Zenobia of Palmyra

IULIA AUREIA ZENOBIA, who claimed Cleopatra and Dido of Carthage as ancestors, became queen of Palmyra when her husband Septimius Odaenathus and his son were assassinated in 267. Zenobia’s son Vaballanthus was heir, but just an infant, so she ruled instead. In 269, Zenobia conquered Egypt and became known as the “Warrior Queen.” She conquered part of Asia Minor, as well. In 274 she was defeated by Aurelian near Antioch and rode in his triumphal parade, but was allowed to live the rest of her life in luxury in Rome. She is not to be confused with Zenobia, the wife of Rhadamistus, who lived more than two hundred years earlier in a different region.

Contemporary portrait bust in the Vatican Museum

What Was Lost

WHAT an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages.

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The Journey of the Ex-Empress Eugenie

AT this time, when events follow each other so quickly, there seems to be some danger that facts, which will one day play an important part in history, may be passed over at the present time. The fact that the ex-empress Eugenie has sailed for south Africa brings her again before the world in which she once played so brilliant a part. The ex-empress travels under the incognito of Countess de Pierrefords, accompanied by the Marquis de Basano, Colonel Evelyn Wood, and Lady Wood; also a small suite, among whom is Uhlman, the confidential servant of the late prince imperial.

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The Dutch Golden Age

YESTERDAY I added a couple of new tags relating to years and periods: decades and “Dutch Golden Age.” The decades simply have the function that you can look at pictures and read poems from about the same time.

Dutch Golden Age refers roughly to the period between the fall of Antwerp 1585 and the Rampjaar 1672, a time when even tailors’ workshops had paintings on their walls. The Dutch painters of the time usually didn’t go to Italy to study, just as their Flemish forefathers before Jan Gossaert hadn’t. Landscapes and genre pieces were more popular than histories and mythological pieces.

I have a Dutch Golden Age tag on Tumblr as well. As usually you’ll find just the pictures, with little comment, there.

Vasari on Christianity and Art

BUT the most harmful and destructive force which operated against these fine arts was the fervent zeal of the new Christian religion, which, after long and sanguinary strife, had at length vanquished and abolished the old faith of the heathen, by means of a number of miracles and by the sincerity of its acts. Every effort was put forth to remove and utterly extirpate the smallest things from which errors might arise, and thus not only were the marvellous statues, sculptures, paintings, mosaics and ornaments of the false pagan gods destroyed and thrown down, but also the memorials and honours of countless excellent persons, to whose distinguished merits statues and other memorials had been set up in public by a most virtuous antiquity. Besides all this, in order to build churches for the use of the Christians, not only were the most honoured temples of the idols destroyed, but in order to ennoble and decorate S. Pietro’ with more ornaments than it then possessed, they took away the stone columns from the mold of Hadrian, now the castle of Sant’Angelo, as well as many other things which we now see in ruins.

From the preface of the Vite, translation by Gaston C. DeVere.

Portrait of Ludwig I of Bavaria by Joseph Karl Stieler

Previously an electorate, Bavaria had only become a kingdom with the Peace of Pressburg in 1806, so all the regalia were still quite new when Ludwig became King in 1825. They were also very Napoleonic, note the wreath-shaped back of the throne and the L in analog to Napoleon’s N. The crown had been made by Martin-Guillaume Biennais, it was never worn, just displayed during the enthronement ceremony. It had a huge blue diamond that was sold in 2008 for £16.4 million Sterling to Laurence Graff, who recut it.

Ludwig, who does not look very regal on this portrait, was a great lover of the arts, women, and Greece. His second son Otto was elected monarch of the newly sovereign Greek state in 1832. He changed the spelling of his realm from Baiern to Bayern because it looked more Greek. He had no less than three museums built in Munich for his huge art collection. In the revolution year 1848, he abdicated in favor of his son Maximilian, since he did not want to rule under a constitution.

Joseph Karl Stieler had been appointed court painter in 1820 by Ludwig’s father, Maximilian I Joseph. For Ludwig, he painted portraits of the royal family, beautiful women, and poets.

Portrait of Francis I of France by Jean Clouet

Francis I was King of France from 1515 to 1547. He was the younger brother of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, famous as author of the Heptameron. He allied with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, mainly against Emperor Charles V. By doing so he became the first European monarch to establish diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire, which caused quite some scandal. After initial tolerance he persecuted protestants, culminating in a massacre of Waldensians in 1545. He was a man of letters and patron of the arts. Baccio Bandinelli’s Laocoon copy was originally intended as a present for him.

Jean Clouet painted this portrait of Francis around 1530.

Greece and Rome

A series of lectures by Robert Garland about the history of the Mediterranean. Some of the lectures have interesting images as well.

Roman Women

The World of Roman Women is a companion site to the 2005 book of the same name by Ann Raia, Cecelia Luschnig, and Judith Lynn Sebesta. It has an astonishing amount of images of ancient artwork.

Plutarch: Antiochus and Stratonice

ANTIOCHUS, the son of Seleucus, had fallen passionately in love with his stepmother Stratonice, the young queen, who had already made Seleucus the father of a son. He struggled very hard with the beginnings of this passion, and at last, resolving with himself that his desires were wholly unlawful, his malady past all cure, and his powers of reason too feeble to act, he determined on death, and thought to bring his life slowly to extinction by neglecting his person and refusing nourishment, under the pretence of being ill.

Erasistratus, the physician who attended him, quickly perceived that love was his distemper, but the difficulty was to discover the object. He therefore waited continually in his chamber, and when any of the beauties of the court made their visits to the sick prince, he observed the emotions and alterations in the countenance of Antiochus, and watched for the changes which he knew to be indicative of the inward passions and inclinations of the soul.

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