” Tower of Pisa ”

Angels Statue, Pisa Cathedral (Duomo di Pisa) (forefront), The Leaning Tower of Pisa (background), Piazza dei Miracoli (“Square of Miracles”). Pisa, Tuscany, Central Italy.

Known among Italians as Torre Pendente di Pisa, this piece of architecture is significally different from most medieval architecture. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located on the city’s main square, Piazza del Duomo.

The construction of the Tower began in 1173. Originally designed to be a bell tower, it stood upright for over 5 years, but when the third floorwas completed in 1178 it began to lean. Italians were shocked by the event, as the tower began to lean ever so slightly.

The thing is the foundation of the tower, which is only 3-meter deep, was built on a dense clay mixture. This mix impacted the soil and furthermore the clay was not  strong enough to hold the tower upright. As a result the weight of the tower began to diffuse downward until it had found the weakest point.

Due to this problem, construction works stopped for 100 years.

Mistake after mistake!

After 100 years, engineer Giovanni di Simone stepped forward and started to add more floors to the tower. He tried to compensate for the original lean by making one side of the upper floors taller than the other. This only caused the tower to lean over even more…

Unconcerned by the leaning, the tower was added a 7th floor in the second part of the 14th century, as well as a bell tower, and then the tower was left on its own until the 19th century.

In 1838 architect Alessandro Della Gherardesca, dug a pathway at the base of the tower to allow people to admire the intricately crafted base. This caused the tower to lean even more, probably due to the digging of its base.

In 1987 the Leaning Tower of Pisa was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, together with the entire Piazza Del Duomo, but in 1990 it was closed. Its bells were removed and the tower was anchored, only to reopen in 2001.Tourists now can safely visit the leaning tower of Pisa!

[SOURCE: romeprivateguides.com]

”Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence”

Title: Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence

Author: Titian

Year: 1565

Style: Mannerism

Genre: allegorical painting

Media: oil, canvas

Location: National Gallery, London, UK

The painting portrays three human heads, each facing in a different direction, above three animal heads, depicting (from left) a wolf, a lion and a dog. The painting is usually interpreted as operating on a number of levels. At the first level, the different ages of the three human heads represent the “Three Ages of Man” (youth, maturity, old age). The different directions in which they are facing reflect a second, wider concept of Time itself as having a past, present and future. This theme is repeated in the animal heads which, according to some traditions, are associated with those categories of time.

” Vincent van Gogh ”

Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Year: 1889

Media: oil, canvas

Location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

[ Vincent van Gogh Biography ]

Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) was born on 30 March 1853 in Zundert, a village in the southern province of North Brabant. He was the eldest son of the Reverend Theodorus van Gogh (1822 – 1885) and Anna Cornelia Carbentus (1819 – 1907), whose other children were Vincent’s sisters Elisabeth, Anna, and Wil, and his brother Theo and Cor. Little is known about Vincent’s early years other than that he was a quiet child with no obvious artistic talent. He himself would later look back on his happy childhood with great pleasure.

At age 16 Vincent started to work for the art dealer Goupil & Co. in The Hague. His four years younger brother Theo, with whom Vincent cherished a life long friendship, would join the company later. This friendship is amply documented in a vast amount of letters they sent each other. These letters have been preserved and were published in 1914. They provide a lot of insight into the life of the painter, and show him to be a talented writer with a keen mind. Theo would support Vincent financially throughout his life.

In 1873, his firm transferred him to London, then to Paris. He became increasingly interested in religion; in 1876 Goupil dismissed him for lack of motivation. He became a teaching assistant in Ramsgate near London, then returned to Amsterdam to study theology in 1877.

After dropping out in 1878, he became a layman preacher in Belgium in a poor mining region known as the Borinage. He even preached down in the mines and was extremely concerned with the lot of the workers. He was dismissed after 6 months and continued without pay. During this period he started to produce charcoal sketches.

In 1880, Vincent van Gogh followed the suggestion of his brother Theo and took up painting in earnest. For a brief period Vincent took painting lessons from Anton Mauve at The Hague. Although Vicent and Anton soon split over divergence of artistic views, influences of the Hague School of painting would remain in Vincents work, notably in the way he played with light and in the looseness of his brush strokes. However his usage of colours, favouring dark tones, set him apart from his teacher.

In 1881 he declared his love to his widowed cousin Kee Vos, who rejected him. Later he would move in with the prostitute Sien Hoornik and her children and considered marrying her; his father was strictly against this relationship and even his brother Theo advised against it. They later separated.

Impressed and influenced by Jean-Francois Millet, van Gogh focussed on painting peasants and rural scenes. He moved to the Dutch province Drenthe, later to Nuenen, North Brabant, also in The Netherlands. Here he painted in 1885.

In the winter of 1885-1886 Van Gogh attended the art academy of Antwerp, Belgium. This proved a disappointment as he was dismissed after a few months by his Professor. Van Gogh did however get in touch with Japanese art during this period, which he started to collect eagerly. He admired its bright colors, use of canvas space and the role lines played in the picture. These impressions would influence him strongly. Van Gogh made some painting in Japanese style. Also some of the portraits he painted are set against a background which shows Japanese art.

In spring 1886 Vincent van Gogh went to Paris, where he moved in with his brother Theo; they shared a house on Montmartre. Here he met the painters met Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Bernard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin. He discovered impressionism and liked its use of light and color, more than its lack of social engagement (as he saw it). Especially the technique known as pointillism (where many small dots are applied to the canvas that blend into rich colors only in the eye of the beholder, seeing it from a distance) made its mark on Van Goghs own style. It should be noted that Van Gogh is regarded as a post-impressionist, rather than an impressionist.

In 1888, when city life and living with his brothers proved too much, Van Gogh left Paris and went to Arles, Bouches-du-Rh, France. He was impressed with the local landscape and hoped to found an art colony. He decorated a “yellow house” and created a celebrated series of yellow sunflower paintings for this purpose. Only Paul Gauguin, whose simplified colour schemes and forms (known as synthetism) attracted van Gogh, followed his invitation. The admiration was mutual, and Gauguin painted van Gogh painting sunflowers. However their encounter ended in a quarrel. Van Gogh suffered a mental breakdown and cut off part of his left ear, which he gave to a startled prostitute friend. Gauguin left in December 1888.

The only painting he sold during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, was created in 1888. It is now on display in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russia.

Vincent van Gogh now exchanged painting dots for small stripes. He suffered from depression, and in 1889 on his own request Van Gogh was admitted to the psychiatric center at Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches-du-Rh, France. During his stay here the clinic and its garden became his main subject. Pencil strokes changed again, now into spiral curves.

In May 1890 Vincent van Gogh left the clinic and went to the physician Paul Gachet, in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, where he was closer to his brother Theo, who had recently married. Gachet had been recommended to him by Pissarro; he had treated several artists before. Here van Gogh created his only etching: a portrait of the melancholic doctor Gachet. His depression aggravated. On July 27 of the same year, at the age of 37, after a fit of painting activity, van Gogh shot himself in the chest. He died two days later, with Theo at his side, who reported his last words as “La tristesse durera toujours” (French: “The sadness will last forever”). He was buried at the cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise; Theo unable to come to terms with his brother’s death died 6 months later and was buried next to him. It would not take long before his fame grew higher and higher. Large exhibitions were organized soon: Paris 1901, Amsterdam 1905, Cologne 1912, New York 1913 and Berlin 1914.

Vincent van Gogh’s mother threw away quite a number of his paintings during Vincent’s life and even after his death. But she would live long enough to see her son become a world famous painter.

[ Source: https://www.vincent-van-gogh-gallery.org/ ]

” Napoleon ”

Title: Napoleon I in Coronation robes

Author: Anne-Louis Girodet

Year: 1812

Style: Neoclassicism, Romanticism

Genre: portrait

[ Napoleon Biography ]

Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor, was one of the greatest military leaders in history. He helped remake the map of Europe and established many government and legal reforms, but constant battles eventually led to his downfall.

Early years

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769, in the Corsican city of Ajaccio. He was the fourth of eleven children of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Romolino. His father, a member of a noble Italian family, remained on good terms with the French when they took over control of Corsica.

Napoleon began his education at a boys’ school in Ajaccio. Then, at age ten, he was allowed to enter French military schools for aristocrats and was sent in 1779, with his older brother Joseph, to the College of Autun in Burgundy, France. Napoleon later transferred to the College of Brienne, another French military school. While at school in France, he was made fun of by the other students for his lower social standing and because he spoke Spanish and did not know French well. His small size earned him the nickname of the “Little Corporal.” Despite this teasing, Napoleon received an excellent education. When his father died, Napoleon led his household.

By 1785 Napoleon was a second lieutenant in the French army, but he often returned to Corsica. In 1792 he took part in a power struggle between forces supporting Pasquale Paoli (1725–1807), a leader in the fight for Corsican independence, and those supporting the French. After Paoli was victorious, he turned against Napoleon and the Bonaparte family, forcing them to flee back to France. Napoleon then turned his attention to a career in the army there. The French Revolution (1789–93), a movement to overthrow King Louis XVI (1754–1793) and establish a republic, had begun. Upon his return from Corsica in 1793, Napoleon made a name for himself and won a promotion by helping to defeat the British at Toulon and regain that territory for France.

Military successes

After being imprisoned for ten days on suspicion of treason and refusing assignment to lead the Army of the West, Napoleon was assigned to work for the map department of the French war office. His military career nearly ended, but when forces loyal to the king attempted to regain power in Paris in 1795, Napoleon was called in to stop the uprising. As a reward he was appointed commander of the Army of the Interior. Later that year Napoleon met Josephine de Beauharnais (1763–1814), and they were married in March 1796. Within a few days Napoleon left Josephine in Paris and started his new command of the Army of Italy. Soon the French troops were winning battle after battle against the Italians and Austrians. Napoleon advanced on Vienna, Austria, and engineered the signing of a treaty that gave France control of Italy.

Napoleon returned to Paris a hero, and he soon decided to invade Egypt. He sailed from Toulon, France, in May 1798 with an army of thirty-five thousand men. With only a few losses, all of lower Egypt came under Napoleon’s control. He set about reorganizing the government, the postal service, and the system for collecting taxes. He also helped build new hospitals for the poor. However, at this time a group of countries had banded together to oppose France. Austrian and Russian forces had regained control of almost all of Italy. Then, in August 1798, the British destroyed French ships in the Battle of the Nile, leaving the French army cut off from its homeland. Napoleon left the army under the command of General Jean Kléber and returned to France with a handful of officers.

Leadership of France

Landing at Fréjus, France, in October 1799, Napoleon went directly to Paris, where he helped overthrow the Directory, a five-man executive body that had replaced the king. Napoleon was named first consul, or head of the government, and he received almost unlimited powers. After Austria and England ignored his calls for peace, he led an army into Italy and defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Marengo (1800). This brought Italy back under French control. The Treaty of Amiens in March 1802 ended the war with England for the time being. Napoleon also restored harmony between the Roman Catholic Church and the French government. He improved conditions within France as well by, among other things, establishing the Bank of France, reorganizing education, and reforming France’s legal system with a new set of laws known as the Code Napoleon.

By 1802 the popular Napoleon was given the position of first consul for life, with the right to name his replacement. In 1804 he had his title changed to emperor. War resumed after a new coalition was formed against France. In 1805 the British destroyed French naval power in the Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleon, however, was able to defeat Russia and Austria in the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1806 Napoleon’s forces destroyed the Prussian army; after the Russians came to the aid of Prussia and were defeated themselves, Alexander I (1777–1825) of Russia made peace at Tilsit in June 1807. Napoleon was now free to reorganize western and central Europe as he pleased. After Sweden was defeated in 1808 with Russia’s help, only England remained to oppose Napoleon.

Napoleon was unable to invade England because of its superior naval forces. He decided to introduce the Continental System, a blockade designed to close all the ports of Europe to British trade. He hoped this would force the British to make peace on French terms. In Spain in 1808 the Peninsular War broke out over Spanish opposition to the placement of Napoleon’s brother Joseph on the throne. The English helped Spain in this battle, which kept French troops occupied until 1814. In addition, Alexander I’s decision to end Russia’s cooperation with the Continental System led Napoleon to launch an invasion of that country in 1812. Lack of supplies, cold weather, and disease led to the deaths of five hundred thousand of Napoleon’s troops.

Fall from glory

Napoleon had his marriage to Josephine dissolved and then, in March 1810, he married Marie Louise, the daughter of Emperor Francis II of Austria. Despite this union, Austria declared war on him in 1813. In March 1814 Paris fell to a coalition made up of Britain, Prussia, Sweden, and Austria. Napoleon stepped down in April. Louis XVIII (1755–1824), the brother of Louis XVI, was placed on the French throne. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, but after ten months he made plans to return to power. He landed in southern France in February 1815 with 1,050 soldiers and marched to Paris, where he reinstated himself to power. Louis XVIII fled, and Napoleon’s new reign began. The other European powers gathered to oppose him, and Napoleon was forced to return to war.

The Battle of Waterloo was over within a week. On June 18, 1815, the combined British and Prussian armies defeated Napoleon. He returned to Paris and stepped down for a second time on June 22. He had held power for exactly one hundred days. Napoleon at first planned to go to America, but he surrendered to the British on July 3. He was sent into exile on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. There he spent his remaining years until he died of cancer on May 5, 1821.

SOURCE https://www.notablebiographies.com