Quentin Massys, The Adoration of the Magi, 1526, oil on wood, 103 x 80 cm., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Barbra Stanwyck in a costume designed by Edith Head
Campidoglio e Santa Maria in Aracoeli, 2010
The Dutch Proverbs, Pieter Bruegel the Elder Proverb: To bang one’s head against a brick wall
The ethnic origin of the Abkhazians of African descent — and how Africans arrived in Abkhazia — is still a matter of dispute among experts. Historians agree that the settlement of Africans in a number of villages in the village of Adzyubzha in Abkhazia (then part of the Ottoman Empire) is likely to have happened in the 17th century. According to one version, a few hundred slaves were bought and brought by Shervashidze princes (Chachba) to work on the citrus plantations.This case was a unique, and apparently not entirely successful, case of mass import of Africans to the Black Sea coast.
According to another theory, Abkhazians of African descent are the descendants of the Colchians, the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Colchis in present-day western Georgia. However, the question of the likelihood of at least some continuity between the ancient Colchians and current Abkhazians of African descent is not known, because there is no available, reliable evidence of the existence of an African population in historic Kolkhi. They may also derive from the Egyptian Copts or Ethiopian Jews. Abkhazian writer Dmitry Gulia in the book “History of Abkhazia” compared the place names of Abkhazia and the corresponding names in Ethiopia and claimed that some of the geographical names are identical: Bagadi – Bagadi, Gunma – Gunma, Tabakur – Dabakur, etc.
In 1927, the Russian writer Maxim Gorky, together with the Abkhaz writer Samson Chanba visited the village of Adzyubzha and met elderly Africans there. Based on his visit and comparison of his observations with the published data, he felt that the Ethiopian version of the origin of the Abkhazians of African descent is true.
Portrait of an Afro-Abkhazian man, c. 1870-83. Photo from the George Kennan Papers.
Cameo Ring with Snail decoration
1st - 2nd Century AD
(Source: The British Museum)
Unswept Floor Mosaic
Roman copy of a Greek Original
2nd century AD
Vatican Museum, Rome
This mosaic shows the remains of a banquet, the floor littered with food, bones, shells, and all manner of other things related to eating and otherwise. From this depiction, we can get an idea of what the elite of Greece and Rome ate, and the kind of mess that might have been left behind following a lavish banquet. Although the waste pictured is likely overemphasized for a feeling of opulence and plenty, this mosaic, a dirty floor unable to be cleaned, is not by any means one of a kind.
This mosaic, also titled Unswept Floor, is a 3rd c. BC Roman mosaic, (source: the Getty) and pictures many kinds of seafood, tubers, fruits, and even a broken eggshell in the top left corner.
Zanobi Strozzi died in Florence on this day in 1468. A distant cousin to the wealthy Palla Strozzi, Zanobi trained as a manuscript illuminator and painter, possibly with Fra Angelico. He certainly collaborated with the Dominican artist as well as other painters in his circle, including Battista di Biagio Sanguigni, with whom he shared a house, and Filippo di Matteo Torelli. Documented works include the splendid choir books painted for the Dominican convent of San Marco and an antiphonal for the Benedictine monastery of the Badia. It is also quite likely that Zanobi worked on the fresco cycle that decorates the Badia’s cloister. Long thought of only as a miniaturist, Zanobi is now understood through large-scale works like his signed Annunciation now in London and his recently cleaned altarpiece for Santa Maria Nuova.
Further reading: The Badia of Florence: Art and Observance in a Renaissance Monastery by Anne Leader (2012); Fra Angelico by Larry Kanter and Pia Palladino (2005).
Life of St. Benedict, ca. 1435-9. Florence: Badia.
Annunciation, ca. 1440-5. London: National Gallery.
St. Agnes, Gradual, 1448-49. Florence: Museo di San Marco.
King David in Prayer in an Initial B, ca. 1450. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 1975.1.2470
51 (other) actors who have never won a competitive Academy Award
(and probably should have)
Creation of the Birds, The Hours of Giangaleazzo Viconti, Duke of Milan. c. 1388-95.