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Posts tagged ‘restoration’

How to (Legally) Bring Home a Piece of a UNESCO Site

Recently I wrote about the incredible Matthias Church in Budapest which along with Castle Hill has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Given the astounding decorations inside the church, I was definitely going to pick up something from their gift shop.  I thought maybe some note cards or a bag or a book, but I found something way better.  Half-hidden on a shelf at knee level was the most random but also the most incredible “souvenir” I have ever encountered in all my travels.  You better believe I bought one which is how I managed (legally) to bring home a piece of the church itself.

Budapest, Matthias Church tile roof

The Matthias Church from the exterior (Photo: adapted from Wikipedia)

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Travel, Timing, and Reconstruction: Why You Can’t See What You Came to See

Washington DC had a very unusual earthquake in 2011.  It destroyed some of the statuary at the National Cathedral and cracked the Washington Monument, an iconic obelisk-shaped landmark in the center of the city.  This summer a massive scaffold has gone up over the tower to continue the repairs.  Reconstruction and restoration are common sights for travelers where long-term improvement projects often leave facades covered and historic interiors obstructed.  You can still enjoy these sites with in most cases with minimal impact on your visit!

washington monument restoration

Restoration of the Washington Monument takes place behind an artistic scaffold.

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Brunch in Boston with a Side of History

The restaurant I’m recommending for “Best Brunch in Boston” actually has only average to above average food.  The dim sum at Empire Garden is good and certainly satisfying, but I really want you to go there because of the unbelievably beautiful and historic dining room.

Empire Garden Chinese Restaurant, Boston

Empire Garden Chinese Restaurant, Boston (photo: Wikimedia)

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Exploring with The Keeper of the Castle

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together posts from some of the best art history-focused travel bloggers.  For December, we are discussing some of our favorite art and travel experiences.  You can find links below to all the group’s articles.

I’ve been lucky enough to see some really incredible art in person, in situ and sometimes under incredible circumstances (like seeing the Florence Baptistry for the first time as part of a religious procession!)  For me, a memorable travel and art experience includes encountering beautiful, unique or unknown pieces and places, but also gives me to opportunity to understand a culture or people better.  And so for this month’s theme, I was immediately reminded of my tour of Carrigafoyle Castle in County Kerry, Ireland with the Castle Keeper himself.

Carrigafoyle Castle

Carrigafoyle Castle, constructed in 1480 AD

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Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries Exhibit – National Gallery

If you are near London, you have 2 weeks left to see the exhibit Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes & Discoveries at the National Gallery.  If you are like me and can not make it, they thankfully have a very cool set of case studies on-line to compliment the exhibit.

Conservation Science is the application of chemical and biological techniques to the study of paintings and art objects.  Analysis and identification of an artist’s materials is beneficial for conservators who must select the best processes for cleaning a work.  However, a lot of other information can be gained which helps art historian understand the “life” of the work such as where and when it was executed, how the artist completed the piece and if later additions were made.  For example, x-ray analysis can show places in which a part of a painting, like a hand or face, was reworked.  Sometimes this is done by the artist, or as the National Gallery shows in some examples, by later owners to suit the period’s tastes or possible make the painting more desirable to buyersFour Figures at a Table by The Le Nain Brothers (below) is a really striking example of how much more we can learn about a painting through scientific analysis.

What could be underneath the pleasant country scene in the Four Figures at a Table by The Le Nain Brothers? (Photo: The National Gallery, London)

We take it for granted now that an artist would sign his or her work but this was not always the case.  Carefully connoisseurship of an artist’s style can help attribute paintings but sometimes it is scientific analysis that can either rule out a great master or identify a painting’s creator.  The fakes section of the National Gallery’s on-line exhibit is great too!  In the end, scientific evidence will always trump exquisite craftsmanship.

It looks right, but how would you know if Botticelli painted Madonna of the Veil? (Photo: The National Gallery, London)

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