Time Traveling Art Historian
Through my travels of time and space I’ve seen remarkable sights of the world that have made an impact on my many journeys through the centuries. One place I visited through my time travel was the Sistine Chapel and the exquisite works of art that are contained inside the building. The year is 1542, and I am exploring the town of Vatican City.
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I see that the Sistine Chapel has just added the new artwork of The Last Judgment no more than two months ago. This was one of the artist most famous visual art pieces.
The artist Michelangelo Buonarroti was charged in performing a duty by Pope Clement in 1534, to create a fresco that would cover the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. It took Michelangelo four years to complete The Last Judgment, which was not until 1541. The artwork depicted the final judgment and the second coming of Christ. The style used in the painting reflects the Mannerist style. The painting lacked the sense of optimism and beauty that define Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling. His figures in the painting were no longer proportioned, but looked twisted and grotesque.
The heads looked too small for the bodies Michelangelo had envisioned. As I scurried through the city streets of Venice City to see to the renowned piece of artwork, I can feel the excited just flowing through my body. When I finally gazed upon the beauty of the chapel, I was in awe by the magnificent work of the entire painting. The fresco appeared as the figures in the painting were in movement. The fascination with the immense blue sky and various colors that Michelangelo Buonarroti used like touches of reds and browns kept my eyes from focusing on one spot, but the entire painting.
The Last Judgment was Michelangelo Buonarroti’s depiction was considered very controversial at this period in time because of his use of the naked body and the conservative society the artist lived in. Michelangelo was critiqued for integrating mythological creatures in the Biblical portrayal of his art. Even though, many individuals didn’t like the painting for various personal reasons, The Last Judgment soon became a masterpiece for the artist. Chapter Two: Egyptian Civilization The Great Temple of Aten
After being in Italy for several days, I decided to taken in some of the beautiful and majestic architecture artwork in Egypt during the summer season in 1343 B. C. When I arrived in Egypt I made sure to get a guide to show me around the country. I traveled down the River Nile in a boat, taking in the scenery of the desert. For five days I traveled to Cairo, where my destination was to go to the city of el-Armarna. This is where the Great Temple of Aten is located. The city was a plain of desert land surrounded by many hills. Upon my arrival to the city, the boat docked by a platform on the east bank of the Nile River.
Later I embarked on my journey of making my way towards the city of el-Armarna, Egypt. When I entered the city, I went looking for the Great Temple of Aten. I traveled north along Royal Road, in adjacent to the east bank of the river, which I road on a camel for several miles before arriving to the temple. When I came upon the Great Temple of Aten, I was surprised of how gorgeous the architectural structure was to me. The temple was for the worship of the god Aten during the reign of Akhenaten. It was dedicated for proper cult and worship of the sun-disk.
With the association the city had with other gods, Akhenaten established a new city and capital at Amama (then called Akhetaten). Construction on the first architectural structure began in 1347 B. C. ; it was the chapel in the Great Temple. By 1343 B. C. the structure as completed and the temple was to be built. The temple has width of 300 yards and a length of 800 yards. Most of the temple was made of bricks because Akhenaten wanted to quicken the building process and using brick gave the workers more swiftness to finish the job. Timber was used in order to provide the architecture with support for the surroundings walls and towers.
The temple also housed public building in the inside that was constructed out of stone, providing extra support. As I stepped through the entrance of the temple, I passed through a couple of towering pylons which I was led to a hallway lined with columns called the House of Rejoicing. As I kept walking, I came to a corridor known as the Gem-Aten. It didn’t have a roof, but only an opening that had shown the wide range of sky. The axis allows for the sun to be worshipped as it rises and sets everyday. The Gem-Aten consists of six courtyards. The first courtyard has a high alter containing small chapels.
The second, third and fourth courts have rooms and altars for storing supplies; and for the usage for worship offerings. As I kept walking, I noticed that the fourth temple had chambers that were furnished for coverage in the shade. The last court is the High Alter where offering for Aten is done. The temple has a total of 365 altars. Each day of the solar year and the dividing of the altars on each side of the High Altar; it is representation of Upper and Lower Egypt. As I kept walking, I came upon the Sanctuary. This was the last structure of the temple that had statues of Akhenaten and his family.
The entrance had an open courtyard that had three houses to lodge the priest who are on duty. With my mind still fascinated on the statues, I continued walk across the courtyard, I feel like I am seized by an army because they are various styles of statues of Akhenaten on both sides of me. This certain court that resembles the sixth court of Gem-Aten was utilized by the Royal family of Egypt. I decided it was time to go back to the main entrance of the temple, as I took on one more look around; I felt a greater respect for the architecture that has lasted through the centuries.
It was wonderful to see firsthand the Egyptian cultures and how the society is devoted to their religion beliefs and culture. The temple is a reminder of a time Egyptian religion became monotheistic for a moment; and how the Atenism of religion has been viewed as an influence in creation of future monotheistic religions. While getting ready to transport myself to another place in time, I start to feel misery in knowing that every beautiful piece of architecture that I gazed upon will be back returned back into crumbling rubble, buried under the earth’s soil.
In another perception, it’s good to know that the ruins will be rediscovered by future generations that will still be able to give distinct insight on the evolution of the Egyptian culture, civilization and architecture. Chapter Three: The Late Middle Ages Maesta Altarpiece On my last time traveling voyage, I decided to visit Siena, Italy for the unveiling of visual art of the Maesta Altarpiece in 1311. The creation is by artist, Duccio di Buoninsegnaa who was commissioned by the city to paint an altarpiece in the city of Siena’s cathedral. In 1314, the painting was completed.
It was agony watching di Buoninsegnaa bond several panels of wood together so he could begin his creation. He had to paint the front and back of the panels with different types of paintings because the piece was to be located in the center of the cathedral where all the sides can be viewed. The altarpiece was painted using tempera and gold. Duccio possessed the confidence about his quality of work he created because of the medium that was chosen for the art project. Tempera is a medium used in paintings that is permanent, which dries quickly.
It’s made by mixing a colored powder pigment and a water-soluble binding agent such as an egg yolk. Duccio used this technique to incorporate in his painting by using tempera and gliding produced colors, which was essential in preserving his masterpiece through time. While taking a long look throughout the cathedral, I think about how important the painting is to this era in time. I watched a parade of people making a pilgrimage to the cathedral through the city. It seems like a journey everyone was willing to take because of the religious significance it stands for.
I decided to go out and follow the crowd, in which I observed that the procession of people consisted of priests and monks whom were praying, and then the citizens of Siena carried candles; followed by numerous other people. I noticed the journey was for the entire city to accompany the altarpiece to its final destination. It was an honor to be part of such a momentous and joyous event in history. Once the altarpiece made it to its destination, the procession showed an excitement that was overwhelming. The Maesta is then installed with the welcoming sound of bells coming from the cathedral.
It was not too long before I was finally able to approach the altarpiece and examine the breathtaking art of Duccio Buoninsegnaa. On the front panel, the artist has managed to create a captivating painting that depicts the Mary (the Madonna) sitting on a throne cradling the baby Jesus in her arms. They are surrounded by saints and angels in colorful robes. While looking at the panels, I found myself studying the imagery of how real it seems. Even though it possess a new style of painting it has traditional aspects that Buoninsegnaa wanted to keep simple.
It was a joy to experience the new style of painting created by Duccio Buoninsegnaa. He made his artwork look real with physique gestures. The painting is so captivating that I’m so sorry that I’m the only person that could time travel that could experience the artist masterpiece. It is wonderful to have a front row seat to something spectacular that the world won’t be able to recognize as a remarkable piece of art until centuries later. Though it took much time for the new style of Buoninsegnaa painting to evolve, it was good to know that it will be later embraced by the Italian Renaissance.
My travels through the periods of history will always be an experience that I will treasure forever. The best thing about time traveling is that I can always go back in time and recreate any event in any period. Getting a firsthand lesson of the history of life-changing events is a gift within itself. I feel blessed and gifted to have traveled to these exotic cities and experience a beginning of history from the very start. I can’t wait to find out where my next adventure will take me. Until then, see you after my next big trip!