Harpenden Evening Decorative and Fine Arts Society

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Special Interest and Study Days

  • Report on Study Day 30th October 2013
    • This was our first Study Day; it was highly commended by everyone as they chatted before going home. We look forward to our second day in February 2014 (see above).

      A STUDY DAY IN 3 PARTS: LAYERS OF ROME: Dan Evans is an experienced lecturer and his love of Rome and Italy is infectious and evident throughout the 3 lectures delivered in a way that kept everyone enthralled.

      The first lecture started in 70 AD and the construction, in concrete, of the Coliseum built to seat up to 80 thousand spectators; it was used for gladiatorial fights but also re-enactment of wars and even mock sea battles complete with water, huge boats and alligators. There were 80 exits from a passage (called the vomitorium) behind the tiers of seats- so no queues. The Roman Emperors staged these events to win over the populace of Rome and to demonstrate their power and authority.
      A Gothic example which survives is Santa Maria sopra Minerva (1557), one of the major churches of the Roman Catholic Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans. It is on the site of previous Christian churches and earlier temples to the pagan goddess Isis who was confused with the Roman goddess Minerva. In the church are Michelangelo's statue Cristo della Minerva (1521) and the late 15th-century (1488–1493) cycle of frescos in the Carafa Chapel by Filippino Lippi.
      The Pietà 1498 by Michelangelo is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture found in St. Peter's Basilica; the body of Jesus lies on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion; the detail and implied emotion is enhanced by the morally blameless face of Mary. In sponsoring such works of art, the Popes were following the public relations strategy of the Roman Emperors.
    • GIANTS of the BAROQUE - late 16th & 17th Centuries
      Caravaggio (1573 - 1610) is a well known artist of this period. Arrogant, rebellious and a murderer, Caravaggio's short and tempestuous life matched the drama of his works. Much to the horror of his critics, he used ordinary working people with irregular, real faces and even dirty feet as models for his saints.
      We saw many examples including the Crucifixion of Saint Peter in the Cerasi Chapel, in the church of Santa Maria del Populo. Caravaggio's late works are in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation which explains conversions and martyrdom as the pillars of the Church. They depend for their dramatic effect on brightly lit areas standing in contrast to a dark background.