During a recent visit to the Czech Republic I visited the modern art exhibition at Spilberk Castle in Brno. The majority of the paintings were from Jaroslav Kral (1883-1942) and Antonin Prochazka (1882-1945), two painters born in the city, who were working on the borders between expressionism, cubism and naive art. Not much is available about them online and in English.  Until I can find more, I’ll let the paintings below speak for themselves.

Jaroslav Kral

Jaroslav Kral died in 1942 in Auschwitz. His work is reminiscent of early cubism and Diego Rivera.

Jaroslav Kral

Jaroslav Kral

Jaroslav Kral

Jaroslav Kral

Antonin Prochazka

Died in 1945. Reminds me of Henri Rousseau, though he claimed more inspiration from Edvard Munch.

Antonin Prochazka

Antonin Prochazka

Linka Prochazka

Linka Prochazka was Antoin’s Wife. Died in 1960. The below painting was the only one by her in the gallery, I can’t find anything else about her. The composition of the dress here is incredible.

Linka Prochazka




Ceiling fragment from the palace of Amenhotep IIICeiling fragment from the Palace of Amenhotep III 1390-1353 BC

Photo taken at the Met with an iPad.

I wonder how expensive it would be to get this painted in the nursery.

File under imaginary birds (or imaginary pigeons).



Standing Vishnu (Nepal 10th Century)

by Brad on May 1, 2015

hb_1986.501.8 From the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vishnu is the preserver and protector of the Universe, and is occasionally called upon to save it from a great calamity.


Things happening around the world

by Brad on April 7, 2015

There is a Velasquez exhibit in Paris that I want to go to.

You don’t have to go anywhere to see the Rijksmuseum.

A play written in 16th-century English, is being performed in mixed Albanian and Serbian.

On April 23, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers is hosting a number of book fairs around the world. I’m not sure why… but will probably go anyways

Sa Chen is playing Rachmaninov at the San Francisco Symphony on the same day.


Anthonie Tonnon’s new album: Successor

by Brad on April 5, 2015

I have been enjoying Anthonie Tonnon’s new album, “Successor,” for the past few days. Tonnon is a New Zealand musician with a previous CD and EP under his belt with “Tono and the Finance Company.” In his most recent CD he’s embraced a meandering sort of ballad writing that digs underneath characters and settings with verses that seem, at first glance, to be made up of a series of asides.

and her beauty
is the only thing her whining generation
has given to the world
oh but
you would pay off her loan
if it could make her yours

The songs are all about frustrated, strange and somewhat horrible people surviving the day to day of New Zealand’s corner of the global economy. Themes which Tonnon has been sketching even further in a series of  charming interviews.

“Prince Charles is the perfect symbol of our generation because he’s sat around waiting for his mum to die all his life, and she hasn’t, and she may never, and meanwhile he’s become a miserable, unfulfilled, strange man, and all the glory will go to his son when there is a succession.”

The best two songs – by far, in my opinion – are “The Songs of Your Youth” and “A Friend from Argentina.” The former song (which I quoted above) is a tightly written song about an older surgeon longing after a 20-something nurse. By the end of four minutes, where he is by turns quietly passionate, disdainful and creepy, it’s clear that he’s longing for whatever old age has taken away from him, and she’s just there to remind him how much that is.

“A Friend from Argentina” is a song about a New Zealand businessman who struggled in London to find his little piece of the global economy. Until he met a friend from Argentina. Now he’s a small time coke dealer, sitting in a bar in Auckland, with bad friends, a dissolving marriage and a certain pride in his accomplishments.

Get the CD. It’s good.


New Sappho poems

by Brad on March 12, 2015

Pompei_-_Sappho_-_MANIn the most recent issue of the New Yorker there’s a charming little long read about recent discoveries in the life and work of Sappho, including two new Sappho poems (or… whatever). The two fragments, one discovered in 2012 the other in 2004, take on the subject of idiot relatives and old age.

[I bring] the beautiful gifts of the violet Muses, girls,
and [I love] that song lover, the sweet-toned lyre.

My skin was [delicate] before, but now old age
[claims it]; my hair turned from black [to white].

My spirit has grown heavy; knees buckle
that once could dance light as fawns.

I often groan, but what can I do?
Impossible for humans not to age.

The article includes an excellent summary of the recent scholarship on the poet. Including why so much of her work is lost (an estimated 10,000 lines reduced to 70 complete lines and 250 fragments), and the possible social context of her writing.

Rather than expressions of individual yearning for a young woman, the poems were, in Lardinois’s view, “public forms of praise of the general attractiveness of the girl,” celebrating her readiness for wedlock and integration into the larger society.

The essay repeatedly reinforces how little we actually know about the woman and the work except for the strange loneliness and wonder her words provoke.

You came, I yearned for you,
and you cooled my senses that burned with desire

An updated collection of her poems, including some background essays was published in 2014.


I missed the news. But still, it’s worth a mention here. He was committed to preserving the past, and now he has become it.


Breval, Campioni and the Vivaldi Project

by Brad on February 15, 2015

Thomas Jefferson had a complete collection of Campioni's music.On February 6, we attended a concert of The Vivaldi Project, a DC-based Early Music quartet centered on Elizabeth Field on violin, and Stephanie Vial on Cello (Both women have extensive educational material related to Baroque music on Youtube). The show was focused on 18th century string trios, our favorite of which were pieces by Jean-Baptiste Breval (1753-1823) and Carlos Antonio Campioni (1720-1788).

Breval’s trio stood out the most among the set of seven played that night. Breval was a professional cellist active in the musical life of Paris during its most exciting half century (the theatre he worked in was a meeting place for counter-revolutionaries during the French Revolution). His trios are unusual for having a leading cello and supporting violin, which creates a wonderful sound (as all cello pieces have), but makes the performance somewhat top heavy, like an upside down pyramid.

Carlos Antonio Campioni was the Maestro Di Cappella to the Grand Duke of Florence from 1763 until his death in 1788. Thomas Jefferson maintained a complete collection of Campioni’s works in his Monticello library which he had picked up during his time as Ambassador to France, one assumes while courting the Tuscan-English Musician Maria Cosway, who he met in 1786 and who was very married at the time of their relationship.

Video of Campioni’s work does not seem to be available on Youtube. Below is a recording of a performance of Brevel’s work.


Three paintings by Jan Vermeer

by Brad on January 31, 2013


It’s not a picture of a girl, but a picture of someone painting a girl. In Islam it might be considered an act of sacrilege. The man is creating her anew, creating her in her own image. First she will be wreathed, as in victory, then the rest of her will follow.

In her hand she holds a trumpet. It draws the eye, and perhaps can also call forth the angels. Or maybe a talisman.

A Girl Asleep

You can still feel the presence behind her, as though he just left. His chair is pulled out from the table, and the cloth pulled up. He’s left her sleeping while sitting up, lightly balanced on her arm, the wine in the foreground. She was too tired. Another time, perhaps, another time.

She looks back, mouth opened slightly as to say something. Her pale lips are luminous against the pearl of her skin. Somewhere her turban transitions from blue to pale brown to sea green, like the sky moving into the land and the water. You wait for her to speak, to invite you somewhere, but the tension is never resolved. This all happened a long time ago, and the words are lost. You only remember it like a mute dream, like someone else’s secret.

The background is black. You cannot see where she is or any source of natural light. But she is there. Speaking to you. Inviting you to come with her.


The Girl with the Pearl Earring is currently on display at the De Young Museum in San Francisco on loan from Mauritshuis in the Hague. Admission is 25$ and entirely worth it.

A Girl Asleep is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and is not allowed on loan.

The Art of Painting is part of the permanent collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It is subject to legal action because it was purchased from its original owners by Adolf Hitler.


Chateau De Noisy, Belgium

by Brad on January 14, 2013

Chateau De Noisy

The Chateau de Noisy, in Celles, Belgium, was built in 1866 for the Liedekerke-Beaufort family. The chateau was converted to an orphanage after World War II, then abandoned in 1980.

More photographs here. A google image search works well too.