Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Picture of the day: Saint-Michel

This statue is the central piece of the fountain on the Place Saint-Michel in Paris. Made by Gabriel Davioud in 1860, it depicts the archangel Saint Michael slaying the dragon (aka the devil).
I took the picture a few months ago.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Exploring the heights of Paris: The Eiffel Tower

A couple of weeks ago we visited the top of the Eiffel Tower, at 275 meters. (This is where the platform is, but the very top of the tower, with the antennas, is 324 meters high.)
This building of wrought iron was made for the World Fair in 1889, by Gustave Eiffel. It's an amazing structure, and during those 133 years it has become a real icon of Paris.
To avoid the 2-hour wait to access the elevator, we decided to walk the stairs all the way to the 2nd floor.  That is more than 700 steps, equivalent to a 42-story building!.. It's an amazing experience, literally walking within the iron construction with the view that changes all the time, and it's a great fresh-air workout!
The top part of the tower is only accessible by elevator, but on the 2nd floor the wait wasn't long, and before long we were on the top platform, enjoying an amazing view of Paris, all around.  From the hot sunshine on the 2nd floor, we experienced ice cold wind up there. What a feeling, being high above the city, admiring Paris from above, and on the same time experiencing this very special monument.
Afterwards we had lunch on the 1st floor restaurant, by the big panorama window. After all this walking, it was very nice to sit down, have a good meal while still enjoying the view.

Picture of the Day: Easter Day by Laurent de la Hyre

The risen Christ appearing to the three Marys. Painted by Laurent de la Hyre in the beginning of the 1600s. This rather big painting is in the Louvre, Paris, and I saw it this Good Friday. Was going to post it yesterday, of course, but I didn't get around to it.  Today is 2nd day of Easter, public holiday in many countries, and since we're going to be in the Easter Season for weeks now, I chose to post it anyway.
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Picture of the day: Christ carrying the cross...

And, to illustrate Good Friday I choose this painting by Lorenzo Lotto, Italian painter: The Carrying of the Cross, painted in 1526. 
I saw it just a few hours ago, in the Louvre.  A rather modest size, most people just pass this one, on their way to see the Mona Lisa, but my eyes caught sight of it from a distance, and maybe it's the fact that today is Good Friday that attracted me to it.  
This is the whole painting, not only a detail, the painter chose to do this close-up, tight-cropped image of Christ carrying his cross on the way to Calvary, while enduring beatings and insults. The tears are so real you want to stretch out and wipe them off. The ugly sneer of the Roman soldier pulling Christ's hair, and the fist just hitting his shoulder on the left side of the picture are details who add to the reality and horror of the scene.  This is the day when Mankind was saved, but also the day of Jesus' horrible execution. Thus the name Good Friday in English, Holy Friday (Vendredi Saint) in French, but also the name Long Friday (Langfredag) in Norwegian. And, whatever faith or religion, it can be agreed upon that this was a pivotal day in our history, and a day that carry lots of importance, in different ways, for people all around the world. It's a day of grief, sadness, despair and awfulness, but also a day of hope, salvation and mercy.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Picture of the day: Last Supper by Ghirlandaio

It's Maundy Thursday (Skjærtorsdag, Jeudi Saint) today, and I choose this mural painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio.  It's on the inner wall of the refectory (dining hall) of the Ognissanti Monastery in Florence, Italy. I went there this February, and early one morning, I sat there, all alone in this large empty space which is the refectory.  A long, plain room, with this masterpiece in the far end. It's almost nine metres long and 4 metres tall, and it contains trompe-l'oeuil paintings of archictecture; vaults and columns, painted to give us the illusion that the room stretches out far beyond the actual wall.
Ghirlandaio painted this in 1480, about 10 years before Leonardo da Vinci made his version in Milan.  It is believed that Leonardo was well aquinted with Ghirlandaio's Last Supper, and that he actually was inspired by it.  There is many similarities in the way the two artists have interpreted the scene of Christ's last meal with his friends, the meal were he annunced that one of them would betray him.  On this painting, you see him, Judas Iskariot, sitting on our side of the table...
The disciple John has fallen asleep and is leaning on Jesus, which is sitting a little bit to the side, and not in plain center, as on Leonardo's painting.
"Do this in remembrance of me", was Christ's words, after breaking the bread and passing around the cup of wine."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Picture of the day: Snow Leopard in Paris

I met this snow leopard yesterday in Paris, in the little zoo in Jardin des Plantes.  It's an interesting kind of cat, with thick fur, small head and very muscular and strong hind legs.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Painting: James Jacques Tissot
It's Palm Sunday today. Christianity commemorates Christ arriving into Jerusalem. Humbly. On a donkey, which was poor people's means of transport. People were rejoicing, shouting "Hosanna!", laying down their capes for him to ride on, and waving palm branches pretty much the way subjects today wave their flags to a passing king or queen.
They were so happy to see him, and they lay all their hopes for the future on this king-to-be.
Well, he disappointed them, by not being a king in the way they wanted him to be.  And, only a few days later, the same crowd would have him killed.
What about today? What can possibly Palm Sunday be for us, human beings of today? Well, it can very much be about hope for the future, and a reminder that we don't always get the full picture, the plan or the meaning behind what's happening around us. We can be reminded of God, and the Good, coming into our midst, humbly, as a servant, wanting to show us that we're loved, that there is hope after all.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on this Palm Sunday 2012.
Wishing you all a good Holy Week.

Det er palmesøndag i dag.  Kristenheten minnes det at Jesus kom inn i Jerusalem, ydmykt ridende på et esel, fattigfolkets transportmiddel. Folket jublet, ropte "Hosianna!" (Hurra!) og la kappene sine ned på bakken så han kunne ri på dem, og de viftet med palmegreiner, omtrent som folk i dag vifter med flagg når kongen eller dronningen kommer forbi.
De var så glade for å se ham, og de la alle sine drømmer for fremtiden over på denne fremtidige kongen.
Men, han skuffet dem, ved å ikke være en konge på den måten de ville han skulle være.  Og, bare noen få dager senere, ville de samme folkemengden ha ham drept...
Hva med i dag? Hva kan egentlig palmesøndag være for oss mennesker i dag? Jeg tror det kan handle om håp for fremtiden, og en påminnelse om at vi slett ikke forstår alt, vi forstår ikke Guds plan. Vi kan bli minnet om vår skaper, og godheten som kommer inn midt blant oss, ydmykt, som en tjener, og med ønske om å vise oss at vi er elsket, at det er håp til tross for alt.
Dette er mine tanker rundt denne palmesøndagen 2012.
Jeg ønsker dere alle en god stille uke!