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Cabinet of Curiosities


This week’s Cabinet of Curiosities is from the Rijksmuseum, posted by the author Maaike Dirkx of Rembrandt’s Room.  A fabulous display of rococo furniture, this buffet contains a water fountain and wine cooler.  Specifically made for Anthony Grill, well known art collector of the age and resident of the “House of Heads”.  Carved decorations of the highest rococo style decorate the outside, possibly from the hand of Asmus Frauen, a Transylvanian sculptor, and resident of Amsterdam after 1738.

Opening the doors of this exquisite cabinet, I want to share four epic paintings currently displayed at the Chicago Art Institute, Gallery 28.  These choice items by French artist Hubert Robert, 22 May 1733 – 15 April 1808, created specifically for the residence of Marquis Jean-Joseph de Laborde, owner of the Chateau de Mereville. The Old Temple, The Obelisk, The Landing Place, and The Fountains, this suite of canvases were set into the paneled walls of the Marquis’ salon, creating an alternate space, accentuated by the Neoclassical décor of the room.

The Old Temple

The Old Temple, 1787/88 Gift of Adolphus C. Bartlett, 1900.382

The Obelisk

The Obelisk, 1787/88
Gift of Clarence Buckingham, 1900.383

The Landing Place

The Landing Place, 1787/88
Gift of Richard T. Crane, 1900.384

The Fountains

The Fountains, 1787/88 Gift of William G. Hibbard, 1900.385

Sold by Galerie George Petit, Paris, June 13, 1900, to Durand-Ruel, acting on behalf of the Art Institute, with funds provided by Adolphus C. Bartlett, Clarence Buckingham, Richard T. Crane, and William G. Hibbard – Titans of Chicago industry during their day.  The old ruins continue their enduring journey through the ages as mere mortals play and work amongst them, a stony, silent witness to history.

My latest guilty pleasures can be found in the hidden drawers of our cabinet, HistoryHit and Art Detective.  If you haven’t had the inclination of enjoying these podcasts hosted by Dan Snow and Janina Ramirez, I urge you to follow them on Twitter and give them a listen.  Their enthusiasm brims over with each new subject, and I don’t feel like I am the only History Geek in the world.  Given the state of continuing education in the arts and history, these podcasts reinvigorate the listener to learn more and expand their intellectual horizons.

Their Mortal Remains Banner

My next hidden drawer brings us London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and the first retrospective of Pink Floyd, beginning May 13.  Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first single Arnold Layne, ‘Their Mortal Remains’ continues through the journey of Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world.  The exhibition celebrates Pink Floyd’s place in history as a cultural icon surviving the changing landscape of the times.  Their flying pigs still carry a relevancy to this day.


I truly hope this exhibition will see the world tour it deserves, as did Bowie’s costume collection.  A virtual tour of this one would suffice, nonetheless.  Admit it, you’re off to find the link to the Wizard of Oz synced with Dark Side of the Moon.  Here’s a good one.

Marching Hammers

P21431 2001.PR.2 001

My final hidden drawer, way back behind the others, contains treasure from the Getty.  From their online archive, The Prospetto dell’alma citta di Roma visto dal monte by Giuseppe Vasi 1710-1782 is truly epic in size and execution.   Dedicated to King Charles III of Spain, the monumental panorama of the city of Rome extends from St. Peter’s Basilica on the left to the Pyramid of Cestius and Fonte dell’Acqua Paola on the far right.


The entire piece is available in minute detail, check out this close up in comparison to the actual breadth of the engraving.  Stunning craftsmanship covers every fiber of the page.

Thank you for sharing my Cabinet of Curiosities.  Our cabinet shared many special treasures and I hope your interest is piqued.

What I am reading, City of Light, City of Poison, Holly Tucker.

Blogs to follow, Messy Nessy Chic.



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The Detroit Institute of Arts shared their drawings from Michelangelo, a preparatory work destined for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted between 1508 and 1512.  I am currently reading “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling” from Ross King, the back stories of these scrappy Titans of history are a guilty pleasure.



These images from the DIA reminded me of my blog post, Drunken Tourist Herds at the Sistine Chapel, and the various bits and pieces of history attached to this exquisite gem in the Vatican treasure chest.   In addition, for those interested in the Rabbit Hole of Research, the New York Times archive contains an interesting article regarding the Spark of Life in Michelangelo’s painting “The Creation of Adam.”  Was the artist allegorically portraying the moment when God bestowed Adam with intelligence?  Read more to draw your own conclusions.


Vatican Museum icon

Lastly, the very latest in Virtual Tours is now available from the Vatican Museums to enhance your ecclesiastical art history experience.  No crowds, no hurried tour group, just infinite, infinite exquisite art.

Vatican Museum virtual tour

Vatican Museum virtual tour 2

Enjoy #TBT


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