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Art History II - Diary Assignment

Writing a three-part diary of someone who went on The Grand Tour during the Englightenment and Neoclassical time period, (the three pieces found at The Cleveland Museum Of Art).

1. Torso Of Venus AD 1-200 (Roman, 1st-2nd Century) "As avid collectors of Greek art, ancient Romans valued sculptures for their aesthetic qualities. This torso of Venus was likely inspired by the popularities of Praxitele's nude Aphrodite from Greek city-state of Knidos on the western coast of Asia Minor. Displayed in a circular shrines, it became one of the most celebrated sculptures in classical antiquity."

Pompeii, February 1810

Unlike my brothers, I have decided to start my Tour in Pompeii, more interested in the history and society than making it the gift shop at the end of the trip. To be fair, I have always been more interested in the cultural anthropology side of my studies, rather than filling our estate with currently fashionable antiques. Indeed, the lost Pompeii has been an interest of mine for a long time now, and being able to see an entire city and its people and their lives stuck in time is fascinating. Though I had promised myself not to follow in most's footsteps, I found myself too captivated by the Torso Of Venus to leave Pompeii empty-handed. Venus, also known by the Greeks as Aphrodite, calls to my hopelessly romantic heart. As my first find, it highly inspires me and gives me grand hope of finding more romantic things in this time of reason and logic.

2. The Emperor As Philosopher, probably Marcus Aurelius who reigned AD 161 - 180 (AD 180-200, Rome late 2nd century) "This sculpture was cast in 29 peices, expertly joined together to create on figure (with at least one more piece for the head, now lost). The extremely high quality and monumental scale of this bronze draped figure suggest that it is an imperial portrait. Unusually, however, the pose and dress resemble those of a Greek philosopher rather than a Roman statesman (wearing a chiton and himation rather than toga). For these reasons, even without a head to confirm the identity, scholars have suggested this likely represents Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor known for his philhellenism and Stoic writings."

Rome, August 1810

Half a year has gone by and I find myself in a sort of cycle. An ebb and flow, almost, going between the two ends of the spectrum - reason and logic versus romance and emotion. Depending on the day, even, my studies lead me in all sorts of directions - none of which I can predict. This means I shouldn't be surprised when I find myself collecting a piece that would make my brothers proud (and yet I am). Another figure, though more intact than the torso, I find that I cannot leave behind the sculpture of Marcus Aurelius. A Roman leader, and yet he is not clad in armor or the traditional toga, rather draped in what I can only describe as a philosopher's dress. An Emperor that cared more about leading than ruling, who cared more about thought and morality than force and dictation. Well, who wouldn't be inspired by that? I am Enlightened, just as he, and it is a great representation that not all history that repeats itself is bad.

3. Erato, Muse Of Lyrical Poetry, 1800 - Charles Meynier (French, 1768 - 1832) - "Erato, the muse of lyric and erotic poetry, is often depicted with a golden arrow received from Eros or Cupid, a sign of the emotion that inspires her. Symbols in this painting allude to Erato's identity as the muse of lyrical poetry. Erato uses Cupid's arrow, symbol of love, to write an amorous poem on a tablet. This painting is one of a set of five depicting several of the muses, goddesses associated with the arts and sciences. The winged figure carrying a quiver of arrows represents love. The figure who writes on the tablet embodies poetry."

Paris, May 1811

My last stop before heading back to England, and before my first day was even over, I found the most magnificent painting of this new movement we are in - Neoclassicism. It depicts a beautiful Muse writing with Cupid's arrow! Just as, if not more beautiful, than art from Rome itself, I can imagine myself following in step with this new style and embracing all we have learned about art and painting since the Renaissance, while still expressing what is most important, as can be learned from the Romans. It also seems to be in the middle ground of the spectrum, letting me find a happy place amongst the tug-of-war. It is a Roman Muse writing, but is writing with passion and perhaps about love itself. As we've seen with one of the greatest writers to ever exist, William Shakespeare, life is a combination of tragedy and comedy, and so life should be a combination of thought and feeling.

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