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December 24, 2018


These are beautiful. Thank you, Beth. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Re your question "who are those others"....lower left is a nurse washing baby Jesus cf https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/4437/

'tis Christmas Day but not officially. Our house still slumbereth. You'll be off singing in several hours' time and I envy you that. Making a tuneful noise to some purpose. My best wishes for your friendship and your encouragement.

These are so beautiful! The slightly diffused quality of your photos is only appropriate, I feel, to such old, mysterious and lovely works. Warmest wishes, today and every day.

Fabulous images, especially the top three! Byzantine icons, the earlier the better, are among my most cherished forms of art. On my bookshelves are several mega-size books with terrific reproductions - must share them with you one day. Very best Christmas wishes to you and Jon.

Wow. I've never seen any of these: thank you, Beth!

And merry Christmas.

Thank you so much, Rachel!

Vivian: Oh, now this is interesting. You're referring to a different but extremely similar painting. I don't know enough about icon-writing to know how strict the rules were, or are, and how this affected each school of painting. To me it sees like they are very strict. Here we've got an almost identical Madonna and baby, with the cow and horse, and the rocks, but the other figures are somewhat different and in different positions. I need to learn more. And yes, that's clearly a nurse.

Thank you, Robbie! I am grateful for you and your friendship too, and your dedication to music. I sang on Sunday and last night, but not today, although the choir was doing an 8-part Praetorius Mass. I never sing on Christmas Day, in deference to my husband who says "I love it but enough is enough!" - and I think he is right in this case. But I hope I'll be able to keep at it for many years to come -- and you too!

Jean, all the best to you for today and 2019. In spite of the idiocy and awfulness of the political world, I'm so grateful for your friendship and the beauty we manage to share. It really helps sustain me in such trying times, and remind me that humans have always had their good side, too. I love the paintings you share; they're a little point of stillness in each day.

I'd love to see those books, Natalie! There was one icon in particular, of St Thomas, that just completely stopped me in my tracks - so modern, in a way, and yet ancient. I couldn't photograph it well at all. All the best to you for a Happy Christmas and a peaceful, healthy, creative 2019. We all do have each other and I am so grateful for that.

Thanks, Dale! I'm still visually overloaded with the beautiful images we saw in Greece; I think when each one is so detailed and focused it's hard to absorb them all at one time, and it helps to go back and look at them carefully -- which is, I guess, what icon-viewing is supposed to be about. I'll be posting some others as time goes on. Greece was, to say the least, an intense experience for me! All my best for a Merry Christmas for you and Martha, and peaceful hearts in 2019. I appreciated your last post and share many of those same feelings. We will do what we can...and cope with all of it as best we can too. I'm grateful for these longterm friendships.

All of those expressionless faces somehow work for me. Merry Christmas, Beth.

It always cracks me up that Byzantine children are pictured as scaled-down adults, as if the artist just grabbed a handle in Photoshop and scaled the characters directly. In other words, the proportions are all wrong; children (real ones) have disproportionately large heads as compared to adults. Didn't the Byzantines notice that? Did they even look at their children? :-)

And merry Christmas!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.