Roman mosaics in Sicily

During my recent stay in Sicily, Italy, I visited a Roman villa called Villa Romana Del Casale. It was a sumptuous villa from the roman period. The owners lived in luxury: the villa had its own private thermae, several reception halls and (common) restrooms as large as a living room. Today, only the bottom part of the walls and the floor mosaics remain.

Even service rooms were decorated, with geometric patterned mosaics. I like this geometrical mosaic that looks like a carpet.


Roman geometric patterned mosaic. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily


(Click on the pictures to enlarge them)

In the reception halls and bedrooms, mosaics show mythological scenes and also daily life scenes: hunting, fishing, sport, children’s games, animals…

Here for example, like in Ben-Hur chariot race sequence, children race in chariots but those are pulled by… birds.


Roman mosaic showing children racing in chariots pulled by birds. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily

In another room, this mosaic combines geometrical patterns and medallions featuring fruits.


Roman mosaic combining geometrical patterns and medallions featuring fruits. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily

The mosaic artists managed to show details in a very realistic way, such as those figs that make me hungry.


Roman mosaic with geometrical patterns and a medallion featuring figs. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily

By the way, what I prefered were the small details of the mosaics. Here some plants that could be part of a decoration catalogue.


Roman mosaic showing potted plants. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily

There some fishes.


Roman mosaic showing two fishes. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily

And finally a bird. Thanks to the enlargement, you can see more closely the assembly of small colored stone pieces.


Roman mosaic showing a bird. Villa Romana Del Casale in Sicily

For more information, see Villa Romana Del Casale website

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Victoria and Albert Museum’s colorful glass chandelier

These days, I’m searching a beautiful ceiling light. Actually, I have already found my dream chandelier but the problem is that it’s 9 meters high.

drawing of Victoria and Albert Museum's yellow and blue glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly

It’s a glass sculpture with interwoven yellow and blue tentacles by artist Dale Chihuly. This wild chandelier adorns the entrance dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I just find it great.

For more information:

Dale Chihuly website

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Reception table at the Élysée Palace in Paris

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to admire a gala table in the reception hall at the Élysée Palace in Paris. Not that I was invited to a party at the French president’s residence, I just visited the Élysée Palace on the occasion of Heritage Day.

When a color pencils forum has suggested to do a drawing on the subject of a beautiful, I have pulled out the pictures I had taken of the Élysée feast table.

drawing of a reception table at the Élysée Palace in Paris

The plates are white with a dark-blue border and are scattered with gold. In the centre of the table, there are candelabra and jardinieres full of flowers. These are true silver-plated sculptures.

The jardiniere I have drawn dates from the 19th century and belongs to a set called “Louis XIV, Music and Dance”. I like those imposing decorations even if they leave little room for putting dishes.

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Metro entrances in Paris

The metro entrances are typical part of Paris street furniture (like Wallace fountains).

In 1899, the Compagnie du Métropolitain de Paris asks Hector Guimard to design different entrances to the metro : small stations, enclosed entrances (called “édicules”) and open entrances (called “entourages”). Hector Guimard is an architect who belongs to the Art Nouveau movement. His cast iron gates indicate the entrances to the new Paris metro. They are criticized for their innovating shapes.

Entourage Guimard (Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station)
Entourage Guimard (Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station)

Edicule Guimard (Abbesse station)
Edicule Guimard (Abbesse station)

After Guimard, metro entrances are less avant-garde. Open entrances are made of stone or wrought iron. Entrances are signposted by masts.

 

 

a Val d'Osne mast

a Val d’Osne mast

a Dervaux mast
a Dervaux mast

 

Later, they are replaced by signs simply saying “metro” or “M” (those signs are not worth taking a picture of) to signpost the stairs (only stairs no lift, Paris metro is not wheelchair-accessible).  
In 2000 at last, a new metro entrance is bold. The “kiosque des noctambules” (kiosk of the night-birds) is designed by the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel for the Palais Royal station.

 

 

kiosque des Noctambules (Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station)
kiosque des Noctambules (Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station)

 

I like this kiosk surmounted by two domes made of glass bubbles because it’s kitsch and fairy. The criticism I would make of this work of art is that it doesn’t help you to find the metro entrance because there is no sign. I am afraid it has forgotten its main function.

Links:

Différent metro entrances (in French)

Guimard metro entrances (in French)

Some works of art by Jean-Michel Othoniel

Other articles about Paris street furniture on this blog:


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Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris

I visited the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris during Heritage Days. The surroundings are nice and look like the Louvre Museum (it is normal because the museum is in a wing of the Louvre Palace). The museum is a maze of corridors and I had to ask several times how to get to my destination.

Decorative Arts, it is when daily objects become works of art. The museum presents some furniture, chests, chairs, tableware, jewellery etc. I liked the period rooms: there are for example a Renaissance bedroom, an 18th Century living room and the apartment of the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin. I was only disappointed with the Jean-Paul Gautier exhibition in the Fashion department. I found that the clothes were a little worn.

Some restorers were present on the occasion of Heritage Days. A tapestry-maker explained how he repaired old tapestries. I heard that the wall hangings in the Jeanne Lanvin’s apartment were restored in India. I didn’t know that offshoring concerned culture too 🙁 .

Here are the pictures of my favourite works of art: 

Louis Quinze canapé


A magnificent eighteenth century canapé. The style of this sofa is called Louis Quinze. I was not allowed to sit on it but it looks comfortable and is very long.

the Nénuphar guéridon


An Art Nouveau guéridon designed and manufactured by the furniture designer Louis Majorelle around 1902. The top is in the form of a water lily leaf.

tea set


And a tea set made around 1785.


With this furniture I could furnish a living room to my liking.


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Wallace fountains

A city is characterized by its architecture but also by its street furniture. Wallace fountains for example are so associated with the city of Paris that the passers-by don’t notice them any more.

 

The first fountains were given to the Parisians by a wealthy Englishman, Richard Wallace, after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). In those days, the French Capital was lacking drinking water.

 

This art lover (he has his museum in London) wanted his fountains to be beautiful. He made real cast-iron sculptures. Water flows between four caryatids supporting the dome-shaped roof of the fountain.

Wallace fountain

 

There are still about a hundred fountains that provide drinking water. They don’t work in winter, but in summer when it’s warm, I quench my thirst and I drink in honor of Sir Wallace.

 

Wallace fountain (detail)

For more information:
You can download the list of the Wallace fountains (in PDF format) on Paris website

Other articles about Paris street furniture on this blog:


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