Saturday, July 17, 2010

French artist Jules Laurens

Image: La Baigneuse (1864 painting, aka The Bather) by Jules Laurens

Jules Auguste Joseph Laurens (1825-1901) is a French painter and lithographer, known for his Orientalist paintings, portraits of peasants and landscape. Born in a family of five children, at the age of twelve Jules joined his older brother, Jean Joseph Bonaventure Laurens, a French artist based in Montpellier.

From 1846 to 1849 he traveled as a draftsman to Eastern Europe, Greece, Turkey and Persia, as part of a scientific mission led by the geographer Xavier Hommaire de Hell. Despite the failure of the mission because of the death Hommaire Hell in Isfahan, Jules brought back hundreds of sketches (historical monuments and daily life of the inhabitants of these regions), drawings and watercolors that would serve his artistic activity.

From 1850-1880 he worked in Paris and regularly participated in the Salon and other exhibitions, and received orders for work, including that of Madame Hommaire de Hell, after she read the notes of her late husband.

In 1880 he published a biography of his brother, and reflected upon the art and related matters of the times, and wrote on the important people he met, such as Victor Hugo, Ingres, Gustave Dore, etc.

He contributed greatly to the development of the Bibliothèque Inguimbertine and Museums of Carpentras. As an avid collector, he donated to the institution many notable works of contemporary artists such as Victor Hugo, Ingres, Auguste Bonheur, Eugene Ciceri, Gustave Dore, etc.

French painter Jacques-Louis David

Jacques-Louis David, Self-portrait (1794), oil on canvas painting, size 80.5 cm x 64.1 cm, located at Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

Equestrian portrait of Stanisław Kostka Potocki (the Polish patron, politician and writer), oil on canvas painting by Jacques-Louis David located at Museum Palace at Wilanów, Warsaw.

The Love of Helen and Paris (detail of a 1788 oil on canvas painting) by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), size 146 cm x 181 cm, from the former collection of the Comte d'Artois (later Charles X of France), seized during the French Revolution, located in Louvre Museum, Paris.
Cupid and Psyche (1817) painting by Jacques-Louis David located at Cleveland Museum of Art.

French painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), known for his mastery of the Neoclassical style, marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity towards classical austerity and severity in the 1780s with his history paintings. David was an active supporter of the French Revolution and a friend of Robespierre. After Robespierre's fall from power he was imprisoned, but he aligned himself with Napoleon I, upon his release from prison. David had a large number of pupils, making him the strongest influence in French art of the early 19th century.

Some of the much-acclaimed works of Jacques-Louis David include, The Death of Socrates (1787), Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife (1788), The Death of Marat (1793), The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1799), Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass (1801), Portrait of Pope Pius VII (1805), The Coronation of Napoleon (1806), Napoleon in His Study (1812), and Mars Being Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces (1824), which is considered as David's last major work.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Eshtaol Forest in Israel

Photos: Views of Eshtaol Forest areas in Israel, photographed on March 18, 2006.

Eshtaol Forest, a popular recreation area and one of the largest forests in Israel, is located north of Beit Shemesh and near Ta'oz and Neve Shalom. Like many other forests in Israel, it was planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

The Jewish National Fund, a non-profit organization founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine (later Israel) for Jewish settlement, owned 13 per cent of the total land in Israel by 2007. Since its inception, it has built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres (1,000 squire km) of land and established more than 1,000 parks. In a period of over fifty years, the JNF planted over 260 million trees mostly in semi-arid, rocky, hilly terrain where agriculture is almost impossible and the risk of land degradation is very high.

There are critics who accuse JNF on various counts, including for planting non-native pine trees rather than local species such as olive trees. While some forests have been planted for security reasons, others are for demarcating Israeli areas. Forests in the Negev Desert are said to have been planted to restrict herding by the Bedouins. After the 1948 war, forests were planted on the sites of abandoned Arab villages whose inhabitants left the areas or were expelled from their homes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Galateabrunnen, Eugensplatz

Stuttgart: Eugensplatz, Galateabrunnen, created by the architect and sculptor Otto Rieth in 1890.

Abduction of Helen, sculpture in Schönbrunn Palace

Photo: Abduction of Helen (Raub der Helena), sculpture situated in Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria.

Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn), a former imperial summer residence in Vienna, Austria, is one of the most important cultural monuments in the country and a major tourist attraction in Vienna. The sculptures in the Schönbrunn Garden were sculpted between 1773 and 1780 under the direction of Johann Wilhelm Beyer. During the execution of scheme, many sculptors were employed, one among them being Johann Baptist Hagenauer.

Palm house in Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

Photo: Palm house and the palmhouse parterre in Schönbrunn Palace's garden, Vienna, Austria.

Jessica Simpson, American singer and actress

American singer, actress and television personality Jessica Simpson sings the US National Anthem during the opening ceremonies for the 2009 AT&T National at Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, MD. The tournament was hosted by the PGA and the Tiger Woods Foundation in honor of all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces on July 1, 2009 - photo by Christopher Wellner.

Jessica Simpson and her father and manager Joe Simpson pose for a snapshot on the flight line at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on March 10, 2008. Simpson toured the camp and visited with US troops the day before performing at the Operation: MySpace concert in the evening - U.S. Army photo by PFC. David J. Marshall.

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey at publicity shoot for the MTV Video Music Awards at ISC Miami on 29 August 2004, USCG photo by PA2 Anastasia Burns.

Jessica Simpson performs during a USO/ DoD Celebrity Tour at Eagle Base on 14 November 2001: US Army-Military photo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Three Graces by various artists

PD photo: The Three Graces, a statue near the River Panke (Kunst im Schlosspark Pankow an der Panke: Drei Grazien), photo taken on 4 June 2008. The River Panke is a tributary river of Spree in Berlin, Germany.

PD Photo: ‘Muses’ (The Three Graces), a 1st century fresco from the ancient city of Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

PD Image: The Three Graces (1504-1505), oil on panel painting by Italian painter and architect Raphael (1483-1520), size 17 cm x 17 cm (6.69 in x 6.69 in) located at Musée Condé, Chantilly in France. Compare Image above with this painting; its close resemblance suggests Raphael probably based his work on the Muses of Pompeii.

PD Photo: The Three Graces in Cyrene Antiquity Museum, Cyrene, Libya: The one-room-sculpture museum at Cyrene has collections rivaling many other museums and it contains many invaluable sculptures showing the richness of Cyrene, which was founded by the ancient Greeks. Several exquisite marble sculptures that once adorned ancient buildings in Cyrene.

PD Photo: The Three Graces (Les-Trois-Grâces), created in 1763 by Charles André van Loo (1705-1765), located at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA.

The Three Graces by Antonio Canova located at Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

In Greek mythology, Charites are goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. In art generally they are depicted as three sisters (from youngest to oldest), Aglaea (for beauty), Euphrosyne (mirth) and Thalia (good cheer). In Roman mythology they are known as the Gratiae, or the Graces. The Graces presided over banquets and gatherings organized to entertain the guests of Gods. They have always been very favourite subjects of paintings and sculptures, for instance, Raphael, Antonio Canova, Bertel Thorvaldsen, and others as in the photos above.

The Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD Pausanias wrote on the representation of the Graces, "Who it was who first represented the Graces naked, whether in sculpture or in painting, I could not discover. During the earlier period, certainly, sculptors and painters alike represented them draped. At Smyrna, for instance, in the sanctuary of the Nemeses, above the images have been dedicated Graces of gold, the work of Bupalus; and in the Music Hall in the same city there is a portrait of a Grace, painted by Apelles. At Pergamus likewise, in the chamber of Attalus, are other images of Graces made by Bupalus; and near what is called the Pythium there is a portrait of Graces, painted by Pythagoras the Parian. Socrates too, son of Sophroniscus, made images of Graces for the Athenians, which are before the entrance to the Acropolis. Also, Socrates was known to have destroyed his own work as he progressed deeper into his life of philosophy and search of the conscious due to his iconoclastic attitude towards art and the like. All these are alike draped; but later artists, I do not know the reason, have changed the way of portraying them. Certainly to-day sculptors and painters represent Graces naked".

The Charities were generally considered as the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome. According to Homer, they were part of the entourage of Aphrodite. The Charites were also associated with the underworld and the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The Pantene Girls

Photo: The Pantene Girls: Some of the beautiful women found all over Planet Earth, photo dated 8 January 2010.

Noah in Islam

Image: Detail from a 16th century Mogul miniature painting giving a Moslem interpretation of Noah and the Flood.

Noah (Nuh or Nooh) is a prophet in the Qur'an, and there is an entire sura narrating the story of Noah. In Islam, Noah is considered among the five strong-willed messengers of God, the others being Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and Muhammad. Noah was a faithful messenger of Allah, and had firm belief in Allah, and he preached Islam for about 950 years.

He used to warn the people of the doom that was imminent because they were wrong-doers and did not obey Allah, and they were worshiping idols for almost a thousand years. He advised people to serve Allah, and that nobody but Allah could save them from the great deluge (flood).

Allah commanded Noah to build Noah's Ark (a ship). While Noah was building the ship, the chieftains passed him and mocked at him. Upon its completion, the ship was loaded with all the species of animals and Noah's own family. The people, including a son of Noah, who disregarded the message of Noah, drowned in the deluge. The final resting place of Noah's Ark is referred to as Mt. Judi (in Turkey).

Sculpture of Leda and Swan, Ludwigsburg, Germany

Photo: Sculpture of Leda and Swan (Leda und Schwan) in Baroque garden in Ludwigsburg, Germany, photo by Immanuel Giel taken on 22 June 2006.

Ludwigsburg Palace, located in the city of Ludwigsburg 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of Stuttgart's city center, is one of Germany's largest Baroque palaces featuring an enormous baroque garden. According to Venetian adventurer and author Giacomo Casanova (who is better known as a womanizer that his name remains synonymous with the art of seduction), the Palace was one of the most magnificent courts in Europe in the 18th century.

Oil paintings by William Edward Frost

Image: L'Allegro (1848), oil on canvas painting by William Edward Frost, size 97 cm x 71 cm, currently located at Royal Collection of the United Kingdom, Windsor, United Kingdom.

Image: Venus and Cupid (Vénus et Cupidon) oil on canvas painting by William Edward Frost, dimensions 31.8 cm x 46.4 cm sold by Christie's London on February 20, 2003, now believed to be in The Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures and Works of Art II.

English painter of the Victorian era William Edward Frost (1810-1877) had established a reputation as a portrait painter before he turned to historical and mythological subjects, including the sub-genre of fairy painting characteristic of Victorian art. In 1839 Frost won the Royal Academy's gold medal for his ‘Prometheus Bound’, and in 1843 he won a prize in the Westminster Hall competition for his ‘Una Alarmed by Fauns’. Frost was elected associate member of the Royal Academy in 1846, and he became a full member in 1870.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lake Garda (Lago di Garda), Italy

Photo 1: Val di Sogno, Lake Garda

Photo 2: Lake Garda at sunset, view from Malcesine

Lake Garda (in Italian, Lago di Garda or Benaco) having a surface area of about 370 sq km is the largest lake in Italy. Located in Northern Italy, about half-way between Venice and Milan, the lake is 52 km long with a width of 16.7 km at its widest part and the deepest point hast a depth of 346 meters. The lake has a number of small islands, the largest being Isola del Garda. The sulphur springs here have a reputation for healing catarrhal conditions, particularly those involving the ear.

The lake is a major tourist destination and has a number of exclusive hotels and resorts along its shores. The ancient fortified town of Sirmione, located on the south of the lake, is a particularly popular destination, home to the Virgilio & Catullo Spa Complexes, as well as numerous restaurants, bars, hotels, fashion stores, a market, and the picturesque 13th century Scaliger Castle. Gardaland, one of the most famous theme parks in Italy is quite nearby.