Thursday, June 22, 2006

Welcome to my *new* world!

Every girl needs a place to ramble so I created this blog to do just that. A lot of what you'll read here will be non-author related and non-travel related, as far as my "day job" goes. There really isn't any semblance of continuity with what I'll post other than it's stuff I'm doing or thinking. Could be about my dogs, trips I'm taking, books I'm reading, yarn I'm drooling over, music I'm listening to, movies I've watched or anything else that I feel like posting about that someone else might find interesting.

For example --


My sister visited us here in Ireland in May. We drove up to Dublin City for a few days, which was great. We went to the National Gallery again and finally, after all the other times it never worked out, I was able to see one my most favorite paintings in the world...Meeting on the Turret Stairs by pre-Raphaelite-influenced artist Sir Frederick William Burton, a native County Clare man. The painting was inspired by the Danish ballad called Hellelil and Hildebrand, which is a love story between a Danish princess and one of her twelve personal guards.
I can't begin to say how amazing and beautiful this painting is. It's listed as a watercolor, but it's actually a type of watercolor called gouache. Basically, gouache is a water based paint that is very thick so it looks opaque rather than translucent like traditional watercolor. This particular piece comes over as oil based because the colors are still so vivid. The detail is incredible. It's difficult to really tell in most pictures I've found online, but the texture of the knight's tunic, the etching on the scabbard, the feather lining on the dress, the chainmail...it all has been intricately painted...every link, every stitch, every feather, every hair...so that it takes on a lifelike quality. The detail on the knight's tunic resembles that from the Book of Kells, which is housed in Trinity College. And the lighter blue band around the lady's dress is a wonderful Celtic weave, as is the etching on the scabbard.

One normally has to make an appointment to see this painting in the National Gallery, but we lucked out to be in the gallery early enough in the day that there were workers in the office where this painting is on display. It's a restoration/file/research/etc room in an upper floor of the original gallery building.

The National Gallery also houses the famous once-missing Carravagio painting called the
Taking of Christ. This painting disappeard for years until it was finally rediscovered in a Jesuit house. It was donated for life to the museum. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the museum during our visit...my sister went to see it...as it was on tour of the Netherlands. I think that was the place. I'm not much into religious things, but this is a stunning painting.

It's said that Caravaggio painted himself into the painting as the man on the right holding the lantern!

I think one of the other most stunning paintings has to be the Marriage of Strongbow by Daniel Maclise. This has to be the largest painting ever created! The figures on this painting are almost lifesize and there are dozens of people painted all over it. The canvas takes up most of one wall in a grand ballroom in the gallery.
I emailed with a researcher at the gallery not long after returning home and one of the things I was told was that Maclise enlisted the assistance of friends who specialized in Irish history, architecture and such and used their research to create this stunning painting. I would have loved to have been in his studio when he was painting this one. Every person has a "soul", if that's the right way to say it. It's like each person was a real person. No two faces are the same or even remotely similar. Each costume is unique, and there is a lot of detail in some of the fabric, too. It's really quite incredible.

Anyone wanting to visit the National Gallery can do so 7 days a week. The gallery is open almost every day of the year and admission is free. And they have a great cafe and a store in the new Millennium Wing where you can buy prints of some of the most popular paintings, as well as books, notecards, blank books, and anything else to do with art and the works on display.

But beware! The National Gallery can take all day if you're really into art. And if you are, email me because I can point you to some other really interesting pieces. And be sure to spend time at the National Museum around the corner on Kildare Street where the oldest and best antiquities live. They have an awesome guided tour that goes about 30 minutes, but it's not required to take it. I just highly recommend it.

Lest this turn into a full-on travel report, I have to say that it was fabulous seeing my sister again. We haven't been home for what will be 6 years by this December, but thanks to the graciousness of my uncle and aunt who gave us some of their stockpile of airmiles, we'll be spending Xmas in Carmel this year. Yay! Can barely stand the wait, to be honest. But we always love seeing family when they visit here and love showing them around Ireland. Ireland is really a stunning country.

Well, I think that's it for my first ramblings post. Who knows what will be next? Stories about the continual antics of Daisie and Poppy? Tune in again to find out!!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kemberlee
PS...Click on any of the paintings above for a slightly larger version.

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