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myleslea

Jonathan Myles-Lea. British artist and photographer. "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort" John Ruskin.

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Fair Albion. This ash tree has painted such a delicate tracery of foliage across the hot late-June sky.

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Bust in the courtyard of the Pitti Palace in Florence (2014).

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‘Shelley Composing ‘Prometheus Unbound’ in the Baths of Caracalla’, 1845 by Joseph Severn (1793–1879). A remarkable and romantic painting for so many reasons. Did you know that Shelley was a vegetarian? He wrote several essays on the subject of vegetarianism, the most prominent of which were "A Vindication of Natural Diet" (1813) and "On the Vegetable System of Diet". Shelley's eagerness for vegetarianism is connected with India. In 1812 he was converted to vegetarianism by his friend Frank Newton, who had himself been converted while living in India.

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Temple of the Sibyls in Tivoli near Rome (now known as the Temple of Vesta), by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 - 1778). It always amazes me how such a sense of light and shade can be created with engravings - especially when the design has to be executed in reverse.

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Tom in Rome. A clip from ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ based upon the novel by Patricia Highsmith. Movie by Anthony Minghella.

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‘Girl with a Fan’ by Frans Von Lebach (1836 - 1904). A gorgeous pastel by the German artist showing the tone of his ground and his method of building up the modelling of the face and clothing. The charcoal preliminary drawing is clearly visible.

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Alessandro de' Medici (1510 – 1537) was the only black prince of Florence (in fact there’s an excellent book with that title written by Catherine Fletcher). He was called be his contemporaries; "il Moro" ("the Moor") due to his dark complexion. Alessandro, Duke of Florence was ruler of the city from 1531 until his assassination in 1537. He was the first Medici to rule Florence as a hereditary monarch, and Alessandro was also the last Medici from the senior line of the family to lead the city. Some historians, (such as Christopher Hibbert) believe that Alessandro had been born to a servant of African descent who was working in the household of Lorenzo II de' Medici (grandson of Lorenzo de' Medici "the Magnificent"). A few believed him to be in fact the illegitimate son of Giulio de' Medici (later Pope Clement VII), identified in documents as Simonetta da Collevecchio. The French author Jean Nestor, writing in the 1560s, reported that the claim of a Moorish slave origin was a false rumor first spread by Alessandro's exiled enemies in Naples. Maybe future scholarship will lead us to a truth all historians can agree upon. The artist Michelangelo was not a fan of Medici rule and he was publicly critical of Alessandro, with the result that Alessandro dispatched a hit-man to murder him. Michelangelo hid in a small space under the Medici Chapel in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, and the drawings he made on the walls there have recently been rediscovered.

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The courtyard of Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Begun in 1458, the palace was built for a florentine banker; Luca Pitti. It was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and it became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It developed into a great treasure house containing of every type of artwork. In the 18th century it was used as a power base of Napoleon. (Photo: 2014).

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The Primo Chiostro, (the main cloister) at Basilica di Santa Croce. It’s situated 800 meters south-east of the Duomo. Brunelleschi, (the designer of the dome of the Duomo) was involved in its design which is rigorously simple and unadorned.

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I can recommend this splendid new book; ‘In Pursuit of Civility’ by Keith Thomas, published this year by Yale University Press. Thomas is Honorary Fellow of All Soul’s College, Oxford.

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Later this summer I’ll be returning to ITALY for a six week Grand Tour. I’ll be spending time in Florence, Rome, Tivoli, Naples and Sorento. I’ll also visit, Frascati, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Capri. I’ll be sketching and painting in all those locations and documenting my trip daily on a new website with links to fresh pages from Instagram. It will be an information-packed cultural indulgence during which I’ll show you my favourite works of art at The Capitoline and Vatican Museums in Rome, the Villa Borghese and numerous other museums, villas and palazzos in and near the city. I’ll share photos and descriptions of my favourite artworks at the Uffizi, as well as images and information about various villas, palaces and gardens within and outside Florence. You’ll see archaeological treasures from museums in Naples and the ruins of Roman villas on the island of Capri. I’ll also share some handy photographic tips to help you improve your own images, so hit ‘Follow’ now and watch this Italian space! ~ Andiamo! 🍾🍸🇮🇹

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Later this summer I’ll be returning to ITALY for a six week Grand Tour. I’ll be spending time in Florence, Rome, Tivoli, Naples and Sorento. I’ll also visit, Frascati, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Capri. I’ll be sketching and painting in all those locations and documenting my trip daily on a new website with links to fresh pages from Instagram. It will be an information-packed cultural indulgence during which I’ll show you my favourite works of art at The Capitoline and Vatican Museums in Rome, the Villa Borghese and numerous other museums, villas and palazzos in and near the city. I’ll share photos and descriptions of my favourite artworks at the Uffizi, as well as images and information about various villas, palaces and gardens within and outside Florence. You’ll see archaeological treasures from museums in Naples and the ruins of Roman villas on the island of Capri. I’ll also share some handy photographic tips to help you improve your own images, so hit ‘Follow’ now and watch this Italian space! ~ Andiamo! ✨

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I can’t wait to return to ITALY later this summer. I’ll be spending time in Florence, Rome, Tivoli, Naples and Sorento. I’ll also visit, Frascati, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Capri. I’ll be sketching and painting in all those locations and documenting my trip daily on a new website linked to Instagram. It will be an information-packed Grand Tour lasting about six weeks in which I’ll show you my favourite works of art at The Capitoline and Vatican Museums in Rome, the Villa Borghese and numerous other museums, villas and palazzos in and near the city. I’ll share photos and descriptions of my favourite artworks at the Uffizi, as well as images and information about various villas, palaces and gardens within and outside Florence. You’ll see archaeological treasures from museums in Naples and the ruins of Roman villas on the island of Capri. I also can’t wait to share my new discoveries with you because I’m sure I’ll find many things I’ve never seen before along the way. Andiamo! ☀️ 🇮🇹 🍾

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In classical mythology, Hylas was a youth who served as Heracles' companion and servant. (Hercules in Roman mythology). His abduction by water nymphs was a theme of ancient art, and has been an enduring subject for Western art in the classical tradition. Here, in John William Waterhouse’s painting of 1896, the myths are in the very act of saying; “Come on in, the water’s lovely”. After Hercules killed Hylas's father, Hylas bizarrely became a companion of Hercules and later his lover. They both became Argonauts and accompanied Jason in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. During the journey, Hylas was sent to find fresh water. He found a pond occupied by Naiads, and they lured him into the water. He was never to be seen again!

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The Latin family name for the water lily is Nymphaeaceae, recalling the Nymphs of ancient Greek and Roman mythology who inhabited waterways, wells and springs. The water lily was particularly revered in ancient Egypt where it symbolised the upper kingdom, while the papyrus flower symbolised the lower kingdom. There’s an Egyptian creation myth that the Sun God, who banished the darkness emerged from a primordial water lily! Ancient priests may have used the blue water lily, possibly in combination with Mandrake, to achieve a trance state in rituals. The petals would have been steeped in wine and used as a mildly hallucinogenic aphrodisiac.

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‘Tivoli: The Temple of the Sibyl’ c.1795–7. A watercolour collaboration between J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Girtin. When Turner (together with Thomas Girtin) made this watercolour at the London home of Dr Thomas Monro in the 1790s, he had yet to visit Italy. Instead, it was based upon a first-hand study by another artist in Monro’s collection. The temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli was among the most celebrated motifs for British artists in Italy, and had been painted notably by Richard Wilson, whose work Turner deeply admired, and also copied. Turner visited Tivoli in the autumn of 1819 during his first Italian sojourn, when he made numerous sketches of the Temple and the surrounding countryside. I plan to visit Tivoli this September, where I will spend several days sketching and painting in the gorge beneath the Temple of the Sibyl, or the Temple of Vesta as it is also called. (Tate collection).

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The final rays of sunshine of the longest day shining on a wall in the studio. “Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray”. ~ Lord Byron

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Some beautiful images of England from the 1950s

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