SOCI327: 2

Relevant Media:

  • This post on historian Ada Palmer’s ‘Ex Urbe’ blog discusses Florence and the Renaissance. In particular, consider this extract on how different the judgment of people living through a period can be to those looking back on it:

In 1506 the Florentine Captain General Ercole Bentivoglio wrote to Machiavelli encouraging him to finish his aborted History of Florence because, in his words, “without a good history of these times, future generations will never believe how bad it was, and they will never forgive us for losing so much so quickly.”

The video that ISIS circulated of its demolition job on Mosul’s antiquities museum in February 2015 was designed to market what it did not destroy. Of the thirty original pieces in the museum’s Hatra hall, according to al-Jumaili, the ISIS jihadis had hacked at ten. They had not filmed the prehistoric, Islamic, and priceless Assyrian halls, because those artifacts were for sale.

Cultural Guide:

…for me it is Ai Weiwei’s most provocative gesture. I feel highly provoked. It shows the artist letting go of an elegant object made with intelligence, imagination and love more than 2,000 years ago and letting it smash to bits on the ground.

The Cathedral of Florence, officially known as Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore but better known as the Duomo, was originally planned in 1296 as a Gothic cathedral by Arnolfo di Cambio. […] The dome of the Duomo was the world’s largest when it was completed in 1436 and still towers over the city. The lantern on top of the dome was added later, in 1461, by Michelozzi Michelozzo. The dome, a marvel of engineering, was designed by Brunelleschi, who submitted his plans after he went to Rome to study the Pantheon, which long had the world’s largest dome.

(The 18th Century Panthéon in Paris is an early example of neoclassicism, modelled on the Roman Pantheon constructed over 1,500 years earlier).

The area around the Erechtheion was considered the most sacred of the Acropolis. […] The building had two porches. The roof of the north porch was supported on six Ionic columns, while below its floor the Athenians pointed at the mark of the thunderbolt sent by Zeus to kill the legendary King Erechteus. At the south porch, which was the most well-known, the roof was supported by six statues of maidens known as the Caryatids, instead of the typical columns.

Building began in 1882 but, due to problems over costs, the museum and art gallery did not open until 1896. There were copies of Assyrian reliefs and of the Parthenon and Bassae friezes, together with inspiring inscriptions from Pericles’s funeral oration and from Byron’s Manfred, while looking down from the sculpture in the pediment by Edwin Roscoe Mullins were Thucydides, Socrates, Pericles, Pindar, Phidias, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and others.

From the 15th April to 15th May 1874 [Claude] Monet exhibited his work together with Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Édouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and some other thirty artists. They organized their exhibition on their own as they were usually rejected at the Paris Salon. […] Monet’s Impression, Sunrise enjoyed the most attention and some visitors even claimed that they were absolutely unable to recognize what was shown at all. The criticism that the paintings were nothing but some sketches meant that the visitors stayed away and the costs could not be met. Nevertheless, the term Impressionists became quickly popular and the participating artists started to call themselves “Exposition des Impressionistes”.

Metropolis (1927) is a stylized, visually-compelling, melodramatic silent film set in the dystopic, 21st century city of Metropolis – a dialectical treatise on man vs. machine and class struggle.

A small portrait of an obscure Florentine gentlewoman, painted on a thin panel of poplar. […] There are 6,000 paintings in the Louvre. Ninety per cent of the museum’s visitors make a beeline to the Mona Lisa. Most seem to spend no more than three minutes gazing at her. Many have their photo taken (breaking a rule which is rarely enforced). Then they leave. Some appear to go away disappointed. The most frequent comment is: “Isn’t she small?” Mona Lisa has become a box to be ticked on the Paris tourist itinerary, alongside the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral. She is a painting-superstar, a celeb, an icon, a spelling mistake. Her name should really be Monna Lisa, abbreviation of Madonna Lisa or “my lady Lisa”. The French call her “La Joconde”, a pun on “amused woman” and the married name of Leonardo’s presumed sitter, Lisa del Giocondo, née Gherardini.

The classical Parthenon was constructed between 447 – 432 BCE to be the focus of the Acropolis building complex. The architects were Iktinos and Kallikrates (Vitruvius also names Karpion as an architect) and it was dedicated to the goddess Athena Pallas or Parthenos (virgin). The temple’s main function was to shelter the monumental statue of Athena that was made by Pheidias out of gold and ivory. The temple and the chryselephantine statue were dedicated in 438, although work on the sculptures of its pediment continued until completion in 432 BCE. […] The Parthenon construction cost the Athenian treasury 469 silver talents.

A complete replica of the Parthenon (built 1897) exists in Nashville, Tennessee, and it forms the model for the National Monument of Scotland (1826) and Germany’s Walhalla memorial (1842).