(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘British Museum

“The Greek temple is the creation, par excellence, of mind and spirit in equilibrium”*…

Edmund Stewart outlines the requirements for building a Greek temple…

If, like me, you have ever wondered what goes into building a Greek temple, then fear not: I here present a list of everything you will need. Admittedly, when compared with the wonders made possible by Roman concrete or a mediaeval gothic arch, the hundreds of temples scattered across the Greek world may perhaps look a bit small. Yet they are certainly elegant, sometimes with a slender beauty typical of the Ionic order, or else the sturdy grandeur of the Doric. And, when examined closely, the process of building one may quickly become worryingly complex…

Indeed, as The Browser observes, it’s a challenge…

In brief: [one would need] quite a lot. An architect, obviously, though architects were relatively cheap in ancient Greece; ships to bring in the marble; a hundred slaves for heavy lifting; a dozen carpenters; six craftsmen per column to dress the facade; sculptors and painters for the ornamentation; a door-maker; and do be sure to order your floor-tiles well ahead of time, they may take two years to arrive..

A fascinating and entertaining read: “What You Need to Build a Greek Temple,” in @AntigoneJournal, via @TheBrowser.

* Edith Hamilton

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As we contemplate construction, we might send carefully-excavated birthday greetings to Charles Thomas Newton; he was born on this date in 1816. An archaeologist, he excavated sites in southwestern Turkey and disinterred the remains of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (at present-day Bodrum, Turkey). Newton joined staff of British Museum in 1840, where he helped to establish systematic methods for archaeology and ultimately became its first keeper (curator) of Greek and Roman antiquities.

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“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint”*…

Studies of various types of water bird, swimming and diving among river weed. This work seems to have been intended as a kind of picture thesaurus.

One of the world’s most important collections of art has re-emerged after having been lost for more than 70 years.

The corpus – 103 original drawings by the non-Western world’s most famous artist, the 19th century Japanese painter, Hokusai – came to light in Paris and has now been bought by the British Museum.

The newly discovered artworks appear to have formed part of one of the most ambitious publishing projects ever conceived – a Japanese plan to create a huge pictorial encyclopaedia.

Known as the Great Picture Book of Everything, it was conceived by Hokusai (best known for his most famous work – The Great Wave) – but was never completed.

Published at around the same time as Hokusai was producing the 103 recently rediscovered drawings, The Great Wave is the artist’s most famous painting

The project was abandoned in the 1830s – either because of cost or possibly because Hokusai insisted on reproduction standards that were difficult to attain.

The Great Picture Book of Everything was to have been a comprehensive way for the Japanese to have access to images of people, cultures and nature around the world – at a time when virtually no Japanese people had been allowed out of Japan for some two centuries –  and virtually no foreigners had been allowed into 99 per cent of the country.

In that ultra-restrictive atmosphere, the project was to have given people an opportunity to explore a highly stylised printed version of the outside world as well as Japan itself…

The full story (and more examples of the work) at “Hokusai: More than 100 lost works by non-western world’s most famous artist rediscovered“– the artist’s abandoned attempt to create Great Picture Book of Everything.

* Edward Hopper

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As we picture that, we might send challenging birthday greetings to Hans Peter Wilhelm Arp; he was born on this date in 1886. A sculptor, painter, and poet (who also worked in other media such as torn and pasted paper), Arp was a friend and associate of Hugo Ball and a regular at the Cafe Voltaire, where he helped create the Dada Movement; at the same time he was associated with the Surrealists. But he broke with those movements to found Abstraction-Création, working with the Paris-based group Abstraction-Création and the periodical, Transition. Beginning in the 1930s, he expanded his efforts from collage and bas-relief to include bronze and stone sculptures, and to write and publish essays and poetry. Examples of his work are here.

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No man’s land…

Lake Superior contains a phantom island. After the American Revolution, the Treaty of Paris established the boundary between the United States and Canada as running “through Lake Superior northward of the Isles Royal and Phelipeaux to the Long Lake,” following an inaccurate map created by John Mitchell. In the 1820s surveyors discovered that Phelipeaux does not exist, and the boundary had to be negotiated anew.

Around the same time, the dramatically named Mountains of Kong appeared on maps of West Africa, apparently placed there originally by English cartographer James Rennell. It wasn’t until the 1880s that French explorer Louis Gustave Binger discovered that they don’t exist either. They persisted in Goode’s World Atlas until 1995.

One of the wonders at The Futility Closet– “an idler’s miscellany of compendious amusements.”

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As we remember that the map is not the territory, we might recall that it was on this date in 1759 that the the first exhibition galleries and the reading room of the British Museum opened. The institution had been established in 1753 by King George II and Parliament– the first of a new kind of museum: belonging to neither church nor king, freely open to the public, and aiming to collect everything.  With the subsequent acquisition of of Montagu House in Bloomsbury, and the inclusion of several “foundation collections” (including the Lindisfarne Gospels, the sole surviving copy of Beowulf, and many others of the most treasured books now in the British Library), the museum moved toward reality.  (The Trustees had rejected Buckingham House, on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace.)

Among the earliest treasures on display in 1759 were a starved cat, a rat, a tree trunk gnawed by a beaver, and a mummified thumb found beneath the St. James’s Coffee House.  This emphasis on books, manuscripts, and “natural history” (perhaps better said, “cabinet of curiosities”) began to shift when in 1772 the Museum acquired for £8,400 its first significant antiquities: Sir William Hamilton’s “first” collection of Greek vases.

Montagu House, Bloomsbury, London (later the British Museum) from the north by James Simon, c.1715

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 15, 2014 at 1:01 am

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