The Topkapi Palace is the biggest and one of the most popular sites to visit in Istanbul. It was built in between 1466 and 1478 by the sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill in a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north, the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Bosphorus strait to the north east, with great views of the Asian side as well. The palace was the political center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries, until they built Dolmabahce Palace by the waterside. The palace was opened to the public as a museum in 1924 by the order of Ataturk. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum consists of three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion Museum or Museum of Islamic Art. The three museums house over one million objects that represent almost all the eras and civilisations in world history. As part of the core collection, on the second floor, they have spectacular collection of Greco-Roman sculpture from the 6th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. Since almost all the important eras of sculpture in this time period were on display, I have compiled a history of Greek and Roman Sculpture.
At the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, they had a retrospective exhibition of the prominent Egyptian sculpter Ahmed Abdel-Wahab (born in 1932) and I thought I would share. Abdel-Wahab is an eminent figure among contemporary Egyptian sculptors. He devoted his artistic experience in pursuit of a contemporary character to be the model of a pure Egyptian sculpture. The character of Akhenaton attracted his attention with its contemplative noble features and firm piety Abdel-Wahab epitomized Akhenaton in different forms, in which he maintained the essence of contemplation and human piety. He created large and small-scale sculptures, as well as a relief sculpture with extensive attention to ornamentation. He also created rhythmical sculpture compounds in which he linked the triangular andrhombus-shaped masses together by colorful lines. The artist also resorted to abbreviating the details to emphasize the mass and achieve dramatic shadowy projections, which emphasize the idea of holiness and mysticism. In creating these pieces of art, the artist used many materials, like pottery, stone, and polyester withmetal. He was awarded the State Merit Award for art in 2002.
One day as we were leaving the Louvre on Rue de Rivoli we came across the Artclub Gallery with these sexy and yet kind of cute painted polyester manikins created by an artist called Josepha. I looked her up when we got home and thought I would share the pictures.
In 2008 the Palace of Versailles instituted a somewhat controversial contemporary art program. The first woman to exhibit is Joana Vasconcelos, born in Paris and working in Lisbon. The Bride is one of her most famous works, although this not exhibited at Versailles. Taking the form of an 18th-century candelabra, it is made entirely of white tampons. Vasconcelos is inclined to see Marie Antoinette as a women's lib heroine. “She is no longer the wife of the king, but a political woman, executed for that reason. Her execution was one of the first steps towards female emancipation. Without her, I wouldn't be here,” she says. Seen above in the 1830 Room is the Lilicoptère, a Bell-47 helicopter, which she has decorated with glass studs and ostrich feathers. But why ostriches? “Because Marie Antoinette loved them and bred them in the gardens of the chateau to decorate her hats,” she says. To me, those are the little details that help bring the Palace of Versailles alive.
If you are visiting the Eiffel tower and looking for something else to do, you might consider the French Maritime Museum at the Trocadero, the largest in the world. Apart from Napoleon’s canot, seen below, another striking feature in the first room at the Paris Musée de la Marine is the painting of the arrival of Napoleon III at Gênes in 1859, by Théodore Gudin seen above.
In 1748, Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau offered a collection of models of ships and naval installations to Louis XV of France, with the request that the items be displayed at the Louvre and made available to students of the Naval engineers school, which Duhamel headed. The collection was put on display in 1752, in a room of the first floor, next to the Academy of Sciences; the room was called “Salle de Marine” (Navy room), and was used for teaching. King Charles X decided to create the maritime museum in 1827, which he named the Musée Dauphin but after 1830 the name was changed to what we know it as today, the Musée de Marine.
The Gebel el-Arak Knife is a 25.50 cm long knife dating from circa 3300 to 3200 BCE, the late pre-dynastic period in Egypt which when it was purchased in Cairo was said to have been found at the site of Gebel el-Arak, south of Abydos.
I thought we would visit Notre Dame today, since it was good weather and we felt like an adventure. The cathedral is located on the east end of the Île de la Cité, one of two remaining islands in the Seine and home to the first inhabitants of Paris, the Celtic tribe Parisii.
I personally think the east side of Notre Dame shown above is more picturesque than the western facade shown to the right, primarily because you can see the “flying buttresses” that were added when cracks began showing in the fairly thin gothic walls. However, the western facade is packed with statues and carvings, most of which have religious meanings. Built in an age of illiteracy, the cathedral retells the stories of the Bible in its portals, paintings, and stained glass.
The bridge, with its flashy art nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank.
If it is a beautiful sunny day in Paris, a great place to go is the Tuileries gardens as we and much of Paris did yesterday. Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was first opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution.
It is a classic French garden designed by Pierre le Notre under Louis XIV who also designed the gardens at Versailles. It is very orderly and symmetrical with one very wide center walkway and two additional walkways on the side as you can see on the original plans to the right.
On the west side of the garden, beside the present-day Place de la Concorde, he built two ramps in a horseshoe shape and two terraces overlooking a octagonal water basin sixty metres in diameter with a fountain in the centre. These terraces frame the western entrance of the garden, and provide another viewpoint to see the garden from above.
This is another in my series on the Louvre, trying to break it up into manageable pieces. Antoine Coysevox was a distinguished French sculptor (1640-1720) who belonged to a family originally from Spain. At the age of seventeen he executed a much admired Madonna. In 1671 he was employed by Louis XIV on various sculptures at Versailles and at Marly. Marly was a small Palace built in 1679 for Louis XIV primarily as a hydraulic station for the fountains at Versailles, dismantled in 1800. The work pictured above is “Neptune” from Marly now at the Louvre in the Richelieu wing. Coysevox made two bronze statues of Louis XIV, the “Charlemagne” at Saint-Louis des Invalides, and other famous works, but his most famous is probably “La Renommée” at the entrance of the Tuileries — two winged horses bearing Mercury and Fame. Napoleon is said to have delighted in the sculptor’s fancy that the horse of Mercury should have a bridle, but not that of Fame. Coysevox also produced some fine sepulchral monuments for the churches of Paris. We owe him a special debt for his contemporary portraits.