Europe 2012: What Did I Miss?

In Italy:

The Bargello Saracino, 1579, Florence, or so I thought.

This guy, a good looking wooden jousting target constructed for rude Renaissance era festivities, captivated me during grad school. There is very little data on his history and the only book that mentions him at all is in Italian. Even though I didn't expect to meet him so easily, I combed through the Bargello, where he is a supposed resident, with no success. I tried asking museum personnel, in poor Italian I admit, but they had no idea. It didn't help matters that there is no artist or title, oh you know the Renaissance sculpture! Its status as a sculpture is even tenuous. Luckily everything else in the Bargello is spectacular. I'll be back to find you Saracino!

The detail put into this is so intriguing. 

Catacombs in Rome. 

Sad, but it was too damn hot for a walk along the Appian Way. Next trip to Rome will take place during reasonable temperatures. Oh, but aren't these early Christian paintings incredible?

Bearded Christ in the Catacombs of Commodilla

In Turkey:

Hagia Eirene, Istanbul, built in the 4th century.

Once in Turkey I learned that the Hagia Eirene is only open for concerts and there weren't any during the two weeks we were there. This former church is remarkable for its interior decoration, an unadulterated example of the Christian iconoclasm which lasted roughly from 754 to 843. All of the figural painting had been whitewashed, a common tactic less reversible than adding plaster which is what the Muslims did.

During Iconoclasm figural representation was criticized for encouraging outright idol worship from earlier Pagan practices. Crucifixes, vegetal scrolls, and Biblical text were used in favor of the well known characters.

Hagia Eirene, Istanbul

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