Friday, March 24, 2017

Vrancx - winged horse

let us hope the winter is over, but feeling a bit sinister  I would like to return to the winter pleasures  of the olden days, as these scenes were painted by our good Flemish friend Sebastian Vrancx.

ergo, Master Sebastian painted more than a few of canvasses showing Low Countries citizens engaging in some simple and others more complex  winter pleasures, including the art of driving a horse-draw sleigh.
It appears from the images that driving was done on ice a lot,  since very little snow covered the landscape of the cities and towns (when compared with the Central and Eastern Europe of the XVII century) and perhaps driving over the frozen canals was quite a pleasure and thrill - the British historian Simon Schama's  book 'The Embarrassment of Riches' provides plentiful  information on the daily lives and pleasures of the citizen and visitors in the Low Countries during that period (caveat! be forewarned - :) -   Daniel Snowman (2004),  "Simon Schama". History Today. 54 (7): 34-36, wrote about Schama's writing that it was "packed with evocative detail: rich fruit cakes crammed with raisins, currants, nuts and glacé cherries all.")

I especially like this 'winged' horse

'taken' from this canvass
 The harness used for the 'winged horse' looks a bit like the Old Polish arrangement. Perhaps one of the traders brought it back from Gdańsk while on the trading mission in the Baltic port.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring & Nowruz

Zaroastrian eternal Bull (the Moon) and eternal Lion (the Sun)
Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere - finally  - :)
Marzanna has been drowned - :)

... happy New Year as it is Nowruz time!
Rustam, the hero

The Sogdians of Sogdiana

all pictures courtesy WikiCommons

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Raffaelle Santi - early modern curb bit

I admire Italian painting from XIV-XVII centuries, but especially so called high Renaissance painters like Raffaelle Santi.
But before going about his knightly Saint George paintings I would like to draw your attention to this painting (circa 1517) known as lo Spasimo di Sicilia, famous not only for being his masterwork, but because it had survived the shipwreck during the delivery (at least according to Vassari), was sold to Spanish  grandee a century later and had the dubious pleasure to have been looted by the French during the Peninsular War (the French Napoleonic 'collectors,' in the footsteps of the Swedish looters during the Northern Wars, and the Royal French during the wars of Louis XIV, were in fact forerunners of the Soviet and German systematic thievery of art objects during the World War II).

suffering of the Holy Mother during the Passion

 ad rem, the horses depicted in the canvass (well, as you can read, it is now canvass, but  Raffaelle originally painted it on wood and the French 'restorers' transfered it onto canvass in the XIX century, damaging the ground and causing irreparable injury to the masterpiece)

Jewish high priest's dark bay or black horse,  - Oriental bridle (perhaps) but the interesting feature is the very wide nose band with metal adornments. Very long shanks on the curb-bit, and the reins are also adorned with metal pieces, making it rather heavy (perhaps a happy union of protection from sword's slashing to to reins and fine art of beautifying of horse harness)

Roman offcial - Pontius Pilate perhaps - mounted on a neighing gray horse, as suitable for a commander. The bridle is complete, with its leather tanned what appears to be rose or vermilion. There is only one rein set, the curb-bit is long shanked, very late Medieval. The curb-bit chain is not visible, also the attachment of the cheek straps to the shanks is not visible.  The head of this horse is interesting in its conformation, very bull-like. More about this feature some other time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Early modern spurs from Bonifacio Veronese's Adoration of the Magi

La Serenissima had ruled her multiethnic empire until Bonaparte extinguished her completely, but her lands, between the foothills of the Alps, isles, plains and valleys of  Dalmatia, and sweet scented mountains of Crete and other islands of Greece were fertile grounds for intermingling of styles and types of weaponry, horse equipment, costumes and fashions. Artists working within her territories, especially in Venice close vicinity,  left ample evidence of their familiarity with their neighbors (Turks, Hungarians, Germanic folks) and subjects (Slavs, Greek, Albanians).

So let us give a quick look at two sets of spurs from an early modern (early XVI century) painting by  a Venetian artist  known as Bonifacio Veronese or Bonifacio de' Pitati.

The photos of the painting are not very sharp (via Wiki Commons),but one can see two types of these fine equestrian tools of late Medieval/early modern cavalryman

the Magus of the yellow boots ( a Moor Balthazar ) carries a Turkish sabre?

Magus of the green boots (Melchior) has his sword covered,  only the scabbard's butt is visible, presumably of the sabre (because it is curving, and he is a Magus -:) )

Short shank, pointing downward, with a large robust 6-points star rowel, gold-plated,  also a nicely visible buckle of the spur, note the green Maroccan leather boot
slender longer shank with a rather delicate looking 6-point star rowel,  perhaps gold-plated,
manner of securing the spur on the ankle, note soft tanned yellow boot
In short, these spurs belong to the long tradition of the Medieval riding equipment; the same tradition would live until our very modern age.
and some other images that are interesting
another Turkish sabre? from this painting

Noblemen and ladies from Veneto (? ) hunting, from this painting, horses, some horse tack and manner of riding visible

detail from another Adoration of the Magi, gray horse and its bridle somewhat visible

Rider on a spirited horse in a background of this amazing painting


[1] Latin - be healthy! or farewell!  - )

Monday, March 6, 2017

Queen Elizabeth II - horsewoman extraordinaire

I read, or rather gaze at the articles and photos on The Daily Mail site, and today I saw this picture (@ Kelvin Bruce)

Amazing fit for her advanced age and still able to ride her Fell Pony, this handsome lady is a  horsewoman extraordinaire.
I mean I have books about horses and riders, with Her Majesty Queen's photos in there, and I have visited some royal castles in the UK, seen monuments, films and photos, read articles and so on about Her Majesty's love for horses and horseback riding  - there is a Wikipedia entry about her horses. Many photos here.
Trooping the Colour and Her Majesty Queen riding her Canadian horse Burmese
Riding Burmese with my most favorite president since Teddy Roosevelt

At 91, birthday being next month, Queen Elizabeth II astride her mount is a view to behold - ergo, long live the Queen!

Do note, Her Majesty Queen has no helmet - :)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Vrancx' forlorn rider

March is upon us - time flies. I had some hard disc problem, just had to buy a new SSD, the old new one is kaput, along with the entire content, including my digital sketches - c'est la vie...
So to start with this month, I want to share a detail from a painting by Sebastian Vrancx & Jan Breughel II showing a horseman being shot by a bandit or a marauding soldier.

This forlorn rider's horse, a powerful gray mount, is fully outfitted in accordance with the period tack - a long-shanked curb bit with a single set of reins, a breastplate and a crouper. The tack has additional adornments in a form of leather straps hanging from the crouper right behind the Baroque saddle. Note that the rider is mounted with long, with heavy metal stirrups.
There is a horseman's bag (German der Mantelsack) - a form of a saddle bag - strapped behind the cantle, better seen on the bay horse held by a bandit in the background. Horse is shod on all four hooves,

I hope to share more details of the Vrancx' paintings showing horses and riders, and wagons or carriages.