That’s your loyal, if lately somewhat irregular, author leaning against a column at the Great Church in 2009.
This really is one of the highlights of any semester for me – the building is such a perfect contrast to the Pantheon, which we studied just a few weeks ago. They exemplify very different approaches to architecture – both their structural systems and their handling of space. We really don’t know what the Pantheon was for, but Hagia Sophia is a really interesting synthesis of basilica and rotunda. I think the Great Church may have been the perfect vessel for the imperial liturgy – goodness knows it worked for 900 years. I can even understand it working as a preaching space, something I’m never so convinced about for basilicas of a similar scale before artificial amplification.
The author was a student of mine in his Hobart days!
This is a good piece in Crisis about the theological failure of modernist altar ensembles inserted into Baroque churches – using the Gesu in Rome as a particularly sad example. And it’s also quite recent! Thinks are not improving all over.
Even if what you’re trying to call to mind is (crackpot) 18th C. theories that Gothic architecture arose from pre-Roman tribes weaving huts out of branches, don’t use the word druid in your searches. Just wait till you get to the office in the morning and can check a book.
Well, despite the cliche, most of these castles are in France. But they’re bargains!
A great story of Robert Schuller, the Crystal Cathedral, and it’s current state – as a Roman Catholic cathedral. Cults of personality never last – one of the most important reasons I’m a Roman Catholic today.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s book Spiritual Passages, which reduces (self-admittedly) convert motivation to the One, the Good, the True, or the Beautiful spoke to me. Despite what you might think (I’m an art historian – don’t I love the Beautiful?), I am closer to those called to the One. Schism offends me. All that reciting of “the holy catholic church” as a child, partly because of all the footnotes and explanations that “catholic” mean “universal, world wide” rather than Roman Catholic, sank in. I mean, was the Southern Presbyterian Church either universal or world wide in any serious way? I had acquaintances who were children of missionaries in Zaire – but that was about it.
Presbyterianism is a beautiful system: local deacons and elders, near-regionally elected representatives (presbyteries), regional synods, and a national general assembly. But one of the things a man like me learns during his graduate course work is that, pace Jean Calvin, this is not what the evidence shows us about what we can discern about the Church in the brief apostolic period, let alone by 100 A.D. So don’t go claiming that this is Jesus’s preferred model.
There’s lots of room for argument, but I gave it all a lot of thought and submitted to Holy Mother the Roman Catholic Church. All the rest has been clear enough for the last 25 years, if not always easy to live up to. I mean, I’m a big ol’ sinner – but then, I reassure myself, so are those parents of one child headed up to receive.
you may have to click and go to my Flickr photostream to see the more detailed view…but this 1908 building at Lexington and 30th in NYC has a reproduction of the Parthenon Frieze on its exterior! Not to mention that single column in antis on the east facade . . . crazy!
One of my happy places – and I understand it so much better now after this spring!
I was especially taken with the realization than in the midst of these abstract shapes of mudejar quadrilobes were lions and castles – and that shield. Leon, Castile – and what? But still, Peter the Cruel (r 1334-1369) wanted ALL his subjects to understand his palace facade.
Madrilenos seemed to be very excited by spires and domes and other pointy things on their rooftops in the 1880-1920 period!
Yesterday I took a day trip – about 40 minutes each way – to Cordoba.
Cordoba was the capital of Roman Spain, and one of the bigger cities in the western empire. There’s not a lot left of it to see, but the archeological museum was full of good stuff.
More important for looking was the Cathedral, formerly the Great Mosque. I have been teaching this in Art 101 every year since I started, and now I have it much better integrated! in my mind!
Not that I’ve been saying anything WRONG – but I have never been as clear about the disposition of parts as I would like. And I see why! I’ll try to find a plan to upload – but the essential story is that the mosque was built in stages over several hundred years and then the Christian cathedral was inserted more or less in the center of the building.
There have been so many restoratoin campaigns the photos have always been hard to sort out – so seeing it was really satisfying. I spent a long time wandering around, then made a disciplined front to back visit, then wandered some more.
The folks who run it provide explanatory brochures in the usual langauges – Spanish, French, English, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. But they also provide Arabic – and there were a number of obviously Muslim (though not clearly Arab) visitors yesterday. I’d love to see the text compared to the English.
In the English brochure, they make the point fairly firmly, though not in an ugly way, that Yes, the Castilians turned this mosque into a church, but the Umayyads had destroyed a previously existing church on the side (though it was not the cathedral of the city) and systematically reused columns from previous buildings to signify their conquest.
I’ve read about Andalucian nostalgia among Arabs, especially in North Africa. Really now – with the exception of the Kingdom of Granada, most of Spain was under Muslim control for a shorter time than it has been in Christian hands since – and it was Christian before. Look on the map to see how far south Cordoba is – and be reminded that the Castilians conquered it in 1236.
The Alcazar Palace is really something – I think it would be very comfortable in the summer time, for Seville!
I remember the tilework from an old PBS show, “Connections.” I can’t think of the presenter’s name, but it was a history of science across time kind of thing – made an impression on me!
Luckily, Sevilla is pretty flat. I’m tiring here in the home stretch (starting to figure out my move to Madrid and thence home). I spent some time today in the Museo de Bellas Artes sitting in front of Murillos and Zubarans (Murillo’s not as bad as I thought he was and Zubuaran is better even than I thought before seeing so many paintings live). I wasn’t just contemplating art – I was resting.
The picture here is a view of the cathedral room from the top of the Giralda tower (see previous post), the churches bell tower and originally the minaret for the mosque the cathedral replaced. Interesting – the great mosque was only about 50 years old before Fernando III conquered the city in 1248.
The right side of the photo shows an interesting phenomenon – the vaults of the gothic cathedral are exposed. That is, no one ever put a giant wooden superstructure and roof with its associated lead sheating over the vaults – so the walls and buttresses can be a lot thinner. .You canget away with that in Sevilla because it doesn’t rain much or snow at all – northern Europe can’t do this with a vaulted roof. They need the waterproofing and the protection from the weight.
Well, the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion. The original was a temporary construction to serve as the German Pavilion for an International Exhibition and was taken down in 1930. Barcelona recreated it in the 1980s. It’s a beautiful building – Modernism before Less became a Bore.
. . . but I liked the Doric columns supporting the pavilion! Click to seem my other photos on Flickr.
Gaudi was better than he looks in print – but I’m afraid there’s still something dangerously whimsical (in a shallow way) about Barcelona Modernisme. On the other hand, a very smart woman of my acquaintance studies the material, so I need to look harder.