About: Benjamin Marcus

I'm a project specialist in the Field Projects Department of the Getty Conservation Institute, a stone conservator, and a stone sculptor.

Posts by Benjamin

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Conservation, Getty Conservation Institute

Ksours and Kasbahs

Detail of a wall painting in the Residence of the Caid, Kasbah Taourit, Ouarzazate, Morocco
Detail of a wall painting in the Residence of the Caid, Kasbah Taourit, Ouarzazate, Morocco

One of Africa’s most important sites of earthen architecture is the focus of an international conservation project. More»

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Conservation, Getty Conservation Institute, Voices

Getty Voices: The Stones of Rome

Detail of a stone fountain in Rome, Italy, showing damage caused by weathering
Rome is defined by its beautiful stone buildings, bridges, and sculptures. But stone isn't eternal, even in the Eternal City. Photo: Scott S. Warren

Conservators from around the world have gathered in Rome to learn techniques for preserving stone artworks and monuments. More»

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      A Brief History of the Fleur-de-lis in Art

      The fleur-de-lis, a familiar symbol with varied meanings and a rather obscure origin.

      If you read the labels of objects in museums bearing the fleur-de-lis (in French, fleur de lys, pronounced with the final “s”), you might notice that they were all made in France before the French Revolution of 1789. 

      What’s less apparent is that the fleur-de-lis marks objects that bear witness to a dramatic history of monarchy, democracy, and war: they speak to the inherent power of trappings commissioned for and by France’s pre-revolutionary kings.

      Adopted as a royal emblem in France by the 1100s, the fleur-de-lis can be traced to early Frankish monarchs including Clovis I, who converted to Christianity in 496, and the renowned Charlemagne. 

      A French word, fleur-de-lis translates literally to “lily flower.” This is appropriate given the association of lilies with purity (and the Virgin Mary) and given that France has long been known as the “Eldest Daughter of the Church.” In truth, the stylized flower most closely resembles a yellow iris. 

      As a heraldic symbol used in the arms of the French monarchy, the fleur-de-lis often appears in yellow or gold tones and set on a blue shield. 

      Given its intimate royal associations, the fleur-de-lis invoked the ire of revolutionaries even before the fall of the monarchy in 1792. In addition to toppling royal statues, vandals chipped away at crowns and fleurs-de-lis adorning the façades of buildings.

      Full blog post on the Getty Iris here.

      04/28/16

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