Art Old and New

Today we had two stops on our art education tour. The first was Trinity College, reputed to be one of the best universities in the world. Its old library is the home of the Book of Kells and several other medieval manuscripts as part of the collection of over 200,000 old and rare books. The artwork on the old manuscripts is exquisite and when you see how it was done with quill pens and little brushes of martin fur you are more impressed. There is a good deal of information along the way to distract you from the fact that you are part of a large herd moving slowly through a tight space to the ultimate goal: The Book of Kells. My favorite distraction were some personal poems written by an Irish monk in 9th century Switzerland.

Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban my cat

‘Tis like task we are at:

Hunting mice is his delight,

Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than prise of men

‘Tis to sit with book and pen;

Pangur bears me no ill will

He too plies his simple skill

Oftentimes a mouse will stray

In the hero Pangur’s way

Oftentimes my keen thought set

Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye

Full and fierce and sharp and sly;

‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I

All my little wisdom try.

Practice every day has made

Pangur perfect in his trade;

I get wisdom day and night

Turning darkness into light.


The Scribe

A hedge of trees surrounds me

A blackbird sings sweetly;

Above my well-ruled book

The birds sing far and wide.

In a green cloak of leafy branches

The cuckoo sings her lovely chant;

Protect me, Lord, on Judgement Day

Happily I write beneath the trees.


Our second stop was the Irish National Gallery where we discovered a wonderful artist, new to us. Jack B. Yeats was the younger brother of W.B. Yeats. Jack was a novelist, playwright, sculptor, comic satirist, and accomplished fine artist. We saw a three room exhibiton of his work, a sample of which is shown below. This man began painting before World War I and painted into the 1950’s. During that time his style changed from realistic to very expressionistic. What a find! I particularly draw your attention to Grief, a painting lamenting war.

We also saw many fine masterworks at the gallery. They house a recently discovered Cqaravaggio, The Taking of Christ. It was known through references long ago, but was assumed lost. It was found hanging on a monastery wall in Ireland! The monks loaned it to the National Gallery. We also saw a beautiful Monet that had been cleaned recently. The colors were so bright and clear it looked like he just painted it. There were many others too numerous to mention.

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About Paul

I'm retired, but working at painting, photography, and song writing. We like to travel and paint plein air in new places. Of course that's also where photography comes into the picture, so to speak. Sometimes I get inspired to write songs about the people and places we visit.
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3 Responses to Art Old and New

  1. Curt Funk says:

    Pangur Ban lives two blocks from us, and he’s a good buddy of our dog River. Here are some videos taken by PB’s humans while they were dogsitting River for a week:

    W. H. Auden’s translation of the poem is quite a bit more reflective and less cutesie-poo than the rhyming version:

    Pangur, white Pangur, How happy we are
    Alone together, scholar and cat
    Each has his own work to do daily;
    For you it is hunting, for me study.
    Your shining eye watches the wall;
    My feeble eye is fixed on a book.
    You rejoice, when your claws entrap a mouse;
    I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.
    Pleased with his own art, neither hinders the other;
    Thus we live ever without tedium and envy.

  2. Robin says:

    Too cool!! Love the pictures and the poem about the cat and the writer. Although it is unlikely I will remember all these artists, at least I have been exposed now and get to see some of their works. Thanks a million for that!

    Hope you have a great day today and the next, next, next –well you get the point!

    • Paul says:

      We’re looking forward to getting to Dingle where we can settle for a few weeks. It’s been a whirlwind in London and Dublin and we need some time to digest it. We have 4 days alone in Dingle before our friends arrive, so we may take that time to veg and save further sightseeing until Norm and Jan join us.

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