Conserving The Emperor’s Carpet

In 2006, The Met launched an ambitious three-year conservation program to stabilize the condition of The Emperor’s Carpet.

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is home to some of the world’s most incredible works of art. In The Met’s collection is the sixteenth-century Emperor’s Carpet from Safavid Iran. The carpet was acquired by The Met in 1941, but its condition was so fragile that it was only displayed for the public twice over the next sixty years.

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

The program involved the careful examination of the carpet’s fibers, dyes, and structure. It also included the use of advanced imaging technology to create a detailed map of the carpet’s condition. The conservation project was a success and the carpet’s lustrous wools and dazzling colors are now on display at The Met on a regular basis.

The conservation of the Emperor’s Carpet is a remarkable success story. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the museum’s conservation team, the public can now enjoy this incredible work of art for years to come.

I invite you to view “Conserving The Emperor’s Carpet, which documents the conservation program.

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

One of the finest products of the Safavid court ateliers, this carpet once adorned the summer residence of the Habsburg emperors. The main field balances a sophisticated net of floral scrolls, large composite palmettes, cloud bands, buds, and blossoms with a myriad of real and fictional animals—dragons and Chinese antelope, lion and buffalo, tigers and leopards, ducks and pheasants. A verse found in the inner guard band likens a garden in springtime to the Garden of Paradise.The Met Museum

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

Suzanne Valadon: Young Girl in Front of a Window

“Young Girl in Front of a Window”

Suzanne Valadon, 1930

Susanne Valadon (1865-1938) was a French artist and model, best remembered for her paintings of the Parisian avant-garde. Born Marie-Clémentine Valadon in Bessines-sur-Gartempe, France, she was the daughter of a seamstress and a farmer.

Montmartre, the bohemian quarter of Paris, was her home. She supported herself from the age of ten with odd jobs including a career as a circus acrobat which ended with a fall from a trapeze. She embraced a new direction, working as a model for many of the leading artists of the day, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Théophile Steinlen.

Suzanne began painting in the early 1890s, and in 1895 she exhibited her work at the Salon des Indépendants. She was one of the first female artists to gain recognition in the Parisian art world and was a member of the Société des Artistes Français.

Young Girl in Front of a Window 1930 by Susanne Valadon (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Young Girl in Front of a Window by Suzanne Valadon captures the innocence and curiosity of a young girl. Painted in oil on canvas, this work of art was created in 1930.

The painting depicts a young girl standing in front of an open window, looking out into the world with a sense of wonder. The girl holds a vase of flowers positioned on a round wooden table. Viewers are drawn to the vibrant colours of the floral display and the fresh green of the garden beyond the open window. This painting is an important part of Suzanne’s oeuvre, and it is a testament to her skill as a painter.

Suzanne continued to paint until her death in 1938. Her works are held in numerous public and private collections, including the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She is remembered as a pioneering female artist and a master of the avant-garde.

5-Minute Meditation with Vincent Van Gogh

Meditation is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to improve mental and physical health. It is a form of relaxation that can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase overall wellbeing.

Vincent Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield, with Cypresses was my first experience mediating while viewing a painting.

Vincent Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield, with Cypresses is a majestic painting that evokes a sense of tranquility and peace. The painting is a landscape of a wheat field with cypress trees in the background, with the sky a brilliant blue. The painting is filled with an array of colours and textures. Vincent Van Gogh’s brushstrokes can be seen throughout the painting.

By focusing on the painting and its details, I allowed my mind to drift and become immersed in the beauty of the painting. The colours and shapes within the landscape gave a sense of calm. I imagined that I had entered the painting. I felt the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze of the wind, and heard Vincent’s words carried across the years, “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

Come join me at the National Gallery London for a 5-minute meditation.

Supported by the John Armitage Charitable Trust.

Meditating on A Wheatfield, with Cypresses is your opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life – to simply enjoy the beauty of the painting and bring a sense of peace and serenity into your day.

A Wheatfield, with Cypresses
Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh - Wheat Field with Cypresses (National Gallery version) Public Domain
Vincent van Gogh – Wheat Field with Cypresses (National Gallery version) Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The National Gallery on “A Whitfield, with Cypresses”

“Van Gogh painted several versions of A Wheatfield, with Cypresses during the summer of 1889, while he was a patient in the psychiatric hospital of Saint-Paul de Mausole, in the village of St-Rémy in the south of France. A first version, which he described as a study, was painted on site in late June 1889.

The National Gallery’s painting, which was completed in September while Van Gogh was confined to his hospital room, is the finished version. He also made a smaller copy of it for his mother and sister. The landscape includes typically Provençal motifs such as a golden wheat field, tall evergreen cypresses, an olive bush and a backdrop of the blue Alpilles mountains.

Van Gogh wrote of painting outdoors during the summer mistral, the strong, cold wind of southern France, which here seems to animate the entire landscape. Everything is depicted with powerful rhythmic lines and swirling brushstrokes that convey Van Gogh’s sense of nature’s vitality.National Gallery

Still Life: Flowers in a Glass Vase with a Cricket in a Niche by Rachel Ruysch

Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) is one of the most celebrated artists of the Dutch Golden Age. Her still-life paintings are renowned for both their technical skill and their impressive creativity. In her works, she often depicted a variety of flowers in stunning arrangements. She had a marvelous ability to capture the beauty of each flower in its vivid colors, as well as its delicate details. Her use of light and shadow add an extra level of realism to her works, making them some of the most beautiful and lifelike paintings of the era.

Flowers in a Glass Vase, with a Cricket in a Niche (1700) by Rachel Ruysch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Why is there a cricket in the painting?

It is believed that the cricket in Rachel Ruysch’s painting, Vase with Flowers, painted in 1700, is a symbol of renewal and growth.

Rachel Ruysch, as a still life painter, helped to develop the genre. As the daughter of a botanist, she studied flowers and plants her entire life. She was known for her lifelike and detailed paintings of flowers and plants, which often featured vivid colors and striking compositions.

Rachel Ruysch was highly influential in Dutch art during the 18th century, and her work was so highly sought after that she became one of the most successful female artists of her time.

In 1693, Rachel Ruysch married the Amsterdam portrait painter, Juriaen Pool. These two artists had a long and successful marriage. Their ten children were a testament to their strong bond. After her marriage, Rachel continued working as a painter, even though it was expected of women of the time to be engaged in activities such as sewing and spinning.

Rachel Ruysch died in 1750, at the age of 86. From the age of 15 until she was 83, she produced hundreds of paintings, of which more that 250 have been documented and attributed to her. Even so, Rachel Ruysch’s story has been lost in the folds of history.

To learn more about Rachel Ruysch, I invite to view this excellent video from The National Gallery!

Sir Henry Raeburn: Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch

The portrait of Reverend Robert Walker, known by its popular title of The Skating Minister, is one of the most recognizable images in the Scottish National Gallery.

I remember the first time I saw Reverend Robert Walker on skates at the Scottish National Galleries. It recalled memories of skating on frozen lakes in Northern Manitoba, with only the trees and quiet solitude of winter to keep me company.

Reverend Robert Walker (1755 – 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch by Sir Henry Raeburn

Sir Henry Raeburn’s painting of Reverend Robert Walker skating is an iconic representation of the 19th century Scottish Enlightenment. The painting, created in about 1795 (the family believes it was painted in 1784), features Reverend Walker in the center of the canvas, gracefully gliding across a frozen lake. His figure is illuminated by the warm light of the setting sun, creating a peaceful, serene atmosphere. The painting captures the beauty of the Scottish landscape and the joy of outdoor recreation.

The painting features an unusual activity for a minister of the church to be engaging in during the time period. The “Skating Minister is the most famous member of the Edinburgh Skating Society, which was the first organized skating club in the world, founded in 1742 or 1744. The painting reflects the growing popularity of the sport of skating during the early 19th century.

“The lack of any documentation about its creation, together with the fact that the format is very unusual in Raeburn’s work, has prompted some scholars to question the Scottish painter’s authorship, and it has been linked instead with a French painter, Henri-Pierre Danloux. However, the tradition in Robert Walker’s family was quite clear that the painting was by Raeburn.” Scottish National Galleries

“Louveciennes in the Snow” by Alfred Sisley

‘Louveciennes in the Snow’ by Alfred Sisley

The painting ‘Louveciennes in the Snow’, by the renowned Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley, is a serene winter landscape. The painting depicts a small village in the French countryside, blanketed with a thick layer of snow. Surrounded by trees and hills, with a gray sky and a few patches of blue in the distance, the snow adds a quiet atmosphere, highlighting the vitality of the natural environment.

The village is small and quaint, with a few houses and other buildings. The soft hues add to the peaceful and calm setting. The painting is a reminder of the beauty of nature and how much peace and quiet can be found away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Alfred Sisley, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Alfred Sisley was friends with the painters Frederic Bazill, Claude Monet, and Pierre- Auguste Renoir. They often painted landscapes en plein air (outside) so to capture the natural light and atmosphere of the landscape. They were all part of the Impressionist movement, which put a new emphasis on painting from life and capturing the effects of light and atmosphere in a painting.

Alfred Sisley captured moments of beauty and peace within the natural world.

His use of light and colour created paintings imbued with a sense of harmony and tranquility. His paintings often feature subtle details that convey the power and emotion of the scenes, making them particularly enjoyable to view. His mastery of composition and technique, and his ability to capture the simplicity of nature make his work timeless. Sisley is recognized for his use of soft brushstrokes and his focus on modern, urban life. His later work is said to reflect the sobering affects of modernity on nature.