Monthly Archives: April 2013

A “Modern” Judgement of Paris

JudofParisWagrez

This is a more modern Judgment of Paris.  Jacque Clement Wagrez (1850 – 1908) was a French painter and illustrator famous for painting the palaces of  the wealthy French. He studied in France and Italy. While he painted during the latter half of the 19th century, he garbed his models in Italian Renaissance clothing. Finding images of Aphrodite with clothes on has been a challenge.

Tomorrow, Author Liz Fountain Visits An Author’s Desk

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Aphrodite & Ares at Pompeii

F10_2Aphrodite& Ares PompeiiAphrodite, the Goddess of Love and  her lover, Ares, the God of War are pictured in this fresco in Pompeii, Italy. Aphrodite had many lovers and Ares was one of the long-term paramours. Aphrodite/ Venus was a frequent subject of the artists of the ancient world.

To produce a fresco, paint is applied to wet plaster that has been spread on a wall. While some examples of fresco survive the media itself is susceptible to deterioration over time, destruction by human hands,  and to external damage from weathering, floods, or earthquake.

Frescoes survive in Pompeii probably more often than any other site of the ancient world. In 79 AD  Pompeii, a small but wealthy town on the Mediterranean south of Naples, was buried under volcanic ash and rocks when Vesuvius erupted. Prior to the eruption the volcano was covered by trees, vineyards, villas, and pastureland and the populace was unaware that they were living on a time bomb. The eruption was totally unexpected and resulted in the death of many of the citizens and the preservation of much of Pompeii in a hardened ash and volcanic rock. Consequently, many frescoes – like the one here –  were preserved in all their magnificent colors.  Tomorrow, More Aphrodite.

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Aphrodite: A Judgement of Paris

K4_5Hera

This Attic  red figure vase at Antikenmuseen in Berlin, Germany dates from the 5th century BC. Hermes (with the winged cap) leads the three goddesses Aphrodite (the figure in the middle), Athene and Hera to Paris for his judgement. The prize is a golden apple for the fairest. The Trojan prince sits in the doorway holding a royal staff and lyre. Before him stands Hermes, holding a kerykeion (herald’s wand) and wearing a chlamys (traveller’s cloak) and winged cap. Of the three goddesses, Aphrodite is veiled, and holds a winged Eros (god of love) and myrtle wreath in her hands; Athene holds a spear and helm; Hera is crowned and bears a miniature lion and royal lotus-tipped staff.
Tomorrow, more Aphrodite.

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Aphrodite and Helen of Troy

K10_8Aphrodite& HeleneThis representation of Aphrodite is on an Attic red figure on an amphora. It is from the Greek Classical from the 5th century BC which makes the amphora 2,500 years old. In the story, Helen who is the wife of Menelaus, the King of Sparta. Later on we’ll check out a Judgment of Paris where Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy, is asked by three goddesses to judge who is the most beautiful. Aphrodite promises him the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chooses Aphrodite. She gives him Helen, the wife of Menelaus. Not pictured, Nemesis directs Tykhe (ill-fortune) to punish Paris. His act set off the Trojan War which ends in the destruction of Troy and the death or enslavement of its citizens.

Tomorrow, More Aphrodite.

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Aphrodite: Venus de Milo

Venus de MiloThe Venus de Milo (also known as the Aphrodite of Milos) is one of the most famous ancient Greek statues. The marble statue which is a few inches short of seven feet tall was created in the first century BC to honor Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

The statue was broken in half and arms were missing when it was discovered in 1820 by a Greek peasant on the island of Milos. A French officer came to the site, excavated the statue, and arranged for it to be taken to France where it is on permanent display in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It was probably the work of Alexandros of Antioch, not Praxiteles.

Although the arms are missing, enough pieces remain to see that her right hand held up her drape at her hips and the left hand held an apple which still survives. The statue and clothing would have been painted, as most statues of the time were, and was adorned with jewelry.

Tomorrow, Another Aphrodite.

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Aphrodite & Peitho

AphroditeSunThis Aphrodite who is the figure on the right holding a myrtle in her left hand is depicted on an Apulian red figure Krater (a bowl used to mix water with wine in ancient Greece) It is from the Late Classical / Early Hellenistic (4th century BC) period.  it is owned by the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, USA

Aphrodite and her attendant are pictured in a the story of the love of Endymion and Selene. The figure of Aphrodite, holding a myrtle wreath in her hand, is labeled on the vase. Her companion is probably Peitho (Persuasion), who usually appears beside the goddess in these scenes. Selene, a Titan associated with the moon, fell in love with Endymion, a handsome Aeolian youth. She asked Aphrodite to make Endymion immortal. Aphrodite did so while he was asleep. Selene liked his looks so much while he slept that he was left in an eternal sleep. Tomorrow, Another Aphrodite

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Another de’ Medici Venus/Aphrodite

aphroditeTues

The next week or so Rita Bay’s blog will feature Aphrodite in different forms, mostly with clothes on, to celebrate the upcoming publication of a new story, “Her Teddy Bare.” It’s book #3 of the Aphrodite’s Island, a series of erotic romance stories that takes place on Miss A’s island.

This “Birth of Venus” was painted by Boticelli in 1486 probably for Lorenzo de’ Medici. There is a story behind it related by the Roman historian Pliny. Alexander the Great commissioned a similar painting using his mistress, Pankaspe, as the model. The painter, Apelles, was so overwhelmed by the model that Alexander gave her to him. Centuries later, the emperor Augustus hung the painting in his father Caesar’s mausoleum. Pliny relates that the painting, degraded beyond repair, had been replaced by the Emperor Nero. It was a head thing that Boticelli would outdo Apelles in the painting but also used a Medici mistress for the model.

A Homeric poem provided the inspiration for both:

Of august gold-wreathed and beautiful Aphrodite
I shall sing to whose domain belong
 the battlements of all sea-loved Cyprus where,
blown by the moist breath of Zephyros,
she was carried over the waves of the resounding sea on soft foam.
The gold-filleted Horae happily welcomed her and clothed her
with heavenly raiment.

 

Tomorrow, more Venus/Aphrodite.

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Primavera: Aphrodite/Venus

AphroditeimagesCA42KGLFVenus/Aphrodite, goddess of love is the central figure draped in red and dressed in blue with Cupid above her. Like the flower-gatherer, she returns the viewer’s gaze. The orange trees behind her (a Medici symbol) form a broken arch above her to draw the eye. She stands in front of a myrtle bush which is sacred to her. Venus/Aphrodite clothed herself in myrtle bush after she emerged from the sea where she was born.

In 1499 the painting was in the collection of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’Medici. One of the models proposed for Venus was Semirande, the wife of Lorenzo. Another possible model was Simonetta Vespucci, a supposed mistress of Guiliano de’ Medici. Since 1919, the painting has hung in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. During World War Two, the picture was moved to Montegufoni Castle about ten miles south-west of Florence to protect it from wartime bombing.

Next week, Treasures of the Uffizi.
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Primavera: Zephyr & Chloris

KidnapimagesCA42KGLFThe two figures on the right are Chloris and Zephyr. Chloris is often associated with Flora whom we met yesterday. In Greek mythology, however, she was a wood nymph who was pursued by Zephyr, the West Wind. When he caught her, they were married and she became immortal. She was associated with spring. She was believed to have transformed several humans into flowers – Adonis, Hyacinthus, and Narcissus – for various reasons.

Check out Zephyr on the far right. His cheeks are puffed, his expression intent, and his unnatural complexion separates him from the rest of the figures. The trees around him blow in the direction of his entry with the skirt of Chloris whom he is grabbing.
Tomorrow, Aphrodite and Cupid.

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Primivera: Flora

FloraimagesCA42KGLFThe goddess Flora is the flower-crowned female figure in a floral-patterned dress who is scattering flowers, collected in the folds of her gown. In Roman mythology, Flora was the goddess of flowers and the spring. She was a fertility goddess and was popular for her association with spring. Since 240 BC the Romans celebrated the Floralia (April 28 – May 3) which symbolized the renewal of life, drinking, and flowers. In the painting there are five hundred identified plant species about 190 of which are different flowers.
Tomorrow, Zephyrus and Chloris.

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