46d-Spring Break 2017

46d-S[romg Breal-Giuseppe_Castiglione_-_Gathering_of_Auspicious_Signs“Gathering of Auspicious Signs” by Giuseppe Castiglione.  Painted in 1723.
Public Domain.

I have one very vivid memory that recurs each year around the time of my Mom’s birthday on April 18th.  No matter what the weather was like or what was going on in our lives Mom said a birthday is a time to celebrate.  Each day is a gift no matter what we find in the box we open each morning.  We each have a role to play and bring our own unique gifts to the setting in which we participate.  Mom also held that each day is a re-birth because at the end of the day we should leave off the exhaustion, the gains and the losses and put them behind us.  Sleep was a renewing process.  All that happened the day before could be recycled and of use in the present or the future.  We just need to get on with the day ahead and not dwell too much on the past.  Answers will come in the course of time.

To illustrate this point Mom once told me that the newly found realizations are akin to Spring.  From within will blossom the knowledge we need if we just quiet the ramblings of the conscious mind and spend some time in a sweet solitude where we gather ourselves together.  “In springtime, the world is born anew!” Mom always said when it was her birthday.  She used that as a way to encourage me in the practice of seeking time out and spending it in quiet reflection.

Each year Uncle Sammy and I take a Spring break.  It is a time to rest, to socialize during the Easter holidays, visit the resting place of Josie and Sam and pray for those we are with in spirit but cannot make the visit to, whether at home or at their resting places.  We hope everyone is awakening after a very long winter and taking time to attune themselves to the cycle of renewal and rebirth going on in nature right now.  May it also happen for all of you, too.

To add an element of learning to this posting we have showcased a painting by Giuseppe Castiglione.  He was a Jesuit missionary who became a painter in the court of the Chinese Emperor during the 18th century.  We have also learned that Giuseppe Vivaldi, composer of “The Four Seasons”, wrote sonnets to accompany each of his concertos.  We present here Vivaldi’s sonnet to Spring in Italian and English which come from the website BaroqueMusic.org  Acknowledgements and links follow the sonnets.

We will return to WordPress in mid-May.

–EmilyAnn Frances May
–Sam Serrapede, Jr.
–April 9, 2017

Spring – Concerto in E Major by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds lightly dance beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.


Spring – Concerto in E Major by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
“Giunt’ è la Primavera e festosetti
La Salutan gl’ Augei con lieto canto,
E i fonti allo Spirar de’ Zeffiretti
Con dolce mormorio Scorrono intanto:
Vengon’ coprendo l’ aer di nero amanto
E Lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti
Indi tacendo questi, gl’ Augelletti;
Tornan’ di nuovo al lor canoro incanto:”

“E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante
Dorme ‘l Caprar col fido can’ à lato.”

“Di pastoral Zampogna al suon festante
Danzan Ninfe e Pastor nel tetto amato
Di primavera all’ apparir brillante.”


“Gathering of Auspicious Signs” by Giuseppe Castiglione
Giuseppe’s Chinese name:  Lang Shi’ning
Public Domain.  Wikimedia Commons.

Giuseppe Castiglione
The Art History Archive-Chinese Art

Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” Sonnets

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons “Spring”






36e-Made in Italy (Part 2)


Aunt Kathie and Uncle Sammy surprised me with a beautiful gift from Italy.  I never expected to get a cameo that has my initial.  I love the mix of modernity and tradition it has.  Now I’m thinking of getting a new white blouse to wear with it.  I may even have a jeweler put a gold loop through the hole so I can replace the cord with a short gold chain.

Cameo by APA

This cameo was made from a sea shell.  The artisans have to go through several layers in the shell to reach the darker background that provides the contrast.





36d-Uncle Sammy & Aunt Kathie’s Tour of Italy-Pompeii

Pompeii:  Ancient meets Modern

I am still enjoying all the photos from Uncle Sammy and Aunt Kathie’s tour of Italy.  I’ve gone back to the ones from Pompeii many times because they offer so much to think on.  The photos I’m talking about feature modern sculptures by Igor Mitoraj that are juxtaposed amidst the ancient ruins of Pompeii.  These sculptures are larger than life.  Yet as you look at them against the backdrop of Pompeii they bring to mind many messages.  At first I questioned what the purpose of the sculptures were because they seem so jarring and out of place.  Uncle Sammy, Aunt Kathie and I had a very interesting conversation through the comments at the album and by email.  Their guidance got me to admit to my feelings and better articulate them.

The sculptures confront us and challenge us to look at the experience of visiting Pompeii in a different way.  They can be looked at as conveying messages of hope, renewal and the ability of humanity to overcome and endure. Everyone will come away with a different reaction to this experience.  It took awhile for me to accept the presence of these sculptures at Pompeii.  I’m continuing to make connections between the ancient and modern messages in both.  This means the artist has achieved the goal of getting us to see, think and respond to the ancient city and what happened in a new and hopefully deeper way.

The Scuptures of Igor Mitoraj at Pompeii


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30a-Culture Break: Italian Genre Painting and the Woman’s Role

Images of Italy from the Past

I recently discovered the artwork of Italian genre painter Giovanni Battista Torriglia while researching articles for the Muro family. His paintings were a delight to view and on further consideration I found they contained enough elements to tell a story set in the Italy of long ago.  I decided to learn a little more about him and the style in which he painted.  I hope you will enjoy Torriglia’s artwork and perhaps see a story or two in the paintings that follow the background information on this topic.

What is Genre Painting?

When the Reformation began in the early 16th century, Northern European art took a different direction. The demand for large scale works of art with religious themes began to decrease.  Paintings were commissioned by the rising class of merchants and businessmen who wanted small scale works of art to display in their homes.  Scenes from everyday life as well as landscapes and still life were much in demand.

Some critics in Europe held that genre art had no moral to teach but time has shown this is not true. In many paintings a moral message is made through the details in the background or the arrangement of people in the scene or in the choice of setting.

Genre Painting in Italy

The earlier masters of Genre Painting were Dutch artists such as Vermeer. He worked to infuse a sense of light in all its variations–reflected, hazy, subdued, glittering–into his paintings. One of Vermeer’s best known paintings is “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”  This use of light also influenced the genre painters of Itay.

As the Italian aristocracy became bored with religious artwork during the waning years of the Renaissance, the appearance of genre art began to take hold. Although in real life the upper classes did not want to see the poor and the common people cross their paths, the images of their life became sought after in the form of small paintings depicting scenes of the poor and their lives.

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29-Culture Break: An 18th Century Italian Wedding

While researching wedding customs in 19th and 20th century Italy, Uncle Sammy and I discovered the artwork of Giulio Rosati.  He was an Italian painter who depicted scenes from 18th and 19th century life, as well as exotic imaginings of life in the East.  We hope you will enjoy this painting of an 18th century Italian wedding.  The color and detail in this painting make it a delight to view.

The Wedding, 1885

“The Wedding”
by Giulio Rosati (1858-1917)






“The Wedding”
by Giulio Rosati (1858-1917)
Public Domain Image

Giulio Rosati
All Art Classic