Sunday, 22 October 2017

ART SUNDAY - FEDERICO ZANDOMENEGHI

“After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world.” - Christian Dior 

Federico Zandomeneghi (June 2, 1841 – December 31, 1917) was an Italian Impressionist painter. He was born in Venice and his father, Pietro, and grandfather, Luigi, were neoclassic sculptors. The latter completed the monument to Titian found in the Frari of Venice.

As a young man, Zandomeneghi preferred painting to sculpture, enrolling in 1856 first in the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, and then in the Academy of Fine Arts of Milan. In 1860, he tried to join with the forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) in his Expedition of the Thousand. This made it uncomfortable for him to reside in Venice, and in 1862, he moved to Florence for 5 years where he frequented the Caffè Michelangiolo. There he met a number of the artists known as the Macchiaioli, including Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Fattori and Giuseppe Abbati, and he joined them in painting landscapes outdoors.

Painting outside of the studio, ‘en plein air’, was at that time an innovative approach, allowing for a new vividness and spontaneity in the rendering of light. In 1871 Pompeo Molmenti wrote glowing assessments of three young Venetian painters: Guglielmo Ciardi, Alessandro Zezzos, and Zandomeneghi. In 1874, he went to Paris, where he was to spend the rest of his life. He quickly made the acquaintance of the Impressionists, who had just had their first group exhibition. Zandomeneghi, whose style of painting was similar to theirs, would participate in four of their later exhibitions, in 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886.

Like his close friend Edgar Degas, Zandomeneghi was primarily a figure painter, although Zandomeneghi’s work was more sentimental in character than Degas’. He also admired the work of Mary Cassatt and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and his many paintings of women in their domestic routines follow their example. To supplement the meager returns from the sale of his paintings, Zandomeneghi found work drawing illustrations for fashion magazines.

He took up working in pastels in the early 1890s, and became especially adept in this medium. At about this same time his reputation and his fortunes were enhanced when the art dealer Durand-Ruel showed Zandomeneghi’s work in the United States. From then on he enjoyed continuing modest success until his death in Paris in 1917.

The pastel drawing above from 1893 is his “Taking Tea”. The composition is marvelous and the personalities of the young women who are drinking tea and partaking of a little “social criticism” at the same time is rendered delicately, although a little tongue-in-cheek. The texture of the surface and the rough flakes of pigment in parts recalls a little the pointillists, but the image is definitely clearly identifiable as belonging to the circle of the French Impressionists.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - PETER VON WINTER

“Harmony is pure love, for love is a concerto.” - Lope de Vega 

Peter von Winter (baptized 28 August 1754 – 17 October 1825) was a German opera composer who followed Mozart and preceded Weber, acting as a bridge between the two in the development of German opera. Winter was born at Mannheim. A child prodigy on the violin, he played in the Mannheim court orchestra. He studied with Antonio Salieri in Vienna.

Moving to Munich in 1778, he became director of the court theatre at which point he started to write stage works, at first ballets and melodramas. He became Vice-Kapellmeister in Munich in 1787 and Kapellmeister in 1798, a title he kept for the rest of his life. Of more than thirty operas written by Winter between 1778 and 1820 very few were unsuccessful. His most popular work, Das unterbrochene Opferfest, was produced in 1796 at Vienna, where in 1797-1798 he composed Die Pyramiden von Babylon and Das Labyrinth oder Der Kampf mit den Elementen, both written for him by Emanuel Schikaneder, in continuation of the story of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

He returned to Munich in 1798. Five years later he visited London, where he produced La grotta di Calipso in 1803, Il ratto di Proserpina in 1804 (both to libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte), and Zaira in 1805, with great success. Maometto (1817) is probably his most famous opera, still performed sometimes and it exists in an excellent recording on CD. His last opera, Der Sänger und der Schneider, was produced in 1820 at Munich, where he died.

Besides his dramatic works he composed concertos for wind and orchestra and some sacred music, including 26 masses. Here is his Concerto for Clarinet & Bassoon in E-flat major:
Mov. I: Adagio - Allegro 00:00
Mov.II: Andantino 08:41
Mov.III: Rondo: Allegro 11:14

Clarinet: Dieter Klöcker; Bassoon: Karl-Otto Hartmann; Orchestra: Suk Chamber Orchestra Prague; Conductor: Petr Škvor.

Friday, 20 October 2017

FOOD FRIDAY - CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA

“I like chicken a lot because chicken is generous - that is to say, it’s obedient. It will do whatever you tell it to do.” - Maya Angelou

We once had this dish in a restaurant and we enjoyed it very much. A friend gave us the recipe, which we then made at home and it was quite a good approximation of the restaurant dish. 

Chicken Saltimbocca
Ingredients
2 skinless chicken breast fillets
Salt and pepper
2 thin slices prosciutto
2-4 fresh sage leaves
1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup dry Marsala 

Method
Put chicken breasts between pieces of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin or the smooth side of a meat mallet, bash them to a thickness of just under one centimeter (don’t hit so hard that they break up). Season with salt and pepper.
Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each chicken escalope and put a sage leaf or two on top. Lightly dust the chicken on both sides with flour. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Cook the chicken until no longer pink in the middle, about 3 minutes per side. To check if it's done, stick the tip of a sharp knife into it: the juice that runs out should be clear with no trace of pink. Transfer the chicken to a warm platter and cover with foil.
Add Marsala to the pan and cook over high heat until thickened and reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the sauce over the chicken.
Accompany with a fresh seasonal salad and some dry white wine.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

ALL ABOUT MEXICAN TARRAGON

“A Béarnaise sauce is simply an egg yolk, a shallot, a little tarragon vinegar, and butter, but it takes years of practice for the result to be perfect.” - Fernand Point 

Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida Cav.) is a perennial plant native to Mexico and Central America. It is used as a medicinal plant and as a culinary herb. The leaves have a tarragon-like flavour, with hints of anise, and it has entered the nursery trade in North America as a tarragon substitute. Other common names include sweet-scented marigold, Mexican marigold, Mexican mint marigold, Spanish tarragon, sweet mace, Texas tarragon, pericón, yerbaniz, and hierbanís. 

Tagetes lucida grows 45–75 cm tall. Depending on situation and plant type, the herb may be fairly upright, while other forms appear bushy with many unbranching stems. The leaves are linear to oblong, about 7.5 cm long, and shiny medium green, not blue-green as in French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa). In late summer it bears clusters of small golden yellow flower heads on the ends of the stems. The flower heads are about 1.5 cm across and have 3-5 golden-yellow ray florets. The flowers are hermaphroditic (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects.

Fresh or dried leaves of this herb are used as a tarragon substitute for flavouring soups, sauces, salads etc. A pleasant anise-flavoured tea is brewed using the dried leaves and flower heads. This is primarily used medicinally in Mexico and Central America. The tea is digestive, diuretic, febrifugal, hypotensive, narcotic, sedative and stimulatory. 

Use of the plant depresses the central nervous system, whilst it is also reputedly anaesthetic and hallucinogenic. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion, colic, hiccups, malaria and feverish illnesses. Externally, it is used to treat scorpion bites and to remove ticks. The leaves can be harvested and used as required, whilst the whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for later use.

A yellow dye can be obtained from the flowers. The dried plant is burnt as an incense and to repel insects. Tagetes lucida was used by the Aztecs in a ritual incense known as Yauhtli. The Aztecs allegedly used Tagetes lucida as one of the ingredients in a medicinal powder which was blown into the faces of those about to become the victims of human sacrifice and which may have possessed stupefying or anxiolytic properties. The plant was linked to the rain god Tlaloc.

The plant is also used by the Huichol, mixed with Nicotiana rustica (a potent wild tobacco), for its claimed psychotropic and entheogenic effects. In one study, methanolic extract from the flower inhibited growth of Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Candida albicans cultures. This effect was enhanced with exposure to ultraviolet light. The roots, stems, and leaves also had the same effect when irradiated with UV light.

In the language of flowers, non-flowering sprigs of the plant carry the meaning: “You soothe my spirit”. Flowering sprigs indicate: “Your refusal will be the cause of my death.

Béarnaise Sauce
Ingredients

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs Mexican tarragon, leaves finely minced, stems reserved separately
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 egg yolks
1 cup molten butter
Salt to taste 


Method
Combine vinegar, wine, herb stems, shallots, and black peppercorns in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until reduced to about one and a half tablespoons of liquid, about 15 minutes. Carefully strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.


Combine vinegar reduction, egg yolk, and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a jug that just fits the head of an immersion blender. Melt butter in a small saucepan over high heat, swirling constantly, until foaming subsides. Transfer butter to a one cup liquid measure. Place the head of immersion blender into the bottom of the jug holding the vinegar/yolk mixture and turn it on. With the blender constantly running, slowly pour hot butter into the jug. It should emulsify with the egg yolk and vinegar reduction. Continue pouring until all butter is added. Sauce should be thick and creamy.

If the mixture is thin and runny, transfer to a large bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly and vigorously until sauce is thickened. Season to taste with salt. Whisk in chopped Mexican tarragon leaves. Serve immediately, or transfer to a small lidded pot and keep in a warm place for up to 1 hour before serving. Béarnaise cannot be cooled and reheated.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

POETS UNITED - DARK MOON, NEW MOON

“We are all like the bright moon, but we still have our dark side.” ― Kahlil Gibran 

In the Poets United site this week the Midweek Motif theme is Dark Moon, New Moon. My contribution is below:
  
Mistress Moon

Dark Mistress Moon,
You hide your face tonight,
(In shame?)
For mischief’s afoot
And all sorts of foul deeds need to be done… 

O, Moon, my Moon,
You of the radiant countenance
(So pure!)
You’re kind and gentle
When you shine and leaves with silver shower. 

Harsh, Moon, when you veil
Your beauty in dark crêpe,
(In mourning?)
You hide your sadness
And you let your anger, cruelty and vileness beget. 

O, Moon, my Moon,
Your gibbous fecund glow,
(In pregnancy…)
Generates blessings
When you touch with light caress all womankind. 

Dark Mistress Moon,
With sharpened sickle,
(So deadly!)
Tonight you’ll cut
The thread of life of those who dared offend you. 

O, Moon, my Moon,
Tomorrow night reborn,
(In innocence…)
You’ll smile and heal,
And give back hope and dignity to those wronged.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #101 - PAPHOS, CYPRUS

“Behind each woman rises the austere, sacred and mysterious face of Aphrodite.” - Nikos Kazantzakis 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Paphos (Greek: Πάφος [Pafos]; Turkish: Baf) is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In antiquity, two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos, today at Kouklia, and New Paphos. The current city of Paphos lies on the Mediterranean coast, about 50 km west of Limassol (the biggest port on the island), which has an A6 highway connection. Paphos International Airport is the country’s second-largest airport. The city has a subtropical-Mediterranean climate, with the mildest temperatures on the island. 

Paphos Castle (seen above) is located on the edge of Paphos harbour. It was originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour. It was then rebuilt by the Lusignans in the thirteenth century after being destroyed in the earthquake of 1222. In 1570 it was dismantled by the Venetians. After capturing the island, the Ottomans restored and strengthened it.

Throughout the ages it has seen many uses. It has served as a fortress, a prison and even a warehouse for salt during the British occupation of the island. More recently the castle serves as a backdrop to the annual open air Paphos cultural festival, which takes place in September. It was declared a listed building in 1935 and represents one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city of Paphos. Several archaeological excavations have taken place to investigate its past.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Sunday, 15 October 2017

ART SUNDAY

"Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics." - Victor Pinchuk

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 31, RENENUTET

“People need dreams, there’s as much nourishment in ‘em as food.” - Dorothy Gilman 

Renenūtet (also transliterated Ernūtet and Renenet) was a goddess of nourishment and the harvest in ancient Egyptian religion. The importance of the harvest caused people to make many offerings to Renenutet during harvest time. Initially, her cult was centered in Terenuthis. Renenutet was envisioned, particularly in art, as a cobra, or as a woman with the head of a cobra.

The verbs ‘to fondle, to nurse, or rear’ help explain the name Renenutet. This goddess was a ‘nurse’ who took care of the pharaoh from birth to death. She was the female counterpart of Shai, ‘destiny’, who represented the positive destiny of the child. Along with this, Renenutet was also the Thermouthis, or Hermouthis in Greek. She embodied the fertility of the fields and was the protector of the royal office and power.

Sometimes, as the goddess of nourishment, Renenutet was seen as having a husband, Sobek. He was represented as the Nile River, the annual flooding of which deposited the fertile silt that enabled abundant harvests. The temple of Medinet Madi is dedicated to both Sobek and Renenutet. It is a small and decorated building in the Faiyum.

More usually, Renenutet was seen as the mother of Nehebkau, who occasionally was represented as a snake also. When considered the mother of Nehebkau, Renenutet was seen as having a husband, Geb, who represented the Earth. She was the mother of the god Nepri.

Later, as a snake-goddess worshiped over the whole of Lower Egypt, Renenutet was increasingly associated with Wadjet, Lower Egypt’s powerful protector and another snake goddess represented as a cobra. Eventually Renenutet was identified as an alternate form of Wadjet, whose gaze was said to slaughter enemies. Wadjet was the cobra shown on the crown of the pharaohs.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - BRESCIANELLO

“What really counts isn’t whether your instrument is Baroque or modern: It’s your mindset.” Simon Rattle 

Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello (also Bressonelli; ca. 1690, Bologna – 4 October 1758, Stuttgart) was an Italian Baroque composer and violinist. His name is mentioned for the first time in a document from 1715 in which the Maximilian II Emanuel appointed him violinist in his court orchestra in Munich. Soon after, in 1716, after the death of Johann Christoph Pez, he got the job of music director and as a maître des concerts de la chambre at the Württemberg court in Stuttgart.

In 1717, he was appointed Hofkapellmeister. Around 1718, he composed the pastorale opera “La Tisbe”, which he dedicated to the Archduke Eberhard Ludwig. Brescianello did this in vain hope that his opera would be listed at the Stuttgart theatre. In the years from 1719 to 1721, a fierce conflict emerged, in which Reinhard Keiser repeatedly attempted to get Brescianello’s post.

In 1731, Brescianello became Oberkapellmeister. In 1737, the court had financial problems which led to the dissolution of the opera staff and Brescianello lost his position. For this reason, he dedicated himself increasingly to composition and this resulted in his 12 concerti e sinfonie op. 1 and some time later the 18 Pieces for gallichone (gallichone here means mandora, a type of lute).

In 1744, the financial problems at the court diminished and he was reappointed as Oberkapellmeister by Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, mostly “because of his special knowledge of music and excellent skills”. He led the court and opera music until he was pensioned off in the period between 1751 and 1755. His successors were Ignaz Holzbauer and then Niccolò Jommelli. 

Here is some of his lute music played by Massimo Lonardi.
Partita in D Minor
Partita for Guitar No I
Partita V in C-major: Aria Allegro Minuetto e trio Giga
Partita XVI
Partita per Colascione: Entree - Menuet - Siciliana - Gigue

Friday, 13 October 2017

FOOD FRIDAY - COCONUT BISCUITS

“Teatime is a chance to slow down, pull back and appreciate our surroundings.” - Letitia Baldrige 

We love our tea in the afternoon and there is always something in the pantry to accompany the beverage. These coconut biscuits are old-fashioned favourites and the recipe was given to us by an elderly expat British woman we used to know. 

Coconut Biscuits
Ingredients

125g butter
125g sugar
Vanilla essence
3 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
Raspberry jam 


Method
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy, add the egg and beat well. Add the coconut, flour and baking powder. Pour in the milk little by little while mixing well.
Place teaspoon dollops on a cold greased tray. Flatten a little by gently pressing with your hand or use a flour dusted fork. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden. As soon as the biscuits are out of the oven press the centre of each with a small spoon to form a depression, in which you can place a dollop of jam. Alternatively you may use glacé cherry halves instead of jam.
Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

ALL ABOUT SPEARMINT

“It is the destiny of mint to be crushed.” - Waverley Lewis Root 

Spearmint, or spear mint (Mentha spicata, synonym Mentha viridis in the Lamiaceae family), also known as garden mint, common mint, lamb mint and mackerel mint, is a species of mint native to much of Europe and Asia (Middle East, Himalayas, China etc.), and naturalised in parts of northern and western Africa, North America, and South America, as well as various oceanic islands. The name ‘spearmint’ derives from the pointed leaf tips resembling the point of a spear.

It is a herbaceous, rhizomatous, perennial plant growing 30–100 cm tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. The leaves are 5–9 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The stem is square-shaped, a trademark of the mint family of herbs. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5–3 mm long, and broad. Hybrids involving spearmint include Mentha × piperita (peppermint; hybrid with Mentha aquatica), Mentha × gracilis (ginger mint, syn. M. cardiaca; hybrid with Mentha arvensis), and Mentha × villosa (large apple mint, hybrid with Mentha suaveolens).

Spearmint grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive, spreading rhizomes. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with abundant organic material.

Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about one-half to three-quarters the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow). Some dispute exists as to what drying method works best; some prefer different materials (such as plastic or cloth) and different lighting conditions (such as darkness or sunlight).

Spearmint is used for its aromatic oil, referred to as oil of spearmint. The most abundant compound in spearmint oil is R-(–)-carvone, which gives spearmint its distinctive smell. Spearmint oil also contains significant amounts of limonene, dihydrocarvone, and 1,8-cineol. Unlike oil of peppermint, oil of spearmint contains minimal amounts of menthol and menthone. It is used as a flavouring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps. Used as a fumigant, spearmint essential oil is an effective insecticide against adult moths. In preliminary research, spearmint essential oil showed potential for antifungal activity against food poisoning pathogens and had no evidence of mutagenicity in the Ames test.

The cultivar Mentha spicata ‘Nana’, the nana mint of Morocco, possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma, and is an essential ingredient of Moroccan tea. Spearmint is an ingredient in several mixed drinks, such as the mojito and mint julep. Sweet tea, iced and flavoured with spearmint, is a summer tradition in the Southern United States. Spearmint is also used extensively in cooking, especially so in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. Mint sauce is a traditional accompaniment to roast lamb in Britain and its former colonial countries. 

Royal Mint Sauce 
Ingredients 
2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mustard powder
2 cups mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp boiling water
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise
Pepper to taste 

Method 
Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar and reserve. Work the mustard powder and a little oil to form a paste. Add a little vinegar and keep stirring, alternating with a little oil until all is used up.
Add the boiling water to the chopped mint leaves and stir well to wilt. Add the leaves to the sauce mixture stirring well and incorporate the mayonnaise, which will stabilise the sauce. Season with pepper and extra salt if desired.

In the language of flowers, a non-flowering sprig of spearmint means: “You have pierced my heart”. A flowering sprig means: “You are virtuous”.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

POETS UNITED - AUTUMN

“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.”
W. Somerset Maugham 


After a break from Poets United due to life and work getting in the way of poetic musings, I return with this my offering for the Midweek Motif theme of “Autumn”. 

Autumn Adieu 

An autumn afternoon,
Mellow, golden, crisp;
You and I, smiling, whispering
Our arms lightly touching.

Our glasses full of wine,
Mellow, golden, crisp;
You and I, sipping, savouring,
Our feet entangled below the table.

The garden room deserted,
Quiet, serene, intimate;
We two, the last lunch customers
Make the most of this perfect afternoon.

Our eyes meet and our looks
Quiet, serene, intimate;
The silence between us comfortable
As violet evening approaches.

An Autumn evening,
Cold, dark, drizzly;
The silence broken finally, by your words:
Friendly, logical, final, delivered with a smile.

Alone, now as night falls,
Cold, dark, drizzly;
The silence now, ominous, frightening –
And a long, frigid Winter surely follows a golden Autumn…

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #100 - SOFIA, BULGARIA

“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” - Khalil Gibran 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Sofia (Bulgarian: София, tr. Sofiya) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. 1.26 million people live in the city and 1.68 million people live in its metropolitan area. The city is at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea. Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC.

Being Bulgaria’s primate city, Sofia is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies. Sofia is one of the top 10 best places for start-up business in the world, especially in information technologies. Sofia is Europe’s most affordable capital to visit as of 2013.

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres and can hold 10,000 people inside. It is the second biggest cathedral located on the Balkan Peninsula after the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a cross-domed basilica featuring an emphasized central dome. The cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high, with the bell tower reaching 53 metres. The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons, the heaviest weighing 12 tons and the lightest 10 kilograms. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials. The central dome has the Lord’s Prayer inscribed around it, with thin gold letters.

The construction of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral started in 1882 (having been planned since 19 February, 1879), when the foundation stone was laid, but most of it was built between 1904 and 1912. Saint Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince. The cathedral was created in honour to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.

The cathedral was designed by Alexander Pomerantsev, aided by Alexander Smirnov and Alexander Yakovlev, as the initial 1884-1885 project of Ivan Bogomolov was radically changed by Pomerantsev. The final design was finished in 1898, and the construction and decoration were done by a team of Bulgarian, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and other European artists, architects and workers.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
 and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme. 

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 9 October 2017

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 30, HERISHEF

“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” - Ovid

In Egyptian mythology, Herishef or Heryshaf, (Egyptian Ḥry-š=f “He who is on his lake”), transcribed in Greek as Arsaphes or Harsaphes (Ἁρσαφής) was an ancient ram-god whose cult was centred in Heracleopolis Magna (now Ihnasiyyah al-Madinah).

He was identified with Ra and Osiris in Egyptian mythology, as well as Dionysus or Heracles in Greek mythology. The identification with Heracles may be related to the fact that in later times his name was sometimes re-analysed as Ḥry-šf.t “He who is over strength”. One of his titles was “Ruler of the Riverbanks”. Heryshaf was a creator and fertility god who was born from the primordial waters. He was pictured as a man with the head of a ram, or as a ram. Among his epithets are also “Mighty Phallus,” “Majesty of the Gods,” and “Lord of the Blood”.

The Palermo Stone records that his cult dated back to the first dynasty of Ancient Egypt (the Early period) but the earliest known temple dedicated to him at Hwt-nen-nesu is dated to the Middle Kingdom. However, we know that he was fairly powerful during the First intermediate Period when Hwt-nen-nesu briefly became the capital of Lower Egypt. The Temple of Herishef was expanded during the New Kingdom by Ramesses II who added a number of huge granite columns with palm leaf capitals and remained active until well into the Ptolemaic Period.

Herishef is a god who was exceptionally popular in antiquity, with numerous feast days dotting ancient calendars, and was even elevated to the status of Supreme High God of the unified Egyptian State during the 9th and 10th Dynasties under the Herakleopolitan Kings. Despite his prominence in historical Egyptian religion, Herishef fell into almost total obscurity.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

ART SUNDAY - AUREL BĂEȘU

“The good die young but not always. The wicked prevail but not consistently. I am confused by life, and I feel safe within the confines of the theatre.” - Helen Hayes 

Aurel Băeșu (1896-1928) was a Romanian Impressionist landscape and portrait painter. Many of his works show the influence of Nicolae Grigorescu; an influence that was common among painters of his generation.

Băeşu’s father was a government clerk employed by the prefecture of Suceava. Aurel lost his mother at an early age and was raised by his grandmother. From 1907 to 1912, he attended the “Alexandru Donici Gymnasium” in his hometown, where he displayed an aptitude for drawing. After graduating, he entered the Școala de Belle Arte in Iași, where he studied with Constantin Artachino and Gheorghe Popovici. In 1915, he received an award from the Academia Română for his portrait of the French artist Lecomte de Nöuy, who was then living in Romania.

During World War I, he was mobilised but, at the last moment, was sent to the rear, where he joined several other artists who were documenting the war. Although he escaped being wounded, the harsh conditions there led to a case of pneumonia that left him in poor health. In an effort to improve his artistic perspectives, and with the support of members of the Academia, he went to Italy to attend a free painting course being taught at the Institute of Fine Arts in Rome. He was there from 1920 to 1922.

Four years later, he travelled throughout Slovenia, Hungary and France. For many years, he was enamoured of Lia Sadoveanu, the daughter of novelist Mihail Sadoveanu, but could never propose marriage because of his precarious financial situation. In 1928, he died of tuberculosis, aged only thirty-two. A major retrospective of his work was held in 2006 at the art museum in Bacău. In 2012, his tomb was looted and destroyed. Among the items taken was a plaque by Băeşu's friend, the sculptor Mihai Onofrei.

The painting above is his “Primavara” (Spring).