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  • Volcano or Leopard Skin? July 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Volcano or Leopard Skin?

    It is regularly cited as the earliest map in the world (‘the greatest find in cartographic history’); it is ‘certainly’ our earliest landscape painting. Here, at level VII, in one of the world’s first cities, Çatalhöyük in Turkey, is a remarkable mural. A group of tessellated squares that appear to be houses painted beneath a […]

    Painting on Water May 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Painting on Water

    The strangest painting technique ever employed? The Mountain Man of Fan-Yang, an artist from T’ang China perhaps holds the prize in what for Europe would have been the early Middle Ages. The Mountain Man’s preferred method was as follows: as you remember this think about a French or Irish monk inking a manuscript. Mountain man […]

    Weird Chinese Painters April 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Weird Chinese Painters

    Modern painters have used blood and vomit as paints and penis, breasts and even eyes as brushes. However, the medieval Chinese sometimes gave the modern paper-tearers a run for their money. Wang Hsia (obit 805), for example, was known as ‘ink-flinger Wang’. He would, first, get drunk, second, hurl ink at his surfaces, third, smear […]

    In Search of the Most Beautiful Pictures Ever Seen August 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    In Search of the Most Beautiful Pictures Ever Seen

    One of the nice things about running a blog is that you can ask people things and as Beach is now at a point of nervous desperation on this issue he is going to open this obsession to a wider public. In 1993, 1994 or possibly 1995 Beach was walking down a street in a […]

    Pheidippides Remembered in Art June 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides Remembered in Art

    Beach recently enjoyed himself with three posts about the Athenian runner Pheidippides and while he was dipping into half forgotten but much loved sources he became curious about the treatment of the Pheidippides legend in the ‘art’ of the last couple of centuries, art understood in the loosest and most general sense. He, therefore, spent an […]

    The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France May 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France

    Oô in southern France has two things going for it. First, that name, I mean what…?! And second the pierre d’Oô one of the weirdest objects to emerge the last three or four thousand years of human endeavour: a sculpture of a lady and her pet. At this point, readers should take a moment and […]

    Disturbingly Nude Victorian Mermaids March 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Disturbingly Nude Victorian Mermaids

    Nothing like a really beautiful mermaid, right: hair breezing sea blue blonde, scales shining with Brasso, tail whipping like a pike dropped in a bucket of acid? Well, yes, and Beach has previously celebrated the alluring mermaids of Venice: what some of his students would call ‘babes’. But he has been disturbed today by a […]

    In Search of Medieval Pain February 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    In Search of Medieval Pain

    First, a small rider. Beach would prefer to spend ten minutes in the company of medieval artists, than two hours in the company of the Renaissance ‘masters’. However, he has recently been disappointed in a search for pain among his favourite twelfth-, thirteenth- and fourteenth-century painters. In his naivety he thought that crucifixion scenes and […]

    The Misericordia Polyptych Meets Allied Bombs November 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Misericordia Polyptych Meets Allied Bombs

    The Misericordia Polyptych is a talismanic work of art by Piero della Francesca, today, and for most of its history, kept at Sanselpolcro in eastern Tuscany near the border with Umbria (Italy). It took PF seventeen years to complete the polyptych, yet it would have only taken a second for an Allied bomb to blow […]

    Image: The Hands Haven’t It July 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Image: The Hands Haven't It

    What is wrong with this picture? We have here two Elizabethan nobles: Sir Thomas Wroughton (d. 1597) and Lady Anne Wroughton of Broad Hinton in Wiltshire: their manor house would in later centuries host and house such notables as John Evelyn and the Iron Duke of Wellington. Thomas was a member of the upper ranks […]

    How to Train a Griffin! June 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    How to Train a Griffin!

    Beni Hassan is a collection of ancient Egyptian tombs in central Egypt. The tombs there have many precious illustrations of day-to-day life under the Pharoahs. And one of the most curious images is that above from the tomb of Khety (eleventh dynasty). Reader, what are you looking at? No, idea? Well, there is little doubt […]

    Love Goddess #9: Damian Hirst’s Madonna May 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Love Goddess #9: Damian Hirst's Madonna

    ***Thanks to Invisible for sending this one in*** Damien Hirst, media-savvy horseman of the post modern art apocalypse and the Madonna, mother of Christ, eternal sweetness and light, whose breasts produce condensed milk for the faithful. What would happen should these two contrary forces come together? Well, there is no reason for speculation because in […]

    The Rossendale Fairies Photographed? April 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Rossendale Fairies Photographed?

    This week has been big in fairy land. Not only did an interesting piece appear concerning a diabolical gnome from Argentina, there were also some photographs published by the Manchester Evening News purporting to show fairies. As this blog has always taken very great pleasure in giving fairies and more importantly fairy belief space we […]

    Love Goddess #8: Simonetta Vespucci March 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Love Goddess #8: Simonetta Vespucci

    Our latest in the love goddess series (for a full list see below) is Simonetta Vespucci (obit 1476), a woman that had the reputation for being the most outstanding beauty of Florence at the apogee of that city’s golden age. We know that she came from Genova (her maiden name was Cattaneo de Candia), we […]

    A Pregnant Christ?! January 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Pregnant Christ?!

    This beautiful mosaic is an eleventh-century work in the church of San Miniato in Florence, one of the most extraordinary religious buildings in the world. The mosaic is unusual as, though put together in central Italy, it shows, as does an accompanying mosaic outside the church, clear eastern influences. Are we to think of itinerant […]

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