Spanish Riding School and the State Hall National Library, Vienna

Day 73, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

This morning we went to see the Lipizzaner stallions, but not a performance.  We went to the morning training session instead. We got to sit in the 96 euro seats for two hours and watch the horses train and it only cost us 9.5 euros each!   It was great and we both enjoyed it. We found out that to get those 96 euro seats we should have reserved months in advance!  We sat about half way down the side of the arena.No photos are allowed and I was very good and didn’t try to sneak any!  It would have been so nice to have a few photos though.  These two photos were taken from posters advertising the performances.  The stallions are gorgeous!  I did a bit of sketching during the training and that was OK but it was hard to draw and watch what was going on a the same time.  After a bit I decided to just enjoy watching the training session and forget about drawing.

It is unusual to see any of the jumps that are performed in the performances during a training session.  We were very lucky, we saw two different horses perform the capriole!  The first stallion was experienced and he did three caprioles.  This is where the horse jumps straight up into the air, kicks out with the hind legs, and lands more or less on all four legs at the same time. It is a very difficult jump. The second stallion was young and still in training. He managed to get his forelegs up in the jump but the hind legs didn’t quite make it, but he tried three times as well.  We also saw the piaffe, the dance like trotting on the spot and several other of the special dressage movements.

The training session was two hours long.  Four half hour sessions with different horses for each session.  It went by very quickly and Bob said he enjoyed it too, even though he doesn’t love horses near as much as I do! Next stop is the State Hall of the National Library.  It is so amazing!  It is hard to describe such a magnificent place.  The pictures probably do a better job, so here they are.  This is our view when we enter the library.  We both just stop and stare!  This library is nearly 60 metres long and 20 metres high and contains over 200,000 books! One of the first things we see are these ‘secret’ doors the open into rooms with even more books. The cases Bob is standing by held illuminated manuscripts.  I would have loved to be able to climb one of these ladders and pull a book or two off the shelves.
These are from 1400 and 1260!The globes have been in this spot since the mid 1700’s. This statue is in the central oval of the library beneath a painted domed ceiling.

Here is a view looking up at the ceiling…and a wide angled view of the central area.
We sit for a while just absorbing the atmosphere. Looking towards the entrance from where I was sitting… and towards the back of the library. The second level is just as ornately decorated as the first.  I wish we could have gone there as well, but it was not to be. One last photo before we leave.  Here is a short video I made of the inside of the library. When we leave the library we pass the Lipizzaner stables.I zoom in on these two beauties.
We stop at the Minoritenkirche because Bob says it has a mosaic life size replica of The Last Supper.It appears to be painted on tiled panels rather than being a mosaic made with many small tiles.
We didn’t get to see The Last Supper when we were in Italy.  We didn’t know we had to get tickets far in advance, so I guess this is the next best thing.We walk towards the metro through a bit of a park…
where there are lots of people sitting enjoying the sunshine. I was surprised there were so many yellow roses in bloom so late in the year.  Do you notice all the little white signs in the background?  This is a memorial garden and each rose is planted in memory of a person who has passed away. It is a beautiful sunny afternoon.  Warm for November, but we still need our coats. We stop at the Naschmarkt for something to eat.  This roast pig is for sale by the piece, starting at the back end.  Interesting but we decide on something a bit less exotic.I love this huge art nouveau pot supported by four turtles.  Wish I had one like this at home!

We have a bit of time at home before I go to for another life drawing session at a pub called The Roo Bar.  Here are a 5 minute, two 10 minute and a 20 minute drawing. A ten and twenty minute pose. I think I liked these two 5 minute drawings the best.  It was a good night. 

Dürer Exhibit at the Albertina Museum, Vienna

Day 72, Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I have been looking forward to visiting this Dürer Exhibit.  I only found out about it in Munich at a drawing Meetup.  This exhibition is the most comprehensive Dürer exhibition  in decades.  It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

It is raining today so it is a good day to spend inside. We purchased our tickets online so no waiting in the lineup!Before we see the Dürer exhibit we visit the other parts of the museum.  There are 20 decorated and restored Habsburg State Rooms with precious wall coverings, chandeliers, fireplaces and stoves, inlaid floors, and exquisite furniture. We pass through these fairly quickly, we have seen quite a few of these kinds of rooms on this trip and I am more interested in the Dürer exhibit.  The floors are beautiful with inlaid wood designs.  We notice that the floors we walk on are actually reproductions placed over the original floors in order to preserve them.  If you look closely you can just make out the seam lines of these rectangular reproduction tiles.

The chandeliers in this room were very beautiful. The most interesting thing in these rooms was the art exhibit on the walls.  We have a print of this Hieronymus Bosch drawing at home.  Unfortunately the drawings and prints are facsimiles.  Very good ones, but facsimiles non-the-less.  This is necessary as works on paper are fragile and can not be displayed for long periods of time. 

There are so many works that I am familiar with and some, like the Munch woodcut that are new to me.  These are: Munch’s The Kiss IV, two Schiele watercolours, Rembrandt’s Elephant, and Rubens’ drawing of his son Nicolas.
Now on to the main event!

It has been decades since so many works by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) have been seen in one place.  There are more than 200 examples of Dürer’s drawings, printed graphics, and paintings on display at the Albertina.

This ‘Self Portrait at the Age of Thirteen’ from 1484 is the first work that I see when we enter the exhibition rooms. I took so many photos but have chosen just a few of my favourite ones for today’s post. Here is ‘Three Studies of Dürer’s Left Hand’ 1493/94.  I like drawing hands and feet and there is much to learn from Dürer. This page of studies was so interesting.   Here is another drawing I have seen so often in books.
‘The Woman’s Bath’ is a pen and ink drawing… and this ‘Illustration for the Apocalypse’ is a woodcut.  Dürer was a master of all mediums. Dürer’s watercolours are exquisite.  This painting is simply titled ‘Iris’. A watercolour study of a ‘Blue Rolle’r from 1500.We enter another room and there on the far wall are three famous works.  Dürer’s ‘Young Hare’ is only exhibited once every five years for a period of no more than three months.  It is just luck that it is on exhibit while we are here.  This is another print that we have at home.  Bob wishes it was the original!! ‘The Great Piece of Turf’ was painted on the largest piece of paper available at the time to portray the plants life sized. ‘The Wing of a Blue Roller’ is quite amazing.  This work is watercolour and body colour on parchment with fine gold lines on the breast plumage to enhance the iridescence of the feathers.  There is no one telling visitors to keep a certain distance from the works, so my nose gets up very close! I liked the study of a bull’s nose too… and this ‘Columbine”… and this page of studies.   OK. I love pretty much everything I see here!  This head of an angel and head of twelve year old Jesus are studies for a larger painting … as is this hand study.  It is fascinating to see the studies and then the finished painting. ‘The Praying Hands’ is a well known Dürer image. I really didn’t know much about Dürer’s oil paintings.  I particularly loved this one.  The Madonna’s face is so beautiful.
Dürer drawing and woodcut of a rhino were made without his ever having seen a rhinoceros!  He drew from a written description of the animal and his imagination. I have always loved this ‘Portrait of a 93 Year Old Man’.  I didn’t know it was done with a brush!   As we are leaving the museum I see this Modigliani painting ‘Prostitute’.  I have always liked Modigliani’s work but haven’t really see very many in person.   One last photo at the Albertina.  Seems I want to sprout wings this trip! We spent four hours here today and I could easily have spent much more time here but this will have to do.  I bought the catalogue for the exhibit.  It is huge, and weighs 6.6 pounds!  Good thing we are near the end of our trip!

I have a Life Drawing Meetup session at 7:00 pm and want to have a bit of a rest before that.  I just realized that I posted tonight’s life drawing photos in yesterday’s blog by mistake!  After being on holidays for so long it is easy to mix up the days.

Belvedere Museum and St. Charles Church, Vienna

Day 71, Monday, November 4, 2019

I visit the Belvedere Art Museum this morning while Bob goes for walk and explores the area around the museum.  The Belvedere, like so many of the museums we have visited was once a palace.  This is the grand entrance staircase… and the beautiful Marble Hall. I particularly wanted to see Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, but was pleased to find his Judith painting here as well.The Kiss is one of Klimt’s most well known paintings.  It is a large painting, 183 x183 cm. It is nice to be able to see the painting details up close. I am also surprised by how many Egon Schiele paintings are on display.  It is quite special to be able to see the original paintings of some of my favourite works by these two painters.  I didn’t realize that these paintings were so large.  Looking at reproductions in books can be deceiving.  The Embrace and….  the Family are both much bigger than I imagined… as are these paintings. Schiele’s Self Portrait is the smallest painting, about 41 x 33 cm. I didn’t know Jacques-Louis David’s painting of Napoleon was here either.  I am so glad I was able to visit this museum.  This painting is enormous, 272 × 232 cm!This painting shows the Vienna Naschmarkt in 1894.  It has changed a bit over the years! We meet up in the gardens outside the Belvedere and then walk towards St. Charles Church.  There are so many interesting buildings along the way.
We had a huge surprise when we entered St. Charles Church.  Two enormous floating mirrored balls that reflected the church… and us.  We are almost in the centre of the reflection but we are very tiny.  “Aerocene” is a contemporary art installation by Tomas Saraceno, an Argentinian artist who lives and works in Berlin.  The floating reflective balls are 10 and 7 metres in diameter. Then we notice the scaffolding that goes high up into the dome, and that is where we are going to go!  We thought the elevator ride we got a ticket for would be inside a bell tower.  Nope!  We ride to the top of this scaffolding and then climb a bit further, onto that platform you see leading into one of the round windows in the dome! Looking down from the top of this ‘elevator’ we notice a workman adjusting lights high up in the dome, yet still far below us! We have a great view of the dome paintings.  It is interesting the way the gold highlights look up this close… and we have a great view of the other dome paintings.  We are crazy high up!Bob walks back down to this viewing platform so I can get a photo.  Notice how he is suspended…nothing below him!This photo shows the platform that Bob was standing on in the last photo.
We spent quite a lot of time way up there in the dome, and it is getting dark when we get outside.  If you look closely you can see some people standing in the round window on the dome.  That is the window we were standing in!  What an amazing experience.  There was restoration work carried out in the dome and the elevator is being kept for a while.  The fee to ride up into the dome is a way to make more money for further restorations. Walking back towards the metro we pass the Opera House… and take photos of these performers from Tibet.  They have a performance later tonight and were taking publicity photos outside the Opera House. While the men posed, some of the women were busy applying their makeup.   This is a a huge paper art installation we pass in a walkway near the metro. A close-up shows lots and lots of writing, musical notations and random marks. We get home, have dinner, then I head off to a drop-in drawing session with a Meetup group at a pub called Monami.

It was bit hard drawing the model as there were 40 people crammed into a small room.  I had coloured some of the pages in my sketchbook at home before the session.  Interesting to draw on but they don’t photograph very well. We were pretty much rubbing elbows as we drew and my views weren’t always great but it was lots of fun.
I finished the session with a 20 minute leg study.  I felt quite comfortable going out in the evening by myself.  The metro is easy to navigate and there were lots of people about.

The Nymphenburg Palace, Munich and Life Drawing

Day 60, Thursday, October 24, 2019

Nymphenburg Palace is one of the largest royal palaces in Europe.  It sits on 490 acres of gardens and park land.  This arial view was found online.  The façade of the palace is almost 700 metres long!This central four-storey building was the beginning of the palace and was built in 1644.  Over the years numerous additions were built until it reached its present configuration in 1776. The Nymphenburg Palace was originally a summer residence for the Bavarian rulers.  This is the Great Hall.  Musicians would entertain guests from the gallery.
One of the many rooms with original furnishings. Many of the rooms are not that big and seem to serve as connecting passages to other larger rooms.The south apartment bedroom of the Electress, who was the consort of the king. Our reflection in the bedroom mirror. Every palace has to have a Chinese inspired room. The audience room of Queen Caroline… and her bedroom have their original furnishings.  This room is where King Ludwig II was born in 1845.  The bed is hidden by a cover on a high frame which was spread over the bed during the daytime. The official Hall of Beauties is under restoration but the paintings are on display in a corridor. From 1826 to 1850 King Ludwig I had a series of 36 portraits painted of what he considered to be the most beautiful women.  Beauty was considered to be an outward sign of moral perfection! We finish our tour of the palace rooms, and go explore the grounds.  Unfortunately we realize that the park pavilions closed for the season a week ago.  I do manage a peek inside the Magdalene Hermitage, which was a pavilion used for contemplation. Much of the grounds are in the style of an English park, with paths… and little bridges over water features. This creek was so covered with fallen leaves that the water was barely visible.This shows just how long the canal water feature is…looking towards and away from the palace on a bridge that crosses the canal.  At one time gondolas sailedd these waters.  Neat reflections too.
Walking back towards the palace along a tree lined path. I liked the reflection of the palace in the water. Looking out towards the garden from the Palace steps. It is almost closing time, but we manage a quick peek inside the Carriage museum, which is one of the most important museums of court carriages, travel and equestrian culture in the world. The Coronation coach of Emperor Karl VII is here…

along with numerous over-the-top elaborate coaches built for King Ludwig II. We can only begin to imagine how much these coaches cost! Besides dozens of coaches there are numerous sleighs on display. Parades and competitive games with these carousel sleighs were a popular winter amusement at court.  Women would sit in front of a male driver and try to hit rings or paper maché figures with a lance or sword.  Notice the rear view of the sleigh in the mirror. Just a few of the many coaches on display in one of the halls. One last selfie before we leave. and one last look back towards the front of the Palace…
with a photo stop at the swans. I have life drawing tonight, so we head toward the metro and after checking out my route, Bob heads for home and I head towards my drawing session.  I have a bit of time so I sit at the Sheraton Hotel having a cup of tea and doing a bit of sketching.

My sketches from the bus this morning weren’t terribly successful; I was having difficulty getting proportions down accurately.  That happens some days… These were a bit better. Sketches from the Sheraton Hotel. My first drawing at the Meetup session.  Still having some issues with proportions and the head placement in relation to the body. I started again after our break and did this portrait which was better.  Bettina, our model, really liked it and said that it looked like her.    

I managed to make two wrong turns on the way home, but retraced my steps and finally got back home near 11:00.  Bob met me at the bus stop which was really nice.  It was a good but very long day.

Life Drawing in Munich

Day 53, Thursday, October 17, 2019

I had a relaxing day at our Munich Airbnb and Bob spent the better part of the day sorting out the transit system and where to get tickets.   I went to life drawing in the evening.  The session was at an artist’s apartment, which was really more of a studio than an apartment.  Everyone was very nice and made me feel very welcome.

Here are some photos that were posted on the Meetup page for the session.  Maurice is the artist who hosted the event.  That is him in the centre of the photo.
Here is our model, Bettina, she is very pregnant.  How wonderful!  It has been ages since I have had the chance to draw a pregnant model so this was an unexpected bonus. The drawing on the left is mine. I did a couple sketches to warm up. Then spent about two hours working on this drawing. Bob came to pick me up after the session and on the metro ride home I did a bit more sketching.
This was interesting, the older man with the facial hair was sitting right across the aisle from me and he was only on the metro for one stop so I sketched quickly hoped he didn’t notice that I was sneaking peeks at him. The young man with glasses did notice I was drawing him and he smiled at me, I smiled back and he tried not to smile as I continued sketching.  As he got up to leave I showed him the sketch and he said something in German, then he smiled and said ciao, so I think he liked it.

 

Day 54, Friday, October 18, 2019

We both had a relaxing quiet day.  It is nice to have some down time after seven weeks of holidays.  The big event of the day was going for a little walk to get some groceries.

The Gemäldegalerie, the Kunstgewerbe Museum and Life Drawing.

Day 25, Thursday, September 19, 2019

As we walked to the metro this morning, the interior of this car caught my eye! These workers are laying paving bricks for a huge plaza.  We have not seen poured cement sidewalks or plazas here, they are all made with paving stones.  It seems very labour intensive. The Gemäldegalerie is our first stop today.  This museum is near the Berlin Zoo and has one of the world’s leading collections of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. The quality of the artwork here is amazing.  This is the first painting we see, part of an altar from 1437 telling the story of Jesus on the left, and Mary on the right. The white ‘baseboard’ in the photo comes almost mid-thigh on me, to give you an idea of the scale of the works. The corner of one painting from 1444 shows two pregnant women, notice the babies depicted on their stomachs. I had never seen this symbolism before. We both liked the Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach, 1546. This is not the style of his work that I am familiar with… this is!  I have always wondered at this artist’s creativity. Wow!! This painting by Rogier van Der Weyen from 1440 is my absolute favourite of everything we have seen so far this trip. I absolutely love it and wish that the photo was able to convey the impact it has in person. I would have bought a print but it was almost $100 and I worried about getting it home safely. This is a painting I could live with forever.

There are so many interesting portraits here that I have never seen before.  Can you tell that I am drawn to portraiture?These two tomb figures, 510, were very endearing.
I am fond of Frans Hals portraits and there was a whole room of them. This artist must like them too.  What a tough way to work though, on a little stool, holding such a large drawing board.  I assume the museum does not allow easels. I am excited to see this Vermeer from across the room, but then.. I notice The Girl with the Pearl Earring.  I had no idea the this painting was in this museum. What a lovely surprise. Anna Dorothea Therbusch, 1721-1782, is one of the few women artists who actually made a living as an artist. This is a self portrait. There are Caravaggio’s here…and Georges de la Tours…
and Botticellis,
including this Botticellis Venus.And there are Rembrandts, including these two famous self portraits. I finally get to see these two tondos in person, the one on the left by Raffael (34″ diameter) and the one on the right by Botticelli (54″ diameter).  I particularly like the Botticelli, his Madonnas are always so beautiful. This was fun!  I am so glad we visited the Gemäldegalerie, it was quite amazing.After a picnic lunch we check out the Kunstgwerbe Museum nearby.  I would love to have this beautiful geometry set from the 16th century. This museum has lots of porcelain, furniture and church treasures, but we walk by all these. It is just too much to absorb. A few items did catch our eye though. This is an elaborate portable kitchen from 1807, maybe used for camping? All the info is in German, so not sure. These glazed porcelain figurines were part of a group of 15 that were awarded a gold medal at the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris.  There was also an exhibit on Afro Hair, with some very different displays. And finally, an interesting walk through women fashions through the ages.

Across the street we stop to see the Berlin Library.  It is enormous!  Probably the biggest I have ever visited. It was tough to get in though. Without a library card I had to get a special pass, and no one is allowed to carry a purse or backpack or other bag.  So everyone puts their stuff in clear plastic bags!  I don’t see the point of that all. So different from home. Oh and do you notice the card catalogues in the bottom photo?  I was surprised to see them. Whew! and we aren’t finished yet. We catch a bus back across town to visit the oldest church in Berlin but the interior has been updated so much.  It wasn’t what we were expecting, but still interesting. For some reason there was a rooster crowing inside the church?  No idea what that was about.We split up, Bob heads to the Bode Museum and I catch the metro to go life drawing.  I pass this post with just a few posters wrapped around it on my way to drawing.

Here are my drawings from tonight.  The first page is two minute poses and the times of the other poses are written on the pages.  This was a pretty full day!

Altes Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Day 23, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Altes Museum displays treasures of the classical world with Greek, Etruscan and Roman art.

I often forget that the white marble Greek sculptures were originally painted in life-like colours. This fragment of a grave stele retains some of its original colour. We were surprised at the detail of some of the1,300 ancient coins on display. The museum has more than 150,000 coins in its collection! Bob snaps a photo of me sketching… and then notices the shadows behind this bust.  He is getting very ‘artsy’! This Greek vase from 350 BC showing Perseus slaying a sea monster with a sickle is quite different in design than most of the vases we have seen. The rotunda has a huge dome with a round skylight and has an incredible collection of sculptures on both levels. In the next room this rather unusual drinking cup, is titled Hetaera Above the Chamber Pot!
This Funerary Lion just makes me smile…and I love this statue of a mourning female servant from 330 B.C.There is so much to see here, room after room filled with beautiful art. The Torso of an Old Fisherman, from 200 B.C. is an example of Hellenistic sculpture representing ordinary people.
This statue of Aphrodite, 2nd Century B.C., is thought to be one of the most beautiful ancient terracottas in existence. I think this collection of Middle Class Women from 325-150 B.C. is amazing. They were about 8 ” tall and are so detailed.The Girl Playing Astragal, or knucklebone, is likely a funerary sculpture. These 3rd Century A.D.mummy portraits from Roman tombs in Egypt were a surprise. We had never seen anything like them.  They were painted with wax and tempera. Another sculpture filled room.We have seen Boy with a Thorn, or Spinario, several times in our travels…at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, in Rome and in Paris. In Rome we saw the original bronze sculpture that inspired the marble copies,  It is a favourite of mine. This looks like a painting, but it is actually a mosaic!  I held up a pen in the corner for scale so you can see how tiny the mosaics pieces are. This sad little boy was likely on a tomb for a child.

Next is a room with erotic pottery! On a long covered walkway to the next museum we see a wedding photo shoot.  The Alte National Museum in Berlin features Nineteenth Century art with works by famous painters and sculptors. These are a few paintings that caught my eye, all by German painters that I am not familiar with. There were several paintings that are only partly finished.  I found these very interesting, as it is possible to see how the artists approach the painting process. There were some Renoirs, Pissaro’s and Carravagios, as well as Rodin’s The Thinker. This sculpture was so lifelike and the pose was so natural. There is so much to see, and we have been at these two museums for over five hours! This is the Alte National Museum, seen from the covered walkway. As we walk to the bus we pass the Berliner Dom, the largest church in Berlin.  This photo somehow makes me think of Notre Dame in Paris.  I am went drawing tonight at a Meet Up Life Drawing session. Our model, Josephine, was very tall and thin which was challenging to draw. These are two minute poses.

            A two and a five minute pose

A five and ten minute pose.

Ten minute and twenty minute poses.

And finally two twenty minute poses. 

Bob went to visit a German Spy Museum while I was drawing. He saw an Enigma machine and failed a spy aptitude test. I guess he is not James Bond material!  On the way home I capture our reflections in the subway window.
This is something we don’t see at home…taking your IKEA purchase on public transportation!  It has been a long busy day and we are both a bit tired.

Wandering the Streets of Rome and Life Drawing

Day 81, Friday November 24, 2017

It is a nice day for a walk about the streets of Rome. I get my picture taken with this tiny car on the street outside our apartment. It is the smallest car I have ever seen but it sure would be easy to park!

We are surprised at how little traffic we have seen on the streets. I think they limit who can drive in the downtown areas. Evening rush hour is busy but the rest of the day not so much.We have tea in Nuovo Piazza. This square used to have chariot races around its perimeter. From 1652 until 1866, when the floor of the square was raised, it was flooded every Saturday and Sunday in August. The fountains would be plugged so that they wouldn’t drain and the square would become a lake!  I try to imagine the scene, with people boating and bathing and children playing in the water.There is a group of musicians who kindly provide us with musical accompaniment.A detail of the Fontana del Moro at the south end of the square.I am going to a life drawing session tonight so we go to check out where it is located. The studio  is only a couple of blocks from the Piazza Navona. There is a little studio with beautiful watercolours of orchids on the way…and several basket and chair makers on the same street as the studio…along with a great little book store. I love European bookstores, they are usually small, crowded, and piled with books on every available surface. Just what I think a bookshop should look like.We found the studio, I think we might have had trouble locating it in the dark later, so I am glad to know where I need to go tonight. Heading back to Navona Piazza I peek down the side streets. I wish there was enough time to explore them all.

There are people trying to make money whatever way they can.The Fountain of Neptune is at the northern end of the square.I really like this little fellow and his spouting fish on Neptune’s Fountain.

Buildings come in all sorts of interesting shapes and sizes in Rome.Tthis one appears to be right in the middle of the street!We wander about window shopping and see this robotic sculpture who waves his arms and blinks his shining eyes.An interior decorating shop, a store that sells Bonsai trees, another that sells Oriental furniture and one of the many antique shops along the streets we walked. We never know what we might see down a side street. It is a bit of sensory overload at times.We turn the corner by the elementary school and this is what we see: the Tiber River with St. Peter’s in the background.We cross the Ponte San Angelo…walking towards the Castel San Angelo, which is now a museum. There was or maybe still is a secret tunnel that connects the Vatican to this fort so that in times of danger the Pope could escape and hide here.What would Rome be without gladiators?
We head towards St. Peter’s hoping that we might have another visit to see the inside in the daytime.I have no idea how these olive trees manage to grow in pots, even though they are big pots. I wonder if they need their roots trimmed, like bonsai.We have seen quite a few people begging on the streets, but this person was by far the strangest looking.  I have no idea if this is a way of getting sympathy or if it is really the day to day garb of this individual. 

A Christmas tree is being decorated at St. Peter’s square. The line ups to get into the Basilica are very long so we decide to try to visit another day. This is just one of the benefits of spending more than a couple days in a city. We don’t have to try to cram everything into just a few days.
I think these columns are magnificent. There are 284 columns and 88 pilasters (half columns) that flank the square in a colonnade of four rows. Above the columns there are 140 statues created in 1670 by the disciples of Bernini. St. Peters square is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. 

After a rest and supper at home we take the bus back to my life drawing session. While I draw for two hours Bob found a reception at a gallery that he ‘crashed’ and he enjoyed some wine and goodies.

I had a great time drawing.

30 second and 1 minute posesEveryone was welcoming and the model was fantastic. I did all right, some not so bad and some not so good drawings. It has been a while since I have attended life sessions. It isn’t like I forget how to draw but it takes a while to get the facility back.

2 minute and 5 minute poses

I really appreciate the drop in sessions offered at home. Sessions are $8.00 for 3 hours. Here at La Porta Blu art School it was €15.00, or about $22.00 Canadian for two hours, which is about what I was paying when I was in Paris. I did find one other place with drop in life drawing in Rome where but their price was €30.00 and €45.00 for 2 hours! That was just a bit too expensive for me.

2, 5,10 minute and 20 minute posesUnfortunately, the bus we were to take home was very late. We were just about to give up and try walking to the metro, which was a long way away, when our bus finally arrived, just 45 minutes late! We are in Rome after all, and schedules here have a slightly different connotation than they do at home.

 

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Rome’s Zoo, The Bioparco

Day 79, Wednesday November 22, 2017

It was a beautiful sunny day so we went to visit the Villa Borghese Gardens. In 1605 Cardinal Borghese began turning a former vineyard into extensive gardens that now form the third largest park in Rome.

On the way to the garden entrance we pass this interestingly shaped hotel. Note the cars parked in front…they are parked on the road where the two roads on either side of the hotel merge. There are no parking spots here as it is part of the road but that doesn’t stop anyone.There are lots of  interesting animal statues around the Villa Borghese, which is now a museum.  Lots of dragons. The cardinal must have been a fan of dragons!We see a sign for the Bioparco, which is Rome’s zoo and decide that would be a great place to spend the afternoon. It is Seniors Day and the entrance is only €6.  First stop was the chimpanzees and orangutan. Not much to see at the chimpanzee enclosure but at the orangutan’s enclosure Zoe came right up to the glass to see us. She was fairly curious and looked about for quite a while before settling in for a little nap.Her sister, Martina was a bit shyer and only made a brief appearance just as we were leaving.I spent a bit of time sketching Zoe. I held her portrait up to the window for her but she wasn’t very interested. Zoe is 32 years old and Martina is 28, and they were both born here at the zoo.We see bears now and then when we visit the Rocky Mountains but it is usually just a glimpse as the disappear into the bush or they are far away. I enjoyed having the opportunity to observe this big fellow more closely.The big cats are always impressive…but then we turned a corner and met Gladio. This rare white Bengal tiger is an 8-year-old male who was rescued from captivity in a dirty cramped cage.  He had been mistreated and malnourished for years. Gladio was treated at the zoo for physical and psychological problems and he has recovered enough to be introduced to his own compound in May of this year. This was the first time that he had been able to walk on dirt and grass for a very long time as he spent most of his life in a cage on a cement floor. He now has 400 square meter of greenery, grass, a pond, and a lair. Not as good as being free but so much better than a small dirty cage.Just around the corner we spot this little leopard trying to get settled on a stump for a nap while his mother rested nearby. I was a bit disappointed in my photos, a lot of them are a bit out of focus, perhaps because I was often shooting through glass?This Southern Ground Hornbill from Africa was very pleased with himself about the mouse he had for dinner. He brought it up to his fence to show me his prize. He even pushed it against the fence to give me a really good look! Grevy zebras have very large ears. I don’t remember seeing such big eared zebras before.The Montecristo Goat is only found on the Isle of Montecristo in the Tuscan Archipelago. They were almost hunted to extinction but there are now about 250 left in the wild. This was a rather strange assortment of animals sharing the same space, Tapirs, Rheas, and  ROUS’s  (rodents of unusual size ) or Patagonian Cavys.

The Red River Hog from Africa is an interesting looking character. This is the first time we have seen one.The mommy monkeys were taking very good care of their babies… and the giraffes were busy trying to get into their barn.Waiting not so patiently.This is the entrance to the zoo. There were more sculptures but I couldn’t get them all into the photo.  I thought it was a grand entrance. I think we were the last people to leave the zoo.

La Traviata in St. Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome

Day 78, Tuesday November 21, 2017

We went for a little walk this afternoon and we see this fellow trying to make a few euros by juggling in the street. He didn’t seem to be having much luck so I gave him a small contribution.
We had a quiet day as we were going out tonight to see a performance of La Traviata, accompanied with some ballet in a church built in 1873. St. Paul’s Within the Walls was the first non-Catholic Church to be built inside the walls of Rome. It is an Anglican church that is often used by classical music performers and singers because of its acoustics. We got the ‘cheap seats’ at the back of the church, only €20 each.

I tried taking some photos but it was dark and they are rather blurry.  I took my small sketchbook and sketched during the performance. It was quite dark so not the easiest. The light in our apartment isn’t very good for taking photos so these aren’t the best either. This page also has some drawings from the metro on the way home.There was even live music. We both enjoyed the performance and it wasn’t nearly as cold in the church as we had thought it would be. I brought a blanket to cover my lap but didn’t even need it. Bob says it is a better opera than the one we saw in Barcelona as the heroine only took two hours to die!