Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nocturnal Rome

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Church Domes
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Trajan's Column
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Santa Francesca Romana
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

ROME

You lived through two great epochs, proud capital.
The emperors adorned you, and the popes;
And all roads led to you, and all men heard of your glory
And bowed to your power;
And you borrowed the robes of beauty
And crowned yourself queen of the world.

Then Bernini came
And over you flourished his wand.
And straightway coiled and knotted draperies covered you
In volutes and curlycues.
Your jewels he bartered for paste,
Your brocades for shoddy,
And all his baroque followers made a mock of your beauty
With bombastic outcries and gesticulations.
Then at last, only yesterday,
Came young Italy to crown your dishonor
With her enormous and too-imperishable Monument.

Yet still, under the stuffs and the uproar,
One may rediscover your majesty 
In marble ruins,
And stern old medieval churches,
And renaissance pictures done in the grand style.

by Harriet Monroe (1860-1936), published in 1929 in Poetry, the magazine she founded and edited. Despite their self-image as arts revolutionaries, pioneer Modernists like Monroe carried forward a good deal of Victorian aesthetic baggage.  Sneering at the Roman Baroque had become a dead cliche by the time Monroe was putting it on paper in the Twenties.  But she was not wrong about one thing (and one that has never been disputed by anybody)  i.e., the stupefying ugliness of the Victor Emanuel II Monument at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, began in 1911 and completed in 1925.

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Dioscuro, Pollux, Piazza del Campidoglio
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Nocturnal Rome - Small Churches, Piazza Venezia
1934
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Rome - Between St Peter's and the Sistine Chapel
1936
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Rome 
1927
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Still-life and Street
1937
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Cave Dwellings near Sperlinga
1933
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Temple of Segesta
1932
wood-engraving
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Selinunte
1935
woodcut
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - House in lava near Nunziata
1936
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada

M.C. Escher
Sicily - Mummified Priests in Gangi
1932
lithograph
National Gallery of Canada