Tag: Art History

All Good Things Come in Threes: Khamsa of Nizami British Library, Or. 12208

 

Khamsa of Nizami British Library, Or. 12208 is not a very interesting sounding document. Indeed, to most Westerners, Khamsa of Nizami means nothing at all. But this illustrated manuscript, which now resides at the British Library in London, tells three extraordinary tales: the poems of Nizami, the profound (and unappreciated) bond between art and the written world in the early modern Islamic world, and the relationship between two great empires. Let’s start from the last. 

A Multi-Level Treasure Hunt

 

In 1764 Tsarina Catherine the Great of Russia started a major war in Europe. It was a culture war. She collected fine art as aggressively as she fought on the battlefield. It spurred Europe’s crowned heads, especially Louis XVI of France and Frederick the Great of Prussia, to compete at obtaining and displaying art, especially fine paintings.

“The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck,” by Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees, records a casualty of that culture war Dutch Master paintings purchased at auction for Catherine the Great were sent from Holland to St Petersburg aboard the Dutch merchantman Vrouw Maria. Caught in a storm, the ship sank off the Finnish coast.

The book uses the shipwreck, to frame the story. Among the paintings lost was Gerrit Dou’s triptych The Nursery. Largely forgotten today, Dou was then the most admired Golden Age Dutch Master. (One of Dou’s paintings hung in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.) The Nursery was considered Dou’s finest work.

About Those US Capitol Statues Nancy Wants to Dispose Of

 

One of my privileges as a former Secretary of the United States Senate is the ability to conduct guided tours of the US Capitol. One of the offices I supervised was the US Senate Historical Office. One of the Secretary’s responsibilities is to promote the history and significance of the US Senate, a responsibility that I continue to relish. During my tours, I frequently stop to point out certain statues, especially in Statuary Hall (the former House Chamber until about 1857, when the current Chamber was completed).

So when the latest brouhaha over statues began, especially given the “presentism” gripping our political discourse, I knew right away it would find its way to many of those statues. Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not disappoint, calling for the removal of 11 statues of historical figures she finds especially objectionable.

Here’s what you need to know. About 100 of those statues, half of which are located in Statuary Hall, are there under a Concurrent Resolution that invited every state to send up to two statues of their choosing. They get to decide; not Congress, not Speaker Pelosi. Other statues are placed under other congressional resolutions.

Member Post

 

Cambodia is dotted all over with temple ruins, big and small. Some of you might have heard of Angkor Wat or recognize the giant faces at Bayon. Most of the temples are congregated at Angkor, modern day Siem Reap province. Angkor was the seat of the Khmer Empire (802 CE to 1431 CE), where naturally […]

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Member Post

 

Ho hum. As often as conservative mourn the aesthetic traditions of our grandparents and centuries past, the sadder tale might be the indifference with which excellent works are met in an era when artistic talents abound and replicas of masterworks are obtainable at any Walmart.  Preview Open

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