Monday, November 28, 2016

Cantigas de Santa Maria, 13th C

Alfonso X, El Sabio was King of Castile and Leon in the second half of the thirteenth century. The moniker arises from his progressive attitude towards education, law and particularly to the fostering of scientific knowledge. He established a translation school at Toledo which helped circulate knowledge from the Arab world about the Ptolemeic cosmogony and the philosophy of the ancients

His greatest direct legacy comes from the commissioning (and part authorship) of the 425 poems with accompanying musical script that constitutes the largest body of solo (monophonic) songs from medieval times. Written in the Castilian lyrical language of Galacian-Portuguese the hymns, which include some chanting, are extremely diverse in metrical composition and all of them either mention or directly praise the Virgin Mary.

Today the work is spread between four codex that were written and illuminated in the 14th and 15th centuries. Information about this great body of work is spread haphazardly around the internet and reflects a dearth of scholarship about the three areas of its excellence, art, music and literature, despite being popular with medievalist musicians and many recordings having been made. In fact, it was recently reported that Oxford University have established a centre devoted to studying the Cantigas.

All but one of the images here come from a Japanese website which appears to have the largest number of illustrations (from the E codex).

If you have even a passing interest in world +/- medieval music, I would recommend listening to some samples.
This amazon page has a few examples with a Moroccan orchestra, though I don't suppose that is the main reason one senses influence from the Arab world. All of the tunes (and all the lyrics) are available in midi format from this French website - but the samples sound like they were made with an electronic synthesizer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Military ABC Book, 19th C

'Armée Française : Nouvel Alphabet Militaire'
Text by Pierre Léon Vanier
Illustrations by Henri de Sta
This 1880s book - obviously aimed at young people - offers satirical portrayals of various branches and uniforms of the French military and each chromolithograph is accompanied by a page of descriptive text.

Letter 'A'

A is for Artillery

Letter 'B'

B is for Brigadier

Letter 'C'

C is for Cuirassier

Letter 'D'

D is for Dragoon
-...let the images grow at this time as the scroll passed my links on right hand side :)

Letter 'G'

G is for Gendarme

Letter 'J'

J is for Justice and Order

Letter 'K'

K is for Képi

Letter 'O' (courtesy BnF)

O is for Officer

Letter 'Q' (courtesy BnF)

Q is for Quartier Maitre (A marine)

Letter 'R'

R is for Reservist

Letter 'V'

V is for Vaguemestre (Military Postmaster)

Letter 'X'

X is for X. Polytechnicien 
[graduate of École polytechnique (aka: X), a higher ed facility near Paris]

Letter 'Y'

Y is for (?) Commander of supply lines (road or rail trains)

Letter 'Z'

Z is for Zouave

French illustrator Henri de Sta was born in Versailles as Arsène Henri Saint-Alary. He began his career around 1882 with La Vie Artistique and the publishing house of Léon Vanier. Coming from a family of militaries, garrison life became a regular theme in his career. De Sta worked as a humorous illustrator for Le Chat Noir since 1892. He was also present in Le Paris Bouffon (1885), Le Rire (1897) and Le Charivari (1900). He composed military alphabets, illustrated songs and produced comics for La Chronique Amusante from 1896, and for Les Contes Moraux et Merveilleux of the printing firm Pellerin d'Epinal."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Telleriano-Remensis codex, 17th C

The Codex Telleriano-Remensis, produced in sixteenth century Mexico and printed on European paper, is one of the finest surviving examples of Aztec manuscript painting. Its Latinized name comes from Charles-Maurice Le Tellier, archbishop of Reims, who had possession of the manuscript in the late 17th century. 

The Codex Telleriano-Remensis is divided into three sections. The first section, spanning the first seven pages, describes the 365-day solar calendar, called the xiuhpohualli. (link provided to the aztec calendar, well explained BUT in spanish)

The second section, spanning pages 8 to 24, is a tonalamatl, ("the art of counting days") describing the 260-day tonalpohualli calendar

The third section is a history, itself divided into two sections which differ stylistically. Pages 25 to 28 are an account of migrations during the 12th and 13th centuries, while the remaining pages of the codex record historical events, such as the ascensions and deaths of rulers, battles, earthquakes, and eclipses, from the 14th century to the 16th century, including events of early Colonial Mexico.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Aramco Handbook (20th C) Saudi Geological Maps

This geographical map of Saudi Arabia, from the surprisingly informative Aramco Handbook, could only have been done in the 1960s. The map colors owe more to the Sgt. Peppers cover or Glaser’s Dylan poster than to the efforts of National Geographic or the ETH. And the Handbook’s geological maps are even better, see below :)

The Arabian peninsula consists of two distinctly different geological regions. The western half of the peninsula (and extending into eastern Africa) is an ancient land mass or shield consisting of mostly igneous and metamorphic Precambrian rock. The eastern half of the peninsula is made up of mostly sedimentary limestone rock deposited in layers by expanding and receding ancient seas. These sedimentary layers were then gently folded by tectonic pressure from the east that resulted in the formation of the Zagros Mountains in Iran and Iraq.

The point of Saudi geology is, of course, oil. It is in these sedimentary folds (known by geologists as anticlines) that virtually all Saudi oil reserves are located. Ghawar field for example, rests on an anticline above a basement rock fault with an oil producing layer of late Jurassic Arab-D limestone about 280 feet thick and ~ 6,500 feet beneath the surface.

The Ghawar complex, at 174 × 16 miles (1.3 million acres) in size, is by far the largest conventional oil field in the world. Since its discovery in 1948 it has yielded more than 60 billion bbls. Currently it is estimated to produce 5 million bbl/day, which accounts for around 60% of the total Saudi output or more than 6% of the worlds output.

Sources for this post::

1. Aramco Handbook: Oil and the Middle East. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Arabian American Oil Company. 1968.

2. Petroleum Navigator at the DOE Energy Information Administration site.

Notes of interest, 

The actual output and reserves are unknown because Saudi Aramco, the nationalized oil company, does not release production data. It has, however, been suggested by outside sources that production at Ghawar peaked in 2005. 

The five largest sources of oil for the US are: the US itself (5.1 million bbl/day, 34%), Canada (2.4 mbbl), Mexico (1.5 mbbl), Saudi Arabia (1.4 mbbl), Venezuela (1.3 mbbl), and Nigeria (1.1 mbbl). So the Ghawar field alone accounts for around 4.6% of US oil requirements. 

For a complete list of US oil imports see the Petroleum Navigator at the DOE Energy Information Administration site.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Le costume historique, 19th C

France — Brittany.

Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.


Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.

Female costume of Normandy.

Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.

Female costume of Normandy.
Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.
    France, 19th century — traditional costumes from Nivernais, Dauphiné, former county of Nice, Mâconnais, Bresse and Bourbonnais.

Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.

    France, 19th century — traditional costumes from Nivernais, Dauphiné, former county of Nice, Mâconnais, Bresse and Bourbonnais.
    France, 18th-19th century — shawls.

Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.

    France, 18th-19th century — shawls.
    France, 18th century — Headdress and bodice. 

Auguste Racinet, from Le costume historique (The costume history) vol. 6, Paris, 1888.

    France, 18th century — Headdress and bodice.

    Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet's Le Costume Historique was the most wide-ranging and intelligent study of clothing ever published. Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through the end of the 19th century, the great work -- ""consolidated"" in 1888 into 6 volumes containing nearly 500 plates -- remains, to this day, completely unique in its scope and detail. 

    Racinet's organization by culture and subject has been preserved in TASCHEN's magnificent and complete reprint, as have excerpts from his delightful descriptions and often witty comments. Perusing these beautifully detailed and exquisitely colored illustrations, you'll discover everything from the garb of ancient Etruscans to traditional Eskimo attire to 19th century French women's couture. Though Racinet's study spans the globe from ancient times through his own,

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016

    Tabulae Anatomicae, Casserius 16th C.

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image

    Here is a copperplate engraving from De formato foetu liber singularis, commissioned by the Paduan anatomist Casserius. It shows a classic renaissance Venus filleted lotus-like to reveal her child. The plate, as well as some 95 others, represent the high point of Paudan/Venetian anatomical illustration and were published in three separate titles after Casserius’ untimely death. 

    Julius Casserius (AKA Giulio Caeesrio, Giulius Casseri, or Casserii Placentini) was born ca.1556 or ca.1561 in Piancenza, Italy. Casserius’ father died when he was young and, being nearly destitute, he entered the houshold of the noted Paduan Anatomist, Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente (AKA Fabricus). After showing extraordinary initiative, the master took it on himself to teach Casserius anatomy. Casserius went from family servant to auditor to surgical disciple.

    Casserius enrolled in the Università Artista and studied under both Fabricus and Gerolamo Mercuriale (Mercurialis). After his graduation, ca.1580, he acted as Fabricus’ preprator, university surgical examiner, as well as a physician and surgeon.

    But there would soon be trouble in Padua. In 1595 Casserius became a substitute for Fabricus and his lectures were a bit too enthusiastically received for Fabricus’ taste. The old master, enraged with jealousy, banned Casserius from giving private lectures through an old statutory rule. According to the records it would be nearly eight years until Casserius lectured again.

    During this time Casserius began to publish his first works on anatomy: De vocis auditusque organis Historia anatomica was published in 1601 and Pentaestheion in 1609. After these books he began writing the text and compiling the drawings for a comprehensive atlas of anatomy.

    Back to the rivalry: In 1613, after 50 years of public lectureship, Fabricus was permitted to scale back his teaching, and his replacement, against his wishes was, of course, Casserius. In 1616 Casserius began his first and only public anatomy lecture. Shortly after the three week course he caught a fever and died on 8 Mar 1613. His master and nemesis, Fabricus, would survive him by three years.

    After Casserius’ death his commissioned plates, via his heirs, ended up with Adriaan van der Spieghel (Spigelius), who had succeeded both Casserius and Fabricus as professor of Anatomy and Surgery. Spigelius intended to use the plates in his own anatomy atlas, but died an untimely death in 1625.

    Here is where all the bibliographic fun begins. After Spigelius’ death, his son in law, Liberale Crema, edited one of his manuscripts and illustrated it with nine of Casserius’ plates. The book, De formato foetu liber singularis, published in 1626, was perhaps the first OB-Gyn classic. A year later, Jan Rindfleisch (AKA Bucretius) edited Spigelus’ unfinished altas and illustrated it with Casserius’ plates. In 1627 he also published 95 of the plates with his own annotations, as Tabulae Anatomicae. Some time later the Tabulae and De formato foetu were published as a single volume.

    Here are some plates that appeared in both Spigelius’ Fabrica and Casserius’Tabulae:

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for and insanely large image

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image

    Since Vesalius’ de Fabrica, the Paduan anatomists relied on the artists of Venice and Casserius was no exception. His plates were drawn by the Venetian painter and print-maker Odoardo Fialetti (AKA Edoardus Fialettus), who studied under Tintoretto, and the engravings were prepared by Francesco Valesio (Franciscus Vallesius).

    If Vesalius’ illustrations were the model for the woodblock then Casserius’ illustrations were the model for copperplate. It would be nearly 80 years before better anatomical illustrations were published and Casserius’ work would be plagiarized well into the 18th century.

    Here are few more plates from De formato foetu:

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image 

    Tabulae Anatomicae, click for larger image

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

    Venetie, 15th C.

    Virtually nothing is known about the early life of Jacopo de’ Barbari. He may have been born as early as 1450 or as late as 1470, probably in Venice but possibly in Nuremburg. He may have studied under the Italian painter Alvise Vivarini, or maybe not. The first thing we know for certain is that he met Albrecht Dürer during Dürer’s Wanderjahre in 1495.

    Not much more is known about Anton Kolb. He was a merchant from Nuremburg who ended up in Venice as a member of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (Guild of German Merchants), where, according to later records, he was trying to sell Latin copies of Schedel’s Weltchronik.

    Sometime around 1497 Kolb approached Barbari with a proposal to prepare a large-scale bird’s-eye view of Venice. The result – the Venetie M.D. or Pianta di Venezia or Plan of Venice – simply had no precedent in the history of cartography or printmaking. It was also, somewhat suprisingly, Barbari’s first attributed work.

    Venetie detail, click for larger image

    Kolb never stated exactly how Barbari composed the view, but as Juergen Schultz points out in his classic analysis, it must have been prepared from dozens, perhaps hundreds of bell tower sightings:

    “... Jacapo’s view is neither a giant landscape drawing made in the field, nor a carefully compiled, foreshortened plan, it can only be a studio fabrication. It must have been assembled mosaic-fashion at the drawing table from a myriad of small view details made from heights throughout the city.” 2

    The final plan, which took Barbari at least two years to complete, shows the city from a vantage point somewhere above San Giorgio Maggiore. It sweeps outward and upward in a great curve to the horizon – a perspective that was designed to be best viewed horizontally, perhaps unrolled across a great table.

    Every step in the map’s production was unprecedented. Kolb obtained six of the largest (as large as 684 × 1000 mm) fine-grained woodblocks ever prepared. Barbari traced his plan on them and they were then cut by master engravers in Venice or Nuremburg. The final printing required six sheets of specially commissioned paper twice the size of an imperial folio, then the largest sheets produced by any Venetian paper maker. The result was a monstrous 1.3 × 2.8 m (or nearly 13 ft2) map. Kolb’s capital outlay for the project must have been enormous.

    Kolb stated that he was issuing his map “principally for the fama (glory) of this illustrious city of Venice” and in Oct 1500 he appealed to the Venetian government for a copyright as well as the right to recoup his costs by selling the print for the shocking price of three ducats.3 The Collegio must have known the nature of the map well in advance; although it wasn’t cartographically rigorous by modern standards, it was still accurate enough to aid an invading army. Perhaps out of civic pride – after all the city was at the height of it’s imperial power – they gave him a four-year copyright and a tax-free export license:

    Collegio register, 1500, click for larger image
    College. Notatorio, register 15, c. 28r. 30 Oct 1500.

    Although Barberi played fast-and-loose with cartographic conventions like perspective and scale he, nevertheless, included an amount of detail that would literally take years of close reading to fully appreciate. He included several hundred place names, several thousand buildings and, as one commenter wrote, tens of thousands of windows and chimney pots. As the major sea power of the day he, of course, included every imaginable type of Venetian ship – from the ever-present gondolas to the Doge’s 1462 Bucintoro. He even went so far as to include – perhaps as a cautionary tale – the former Senate Secretary Antonio Landi, hanging by his neck in Canal de San Secondo. It was a stunning achievement and the largest woodblock image for more than a century.

    Venetie detail, click for larger image
    Detail, St. Mark’s Square
    Venetie detail, click for larger image
    Detail, Rialto Bridge
    Venetie detail, click for larger image
    Close detail, Santa Maria dei Frari Monastary
    Venetie detail, click for larger image
    Close detail, Ghetto Nuvo (the Jewish Ghetto)
    Venetie detail, click for larger image
    Detail, Murano

    By the time the plan was offered for sale in the autumn of 1500 Barbari had already moved to Nuremburg to work as a portrait painter and miniaturist for Emperor Maximillian I. In 1503 he was reported in Wittenburg working for the Great Duke Frederick of Saxony. In 1504 he again met Dürer where they apparently discussed drawing human proportion. By Mar of 1510 he was in the employ of Archduchess Margaret in Brussels. In Jan 1511 he became ill and in Mar of the same year, the Archduchess gave him a pension for life on account of his age and weakness. He died sometime around 1516.

    The plan was reprinted, with minor corrections and updates in 1514 (the example presented here) and again in the late 16th century.

    Venetie detail, click for larger image
    Detail, NE wind putti. The bearded figure may be Barbari’s self-portrait

    1. Unless otherwise noted, all the images here are from the ca.1514 second-state copy at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (online).

    2. Schulz, Juergen. Jacopo de’ Barbari’s View of Venice: Map Making, City Views, and Moralized Geography before the Year 1500. The Art Bulletin. 1978 Sep; 60(3): 425–474 (Jstor). For another analysis see: Howard, Deborah. Venice as a Dolphin: Further Investigations into Jacopo de’ Barbari’s View. Artibus et Historiae. 1997 18(35): 101–111 (Jstor).

    3. The orignal woodblocks (as well as three of the first-state maps) are now in the collection of the Museo Correr. They were last used to print sheets of the plan in the 1830s.