Saturday 30 May 2015


“It is human nature to instinctively rebel at obscurity or ordinariness.” - Taylor Caldwell

Vittore Carpaccio (born c. 1460, Venice - died 1525/26, Venice), was the greatest early Renaissance narrative painter of the Venetian school. Carpaccio may have been a pupil of Lazzaro Bastiani, but the dominant influences on his early work were those of Gentile Bellini and Antonello da Messina. The style of his work suggests he might also have visited Rome as a young man. He probably painted “Salvator Mundi with Four Apostles” before 1490. Other works from this early period are sometimes attributed to Carpaccio, although, because he did not sign and date his early works, there is often little proof he painted them.

At about 1490 he began painting a cycle of scenes from the “Legend of St Ursula” for the Scuola di Santa Orsola, now in the Galleries of the Academy of Venice. In these works he emerged as a mature artist of originality, revealing a gift for organisation, narrative skill, and a command of light. The genre scene of the “Dream of St Ursula” has been especially praised for its wealth of naturalistic detail.

Carpaccio’s later career can be charted in terms of three further narrative cycles. The first of these survives intact in the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, in Venice, and involves scenes from the life of St. Jerome; dating from 1502, these paintings represent the climax of Carpaccio’s art. A cycle of scenes from the life of the Virgin, executed after 1504 for the Scuola degli Albanesi, is now scattered. Also dispersed is the cycle of scenes from the life of St. Stephen, painted between 1511 and 1520, that is stylistically reminiscent of his earlier works.

Carpaccio completed three notable altarpieces for Venetian churches: “St. Thomas Aquinas Enthroned” (1507), “Presentation in the Temple” (1510), and “Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand” (1515). His last dated works are two organ shutters for the Duomo at Capodistria (1523). Carpaccio’s precise rendering of architecture and the luminous atmosphere of his paintings were praised by the 19th-century English critic John Ruskin. Carpaccio’s panoramic depictions of pageants, processions, and other public gatherings are notable for their wealth of realistic detail, sunny colouring, and dramatic narratives. His incorporation of realistic figures into an orderly and coherent perspectival space made him a predecessor of the Venetian painters of vedute (townscapes).

The image above is “The Meditation on the Passion” ca. 1490. The medium is oil and tempera on wood (total: 70.5 x 86.7cm; painted surface 66.5 × 84.5 cm). It is exhibited in the European Paintings Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is an extraordinary work, quite a landmark in the history of devotional images. It can be seen as a meditation on the theme of Death and Resurrection.

To the right, the Old Testament figure Job sits on a block inscribed in pseudo-Hebrew, while on the left, portrayed as a hermit, is Saint Jerome (ca. 347–420), who wrote a commentary on the book of Job. Christ’s dead body is displayed on a broken throne, also inscribed in pseudo-Hebrew. A bird (symbol of the soul) flies upwards. The landscape, barren on the left and pastoral on the right, alludes to the contrasting themes of life and death, as do the animals that inhabit it. The turbaned figures in the background would have been familiar to Venetians through their trade with the Middle East and Egypt.


“Mexico is a mosaic of different realities and beauties.” - Enrique Peña Nieto

The Colonial Mexican Period lasted from 1521 to 1821 during the Vice-Regency of New Spain. The cultivation of European music began soon after the arrival of the Spanish, during the Late-Renaissance period of Western Music. Musical practices continually coincided with European tendencies throughout the subsequent Baroque and Classical music periods.

It is important to note that while much music was fashioned in European style, uniquely Mexican hybrid works composed of native Mexican language and European musical practice, appeared as early as the sixteenth century, and throughout the colonial period.

Much of the surviving music is sacred music for choir and orchestra that was found at the cathedrals of Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, and Guatemala City, when it formed part of New Spain. Collections of secular music also survive such as the Códice Saldívar of guitar music, and the Eleanor Hague Manuscript housed at the Southwestern Museum in Los Angeles.

Here is some of the Mexican Baroque music by Ignacio de Jerusalem and Manuel de Zumaya performed by Chanticleer.

Ignacio de Jerusalem: 1. Responsorio Segundo de S S José.
Ignacio de Jerusalem: Dixit Dominus, for 2 trebles, 2 violins & continuo.
2. Dixit Dominus: Dixit Dominus Domino meo
3. Dixit Dominus: Virgam virtutis tuae
4. Dixit Dominus: Judicabit in nationibus
5. Dixit Dominus: De torrente in via bibet
6. Dixit Dominus: Gloria Patri, et Filio
7. Dixit Dominus: Amen

Manuel de Sumaya: 8. Sol-fa de Pedro.
Manuel de Sumaya: Mass in D minor.
9. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Kyrie
10. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Gloria in excelsis Deo
11. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Gloria agimus tibi
12. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Qui tollis peccata mundi
13. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Quoniam tu solus
14. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Cum Sancto Spirtu
15. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Amen
16. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Credo in unum Deum
17. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Et incarnatus est
18. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Crucifixus etiam pro nobis
19. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Et resurrexit tertia die
20. (Polychoral) Mass in D major: Sanctus
21. Hieremiae Prophetae Lamentationes.
22. Celebren, publiquen.

Friday 29 May 2015


“Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.” - Ludwig van Beethoven

As winter approaches and the various bugs start lurking around waiting to wreak havoc with our health, it’s important to realise that there are some great foods that boost immunity. Carnosine, a compound found in chicken soup helps the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu, research has found.

Here is a traditional Greek recipe, combining the immune-boosting benefits of chicken soup with the rich protein of eggs and the vitamin C-packed goodness of lemons. Besides which, it tastes great too!

2 chicken carcasses
1 bunch of celery
1 carrot
2 onions
Salt, pepper, bay leaf, few sprigs of parsley
Chicken Broth from boiled chicken carcasses
2 tablespoons of rice (optional)
2-4 eggs
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoonful plain flour

Obtain the chicken carcasses from your poultry dealer. They have these on hand after filleting chickens. You may also use chicken wings, necks, giblets or cheap cuts of chicken. Break up the carcasses into a few pieces and place in a large saucepan. Wash and clean the celery and chop up roughly, adding it to the pot. Do the same for the carrot and the onions. Add the seasonings and herbs. Cover with water and boil for a couple of hours, adding more water when needed. Once the broth is ready, strain it through a double thickness of muslin cloth and discard the carcasses and vegetables.

Using eggs and lemon is the most usual way for making a typical Greek soup. To make the soup, use 2 or 3 eggs, or only egg yolks (four of them). The most sensitive part of an egg is the white, because it cooks much more rapidly than egg yolks. This is why some cooks use only the yolks. My mother uses the whole egg. Have your ingredients on hand when you are ready to make the soup.

If you are using the rice (my mother doesn’t!), boil it in the chicken broth until it is tender.  Remove the broth from the flame and let it stand. Mix the flour into the lemon juice, ensuring there are no lumps. Beat the eggs in a pyrex bowl, adding the lemon juice little by little, while beating with a whisk. Take one ladleful of broth from the soup and add slowly to the egg and lemon mixture, beating all the while (good to have two people doing this, one beating the other adding the broth). Once enough broth has been added to heat thoroughly the egg and lemon mixture, gradually pour the egg mixture into the soup, stirring constantly. 

Serve immediately garnishing with lemon slices and some chopped parsley.

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Thursday 28 May 2015


“There’s a place in the middle of the wine-dark sea called Crete, a lovely, fruitful land surrounded by the sea.” – Homer, Odyssey (bk. 19)

Let’s go back in time about 5,000 years to the Greek island of Crete. It was around that time that an Asiatic people from Asia Minor settled in the island and mingled with the local inhabitants. At about 2,000 BC, these Cretans were already living in cities, trading with other nations in the Mediterranean, and employing a system of writing, probably derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics. Their hieroglyphic writing would eventually evolve into a linear script. They built magnificent palace centres at Knossos, Phaistos, and Kato Zakros; these palaces seem to have dominated Cretan society. The civilisation was called the Minoan civilisation after the legendary king of Crete, Minos.

The remains of the magnificent palace at Knossos (near present day Iraklion) were excavated and restored by Arthur Evans in 1900 AD. The Minoans literally surrounded themselves with art, with colourful frescoes adorning almost every wall, beautiful decorated pottery, statuettes and carved gems and an architecture that was not only visually stunning, but also extremely advanced. At the peak of the civilisation around 1,700 BC, the multistory palaces had flushing toilets, baths with running water, extensive utility areas, ingenious light wells and an intricate plan (“labyrinth” is a Minoan word applied to the palace of Knossos and meaning “House of the Double Axe”, as the double axe was a sacred Minoan symbol).

The Minoan culture flourished for many centuries in Crete and the Aegean islands, but a cataclysmic volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini (about 100 km north of Crete) that happened around 1450 BC and was more than 10 times the force of the Krakatoa eruption was responsible for the downfall of the Minoan civilisation. The Santorini cataclysm is believed to have given rise to the Atlantis legend.

Pottery making reached a great degree of perfection in Minoan culture. Not only were very large (some up to 2 m tall!) utilitarian storage pottery jars made, but also small beautifully decorated pots and jars. Polychrome decoration alternated with monochrome and abstract designs were contrasted with wonderful representations taken from nature.

The cult in Minoan society was centred on the goddess and fertility. Statuettes representing the snake goddess abound in finds at various sites. The snake was a symbol of the earth and fertility. Women enjoyed a very good life in Minoan society. They participated in every occupation and trade available to men. The extensive crafts and industry on Crete included skilled craftswomen and entrepreneurs, and the large, top-heavy bureaucracy and priesthood seems to have been equally staffed with women. Priesthood was in fact dominated by women. Although the palace kings were male, the society itself does seem to have been matriarchal.

Women participated in all the sports that Cretan males participated in. The most popular sports in Crete were incredibly dangerous ones such as boxing and bull-jumping. In bull-jumping a bull would charge headlong into a line of jumpers. Each jumper, when the bull was right on top of them, would grab the horns of the bull and vault over the bull in a somersault to land feet first behind the bull. This is not a sport for the squeamish. All the representations of this sport show young women participating as well as men. This sport gave rise to the legend of the Minotaur, the man-eating bull of Greek mythology.

In the palace of Knossos, there is a throne room, with a stone throne found in situ in this room. It is surrounded by stone benches on which nobles must have sat. The walls are richly decorated with griffin frescoes. Evans was criticised widely for his rather heavy-handed restoration of the palace and frescos in Knossos. However, it should be kept in mind that unless this restoration was carried out, the palace would have been completely ruined (the columns were originally of cypress wood and Evans re-cast them in concrete) and in this fashion the visitor gets a marvellous idea of what the palace must have looked like in real life. The throne room has a central hearth and possesses the characteristic “inverted” (upward) tapering Minoan columns. The colours used in the decoration were brilliant earth colours and mineral-derived pigments. The original frescoes are in the Iraklion museum and reproductions are seen on-site. Visiting Knossos is a fantastic experience that should not be missed if you are going to Greece!

Being an island girt by sea and having a sea-faring culture dependent on distant shores for trade, it is not unusual to find Minoan art full of representations of sea-life. There is a famous dolphin fresco from the Queen’s apartments in the Knossos palace that attests to this. The rooms in this palace are airy, full of light, resplendent with brightly coloured frescos and indicate a carefree lifestyle in which a high degree of culture was blended with joie-de-vivre and great sophistication.

Wednesday 27 May 2015


“If you spend time alone in the wilderness, you get very attuned to living things.” - George Dyson

Poets United this week is devoted to the topic of "weeds". This is a topic that I have a very soft spot for, as I believe that all plants wild or cultivated, hybrid or common, garden-sown or wilderness-grown have a place in our life and can all contribute positively to our existence.

Many of the so-called “weeds” are useful and valuable plants in their own right – we have just lost the knowledge, experience and sagacity to use them appropriately. See my previous blog post on this topic here.

My poem this week:

The Weed

Behold the orchid, a precious hybrid,
Resplendent in its baroque beauty
Dazzling in its polychrome coloration,
Rare, charming and elegant,
A most perfect flower…

My own floret, humble,
Insignificant by comparison
Most likely to be trodden on,
As it will often pass unnoticed,
Or treated with contempt, if seen.

The rose, pure bred and sleek,
A proud, fragrant blood-red bloom
Rising tall from glistening green leaves,
The epitome of refined grace,
Admired and desired.

My leaves a dusty green,
And my habit recumbent;
My smell oddly singular:
To a few pleasing, perhaps,
To others mildly unpleasant.

Look at the lily, wan and lofty,
In the greenhouse raised
And cosseted lovingly
By nurseryman’s tender,
Unending ministrations…

My own existence haphazard,
Yet hardy, tenacious in waste places;
I grow and self-seed and persist –
For those who get to know me,
I am a plant most useful, indispensable.

Tuesday 26 May 2015


“Only on the Internet can a person be lonely and popular at the same time.” - Allison Burnett

I was reading last week about people’s blogging habits and the reason behind their blogging. This prompted me to think more about the topic and question further my own personal reasons for blogging. Firstly, I contextualised my own needs for this form of communication and where it sits with me and my own life. It was easier to think of reasons that I don’t blog for, initially. I don’t blog for fame or fortune, as this is neither the place to do it in, nor am I searching for either. Besides I have yet to hear of a blogger who received a huge cheque in the mail because of their blog!

I don’t blog to attract a huge following, proselytise people to my religion, convert them to my moral or ethical precepts, my way of life or ideas, or make money out of them. My list of blog friends comes from people who read my blog and want to connect, or the other way around - because I read others’ blogs and wish to have them on my list for easy access. I like my blog readers to be varied and representative of as many different kinds of people as possible, each with their own ideas and convictions, living in all kinds of places around the world and having different lifestyles, beliefs, values. I don’t want all my blog readers to believe the same things I do, nor do I wish them all to agree with me. However, what I do like in my readers is an enquiring, curious, open mind, one which is ready to engage in discussion and which is willing to open up to new ideas, as I am.

I do not blog to meet a partner, wife, girlfriend, lover, soulmate. I am happily partnered, but always welcome new friends into my life. Because of the nature of the electronic medium, making new friends on the internet is both easy and difficult at the same time. Easy because of the wide availability of a large cross section of people that one is constantly exposed to and the simplicity with which one may connect to them. Difficult because of the ease with which one may offend, disgruntle, bore, cause misunderstanding, lose contact with others. Difficult also because of that lack of real face-to-face conversation, sharing of everyday interaction, social gatherings, etc. However, this situation of creating long-distance friendships is far from impossible and is not unprecedented - in the past, several long-term and genuine friendships were contracted and maintained by correspondence. The charming and poignant memoir “84 Charing Cross Rd”  is a case in point.

I don’t blog to keep contact with my family. I prefer to see them face-to-face, talk on the phone, visit them. Even the ones who live thousands of miles away I prefer to contact individually, as privacy is important to me and they respect mine as I respect theirs. An ancient Greek proverb that was drummed into me as I was growing up stated “What goes on in your house should not be made public” and I am afraid that I have lived according to that. Incidentally, that makes me a good person to keep secrets, in the same way that I expect my friends and family to keep mine.

Another reason I don’t blog is because I don’t want to keep a diary of my daily occurrences of my life, my innermost feelings, thoughts, hopes and fears online and in public. I have a diary that I write in, should I wish to do that, and that (as most diaries are) is a personal affair, kept for my own reasons, my own perusal and represents a part of me that only I should see.

I don’t blog and subsequently send chain emails to people about my posts, believing this will bring me good luck, fortune, health, wealth or the like. I don’t blog to break any records, achieve honours in some hall of fame of Blogland, or be a featured site. I don’t blog to waste my time and hopefully my blogging doesn’t waste other people’s time (although there is an easy way to deal with that, should they decide that is the case - the magic “unfollow” button).

So, secondly, why do I blog? I have painted myself into a corner, you may think after listing all the reasons I gave above in the negative.  I blog because I enjoy communicating, and enjoy sharing things. What I learn, I wish to pass on to others. What I enjoy, and I believe can be enjoyed by others, I wish to share with them. I am delighted when someone tells me, “Here is a book that I have just read and really enjoyed. I think you will enjoy it too, because of a, b, c reasons…”  And what a delight when I do read that book by an author I was unaware of and I enjoy it too. I wish to do the same unto others…

I love learning and I shall continue to learn till my dying breath. I wish to learn about other countries, other cultures, other religions, other values, other lifestyles. What better forum to learn that in, than Blogland, which is peopled by a rich variety of ethnicities, nationalities, religions, geographies, political convictions, etc… It is a wonderful place to learn first-hand, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, about these other lives all around the world.

Blogland is the country where many creative people live. Amateurs, dilettantes as well as professionals. These people are very generous with their art and every now and then I get a real buzz when I discover some wonderful talents that they so generously share. I view, enjoy, praise and constructively criticise their work, if that is what is invited. In my own way, I too create and I also share my creations. All human beings wish to receive praise and encouragement for what they do, when they believe that it is done well. I am no different. Sometimes one feels that close friends and family will praise one because of an obligation to do so or because of a tactful loyalty. The praise of strangers is often much more appreciated, as one always feels it is more spontaneous and genuine. However, that is not my sole reason for blogging and fishing for compliments is not what I do in real life either. Besides, if one is willing to offer one’s creations to public scrutiny, one may always attract the criticisms of the professional, which can give one some exceedingly good advice for one's improvement, but what should be kept in mind is that the criticism may at times be quite scathing!

I blog to expand my horizons, to educate myself, to find new interests, discover new ways of looking at the familiar and unearth exciting things that I was unaware of. In the process, I feel that I must give something back to the Blogland community. I offer back into it my own discoveries, my own amazement and wonder of this world that we all live in. Often when I write my blog I will look up something on the net, a reference book, another book on my shelf and forget the blog altogether for quite some time. Blogging is yet another stimulus for my curiosity and need to learn.

In my time as a denizen of Blogland I have communicated with some people that are facing a time that is truly difficult and trying for them. Some of these people have chosen to use their blog as a safety valve, a path to catharsis, an avenue for liberating their emotions and feelings. Sometimes, their stories touch me and move me and I do what comes naturally - what I would do if I met someone wanting help next to me, someone close to me or even a stranger in need by the side of the road. I do what I wish others would do for me when I am in need. A kind word, a personal message, a thoughtful gesture may make an enormous difference in a life. Sometimes it is easier to speak to a complete stranger and bare your soul than it is to do so to your partner, your family, your friends. Sometimes a person who is completely neutral and uninvolved may see the situation from such a perspective that it sheds a new light onto your predicament.

I blog with what I hope is an open mind - I am not a fanatic and will change an opinion gladly if it is shown to me to be erroneous. I respect all people from different backgrounds, religions, countries, cultures. I appreciate the differences between us, tolerate other ideas and views that may be diametrically opposed to mine. I value freedom of thought and the right of each and every person to express it, provided they do not actively insult, demean or belittle others.

Seriously now, perhaps I should leave it to Albert Einstein to sum up for me:
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed towards ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”

For me blogging is a way of communicating, of generating friendships and creating understanding, sharing information and knowledge, exchanging points of view, enjoying others’ virtual company around the world. It is a manifestation of personal freedom and a demonstration of the power of ideas, the liberty of our thoughts. Blogging can contribute to our learning and our ennoblement, it can entertain and amuse us, it can move us and touch our lives in unexpected ways. Let us blog on!

Sunday 24 May 2015


“Sometimes even music can’t substitute for tears.” – Paul Simon

Think of this situation: One evening you are sitting in your dining room and enjoying a delicious dinner with your family. The radio is playing some light music, there is laughter and pleasant conversation, all is warm and cosy. Isn’t this a blessed situation to be in, enjoying family life, peace, contentment?

Then there is an announcement on the radio. Because of your surname (or colour of your skin, or religion, or whom you voted for last election - or take your pick of whatever unreasonable “reason”) you are told that you have 24 hours to vacate your home, taking with you only one suitcase with your belongings. You are to present yourself at an internment facility where an uncertain future awaits you. Possibly you will be split away from your family, you could be forced into hard labour or even put to death…

Can most of us even imagine this scenario happening to us, in our cushy, protected and wonderfully democratic first world environments? (and a glance down my friends list here on Google confirms that I am addressing a first world audience for the major part). “Can’t happen…”, you say. And yet it did, it does and will keep on happening unfortunately.

Yesterday we watched Roman Polanski’s highly acclaimed film “The Pianist” (2002). It is a harrowing film based on the life of a brilliant pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman a Polish Jew, who has written an autobiographical account of his experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. He witnesses first-hand the atrocities of the Nazis in the Polish capital. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi extermination camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw. He is helped and hindered in his struggle to survive by some unlikely characters, but overall his message is one of hope despite the devastation that he witnesses.

It is a marvellous account of one man’s struggle to survive, a testament of self-preservation and a reassurance that there are people who are willing to help us selflessly in our hour of need. People whom we consider as friends may drag us down and denounce us, betray us; while at the same time our enemies may stretch out a friendly hand that may save our life in our direst hour. Despite its grim subject matter, this is not a paean to Jewry and the holocaust in aggressive tones, nor is it an all out denunciation of a regime whose excesses are historically documented. It is a film that singles an individual, an anti-hero if ever there was one and his feeble attempt to overcome his fate, an attempt that becomes an all-consuming battle towards the end. His life, being his music, is his only focus and salvation.

This is a film that brings out raw emotion from the viewer, it is one that depresses and uplifts, takes one from the depths of desperation to the highest peaks of hope and elation. The music of the film (mainly Chopin) is exquisite and entirely apt. If you have not seen this film, definitely one to watch!


“I no longer believe in anything. Objects don’t exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them or between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence – what I can only describe as a state of peace – which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry.” - George Braque

French artist Georges Braque (13 May 1882 – 31 August 1963) was one of the founders along with Picasso of the Cubist art movement. His piece ‘Nude’ (1907-1908) can be regarded as one of the first works in Cubism. He is one of the revolutionaries of modern art and together with several of his fellow artists at the time generated controversy, but at the same time changed the manner in which people viewed art and made them revise their expectations of what an art work was and what it meant.

George Braque was born in 1882 in Argenteuil, a Seine-side village near Paris. Both his father and grandfather were skilled artists. In 1890 the family moved to the port of Le Havre where Braque led quite a solitary childhood. He went to the local École des Beaux-Arts but failed his exams in 1899, leaving his parents to apprentice their son to a local painter-decorator. In Paris Braque gained a craftsman’s diploma and through a friendship with Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz became involved in the Fauvist movement.

In 1907 he first saw the work of Cézanne and in the same year met Picasso who had just completed ‘Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon’ (1907). Although not immediately impressed, Braque began experimenting with a fragmented style, eventually completing ‘Nude’ (1907-1908) which can be seen as one of the earliest works in Cubism. Returning to the Mediterranean, and to painting landscapes, Braque was rapidly developing his own distinctive vision, imposing his own take on the landscape rather than replicating exactly what he saw.

For the next few years Braque worked closely with Picasso particularly between 1910 and 1912, experimenting with Cubism and this new technique in which to represent form and space. Musical instruments were frequently depicted such as in ‘Man with a Guitar’ (1911) and a number of still-lifes for example, ‘Still-Life with Pipe and Glass’ (1912). In 1912, realising that he was succumbing to the notion of art for art’s sake, he abandoned Cubism.

Braque and Picasso began experimenting with colour and collage and achieved some impressive results. In 1914, however, Braque enlisted in the French army and fought in the Second World War before being wounded in the head. Returning to the studio in 1917 his work began to change as he adopted a more graceful style, using curves and muted colours. In 1922 an exhibition of his work at the Salon d’ Antomne was acclaimed and by the 1930s his reputation was international.

He continued to paint still-lifes and interiors, with the ‘Studio’ series, begun in 1947, proving one of his most accomplished. The work that Braque produced in collaboration with Picasso is varied in quality though impressive in the radical experiments with technique. Despite working closely together, their approaches were quite different with Braque proving more considered and Picasso more spontaneous. Braque was also concerned with representing a subject in his own way, conveying more than just the image before him.

Braque constantly struggled with the use of colour in regard to form, and it was only after designing a series of stained-glass windows in 1953 that he finally reconciled the two as can be seen in ‘The Studio VIII’ (1954-1955). He was a quiet man but his reputation was such that he received many accolades during his lifetime and was accorded the greatest honour of all in a state funeral when he died in 1963.

The painting above is ‘The Duet’ of 1937 (Oil on canvas. 129.8 x 160 cm. Musée National d’ Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France). From the mid 1930’s the human figure returned in Braque’s work and his personal style became less cryptic/abstract and more immediately engaging for the viewer. In this painting, the two figures are immediately recognisable as singer and pianist rehearsing (quite chauvinistically) a Debussy song. The silhouette-like figures are highlighted by the very decorative wallpaper in the background while the pink and green in the women’s dresses act as magnets for the viewer’s eyes, which move back and forth while exploring the scene.