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Posts tagged ‘Vatican’

Norms in Rome | The River Tiber

When one thinks of Rome, it’s easy to forget the river which twists its way through the centre of the city, carving a divide between the ancient centre on the one side, and Vatican City and the neighbouring area of Trastevere on the other. Yet the River Tiber is as much part of the fabric of the city as the Castel Sant’angelo which sits proudly on its banks, once the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian himself. Not only did it bring crucial transportation and supplies to the city throughout its burgeoning past, but it was also the source of plague and pestilence, bringing the relentless annual swathe of mosquitoes to the city where malaria routinely reduced the population to a mere fraction of its former self.

Today the River Tiber is one of the most tranquil areas of Rome. Indeed, I have barely ever seen a boat move along its waters, and the river bank, which could be as vibrant as the South Bank in London, is practically deserted, the odd piece of graffiti reminding that the presence of some is not entirely lacking. Yet the banks of the River Tiber are as much a historical treasure as other parts of the city, leading as they do to the ancient Pons Fabricius, the oldest bridge in Rome, together with the mighty Ponte Sant’angelo, lined with glorious sculpture and affording visitors the most stunning view of St Peter’s and the Vatican beyond.

Norms on the Tiber

Norms on the River Tiber (©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

It is from that very bridge that this week’s Norm sketch is located, with the dome of St Peter’s accompanied by a panoply of pine trees, Vatican buildings, and a river bank suitably populated by eager Norms. While the bank itself may be a place for the down and outs, the Norms kissing in secret, and the frustrated teenager Norm, spray painting the wall because his creativity has been suppressed at home, its river is a place for recreation and relaxation – these two Norm boats find themselves quite secluded, despite being in the very centre of Rome. Such are the advantages of a river which is integral to the city, but which today is quite forgotten, in the grand Roman scheme of things.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms: The Saints Collection | St. Peter

Next up in the continuing Norm Saints Collection is Saint Peter, on whose rock the very foundations of the modern day Catholic church are built. Yes, Saint Peter is the saint we most associate with holding the grand double keys of the Vatican, cloaked elegantly in a Romanesque toga-like getup, with his curly hair and beard all in the Roman vogue. But of course this important Norm Saint was not always so grand. Born “Shimon”, Saint Peter was in fact a fisherman heralding from Galilee. Hence why in so many artistic representations, he is shown with the paraphernalia of his former trade, as is this little Saint norm here.

But later in life, Shimon was to become an integral member of the Twelve Apostles of Christ, and in that role was the apostle who, famously, denied Christ before the cock crowed three times. Hence why in other artistic representations, said cockerel is to be found somewhere round abouts. Sadly for my Saint Peter Norm, the proximity of these representations has made for something of an inevitable conflict, as the recently caught fish spill out of Saint Peter’s net only to be pecked to within an inch of their lives by the rather zealous cockerel standing in wait. Oh well, at least Saint Peter Norm can calm himself in the knowledge that in the background a great church, the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome, has been built in his honour. Of course historically, the real Saint Peter, who founded the first church of Rome, would never have known to what grandiose extent this church would later develop. But I believe that is the great benefit of artistic license.

St Peter Norm (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and gold paint on paper)

St Peter Norm (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and gold paint on paper)

I commend to you, Saint Peter Norm. Who’s next?

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.

Natale Italiano | Rome – Day 3: The Mastery of Bernini

Boxing day was officially renamed “Bernini Day” on 26th December of last year, as we set about discovering the works of this genius which literally pepper the city of Rome with as much generosity as London is filled with red telephone boxes. Starting off with coffee opposite our beloved Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotunda, we only had to walk mere metres past the stunning Roman Temple to the Piazza della Minerva to see Bernini’s rather grand elephant sculpture, showing very little of the strain of the ancient Egyptian obelisk which it carries on its back. Meanwhile, a short walk to the West of the Pantheon took us to the even more spectacular Piazza Navona, where of course that incredible Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) by Bernini lords magnificently over the centre of the not so square Square. That incredible gushing fountain, which appears to bring the gods of the rivers to life before one’s very eyes, also carries at its centre an ancient obelisk, albeit that this time the obelisk is far grander, and one of the most impressible of the 13 major obelisks featured in Rome’s most prominent piazzas (although I understand that this once hails from ancient Rome, rather than ancient Egypt).

Minerva and Navona – two sights of Bernini’s mastery with marble

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All this Bernini sightseeing had given us a taste for something a little more appetising to set our sights upon, and the proximity of the bustling Campo de’ Fiore meant lunch was not far at hand. The Campo, which translates as “field of flowers” is one of my favourite spots in Rome, particularly in the warmer weather when the encircling buildings are soaked with sunshine, and in the square below, market stalls selling the freshest produce and flowers burst into life. On this Boxing (sorry, Bernini) Day, the Campo was relatively quiet, but its restaurants happily open for business – the crispy Pizza with speck and zucchini which followed our entry into one such establishment was truly a delight worthy of this food-lover’s paradise.

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Back to business in the afternoon, and after a sad farewell to my partner’s dearest Mama, we took advantage of the last dying hours of Roman light to make a visit to another of Bernini’s renowned masterpieces, The Ecstasy of Santa Teresa, contained within the Cornaro chapel of the Santa Maria della Vittoria. This stunning sculpture, which appears to show the figures of St Teresa and an angel floating on clouds made of marble, depicts an episode in the life of Teresa of Avila, a mystical cloistered Discalced Carmelite nun, who described a visitation by an angel who appeared to stab her with a golden spear filling her with the pain and ecstasy of god’s love. Lit from above by a little hidden window which reflects off the gilded stucco rays behind the sculptures, this work is truly a masterpiece of Bernini’s oeuvre, and perhaps the most theatrical of all his works.

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For our final foray into the masterpieces of this genius of marble, we went to see Bernini’s mastery, not over sculpture, but over architecture. Yes, after a final Roman dinner in the atmospheric Ristorante Babette in the Via Margutta, we headed to a place whose structure is indebted to the genius of Bernini – St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. This central seat of Catholicism revels in the theatre of religious power and position, and for any visitor walking along the Via della Conciliazione towards St Peter’s imposing façade, there can be no doubting the monumental aspect of this approach. However, surely the most imposing and dramatic feature is the huge colonnaded piazza in front of St Peter’s, a piazza which provides ample space for all the visiting faithful, and further underlines the scale and magnitude of this centre of the Catholic Church. And who was responsible for the architectural design of the palazzo with its vast double rowed colonnades? Why Bernini, of course.

Nighttime walk to Vatican City

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And with that monumental encounter with one of Bernini’s final masterpieces, we ended our last full day in the magnificent city of Rome, a city which provided us with such a rich festive experience, and whose streets and squares continued to buzz, despite the passing of the Christmas season. The following day, we would pack up our bags (and my little pop up Christmas tree) once again, and head further South – to Napoli.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

The Daily Sketch ITALIA – Norms at the Vatican

Just a hop across Rome’s River Tiber, along the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, is a entirely different city. An entirely different country in fact – Vatican City, home of the Pope, head of the Catholic Church. The Vatican is undoubtedly stunning. The immense Basilica of St Peter, and Bernini’s elaborately colonnaded St. Peter’s Square awes with all of the intended spectacle which is only appropriate for the centre of one of the world’s most prominent religions. The Vatican is home to some of the greatest art collections ever known to man – the Belvedere Torso, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, and Raphael’s vast School of Athens, as well as the peculiar site of the Vatican’s own troop of security, the puffy-costumed, beret-wearing Swiss Guards. But something our tourist Norms could never have hoped to witness, on their brief visit, was a parade of Pope Norm and the full school of eminent Cardinal Norms themselves. Spectacle never got bigger than this.

Norms at the Vatican (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday Supplement ITALIA – Cityscape IV: Rome

It’s ITALIA Season on the Daily Norm, and after a week of Norms’ adventures down the boot of Italy, and a showcase of my photos of the glorious country, it’s time to feature another of my paintings. I haven’t devoted nearly as much canvas space to Italy as I have to Spain or Paris for example. And now I come to think about it, that really should change. There is frankly so much beauty to inspire me that I could paint Italy for the rest of my life. Perhaps that’s why I have never really begun.

However one work which I did paint in homage to Italy was a simple reflection of Rome’s Forum Romano, against a rich orange and pink sunset. You can just about see St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in the background. The painting formed part of my “Cityscape” series which I painted back in 2007 when I was trying to teach myself how to master oil paints, having been painting for so many years in acrylics. Despite being only “studies”, the resulting collection was so popular that I transformed part of it into limited edition prints back in 2008.

Anyway, without further ado I give you Rome, in sultry silhouette.

Cityscape IV: Rome (2007 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, Oil on canvas)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

ITALIA Season – Rome: My Photographs

Rome: City of passion, where waves of heat flow ruggedly through bustling streets, where raised Italian voices and sustained hooting from haphazardly driven cars are the harmony and the melody, where painted church ceilings bring heaven to its closest interaction with the earth, and the Roman ruins all around remind the current thriving generation that on this same soil, a grand imperial history is sewn deep into the rich tapestry of Rome’s foundations. In Rome you can take a coffee in the shade of the Borghese gardens, or a people-watching cocktail by the Spanish steps. You can join the throng of tourists strolling around the Piazza Navona and the Coliseum, and you can tread the steps of Emperors as you gaze upwards to an almost fully intact Pantheon temple. Rome is living history – a city struggling to move forward while treading on the cherished egg shells of its past, but one which prioritises the Joie de Vivre, the good times, the passion of life. Rome: city of art, of colour, of culture, of style, of religious fervour, of architectural heritage, or pure Italian gastronomic brilliance. Rome – a city so unique that words alone will not suffice, and only photos, now, will do.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.