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A Rembrandt at sale discount March 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts.
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A Swedish arts academy offers the country’s most expensive painting for sale at a 60 percent discount and subject to certain conditions.

Rembrandt’s Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis is up for sale on condition that the buyer donates it to Stockholm’s National Museum. The painting has been housed in the Museum since 1866 and is considered one of the main attractions of the facility.

“It has hung at the National Museum since 1866. That’s where it’s going to stay,” said Olle Granath, permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.

Painted in 1661-1662, the Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis depicts the rebellion of the Germanic tribe of the Batavians against the Romans. The masterpiece, donated to the arts academy in 1798, was later deposited at Stockholm’s National Museum, the Canadian Press reported.

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100000 Years of Sex exhibition opens in Germany March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology, Arts.
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Erotic carvings and excavated Roman artefacts connected to sex will go on display on Saturday in Germany’s best-preserved ancient Roman city, Trier. The temporary exhibition, 100000 Years of Sex, comprises of 250 items, mainly archaeological.

They date back to the Stone Age and show how our ancestors experienced lust and procreation, said Mechthild Neyses-Eiden, deputy director of the museum.

Devised in the Netherlands and first mounted in 2003 in another museum, the exhibition is being supplemented at the Rhenish Museum in Trier with about 50 local Roman-period artefacts recovered by archaeologists.

Trier – called Treveris by the Romans – has several well-preserved buildings, such as a town gate, an arena and a church, from the time when it was a principal northern city of the late Roman empire.

The original exhibition includes primitive objects representing feminine charms, explicit pictures on Greek vases, a medieval chastity belt and an 1813 item described as the world’s oldest condom. The show, inaugurated with a party on Thursday evening, runs from Saturday till June 22. It will be repeated for the last time in the German city of Heilbronn in July 2009.

Neyses-Eiden said it was important to study past attitudes to sex in a neutral way. She said the show illustrated how different historical periods had differing attitudes. “Things we regard as normal now were regarded as revolting in medieval times,” she said. Referring to child sex, she noted that some things allowed among the Greeks were taboo or illegal nowadays.

The Scythian rider-nomads’ enigma in Berlin October 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology, Arts.
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In ancient Greece, the Scythians were at first known as mysterious “milkers of mares”. To Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, the Scythian mounted archers crossing Palestine to raid Egypt were “midnight people”.

Detailed reports about the rider-nomads came only some 2,500 years ago from the widely travelled Greek historian Herodotus. Now a major archaeological exhibition offers an exhaustive overview of the life and history of the enigmatic tribes that ruled the steppes in Eastern Europe and Asia for more than 500 years BC and had a little-known but highly developed culture.

Museums and institutes in eight European and Asian countries worked together in preparing the impressive show at Berlin’s Martin Gropius building. Many objects on display have never been shown in the West, among them magnificent samples excavated only in recent years.

The show’s title, Under the Sign of the Golden Griffin: the Royal Graves of the Scythians, refers to Herodotus’ claim that they originated in a “Land of the Gold-Guarding Griffins”. The griffin, a mythological animal with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle, can be seen on many artefacts recovered by archaeologists.

However, Herodotus made scarce mention of the enormous amounts of gold, silver, bronze and electrum (a gold and silver alloy) that the Scythians wore and used, and which are now fascinating exhibition visitors.

The show was triggered by a sensational find made by a German-Russian team between 2001 and 2003 on a southern Siberian plain popularly known as the Valley of the Kings. In one of untold burial mounds in the region, the team excavated the grave of a royal couple in a chamber 10 feet deep containing a vast amount of gold objects.

It was a unique discovery because grave robbers, known to have been active since antiquity, obviously abandoned search of this mound after uncovering other chambers that were empty.

Many of the artefacts from this find are on view at the exhibition. They range from a neck ring weighing 1.5 kilograms (a little over 3 pounds) to more than 5,000 tiny golden figurines of panthers decorating the capelike mantles of the prince and his wife.

The German Archaeological Institute compared the importance of the find to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 near Luxor, Egypt, in what is also known as the Valley of the Kings.

Research established that the prince died of prostate cancer in the 7th century BC. The much younger and healthy wife showed no traces of violence. But given the Scythians’ horrifying funerary ritual described by Herodotus, she hardly died of natural causes. That ritual demanded that the widow, aides and servants must immediately follow the prince or king into death. The same applied to the horses.

The skeletons of 41 slain men and women and the remains of 14 horses, all strangled or killed with battle axes, were found in other chambers of the burial mound. The funeral ceremony also included the smoking of marijuana, according to research verifying an observation already made by Herodotus.

Last year, a German-Russian-Mongolian team made another spectacular find in the permafrost of the Mongolian side of the Altai Mountains, near the Russian border. In a stone-covered mound, the archaeologists discovered the frozen remains of a Scythian warrior who died some 2,500 years ago. The partly mummified, completely clothed warrior is also displayed at the exhibition, his armament and other equipment well preserved.

The man wore a sable-rimmed fur coat and woolen trousers and his legs were stuck in boots made of felt similar to the grey blanket on which he was lying. His headdress, still to be restored, was decorated with wooden animal figurines originally covered with gold foil. The excellent preservation of the clothing permits detailed scientific research.

The “Golden Man of Issyk”, discovered in the 1970s in Kazakhstan, is also a main attraction at the show. It is the life-size reconstruction of the clothing of a youth whose corpse was literally strewn with jewellery and thousands of plates and platelets of gold.

A golden pectoral of compelling beauty found in 1971 and lent by the Ukrainian National Museums is sure to be an eye-catcher, too. A photograph of it makes the cover the detailed exhibition catalogue.

The show gives proof of the fabulous wealth the Scythians amassed by controlling important east-west trade routes. But it leaves unanswered the question how such highly detailed golden masterpieces could be created with simple hand tools.

The Golden Comb from the fabled “Siberian Collection” of Peter the Great at St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum is a dazzling example of such masterly goldsmithing. The Russian Czar was the first among European Royalty to appreciate Scythian art and begin an important collection in the early 18th century. This started a bit of archaeological research which was scientifically intensified only some 50 years ago.

The show will move to Munich next month and then to Hamburg in 2008. Several major items, including the famous golden comb, will return to the lenders at the end of the Berlin run.

Beatles photographs on show for the first time in Liverpool September 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Museums, Music, Pop Culture.
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An exhibition of Beatles photographs that have never been seen in Liverpool will go on display at the National Conservation Centre from 18 August until 2 March 2008. Now These Days Are Gone features photographs by Michael Peto, all of which were taken during the filming of the Beatles film Help in 1965.

The collection of intimate black and white photographs show the Beatles in a variety of settings such as at home, in the studio, relaxing between takes and joking on set. Fiona Philpott, Director of Exhibition at National Museums Liverpool says, ‘We are delighted at having this opportunity to bring some rarely seen images of the Beatles to Liverpool. For fans of the fab four there is the chance to see the stars in a relaxed and informal setting while those interested in photography can admire the work of Michael Peto, one of the great photo-journalists of the 60s’.

Michael Peto left 130,000 photographs to the University of Dundee when he died in 1970. They were then archived and lay forgotten until their rediscovery in 2004.

National Conservation Centre Whitechapel, Liverpool, England
Admission is free, Opening hours 10am – 5pm every day

Related Links > www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk