Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Mona Lisa

I interrupt the stream of Germany posts to bring you something I find very cool.

While I appreciate the Mona Lisa's influence on the history of Renaissance portraiture, it's not a piece I've ever found as mesmerizing as the general public seems to. What I do find very interesting is the new development on the search for knowledge of her identity, namely the discovery of what they believe to be the remains of Lisa Gherardini in the Convent of Saint Ursula in Florence.

Just as a side note - can we take a moment to appreciate this guy's outfit?

After the death of her husband, Francesco del Giocondo, Gherardini moved to the convent where her two daughters lived and was tended to by them until her death, at which point she was interred there.

Since they have the remains of her children, they can ascertain whether the skeleton belonged to Gherardini by way of a DNA test. The remains could be unrelated, in which case the archaeological team would begin new digs in September to unearth other bodies and continue their search. If, however, the results are positive (and this is why it's particularly exciting that the skull of the skeleton they found is largely intact), they need only wait two months, during which they will reconstruct her face based on the bone structure of the skull. They can then compare the reconstruction with the portrait and confirm whether or not the subject of the painting is indeed Gherardini.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

DBSB '12: MI, Day 1: Dinner Break

So, even though Sarah's in charge of Berlin posts, she still wanted me to do this one. When I asked why, she said, and I quote,


I just can't argue with that kind of logic.

After the many lovely hours we spent walking through the Altes and Neues Museums, Sarah and I decided we were just too hungry to keep going, so we decided to look for a place to eat.


Eating at an Asian restaurant while in Berlin makes sense, no?

The food was delicious and filling and glorious, and our waiter was the most adorable boy alive. He asked us where we were from and was very excited to hear that Sarah was from New York. Also, apparently tipping isn't a thing in Germany, and so, since we chose to do it anyway, he presented us with gifts! An espresso for me and a Chinese wine for Sarah (the latter not pictured.)

It was my first time trying espresso and, though Sarah looks very posh and hip while holding the cup, I hated it.

Sarah wasn't a big fan of her wine, either.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DBSB '12: MI, Day 1: Neues Museum

Neues Museum, Museumsinsel, Berlin
Flickr: berlin-en-ligne

For some reason, neither Bee nor I have a picture of the facade of the Neues Museum, but thankfully, Flickr always saves the day.

As with many buildings in Berlin, the actual architectural history of the Neues is as interesting as the artifacts it holds within itself. The museum was constructed from 1843 - 1855 by Friedrich August Stüler, a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the architect of the Altes Museum. During World War II, the building was the most heavily damaged of the Museum Island buildings during the Berlin bombings and was left in disrepair for a number of years. David Chipperfield oversaw the renovations done to the building which were completed in 2009, and his approach to conserving while renovating the building is, in my opinion, wonderful.

Image from the New York Times.
A view of the Neues in 1964.
Instead of completely renovating the building and visually obliterating the building's past, Chipperfield pieced together what he could of the earlier structure and decoration while incorporating more modern elements. According to the NY Times, "Mr. Chipperfield’s museum is instead a modern building that inhabits the ghost of an old one."


Image from the New York Times.
Aside from its architecture and history, the building showcases Egyptian, Prehistoric, and Early History art and artifacts.




At the far end of this corridor is the bust of Nefertiti. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures of her, but they had some other works involving her and her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten's likenesses.

Image from Wikipedia.



Akhenaten and Nefertiti were responsible for completely breaking with the extremely strict convention of Egyptian art that had stayed consistent for thousands of year. This new style opted for a more naturalistic style which portrayed scenes from the daily life of the royal family. In addition to this shift in artistic style, Akhenaten also implemented the monotheistic religion of Atenism, in which the sun disk of Ra was made to be the supreme deity.


"The Great Royal Wife Tiye, matriarch of the Amarna Dynasty" also known as Akhenaten's mother. She held a large amount of political power and influence within the Egyptian court holding the position of advisor to her husband, Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Later, she still held influence during her son's reign, and even went on to outlive him by more than a decade.



I'm still not sure what this little guy is supposed to be, but isn't it the cutest?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012