Friday, 28 October 2016

Exhibition, Russian Realists in The Netherlands

Ilya Repin, self portrait
In Assen at the Drents museum they have an absolutely amazing exhibition right now.
During the 19th century the painters had to conform to the rules of the Academies. In France there was the Salon, in Russian the Imperial Academy.

Painters had to study for several years before they had to take an exam and only after that would they be offered a salary.

In 1870 a group of painters wanted more freedom. They were called the Peredvizhniki or the Wanderers, since they travelled around with their exhibitions.

They were influenced by French realist painter Courbet and painted every day Russian life, peasants, the Russian landscape and paid attention to folkore and (literary) heroes.

I visited the exhibition last week and I must tell you, if you have the chance: go and visit the Drents museum and see this exhibition.
It is absolutely amazing. The paintings are so divers and wonderful and they moved me to tears sometimes.

One of the most famous Russian paintings is Barge haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin and it is as important to Russia as the Nightwatch is to The Netherlands, but this beautiful painting is even on display in Assen.
Ilya Repin, Barge haulers on the Volga 1870-1873

At the schooldoor, Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky 1897

Midnight. In the country, Isaac Levitan 1897
Peredvizhniki, Russian realists around Repin 1870-1900 can be seen until April 2nd, 2017.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Impressions from Assen

Last week I visited Assen in the province of Drente, one of the three Dutch northern provinces. I visited an amazing exhibition there (more on that soon). On my way to the museum I saw these charming houses and old details.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Constellation, Adrien Bosc

In 1949 a group of very different people met eachother. Among them were the boxer Marcel Cerdan who was going to America to win back his title and to meet his mistress Edith Piaf, but also the French violinist Ginette Neveu and her brother were there. 

And other people like shepherds from Spain, a young girl on her way to meet her aunt and a man who hoped to reconcile with his ex-wife. 

There was even a painter on board who should have left the day before, but who gave up his seat to an actress who had too much luggage.

All of them boarded the Constellation on the evening of October 27th to bring them from Paris to New York and their lives will be linked forever, because that plane crashed just before they had to land to refuel before they would begin their journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

Soon after all contact with the plane was lost, people feared for an accident and other planes began a searchparty. The remains were soon found, there were no survivors.

Constellation is the debut novel of Adrien Bosc. He does not only reconstruct what happened that night, but also tells us the stories of all those people who were on board. Yes, there were some famous people on board and a lot of attention went to them, but in total there were forty-eight people on board and this book makes sure they will not be forgotten.

The inquest into the planecrash was made difficult by the fact that something like a black box did not exist back then. They finally found out what happened by having another plane of the same type fly the same route, a shadowflight.

Adrien Bosc manages to bring the people on that plane alive, often in a touching way. The inquest is interesting and some of the mistakes that are made are very painful. This book won the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie Française, Adrien Bosc is a new writer to keep an eye on!

Original French title: Constellation

Published in 2014

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The San Marco in Venice

Cathedral as seen from the other side of the San Marco square
The San Marco cathedral in Venice is one of the most beautiful and unique churches in the world, I think.

It was built in the middle of the 11th century, to accomodate the remains of Saint Mark (San Marco), that the Venetians took from the city of Alexandria a couple of centuries before.

The outside is breathtaking, but it is nothing compared to the inside of the church. I never make phtographs inside a church (out of respect), but I can tell you that the church is covered in gold mosaics, every wall and even the ceilings. The floor has mosaics as well. The light is a bit dimmed and the effect is like you are inside a cave near the sea.

The entrance is free, but you have to dress appropriately (no bare shoulders or knees). Also be prepared to wait in line for a while.
The front side
Inside the church you can see the treasure chamber, there is an entrance fee of 3 euro's for this. This is a terribly small room, but really cool. Inside are the relics of the church, all the remains of the saints that used to be worshipped in the Middle Ages.
For 2 euro's you can look behind the altar and see the beautiful gold mosaics here.
The San Marco cathedral is a church you must see when you are in Venice.
The back as seen from the Ducal palace

Friday, 14 October 2016

Books for those autumn evenings

Now the weather is turning colder and it gets dark early in the evening, there is nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a mug of tea, some chocolate and of course: a beautiful book.

If you want to get lost in a book, and forget that outside it is rainy and cold, here are a few recommendations.

Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg. 
This is one of those books you can only call 'heartwarming'. It is the engaging story of Evelyn who comes to the nursing home with her husband to visit her mother in law. Evelyn is not happy with herself, her life, her weight or her marriage. She feels like time is leaving her behind and there should be something more to life than she has now.

In the nursing home she meets an old lady, Mrs. Threadgoode, who tells her about the Whistle Stop Cafe and the amazing people who lived there.
It is a story about love, heartache, family and friends and perhaps even a murder.

I absolutely loved this book and it is a perfect read for a cold evening.

Short stories by Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov is one of my all-time favorite authors. His short stories are the best there are, I think. He brings alive the Russian world of around 1900, a world long gone. He wrote about the common people, the students, the servants, the farmers. He was original since he did not always give a story a happy end and sometimes it is even an open ending.

Some stories are around 6 pages, other are around 30 pages long. His earlier work is more funny, his later stories are more serious.

Give them a try and let Anton Chekhov take you to Sint Petersburgs or Moscow, in the cold Russian winters.

The night circus, Erin Morgenstern
I read this book when it came out in Dutch translation in November 2011, so that is five years ago, I remember how much I loved the book and how impressed I was with the atmosphere and the details of the magical Night circus. The story of the two young people who are trained by the rival magicians and who do not know what is at stake with their competition.

The way the Night Circus was described was done in a genius manner, I could see every detail of this strange place in my mind.

Lately this book has been calling to me again and now I have taken it out of my bookcase and I will read it again. I am curious to see if re-reading it will be a good experience and that the book will live up to my memory, or that it will be a disappointment. I hope not, but I will let you know!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Italian books and books about Italy

When I love a certain subject, or am interested in a certain topic, my first instinct is to buy a book about it. When I am very interested or love it very much, I buy a lot of books!

When I began to become interested in Italy in general and Rome specifically, I began my collection of books about Italy. A little bit later I also began to read Italian authors in Dutch translation and nowadays I can say I read many Italian writers.

I keep my Italian books in my bedroom. The first two shelves are books set in Italy , like the Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leon (second shelf!) or the Ceasar books by Conn Iggulden and the Gordianus series by Steven Saylor. (first shelf)

The third shelf is mainly books from people who lived in Italy and travelguides.
The fourth and fifth shelves are full with history, history of Rome and the Roman empire and later Italy.

The last two shelves are the novels and thrillers from Italian authors.

The novels I love the most are in the bookcases in the living room.

Here you see some of my favorite books of all times; The books by Beppe Fenoglio, Margaret Mazzantini, Fabrio Genovese, Sandro Veronesi, Giorgio Fontana, Cesare Pavese, Umberto Eco, and many, many more.

I will tell you about what my favorite Italian books are and why in a later post!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Street art in Paris

One of my favorite spots in Paris is the Canal St. Martin. The last two times I was in Paris, I took a walk here and I think it will be one of those things I will do every time I am in Paris. For me it is one of those places you just need to be at every visit.

Last May my eye fell on great street-art, wherever I looked. I like how colorful these artworks are and how divers.
Here are a few examples.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Van Gogh's ear, Bernadette Murphy

The Dutch cover
You would think that with so many books and articles published about Vincent van Gogh, there is nothing new to tell. Well, there you would be wrong.

Meet Bernadette Murphy, who moved from Ireland to Arles, the town in the Provence where Vincent lived in the last eightteen months of his life.

When she had some time, she decided if she could work out what happened with Vincent's ear, but during her investigation, she found out much more.

Bernadette Murhphy knew how to combine the information from all kinds of sources, inventories, testaments, courtcases, letters etc etc. She also created a database for all the inhabitants of Arles around 1890, so she could easily match her data.

She found out a few smaller things, like if absinth playes a part in Vincent's madness (answer: probably not), or the identity of the girl that Vincent gave his ear to and also worked out a very logical reasoning for his behaviour.

But she also found valueable information about what really happened with Vincent's ear (we finally know for sure now), and what was really the case when the inhabitants of Arles filed a request to remove Vincent from their neighbourhood. This request really hurt Vincent and it does not reflect well on the people of Arles, but by carefully looking at the signatures, Bernadette Murphy found out what really happened.

Van Gogh's ear is a wonderful book. It is not only full of information about Vincent, but also about Arles in those days with all kinds of wonderful details about all aspects of life. And it is also a book about how determination and a little bit of luck can make for a great investigation!

Title: Van Gogh's ear. The true story.
Published in 2016

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Autumn? Well, a little bit of autumn.

I do not know how things are in the rest of the world, but September has been exceptionally warm here in The Netherlands. This  means we were still able to go out without a jacket, and the terraces were still full of people enjoying sitting outside.

Last week I went out for a walk, and I did spot a little bit of autumn. Not nearly as much as in previous years, but small signs tell us that the seasons are changing, although very slowly!

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