Vesuvius

Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art & Archives, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Apocalypse Then: Bulwer-Lytton’s “The Last Days of Pompeii”

Cover and illustration from Bulwer-Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii

Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24, A.D. 79, burying Pompeii and neighboring towns under tons of ash and volcanic debris. Rediscovered by accident some 1,650 years later, the Vesuvian ruins captured the imagination of artists and writers, who vied to… More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art & Archives, Gardens and Architecture, Getty Villa, People & Places

Archaeologist Kathryn Gleason on Roman Gardens

The Outer Peristyle at the Getty Villa. © 2005 Richard Ross with the courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust

Kathryn Gleason is an expert on Roman gardens and a pioneer in the field of garden archaeology, an exciting and relatively new field. In advance of her lecture on Roman gardens this Saturday at the Getty Villa, she spoke to… More»

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Posted in Art, Art & Archives, Getty Research Institute

Volcano Observer: Sir William Hamilton and Mount Vesuvius

View of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
View of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Peter Fabris. Hand-colored engraving in Sir William Hamilton, Campi Phlegraei, 1776.

As news of the erupting and disruptive Icelandic volcano has streamed worldwide, we should pause to pay homage to the pioneering work of the British diplomat, collector, and amateur vulcanologist Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803). Appointed Britain’s special envoy to the Spanish court… 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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