Then rain is still falling and we chose to go to Pompidou Center, located just around the corner. Pompidou Center has a very unique look. Its pipes are exposed with strong colors and the external stairway located inside a transparent tunnel – Only in Paris you can see such beautiful ugliness. Climbing the transparent tunnel is an uplifting experience, reaching the top; we discovered a lovely view point over the rainy city of Paris. The glass is full with raindrops, and through it, the city looks like a picturesque sight. Downstairs, outside, colorful umbrellas fill the floor just like flowers.
We entered the museum and watched an exhibition of the artist 'Jean-Michel Othoniel', which magically creates realistic views reflected through colorful glass balls. The rain stopped. We went outside to the yard, watching an artist producing giant soap bubbles. A bunch of kids were jumping around him, trying to blow the bubbles. The soap bubbles remind us of the glass balls we saw in the exhibition, and we continue to the Stravinsky Fountain, with its colorful kinetic sculptures. We went around the fountain, wondering what to do next.
The Nature History Museum - So much to see ,So little time:
Duration: 3-4 hours or the whole day.
Weather: Rainy day only.
Open every day 10.00-17.50. Free.
Tips: watch out when it's hot. There is no air-con and it can be quite hot. If there's a massive queue at the front, there is a side entrance too!!! Use the side entrance to get in as the queues are much shorter. The picnic area downstairs is an oasis of peace, and has a cheap snack bar too, but it closes in the afternoon. Arrive early if you can, and if you can avoid weekends and school holidays ! The food is a bit overpriced - so get a packed lunch with you.
Don't miss the NHM , it's a museum for all ages. To feed the boy within you - you'll need 6-8 hours ! A good day out. The Museum is gigantic so make sure you wear comfy shoes! It's a lot of walking! Some of the exhibitions have been there during the last 40 years... If your visiting London especially with children pay this place a visit. Its free and there are some amazing things to see for all the family. Easy to find and on good transport links. Diverse array of scientific artifacts housed in a beautiful neo-Gothic museum. The museum in divided into four colored zones which help plan your visit. Five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology. Don't miss the Darwin Centre with Cocoon and collection of tens of millions of preserved specimens.
The building itself is spectacular:
Inside it may be a vast space but every inch is beautifully decorated. The architecture and styling that went into its construction is hard to match. Even the smallest details were intricate and beautiful. Spend your time looking at the details. The majesty of the main hall is always stunning and really is like stepping back in time:
You simply can't visit the museum and not see the dinosaur exhibit!
Who can fail to be amazed by the sight of the massive whale in the mammals area:
Go back in time and discover the stories that fossils can reveal:
Charles Darwin transformed the way we understand the natural world with his revolutionary ideas:
At the very top of the Central Hall you'll find a section of the trunk of the enormous giant sequoia tree. These trees are the biggest living things and the exhibit gives you an idea of how huge they are:
Part 2: Belém - Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), Museu Nacional dos Coches (Carriages museum). Other attractions of Belém - see Part 1:
Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) - located along the Praça do Império (Empire Square), across from the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries), it was originally built to support pilgrims who travelled in the region by Henry the Navigator; expanded and elaborated from 1501 by architects for King Manuel I of Portugal to serve as a resting-place for members of the House of Aviz; and as a church for seafearing adventurers who embarked during the Age of Discovery, after Vasco da Gama's successful voyage to India. Construction was funded by a tax on eastern spices, and over time came to represent Portuguese historical discoveries, becoming over time a national monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site (from 1983), housing (in addition to the religious art and furniture from its past) artefacts and exhibitions like the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia (National Archaeological Museum) and the Museu da Marinha (Maritime Museum) within its walls. The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. This majestic monastery is a great showcase of Portugal’s splendor during the age of discoveries. Built in 1502 in the late Gothic style Portuguese-exclusive “Manueline” style.
In 1496, King Manuel I (1495–1521) asked the pope for permission to build a great monastery in thanks to the Virgin Mary for Vasco de Gama's successful voyage to India. The request was granted and construction began on the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos on January 6, 1501. The project was funded by treasures from explorations in Africa, Asia, and South America, as well as a stiff tax on the Portuguese-controlled spice trade with Africa and the East. The king hired French architect Diogo de Boitaca (1460-1528; master of the pioneering Igreja de Jesus in Setúbal), who was later succeeded by João de Castilho (1475-1552) of Spain, Diogo de Torralva (c.1500-1566), and Jerónimo de Ruão (1530-1601). The site Manuel chose for the new monastery was on the banks of the Tagus river, replacing a small chapel dedicated to St. Mary of Belém by Henry the Navigator. King Manuel I named his new foundation the Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Belém and invited the Order of St. Jerome (Hieronymites, or dos Jerónimos) to occupy it. The powerful Hieronymites were known for their contemplative spirituality and productive intellectual output; they also shared the king's political views. The Hieronymites monk were expected to celebrate daily mass for the souls of Prince Henry the Navigator, King Manuel I and his successors in perpetuity, in addition to hearing confessions and providing spiritual counsel to seamen and navigators who sailed from Belém. As for the monastery, it would be not only a thank-offering to the Virgin Mary but a lasting monument to the Age of Discovery and the mausoleum of King Manuel I and his successors. The project was completed around 1600, by which time Renaissance and Baroque elements were incorporated into the design. The 1755 earthquake damaged the monastery but thankfully did not destroy it. Many restoration projects have been undertaken since then, some executed better than others. The Hieronymites occupied the monastery for 400 years until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1833, when the building became state property. It was used as a college for the Casa Pia of Lisbon (a children's charity) until around 1940.
it is in my opinion one of the most wonderful structures in Portugal. Here, Vasco da Gama spent his late night in prayer before his successful journey to India. Vasco de Gama’s tomb is at the front entrance and so is the tomb or a famous Portuguese poet, Luis de Camoes. The stone works inside the monastery and the (Santa Maria de Belem) church are incredible. It's amazing to think how many stone masons must have been engaged. The beauty of this couple of sites is magnificent. Pictures don't do it justice. You must see it in person. The internal court of the monastery is very beautiful with its delicate carving on the columns and the refectory excels with pictures on the tiles of the wall. You can spend, easily, about 2-3 hours wandering around their grounds. Queue is very long in the late morning hours ! This itinerary is planned that you'll hit the monastery around 14.00-15.30/16.00. After 10.00 the site is flooded with tourist coaches. Keep in mind that groups have priority in entrance over individuals or families. After 10.00 expect to queue-up, at least, one hour...
Opening hours: October to May From 10.00 to 17.30 (last admission at 17.00), May to September From 10.00 to 18.30 (last admission at 18.00). Closed: Mondays and 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December. Individual ticket: €10, seniors: €5.
■Descobertas: Jerónimos Monastery /Tower of Belém: €12
■Jeronimos: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos + Museu Nacional de Arqueologia: 12 €
■Praça do Império: Jerónimos Monastery +Tower of Belém + Museu Nacional de Arqueologia: €16
■ Cais da História: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos + Torre de Belém + Museu Naciona de Arqueologia + Museu de Arte Popular + Museu Nacional de Etnologia + Museu dos Coches: 25 €
■Visitors aged 65 and older (proof of age must be shown): 50% discount
■Family ticket: 4 members or more (parents + kids): 50% discount
■"Youth Card": 50% discount
■Student Card: 50% discount
■1st Sunday each month.
■Children up to the age of 12
■Members of APOM/ICOM and ICOMOS,
■Researchers, journalists, tour guides and other tourist information professionals when visiting for Professional reasons and duly identified (the visit must be booked in advance)
■Teachers and students of any education level in the context of study visits, provided they are booked in advance and there is documental proof of their status (personal letter) and the context of the visit (a document issued by the respective education institution)
■Members of the "Friends of the Monuments" and "Friends of the Castles" associations
■DGPC employees, duly identified
■Holders of the pre-purchased Lisboa Card (purchased online via www.askmelisboa.com or at ATL tourist information offices).
External entrance: The main entrance to the monastic church is the south portal, designed by João de Castilho. Occupying the central pillar is a statue of Henry the Navigator. Inside, fragile-looking pillars covered with sculpture support a complex web of lierne vaulting over three aisles. Much of the artwork depicts scenes of St. Jerome, translator of the Vulgate and patron of the Hieronymite order:
Monastery of Jeronimos - internal court / Cloister: Essentially serving the purpose of isolation for the monastic community, the Cloister was an agreeable and serene place for prayer, meditation and leisure for the monks of the Hieronymite Order. Designed by Diogo de Boitaca, who commenced the work in the early 16th century, it was continued by João de Castilho from 1517 onwards and completed by Diogo de Torralva in 1540-1541. Due to its significance and symbolism, the Cloister is today one of the most important examples of Manueline architecture. With two storeys, vaulted ceilings and quadrangular layout, its decoration showcases the originality of this style by combining religious symbols (images from the Passion, amongst others), royal imagery (the Cross of the Order of Christ, the armillary sphere, the royal coat of arms) and naturalist elements (ropes and plant-inspired motifs that cohabit with late Mediaeval imagery of fantastic animals). In the north wing of the lower cloister is the tomb of Fernando Pessoa, created by Lagoa Henriques in 1985:
Monastery of Jeronimos - Refectory. The refectory was built in 1517/18 by Leonardo Vaz and his team of master builders. With its multi-ribbed and low vaulted ceiling it exemplifies the most widespread taste of the Manueline period Below the thick stone ropes, the walls are covered with azulejo tile panels dating from 1780-1785. The panels depict the Miracle of the Bread and Fish in the New Testament (north end) and scenes from the life of Joseph in Egypt from the Old Testament (side walls).
On the wall facing the windows there was a small wooden pulpit for the reading of the Holy Scripture and from the Lives of the Saints during meals. On the north side is a 17th century painting representing St. Jerome, which is attributed to the court painter Avelar Rebelo. At the southern end, over the heating chimney, one can see an oil mural, "Adoration of the Shepherds", attributed to António Campelo (late 16th century), which was restored in 1992.
The view of the inside of Santa Maria de Belem church - from 2nd floor accessed from Monastery is impressive:
View of the cloister / internal court from the Monastery's 2nd floor:
Picture of king Joao II:
Picture of king Sebastio:
Picture of king Jose I:
National Coach Museum, Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, opposite the Belem Tram stop. Lovely coaches commemorating 300 years of the coach builders craft. The museum has one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world. The museum is housed in the old Horse Riding Arena of the Belém Palace, formerly a Royal Palace which is now the official residence of the President of Portugal. The Horse Riding Area was built after 1787 following the Neoclassical design of Italian architect Giacomo Azzolini. Several Portuguese artists decorated the interior of the building with paintings and tiles (Azulejos) panels. The museum was created in 1905 by Queen Amélia to house an extensive collection of carriages belonging to the Portuguese royal family and nobility. The collection gives a full picture of the development of carriages from the late 16th through the 19th centuries, with carriages made in Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria and England. Among its rarest items is a late 16th/early 17th-century traveling coach used by King Philip II of Portugal to come from Spain to Portugal in 1619. There are also several pompous Baroque 18th century carriages decorated with paintings and exuberant gilt woodwork, the most impressive of these being a ceremonial coach given by Pope Clement XI to King John V in 1715, and the three coaches of the Portuguese ambassador to Pope Clement XI, built in Rome in 1716. Flamboyant pieces representing the pomposity of royalty & religion. The enormous size and lavish detail of some of the coaches is amazing. Good information signage in English.
It is basically a huge display of royal carriages dating back to the 17th century. They are organized chronologically - oldest and shabbiest first. You can see this museum in about an hour and it is well worth it.
Bus: 28, 714, 727, 729, 743, 749, 751.
Train: Cascais Line (Belém Station).
Boat: Belém boat station.
Opening hours: 10.00 - 18.00 (Tuesday - Sunday), Last entry: 17.30.
Closed: Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day.
+ 65 years : 3€
Youth-Card holders: 3€
- 50% discount for children (15-18 years) when accompanied by a parent.
- Sundays and Bank Holidays until 14.00.
Tip 3: The New Hermitage: Flemish, Dutch and German Art, The Twelve-Column Hall, The Knights' Hall, Italian Art
Main Attractions: The Council Staircase and The Yekaterinburg Vase, Rembrandt Room - room 254, The Tent-Roofed Room - Room 249, Room 248, The Rubens Room - Room 247, The Van Dyck Room - Room 246, Room of Flemish Art - Room 245, The Twelve-Column Hall - Room 244, The Knights' Hall - Room 243,
We move in the New Hermitage building anti-clockwise - starting at the most north-west room number 206 or, better, the staircase that leads to this room. The Council Staircase was designed in the mid-19th century by the architect Andrei Stakenschneider in the mid-19th century. It connects three buildings - the Small, the Great and the New Hermitages. Light colours dominate the interior: the walls are adorned with panels and pilasters of white and pink artificial marble, the top of the staircase is decorated with white marble pillars. The staircase owe their name to the meetings of the State Council held on the ground floor of the Great Hermitage in the mid-19th century. The ceiling painting of The Virtues Presenting Russian Youth to Minerva adorned the Oval Room that previously existed in this location. The only strong accent in the interior is a malachite vase manufactured at The Yekaterinburg Imperial Lapidary Works (Yekaterinburg, 1850s). Room 206, is, actually, the Upper Landing of the Council Staircase:
We move south to The Rembrandt Room - room 254. The room contains a unique collection of paintings by Rembrandt (1606-1669). There are works, representing both the artist's early and late periods (among them Flora, The Descent from the Cross, The Sacrifice of Isaac, Danaë, David and Jonathan, The Holy Family, Portrait of an Old Man in Red and The Return of the Prodigal Son):
Rembrandt - Danae - Room 254:
Rembrandt - David and Jonathan - Room 254:
Rembrandt - Young Man with Lace Collar - Room 254:
Rembrandt - Portrait of Old Man in Red - Room 254:
Rembrandt - The Sacrifice of Isaac - Room 254:
Rembrandt - The Return of the Prodigal Son - Room 254:
Rembrandt - The Descent from the Cross - Room 254:
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, 1621-1674, Abraham and the Three Angels, Holland, 1656 - Room 253. A favourite student of Rembrandt. He was also an etcher, an amateur poet, a collector and an adviser on art:
Barent Fabritius, 1624-1673, Ruth and Boaz, Holland, 1660 - Room 253. Fabritius was born at Middenbeemster, North Holland. He studied with his brothers Johannes and Carel Fabritius, and probably with Rembrandt as well. He was a painter of biblical subjects, mythical and historical scenes, in addition to expressive portraits. He died in Amsterdam:
Ferdinand Bol, Bacchus and Ariadne, Holland, 1664 - Room 253. Ferdinand Bol, 1616 – 1680, was a Dutch artist, etcher, and draftsman. His surviving work displays Rembrandt's influence; like his master, Bol favored historical subjects, portraits, numerous self-portraits, and single figures:
Pieter Lastman, Abraham and the Three Angels, The Netherlands, 1623 - Room 252. Pieter Lastman (1583 – 1633) was a Dutch painter and is considered important because of his work as a painter of history pieces and because his pupils included Rembrandt and Jan Lievens. In his paintings Lastman paid a lot of attention to the faces, hands and feet:
Gerard de Lairesse, Hagar in the Desert, Holland, Between 1675 and 1680 - Room 252. Gerard or Gérard (de) Lairesse, 1641 – 1711, was a Dutch Golden Age painter and art theorist. His broad range of talent included music, poetry, and theatre. De Lairesse was influenced by the Perugian Cesare Ripa and French classicist painters. His importance grew in the period following the death of Rembrandt:
Gerrit Dou, Astronomer, Holland, Circa 1628 - Room 251. Gerrit Dou, 1613 – 1675, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, whose small, highly polished paintings are typical of the Leiden school. He was a student of Rembrandt. He specialized in genre scenes and is noted for his candlelit night-scenes:
Gerrit Dou, Herring Seller, Holland - Room 251:
Gerrit Dou, 1613-1675, Soldier Bather, Holland, Circa 1660-1665 - Room 250:
Gerrit Dou, 1613-1675, Old Woman Reading a Book, Holland, 1670 - 1675 - Room 250:
Gerrit Dou, 1613-1675, Woman Bather, Holland, Circa 1660-1665 - Room 250:
The Tent-Roofed Room - Room 249: the room contains paintings of the Dutch and Flemish schools. In December 2014, just before the Hermitage in St Petersburg celebrated its 250th anniversary, the so-called Tent Room – the largest room of Dutch paintings – was reopened after undergoing restoration. This room, which is named for its unique gabled roof, is one of the largest in the New Hermitage. The decorative painting of the interior includes ancient motifs, and sculptural elements crown the window pediments. In the display you can see works by such famous 17th-century artists as Jacob van Ruisdael, Pieter Claesz, Willem Kalf and Willem Heda, genre paintings by Jan Steen and Pieter de Hooch, as well as two portraits by Frans Hals. Many of the frames now have non-reflecting glass, and this, in addition to the new lighting system, makes these Old Masters easier to view, even on dark days:
Jacob Isaaksz van Ruisdael, Seashore, Holland, Late 1660s - early 1670s - room 249. A Dutch Golden Age painter, mainly, of a wide variety of landscape subjects:
Jan Steen - Doctor's Visit - room 249:
Jan Steen, 1625 or 1626-1679, Esther before Ahasuerus, Holland, Late 1660s, room 249:
Childhood of Christ - Gerrit van Honthorst, 1590-1656, room 249. Gerrit van Honthorst was one of the leading Dutch followers of Caravaggio. The influence of the great Italian master is clear in the down-to-earth nature of the scene, in the half-figures shown close to, and in the powerful contrasts of light and shade. It was no accident that earlier the Hermitage picture was thought to be a copy from Caravaggio's picture:
Further south is Room 248 - Room of Dutch Art of the Late 16th and 17th Centuries. Among the paintings, in this room, are two pictures by Hendrik Goltzius - Adam and Eve and The Baptism, as well as works by Jan Breughel the Elder (Velvet Breughel), David Teniers the Younger and Theodor Rombouts.
The King Drinks - Jacob Jordaens - Room 248:
Banquet of Cleopatra - Jacob Jordaens - Room 248:
Adam and Eve - Hendrik Goltzius - Room 248:
Jan Brueghel, the Elder, 1568-1625, Adoration of the Magi, Flanders, Between 1598 and 1600 - room 248:
We move eastward to the The Rubens Room - Room 247. Peter Paul Rubens, 1577 – 1640, is a very famous Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England:
Rubens - Bacchus - Rubens Room - Room 247:
Rubens - Mars and Venus - Rubens Room - Room 247:
Rubens - Perseus Liberating Andromeda - Rubens Room - Room 247:
Rubens - Venus and Adonis, 1610-1611 - Rubens Room - Room 247:
The Van Dyck Room - Room 246. The collection, in this room, includes, mainly, portraiture masterpieces of this genius painter. Anthony van Dyck, 1599 – 1641, was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and Flanders. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects and was an important innovator in water colours and etching:
Van Dyck - Two Ladies Waiting - Van Dyck Room - Room 246:
Van Dyck - Old Man - Van Dyck Room - Room 246:
Van Dyck - Portrait of Henry Danvers - Van Dyck Room - Room 246:
The next room to the east - Room of Flemish Art - Room 245 - is a BEAUTIFUL room or hall:
Paul de Vos, 1596-1678, The Leopard Hunt, Flanders, a Flemish Baroque painter who specialized in still lifes and animal and hunting scenes - Room of Flemish Art - Room 245:
David Teniers the Younger, 1610-1690, Monkeys in the Kitchen, Flanders, Middle of the 1640s - Room of Flemish Art - Room 245:
Next, we arrive to the most southeastern room in the New Hermitage Museum (in Floor 2) - The Twelve-Column Hall - Room 244. The Hall of Twenty Columns was created by the architect of the New Hermitage Leo von Klenz, who was a leading theoretician of museum construction at the time. The hall was intended for display of antique vases and the architect especially designed for it cases and table surfaces that were manufactured in the factories of P. G. Gambs, A.I. Tur, and E. A. Miller. The walls of the hall were decorated with painted panels on subjects taken from the frescoes in Etruscan burial chambers that were discovered not long before the construction of the building and which inspired the imagination of architect Leo von Klenz. The design of the mosaic floor is reminiscent of antique patterns. Both the architecture and the interior decoration of the hall recreate for the visitor an artistic image of a gracious ancient temple. The hall is now used for temporary exhibitions:
Sculpture of Voronikhin - Room 244:
We change direction and continue northward (still, anti-clockwise) to the The Knights' Hall - Room 243. The Knights’ Hall is one of the big gala halls of the Imperial Museum of the New Hermitage. Originally the hall, decorated with paintings in the Neo-Greek style, intended for exhibition of coins. The hall is a part of the rich collection of weapons, numbering about 15,000 items: Western European art weapons of the XV-XVII centuries with wide range of tournament subjects, parade and hunting weapons and suits of armor. In the center of the hall there are the figures of knights in armor of the XVI century, on horseback, covered by armor. This cavalcade appearance recreates medieval armies ready for a fight or contest:
WE, NOW, START A SERIES OF ITALIAN ART ROOMS. Continue northward to the small room number 242. Skip to Tip 4.
Oxford Ashmolean Museum:
Main Attractions: Levels: Ground, 1, 2. For Level 3m (see: Ashmolean Museum Part 2).
Duration: 1/2 day. You can, easily, combine this 1/2 day visit with another route of 1/2 day - as described in our "Oxford Centre - Day 1" blog. Please allow, at least 3-4 hours for the Ashmolean Museum. I recommend at least half a day to fully enjoy it.
Weather: The best solution in Oxford for a rainy half-a-day.
Dining: There is a restaurant on the rooftop (third floor). NOT recommended. Pricey and small, innovative (but, not filling) portions. Nice views and excellent setting. DO NOT BELIEVE THE TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS ! Crayfish salad, Fennel, orange, white cabbage, chervil: £14.90. Pricey, nice to look at, not filling, cooked and served very nicely with a twist. I' had waited 20 minutes for my portion - though I was the only diner there (quite late at 15.30).
General: A fantastic museum with incredible collections and exceptional, temporary exhibitions. A wonderful way to spend a few hour. No charge to enter (but donations expected). A busy place with vastness of space - so, you'll never feel packed or noisy. Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is Britain’s first public museum. The collections range from archaeology to the fine and decorative arts. Bears the comparison with the British Museum, but has the advantage of being less crowded: that makes the visit more pleasant.
Location: The Ashmolean Museum is located in the centre of Oxford. It is easily accessible by public transport. The bus station is approximately 5 minutes walk from the Museum. The train station is approximately 10 minutes walk from the Museum.
Access: There is disabled access throughout the Museum, with ramps into the building, lifts to all floors and wheelchairs are available.
Open: 10.00 – 17.00, TUE – SUN. FREE.
Photography: Allowed. No flash. Several displayed items are with restricted permission.
Toilets: There are public toilets (including wheelchair accessible) throughout the Museum.
Warning: Museum's staff members don't like you carrying rucksacks on your back. You have to carry them by your side or on your front. Better to use the cloakroom.
The Ashmolean Museum entrance - sculptures of Henry Moore. Three Piece Reclining Figure (1963) which is on temporary loan from the Henry Moore Foundation. The entrance is on Beaumont Street:
Reclining Figure by Henry Moore:
Ground Level - list of rooms/galleries: Aegean World - 20, Ancient Cyprus - 18, Ancient Egypt and Nubia - 22–27, Ancient Near East - 19, Cast Gallery - 14, China to AD 800 - 10, Chinese Paintings - 11, European Prehistory - 17, Greek and Roman Sculpture - 21, The Greek World - 16, Italy before Rome - 15, Rome - 13, India 2500 BC – AD 600 - Gallery 12.
The Ashmolean’s collection from ancient Egypt is among the most extensive in Britain, with objects from the Nile Valley from prehistory to the 7th century AD. Six galleries comprise the ancient Egyptian culture exhibition: 22 - Egypt at its Origins, 23 - Dynastic Egypt and Nubia, 24 -
Life After Death in Ancient Egypt, 25 - The Amarna Revolution, 26 - Egypt in the Age of Empires, 27 - Egypt Meets Greece and Rome.
Ancient Egypt - a limestone statue of King Khasekhem (2nd Dynasty, about 2700–2686 BC):
East wall of Shrine of King Taharqa (a Pharaoh of ancient Egypt of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (between 712 and 770 BC) and king of the Kingdom of Kush), Kawa, Sudan, Late Period/Napatan, 25th Dynasty (about 690–664 BC):
This statue of Sobek was found at Amenemhat III's mortuary temple ( connected to this king's pyramid at Hawara in Faiyum), symbolizing this king's devotion to Sobek, which was an ancient Egyptian deity associated with Pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess. Sobek is associated also with the Nile crocodile and is either represented in its form or as a human with a crocodile head. Sobek also served, additionally, as a protective deity against the dangers presented by the Nile river:
Granite statue of Amun in the form of a ram protecting King Taharqa, from the western wall of shrine of King Tharaqa. Several temples dedicated to Amun (a major Egyptian deity and Berber deity), including the one at Karnak were adorned with ram or ram-headed sphinx statues. The ram was one of the animals sacred to Amun:
Coffin of the 25th dynasty Theban Priest Djeddjehutyiuefankh, Deir el-Bahri, Western Thebes, 25 th Dynasty, 770-712 BC:
The Ashmolean’s collection of ancient Cyprus is among the most significant Cypriot collections worldwide outside Cyprus - a cultural crossroad between Orient and Occident. There are artifacts, displayed, from the earliest settlements of the island in about 10.000 BC until the Roman period, from the villages of the first farming communities of the Neolithic period to post-Medieval times. The vast majority of the objects are from about. 2000 – 300 BC. The Ashmolean's collection of ancient Greek pottery vessels is one of the finest in the world. In its range, size and scholarly importance it ranks in the United Kingdom behind only that of the British Museum. Ancient Cyprus is in Gallery 18. List of galleries of Ancient Greece: Gallery 6: Reading and Writing, Gallery 7: Money, Gallery 14: Cast gallery, Gallery 16 - The Greek World, Gallery 20: Aegean World, Gallery 21: Greek and Roman Sculpture.
Head of Man, Salamis:
Grave monument of deceased Archippus accompanied by two servants. This is probably from Smyrna from the 3rd to 2nd century BC:
The Ashmolean’s cast gallery is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved collections of casts of Greek and Roman sculpture in the UK. It contains some 900 plaster casts of statues, reliefs, and architectural sculptures.
Plaster cast slab of tomb enclosure showing detail of siege from Trysta, Lycia, 370 BC. It is decorated with friezes showing a wide variety of Greek myth. It is characteristic of Lycian architectural sculpture that, beside the myth, included scenes of near-contemporary military action (city-sieges) and of the monarch in his court (type of subject not seen in Greece proper):
Marble head of Homer, 1-100 AD, Gallery 16. Homer is thought to have been a travelling poet, following a long tradition of storytelling. All portraits of Homer were created long after his death. Artists typically
portray him as blind, so his opened eyes are quite unusual in this sculpture:
Head of Demostenes, 250 - 150 BC, Gallery 16. Found at Eski-Shehir, East Turkey (Anatolia):
In the second half of the nineteenth century, archaeologists began to focus on understanding prehistoric Greece and its extraordinary flowering during the Greek Bronze Age (about 3000–1050 B.C.). Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of wealthy tombs at Mycenae in 1876 brought to life the Heroic Age immortalized in the epic poetry of Homer, in which King Agamemnon’s palace was described as "rich in gold." Twenty-four years after Schliemann's find, the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans began excavations at Knossos, on the island of Crete, that would yield a vast complex of buildings belonging to a sophisticated prehistoric culture, which he dubbed Minoan after the legendary King Minos.
The Aegean prehistoric collections of the Ashmolean Museum are the largest outside Greece and come primarily from archaeological excavations. The Minoan collection, brought to Oxford by Sir Arthur Evans from his excavations of the “Palace of Minos” at Knossos on Crete - are the biggest outside Crete. When Arthur Evans was appointed Keeper of the Ashmolean in 1884, the Museum had a handful of Aegean objects: only one gem, which was not yet recognized as coming from the Aegean Bronze Age and a few obsidian blades from Melos. Following Evans’s purchases, donations and gifts to the Museum from his travels and researches, including his 1941 bequest, the Ashmolean today houses the largest and finest Aegean collection outside Greece, comprising more than 10,000 objects. There are three main areas in Gallery no. 20: the Early Cyclades, Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece. Each area is color-coded in an attempt to facilitate the visitor’s orientation: light blue is used as the background in the Early Cyclades, red is used for Minoan Crete, orange for Mycenaean Greece. The personality that dominates the Aegean gallery is that of Arthur Evans. The story of Evans is broken down into three major periods. The first period focuses on his work at the Ashmolean (1884-1908) and the Chester seal: a gem on which Evans first identified signs of a pre-alphabetic writing system. The second section of the Evans display is appropriately dedicated to his travels and explorations on Crete (1894-1899). The third part of this tablecase focuses on his Knossos excavations (1900-1935).
The Minoan displays in the new Aegean World gallery at the Ashmolean:
The Mycenaean Greece section of the new Aegean World gallery at the Ashmolean (on the right the Schliemann story and at the back the Mycenaean pottery and figurines display):
Evans was also acquainted with the famous German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, who excavated Hisarlik in modern Turkey, thought to be the site of the mythical Troy. Schliemann also excavated shaft graves at Mycenae, Greece in 1876. There he uncovered a gold death mask dubbed the Mask of Agamemnon. The original mask is exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. What you see in the Asmolean is a reproduction...
Death Mask of Agamemnon, Troy, 1400 -1090 BC, excavated by Heinrich Schlimann (1822 - 1890):
In 1900 Evans started excavating in Knossos. Within a few months they had uncovered a substantial portion of what he called the Palace of Minos. The term "palace" may be misleading; Knossos was an intricate collection of over 1000 interlocking rooms, some of which served as artisans' workrooms and food processing centres (e.g. wine presses). It served as a central storage point, and a religious and administrative centre. Evans found two palaces in fact, dated c.2000 and 1400BC. Each belonged to the Cretan Bronze Age which Evans called the Minoan style, after King Minos. Evans himself employed skilled artists who used their artistic imagination in recreating the vivid scenes (*). They were influenced by Evans' particular ideas concerning the symbolic significance of scenes and figures. Subsequent scholars have disputed these reconstructions and proposed quite different theories.
Relief figure "Priest-King", 1700 -1450 BC, most recognizable of Knossos frescoes, Palace of Minos at Knossos, excavated by Arthur Evans. Watercolour restoration probably by E. Gillieron (*). This fresco was located in the southern portion of the complex with the remains of the “procession” fresco. First, the “Priest-King” fresco (also called “Prince of the Lilies”) was interpreted by Evans as being a depiction of king Minos (Castleden 1990). Evans found this to be completely logical because it agreed with the ancient sources and his own preconceptions about the site (Castleden 1990). However, there are several problems with his conclusion.
Nimrud is the Aramaic name for the ancient Assyrian city originally known as Kalhu, located 30 kilometres south of the city of Mosul, and 5 kilometres south of the village of Selamiyah in the Nineveh plains in northern Mesopotamia. It was a major Assyrian city between approximately 1250 BC and 610 BC. The city is located in a strategic position 10 kilometres north of the point that the river Tigris meets its tributary the Great Zab. Archaeological excavations at the site began in 1845, and were conducted at intervals between then and 1879, and then from 1949 onwards. Many important pieces were discovered, with most being moved to museums in Iraq and abroad. Oxford's Ashmolean Museum has the second largest collection of Nimrud (Gallery 19), the Assyrian capital, objects in the UK, with roughly 330 artefacts. Among the collection are three relief panels from king Assurnasirpal II's Northwest Palace: an eagle-headed genie from Room B and a human-headed genie from Room I came to the museum in 1850 as a gift from Austen Henry Layard's excavation. A further fragment of a sacred tree from Room I was purchased in 1950 from Peterborough's City Museum and Art Gallery, which had acquired it from Lady Layard in 1900.
Assyrian relief, Nimrud, Iraq, Northwest Palace, 883-859 BC:
Assyrian winged genius from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal (883-859 BC) at Nimrud. Acquired through excavation by A.H. Layard in the early 19th Century. Now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford:
China 3000 BC-AD 800 - Room /gallery 10 : Up to about 3000 years ago objects found in graves were made mostly of hard stone and low-fired ceramic. For the next 1500 years the most important burial objects were made of bronze and later, of ceramics. The earliest examples of writing in China were recorded on animal bones and bronze vessels. Later, texts were written on stone, bamboo, silk and paper. Writing had become an art form.
Wine vessel with masks:
Chinese Painting - room/gallery 11:
Qi Baishi, Landscape with Blue Mountain (1953). Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper:
India to 600 AD - room/gallery 12:
Nandi, the bull of Shiva; basalt, Deccan or South India, 1500-1700:
Level 1: Asian Crossroads - 28, Eastern Art Paintings - 29, India from AD 600 - 32, Islamic Middle East - 31, Medieval Cyprus - 34, Mediterranean World - 30, Mughal India - 33.
India from AD 600 - room/gallery 32: Many of Hindu, Buddhist or Jain images in this gallery were once installed in temple or household shrines as objects of daily pray and meditation. They convey the serenity, compassion and supreme power or insight of deities and enlightened beings. Images like these remain in worship today throughout India. From AD 600 the form of the temple was developing, within India and beyond. Spectacular towers and giant walls teem are decorated with images of gods, men, animals and plants. Very diverse regional styles of sculpture soon developed throughout the Indian subcontinent. As in earlier times, professional artisans worked for landlords or rulers of different faiths, so that Hindu, Buddhist or Jain images may share a similar regional style.
Southeast Asia: As Indian merchants settled in many parts of southeast Asia, they brought with them the Buddhism and Hinduism. Local ruling dynasties both adopted these religions and their styles of temple architecture and sculpture. Astonishing temple complexes such as Borobudur in Java (AD 800) and Angkor in Cambodia (1150) were established.
Lintel with Kala face, Central Java, 800 - 900 AD:
From AD 600 onwards, many regional dynastie flourished across north and central India. They were patrons temples, gardens, estates and sculptural creations. The dominated religions were Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. This period of creativity lasted until around 1200 when Muslim invaders from Central Asia began to occupy northern India.
Vishnu Head - Khajurau, 950-1050 AD:
Ceiling boss with 8 flying warriors, South Rajastan, 750-850 AD:
Vishnu with 4 arms, Sagar Island, WEst Bengal, 1050 AD:
Portable shrine of Vishnu as Venkateshwara, painted and lacquered wood, Tirupati, Tamil-Nadu, 1800 AD:
Shiva and Parvati, Madya Pradesh, 1000-1050 AD:
Hanuman bearing Rama (in blue) and Lakshmana on his shoulder, Bombay, early 1900s:
Angada delievers Rama's to Ravana, Bombay, early 1900s. Note that Hanuman extended his tail - thus, seating higher than the king...:
Hinduism and Buddhism became established in Nepal from 300-850 AD. The Newar artists of the Kathmandu Valley showed outstanding skills in stone and bronze sculpture, reinterpreting Indian models in new styles which also influenced the art of Tibet.
Stone slab with yaksha, or nature spirit, in relief, Nepal, 700-800 AD:
Buddhism first reached Tibet, isolated by its high mountain ranges, around AD 650. In later periods it transformed Tibetan society, with large sections of the population living in monasteries. After 1200 AD, the art and teachings of Indian Buddhism were preserved and further developed in the monasteries of Tibet. This unbroken cultural tradition survived intact until and beyond the the 1950s - when Chinese rule was imposed on this famous, isolated region.
Photo of Martine Franck (wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson), 1996, Tibetan Geh and his tutor Tulku Tenzin Tosam Rinpoche, Dratsang Monastery, Karnataka, India:
Bodhgaya, Bihar, India is the holiest of Buddhist destinations and a World Heritage site. It is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. It was here, under a pipal tree, that Siddhartha Gotama arrived there around 531 BC and attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. A simple shrine was built by the emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) to mark the spot, later enclosed by a stone railing (1st century BC), part of which still remains. This shrine was replaced in the Kushan period (2nd cent. AD) by the present Mahabodhi temple, which was refurbished in the Pala-Sena period (750-1200 AD), heavily restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham in the second half of the 19th century, and finally restored by Myanmar (Burmese) Buddhists in 1882. The Bodhi tree behind the temple is believed to be a descendant of the original. At Bodhgaya, seated in deepest meditation ben
eath a fig tree, Buddha reached final Enlightenment or Buddhahood. Attaining perfect insight into the causes of universal suffering and rebirth, he conceived the way by which all beings may attain Nirvana or peace.
Votive Stupa, Bodhgaya, Bihar, 1000-1200 AD:
Buddha beneath the Bodhi tree, Bodhgaya, Bihar, 850-950 AD:
Islamic Middle East, Room/Gallery 31:
Part of Tile, Iran, 1800 - 1900, the story of Yusuf and Zulaikha. Based on the twelfth sura (chapter) of the Qur’an. In the Qur’anic version, Yusuf is a handsome slave in the service of an Egyptian man. His master’s wife, named Zulaikha in later literature, attempts to seduce him unsuccessfully. It, originally, derives from the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in the Old Testament. The left tile depicts Yusuf appearing before the women of Memphis. Overcome by his beauty, the women are faint or cut themselves with the knives they hold in their hands. Both pieces are from Iran, 1850-1900 and are Fritware, moulded, with under-glaze painting:
Tile with Qur'anic inscription:
The Byzantine Church, room/gallery 30:
Icon: Embrace of the Apostles Peter and Paul, painted by Angelos Akotantos of Crete (active: 1436 - 1450), oil on wood. Icon-painter and hagiographer who lived and worked at Heraklion, Crete, then part of the Republic of Venice. He was the first hagiographer to sign his name on his icons by writing in Greek: "Χειρ Αγγέλου" which, translated in English, means "By hand of Angelos":
The Mogul India, room/gallery 33: breath-taking Lady Impey’s Indian Bird Paintings ! This outstanding collection of paintings formed part of a great collection of natural history studies commissioned at Calcutta by Mary, Lady Impey, wife of the Chief Justice Sir Elijah Impey, between 1777 and 1782. The Impeys assembled an extensive aviary and menagerie at their Calcutta home. Lady Impey commissioned meticulous, life-sized pictures of Indian birds and animals from three Mughal-trained artists: Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das, and Ram Das. By the time the Impeys left India in 1783, these artists had produced over two hundred works on large sheets of imported English paper, mainly of birds though also of animals, fish and reptiles. The most prolific of these painters was Shaikh Zain ud-Din, and all but one of the works shown here are by him. The local Indian artists emulate, on a greatly enlarged scale, the refinement of 17th century Mughal natural history paintings. DO NOT MISS THIS COLLECTION OF MASTERPIECES !!!
Male Nukta or Comb Duck, Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Calcuta, 1779, Gouache on paper:
Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) on a custard apple branch, Shaikh Zain-ud-Din, Calcuta, 1777, Gouache on paper:
Black-necked Stork, Shaikh Zain-ud-Din:
A lady seeks shelter from the rains, India, Punjab Hills, C. 1820, Gouache on paper:
Krsna in the guise of Indra, advises Raja Mandhatr (from the Mahabharata), 1598, By Sadiq and manohar - Mughal, North India:
Krsna and Radha in two pavilions, India, 19th century:
Elegant Brass ewer with Dragon heads, 16th or 17th century, height 51 cm. A refined product of the Indo-Islamic style, with the spiral fluting of its body and its tall, tapering neck. It is also known as the Butler ewer. It was previously in the collection of Dr A.J. Butler, Bursar of Brasenose College:
Planetary deities, painted on soapatone (alabaster), Jaipur, Rajashan, 1880-1885. Maharaja of Jaipur craftsmen produced brightly painted soapstone (alabaster) images of Hindu and Jain deities in great numbers in the late nineteenth century:
China from 800 AD, room/gallery 38:
Visiting Stonehenge, Fang Zhaoling (1914–2006), Ink and Color on paper, 1994, a female painter with expressive calligraphic strokes. She lived and travelled in Europe and America, and attended both Hong Kong and Oxford Universities:
Seated Bodhisattva, fig tree wood, 1200-1300:
Ming and Qing Porcelain, figures from the novel Shuihu Zhuan (The Water margin), 1680-1720. During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) China began to engage in world trade. This included exporting porcelain to Portugal and Spain in exchange for silver. As the dynasty neared its end, imperial patronage of porcelain production ceased and Japan and The Netherlands were the biggest overseas markets, but after 1700 England became the greatest importer:
Blue-and-white porcelain tile with a landscape, Jingdezhen kilns, c. 1690:
Suit of Armour of a Samurai, 1700s, Gift of Prince Chichibu to Magdalen College in Oxford:
Bodhisattva Jizo, protector of children, travelers and women. Jizō is a Bodhisattva – enlightened being who devote his life to freeing others from suffering. Bodhisattvas are not worshipped, but inspire others to reach enlightenment. Jizō is shown as a monk with a shaven head and pilgrim’s robes. Jizō also carries the bright jewel of Buddhist truth, a symbol of the endless power of Buddhism. He has a third eye on his forehead and elongated ears, both symbols of enlightenment:
Vase with winter landscape, around 1910:
Second Level :
Room/gallery 35, West meets East:
Two Chairs, Japan, 1600s. Made for the Dutch settlement in Nagushki harbor:
Ottoman embroidered hanging, Turkey, 1550-1650, Cotton + silk. Tulips, pomegranates and elongated, serrated leaves are part of the Ottoman decorative repertoire and are found in ceramics as well as works on paper. Ottoman interiors were comfortably furnished with carpets and cushions. Woven and embroidered textiles of different kinds were used for bedding, fireplace covers, cushion covers and wall hangings. This large embroidered textile is made of three panels of white cotton embroidered with coloured silk threads. Embroidery enabled the craftsmen to create complex, multi-coloured patterns without having to weave them into the fabric:
Oxford - Ashmolean Museum - Second Floor - room/gallery 35 - Tapestry, The Battle of the Animals, 1723, France, Sold to Emperor Chien Lung, 1769, looted and returned to Europe in 1861:
Room/gallery 40 - European Ceramics:
Ornamental tile William de Morgan (1839-1917), most known pottery maker in England:
Room/gallery 41 - England 400-1600 AD.:
Statue of Henry VIII:
The Cuddesdon Bowl - of brilliant blue glass with fine trailed decoration, the bowl is probably Kentish, and was made about 600 AD. The bowl came to light during the building of a palace for the Bishop of Oxford, then William Wilberforce; it passed into his possession and was eventually sold with the contents of his house and lost from view. It was recognized by Miss Jocelyn Morris, curator at the Warwick Museum:
Room/gallery 39 - Music and Tapestry:
Violins and Violas, 16th and 17th centuries:
Violin, Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737), Cremona, Italy, with the original label 'Antonius Stradivarius Cremoensis/Faciebat Anno 1716'. Known as the Messiah, this is one of the most famous violins in the world.
Musical Party, tapestry, Spain, 1650:
From here we continue to Level 3M (free) and Level 3 (Special Exhibitions - with separate fee) in the Ashmolean Museum - turn to the "Oxford - Ashmolean Museum - Part 2" blog.
The new Augustiner Museum features a renowned art collection with works from the middle ages up to the Baroque period, as well as paintings from the 19th century. You can also visit Museum of Natural History (Naturmuseum und ethnologische Sammlung ), or the botanic garden, which is open daily from 8:00 till 18:00.
On the first Sunday of every month, many sites in Paris are free for visitors, and this is a great opportunity for us to visit the Louvre museum. We walked along the Tuileries that were filled by puddles. It led us to the short Arc de Triomph decorated with the golden horses chariot. The Louvre museum was revealed, and we immediately noticed the long queue of visitors along the museum's walls. We followed the line trying to reach it's beginning. We keep walking until the end of the yard, asking ourselves where the hell the line starts? The line continues through a gate and we continued to follow it entered another big yard, and another gate. We found ourselves outside the museum area, and just nearby a man holding a sign saying that if you just joined the line at this point, you'll wait three hours. Wow! What could we do? After a short discussion, heavy heartedly we decide to leave the place. A bit disappointed, we continued to the gardens located behind Forum Des Halles. After a short walk we arrived, and realized that the gardens were under massive construction and closed for visitors. Apparently it was not our lucky day, but we did not give up and we continued to the pedestrians near Forum Des Halles. The pedestrians are gray and empty, and it started to rain, while we felt we hadn’t done anything today.