Friday, August 4, 2017

Travel Sketch. . . Trogir Putto

I sketched this cheeky putto in Trogir (croatia), in the chapel of the Blessed Giovanni Orsini (by Donatello pupil Fioren) in the very beautiful St. Lawrence Cathedral, and I remembered him this past week when Hamish Bowles' Instagram account featured photos of that same chapel. You know? That frisson of "Hey, I was there!"
Here's my photo of the actual sculpture, along with several of this little fellow's putti neighbours.
Note that the little pisser (sorry, I just couldn't resist) is the only one with a robe to lift. . . Quite honestly, I have to say that I'm increasingly uncomfortable with some of the putti I've seen. Beautiful sculptures, no question, and while their wings and their presence in churches might seem to establish them as heavenly, as angels in training even, a bit of research makes it clear that their origins are secular rather than sacred. Putti are quite different than cherubs, and very often their poses and facial expressions are undeniably erotic. Disturbingly so, for me. . . .

 I do think it's worth questioning, occasionally, what the "male "gaze" has gotten away with proclaiming as Art over the ages, as if Art is above interrogation for its more mundane desires (and I owe so much to John Berger's Ways of Seeing for broadening my perspective here, and to Laura Mulvey as well).  But perhaps that's enough of that for what started out as a short travel posts. . . .  There's no question that the chapel is beautiful in its proportions, symmetry, light, materials as well as for its story-telling, iconography, and its sheer entertainment value.

 And honestly, I need the trip back to remembered beauty today, because Vancouver is currently shrouded in smoke. The grey skies at 6 this morning evoked memories of rain, but there is none in the forecast for the week ahead, so not only will there be nothing to bring this particulate to the ground and wash it away, but the continued high temperatures across the province mean more wildfires breaking out, and more smoke. It's all rather apocalyptic.

So beautiful sculptures in glorious spaces with wonderful light streaming through? Just the ticket.

Also hoping to catch up with a Redheaded Four and her sweet brother after their vacation. It's been three weeks since we've seen them, so there will be cuddles galore!

What about you? Are you appreciating the rain you have or wishing for some or begging it to go away? And what about those cheeky Putti? Any thoughts? Or is that just a can of worms we oughtn't to open?


19 comments:

  1. I must say that putti always seem to be a kind of riddle to me- often "playing" cherubs,usually with something mischievous in them
    ,little guys,as with a lot of erotics art,"smuggled" in churches and puritan religion
    And than there is also the Eros/Amor Greek/Roman origin....
    Yes,they offer a lot of questions...
    I love how your sketches add the new dimension to your travel memories
    Sorry for the weather and fires-it is 8 AM and 28°C already (going to 36-39)
    Dottoressa

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    1. Yes, the line is thin, in places between the older ("pagan") religions and Christian churches, most particularly Catholic/Orthodox ones that have strategically incorporated elements of what came first. . .
      So warm where you are! Hope you're getting some cooling breezes by the sea.

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  2. I lay in bed listening to the news about weather in Europe - the Lucifer heatwave that is sweeping southern Europe - and got up to find that we have a sunny day in the offing here after days that have been a mix of rain and cooler weather. The jasmine is blooming and fragrant, loving this state of affairs. I intend to make the most of the sunny intervals today and hope that others aren't suffering from forest fires and 40 degree plus temperatures. Putti? Not so much. My preferred church architecture is plain and simple. But I am sure they hark back to much more pagan times.

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    1. Yes, make the most of those sunny intervals, knowing that they might be limited. I'm not really able to relax and enjoy our sunshine anymore, with the entire province (an area much bigger than the UK and Ireland, bigger than California, in fact, as this website shows:http://www.bcrobyn.com/2012/12/how-big-is-british-columbia/) on high alert, a smoke cover across pretty much the whole thing. . . And yes, there's no question that putti predate Christianity, but the interest in eroticised toddlers not so much, sadly. . .

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  3. What is disturbing, of course, is the extent to which pedophilia has been covered up in the Church. In Carlo Levi's Il Cristo si è fermato a Eboli, the priest in the forlorn southern village where Levi was in internal exile as an antifascist had been a prominent prelate-intellectual in Naples, in exile himself for his unseemly behaviour...

    Sadly that has been a practice in many places; in Canada some such disgraced clerics were sent to the Far North. Nuff said.

    I like this chapel; while elaborate, it has a playful delicacy.

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    1. Yes, this is it, this is what disturbs. . . My sister is very involved in an organisation (SNAP) that works to support survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, she being one herself, so my "spidey sense" is on the alert around this issue. That said, the chapel is exactly as you say: elaborate yet somehow whimsically delicate.

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  4. Dottoressa...do not know how else to reach you. Just want you to know you have my sympathy for living through that dreadful heat. Please...colder weather soon for you.
    Have been at the World Championships today in London. There was a Croatian athlete. Just one, but she made me think of you.
    A in London

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    1. Thank you,A
      High summer temp for a while is something we tolerate and are used to,but so high,for so long, could be very exhausting and it is not usual for summers in Zagreb
      I actually love summer,summer dresses,sitting outside,having open air concerts,swimming in the mild sea water...but where are all those 25°C or something temperatures gone?
      D.

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    3. And I forgot about athletes:we have two wonderful girls,Sandra Perkovic-disc-(she even lives in my part of town) and young Sara Kolak(you've seen her,I think)
      Perfect athletes and minds usually strong as steel
      Fingers crossed :-)
      Enjoy the World Ch
      D

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  5. Art historian here: I think you would find illuminating Leo Steinberg's, _The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion_. He was a superb art historian, deeply read in Christian theology, and a wonderful writer. He has some profound insights about the function of erotic motifs in Renaissance art, as consciously adopted to convey the mystery and meaning of the incarnation. Unfortunately, the legitimate theological potential of erotic motifs in Christian art has been irreparably compromised since the exposure of the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic church. -- Dianne

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    1. Okay, this is really what I've been looking for, and I'm going to see if I can find this book. I'd tried a bit of fast-and-dirty Google research, but I'm missing the university access I used to have to scholarly databases. Crowd-sourcing for the win!! And your last sentence says it all, very elegantly, economically.

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  6. Much of religion has survived, thrived even, by incorporating the secular. I find putti interesting, but how we see them and what they mean has changed so much over time. I suspect most of us don't really know the origins, or how far we've strayed from that foundation, for much of what we hold dear. Not a reason to stop questioning, nor a reason to completely judge the past based on the present either. I'm not trying to lecture, perhaps my thoughts are just wandering down their own corridors. What is lost? What is gained?

    Your photos of this chapel are gorgeous and I thank you for the privilege of seeing through your lens.

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    1. Yes! The (Catholic) Church has been spectacularly good at this kind of incorporation of the secular -- I remember how forcefully this came home to me, for some reason, while watching The Milagro Beanfield War years ago.

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  7. Frances,I don't know why all of my comments lately are doubled (I'm commenting from the mobile phoneand am sure that I press publish only once)
    Please,if you were first to see it,delete one
    Thanks
    D

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  9. Extremely interesting post. I will search out these books in Edinburgh University library to educate myself a bit in this unfamiliar area - all retired staff get borrowing rights and access to the online catalogue, although I think journal access may be restricted. Twirly church architecture is more than my Scottish Protestant sensibilities can cope with. I see that it's beautiful and awesome, but I don't feel it in my heart. Give me bare stone, sunlight slanting onto a vase of wild flowers on a plain wood altar and I feel the mystery of life and the unseen.
    As for rain? Far too much of it here, although it is a relief to be able to sleep at night, something that was in short supply in Bordeaux's 30+ C temperatures. Our huge raspberry harvest is at its peak, and many berries are rotting on the canes before we can get to them in the next dry spell. But I would rather have the rain than drought and crushing heat. Thinking of Canadians we know in the BC interior - we spent 3 weeks house exchanging in Rossland and New Denver, with forest fires all around for 2 weeks. The orange sky...
    Since I am catching up on your back posts, just to say how heart sorry I am about your nephew's diagnosis. I have failed to negotiate the donations site in sterling, so will make a donation to Cancer Research UK to support the ongoing fight.

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  10. My protestant background makes me tend towards the pure and simple, so I can relate to Linda’s image above. Although, given my general distance to religions of all kinds, I do not make a spiritual difference between the simple and the ornate. And even though there may not be anything explicitly sexual in the decoration of a protestant church, there certainly are hints in that direction in the lyrics of some hymns and songs.
    There have been cases of child abuse in protestant institutions (choirs, schools) as well as in secular ones. Wherever there exists the possibility of exercising uncontrolled power, it will be abused eventually.

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  11. Poor British Columbia has been very much on our minds here in Seattle, where the air has been vile for days, the evening sun an apocalyptic red, and the moon disturbingly orange.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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