Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to All Things Bright and Beautiful. If you are new to this site, I would recommend that you read my very first entry - which is an introduction and welcome to this blog. You can view it here

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rembrandt Van Rijn - A Girl at a Window; Edvard Gridg - Violin Sonota No.2 Op.13 2nd Movement; Alfred Lord Tnnyson - Crossing the Bar

I really liked this gentle painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, of a young girl looking out at the window sill. We will use it as our final work of his, at least for now, though we could go on for a long time.  It has a wonderfully relaxed feel to it and a realistic layout.  Notice her serene but contemplative expression.  She is pretty, but it's not that you notice - rather her innocent thoughtfulness and serenity come through.  I don't know if you've noticed but the colors in this painting are ones that Rembrandt so often used - reds, golds, and dark black and brown.  

Another lovely piece of music by Edvard GriegEdvard Grieg - Violin Sonota No.2 Op.13 2nd Movement

This poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson beautifully describes the death of a Christian in maritime terms.

             Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound or foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell;
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
i hope to see my pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rembrandt Van Rijn - The Night Watch; Edvard Grieg - Butterfly; Alfred Lord Tennyson - Early Spring

My apologies for getting this post out late - I've had it ready for some time but it completely slipped my mind this week to post it....

This well-known painting by Rembrandt van Rijn is a wonderful display of his ability to portray group action.  He portrays people on four different planes.  A plane is like a row of people with one shown to be behind another.  The two Men in the front, followed by the man in red with the musket and the leg of the boy dashing behind the man in black with the red sash.  Then you have the little girl in yellow behind them, and finally the four men coming down the steps in the background.  Painters use several ways to show us depth and one of these is of course overlapping where the further back item disappears behind the front one, they also dull the colors and contrast as they recede.  Notice that the most contrast is in the two men in front - most light, most dark and clearest colors.  The little girl in yellow is definitely in the bright light, but she has less dark contrast in her shadows.  

Lots of action and fun details to remember in this well-known painting by Rembrandt.

Today's recording is actually played by our composer, Edvard Grieg. It is called Butterfly and that is just what it sounds like!  Following is a quote from the You-tube post featured: Edvard Grieg was much in demand as a soloist in the latter part of his life. His many short works for piano solo, as well as his famous concerto, led to his music being well known and loved across Europe. He left a number of piano rolls, but more importantly in 1903 he recorded a few records for the G&T company in Paris. These show his spirited and fresh approach to performing his own works. His style is flexible, charming, by turns sometimes capricious, but always controlled within the bounds of impeccable taste and musical understanding.

I would also like to recommend the CD "The Stories of Schumann & Grieg in Words and Music".  If you aren't familiar with these Vox Music Master's recordings, they intersperse music by the composer with a narration of the story of his life.   I purchased my copy at Rainbow Resource Center.  It lists here Rainbow Resource Ctr - Grieg CD  $3.95.  It is also available here at Dealoz for under $4 including shipping, either new or used.

Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, Early Spring, seemed appropriate for this season.  

     Early Spring
Once more the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And domes the red-plow'd hills
With loving blue;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The throstles too.
Opens a door in heaven;
From skies of glass
A Jacob's ladder falls
On greening grass,
And o'er the mountain-walls
Young angels pass.
Before them fleets the shower,
And burst the buds,
And shine the level lands,
And flash the floods;
The stars are from their hands
Flung thro' the woods,
The woods with living airs
How softly fann'd,
Light airs from where the deep,
All down the sand,
Is breathing in his sleep,
Heard by the land.
O, follow, leaping blood,
The season's lure!
O heart, look down and up
Serene, secure,
Warm as the crocus cup,
Like snowdrops, pure!
Past, Future glimpse and fade
Thro' some slight spell,
A gleam from yonder vale,
Some far blue fell,
And sympathies, how frail,
In sound and smell!
Till at thy chuckled note,
Thou twinkling bird,
The fairy fancies range,
And, lightly stirr'd,
Ring little bells of change
From word to word.
For now the Heavenly Power
Makes all things new,
And thaws the cold, and fills
The flower with dew;
The blackbirds have their wills,
The poets too.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rembrandt - Belshazzar's Feast: Edvard Grieg - Wedding Day at Troldhaugen; Alfred Lord Tennyson - The Throstle

Rembrandt van Rijn showed people realistically.  He saw people as made in the image of God but fallen.  The following is a quote about Rembrandt's work by Francis Schaeffer, “Rembrandt shows in all his work that he was a man of the Reformation, he neither idealized nature nor demeaned it. Moreover, Rembrandt’s Biblical base enabled him to excel in painting people with psychological depth. Man was great, but man was also cruel and broken, for he had revolted against God. Rembrandt’s painting was thus lofty, yet down to earth. There was no need for him to slip into the world of illusion, as did much of the baroque painting which sprang out of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Nature to this Dutch artist was a thing to be enjoyed as a creation of God.”
When Rembrandt chose models they were not necessarily physically attractive or beautiful because he was more interested in showing the inner life and emotion or a spiritual story. He did however use order in his compositions with pleasing arrangements and lovely color combinations.  As we've noted before there is a lot of contrast between light and dark.  There are many details to note here for picture study.  This comes from the Biblical story from Daniel of the writing on the wall at Belshazzar's Feast.  You can read the story in the Bible in Daniel 5 or watch a dramatized version put on by Moody Bible Institute on Youtube here: Moody Bible Institute Bible Story of Belshazzar's Feast.

A light happy piece of music by Edvard Grieg is Wedding Day at Troldhaugen is played by an orchestra here:  Edvard Grieg - Wedding Day at Troldhaugen  or here on piano:  Piano version of Grieg's Wedding Day at Troldhaugen

I hope you're finding lots of poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson that you like. Here are two links to some of them:  Ambleside Online Poems of Tennyson and Poetry Archive - Tennyson.   Here is another Spring poem by him:   

               The Throstle

"Summer is coming, summer is coming,
I know it, I know it, I know it.
Light again, leaf again, love again."
Yes, my wild little poet.
Sing the new year in under the blue,
Last year you sang it as gladly,
"New, new, new, new!"  Is it then so new
That you should carol so madly?
"Love again, song again, nest again, young again,"
Never a prophet so crazy!
And hardly a daisy as yet, little friend,
See, there is hardly a daisy.
"Here again, here, here, here, happy year!"
O warble unchidden, unbidden!
Summer is coming, my dear.
And all the winters are hidden.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rembrandt van Rijn - The Mennonite Minister Cornelis Claesz and his Wife; Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor; Alfred Lord Tennyson - The Eagle

Notice in this double portrait of the Mennonite Minister Cornelis Claesz and his wife how Rembrandt van Rijn captures the personality of each subject so well - the animated minister and his listening wife. Neither is looking directly at us, He looks active and outgoing and she looks more passive and relaxed, pondering the holy books he is referring to.  He is pointing to them and she is looking at them giving them importance in the painting.  Even though the books are lighted up and painted in careful detail it is the faces that draw our eye.  Notice again in this painting the qualities of light and dark. Rembrandt masterfully used the technique called "chiaroscuro" an Italian term for the use of light and dark contrast to build up volume showing things to have depth by their shading.   I also noticed that the minister and his books are in a golden light but his wife is in a more white light.  I'm not sure why this would be and yet their clothing is colored and shaded in very similar tones unifying the two.  

Portrait of Jan Rijcksen and his wife, Griet Jans ('The shipbuilder and his wife')It is a complicated assignment to paint more than one person into a portrait.  It is a challenge to connect the two and make each look convincing.  Rembrandt was remarkably good at this.  Here is a second of Rembrandt's double portraits.  This time of Jan Rijcksen and his wife, Griet Jans.  This painting is called The Shipbuilder and His Wife.

Notice how he manages to portray both personality as well as action.  The "movement in the portrait is diagonal from the shipbuilders paper and hand up across to her hand on the door handle.  Diagonal lines in paintings carry the most energy.  Yet neither person looks agitated and there is a calm demeanor to both of them.  They are very connected in this picture, both physically as they overlap and also the connection of him reaching for her note as she hands it to him.

Edvard Grieg is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor.  You can listen to it on either of the following links:
Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor 1
Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor 2

Introducing a new poet today, Alfred Lord Tennyson, I'd like to give several possibilities for researching about this poet.  The first is a link to a copy of an article in the Parents' Review that I found on Ambleside Online's site.  Parents' Review Article on Tennyson
Or this link has a brief biographical sketch:
Ambleside Online's page for Alfred Lord Tennyson including poems:  Ambleside Online - Tennyson
Or of course Wikipedia:  Wikipedia - Lord Alfred Tennyson

We'll start with one of my favorite poems by him, The Eagle which is a wonderful poem to memorize - full of imagery and rich words yet so concise.

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rembrandt Van Rijn -portraits, Edvard Grieg - Peer Gynt "Morning"

Rembrandt Van Rijn painted many portraits.  When I first saw how many self-portraits he painted when he wasn't even attractive it made me wonder why, but I have been reading Rembrandt Life and Work by Jakob Rosenberg and have a whole new perspective.  Rembrandt was not seeking to portray outer beauty, but the inner contemplative emotion and spirituality of his subjects.  He practiced much on himself and on his family members.  His painting through the years reflects his own spiritual pilgrimage.  During his early adult years he married Saskia who was wealthy and loved pomp and show.  This influence is shown in his portraits of that time period.  After she died and he developed a relationship with his housemaid, Hendrickje Stoffels who was more nurturing and quiet.  As he aged Rembrandt's work took on an even more contemplative and expressive nature.  I usually only show one picture, but I want to show a few this time so you can study his style and capabilities in the area of portraiture.  Many artists of his time were skilled at portraying people realistically, but Rembrandt excelled them in that he portrayed the inner thoughts and character of the people painted.  Look at each painting and try to feel the emotion of it and discern the character of the person portrayed.  Ponder what they might be thinking - they are often contemplative.  We will start with a well know self-portrait.

This is a painting of Rembrandt's wife Saskia.  She loved pomp and show.

File:Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 103.jpg
A picture of Rembrandt's son Titus portrayed here as a monk.

This man looks confident but approachable.

Even when Rembrandt used fancy clothing and Jewels, the emphasis is on the countenance of the person.  Rembrandt was not trying to impress us with people's outward attractiveness but with portraying the inner spirit of the person.  

I'm reluctant to leave Haydn but it seems time to move on to a new composer.  I first remember hearing this piece of music by Edvard Grieg in grade school where my teacher had us listen to this piece of music and then try drawing what we heard.  It is called Morning and is from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg.  You can almost hear the sun rising.  For information about our new composer check this link:  Edvard Grieg - Wikipedia.  You can listen to this piece  of music on Youtube with the following link:  Edvard Grieg - Peer Gynt - "Morning"

Final poem by William Blake today.  This poem was written about the Kingdom of God coming to England, but we can each apply it to our own small part of the world.

JERUSALEM (from 'Milton')
by: William Blake (1757-1827)
    ND did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England's mountains green?
    And was the holy Lamb of God
    On England's pleasant pastures seen?
    And did the Countenance Divine
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was Jerusalem builded here
    Among these dark Satanic Mills?
    Bring me my bow of burning gold!
    Bring me my arrows of desire!
    Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
    Bring me my chariot of fire!
    I will not cease from mental fight,
    Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
    Till we have built Jerusalem
    In England's green and pleasant land.