Far from the best photo I’ve ever taken but how often do you get to look through the periscope of a submarine?
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning inquiry) is the study of the past…
History is asking questions.
And answering them.
Herodotus of Halicarnassus here presents his research so that human events do not fade with time. May the great and wonderful deeds – some brought forth by the Hellenes, others by the barbarians – not go unsung as well as the causes that led them to make war on each other.
Herodotus: The Histories, 1:1
…like sapphires in colour, only that it is paler and more closely resembles the tint of the water near the sea-shore in appearance.
(Pliny the Elder: Natural History, XXXVII.56)
Many of London’s museums and galleries stay open late into the evening once a week. You might think day or night makes no difference…
But it’s nice to break the daily routine once in a while. Instead of going home after work, I head for Bloomsbury.
The British Museum after six pm is a different place
The lights are dimmed. The crowds are gone; it’s quiet. I relax in the members’ room with my book and a glass of wine before going for a wander.
I can get up close to the most popular exhibits without an elbow fight. I can contemplate. I can read the labels in peace.
I can take pictures.
Till next Friday.
You might also like: ⇒ Made by the Egyptians: A Bust of Amenhotep III ⇒ The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus ⇒ Three Hours at the British Museum
The Queen’s House in Greenwich is one of those buildings that I walked past dozens of times each year and never once entered, despite being a member in the Maritime Museum and despite the entry being free in any case. There is so much to see in Greenwich that the Queen’s House always ended up bypassed. I finally went in two weeks ago – to see the so-called Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I that the museum had recently acquired and which was about to disappear into a conservator’s workshop for the near future. The building is so stunning I can’t believe I ignored it for years – don’t miss it if you ever visit Greenwich!
I was reading Keats last night:
My spirit is too weak – mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time – with a billowy main –
A sun – a shadow of a magnitude.
(On Seeing the Elgin Marbles by John Keats)
I have to say it threw me a bit. Not quite as easy as “Then I felt like some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken” (On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer also by John Keats). In fact, after much mulling over what some of the phrases actually meant, I had to seek enlightment from Mr Anglo-Saxonist who upon reading it pronounced that it was s**t poem and there was no need to rack my brains about what it meant. (He particularly objected to the sick eagle.) Well, I wouldn’t go quite as far but I have to agree: not one of Keats’s best. Nevertheless I do like the last few lines, in particular:
… mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time…
Which is why today we’re going to talk about some Greek grandeur and the rude wasting of old time.
For today’s Mediterranean theme, we’ll take a painter. From a Mediterranean country, clearly. He’s a painter I cannot be indifferent to: I either hate his pictures – or love them.
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
Posted in response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge: Edge.
Links: ⇒ O Captain! My Captain by Walt Whitman ⇒ The Fastest Ship in the Fleet - an 18-minute film of the 1971 race between HMS Cavalier and HMS Rapid (Imperial War Museum). No prizes for guessing who won! ⇒ The service history of HMS Cavalier on Naval-History.net
It’s been a while since we’ve been to Italy… and the weather outside is pretty grey (this passes for summer hereabouts), so I thought it was time for a new instalment of Venice in Black & White.
Miss Britain III was a single-engine speedboat built by Hubert Scott-Payne, an aristocratic boat designer in 1933. Although it was then narrowly beaten in a race on the St Clair River in Michigan by Miss America X, a boat powered by four engines, later that year Miss Britain III broke the speed record for a single-engine motorboat with Scott-Payne and team-mate Gordon Thomas becoming the first men to travel over 100 miles per hour in a single-engined boat – a record that remained unbeaten for 50 years.
Halicarnassus, the birth place of Herodotus (nowadays Bodrum, Turkey) was home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the Mausoleum, a colossal tomb of Mausolus, a Persian satrap and a ruler of Caria (377-353 B.C.). The word mausoleum as used today originates precisely in the name of Mausolus and his tomb.
“Halicarnassus, the royal residence of the dynasts of Caria,” wrote the Greek geographer Strabo two thousand years ago. “Here is the tomb of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders, a monument erected by Artemisia in honour of her husband.” (Strabo: Geography, XIV.2)
Mausolus made Halicarnassus his capital and spent a huge amount of money on improving the harbour, fortifying the town and embellishing it with temples, palaces and statues.
About halfway up the curving slope… a broad wide street was laid out, in the middle of which was built the Mausoleum, a work so remarkable that it is classed among the Seven Wonders of the World. (Vitruvius: The Ten Books on Architecture, II.8)
Imagine that you just built a graceful sailing ship – a tea clipper, no less – and have to come up with a name for it… Any ideas? No? Well, if you’re short of ideas, allow me to suggest you a name. How about the Skimpy Night-dress?
In the Archeological Museum in Athens there’s a golden funeral mask that was found by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876 when he was excavating Mycenae. It goes by the name of the mask of Agamemnon. Needless to say, it’s probably not the mask of Agamemnon but I, like Schliemann, find the idea that it depicts Agamemnon, rather than somebody we never heard of, much more interesting… and easier to remember. 🙂
Different from most other museum ships is the fact that all the ropes were installed. It is the 8 miles of rope and 3 miles of wire and chain that help make Cutty Sark’s rigging so spectacular.
(Who’s Who at Cutty Sark: Meet Rigger Andy)
Salvaging something of a rainy day in half-term with Young Friend of the Elephants – visiting the Cutty Sark in Greenwich… and catching the riggers at work aloft. (Yes, those are real people in the rigging. 🙂 )
“She might be static, but in terms of rigging all she needs is some sails and she’s ready to go sailing!”
The oranges of the island are like blazing fire among the emerald boughs,
And the lemons are like the pale faces of lovers who have spent the night crying.
Two widely quoted lines from an obscure poet. If you can name the island this quote refers to, I’m impressed. If you can also name the poet, you know far too much about literature and history – would you be interested in writing a guest post for me?
As for the rest of you, the hoi polloi, the mere mortals 🙂 reading this:
Still on the day 12 assignment… The British Museum goes black & white, part II. Turning another earlier assignment into monochrome:
A Black & White (Different) Point of View
And have I learned anything from the exercise?
- Not all photos look good in black & white.
- There are different black & white filters and not all of them suit all the photos. I used the one my photo program calls noir here – and I think the clouds look nice & dramatic. The same clouds almost didn’t show at all with the other two filters (one called mono, the other tonal)
- There was a third point, but I got interrupted and forgot what is was! (I’ll put it here when it comes back to me.)
Day 12: the assignment is “to capture the beauty and complexity of architecture” and especially, by looking for elements that would come out well in black & white.
When I read this in the morning, I felt a sense of frustrated achievement. Because for last Friday’s assignment I did happen to take a picture of the back façade of the British Museum shot through some bars… which I duly posted. And when I got bored with admiring my handiwork on Saturday, I decided to turn it into black & white – and pleased with the result I posted it on my brand new Instagram account. (Well, I had to put it somewhere.)
And so now here we are. Today the British Museum goes black & white. Part I.
Behind the Bars in Black & White
Day 10 assignment: an image that creates a sense of mystery… and manipulate the light available to you to create a particular effect — use it to cast shadows and highlights to create a moody image.
The whole world and all (human) time is hidden behind these bars!
Day 7 Assignment: Taking a picture of something ‘big’, using a different point of view
When I read today’s assignment in the morning, I couldn’t help grinning. “Let’s go big,” it said, and it carried on advising that the best angle for shooting skyscapers was achieved by lying down.
I could just see myself lying flat on my back in the City or the Canary Wharf area, or possibly under the Shard, shooting upwards among the wandering legs of business suited men and women!… Well, maybe another time. Today, I’ll give you the British Museum.
The glass ceiling over the Great Court of the British Museum