Category: the beautiful

Byōdō-in temple



Byōdō-in (平等院“Temple of Equality”) is a Buddhist temple in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, built in the late Heian period. It is jointly a temple of the Jōdo-shū (Pure Land) and Tendai-shū sects.

Bodisattva’s [ (木造雲中供養菩薩像 ]    |    Heian Period 1053 CE    |    40.0–87.0 cm (15.7–34.3 in)

Josetsu – catching a catfish with a gourd

Catching a catfish with a gourd (瓢鮎図Hyō-nen-zu) is a hanging scroll painting by the 15th-century artist Josetsu (如拙). The painting was executed in c. 1415 and is held by Taizō-in, a sub-temple of the Myōshin-ji complex of Zen Buddhist temples in Kyoto. It is one of the earliest suiboku (ink wash) paintings in Japan and was designated as a National Treasure of Japan in 1951. The painting is accompanied by many inscriptions, and may be considered an example of shigajiku (a “poem-and-painting scroll”).

Josetsu was born and trained as an artist in China but settled in Japan. He was one of the first suiboku painters working in Japan in the Muromachi period.

The work was inspired by a riddle set by Ashikaga Yoshimochi, the fourth shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate: “How do you catch a catfish with a gourd?” The full scroll measures 111.5 cm × 75.8 cm (43.9 in × 29.8 in), with long inscription above the painting recording the shōgun’s rhetorical question and also that Josetsu drew an answer, and naming 31 leading Zen monks who each provide a written response to the shōgun’s question.

wikipedia entry

Ram Das

The Mogul Emperor Babur receives the envoys Uzbeg and Rauput in the garden at Agra on the 18th December 1528    |    illustration to the Wariat-i-Barbari by Ram Das    |    c.1590

thanks to @arthistorian18

Kizil Caves

The Kizil Caves (simplified Chinese克孜尔千佛洞traditional Chinese克孜爾千佛洞lit. ‘Kizil Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’; Uighurقىزىل مىڭ ئۆيlit.‘The Thousand Red Houses’; also romanized Qizil Caves, spelling variant Qyzyl; Kizil means ‘red’) are a set of Buddhist rock-cut caves located near Kizil Township (克孜尔乡Kèzī’ěr Xiāng) in Baicheng CountyAksu PrefectureXinjiangChina.    |    3rd century CE    |    wikipedia entry


Rubens    |    Minerva Protecting Peace from Mars    |    ca 1630    |    National Gallery, London

203.5 cm (80.1 in) x 298 cm (117.3 in)


… This is a classic example of Bach being caught up in the process of elaboratio, the second stage in the fleshing out of a musical composition as defined by Christoph Bernhard. In his Tractatus compositions augmentatus (c. 1657), widely circulated in manuscript during the second half of the seventeenth century, Bernhard brought Cicero’s five divisions of rhetoric * up to date and in applying them to music reduced them to three: inventio, elaboratio and executio. First, Bach crafts a workable idea (inventio), one that opens the door to creative embellishment (elaboratio), and then puts it to the test in performance (executio). These concepts are complementary and vital. The first two require intense mental activity, but there is a crucial difference between them: whereas invention is work, elaboration is play. Laurence Dreyfus expands on this: ‘while invention requires foresight, planning, consistency, savvy, and seriousness of purpose, elaboration is content with elegance, an associative logic, and an eye for similarities.’ The latter allowed Bach to explore dormant qualities in composition that most composers of his day would have missed. The hallmark of Bach’s skill in elaboratio lies in the intricacy and connectedness of his methods, such as variation and parody: these come across as far more refined and distinctive than those of his contemporaries, who, as Dreyfus observes, tend to treat elaboration in a more casual manner. But we are liable to be disappointed and may be trivialising the creative process if we expect to find all the germs of a new work neatly contained in its beginnings and then elaborated in logical progression. At certain times this does happen; at others Bach introduces new thematic material that involves discarding or cutting short the trajectory of an opening theme, but in such a way that we would probably not notice that anything was amiss, so accomplished is he at papering over the joins and bringing things to a natural-seeming conclusion. Dreyfus points to the formal oddity of an immensely popular piece, the opening movement of Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto, to illustrate how the formation of its two competing ritornellos is incomplete and in a sense defective. Bach seems to acknowledge the fact by his inability to repeat both of them intact at the end of the movement. Yet the listener is probably not in the least disturbed by the irrationality of its construction, delighting instead in its playfulness, wit and brilliance. What is most valuable about this sort of approach is that Bach could be shown to be at his most creative when his chosen inventive material falls short in some way, or when some sort of irregularity gives rise to ideas that he probably would not otherwise have had. What Dreyfuss reveals is that there is a real human intelligence operative here, not some detached Godlike figure who just creates ex nihilo.

* Cicero’s treatment of rhetoric was derived from earlier Hellenistic tradition and divided by him into five canons : Inventio – invention, Dispositio – arrangement, Elocutio – style, Memoria – memory and Pronuntiatio – delivery.

– from Music in the Castle of Heaven : A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by John Eliot Gardiner pgs 214-215

Titian : poesie

Titian : a series of mythological paintings classified by the term “poesie” intended for King Philip II of Spain taking subjects from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Danaë, delivered to Philip in 1553, now Wellington Collection
Venus and Adonis, delivered 1554, Museo del Prado
Perseus and Andromeda, c. 1554–1556, Wallace Collection
Diana and Actaeon, 1556–1559, London’s National Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh
Diana and Callisto, 1556–1559, London’s National Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh
The Rape of Europa, c. 1560–1562, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Death of Actaeon, c. 1559-1575, never delivered, National Gallery London

Perseus and Andromeda

Titian    |   Perseus and Andromeda    |   ca 1554 – 1556    |   183.3 x 199.3 [cm]    |   Wallace Collection, London
Veronese    |   Perseus and Andromeda    |   ca 1576 – 1578    |   260 x 211 [cm]    |   Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes
Piero di Cosimo    |   Perseus and Andromeda    |   ca 1510 – 1515    |   70 x 123 [cm]    |   Uffizi, Firenze