One of you denies me; one of you betrays me: The Last Supper in the Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia

I have Jesus Christ Superstar on the brain. On. the. brain. I just can’t get enough of it. I love how human Judas is in the play/movie. He’s a real person with frustrations and justifications, real, true anger and real, true love. We know how it’s going to go. We know his fate before the movie even begins. And then I’m always so happy to see him show up again, all be-fringed and belting it out toward the end of the movie. So what does this have to do with the Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia in Florence? I’ll tell you: the Judas in Andrea del Castagno‘s Last Supper there is about as far from the Jesus Christ Superstar Judas as you can get. But let’s step back for a minute. Here’s the painting:

Andrea del Castagno, Last Supper, 1445-50, fresco, Cenacolo di Sant-Apollonia, Florence

Andrea del Castagno, Last Supper, 1445-50, fresco, Cenacolo di Sant-Apollonia, Florence

It probably looks familiar – not exactly the same as Leonardo’s more famous, and later, version, but the format is similar. Andrea del Castagno’s Last Supper, again like Leonardo’s, is in a refectory (the place where monks/nuns eat in a monastery or convent, “cenacolo” in Italian) in a convent in Florence. Whether or not you’ve seen it before, take a moment and bask in its amazingness. Continue reading

Kaaba Tiles (more questions than answers)

Ever since my recent visit to Istanbul, Kaaba tiles have been swirling around in my mind. I first discovered them during a trip to Turkey two years ago, when I thought that I’d get home and look them up on the magical interwebs and find information and images to sift through to my heart’s delight. Not so much. Before we go further, here’s one, from the Mosque of Rustem Pasa (in Istanbul):

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Kaaba tile, Mosque of Rustem Pasa, Istanbul

Just look at it for a minute – see the Kaaba (the black rectangle) in the middle? See the minarets around the outside? See how there are six? Well, a seventh one was added to the actual mosque that surrounds the Kaaba after the Blue Mosque (Mosque of Sultan Ahmed) in Istanbul was built with six minarets. Of course, the mosque at Mecca, the center of Islam, had to have one more. So a seventh one was built at the Al-Masjid al-Haram (surrounding the Kaaba and meaning “the sacred mosque”) in 1629. Does that mean that this tile dates to before 1629? It seems like it must, but as with most questions about these tiles, then again, it may not.

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Verulamium: It Gets Personal

Every once in a while, I feel the need to return to my art history roots. I was thinking about this today and wondering exactly what that means. What are my art history roots? The first art history I studied was that of the Italian Renaissance, like so many of us, but I’d say that my roots actually go back to the year I spent in England when I was 10 years old. I think that even at that point, it was in my blood. It was certainly already in my environment: My dad was a historian who always included art in the classes that he taught, and my mom was also an art lover, particularly interested in the Impressionists. So when we went to England, we hit as many cathedrals, museums, and historical sites as possible. One that really sticks in my mind is Verulamium — Roman ruins that were so nearby, we went there repeatedly.

Verulamium, Roman Amphitheatre, 140 CE, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England

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