Showing posts from January, 2024

Bosch's Garden of Delights

  Hieronymus Bosch is a man of mystery. He left little besides his paintings. We only know that he was born in the mid-1400s and died in 1516 in Brabant in what is now the Netherlands. He seems to have had a conservative take on his Catholic faith and   a poor opinion of the great mass of humanity. His painting allowed the old sourpuss to vent and revel in imagining  the possible fate of the ungodly.  His most famous work is the triptych pictured above, which hangs in the Prado in Madrid. The first two panels show the Garden of Eden and the sardonically named 'Garden of Earthly Delights'. The third panel depicts hell.  The picture is both frightening, amusing and captivating and  I am not alone in being drawn to it. An e ye-tracking study at the Pardo showed that most visitors shared my sadomasochistic predilections. Here is the Triptych 'in situ'.  The Triptych in the Prado  The pic below gets you closer to the hell panel. The  thumbnail is small but the actual file is

Danté's Inferno

  In Florence in the 1300’s, in his book  ‘The Divine Comedy’,  Dante Alighieri imagined himself taken led on a tour of hell by the Roman poet Virgil.  Hell just wasn’t a hazy religious concept in those days, people believed it to be a real place. Danté pictures himself as lost in a forest, this being a neat allegory for his confused mind. Virgil’s itinerary is aimed at clarifying things for him by pointing out the horrors in store in the afterlife for the impious or sinful. I thought about writing this post as a riff on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ but decided against it. What goes on there is thin gruel compared with some of the horrors here. So, don your hazmat suit and let’s follow them on their pootle around hell.  Trigger warning. This isn’t really a comedy unless you are a sadomasochist. A ‘commedia’ was a story with a happy ending. And the original is not an easy read, even in translation; the phrasing is alien and the tale is obtuse, with lots of allusions to people

The Olde Country Cottage

Country cottages. Warped ships' timbers, honeysuckle, pixie-cut thatched roof,  a misshapen chimney, the aroma of baking and  Vaughan Williams 'Pastoral' drifting out of the small paned window. Very twee.  Do you ever wonder whether they are really ancient or just more recent fakes?  This post is about the oldest, visible surviving rural housing used by the common people and in particular how much you can see from the road. It is impractical to include much detail in a post aimed at mobile phone readers so  I have added notes and links in a postscript i n case you peek behind the floral curtains and take a closer look,  It isn't easy. The main survivors from medieval times are the stone buildings like churches and mansions which I am not concerned with here. There are few details, let alone complete houses, that have survived e xtensions, reconfigurations and improvements; and no clear  distinction between a renovation and a rebuild.   Look at the place below. It seems