I’ve had quite a few business trips over the last few months, but this week’s expedition to Frankfurt came together in a particularly satisfying way. I was only there for one full day, but thanks to cunning planning of my flights and a relatively brief business meeting, I had plenty of time free to explore the city’s museums and to take two very exciting trips to nearby towns. In a blissful stroke of luck my trip coincided with the Karlsruhe Handel Festival, so I even managed to squeeze in a performance: you can read about Arminio in another post. All in all, I had a wonderful time and here are a few recommendations if you should ever find yourself in that part of the world.
(British Museum, London, until 5 July 2015)
I’ve been terribly lax at writing about exhibitions recently, and this post is actually far too late because the show has just closed. Nevertheless there were such beautiful things on display that I still wanted to write a little about it; and I hope some of you had the chance to see it. The theme was, very simply, the body in Greek art; but it went beyond the predictable athletic male nude, which for the Greeks, and for so many cultures since, has been the pinnacle of physical perfection. The show also looked at sculptures of the female body, whether divine or mortal; at representations of the body throughout the life cycle; and at sculpture on different scales and in different modes, from heroic to comic.
A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini
Now here is a love story with a sting in the tail for Valentine’s Day. Written with novelistic verve by Sarah McPhee, a professor at Emory University, it is an example of how art history can be brought to scintillating, pulsing life when done well. McPhee’s point of departure is a striking marble bust of a woman, carved by Bernini in 1637 and traditionally believed to record the features of a woman named Costanza with whom he was passionately in love. Her husband was one of Bernini’s assistants.
(Royal Academy, London, until 9 December 2012)
Fate has a sense of humour. One of the things I would have loved to see in Sicily was the Dancing Satyr in Mazara del Vallo: the beautiful bronze which was pulled out of the Mediterranean by a fishing boat in 1998. Of course, with only five days on hand, we couldn’t trek across country simply for the sake of seeing one bronze statue, so I quietly added it to my list for my next visit. So imagine my surprise and delight this afternoon, when I stepped into the first room of the Royal Academy’s new exhibition, Bronze.
This is going to be a long one, because I’m bubbling over with enthusiasm. I’ve just returned from a marvellous week in Sicily with my parents, who had very kindly taken pity on me and invited me to join them on Voyages Jules Verne’s ‘Treasures of Sicily’ tour. This post therefore has two parts: the first focuses on Sicily itself and the places we visited, while the second part focuses on my experience of travelling with an organised group.