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Posts tagged ‘Roman’

The Best Early Christian Tomb Frescoes (Not in Rome)

I love the early Christian catacombs of Rome.  But since you can only enter as part of a guided tour, visits feel rushed.  The frescoes in these maze-like tomb complexes reveal the first Christian images and thus the stories, priorities, and spiritual direction of the early church.  Even more importantly, here’s where artists started to lay out the visual language, or iconography, of the religion which had a huge effect on the history of Western Art.  But early Christian images aren’t all in Rome.  There is a pocket of fantastic early Christian tomb frescoes in the city of Pécs in southwestern Hungary.  It’s an incredible treasure in a very unexpected place.

Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, Early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

“Mary and Child fresco” in the Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, 4th century early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

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Mosaic Treasures at Sepphoris, Israel

You may never have heard of Sepphoris but this former Roman city has some fantastic mosaics.  Also known as Tzippori or Zippori , this archaeological site in the Western Galilee has been excavated over the last 30 years revealing wonderful treasures.  Ignored by tour buses, I had the site to myself  and could enjoy the best and most extensive collection of ancient mosaic art in Israel.

The Mona Lisa of Galilee, Sepphoris

This Roman mosaic Venus is known as “The Mona Lisa of Galilee” for her beauty and enigmatic smile.

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Art Institute of Chicago Ancient Greek & Roman Wing Reopens – Nov 11

On November 11th, the Art Institute of Chicago opens its Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art.  I have to give the AIC a lot of credit for the best museum construction sign ever!  I saw this while visiting in August:

Art Institute of Chicago Greek and Roman wing closure sign

Greek art, get it?

Anyways, these galleries sit awkwardly in the hallway to the Chagall windows making it a difficult space for a curator to work with.  The remodeling construction this summer consisted of numerous, single item sized, free standing display cases.  From the few mockup images I’ve seen, the galleries will be a lot less crowded and more focused.  (Click here for a panorama of one of the former Roman galleries).  I presume fewer items will be displayed making for a more focused collection.  If anyone stops soon, I’d appreciate a report back on the new space!

Monticello, America’s First Great Mansion

I’m very excited to have joined a group of excellent bloggers for the monthly ArtSmart Roundtable!  These folks love travel and art history as much as I do, so it’s a great fit.  Each month we pick a theme to write about and for October it is architecture.  Check below for links to all the other awesome ArtSmart Roundtable posts!

My travel itineraries always include visits to restored or recreated historic homes.  It brings me just a little bit closer to the past when I can see a Tudor, Victorian or Art Deco building complimented by its matching contemporary decor.  Many times they are more impressive on the inside than they are on the outside. There is one historic American home though with such an elegant Neoclassical design that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.

Monticello west portico

Monticello’s west portico in early April (Photo: Daydream Tourist)

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