Friday, 28 October 2016

Renaissance on tour

Madonna and Child with Saint John by Francesco Francia.
This time last year, we had recently returned from Italy. Early this year, when I so graciously told hubby I would survive without our customary spring holiday I was planning we would be there by now, this time for a longer period of at least a month or maybe two. But when you have just been holidaying for some three months at home, practically through the whole summer season, how could you justify another vacation, let alone be in need of one? Luckily, when we couldn’t go to the mountain the mountain came to us.

Madonna of the Pinks from Raphael's workshop. A version with a green curtain is owned by The National Gallery in London.

Christ Blessing by Raffaello Sanzo da Urbino aka Raphael. The face is believed to be that of the artist himself.
Madonna and Child by Giovanni Bellini.
Portrait of a Lady as Salome by Alessandro Bonvicino aka Moretto.
There are some Renaissance masterpieces from northern Italy on show at the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki. The exhibition includes some 50 paintings by more than 20 Italian artists who worked in Lombardy, Milan and Venice between 1500 and 1600. The star attractions, I suppose, are the above smaller-size religious paintings by artists such as Raphael, Francesco Francia, Giovanni Bellini and Moretto.

Madonna and Child between Saint Faustinus and Saint Jovita by Vincenzo Foppa.

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Bernardino Licinio.

Supper at Emmaus by Moretto.

Christ Carrying the Cross by Girolamo Romano aka Romanino.

Painting by Giovanni Cariani and an authentic armour from that time.
As Renaissance marks the birth of science, painting started to be more realistic then. New, nonreligious themes were also introduced such as historical scenes and landscapes. In addition, the exhibition shows quite a number of magnificent portraits as portraiture began to flourish at that time.

The Man in Pink by Giovanni Battista Moroni.

Portrait of a Gentleman in Black by Giulio Campi.

Portrait of a Man in Armour by Pietro Maria Bagniatore.

Portraits by Giovanni Battista Moroni.
Most of the works at the exhibition are on loan from the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo gallery in Brescia, Lombardy. The gallery was founded in the mid-19th century to house the collections of two local noblemen, Count Tosio and Count Martinengo da Barco. As it is being restored, this exhibition is now touring the world. It travelled to Helsinki from the National Museum of Warsaw closing here in mid-January. It will then continue to the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in Enschede, the Netherlands, staying there from mid-February to mid-June, 2017.

Susanna and the Elders by Antonio Campi.
Although Renaissance at its most lavish is probably too much for the taste of most everyone (just have a look at the painting and its frame below) I do recommend a visit should the Raphaels, Titians and Tintorettos be taken to a venue close to you. You will be able to sense Italy for a while but without any fear of an artistic overdose often inevitable at Italian museums.

The Immaculate Conception with God the Father by Luca Mombello.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Low sea

One high-pressure system after another has been rotating over our part of the world for such a long time now that the sea level is very low.

There is a clear line the water has left on the reeds and the solid rock. It almost feels as if we had an extended low tide although I don’t know how a tide would feel. We don’t have the tides here and neither do they have them in the Mediterranean where we generally travel to.

Not that long ago, practically no sand and stones were visible on the cottage beach. Now we can easily check who’s been visiting the waterfront while we’ve been away. This time probably a fox. A couple of weeks ago we noticed the tracks of a roe deer on the sand. Or more likely those of two as we’ve spotted a couple a few times crossing the road very close by.

In August, we were unlucky to collide with a deer on our way to the cottage. He jumped out of the blue over a ditch dense in cattails and landed on our front bumper, poor thing. Seeing him lying at the bottom of the ditch as if sleeping but lifeless was a most saddening sight, a bit like low sea but much, much more so. For once, I am looking forward to low pressure.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Yellow broadleaves

Talking about forest, there are some rather atypical ones for our country here in the southwest. As you probably know, most of Finland is situated in the boreal forest zone or taiga where coniferous evergreen trees, mainly pines and spruces, are predominant just like in Canada and Russia.

The most common wild trees of the deciduous, hardwood type found further north are the birch, the alder, the aspen and the rowan, which do not exactly compete with the broadleaf trees of the Central European type found here. The southwest is the mildest region of the country with not only some temperate mixed forest but also some actual broadleaf ones, woodlands with trees such as wild maples, linden trees, ash trees and even oaks.

The other day, we wanted to drink in a generous dose of colourful leaf therapy and visited the Ruissalo island to walk one of the trails in the nature reserve there. The ground was covered in a fabulous blanket of yellow maple leaves. We didn’t have anything like this off Helsinki where we lived before. There were some maples scattered here and there and even an occasional oak tree in our former neighbourhood but nothing to compare with this.

When pacing through such a place you feel as if you were taken abroad, to the Baltics, southern Sweden or even further south to Germany. I can’t help repeating it: we are loving this temperate corner of our country, Finland Proper as the province is called as it is the region where the tribe called Finns originally lived.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Sunshine continued

Even though the temperature has finally dropped to more normal autumn digits – sometimes only a couple of degrees above freezing point at night – there is still no end in sight to the exceptional period of rainless days in our corner of the world.

While waiting for the rain and the winter mushroom (Craterellus tubaeformis) season to begin we have continued to visit the summer cottage every few days arranging and clearing the place out for winter even a bit more than need be just in case.

We will not know until sometime next year whether the lease will be renewed for next summer or not. The present owner has never used the cottage himself having bought the place a few years ago with the intention to build a modern holiday home there. Renewal will depend on whether or not his construction project will see some progress. Besides, I feel raking and the like are very good outdoor activities for me reluctant as I am to do any exercise for exercise’s sake. As soon as the mushrooms are springing up we will start frequenting the forest.