Monday, December 31, 2012



597.  Which birds mate for life?  It has been proved that some birds remain paired for a long time and it is supposed that some of these mate for life.  There are definite records of captive swans and geese that never remated after the partner died.  On the other hand, there are cases of Canada geese actually changing mates for no apparent reason, and many cases where the surviving individual of a pair remated.  It is obvious, therefore, that the subject needs considerable study before unequivocal statements can be given for a species as a whole.  Some ornithologists interpret the term "mating for life" quite loosely to mean that the bird remains faithful as long as the mate lives, and upon the death of a mate a new partner may be accepted.  Various authors have stated that eagles, hawks, cranes, owls, parrots, ravens, crows, magpies, chickadees, titmice, wrentits and others mate for life.  Some of these statements are bases on the circumstanital evidence that certain pairs were mated for many years. [2]


[1] Birds on a Wintry Tree, Song dynasty (960–1279), 13th century
Formerly Attributed to Lidi (Chinese, ca. 1110–after 1197)
Fan mounted as an album leaf; ink and color on silk.
9 3/8 x 9 1/2 in. (23.8 x 24.1 cm)
Two magpies, their feathers fluffed up against the cold, represent a warm reminder of the inevitability of spring. Such pictures of paired birds were often given as birthday gifts to elderly couples. The white heads of the birds and their long tail feathers are symbols of longevity, as is the ancient tree upon which they perch, for despite being covered with snow, the tree has already sprouted new growth—a sign of its enduring vigor.

[2]  Mate for Life text excerpted from:  1001 Questions Answered About Birds by Allan D. Cruickshank and Helen G. Cruickshank (Toronto, General Publishing Company, 1958).

[3] Tapestry panel with the character for longevity (shou), Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 18th century China
Silk and metallic thread tapestry (kesi) Overall 95 x 57 1/2 in. (241.3 x 146.1 cm)
Woven in gold with the character for longevity (shou), this bold eight-foot-tall tapestry panel was appropriate for display at birthday celebrations. The character is sensitively expressed, preserving a sense of the calligraphic brushstrokes used to write the character.

Sunday, December 30, 2012



On the right of it sits a man with very large ears, almost like those of Midas, extending his hand to Slander while she is still at some distance from him. Near him, on one side, stand two women—Ignorance and Suspicion. On the other side, Slander is coming up, a woman beautiful beyond measure, but full of malignant passion and excitement, evincing as she does fury and wrath by carrying in her left hand a blazing torch and with the other dragging by the hair a young man who stretches out his hands to heaven and calls the gods to witness his innocence. She is conducted by a pale ugly man who has piercing eye and looks as if he had wasted away in long illness; he represents envy. There are two women in attendance to Slander, one is Fraud and the other Conspiracy. They are followed by a woman dressed in deep mourning, with black clothes all in tatters—she is Repentance. At all events, she is turning back with tears in her eyes and casting a stealthy glance, full of shame, at Truth, who is slowly approaching. [2]

[1]  John Vanderlyn, The Calumny of Apelles, 1849, Oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
[2]  Lucian of Samosata, “On Calumny,” quoted in Altrocchi, Rudolph (1921). "The Calumny of Appelles."
[3]  Sandro Botticelli, The Calumny of Apelles, 1494, Tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence. 
[4] Pet Shop Boys: What Have I Done To Deserve This? (Link)

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Captivated by darkness:
Charles Meryon and the French etching revival on view at the Hamburger Kunsthalle

HAMBURG.- With this exhibition of prints by the Paris-born artist Charles Meryon (1821–1868), the Hamburger Kunsthalle demonstrates that the renaissance of etching in the 19th century was centred in France. Meryon’s exceptional position derives from the fact that he was among the first artists in the country to rediscover the traditional technique. The “Piranesi of France” began using etching in the 1850s to depict the medieval architecture of Paris. 

His images often showed the city being attacked by fantastic creatures – a product of the artist’s creative imagination and also a sign of his declining mental health. Meryon’s etchings present Paris in a truly visionary light.

Previous exhibitions dedicated to Charles Meryon have strongly emphasised his marginal position on the 19th-century art scene. As a result, his work has mainly been presented in monographic surveys that focus on Meryon as a solitary figure who died in 1868 at the age of 46, having been finally committed to the asylum at Charenton in a state of mental derangement. 

Without calling into question the unfathomable nature of his views of Paris, Meryon can still be regarded as a child of his time. Not only was he a member of the Société des Aquafortistes, which initiated the revival of etching in France from around 1862 onwards and counted the likes of Édouard Manet among its members, his work was also openly praised by none other than the great French writer Charles Baudelaire.  

The exhibition in the Saal der Meisterzeichnung (Hall of Master Drawings) presents 20 etchings by Meryon and works from the artist’s surrounding. The exhibits are from the collection of Hamburger Kunsthalle, from the Hegewisch Collection at Hamburger Kunsthalle and the Museum of Prints and Drawings, Berlin. The Freunde der Kunsthalle have generously sponsored a publication (12,80 Euro) to accompany the exhibition. (Curator of the exhibition: Jonas Beyer.) 

NOTE:  Seeing and reading this press release on yesterday, I remembered that I had completely forgotten how much Charles Meryon's work once meant to me.  I can only say: "how good it is to meet you again," at the end of the line, precipice’s edge, in a stockroom stripped of everything except handfuls of dust and stores of ill-will.  

The etcher’s art is crafty, yet free; loose and tight; reverse-acted; acid-born.  And that’s just the skin of it.  Concentrating on heavy physical constructions and plein-aether, Meryon went deep, beneath  surfaces, into other atmospheres.  If any time at all remains to us and it doesn’t seem too crazy, perhaps this is the collection I’ll finally begin.  I’ve been looking for something good to hold onto.

Trying To Hold On -- Carla Olson (Link)

Illustrations (upper to lower):
i.      Photographic portrait of Charles Meryon by an anonymous photographer, 1850.
ii.   Charles Meryon, Le Pont-Neuf, Paris, 1853, etching and drypoint.
iii. Charles Meryon, The old entrance of the Palace of Justice, Paris, 1854, etching and drypoint.
iv.   Charles Meryon, The Notre-Dame Pumphouse, 1853, etching.
v.      Charles Meryon, Chatêau de Chenonceau, No. 2, 1856, etching.
vi.   Charles Meryon, Molière’s Tomb, 1854, etching.
vii. Charles Meryon, Le Stryge, 1854, etching.
viii.    Charles Meryon, Le pont au change, 1854, etching and drypoint.
ix.   Léopold Flameng, Portrait of Charles Meryon, 1858, rotogravure from original drawing.