
  10. Instead of aimless surfing, read these websites to increase your knowledge.
  11. Quotes to ponder.
  12. Amazing paper sculptures by Nguyễn Hùng Cường.
  13. Something you can do to exercise your creativity.
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