Posts Tagged ‘comparisons’

Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

In the past few days, we visited three museums that we’d never been to before, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that two of the three museums both have a copy of one of our favorite sculptures at the MFA! Turns out, there are a lot of copies of this sculpture and it was delightful to run in to two of them, two days in a row, in two different cities.

Just for fun, here’s a list of all of the versions of Randolph Rogers’ Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii that I’ve seen so far:

Nydia at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

Nydia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: (photo taken in 2012)


at the Princeton University Art Museum
(photos taken in 2016):

at the New Britain Museum of Art
(photos taken in 2016):

at the Chicago Art Institute
(photo taken in 2017):

Michelangelo’s Drawings: Study for the Madonna

Sunday, April 28th, 2013
Michelangelo Casa Buonarroti 1508

Michelangelo, Study for the Head of the Madonna for the Doni Tondo, 1508,Casa Buonarroti, Florence. Photo Source:

This past Tuesday, the Museum of Fine Arts opened an exhibit of 26 drawings by Michelangelo, borrowed from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence. I had to wait five whole days before I could get over there to see the exhibit. It’s an extremely rare treat to see works by Michelangelo in the United States, not to mention in my own neighborhood.

Thank you to the MFA for exhibiting Michelangelo’s Drawings and giving me the chance to notice an interesting connection between two unrelated works.

When I saw the drawing on the right at the MFA, my first thought was of the figure of Jonah on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. When I read the label, I realized my mistake. It’s a study for the Doni Tondo, Michelangelo’s painting of the Holy Family for the Doni family. But was I wrong?

According to the Uffizi’s website, Michelangelo painted the Doni Tondo in 1506-08, and according to Casa Buonarroti’s website, the drawing is dated 1508. So it’s quite likely (and who am I to argue with the scholars) that this drawing is a study for the figure of the Madonna for the Doni Tondo.

But Michelangelo also started painting the Sistine Chapel Ceiling in 1508, so it’s also possible that this drawing is mislabeled, and it’s actually a study for the figure of Jonah in the Sistine Chapel.

Unfortunately, my theory falls apart when you consider that Michelangelo frescoed the ceiling from one end to the other, and that he started on the other end (the “Noah” end). In 1508, he was still a few years away from painting Jonah.

But … take a close look at the open mouth of the figure in the drawing (above), then take a look at the closed mouth of the Madonna in the Doni Tondo (below left), and the open mouth of Jonah from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling (below right).

You decide.

Michelangelo's Doni Tondo Michelangelo's Jonah from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Doni Tondo, 1506-1508,
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Photo source: Wikipedia
The Prophet Jonah, 1508-1512,
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Vatican City.
Photo source: The Web Gallery of Art


Shameless self-promotion: 
In 2006, I created an interactive exploration of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, identifying each figure in each panel. Please click here to visit my Sistine Chapel Project, and to see where Jonah is on the ceiling.

Gallery 810

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I finally finished a painting that I’ve been working on for a while. It’s not my masterpiece, but I love it.  Life occasionally gets in the way of painting, and this one may have sat on the back-burner for quite a while. I started this painting two years ago, almost to the day.

You might not be surprised by this: I love going to museums. On the day after Christmas in 2007, Brian and I spent the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, again this might not surprise you, I took a lot of pictures.

It’s not just that I love art — I love galleries, and Gallery 810 at the Met is perfect — deep dusty rose walls, parquet floors, columns, arched doorways, and a huge skylight, not to mention the shiny gilded frames holding glimpses in to other worlds, including the world of the mysterious Madame X.

Gallery 810
Metropolitan Museum of Art
oil on 12×18″ canvas


John Singer Sargent
Madame X (Portrait of Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau)
Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1884, John Singer Sargent exhibited his gorgeous portrait of Madame Gautreau at the Paris Salon, but it was not well-received. Critics argued that it was obscene, and Madame Gautreau was humiliated. Despite demands, Sargent refused to withdraw it from the salon, although he later repainted the sitter’s right shoulder-trap so that it was on her shoulder rather than loosely draped on her arm.

In 1916, Sargent sold the portrait, known as Madame X, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, commenting to the Met’s director “I suppose it is the best thing I have ever done.” In 2004, Deborah Davis wrote Strapless, a fabulous book about Sargent and Madame X. In 2007, when I got to see Madame X, she was hanging in Gallery 811, framed beautifully by the arched doorway of Gallery 810.

According to the Met’s website, she can now be found in Gallery 711. At some point, she was moved from the European paintings to the American paintings. Apparently, John Singer Sargent has been hard to classify since he was an American born Florence and he lived and worked in Paris and London before painting wealthy New Yorkers and Bostonians (such as Isabella Stewart Gardner) when he was my age.

click here for the Met’s page on Madame X 




My painting is based on a composite of these two photos:

And this is the Met’s photo of Gallery 810 from their page on the gallery:


Please visit to see my other recent paintings. 

The Bacchante and Infant Faun

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Our visit to the Brooklyn Museum reminded me that I keep running in to copies of Frederick MacMonnies’ ‘Bacchante and Infant Faun‘, one of my favorite sculptures.

Just for fun, here’s a list of all of the versions of Frederick MacMonnies’ Bacchante and Infant Faun that I know of

The description of Bacchante and Infant Faun from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website (emphasis mine)

“Modeled by Frederick W. MacMonnies in Paris in 1893–94, “Bacchante and Infant Faun” epitomizes the dramatic quality of the French Beaux-Arts style that dominated American sculpture during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The sculpture captures a nude young woman in exuberant motion, her right toes on the ground and her right arm holding a bunch of grapes high over her head. Her left knee pushes upward in a dancing motion, and with her left hand she secures a nude infant sitting in the crook of her elbow. MacMonnies first presented the bronze statue to the American architect Charles Follen McKim in appreciation for a fifty-dollar loan that had facilitated MacMonnies’s trip abroad in 1884. McKim intended it for the courtyard of the neo-Renaissance Boston Public Library that his firm, McKim, Mead and White, had designed for Copley Square. After a great storm of public protest stirred by temperance unions, clergy, and other angry Bostonians against the statue’s “drunken indecency,” McKim withdrew the gift and then offered “Bacchante” to the Metropolitan in May 1897. The Board of Trustees enthusiastically accepted it, and the bronze was displayed for many years in the Museum’s Great Hall with other examples of modern sculpture. Because of the statue’s enormous popularity, numerous reductions of it were cast in two sizes. There are also four smaller bronze versions (68 in. H.), two large marble replicas, and three other located over-life-size bronzes.”