As the Arabians Do

Norman Rockwell preparing to enter a mosque

 

 Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962). Sharif’s first English-language role was that of Sharif Ali in David Lean’s historical epic. This performance earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, as well as a shared Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor.

 

Irish actor Peter O’Toole studying for his role as T.E. Lawrence. Photo by Dennis Oulds

 

Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)

 

Robert Pattinson as Lawrence of Arabia in Queen of the Desert (Werner Herzog, 2015), based on the life of British traveller, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer and political officer Gertrude Bell.

 

Candice Bergen and Sean Connery in The Wind and the Lion (John Milius, 1975)

 

Virginia Woolf (far left) and her friends, dressed as Abyssinian dignataries, 1910

 

Truman Capote in Tangier (Morocco)

 

Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh

 

Christian Louboutin purchased a villa near the Nile river

 

Cy Twombly in Egypt. Photo by Tatiana Franchetti

A Floral Sex Symbol

Signatura rerum (The Theory of signature), orchids images from G.B. Della Porta (1588)

 

The Ara Pacis, an altar erected in Rome by the emperor Augustus in 9 B.C.E., includes one of the earliest documented depictions of an orchid (inset) in Western art. Credit: Bernd Haynold

 

Orchidaceae is a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and often fragrant. The type genus (i.e. the genus after which the family is named) is Orchis. The genus name comes from the Ancient Greek ὄρχις (órkhis), literally meaning “testicle”, because of the shape of the twin tubers in some species of Orchis. The term “orchid” was introduced in 1845 by John Lindley in School Botany, as a shortened form of Orchidaceae. All orchids are perennial herbs that lack any permanent woody structure.

The depictions of Italian orchids showed up much earlier than expected. Previously they were spotted in paintings in the 1400s, but Caneva’s team discovered them as early as 46 B.C.E, when Julius Caesar erected the Temple of Venus Genetrix in Rome. There are at least three orchids appearing in dozens of other plants on the Ara Pacis. Artists chose the flowers to emphasize a theme of civic rebirth, fertility and prosperity following a long period of conflict.

As Christianity began to influence art in the 3rd and 4th centuries, orchids and other plants began to fade from public art. This was probably due to an effort to eliminate pagan symbols and those related to sexuality. With the arrival of the Renaissance, orchids arrive back in art, but now mostly as a symbol of beauty and elegance.

 

Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe, circa 1986

 

Orchid, Patti Smith, 1998

Hôtel Biron

Auguste Rodin photographed on the steps of the Hôtel Biron, Paris

First opened to the public on 4 August 1919, the Musée Rodin was housed in a mansion, formerly called the Hôtel Peyrenc de Moras. Now known as the Hôtel Biron, it was built in the Rue de Varenne, Paris, between 1727 and 1732.

 
 

Elevation of the façade of Mrs. De Moras’s mansion on the garden side

 
 

 L’Hôtel Biron, côté jardin, Charles Berthelomier, circa 1910
 

 

The estate was put up for sale and while awaiting a buyer, tenants were allowed to occupy the Hôtel Biron from 1905. Among them were several artists, Jean Cocteau (1889-1963),  Henri Matisse, the dancer Isadora Duncan and the sculptress Clara Westhoff (1878-1954), future wife of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1921), who first told Auguste Rodin about the estate. In 1908, the sculptor thus rented four south-facing, ground-floor rooms opening onto the terrace, to use as his studios. The garden that had run wild probably made a strong impression on Rodin, encouraging him to place some of his works and part of his collection of antiques amidst its greenery. From 1911 onwards, he occupied the entire building.

Listed as a historical monument in 1926, the Hôtel Biron and its grounds have since undergone major renovation and restoration schemes, to better assert their role as a museum.

 

The Ark of the Covenant

The Cathedral, Auguste Rodin, 1908

 

Carved in stone and still covered in toolmarks,The Cathedral is a combination of two right hands, belonging to two different figures. It was entitled The Ark of the Covenant, before being named The Cathedral, very probably after the publication of Auguste Rodin’s Les Cathédrales de France, in 1914. Parallels may be drawn between the mysterious inner space that seems to emanate from the composition and Gothic architecture. Emptiness was a factor that Rodin used to allow for, and, as Rainer Maria Rilke pointed out, “the role of air had always been extremely important” for him (Rilke, 1928).

Very similar to The Secret, this work belongs to the series carved in marble, most frequently after 1900, such as The Hand of God, The Hand of the Devil, Hands of Lovers and Hand from the Tomb. But, more broadly, it emphasizes Rodin’s fondness and passion for these hands, which he isolated, like the fragments in his collection of Antiques, in order to give them a more finished and autonomous form.

Home of the Eagle

“…the world has never seen–and…unless through some series of accidents goading the noblest order of mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never see–that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer domains of art, of which the human nature is absolutely capable.”

“…from the violation of a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind–that as a species we have in our possession the as yet unwrought elements of content–and that, even now, in the present darkness and madness of all thought on the great question of the social condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy.”

Edgar Allan Poe
The Domain of Arnheim
1847

 
 

From the series The Domain of Arheim, by René Magritte

 
 

The Domain of Arnheim (the word is German for “Home of the Eagle,”) is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s lesser-known stories. The critics have taken little notice of it, and when they do, it’s generally interpreted in vague terms of death imagery, or as a treatise on gardening. It is actually one of Poe’s most profound and beautiful works, and one of the very few where we are given a glimpse into his true inner self.

On the surface, The Domain of Arnheim is a tale of a fantastically wealthy man the unnamed narrator calls only “Ellison,” who desires to express “the true character, the august aims, the supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic sentiment.” He achieves his goal through creating “Arnheim,” a castle and landscape-garden of supreme loveliness. As Ellison says, man can’t affect the “general condition of man,” but must be “thrown back…upon self.” The first half of the story is a discussion of Ellison’s philosophies about man and nature, the second a detailed description of Arnheim itself.

The story is, in brief, Poe acting as our tour guide through the human mind and soul. The unprecedented beauty and serenity of Arnheim–the domain of the soaring eagle–is accessible to each individual who follows the path Poe blazes within the realm of imagination. He states that “in landscape arrangements alone is the physical nature susceptible of imagination.” These landscapes, as we see them in nature, are all susceptible to improvement. Ellison explains that “there may be a class of beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order–our unpicturesqueness picturesque; in a word, the earth-angels, for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death-refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres.” Man, by improving the arrangements in nature, in a way that “shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity” can create “nature in the sense of the handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God.” Perfecting these landscapes in our eyes–thus being able to see them as the angels do–brings us closer to these higher beings.

Poe uses the physical description of Arnheim as an analogy for what human beings can do in their mind’s eye. By creating a mental “domain,” by using meditation to create an inner “landscape-garden,” one grows closer to the world of the spirit. The visitor’s lengthy journey to Arnheim in the story’s closing paragraphs is a journey to the higher recesses of the mind. The traveler who reaches that destination has achieved a genuine meditation–found Nirvana. Upon departing for “the Paradise of Arnheim,” the visitor is “bidden to be of good cheer–that the fates will take care of him” as he finds the true expression of the “poetic sentiment” among the seeming “phantom handiwork, conjointly, of the Sylphs, of the Fairies, of the Genii, and of the Gnomes.”

 
 

To read Poe’s short story, click on the next link: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-domain.htm

A Painting Within a Painting

The Human Condition (1933)

 
 

One of René Magritte‘s most common artistic devices was the use of objects to hide what lies behind them.

In The Human Condition, the cover-up appears in the form a painting within a painting.

Magritte had this to say of his 1933 work:

 

In front of a window seen from inside a room, I placed a painting representing exactly that portion of the landscape covered by the painting. Thus, the tree in the picture hid the tree behind it, outside the room. For the spectator, it was both inside the room within the painting and outside in the real landscape.

 
 

The Human Condition (1935)

 
 

The Key to the Fields (1936)

 
 

The Call of the Peaks (1942)

 
 

The Domain of Arnheim (1942)

 
 

The Fair Captive (1947)

 
 

Euclidean Walks (1955)

 
 

Evening Falls (1964)

 
 

Paintings within paintings appear frequently in Magritte works. Euclidean Walks  is a work perhaps most like The Human Condition. It places a canvas in front of a high window depicting the tower of a close building and a street below. In The Fair Captive, there is a beach scene with an easel set up. As in the previous cases it holds a canvas depicting what the viewer might expect to be behind it. This time though, flames from a burning tuba in front of the frame are seen “reflected.” The Call of the Peaks (1942) shows a mountain canvas in front of a mountain background which is buffeted on the right by a curtain.

The list of similar works can easily be extended to include such paintings as The Key to the Fields, its reincarnation Evening Falls and The Domain of Arnheim, all of which feature broken windows whose shattered glass pieces on the floor still show the outside world they used to conceal.

 
 

The Alarm Clock (1957)

 
 
Another series of pieces which show both strong similarities and strong differences from The Human Condition are the works titled The Alarm Clock. In these works, a painting is placed on an easel in front of a window or on a balcony with a simple landscape in the background. However, the painting does not show what may possibly be behind, but is instead an upside-down basic fruit still life.

Surrealist Dinner Party

Château de Ferrières, the suburban Parisian mansion of Baron Guy de Rothschild and Marie-Hélène

 

 

On December 12, 1972, Baron Guy de Rothschild and his wife Marie-Hélène hosted a costumed ball stranger than fiction. Château de Ferrières was on fire, sleeping cats the size of men littered the staircase, and all-enveloping cobwebs lined the hallways.The acid-laced zeitgeist of the 70s had trickled up and finally reached the ranks of the Parisian elite in the form of the Rothschilds’ theatrical Dîner des Têtes Surréalistes.

 

The MenuMenu

 

Detail of a table with a fur dish, Mae West red lips and blue bread

 

the dîner des têtes surréalistes invitation with reversed writing inspired by a magritte sky

 

The invitations for the ball—scrawled backwards so that it had to be read in a mirror—stated simply: black tie, long dresses, and Surrealist heads. When such requests are made of those with limitless time and money, the results are impressive. What manifested at the chateau that evening was a trippy tableau vivant comprised of the most notable personalities in the worlds of art and literature and their perception-bending headdresses.

 

 

The actress Jacqueline Delubac came as René Magritte’s Son of Man painting, a large green apple hiding her face. Audrey Hepburn’s head was ensnared in a bird cage. There was a two-headed woman, a horse, a grotesque Mona Lisa, and more than one bouquet of flowers. Not to be outdone, the hostess wore a giant stag’s head that wept diamond tears. And, of course, the master of Surrealism himself was there—Salvador Dalí came dressed as himself.

 

Audrey Hepburn

 

The Baroness Thyssen-Bornemizza & Guy Baguenault de Puchesse

 

Salvador Dalí and the Italian princess Maria Gabriella de Savoia

 

Charles de Croisset, Marisa Berenson snd Paul-Louis Weiller

 

Claude Lebon and Charlotte Aillaud

 

Hélène Rochas & François-Marie Banier

 

For desert: a sugar made woman laying in a bed of roses

 

Table of the swaying dolls

Dark Horse

Dark Horse (1974), front cover

While the term “dark horse” had long been applied to George Harrison due to his success as a solo artist following The Beatles‘ break-up in 1970, commentators recognise the song as Harrison’s rebuttal to a number of possible detractors: those reviewers who criticized the spiritual content of his 1973 album Living in the Material World; his first wife, Pattie Boyd; and his former band-mates John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Harrison also used the title for that of his record label, and his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar would come to be known as the Dark Horse Tour.

 
 

The Tom Wilkes-designed front cover of Dark Horse features a 1956 Liverpool Institute high-school photograph presented inside a lotus flower, behind which a dream-like Himalayan landscape extends to the horizon, where the “deathless Yogi of the Ancient of Days”, Shiv-Goraksha Babaji, sits. While some observers have seen pointed similarities with the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover image, Harrison’s choice of artwork reflected his enduring admiration for Terry Gilliam‘s animation on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the photo, a thirteen-year-old Harrison is pictured in the centre of the top row, his face tinted blue; school teachers appear dressed in long-sleeve tops bearing a superimposed record-company logo or Om symbol. Wilkes and Harrison disagreed over the size of the Babaji image, which the designer apparently disliked and wanted to reduce in size.

Inside the gatefold cover, around the edges of a tinted photo of Harrison and comedian Peter Sellers walking beside a Friar Park lake, text asks the “Wanderer through this Garden’s ways” to “Be kindly” and refrain from casting “Revengeful stones” if “perchance an Imperfection thou hast found”, the reason being: “The Gardener toiled to make his Garden fair, Most for thy Pleasure.” A speech balloon over the photograph contains the words “Well, Leo! What say we promenade through the park?” This line was taken from the Mel Brooks movie The Producers, a favourite of Sellers and Harrison.

 
 

Back cover

 
 

On the back cover, Harrison is pictured sitting on a garden bench, the back timbers of which are apparently carved with his name and that of the album. Similar to Harrison’s attire in the outdoor scenes of the Ding Dong, Ding Dong video clip, Leng refers to his appearance here as resembling the Jethro Tull character Aqualung. Terry Doran‘s photo, given the same orange hue as the one inside the gatefold, was also used on some European picture sleeves for the Ding Dong and Dark Horse singles around this time.

Dark Horse ’​s inner sleeve notes were all the work of Harrison himself, written on a plane early in the tour. Along with the first Harrison-album credit for FPSHOT, and the now-familiar “All glories to Sri Krsna” dedication, his purple pen records various in-jokes while listing the many contributing musicians. As well as the confusing inclusion of Boyd and Eric Clapton‘s names (leading to the assumption that they had actually contributed to the track), the song title Bye Bye, Love is juxtaposed with the words Hello Los Angeles, while “OHLIVERE” would appear to be a reference to Harrison’s new lover and future wife, Dark Horse Records secretary Olivia Arias. The latter is also included among the title track’s musician credits – her contribution being “Trinidad Blissed Out”. Under Ding Dong, aside from the appearance of “Ron Would If You Let Him” on guitar, Friar Park’s original owner, Sir Frank Crisp, is credited for providing “Spirit”. Arias’s face, in a photo taken by tour photographer Henry Grossman, appeared on the record’s side-two face label, while a corresponding picture of Harrison appeared on side one.

Dachshunds Lovers

Queen Victoria

 

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Queen Elizabeth II. Photo by Terry O’Neill, 1992

 

English composer Benjamin Britten and “Clytie”.

In this photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh, Britten is shown holding a dachshund and looking towards the score from his opera Gloriana (1953) which was written for the coronation of Elizabeth II. According to Karsh “the dog demanded to become part of the picture”.

 

Yousuf Karsh and “Jacques”

 

Abraham Lincoln

 

John F. Kennedy, Lem Billings and Dunker, Den Haag, The Netherlands, 1937

 

Lee Radziwill and Andy Warhol with his dog, Archie. Photo by Ron Galella, Montauk, 1973

 

Andy Warhol and Archie

 

Lou Reed

 

Christa Päffgen a.k.a. Nico. Photo: Mark Shaw for Life Magazine

 

Adele and “Louie”, named after Louis Armstrong

 

Cole Porter

 

George Harrison

 

Vincente Minelli and Katharine Hepburn playing with George Cukor’s pet

 

Grace Coddington

 

Juliette Gréco. Photo by Robert Doisneau

 

Elizabeth Taylor

 

Clint Eastwood

 

Marlon Brando

 

Ginger Rogers

 

Marilyn Monroe

 

Carole Lombard

 

Joan Crawford

 

Brigitte Bardot

 

Liv Ullmann

 

 Brooke Shields

 

Jacques Cousteau, his wife and “Scaphandrier”

 

David Hockney with Stanley and Boodgie

 

picaPablo Picasso and Lump. Photographer David Douglas Duncan published a book of Picasso’s pictures along his pet, which was titled A Dachshund’s Odyssey

 

The gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter House, a 450-acre estate restored by Edwin Lutyens. Awarded in 1979 the Victoria Medal of Honour, the highest horticultural accolade, Lloyd was the best informed, liveliest and most innovative gardening writer of our times.

 

Within the Wall Garden of Great Dixter is a terrace, with a pebble mosaic of Christopher Lloyd’s two beloved dachshunds, Dahlia and Canna. The stones for Canna’s eye and nose were acquired from Derek Jarman’s rock-garden, at Prospect Cottage, in Dungeness.

The Secret of Architectural Excellence

“The secret of architectural excellence is to translate the proportions of a dachshund into bricks, mortar and marble.”
Sir Christopher Wren

 
 

Portrait of Sir Christopher Wren, Godfrey Kneller, 1711

 
 

Sir Christopher Michael Wren (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. Other notable buildings by Wren include the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the south front of Hampton Court Palace. The Wren Building, the main building at the College of William and Mary, is attributed to Wren. It is the oldest academic building in continuous use in the United States.

In Wren’s age, the profession of architect as understood today did not exist. Since the early years of the 17th century it was not unusual for the well-educated gentleman, (virtuosi), to take up architecture as a gentlemanly activity; a pursuit widely accepted as a branch of applied mathematics. This is implicit in the writings of Vitruvius and explicit in such 16th century authors as John Dee and Leonard Digges. When Wren was a student at Oxford, he became familiar with Vitruvius’s De architectura and absorbed intuitively the fundamentals of the architectural design there. In English Medieval tradition, buildings were constructed to the needs of the patron and the suggestions of building professionals, such as master carpenters or master bricklayers.

Educated in Latin and Aristotelian physics at the University of Oxford, Wren was a notable anatomist, astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist, as well as an architect. He was a founder of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), and his scientific work was highly regarded by Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.

 
 

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London – plan and section. Christopher Wren, (1675-1709). Wren wrestled with the design of the famous St Paul’s dome even as it was being built, remodeling its profile countless times.

 
 

Marlborough House, Westminster as designed by Wren

 
 

Cambridge University, Wren Library, Trinity College

 
 

In the 20th century the potency of the influence of Wren’s work on English architecture was reduced. The last major architect who admitted to being dependent on him was Sir Edwin Lutyens, who died in 1944. With the purposeful elimination of historic influences from international architecture in the early 20th century, Wren’s work gradually stopped being perceived as a mine of examples applicable to contemporary design.

 
 

Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy’s House) is the official home of the President of India, located in New Delhi, Delhi, India. It was designed by Lutyens. Lutyens said the design evolved from that of the Pantheon in Rome, while it is also possible that it was modeled partly after the great Stupa at Sanchi, or St. Paul’s dome.

The Rainbow Games

The name “dachshund” is of German origin and literally means “badger dog”, from Dachs (“badger”) and Hund (“dog”). Although “dachshund” is a German word, in modern German they are more commonly known by the name Dackel or, among hunters, Teckel. Because of their long, narrow build, they are often nicknamed wiener dog or sausage dog.

Due to the association of the breed with Germany, as well as its popularity among dog keepers in Munich, the dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, with the name Waldi.

 
 

 
 

Waldi was created by German designer Otl Aicher, who amongst others was also responsible for designing the logo for German airline Lufthansa. The Dachshund was the first official Olympic mascot, as the 1968 Winter Olympics was the first to use an unofficial mascot, which was red ball on skis named “Schuss”. Waldi was designed to represent the attributes described as required for athletes — resistance, tenacity and agility.

Waldi was based on a real long-haired Dachshund named Cherie von Birkenhof, which Aicher used as a model. Although Waldi appeared variety of different color schemes, it is occasionally reported that the main scheme was designed to match the colors of the Olympic rings, ergo, blue, green yellow, orange and green. However, there were no black or red in the main scheme, which was a conscious decision on the part of Aicher to exclude those colors related to the National Socialist Party. The 1972 games were designed to be an optimistic “Rainbow Games”. Sadly, the sporting nature of the event was largely overshadowed by the Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer were killed. Five Black September terrorists died.

In 1966 Aicher was asked by the organisers of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich to become the Olympic Games’ lead designer. He was asked to create a design for the Olympics that complemented the architecture of the newly built stadium in Munich designed by Günther Behnisch. Aicher consulted with Masaru Katsumie, who had designed the previous 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

 
 

 
 

Basing his work in part on iconography for the ’64 Games, Aicher created a set of pictograms meant to provide a visual interpretation of the sport they featured so that athletes and visitors to the Olympic village and stadium could find their way around. He created pictograms using a series of grid systems and a specific bright colour palette that he chose for these Games. These designs were directly influential on the DOT pictograms, developed in 1974 by the United States Department of Transportation, which applied the same principles to standard public signage such as those for toilets and telephones; the DOT pictograms have in turn been used around the world.

 
 

 
 

Aicher used the typeface Univers for the Olympic designs. The design team produced 21 sports posters to advertise the sports at the games, using the official design colours and also including the logo and “München 1972”. The design team used a technique called “posterization” for the graphics on the posters, separating the tonal qualities from the images and using the official Munich colours for these games. This had to be produced manually as Photoshop did not exist at this time. The first of these posters that was created manually in this way was a poster of the Olympic stadium which became the official poster for these games.

On The Spanish Steps

Piazza di Spagna in an 18th-century etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, seen from south. The street on the left is Via del Babuino, leading to Piazza del Popolo.

 
 

The Spanish Steps or Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

The monumental stairway of 135 steps (the slightly elevated drainage system is often mistaken for the first step) was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Bourbon Spanish Embassy, and the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France, both located above — to the Holy See in Palazzo Monaldeschi located below. The stairway was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.

 
 

In the piazza, at the corner on the right as one begins to climb the steps, is the house where English poet John Keats lived and died in 1821; it is now a museum dedicated to his memory, full of memorabilia of the English Romantic generation.

 
 

At the top the stairway ramp up the Pincio which is the Pincian Hill. From the top of the steps the Villa Medici can be reached.

During Christmas time a 19th-century crib is displayed on the first landing of the staircase. During May, part of the steps are cover
ed by pots of azaleas. In modern times the Spanish Steps have included a small cut-flower market. The steps are not a place for eating lunch, being forbidden by Roman urban regulations, but they are usually crowded with people.

 
 

 
 

In the Piazza di Spagna at the base is the Early Baroque fountain called Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the ugly Boat), built in 1627-29 and often credited to Pietro Bernini, father of a more famous son, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who is recently said to have collaborated on the decoration. The elder Bernini had been the pope’s architect for the Acqua Vergine, since 1623. According to a legend, Pope Urban VIII had the fountain installed after he had been impressed by a boat brought here by a flood of the Tiber river.

 
 

The film Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953), starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, made the Spanish Steps famous to an American audience

 
 

The apartment that was the setting for The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (José Quintero, 1961) is halfway up on the right

 
 

The Steps were featured prominently in the film version of The Talented Mr. Ripley(Anthony Minghella, 1999) starring Matt Damon in the title role

 
 

To watch Morten Harket’s Spanish Steps music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

A Supposed Lie Detector

Alfred Hitchcock at La Bocca della Verità (The Mouth of Truth) in Rome

 
 

La Bocca della Verità is an image, carved from Pavonazzo marble, of a man-like face, located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, Italy. The sculpture is thought to be part of a first-century ancient Roman fountain, or perhaps a manhole cover, portraying one of several possible pagan gods, probably Oceanus. Most Romans believe that the ‘Bocca’ represents the ancient god of the river Tiber.

The most famous characteristic of the Mouth, however, is its role as a lie detector. Starting from the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. The piece was placed in the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin in the 17th century. This church is also home to the supposed relics of Saint Valentine.

 
 

Joe (Gregory Peck) shocks his royal friend (Audrey Hepburn), pretending to have lost his hand to the Mouth of Truth

 
 

The Mouth of Truth is known to English-speaking audiences mostly from its appearance in the film Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953). The film also uses the Mouth of Truth as a storytelling device since both Hepburn’s and Peck’s characters are not initially truthful with each other.

 
 

This scene from Roman Holiday was parodied in the film Only You (Norman Jewison, 1994) starring Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei