Archive for November, 2011

A Bit of Gratitude

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In the spirit of the holiday, and perhaps a bit of self indulgence, a few images that reflect what pleases me most, the Mister and the pups.

David with Buddy and Rose

Yours truly withSpeck, Rose and Viola

My great beauty, Speck

My three legged wonder, Rose

The unstoppable Viola

The Man with the Old Man (16 and counting) Buddy

Wishing all a very happy and safe holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Leonard @ Babylon Baroque

In Gratitude for Pronk

Posted in 17th century, Jan de Heem, Pronk on November 21, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Given we are entering the season of thanks, I was suddenly struck by a sense of gratitude for the bounty I enjoy and frequently take for granted. I was raised in poverty, food was not always available, with such a background my weekly trek to the local Whole Foods can  at times feel overwhelming. I was made aware of this fact last Saturday, the usually busy market was even more alive with teeming shoppers eager to make this Thanksgiving more memorable than any other. The grocers responded with even more alluring displays of produce, most particularly lovely fragrant bouquets of celery, such a modest vegetable possessing such verdant beauty. These supremely suburban displays of abundance reminded me of another time and place in which ostentatious displays of luxury were enjoyed with unreserved relish- the  17th century pronk still life paintings of Northern Europe, in particular the lavish work of Jan de Heem.

With that in mind, the following images are my Thanksgiving greetings, please remember to click upon the image, the attention to detail is beguiling..

Jan Davidsz. de Heem

Dutch, 1606-1883/84

Still Life with Parrots 

late 1640’s

Ringling Museum of Art

Jan de Heem

Still life with ham, lobster and fruit

c. 1653

Museum Bolijman Van Beuninjen

Even this vegetarian finds this traif image alluring.

Of course Jan de Heem wasn’t the only practitioner of the pronk genre; other gifted artists were able to capture the lavish displays of seductive imported goods for our voyeuristic delight.

Jan Pauwell Gillemans the Elder

Still life with Fruit, a Parrot and Polecat Ferrets

mid 17th cent.

 Victoria and Albert Museum

Of course the French were adept at depicting luxury, and although the following image isn’t necessarily pronk, it is delightfully overwrought.

Alexandre François Desportes

French, 1661-1743

Still life with Silver

 Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the French fashion, this marvelous image of Anthony and Cleopatra enjoying a luxurious spread, is a visual delight. I am particularly tickled by the absence of food, the love of ostentatious display does not allow for anything as banal as mere grub, gold suffices.

Claude Vignon

French 1593-1670

The Banquet of Anthony and Cleopatra

 Ringling Museum of Art

I will close with a frankly sentimental and boldly Christian image, that of Jan de Heem’s meditation upon the blessed Eucharist. It really is quite stunning.

Eucharist in Fruit Wreath

c. 1648

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

With that, I wish a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving day.

Until next time,

Babylon Baroque

An Unfortunate Encounter with Fate

Posted in 16th cent, Montezuma II on November 8, 2011 by babylonbaroque

In my reading of Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s rather exhilarating Conquest of New Spain, I discovered that today, at least according to his account, the Spaniards first entered what is now Mexico City.

According to his blustery account:

“So, with luck on our side, we boldly entered the city of Tenochtitlan or Mexico on 8 November in the year of our Lord 1519.”

My love affair with Mesoamerican art and culture is in its infancy, I am not at all equipped to pontificate; but what I am capable of is sharing the numerous images, Spanish and native that are proving to be visually irresistible. The following is a small sampling to commemorate this fateful day 492 years ago.

Juan Ortega

Emperor Montezuma II

Museo Nacional del Arte, Mexico


Juan Ortego

Hernan Cortes, la Malinche and Bartolome de Las Casas

Museo Nacional del Arte, Mexico


Malinche, her true name being Doña Marina,was according to historian Mary Ellen Miller (author of The Art of Mesoamerica: from Olmec to Aztec) translator to Cortés, being fluent in the Maya tongue and Nahuatl, the Aztec language. It is interesting to note that Malinche, according to Miller was the mistress of Cortés and acted in sync with him. The Aztecs upon seeing this powerful woman believed her to be a wrathful goddess (214) .

Tenochtitlan, Entrance of Hernan Cortés.

Hernan Cortés and La Malinche meet Moctezuma II,

November 8 1519

1500-1600 AD

 University of California, Berkely

Our own capital is decorated with this encounter, apparently Contantino Brumidi, chief decorative artist, went to Mexico to study artifacts. The great Calendar Stone being very visible. I love the westernized idols.

Cortéz and Montezuma at the  Mexican Temple 

United States Capital, source  

The Meeting of Cortés and Montezuma

second half of 17th century

Jose Maria Obregon

Discovery of Pulche

detail of Montezuma II


 Museo Nacional del Arte, Mexico


What I find so thrilling about all of this is the contrasts, the lavish greens of quetzal feathers and jade, the dazzling turquoise which stands in sharp contrast to the red of spilt blood. Fascinating and appalling.

Feathered Headdress

Museum für Völkerkunde, Vienna 


Believed to be Montezuma’s headdress sent as a souvenir to Charles V.

Turquoise Serpent 

British Museum, London 

I am eager to revisit LACMA, an new exhibition Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World opened on the 6th and will close January 29th 2012. 

Whatever your opinion may be concerning the Conquest of New Spain , we as Westerners were certainly enriched by this fresh and perplexing new source of inspiration.

With that I close.

Take care,

Babylon Baroque