Advent Calendar Day 20: Mantegna!

Adoration of the Magi (1462) by Andrea Mantegna.

It’s rather early for Magi, but we* here at Clamorous Voice Towers refuse to be bound by convention. When this painting was sold at Christie’s on 18 April 1985, it cost £8,100,000, making it (at the time) the most expensive painting in the world. The artist, Andrea Mantegna (c. 1430-1506) was born near Padua, married into the Venetian Bellini family, and received his first important commissions to paint frescoes for Padua’s Eremitani Chapel. However, he spent much of his working life in Mantua, including several years as court artist there. The Gonzaga (Mantua’s rulers) knighted him in 1484.

The painting dates from about 1600, and is distemper on linen; a closer view of where the linen has become visible through the paint is visible here. You can see Adoration of the Magi at the Getty Center, Los Angeles – or, indeed, online, which is why digitization matters.

*Obviously, Clamorous Voice Towers is nothing more than my mind palace.

Advent Calendar Day 8: Guadalupe!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/Virgen_de_guadalupe1.jpg/275px-Virgen_de_guadalupe1.jpg This image shows Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most famous icons of the Virgin Mary, and Mexico’s most celebrated religious image.

I’ve included it because it displays Mary as Christians think of her during Advent: pregnant with the baby Jesus. I am not an authority on art, but the reason we know she’s pregnant is not because of any changes to her body, but because of the black ribbon wrapped round her dress in an empire-line; this was the traditional Mexican indicator of pregnancy at the time the icon was produced (the sixteenth century).

The icon is housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, north of Mexico City. The Basilica is close to the location where Catholics believe Mary appeared to the indigenous Native American, Juan Diego (1474-1548).

Exterior view of the modern Basilica of Our La...
Exterior view of the modern Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hat tip to Br. Stephen Morrison of the Norbertines of St. Philip’s Priory, whose “Devotional Images for Advent” got me interested in images of the pregnant Mary (again – when I was little I used to love drawing a v. pregnant Mary on the back of a much smaller donkey. And poor old Joseph).

THEdavidtennant | Rocking out with Sarah Kane | Shakespeare in oils

2,000 words written today, right on schedule! Also, visitors to the blog seem to have exploded – what you get for mentioning Mr. Tennant, I suppose (or so Google tells me). Can’t decide what I think about the THEdavidtennant spoof on Twitter, but am leaning towards …not very funny. At all. The disclaimer’s much too small, the incentive to donate to Comic Relief is slight, and it’s an unpleasant portrayal of the man. I am excited about Comic Relief, though – I have a t-shirt! My mum bought it for me, hurrah.  Post library marathon, I  rewarded myself with a visit to Majliss (which has opened up right by where I live), and all I can say is – RUN, DO NOT WALK, deliciousness! The lamb korma was actually the best korma I’ve ever eaten, the rice was delicious, and the freebies didn’t, er, hurt. I wonder if it’d be a good place to go for next term’s Women’s Dinner? Two girls from my MCR have already been there for dinner, and they absolutely loved it (and both are very discerning).

Was in the Bodleian today with Lizzie – we rocked out on our headphones. I am not a frequent user of headphones and don’t really get them – I have a tendency to bop, shout when people talk to me, and (on occasion) belt out lines of Dolly Parton, should that be what last.fm deigns to offer me. Particularly enjoyed the internet’s oscillations between Duke Ellington, Disney and, um, Bach. Both of us have impending deadlines (Lizzie’s thesis is due on Friday), and we were comfortably manic, side by side. Today was the Sarah Kane essay (source of many nightmares, metaphorical and real – well, as real as nightmares can be); a tricky section on critical appropriation (‘the mistakes critics make when dealing with Kane are x and y ….oh wait, me too’) and a really enjoyable one (oh god, that makes me sound morbid, but hopefully my fellow postgrads will understand) on female suicides and their place in patriarchy. I used the word ‘topoi’, and just as Lizbet is eradicating her thesis’s nine million uses of the word ‘seems’, I suspect I’m going to have to go back and cut ‘patriarchy’ in all its three thousand iterations.

Also, if the Guardian RSS feed gives me ONE MORE article on that SODDING PORTRAIT (look how my enthusiasm has waned since yesterday…), I will set fire to the internet. Blogger in volte face shock. But seriously — is this portrait actually Shakespeare?, we don’t need no stinkin’ portrait, only an idiot could possibly believe it, I, Charlotte Higgins, am not so much a rain on yr parade as a deluge, here have some pictures of him which aren’t this onecan we believe any portraits of him anyway, I, Jonathan Jones, wish to QUOTE AT YOU — and so on. Oh, and a bit in CiF which manages to say… nothing, really. In defiance of all this gainsaying, I have officially decided that it IS a Shakespeare portrait, and now believe it utterly. Thank you & goodnight.

(but… oh dear, he does look a lot like Elizabeth I. I still prefer the Sanders (wasn’t he hot?) and the awful bust – I think he’s cute! Look at his TINY NOSE.)