Saunas are ubiquitous in Finland and just about the same in Aitkin, MN and Crystal Falls, MI, where I grew up. Most weren’t as romantically located as this one, a modern day example at a second home. My family were by and large farmers and saunas were workaday baths, situated somewhere on the property, but generally not picturesquely next to a lake. I’m very interested in painting saunas right now. I’ve wanted to have one at my home for years — opportunities to take a sauna at the homes of my relatives have become increasingly less frequent, because, well, they’re in Minnesota — and I’ve just figured out how I might do it. So, this is my first sauna painting. Our family tradition was to visit for sauna on a Saturday nights. Coffee would be served. The men would go right away for the hottest of the steam, while the women laid coffee, pulla (cardamom-flavored, sweet bread) and cookies on the table. Then, the women would go, from the oldest to the youngest. Most saunas in my youth had electricity, but they didn’t have running water. The stoves were fed with wood. There would be multiple milk cans in the dressing room. We would fill our pails before entering the steam room, wetting our washcloths in the cool water and laying them over our faces so we could breathe. When it came time to wash, we’d ladle water out of the hot water reservoir next to the stones on top of the stove and mix it with the cool water in our pails, then scrub up, dumping the pail over our heads to rinse off. Sometimes we’d have to fill more than one pail, of course. We’d come back to the kitchen tables, pink faced, with towels wrapped around our heads and talk for hours. It’s a very good memory.
Jupiter and Io, Corregio
Treasures from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna are at the Minneapolis Institute of Art until May 10th. In addition, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the MIA, a Vermeer — one of only 34 in the world — is on view for free until May 3rd.
Woman Reading a Letter, Jan Vermeer
I never noticed the beautiful hand inside the somewhat paw-like Jupiter cloud. That just makes it so much better, because frankly, the paw kind of creeped me out. This is an absolutely gorgeous painting and if they’d had a poster larger than a foot by six inches, I would have bought it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Correggio before. No scholarly comments here. I don’t know a thing about Correggio.
Titian did a number of Danaes. It’s such a great opportunity to paint a beautiful woman and it isn’t necessary to come up with any challenging postures or anything. All that happens is that Zeus (or Jupiter to the Italians) drops a shower of golden coins on her. With that formula, any good life-painting session could result in a painting of Danae.
Susanna and the Elders, Tintoretto
I also don’t know anything about Tintoretto. except that he painted so intensely that he was called Il Furioso. Apparently it ran in the family, because his father earned such a reputation defending the city gates of Padua, that his son was tagged with the epithet Robusti too.
Infanta Maria Teresa, Velasquez
Pardon the short form of the artist’s names. Velasquez was really named Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez. So, enough said.
The Crowning with Thorns, Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio
I couldn’t figure out at first exactly what the slaves were doing with the sticks, although it was probably perfectly apparent to everyone else that they were dragging at the crown in order cause the maximum amount of damage on Christ’s head. I bought a book about Caravaggio at the Museum. His paintings are often full of writhing subjects, engaged in (often) bloody actions, such as….
The thing that immediately strikes me is that in spite of knowledge of human anatomy these Renaissance artists had, it would have been impossible for Caravaggio to do these chiaroscuro lighting situations without models holding the poses for hours under dramatic lighting sources.
Portrait of Sculptor Alessandro Vittorio, Giovanni Batista Moroni
In addition to the world’s greatest artists, the Hapsburg Exhibit has a wonderful coach, a sleigh (which was used in a royal wedding — the groom sat astride behind the seat, with his feet anchoring him on the runners), gilded horse harnesses, a ball gown, the livery of Court officials. It’s so much fun! Go see it!
Gilded Sled and harness, Kunsthistorisches Museum
Better view of the Sled