Sunday, November 22, 2009

More splendid lettering

Europe has a dizzying scale that can leave you with a staggered feeling.

Which explains why I was standing in Saint Peter's Basilica with a stiff neck last week from looking up and up and up again.

When we left the glories of Museo Vaticani and the Sistine Chapel I thought I was done staring skyward. But I'd forgotten the glories of Saint Peter's, and soon found myself gaga over the lettering on the upper edges...

How graceful the Roman lettering, black on gilt.

How perfect the spacing.

Which has me thinking back to the maps I saw on the walls of the Museo Vaticani...

The golden lettering and calligraphic swirls are the work of a master. How I would love to talk to that calligrapher!

Who was the anonymous letterer? What was his or her training? What materials did they use? Did they sketch first on the walls below the gilt and paints? And how did they think up that ornate bumblebee that decorates the Tyrrenian Sea?

When in Florence the very next day I found myself in an old, old courtyard savoring the lettering again.

This one, according to Noel, who is a Latin scholar, tells about the best families and the knights who made up the monument in 1648.

And don't you love the hand below? Doesn't it make you long to run for nibs and ink?

There is no end to the inspirations in Europe.

Already I long to visit again, this time with more time to sit and sketch and spend time making art of my own.

But I brought home pigments from Rousillon, and they are calling to me now. Off to create something this rainy Sunday afternoon at home.


BJ Lantz said...

::sigh:: I understand completely. By the time I had gotten to visit St. Peter's for the first time I had already been in many, many cathedrals and thought, This will just be another church. But I was wrong, way wrong. It was THE church. Absolutely amazing.

I was fortunate enough that my first visit there was pre-security days and you could walk right in. It so happened that as we approached the big area before the basilica, a mass was about to begin and there was a procession of the priest & alter boys carrying the cross, swinging incense & chanting. We followed them into the church, while the organ soared and light streamed through the high windows. It was all too amazing. I'll remember that forever.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, I get so IRATE when I hear the so-called "experts" in archeology and anthropology speaking about how it was possible for past generations eons ago to build icons such as the pyramids, stonehenge, etc., as if humans back then could not possibly be as intelligent as we are today! Maybe they were far more sensitive to what really matters? Or far more sensitive to spiritual things? Or far more sensitive to the simple that is really NOT so simple! Perhaps they were more in touch with what matters than we are as a society?


Sharyn Sowell said...

I was inspired so much by visits to Tarquinia (an Etruscan village that dates to 800BC) and Pompeii... they were very, very sophisticated and "modern." Pompeii has elevated paved sidewalks, plumbing for hot, cold and lukewarm water in the walls, and sundials that are exactly like street clocks. They had public restrooms with fragrance gardens to allay the smell, and shops with display counters just like in Macys but smaller. In Tarquinia I saw gold dentures and orchestral instruments that dated to 400BC,and gold rings made in identical fashion to what my husband sells today. The level of sophistication is shocking~ those people long ago lived much the same as we do, minus the electronics. I think their struggles were similar, their victories were similar to ours. And boy did they understand art!

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I literally wept inside the Sistine Chapel...the miracle that these surviving sacred marks still move the human spirit into a state of awe. Happy Trails. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart