Monthly Archives: January 2014

Zibaldone

Portrait of Giacomo Leopardi by A. Ferrazzi c. 1820

Portrait of Giacomo Leopardi by A. Ferrazzi, ca. 1820

Giacomo Leopardi (b. June 29, 1798 Recanati, Italy – d. June 14, 1837 Naples) was a nineteenth century Italian poet, essayist, scholar, philosopher, philologist, and atheist. He has been ranked alongside Dante as one of the most important Italian literary figures, and praised by Schoepenhauer, Leopardi’s influence can be seen in modern modes of thought such as nihilism and existentialism. Though revered by Italians as one of their greatest thinkers, Leopardi has remained relatively obscure elsewhere. Among his important works are his Canti, a collection of poems completed in 1835, Operette Morali or “Small Moral Works”, and the Zibaldone.

Published in seven volumes in 1898, over a half century after his death, the Zibaldone is essentially a very large miscellany of observations, personal thoughts, essays, literary criticism, and philological writing. It wasn’t until 1937 when the work was republished that it became widely known as Zibaldone. Among its themes are pessimism, the human condition, and our excesses against nature. The first English translation of the work was published in Britain and America in the summer of 2013, and is over two thousand pages long.

 

From the Zibaldone (p. 2118 of Leopardi’s original manuscript, p.920 of the new English translation, FSG 2013):

It is pleasurable to be the spectator of vigorous, etc. etc., actions of any sort, not only those relative to man. Thunder, storm, hail, a strong wind, seen or heard, and its effects, etc. Every keen sensation in man brings with it a vein of pleasure, however unpleasurable it is within itself, however terrible, or painful, etc. I heard a farmer whose land was often severely damaged by a nearby river say that nonetheless the sight of the flood was a pleasure as it advanced, rushing swiftly toward his fields, with a thunderous noise, and carrying with it a great mass of rocks, mud, etc. And such images, while ugly in themselves, always turn out to be beautiful in poetry, in painting, in eloquence, etc.

 

The Zibaldone Project…

 

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Turin-Milan Hours

The Turin-Milan Hours, which was partially destroyed by a fire in 1904, is an illuminated manuscript and book of hours. It was begun in the late fourteenth century and was completed in various stages. At times in the possession of Jean, Duc de Berry and eventually John III Duke of Bavaria (Count of Holland), the Turin and Milan Hours was worked on by a number of different artists and was originally thought to be two separate volumes. Several miniatures completed in the latter stages of the work, probably around 1420, are credited to an artist called “Hand G”.

The Birth of John the Baptist (above) and the Baptism of Christ below, The Turin-Milan Hours (also Les Très Belles Heures de Notre Dame de Jean de Berry), illumination on parchment, circa 1420, Museo Civico d'Arte Antica di Torino

Hand G (Jan Van Eyck), The Birth of John the Baptist (above) and the Baptism of Christ below, The Turin-Milan Hours (also Les Très Belles Heures de Notre Dame de Jean de Berry), illumination on parchment, circa 1420, Museo Civico d’Arte Antica di Torino

Jan Van Eyck, illumination on parchment, 28 × 19 cm (11 × 7.5 in), circa 1420, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino, destroyed by fire

Hand G (Jan Van Eyck), illumination on parchment, 28 × 19 cm (11 × 7.5 in), circa 1420, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino, destroyed by fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is most likely the Van Eyck brothers, Jan and Hubert, legendary, especially Jan Van Eyck, for revolutionizing painting in Europe in the fifteenth century. The parts of the manuscript attributed to them are widely regarded as the most masterful and interesting.

Jan Van Eyck, Self-portrait?, oil on panel, 26 × 19 cm (10.2 × 7.5 in), 1433, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Jan Van Eyck, Self-portrait?, oil on panel, 26 × 19 cm (10.2 × 7.5 in), 1433, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Hubert van Eyck (1366–1426) by Edme de Boulonois, Illustration from a book by Isaac Bullart, Académie des Sciences et des Arts…, 1682

Hubert van Eyck (1366–1426) by Edme de Boulonois, Illustration from a book by Isaac Bullart, Académie des Sciences et des Arts…, 1682

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turin National University Library, partially destroyed by fire in 1904 and subsequently bombed in 1942, photo 2008 by Claudio Cavallero.

The Turin National University Library, partially destroyed by fire in 1904 and subsequently bombed in 1942, photo 2008 by Claudio Cavallero.

It was reported that an electrical fire in the Turin National University Library was responsible for the destruction of the portions of the Turin-Milan Hours that were kept there and along with it around 100,000 volumes and other priceless manuscripts. Fortunately, photographic reproductions of the destroyed parts remain intact.


Books about Jan Van Eyck…

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Joachim Patinir

Two paintings by Flemish Northern Renaissance painter, Joachim Patinir (c. 1480 – 1524)

Crossing the River Styx, oil on wood, 64 × 103 cm (25 × 41 in), 1515-1524, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Crossing the River Styx, oil on wood, 64 × 103 cm (25 × 41 in), 1515-1524, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Temptation of St Anthony, oil on panel, 155 x 173 cm (61 x 68 in), c. 1515, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Temptation of St Anthony, oil on panel, 155 x 173 cm (61 x 68 in), c. 1515, Museo del Prado, Madrid

 

Northern Renaissance Art

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