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San Francisco, California, United States

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Paper Museum

Corals, Stones, Minerals, Fossils

Gems, Stones, Amulets

Fruits, Seeds, Legumes

Italian scholar Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657) began to assemble his famous Museo Cartaceo ("paper museum") in Rome about 1615, after his appointment as secretary to Cardinal Francesco Barberini. Nicolas Poussin, among many others, found a reliable patron in Cardinal Barberini's secretary and personally made use of the paper museum as a source for antique models for his own painting practice. Fifty years after Cassiano's death the collections were purchased from his heirs by Pope Clement XI. Fifty years after that, agents for King George III managed to buy the larger part of the paper museum from Clement's heirs. These sheets of painted specimens entered the Royal Collection by that sinuous route, about a century and a half after Cassiano dal Pozzo commissioned and assembled them in Rome.

White Stork




Venice Pea


Deformed Broccoli

Deformed Melon

Digitated Lemon

Baroque taste set a high value on natural wonders, including oddities and deformities. One text of the time remarked that " . . . while we are horrified by monstrosities in human beings, we love them in fruit . . ."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Paulus Bril

A dozen different artists painted a dozen different subject in a dozen different places during the course of the seventeenth century (but none in Italy, not in this group) and they all ended up in England as part of the Royal Collection, although they arrived there by a dozen different paths.

Rembrandt van Rijn
Shipbuilder and Wife

Anthony Van Dyck
Cupid and Psyche

Eustache Le Sueur
Caligula Depositing the Ashes of his Mother and Brother

Aelbert Cuyp

Pieter de Hooch
Card Players

Gonzales Coques
Family of Jan-Baptista Anthoine

David Teniers
Shepherd & Flock 

Philippe Vignon
Louise de Kerouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth

Melchoir de Hondecoeter
Johann Ortt

French school
Duc de Villars

Johann Rottenhammer
Adoration of the Magi

Monday, September 29, 2014


Studio of Marco Ricci
Lord Halifax's Cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens
c. 1715

Thomas Gainsborough
Diana and Acteon

John Vanderbank
George I

Johan Zoffany
Princess Charlotte and Prince Willliam
c. 1770

Benjamin  West
Children of George III

Buckingham Palace
Picture Gallery 

George Dawe
Chalrotte, Empress of Russia
c. 1821

David Wilkie
Defense of Saragossa

Buckingham Palace
Prince Albert's Swiss Cottage in the Gardens

William Wyld
Manchester from Kersal Moor

To me, the Manchester landscape of 1852 (above) is the single most enthralling object in this group of Georgian and Victorian canvases from the Royal Collection. Queen Victoria personally commissioned this view of Manchester with its innumerable factory smokestacks, primal source of modern air pollution. In the 19th century, such mechanical progress could apparently still be viewed with happy innocence from the perspective of a convenient green hilltop.

Sir Edwin Landseer
Queen Victoria in Ball Costume

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pizza Eating

For  Saturday lunch Mabel wore the necklace she had just finished making with Grandma. First she ventured across the street with me to a by-the-slice pizza place where we picked out three different slices for three different people and carried them back across the street to the apartment in a pizza box. Then we unpacked the warm slices onto plates and sat down at the table for our splendid meal. Mabel likes pizza.

Eating did not slow down the complicated mealtime conversation. Mabel has strong viewpoints on every subject and the eloquence to make her viewpoints known. But there would be a pause now and then in the flow of opinion to allow for another excellent bite.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Playing with Grandma

Grandma and Mabel played a pretend money game for a long time. The rules remained mysterious to Grandma, but Mabel understood. Another mutual project involved fancy scissor-work, trimming away the backgrounds on multiple copies of Daddy's school-portraits to stockpile for future collages. But the longest-lasting and most absorbing activity of all was bead-stringing.

They worked on a necklace together and hung it around Mabel's neck. After that, Mabel starting picking out white beads to make an all-white bead necklace for Grandpa, who had not earned it but was grateful to receive it.