Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Chillon Castle

Week 17/52

The Chillon Castle has been around for over 1000 years. The castle that exists today is a medieval style castle that was built in the thirteenth century, on the site of a castle built in the ninth century. Its’ first use is believed to be that of a strategic post for Roman soldiers during the early Middle Ages. The foundation of the current castle was built by the bishops of the Sion and Rhone valley during the eleventh century. The first writing about this castle appeared in 1160, and it was at that time that the castle came under siege and was captured.

From 1189 until the thirteenth century, various counts of Savoy ruled the castle. Count Thomas of Savoy began the modifications and enlargements on the castles in 1189, and these changes continued through the thirteenth century. Pierre II of Savoy (Peter II of Savoy) has been accredited for the current structure of the Chillon Castle. His construction consisted of the outer walls, towers and buildings. Machicoulis reinforce the curtain that faces inward as well as the four largest towers. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the gate in the castle was rebuilt, and height was added to the walls and each of the towers. All other major structures were built during this time period. For nearly two centuries, the castle was used as a summer residence for various counts of Savoy.

In 1536, the Bernese captured Canton Vaud, the southwestern area of Switzerland’s plateau region and the northern part of Lake Geneva, and the castle became the location of the Bernese bailiff and it was used as an arsenal. It stayed this way until 1798 when the Swiss revolution took place. Throughout the nineteenth century, the castle was used as a prison for the military.

Castle Chillon is best known for its location. It is located on an island in Lake Geneva (Lake Leman). It has been built in the most strategic place on Lake Geneva’s northern shore. Lake Geneva grants access to France, northern Italy and western Switzerland. The castle has been placed where the foothills from the Bernese Alps lead down to Lake Geneva, which leaves only a small path along its shores. This is ideal for the castle because it gave the ruler of the castle control of the lake passage, as well as the road passage. The castle is by one of the most important trade and military routes of the time. The castle could only be accessed by a bridge that leads to the gatehouse.

Although the castle has over two dozen buildings and three courtyards, it is best known for its dungeons. The dungeons were carved out of the rock that supports the castle’s foundations. Even when there were no permanent rulers of the castle, it was used as a prison.

F/4.5, 1/80 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6

Project #17

The Lion Monument – Lucerne

Week 16/52

The Lion Monument in Lucerne is a giant dying lion carved out of a wall of sandstone rock above a pond at the east end of the medieval town. It was designed as a memorial for the mercenary soldiers from central Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French king Louis XVI during the French Revolution. When the revolutionary masses attacked the royal Tuileries castle in Paris on August 10, 1792 the Swiss mercenary troops tried to defend the royal family and make sure the royals could escape.

An officer of the Swiss guards, second lieutenant Carl Pfyffer von Altishofen, a descendant from an influential patrician family, happened to be on home leave in Lucerne when his fellow soldiers were killed in Paris. After the times of revolution were over in 1815 and France as well as Switzerland had returned to conservative regimes, Pfyffer felt obliged to erect a memorial to honor the mercenary soldiers. Liberal politicians from all over Switzerland disapproved of the memorial, but they were in a minority position during the 1820’s and Pfyffer was backed by a majority in Lucerne. The Lion Monument was inaugurated on August 10, 1821.

The Lion Monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1884), a classicist Danish sculptor in 1819 while he stayed in Rome, Italy. Lucas Ahorn (1789-1856), a stone-mason from Constance (southern Germany) actually carved it out of the sandstone rock in 1820/1821. The giant sculpture is 6 m [20 ft] high and 10 m [33 ft] long. The upright wall of rock is the remains of a quarry exploited over centuries to build the town.

F/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6

Project #16

Lion of St. Mark – Venice

Venice – Lion of St. Mark, became the symbol of the St. Mark because his Gospel begins like that:” remember the voice of the Baptist in the wilderness, rises like a roar, announcing the coming of Jesus to men, the lion quickly became also the symbol of the Serenissima. In Venice the symbolism of the lion of St. Mark comes from an ancient tradition, according to which St. Mark’s going to Alexandria in order to convert the infidels of that country, on a dark stormy night, his ship was boarded, seek shelter in one of the fishermen’s huts  on the island, “called Rialto”. After a frugal dinner with the fishermen the saint leaned on the ground, fell asleep and in the dream he saw an angel ” of a winged lion form ” who thus spoke to him, “On this island, a wonderful city will rise and in this great day you will find your final resting place, and you will find the final ( Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist. shall rest here your body)”. Mark woke up in the morning and told his dream to the fishermen, before setting sail again to the Egypt, where he died. The body of St. Mark was smuggled by two venecians traders, in a basket of vegetables and pork, to escape of the Muslim guards. One story tell us that when they arrived in Venice from Egypt, Alexandria (where Mark had founded the first Christian church), in the year 828, a huge crowd waiting for them, and when they set foot on the ground, an intense scent of roses spread to the pier.

F/5.6, 1/60 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6

“The Abduction of the Sabine Women”

Week 15/52

The Rape of the Sabine Women (“The Abduction of the Sabine Women”)

Giambologna’s Greatest Marble Sculpture

Carved from a single block of stone, this powerful marble sculpture by the Flemish artist Giambologna (1579–1583) (Johannes of Boulogne), is surely one of the finest works in the history of sculpture. Regarded as a technical as well as a creative masterpiece, the statue combines the classical nude forms ofGreek sculpture with the dynamism of Mannerism. Although, being a work of Roman mythology, it was not part of the campaign ofreligious art used by the Counter-Reformation,The Rape of the Sabine Women perfectly expresses the deep uncertainties of the late 16th century. The actual theme of the finished statue was not determined until shortly before its installation in the Loggia dei Lanzi, in the centre of Florence. It was then that Giambologna finally decided that it should illustrate the legendary “Rape of the Sabines”, an event from early Roman mythology, when Romulus and his male followers were anxiously seeking wives with whom to start families. The local Sabine tribe refused to permit their women to marry anyone from Rome, so the Romans staged a festival of Neptune Equester, invited their Sabine neighbours, and on a given signal snatched numerous Sabine women, whilst fighting off their men. Note that, in this context, the translation of the Latin word raptio as “rape” is misleading, as no physical violation was involved. A more accurate translation is “The Abduction of the Sabine Women”. The actual statue, 13 feet 5 inches tall (4.1 metres), is made from a single block of marble. It depicts three figures: at the base of the statue, an older bearded nude man kneels on the ground, his left arm raise in self-defence; a second younger nude male, who stands astride the kneeling man, holds a struggling nude woman in his strong arms. The kneeling man represents the weak elderly husband of the young Sabine woman who is being abducted by the young Roman. All three are interwoven into the group, through physical contact and through eye contact with each other. The impression of writhing movement is initiated by the woman’s outstretched arms, continues through the muscular figure of the young abductor, clasping the body of his prey, and ends in the raised arm of the dominated husband. The artist’s use of exaggerated gestures, along with his ability to convey a sense of intense energy, characterize his style of Mannerism.

F/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6

Project #15

Castel Sant’Angelo – Rome Italy

Castel Sant’Angelo, one of the most original monuments in Rome, dates back to the Roman period but has been deeply transformed over the centuries. At present, its charming and complex structure is due mainly to the presence of different architectural strata. This is evidence of the sedimentation of historical periods and thus of the prime role often played by this monument throughout history. The origin of this monument goes far back in time and its original function was completely different to that of today. It was begun in AD 123 as a desire of the emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus , Hadrian – to erect a monumental tomb destined to contain the emperor’s ashes and those of his successors. It was finished in 139, a year after the emperor’s death, by his successor Antoninus Pious; it was then used up to the year 217 as a sepulchral for the Antonine family. A specific site was chosen for the construction of the monument. Though on the river edge, it was built on very solid ground and in an area previously used as a cemetery. The monument was then linked to the rest of the city by means of a bridge named Alias, one of the emperor’s names.

F/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6


The Jester…

Week 14/52

The Jester or named Jolly, it is typical for its floppy six pointed hat. Another distinctive feature of the Jolly is its constant laughter, also known as the Fool or ‘Buffone’ is one of the best known characters in drama the world over. First mentioned in ancient Roman times, the character is most closely associated with the Middle Ages. The Jester’s aim is to entertain and to point out the weaknesses of other characters – a kind of early satirist. In some early plays the Jester’s mask was a donkey’s head and the ‘Buffone’ mask reflects this. It’s a particularly distinctive one : it has ‘tines’ or points both above and below the head, each one finished with a tiny bell.  The tines are thought to represent the ears of an ass; the bells are to indicate fun and frolics.

Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the Carnival (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer’s identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.


Near the end of the Republic, the wearing of masks in daily life was severely restricted. By the 18th century, it was limited only to about three months from December 26. The masks were traditionally worn with decorative beads matching in colour.

F/8, 4 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6

Project #14

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