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Posts tagged ‘art’

A Song to the Shepherds in Bethlehem

Not all the churches in the Holy Lands are old.  The Church of the Shepherds’ Fields in Bethlehem was  constructed in 1954 over some small caves on the outskirts of the city.  Traditional holds that these caves were used by Shepherds even in ancient times hence the connection of this site to the Nativity story.  The Church has a simple, contemporary ascetic, but by far has the best impromptu choir I’ve ever heard.

Exterior angel from the Church of the Shepherds' Fields

Exterior angel from the Church of the Shepherds’ Fields

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Visiting Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity

As I listened to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” on the radio yesterday, for the first time in my life I didn’t picture huts and palm trees like some cartoon Christmas TV special.  I thought back to the actual Bethlehem in the West Bank which I visited in the Spring.  The old stable of my imagination has been replaced by a drafty Byzantine basilica and the straw by Orthodox icons and lamps.  The shepherds and wise men in the Bible story are now an equality diverse group of international visitors.  But with all that, the Church of the Nativity still maintains some of the midnight atmosphere and anxious stillness of the first Christmas remembered there.

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Interior of the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, before restoration began. (Photo: Nick Thompson, flickr)

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A Vision of Nature: The Designs of William Morris

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Art and Nature.  Check out all the stories below!

William Morris - Strawberry Thief

One of my favorite William Morris designs, “Strawberry Thief,” 1883 (Photo: Victoria & Albert Museum)

Nature has inspired some of the most amazing art – from the representational, majestic landscapes of the Hudson River School to the stylized, curling flowers of the Art Nouveau.  A painted landscape was one way to bring the environment back into our homes.  The Arts & Crafts movement went one step further and sought to bring the beauty of nature inside and incorporate it into our furnishings and decorations.  No one did more to turn parlors into romantic gardens like the British designer William Morris.

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The Life of A Painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness

We take it for granted that paintings should be shown behind glass, watched by security, and protected in museums. However, for centuries a piece of art was just another personal possession.  Someone could have a painting altered just as easily as having pants hemmed.  Even pieces by the great masters were not immune to harsh treatment.  Even an incredible painting by the Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci was carved up and nearly lost.

Leonardo da Vinci "Saint Jerome in the Wilderness", Vatican Museums (Pinacoteca), Rome

Leonardo da Vinci “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness (unrestored)”, Vatican Museums (Pinacoteca), Rome (Photo: Wikimedia)

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The Imperial Treasury of Vienna

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Hidden Gems.  Check out all the stories below.  At the risk of being too literal, I’m bringing you a story of a “hidden gem” museum filled with gems!

Imperial Crown, Orb, and Sceptre of Austria

Imperial Crown, Orb, and Scepter of Austria created between 1602-1615. (Photo: Michiel2005, flickr)

You don’t have to be an art or history focused traveler to appreciate real jewels.  There is something about gold and gemstones that just draws people in as we gaze at the glittering wealth, power, and beauty of these objects.  The most impressive collection of priceless jewelry that I’ve ever seen belonged to a real royal dynasty.  The House of Habsburg oversaw a massive and prosperous empire for roughly 800 years.  Sometimes lost in a city of fantastic art and architecture, you must visit the spectacular family jewels housed in the Imperial Treasury of Vienna.

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