Archive for the Apollo Category

Ghoulish Greetings II

Posted in Apollo, Death & the Maiden, Halloween, Meso-american art, Xipe Totec with tags on October 30, 2011 by babylonbaroque

This is my second attempt at this post, the first having mysteriously disappeared, spooky.

 In my ongoing effort to better appreciate the elusive qualities of Mesoamerican art, the Better Half aand I spent our friday date night exploring the galleries of Ancient American art at LACMA. It really is a wonderful gallery, very broad in its scope, a true treasure trove. But amongst the calligraphic beauty of gracefully decorated Mayan ceramics and the beguiling jadeite baubles, there are many ghoulish artifacts of a culture long lost.

Mosaic Skull

Western Oaxaco or Puebla


human skull with inlaid turquoise, jadeite and shell


 Mexico is of course well known for its ornamental use of skulls ; living in LA, particularly this time of year, it is difficult to avoid their toothy grins. But as I explore Mesoamerican art more thoughtfully I am better understanding the cultural significance of these ghoulish delights. What I had initially dismissed as a taste for the macabre now holds greater significance; renewal of life lies at the heart of this obsession with death.

Given the season, I thought a little sampling of our recent visit was in order.

The following shell pendant is quite a delight, very small and of obvious appeal to modern taste.

Skull Pendant

Mexico, Aztec

1350- 1520



This ceramic censor has similar appeal.

Skull Shaped Censor





 I’m afraid the following hasn’t any charm at all, in fact it is quite terrifying.

It is an image fashioned of basalt in which a priest is garbed in the flayed flesh of a sacrificial victim. This costume, part of a spring equinox ritual, in which the priest is dressed as the god Xipe Totec, Our Lord of the Flayed One. The celebrant will wear this horrifying ensemble for 21 days, at which time, the flesh rotting off his body, he will emerge reborn.


But as my professor wisely pointed out, flaying seems to be a universal vice, one need to look no further then Apollo and Marsyas.

With that point made, I quickly fell off my Eurocentric high-horse.

A play upon Death and the Maiden, the beloved posing for scale and for cuteness.

Male Figure in Guise of Xipe Totec

 Mexico, Aztec




A western version of a similar image, equally ghoulish, but from my perspective more poetic.

Bartolomeo Manfredi

Apollo and Marsyas


oil on canvas

Saint Louis Art Museum

With that, I will close this post, i must rush off to the gym to fend off Death and renew this aging bag of bones.

Have quite a Happy Halloween!

Take care,

Babylon Baroque


Sebastian and Lucrezia, the wonders of Dosso Dossi

Posted in 16th cent, Apollo, Borgias, Dosso Dossi, Feast of the Epiphany, Vasari on April 13, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Lucrezia Borgia and Saint Sebastian may seem odd studio mates, but in the hands of master Dosso Dossi they are given equal opportunity to blossom into full beauty.

Dosso Dossi, 1490-1542, trained as a youth in the Roman workshop of Raphael was a master colorist. His mysterious allegories wrought in oil dazzle the eye, as do his touching and often sensual images of blessed saints.

Saint Sebastian


If you have been following the  mini-series The Borgias as I have, you might be interested in what the real Lucrezia is to have looked like, at least as painted by Dosso Dossi. This painting known as the Portrait of a Youth is now the only confirmed image of the siren.

Portrait of a Youth


National Gallery of Victoria

(Lucrezia seems a bit hotter on Showtime.)

Cesare might also have posed for Dosso Dossi,

Portrait of a Man

(possibly Cesare Borgia)

Dosso Dossi had a lush sense of coloring, unexpected bursts of visual pleasure. The Epiphany theme is always ripe for splendor, Dosso Dossi adds extra sparkle to the gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Just look at that pink, that green, wondrous.

Adoration of the Magi


National Gallery


I first saw  the work of Dosso Dossi here in LA at the Getty Center.

Saint George


oil on panel

The J. Paul Getty Museum


From Sacred to Pagan,



In Dosso Dossi’s hand even the aged ascetic Saint Jerome seems hot.

Saint Jerome

undated-16th cent.


As I am now engaged in an excellent course examining  the Renaissance, and at last reading Vasari’s Lives of the Artists ,

you might be subjected to more and more work by Renaissance masters.

Have a pleasant week,

Babylon Baroque


Yuletide Greetings, pining for Apollo

Posted in Apollo, Francois Boucher, Nicholas Poussin, Thor, Tiepolo, YuleGoats!! on December 20, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As the 21st is the Winter Solstice which is to occur 6:38 pm EST, I thought a post ostensibly about the sun appropriate.

Appropriate as Los Angeles is being flooded by rains, the sun so very far away.

Appropriate as I can unearth some images of dear Apollo; my readership seems to spike when I offer  images of male pulchritude.

Apollo and the Continents

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo


The Feast of Saturnalia, traditionally  celebrated on the 17th of December, is part of a long tradition of deep winter festivities.


Antoine-François Callet

18th century

Musée de Louvre

The Roman feast devoted to Sol Invictus, a collective of sun deities, was held on the 25th of December providing a happy “bait and switch” for the early Church.


The image of halos behind  Christian saints stems from the solar rays of Sol Invictus.

The winter solstice has provided  many an excuse worldwide to celebrate;  the winter festivities of  Yule  a colorful example.

I have only just begun to understand the symbolism of the Yule tradition, but the Yule goat, familiar to any IKEA shopper this time of year stems from this winter celebration.

Santa and the Yule Goat

As I am  mad for goats, I was interested to know that the Yule Goat tradition stems from the pair of goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr who were responsible for dragging the god Thor about town.

Thor’s battle with the Ertins


Mårten Eskil Winge

As much as I adore Norse mythology,

the images are often quite chaste, ; given the cold dreariness of LA right now, I desired sensual warmth.

Hence Apollo, gotta love the Greeks.

Apollo, Poetry, & Music

Aimé Millet


Palais Garnier ,Paris


Apollo and Diana


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Apollo and Daphne

Dosso Dossi


Museo e Galleria Borghese

(That green is incredible.)

Apollo e la Sibillia Cumana

17th cent.

Giovanni Domenico Cerrini


Apollo and Two Muses


Pompeo Batoni


Apollo and Daphne


Nicolas Poussin

Apollo Revealing His Divinity to the Shepherdess Isse


Francois Boucher

I appreciate your indulgence.

I send Yuletide greetings, wishing you and your kin great happiness,

Just one more really delightful goat clip, too silly, too sweet.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque