The Book of Kells for free

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Home of the Book of Kells

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Home of the Book of Kells

A few days ago I posted an entry to a photo challenge about Illumination. I posted a photo of a medieval copy of the Canterbury Tales, which was illuminated. There was a bit of discussion about the Book of Kells, the famous illuminated gospel at Trinity College, Dublin. Lo and behold, today I see a link to the college’s blog and they now have the whole book of Kells online, digitally scanned using the latest technology.

You can see it through this link. Each page is zoomable so you can see the exquisite detail. If you never get the chance to go to Dublin to see the real thing, this is the next best thing. Heck, even if you have seen it, this is pretty awesome since when you see the book, it’s opened to one spread of pages and you don’t get to see the rest of it unless you come on a different day and hope they’ve changed the view. Most excellent!

What I particularly like is that you see the thumbnails down the left so you can scroll to the pages that have more design on them and then zoom in to see the beautiful detail work. Next best thing to being there!

Travel Theme: Illuminated

Travel theme from Where’s My Backpack this week is Illuminated.

Now I could post photos from some of the many buildings and monuments that  are lit up at night. But everyone else will probably do that. Instead, an alternative, the illuminated manuscript. This is a late 15th century Canterbury Tales which we saw in the John Ryland Library in Manchester, UK. While it isn’t as exquisite as, say, the Book of Kells in Dublin (which I’ve also seen) or other similar illuminated gospels, it is one of the only ones I have seen that I could photograph (no flash, of course!).

Canterbury Tales above a non-illuminated copy, both from the late 15th century

Cee’s Black and White Challenge – Sculptures, Statues, Carvings

This week’s challenge from Cee is a black and white photo challenge of sculpture and artwork. I think Black and white shows off sculpture and carving really well, with the edges, curves and texture of the material used. Here’s some of my favourites:

Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

Seen along a canal in Copenhagen

Statue of Oscar Wilde and his mother. Dublin.

Rome Trevi detail

Trevi Fountain detail. Rome

Travel Journey of the Week – The Louvre

The Louvre and pyramid. No tourists. It's Tuesday and the Louvre is closed

The Louvre and pyramid. No tourists. It’s Tuesday and the Louvre is closed

Liberated Travel’s weekly Travel journey is the Louvre, one of the world’s largest museums, in Paris.

I’ve been to the Louvre museum in Paris twice. The first time was during a school trip to Paris in 1977. We had a bus tour around the city and one of the stops was the Louvre. I don’t think we had a guided tour around the museum highlights but we did have our entrance paid and had an hour or so to have a quick look round it. I remember finding the Mona Lisa, She was hung at the time on a wall in a large gallery and I was so surprised to see that it was not a very big painting at all and that it was painted on wood, not canvas. The size of it is only about 11×17 or thereabouts.  Now, of course, it’s in a special viewing area of its own and is behind bulletproof glass. I don’t think it was back then but I may be wrong.

The other piece of art I always remember from that visit was the Winged Victory of Samothrace. She is a masthead from a ship, carved in stone and though head and armless, you can see that she’s facing the winds of the seven seas which  is blowing her robes backwards.

30 years later, I finally returned to Paris with my parter. We decided to go to the Louvre on the Wednesday late opening but looking back, we really should have done it first. It was at the end of a very long day, during which we’d gone up to Montmartre, visted the Basilica, took in the Dali museum, had lunch and walked many narrow streets, and had a quick look at the exterior of the Moulin Rouge before taking a bus back to the Louvre. I was exhausted with very sore feet even before we got to one of the world’s largest museums.

But we went anyway. It was late November and the queue under the pyramid entrance was not all that long at all. We got our little map and headed in to find the Mona Lisa and whatever else we could find. We did find the little maps confusing. When looking for particular galleries or the toilets, they were never where the map said they were. I was getting frustrated and tired. But we found the enigmatic Mona and got a chance to get to the front of the viewing area for a look and a photo.

Then we wandered a bit, saw the Venus de Milo. She had almost nobody around her. We got up close and had a good look but my partner quipped, “Well, that’s not a very good statue. It’s got no arms!” Very funny. I really wanted to find the Victory again, too, so I could get some good photos of it. We finally came upon it from one side and I was as struck by it this time as I was the first.

“This one’s even more rubbish! It’s got no head AND no arms!”

I had to laugh, only because I was so tired, I think! By this time, even though we’d barely seen anything other than those three things and one or two galleries of paintings, I had had enough. I really needed to sit down and I really needed a cold drink. We finally found a cafe near the entrance but for some reason we weren’t allowed to sit at the tables, so we bought some bottles of pop and found a bench. I was nearly in tears by this time, between the sore feet, the thirst, the frustration trying to find our way around.

But you know what? Once I had a rest and a drink, I got a little puff of a second wind. We had talked about getting an after dark boat cruise on the Seine. G. was willing to forgo it if i wanted to go back to the hotel for the night but no, I thought I would be ok, and besides, a boat cruise means you can sit down, right? Right. So we made our way across Pont Neuf and down to the quay to get tickets. The cruise was great, if a bit chilly and we walked back to the hotel under the moonlight, stopping in a Chinese restaurant on the way for a late meal. It was our last day in Paris and we made more than the most of it!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Statues, Carvings and Sculptures

Cee’s challenge this week features statues and sculptures. If you like museums like we do, you see a lot of artwork. Statues are littered all over big cities. There are tributes, public art, modern and classical statues, as well as all matter of hand made art. Not all of the modern art and sculpture makes sense to me but everyone has different taste. Sometimes a piece will strike you and stay with you, like Michaelangelo’s Pieta did for me many years ago.

Here are photos of a few I’ve seen over the years that pleased my eye.

Seen in Manhattan

Detail on the Trevi Fountain, Rome

Napoleon, reflecting the painting behind. Musee des Beaux Arts, Montreal

Sculpture by Rodin Musee des Beaux Arts, Montreal

This next sculpture was taken at the gardens at the Trentham Estate near Stoke in England. This represents the shape of a 50 pence coin and was a gift from the Bank of England in thanks for the estate housing the London Clearing banks during World War II.

50p sculpture Trentham Estate, England

And finally a local statue outside the Halifax Central Library. Good old Winston Churchill strides across the lawns with a fierce expression on his face (did he ever have any other kind?)

Winston Churchill Halifax, Nova Scotia

Weekly Photo Challenge – Masterpiece

This week’s WordPress Challenge is Masterpiece.

I’ve been to a few of the most reknowned museums in the world. Just a few, but I’m working on it. I’ve seen some wonderful pieces of art, classics, masterpieces. I’ve also been in some cathedrals and churches with exquisite stained glass, artwork, sculpture and architecture. I’ve see the Sistine Chapel and though I do have some “stealth” photos, I thought the better of posting them here. Instead, from the Vatican City, there’s this masterpiece by Michaelangelo Buonarotti.

La Pietà, Michaelangelo Buonarotti

This is the Pieta. It’s one of the only pieces he ever signed and he created it when he was in his early 20s. It currently resides in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.  It was created for the funeral of a cardinal and was moved to the Basilica in the 18th century. It’s sustained damage several times, most recently in the 1970s when a maniac took a sledgehammer to it. Mary’s nose had to be recreated from a piece of the marble taken from her back. It’s behind bulletproof glass now, sadly.

The first time I saw it, I was 18, it was 1977 and probably had only been back on display a short time after that damage was repaired.  It overwhelmed me. I don’t think I had ever seen anything so beautiful in my short life to date. Why did it strike such a chord with me? I don’t really know for certain as it wasn’t the religious aspect.  Was it the touching, emotional expressions? Was it the folds of fabric? Was it the muscles and bones? Was it because all this was carved out of hard mable? All of the above, probably. I couldn’t get over that you wouldn’t touch the skirt and feel real fabric or stroke her face and feel warm skin. How could it be possible to bring that much life out of stone?

I bought a little white replica of it as a reminder, which I still have. My photo that day did not really turn out very well but I got a copy of one a friend took. This photo was taken when I was in Rome during a tour of Italy in 1996. With a careful angling so that there was no reflection on the glass, and a steady hand, I got a pretty good shot. On this most recent visit, I only took a photo from further away though did go up close to have another look. It still fills a little spot in my heart just like it did in 1977.