Susan's Blog - New York City Christmas 2016 (Day 6)

This is my traditional bagel vendor breakfast (although Tom didn't partake as he thinks they are really not good bagels). Okay, so I will admit that they aren't as good as Essa Bagel, but really .. what is more New York-ish than getting your morning bagel and coffee from someone in a little silver metal box on a street corner??

Today, we headed to the Metropolitan Museum .. aka .. The Met. It is the largest art museum in the US, and is among the most visited art museums in the world. We went through a few rooms and grabbed just a couple pictures.

In Medieval Europe, this is a Tower Reliquary with 8 apostles and the symbols of 4 evangelists. It is carved in bone with copper alloy feet. It was carved between 1200 and 1250 in Cologne Germany.

This triptych shows the Madonna and Christ child enthroned in the center, then on the left are Christ in Glory then the Last Supper, and then the Betrayal of Christ. On the right are the crucifixion, then the way to Calvary, and then the Flagellation. There isn't an actual date on this one but between 1265 and 1295.

This altarpiece is said to come from a convent in Amiens, France. It is limestone with paint and was carved and painted between 1475 and 1500. It depicts the scenes of the infancy of Christ.

This ornamental wall decoration, entitled Courtiers in a Rose Garden: A Lady and Two Gentlemen, dates from 1440-1450. They are dressed in the height of mid-15th century fashion.

They had a tree in one section that had lots of various decorations.

This Oak carved lectern takes the form of an eagle, the symbol of Saint John the Evangelist. Dating from between 1475 and 1525, it comes from France.

This stained glass from Paris, circa 1550 is entitled the Annunciation. It shows Mary kneeling at her prayer desk, raising her hand in surprise as the angel Gabriel informs her that she will be the mother of the Messiah.

This panel, circa 1540-1550, comes from the workshop of Jacques Juliot and is entitled Dormition of the Virgin. The apostles have gathered around the Virgin's deathbed. It shows Saint John the Evangelist holding a palm branch and Saint Peter conducting a service with a book in his arms.

Here is a lead-glazed plate which has a host of creatures, including frogs, fish, shells, and a snake. They all live in a watery world filled with rocks and aquatic plants.

They also have created replicas of various rooms, this being the formal reception room from the Hotel de Tesse in Paris. The original home (Hotel here would indicate it was a very large mansion) was built between 1765 and 1768 and designed by Pierre-Noel Rousset. The interior is typical French Neoclassicism.

We then went into a large, well-lit gallery with sculptures. This one in particular was very interesting. It is called Ugolino and his sons, and was done by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux between 1865 and 1867. This is supposed to be one of the greatest sculptural expressions of mental anguish. Count Ugolino was locked in a tower along with his sons and grandsons, and forced to choose between starvation and cannibalism. The figures are arranged in a pyramid, with heads and arms swirling upward toward the tormented face of Ugolino.

This griffin, a mythical beast associated in the classical world with light and protection, was adapted for Christian use by placing on its side a variation of the Chi-Rho Christogram, the monogram for Christ's name. It dates back to between 300 and 600 in the Byzantine empire.

In the 14th century, there was a transformation occurring in Florence. This transformation can be seen by comparing the Byzantine style of Berlinghiero's Madonna and Child (1230's) with Giotto's The Adoration of the Magi (1320's). The Madonna and Child follows the Byzantine type of painting known as the Hodegetria (literally "She who shows the Way"), where icons depict the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to him as the source of salvation for mankind. In this Berlinghiero work, Jesus is dressed like an ancient philosopher, complete with holding a scroll. Then you see the Giotto work, almost a century later. You start seeing more action, with the kneeling king picking up the Christ Child, and various expressions on the faces.

A Botticelli work from the early 1490's, The Last Communion of Saint Jerome. This shows Saint Jerome, who was a great 4th century scholar and translator of the Bile into Latin, is shown in his cell near Bethlehem. He is receiving his last communion, supported by his brethren. The frame is quite interesting and has a lunette (the half-moon shaped space) above the Botticelli painting, which was done by Bartolomeo di Giovanni.

We now move into 15th century Venice and Northern Italy. During this time, painters were asserting their claim to being equal to poets. This first painting was done by Andrea Mantegna in 1506 ... The Adoration of the Shepherds. Mantegna was a prodigy of Italian painting and already had a good reputation by the time he was 18. In his early 20's, he painted this, which already shows an amazing gift for detail.

This oil on canvas was painted around 1576 by Titian, entitled Venus and Adonis. Here, the goddess Venus has fallen in love with Adonis, a handsome hunter. She foresees that the hunt will be fatal for him and tries to keep him from leaving with his hunting dogs.

This is an oil on canvas by Paola Veronese from the 1580's, entitled Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Prison. The Roman Emperor Maxentius condemned Saint Catherine, a 4th century princess from Alexandria to 12 days of starvation in prison when she attempted to convince him of the validity of Christianity. The painting shows her in a dark prison cell comforted by the dove of the Holy Ghost. It has both a sad and a happy ending. She was beheaded (sad) but was martyred (happy) and is shown with a martyr's palm in her hand. The painting shows a dramatic use of light and depth of expression, which characterized Veronese's work during the early 1580's.

At the end of the 16th century, artists responded to the religious shift of the Counter-Reformation with works that were profoundly pious in nature. An example is this work, from around 1650, by Guercino. Luigi Gonzaga was the eldest son of the marquis of Castiglione. He resigned the marquisate and joined the Jesuit novitiate in Rome, devoting his life to the care of the poor. He died of the plague in 1591 and canonized in 1726. The Vocation of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga depicts an angel holding a heavenly wreath over the head of the saint, while at his feet are a lilies (which represent chastity) and a crown (symbolizing the marquisate he had renounced).

So now we change and move to ancient Egypt. This is a wooden statue of Kaipunesut dating to the Old Kingdom, circa 2520 BC or so. This is one of just a handful of wooden sculptures that are preserved from the 4th dynasty. The belt has carvings that contain the name Kaipunesut and his title of "Royal Carpenter".

These (I think) are from the walls of the tomb chapel of Raemkai, who was an ancient Egyptian prince of the 5th dynasty. Our guide was explaining how the decorations depict all of the things that Raemkai will need in the after life see women with baskets of food on their head, and then men pulling a rope that is attached to a net which is gathering up birds (shown in the next picture), and then the last is a guy with the dead birds in his hands.

These are from the chapel of the mastabas of Nikauhor and Sekhemhathor, probably from the early 5th dynasty. Here you can see the painted images and hieroglyphs. One thing that I would really like to do is take classes once I retire to learn to read hieroglyphics. One thing that I learned is that you read the hieroglyphs based on the way the faces are going. If the birds are facing right, then you start at the right and read left. If they go up/down, then you start at the top and read down (never up) but you read the columns right-to-left or left-to-right based on which direction the birds are facing.

The Ancient Egyptian official Meketre was chancellor and high steward during the reign of Mentuhotep II, Mentuhotep III and perhaps Amenemhat I, during the Middle Kingdom. His tomb was in Thebes but unfortunately, all of the accessible rooms were robbed and plundered. However, in the 1920's, a hidden chamber was discovered with 24 almost perfectly preserved models. Half of them are shown at the Met (the other half in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo). Some of the models show different boats (sporting boat, traveling boat, funeral boat) while others were things like stables and slaughter houses. Are you can see, the detail in these models is amazing, especially understanding how long ago these were actually done.

This is a necklace dating back to the 12th Dynasty (1887-1813 B.C). The design is dominated by two falcons with sun disks on their heads.

Here are a couple coffins that have great paintings still visible, both on the outside and inside.

Hatshepsut, meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies, was pharaoh during the 18th dynasty and was the second female pharaoh. The last two pictures show the Sphinx of Hatshepsut with unusual rounded ears and ruff that stress the lioness features of the statue, but with five toes, and the cartouche.

Here we leave ancient Egypt and head to Greece. During the 8th century BC, the Geometric style that had originated in Athens spread throughout the Greek-speaking world. This vase comes from Cyprus. In the middle panel, between the handles, you can see two animals on their hind legs, nibbling at a tree. The interesting thing here is that the graceful long-legged animals are represented in a typically geometric style, but the motif of them flanking a sacred tree derives from Near East art.

Fast-forward to the 7th century B.C, and you can see how vase painters in Athens have started to abandon the geometric style in favor of a more naturalistic style that was inspired by Near East art.

Another century goes by, and during the 6th century B.C, you can see how the art on the vase continues to become more realistic. Here you can see the flute player between two dancing youths in armor.

Also from the 6th century B.C, another terra-cotta water jar. This one shows Triptolemos, a local prince, in a winged chariot bringing wheat to mankind.

One thing that you see a lot are marble grave stele. This one dates from around 360 B.C and is one of the most magnificent examples that have survived from the classical period. Since we don't have all of it, it also allows each person who views it to interpret it for themselves. For example, the man and woman look straight ahead, not specifically at the woman who is looking downward. Is this a daughter looking down from heaven at her parents, who are mourning her loss?

This roman sarcophagus dates from 220-230 A.D and is made from marble. It shows Dionysos on a panther with his attendants. The four seasons are shown as winged youths.

We then headed to the more recent art section. This first one is an example of Surrealism from Max Ernst, who paints the unfurling forehead of Gala Eluard, his lover.

Woman Asleep at a Table, painted by Pablo Picasso in 1936. One of his favorite subjects, Marie-Therese Walter's resting head and the simplification of her features recall the heaviness of sleep.

I tend to like Marc Chagall (he has done some amazing church stained glass!) and I love Paris, so this one appealed to me. Le Pont de Passy et la Tour Eiffel, from 1911, depicts the modernization of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower, the Pont de Passy bridge, telegraph wires, as well as the metro train.

Georgia O'Keeffe is recognized as the "mother of American modernism" and she is best known for paintings of New York skyscrapers and New Mexico landscapes. This falls into the first category and shows the East River from the Shelton Hotel. When the Shelton Hotel opened in 1924, it was the tallest hotel in the world. O'Keeffe lived there between 1925 and 1936 and painted this panoramic view of the East River waterfront in 1928.

Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian painter known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces and figures. This painting from 1919 depicts his mistress, Jeanne Hebuterne, in a casual white shirt which suggests modesty while also hiding her pregnancy. The story does not end happily, unfortunately. The following year, when Hebuterne was 8 months pregnant, Modigliani died from tubercular meningitis. Hebuterne was so distraught that she throwing herself out of a 5th floor window at her parents' home, killing herself and their unborn child.

From there, we headed to Queens by subway to the Museum of the Moving Image. It is the only museum in the US dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image in all its forms. It has various exhibitions that show wardrobe, makeup and merchandise, as well as having a few interactive areas where you can change the background music, various sounds in well-known movies, and even dub your voice into a movie scene. We spent a few hours here ...

This is the Chewbacca mask that was worn by Peter Mayew in the Star Wars movies.

This is what gave Marlon Brando his puffy jaws in The Godfather.

These are only a little disturbing. In the movie Black Swan (2010), Beth Macintyre (played by Winona Ryder) is in a car accident. This prosthetic legs were used during a hospital scene; Winona Ryder's legs were hidden in a hole beneath the bedding and then the legs where put into position to make it look like they were actually Ryder's legs.

Mork's costume from Mork and Mindy.

Don Johnson's suit from Miami Vice during the 1984-1985 season.

I then went through a section that talked about merchandising, and showed all different kinds of merchandise from the various shows. For example, a coloring book from I Love Lucy (first picture), and Knickerbocker dolls of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

This is a notebook which contains the first draft for the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Kiss Hello". The first drafts were written in spiral notebooks by the writer, Larry David. He would then read it aloud to Jerry Seinfeld and then discuss changes. Seinfeld would then write a new draft on a yellow legal pad, which then got typed into the standard form.

They had a whole bunch of really OLD TV's, like this circa 1960 General Electric model. This one has unusual detailing, which is how the manufacturers attempted to differentiate their products. The controls are on top instead of the front, and it has wheels and handles to allow it to be moved around easily.

Fans of the 1982 movie Blade Runner will recognize this as a miniature of the Tyrell Skyscraper. Because of the high cost of building full-scale sets, movies will use miniatures where they can. They have one part of a large and complex miniature of the skyscraper. When combined with lighting, aerial-view cameras, and fire/smoke effects, the model appears to be an authentic cityscape.

They also had a room full of older camera's. This one, a panorama dolly from the Fearless Camera Company, dates back to 1950. The camera is mounted on a boom arm that is raised and lowered while the dolly moves forward and backwards.

From there, we headed to our dinner, also in Queens. We had been to another restaurant by Michael Psilakis (Kefi), and so this time we went to his Astoria Queens Greek restaurant named MP Taverna. It sits on a corner in what seems to be a very "Greek" part of town, since the restaurants and stores around it had very Greek names! We took a couple pictures from outside but neither came out well.

We decided to have all Meze (small plates) although, at the end of the day, we figured out that we ordered TOO MUCH food! They are more like medium-small plates :-) We have become big cheese-lovers, so of course, the Barrel aged feta with pelopennese olive oil and mountain oregano was a requirement!

Then the Chick Pea dip with sundries tomato and herbs.

I think every dish came with warm pita so I think we had something like 30 pieces of pita on the table.

Greek sausage with pork, leek, and orange, along with toasted bread.

This was my favorite dish ... the Octopus with a mediterranean chickpea salad. I normally find octopus a little chewy but this was, in a word, superb!

And then Tom's favorite dish ... Grandma's greek meatballs along with tzatziki and more pita.

All of this and a bottle of a nice white wine from Greece, and we were a little full. But then came the dessert menu. Of course, we ordered a baklava but then Tom also ordered the brownie with ice cream. We really only needed one since the baklava was HUGE! We topped it all off with a greek coffee and then grabbed the subway back to Manhattan.

Then on the way back to the hotel, we grabbed a couple pictures of the Christmas lights/decorations along the way.

Unfortunately, that was the end of our week-long birthday celebration.