Friday, September 19, 2008

Art Exhibits in Italy

19 September 2008
ANSA - English Media Service

The following is a city-by-city guide to some of Italy's top art exhibitions:

CORTONA - Etruscan Academy Museum (MAEC): 30 masterpieces of Etruscan art from Russia's Hermitage museum including the only Etruscan bronze funerary urn ever found; until January 6.

FERMO - Palazzo dei Priori: leading Marche Renaissance painter Vincenzo Pagani and influences including Raphael, Carlo Crivelli; until November 9.

FLORENCE - Palazzo Strozzi: Painting Light, The Unknown Techniques of Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh; until September 28.

- Galleria Palatina: Flemish Artists in Florence, 1430-1530; the likes of van Eyck, Memling and Leida compared to contemporaries Raphael, Botticelli, Castagno and Ghirlandaio; until October 26.

- Palazzo Pitti: The Medicis And Science; large collection of scientific writings and tools; until January 11.

- Archaeological Museum: retrospective on British sculptor Matthew Spender, who has lived in Tuscany for the last 40 years; until December 30.

GENOA - Palazzo Bianco: 'From The Cradle To The Altar: Scenes Of Female Life In The Belle Epoque'; until October 10.

MAMIANO DI TRAVERSETOLO (PARMA) - Fondazione Magnani-Rocca: Giovanni Fattori, The Poetry of Truth; until November 30.

MANTUA - Ducal Palace; first major show on Jacopo Alari-Bonacorsi aka Antico, an acclaimed sculptor in Mantegna's time; bronzes of mythological figures and busts of Roman rulers loaned by the Louvre, the Met, the Victor & Albert, the Bargello and Viennese museums; from Modena's Galleria Estense, celebrated Vaso Gonzaga made for wedding of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga; until January 6.

MILAN - Palazzo Reale: biggest-ever retrospective on Naive artist Antonio Ligabue; 250 works until October 26.

- Palazzo della Ragione: Unknown Weegee, more than 100 photos by US photographer; until October 12.

MONTECATINI TERME - ex-Terme Tamerici: Boldini Mon Amour; 180 works by Parisian School portrait painter Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), many unseen including three portraits of secret lover Countess Rastj; until December 30.

NAPLES - Madre modern art gallery: Robert Rauschenberg, Travelling 1970-76; October 19-January 19.

PARMA - National Gallery: 'Correggio', biggest exhibit on once-neglected artist in years; around 80 works flanked by 40 by contemporaries, plus chance to see three most important frescos up close in city churches; September 20-January 25.

PERUGIA - Palazzo Baldeschi al Corso; From Corot to Picasso and Fattori to De Pisis, modern Italian and European art from two private collections including Monet, Van Gogh and Modigliani; until January 15.

REGGIO EMILIA - Palazzo Magnani and other venues; Matilda and the Treasure of Canossa, 200 works of Medieval art; until January 11.

ROME - Castel Sant'Angelo: The Wolf And The Sphinx, Rome and Egypt From History To Myth; until November 9.

- National Gallery of Modern Art: Mario Schifano, major retrospective marking 10th anniversary of death; until September 28.

- Palatine Hill: Augustus's House on view for first time in 25 years.

- Shenker Culture Club: 28 large religious works by Mario Schifano inspired by ancient Italian divinity Mater Matuta; marks 10th anniversary of artist's death; until October 15.

SIENA - Piazza del Duomo and other city sites: Mario Ceroli, Forms In Movement; giant works by avant-garde sculptor; until November 7.

STRA - Villa Pisani: 70 paintings and monumental works by sculptor Mimmo Paladino, hand-picked and arranged by the artist in the historic villa's magnificent grounds; until November 2.

TIVOLI - Villa Adriana: Between Light and Darkness; Ancient Roman funerary beds including bone-decorated bed from Aquinum and one found on Rome's Esquiline Hill; until November 2.

TRENTO - Castello del Buonconsiglio; first major show on relatively unknown Renaissance sculptor Andrea Briosco aka Il Riccio; until November 2.

- same venue: Rembrandt and Masterpieces of European Graphics; until November 2.

TURIN - San Paolo Foundation: Heavenly Empire, From Terracotta Army To Silk Road; imperial Chinese works from Qi, Han and Tang dynasties (3rd century BC to 11th century AD); until November 16.

- Palazzo Bellini: Red Coral, Precious Art from Baroque Sicily; until September 28.

VENICE - Biennale venues including Arsenale and Padiglione Italia: 11th International Architecture Exhibition from 56 countries entitled Out There: Architecture Beyond Building; 23 installations at Arsenale; experimental work of 55 international firms at the Padiglione as well as a survey of the Masters of the Experiment, five visionaries including Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid; also, Uneternal City, Thirty Years of Uninterrupted Rome, 12 designs for a possible 'new Rome'; plus 13 exhibitions around Venice by visiting countries and 24 collateral events; until November 23.

VICENZA - Palazzo Barbaran: 'Palladio 500', 200 works including 30 models of Palladian architecture plus art by Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian celebrate Andrea Palladio on the 500th anniversary of his birth; September 20-January 9; exhibit moves to London (Royal Academy of Arts, 31 January - 13 April 2009) and on to Washington in autumn 2009.

VITERBO - Rocca Albertoz Etruscan Museum: Celtic, Etruscan and other pre-Roman artefacts showing their interpretations of the night sky; show includes Celtic ceremonial brooch from Brno, Czech Republic; bronze Etruscan statuette of 'haruspex' (entrail-gazing priest); and famous 'Liver of Piacenza', a bronze model of the sheep's organ used by Etruscans to tell the future; until October 26.

Site of Battle of Cynuit Discovered

By Tom Palmer
18 September 2008
Press Association National Newswire

The best-selling children's author behind the Horrible Science series claimed today that he has discovered the lost site of a famous battle between England and the Vikings. Nick Arnold said he used accounts given at the time to find the site of the ancient Battle of Cynuit.

The conflict in 878 marked the last stand for the English forces as King Alfred the Great went into hiding and Viking armies overran the country. According to legend, the last of the Saxon soldiers were based in a fortress called Cynuit and it was there that they defeated more than 1,000 Vikings, driving them from the country forever.

The exact location of the battle has never been proved, with historians speculating about numerous locations in Somerset and Devon. Now Mr Arnold, who has sold more than five million books, said accounts by Bishop Asser, a friend of Alfred The Great, have led him to Castle Hill, near Beaford in Devon.

The author, from Appledore, Devon, said: "What we've got is a fort that exactly matches the description given by Bishop Asser in a location that precisely fits the account of the battle. Nearby is the settlement of Kingscott, with a name that can be linked to Cynuit. The most amazing moment was when I realised that the perimeter of the fort had been altered to precisely match Saxon measurements."

Mr Arnold is convinced his site is correct because it matches contemporary accounts and the borders and walls can also still be traced. He said: "According to Bishop Asser, an army of Vikings landed in Devon. The Vikings trapped the last remaining Saxon army in a fortress named Cynuit. All seemed lost but in a moment of divine inspiration the Saxons charged from the fortress and wiped out the Viking army. If the Vikings had won, King Alfred would have been dead in weeks. There would have been no fight-back and England would have become a Danish state. There would have been no English language, no British Empire and no United States."

He has discussed his work with two historians and an archaeologist and plans to send a report to some of the professional historians who specialise in the period. Mr Arnold said his publishers are considering working his findings into a new children's book.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Call for Papers: Medieval Military History

Kelly DeVries, Professor of History at Loyola College in Maryland, is putting together some sessions for upcoming conferences and is looking for anyone who would like to participate. These sessions would be dealing with medieval military history:

Kalamazoo (7-10 May 2009): I still have some slots in the De Re Militari sessions for anyone interested in speaking at this conference. I have to submit the sessions by the end of the month (Sept) so there is some urgency here. Please contact me asap at For those of you who have indicated a desire to participate and have not yet sent me your title, av needs, institution name, address etc please do so also asap.

Society for Military History (2-5 April 2009): This year's conference is being held at Murfreesboro TN (just south of Nashville). We usually have at least one session accepted but I will be glad to submit more if there is interest. Also, we need a commentator or two, so if you would like to attend the meeting and appear on the program but not give a paper, I would be glad to include you, too. For this conference I need a short abstract as well as all the other info.

Sewanee Medieval Congress (3-4 April 2009): This conference is held yearly at the U of the South in Sewanee TN. The theme this year is the City in the Middle Ages. If there is interest in proposing a session or two on war and the city the organizer, Susan Ridyard, said that she would be more than happy to accept them. Unfortunately the SMH meeting overlaps this one, but they are actually only 1/2 hour apart so it may be possible to do a "two-fer" that weekend if so inclined. (I can arrange for the sessions to be on different days.)

Leeds Congress (13-16 July 2009): The Leeds Congress is a great conference with usually several medieval military history sessions. De Re Militari would be teaming with the Royal Armouries to propose sessions (or individual papers) for the congress. The Royal Armouries is in Leeds and an amazing resource for anyone who would like to combine their research and conferencing. I would also be happy to introduce any member to the curators or librarians there. There is some urgency in proposing papers for any of these conferences -- the next couple of weeks. I apologize for leaving this so late but was away almost the whole summer. You can contact me at this email -- the easiest way -- or at 410-653-7254 on MWF all day or in the evenings.

Kelly DeVries
Sessions Organizer
De Re Militari

Monday, September 15, 2008

Corroy-le-Château to be sold at auction

Historic Belgian Castle’s Date with Auctioneer Approaches
8 September 2008
Business Wire

The last act in a family’s long-running ownership dispute over a magnificent, 800-year-old Belgian castle will play out in an auctioneer’s house in Brussels on September 22, 2008. On that date, the third and final session for the public sale of the historic castle, Corroy-le-Château, will occur.

The castle, situated just south of Brussels, is surrounded by a moat and borders a 12-hectare, protected park. With walls and seven massive original towers dating to the 13th century, the property’s pristine condition makes it one of Europe’s only remaining perfectly-preserved castles.

Inhabited today by the same family descended from the original owners, the castle has undergone continuous transformation over the centuries and has been maintained in immaculate condition, preserving both its mythical quality and modern comfort throughout its 5,000 square meters of habitable space.

The castle’s status as a historic landmark provides the additional benefit of eligibility for government subsidies for any major work. Its majestically decorated parlors, beautiful corridors, bright interiors and sweeping staircases continue to attract touring groups and cultural performers, offering the possibility of dual use as both a residence and commercial endeavor.

A family dispute between the existing owners over the use of the castle culminated in a court decision which led eventually to the castle’s sale by public auction. The first two rounds of bidding yielded a current offer of €2.1 million ($3.1 million), an astonishingly low price in view of current European real estate values.

The September 22 auction session will be the last time that bids will be accepted for Corroy-le-Château. Follow the final days of the centuries-old saga via daily video updates at:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dering Roll - roll of arms from the reign of Edward I

By Lucy Bogustawski
2 September 2008
Press Association National Newswire

The oldest existing roll of arms that is vital for the study of medieval knighthood has been bought by the British Library. Bought with funds raised by donations from heritage organisations and individual supporters, the British Library raised the £194,184 necessary to obtain the Dering Roll.

It was bought at Sotheby's at auction last December for £192,500 but a temporary export bar placed on the roll by Culture Minister Margaret Hodge enabled the Library to purchase it. It is a painted roll of arms depicting 324 coats of arms, around a quarter of the English baronage during the reign of King Edward I and, the Library says, is vital for the study of knighthood in medieval England.

Dr Noel Denholm-Young, a medieval history scholar, said it provided a list of the knights owing feudal service - military obligations - to the Constable of Dover Castle. The Library said the "extremely rare" roll was believed to have been produced in Dover in the late 13th century.

Beginning with two of King John's illegitimate children, Richard Fitz Roy and William de Say the parchment roll contains 324 coats of arms arranged in 54 rows, with 6 shields assigned to each line. Above each shield is written the knight’s name in English cursive script, with the exception of five shields where the names have been omitted or erased.

Other fascinating details include an attempt by the notable 17th Century antiquary and politician Sir Edward Dering (1598–1644), who acquired the roll during his years of service as lieutenant of Dover Castle, to use it to forge his family history. Dering erased a coat-of-arms on the roll and replaced it with a coat-of-arms that bore the name of a fictional ancestor, Richard fitz Dering.

Beyond the 17th century forgery the roll is a key document for the study of medieval English knighthood, made at a time when a knight’s political allegiances and his status in feudal society were of paramount importance.

Painted on a green background, the coats of arms are arranged in 54 rows, with six shields assigned per line and a knight's name with each. Claire Breay, head of medieval and earlier manuscripts at the British Library, said: "The Library holds an extensive collection of outstanding historical and heraldic manuscripts and the acquisition of the Dering Roll provides an extremely rare chance to add a manuscript of enormous local and national significance which will greatly strengthen and complement its existing collection."

Carole Souter, chief executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: "The Roll is the Who's Who for medieval knights and unusually gives two illegitimate royals pride of place."

The Dering Roll was acquired with £100,000 donated by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £40,000 from The Art Fund, £10,000 from Friends of the British Library and £10,000 from Friends of the National Libraries. The remainder of the £194, 184 was made up by donations from individual supporters, the Library said. It is now on display in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library.

Epigonion - ancient musical instrument

Ancient Musical Instruments Play Again Through Astra Project
3 September 2008
M2 Presswire

Ancient musical instruments can now be heard for the first time in hundreds of years, due to a new computer modelling project. ASTRA (Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application) has recreated the sounds of the harp-like Epigonion musical instrument from Ancient Greece and has performed one of the oldest known musical scores dating back to the Middle Ages. To achieve this it used the advanced GeANT2 and EUMEDCONNECT research networks to link high capacity computers together, sharing information to enable the computer-intensive modelling of musical sounds.

Knowledge of the Epigonion musical instrument, dating back from the Ancient Greek era, is based on archaeological findings, historical pictures and literature. Using this archaeological data as an input, it was then transformed by a complex digital audio rendering technique to model the actual sound of the instrument. This advanced physical modelling synthesis creates a virtual model of the instrument and reproduces the sound that the instrument might have made by simulating its behaviour as a mechanical system. The Epigonion is a wooden string instrument that musicians have likened the sound to something similar to a modern harp or a harpsichord. The ASTRA team have compiled the sounds of four Epigonion instruments to recreate a medieval musical piece, making this the first time that these instruments have been heard performing together. Samples of the Epigonion and the musical piece can be accessed at

"This is an exciting project for us and for musicians and historians around the world. For the first time we can actually hear the musical sounds of the past, using modelling techniques rather than guesswork," says Professor De Mattia, Director of the Conservatory of Music of Salernoand Co-ordinator of the ASTRA project. Recreating the sound of the Epigonion instrument and the compilation of this musical piece is a great achievement and is the first step towards our goal of constructing a full orchestra in the future."

"The combination of the high speed GeANT2 and EUMEDCONNECT networks and grid computing infrastructures provide the immense computing power vital for this exciting project," commented Dr La Rocca, Co-ordinator of ASTRA gridification. "Previously the amount of computing power needed to recreate ancient music was unobtainable, but the use of high capacity research networks provides us with the ability to turn our research into reality."

The physical modelling process needs extreme amounts of computing power - taking about four hours for a high powered computer to correctly reproduce a sound lasting only 30 seconds. To bring together sufficient power and to share information the ASTRA project is using the GILDA and EUMEDGRID grid computing infrastructures, which link computing resources across the Mediterraneanat high speed (up to 2.5 Gbps) through the GeANT2 and EUMEDCONNECT research networks.

"The success of the ASTRA project demonstrates how high speed networking technology can underpin research collaboration across a wide range of subjects and allow the academic world to work together across multiple locations," said Dai Davies, General Manager, DANTE. "This unique project is delivering a fascinating glimpse into the music of the past for the benefit of the students and researchers of today - we look forward to hearing more music as ASTRA develops."

The benefits of the collaborative approach used in this project are far reaching. ASTRA not only makes it possible to recreate instruments that previously would have been either too expensive or too difficult to manufacture by hand, it also allows any model and its associated data to be accessed by our collaborators. Research data can therefore be shared around the world, making it a truly international project of immense value to working archaeologists and historians.

The Central Convent of Hospitallers and Templars: History, Organization, and Personnel (1099/1120-1310)

Call for Papers: International Medieval Congress in Leeds, 2009

The next International Medieval Congress (IMC) in Leeds (UK) is going to held on 13-16 July 2009. The annual IMC seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum in the heart of the United Kingdom for the discussion of all aspects of medieval studies. Papers and sessions on any topic or theme in the European Middle Ages are welcome. Each Congress has one particular special thematic strand on an area of interdisciplinary study in a wider context. However, this strand is not intended to be an exclusive and submissions from all spheres of medieval research, in any major European language, are welcome. Successful and popular sessions at this year's IMC, including a session sponsored by the Medieval Logistics Group, discussed military logistics, technology and communications. We still felt, however, that much more could have been offered in these traditionally neglected subject areas which are only recently receiving the attention they deserve. It is hoped that a session/strand provisionally entitled 'Military Logistics, Technology and Communication' will provide another fruitful opportunity for researchers in these fields to discuss their work. Those interested in presenting their research should note that sessions usually consist of three papers of 20 minutes duration each with 10 minutes of discussion per paper. Proposals for sessions have to be submitted to Leeds by 30 September 2008, so please send provisional paper titles and a very brief abstract to Jason T Roche ( by Friday 19 September. Further information, including bursary details, can be found at