Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel, and see some of the world’s most beautiful artworks. These are my favourites:

Sculptures by Michelangelo

Day 8 - Piazza della Signoria

A replica of David. You can’t photograph the original at the Galleria Accademia, so this one at Piazza della Signoria has to do for the picture


Day 2 - Vaticano

The Pietà. One of Michelangelo’s earliest works, at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.



Paintings by Van Gogh:


Starry Night over the Rhone. It normally hangs at the Musée d’Orsay where you can’t take pictures, but I was allowed to, when it was displayed at the Singapore Art Museum for an exhibition. Van Gogh painted it under a gas lamp directly at the site. The colours are so vibrant, the photo doesn’t do any justice to the original.



Cafe Terrace at Night, with some sneaky add-ons. The painting itself, was a forerunner for the Starry Nights, Van Gogh’s style of painting the night sky without black.



Structures by Gustave Eiffel

Eiffel Tower

The French protested when the Eiffel Tower was first constructed, but now it is often depicted as the ‘A’ in PARIS. Whether in daylight, or sparkling at night, or getting to the summit, the Eiffel Tower is my #1 clichéd, symbolic, fun site to see.



But then, a painting on the wall is worth 25 in the museum, right?


At home  masterpiece

This last year, both Baba & I have been inspired by the underwater world. And when the opportunity presented itself on his last visit, I commissioned, and Baba obliged.


It took 10 -12 hours, albeit spread over 4-5 days, and now it’s done. Feast your eyes:

I spent the rest of the evening reading a book on all the major works of Michelangelo, from start to finish. Interesting, though he was the master of the male body, Michelangelo had very little understanding of the female form, and most of his women ended up with masculine features and physique in this painting!

I’m no longer that hung over on Italy, having achieved some sort of closure with this puzzle. Can move on with life now!

Drawn to Capella Sistine

My knowledge of Christianity is very limited. To me, the significance of the Sistine Chapel is only in the ceiling. And for the most part, it is. But the wall behind the altar is also dramatic, with Michaelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgement.

At the Vatican Museum, all paths lead to the Capella Sistine. They really do build up the hype, by putting a number of exhibits along the way, mostly heavyweight art and sculpture. Then they build it up further by putting a pit stop just before the actual exhibit. You definitely need to refresh yourself, and get a coffee before climbing the steps to the Capella. ‘Coz once you’re in there, you can only gape in awe at the ceiling, think of all those cliched images you’ve seen in books and TV, and then admire the real thing. Crane your neck up and absorb all the details that appeal to you – the biblical characters and the stories, the amazing paintings, colours, composition, or visualize what Michelangelo must have gone through while getting on the scaffolding and actually paint the ceiling.

No photography allowed inside the chapel (though some do flout the rule and get bad pictures on their mobile phones). I guess that is the clincher – to make it so popular. Some of the other ceilings in the museum are also spectacular, but you can photograph them. And to think Michelangelo resented this commission, because he preferred sculpture to painting.

The information about the chapel is quite interesting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel). After getting there and seeing that, you do want a souvenir, since you can’t have a picture. So we did the next best thing  – bought a jigsaw puzzle. Michelangelo took 3-4 years to finish his work of art. I hope to take 3-4 days to complete my masterpiece.

Until it’s done, I will be back-bending and working like the master, and getting to know the ceiling painting intimately. Will unveil next week.



We finished the must do museum stops on our first day in Firenze, which is great because neither of us can take in any more religious art from 400 years ago!  That said, Michelangelo’s reputation for being the world’s greatest sculptor (among other talents) is truly well-deserved. You can see any number of images of David which do no justice to the original. We hardly looked at any other exhibit in that gallery!
All the guide books advise you on how anti-climax is the Uffizi gallery, and they are all right. After a point we were upto our gills in religious art, and breezed past most of the paintings. But yes, there were many many great artists being exhibited.
Elena, our landlady, marked off a number of interesting spots on the map, and we’re gonna chase those.

Ooh! Aah!! Ouch!!!

Day 4
Coming from a “life of leisure” (read idleness) to a city which thrives on walking is certainly taking its toll. At times I fell Rome is tougher than Angkor Wat – you don’t exactly find cabs, etc throwing themselves at you in the hope of “sawari”. In fact the only people who even approach any tourists are the Bangladeshi immigrants, present in fairly large numbers, selling stuff on the streets.
Souvik went on an early morning run to check off another international city, mostly for bragging value.
This day was a bit of a disaster, with Souvik having work emergencies and busy in calls all day. ‘Twas a particularly hot day and out feet did their own share of protesting!
In spite of everything, we did manage to catch some excellent sights.
The power of branding – Michelangelo, at one point in his life was asked to build a base for some statue, and a piazza situated in the middle of some important buildings. Result: you have thousands of people photographing the piazza, and almost no one pays attention to the bronze statue. There is also a staircase to the same piazza that Michelangelo built, which has Its own importance. Hmmm. . . I guess if you said one of the stones in the cobbled paths was selected by Michelangelo, people (including me) would rush to photograph it!

And then we learnt that there was a museo dedicated to the other genius – Leonardo da Vinci. Totally worth walking all the way to Piazza Poppolo to see the work of LDV from his notes to wooden models. That man had no boundaries for thinking – from human body to motion on land, air and water, war machinery, and his best known paintings! Awe-inspiring stuff.
As if the works of these Renaissance masters was not enough to thrill me that Rome had to have one modern site to bring me to my knees ………. You will never guess!
It was my favourite clothing store – Fabindia! (I can hear Reva say “oh God! Of all things!”) I bought a couple of tops at obscene prices, and was truly happy 🙂
Haven’t done my usual amount of shopping on this trip, mostly because dragging Souvik from one kitchenware shop to another one with cosmetics is as horrific as it sounds! I do have (1) cake platter and (2) limoncello and (3) almond macarons for Reva on the list. Plus I haven’t really been tempted by overpriced designer bags and shoes and whatnots. Not in the least, our Florence apartment is on the 3rd floor (no lift) so am trying to keep the bags light until the last possible moment!
It has turned really warm during the day, and we’re planning to take it easy on day 5 in Rome, ditching Tivoli and Villa Borghese. I’ve thrown a coin into the Fontana Trevi, which should ensure a return trip to see whatever we’ve missed.