Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

16 December: This Day in Mystery

The second Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey opens in the United States.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Art Terminology: Acanthus and Altarpiece

Because a lot of mystery novels have charcters who talk about art...

Architecture: A prickly plant of the Mediterranean region with large, deeply cleft and scalloped leaves which are freely imitated on the capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders and often used, in varying degrees of abstraction, to ornament moldings, brackets, friezes and so on.

Architecture: A painted or sculpted panel or shrine placed behind and above an altar, also called a "reredos" or "retable." 14th and 15th century altarpieces are often very complicated, consisting of several panels or separate groups of sculpture.

An altarpiece consisting of three panels is called a tryptych, when it has more than three panels it is called a "poylptych". Some altarpieces have a decorated base, or pedella, and have "shutters" or "wings" which can be opened to reveal a series of "transformations" or "stages" to reveal other paintings or sculptures. The shutters are usually painted in rather subdued colors on the outside - monochrome imitations of sculpture ("grisailles") being common in northern Europe - but when opened up for the feast days of the Church, they offer a brilliant and sumptuous display pf color.

From Abacus to Zeus, A Handbook of Art History
James Smith Pierce, 1977

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Art Terminology: Abacus and Abbey

Because many mystery books feature descriptions of artwork - from architecture to sculpture.

Architecture: The uppermost part of a capital, forming a slab on which the architrave rests.

Architecture: A monastery governed by an abbot. The church of an abbey is called an "abbey church" and is usually planned to allow for the special requirements of the monks such as a deep choir or many altars.

From Abacus to Zeus, A Handbook of Art History
James Smith Pierce, 1977