Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ptolemy III Euergetes

Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 BC) ruled Egypt at the time of the Third Syrian War. He over-ran Antioch and Babylon and his actions are alluded to in the Old Testament Book of Daniel (Chapter 11, vs 7-9). Through the peace treaty of 241 BC Ptolemy was awarded new territories on the northern coast of Syria, including Seleucia Pieria, the port of Antioch.

Ptolemy III was responsible for one of three multilingual inscriptions or stele that allowed the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Canopus Stone of 238 BC contains decrees about priestly orders, and is a memorial for his daughter Berenice. But two of its 26 lines of hieroglyphs decree the use of a leap day added to the Egyptian calendar of 365 days, and the associated changes in festivals..

The other two inscriptions are the Memphis Stele, bearing the Decree of Memphis, about 218 BC, passed by his son, Ptolemy IV, and the famous Rosetta Stone erected by Ptolemy Epiphanes, his grandson, in 196 BC.

The huge coin, 38mm in diameter, at the start of this note is an issue of Ptolemy III. The portrait is not Ptolemy but rather Zeus wearing the horn of Ammon. On the reverse is an eagle standing on a thunderbolt with a cornucopia (“the horn of plenty”) to the top right of the design. It is for sale and can be purchased by following the link to vCoins HERE.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

John Atkinson Grimshaw

The other weekend we were in Scarborough, up by the castle. I happened to wander down a little side street, heading towards the cliff top, when I came across a blue plaque honouring a name I recognised – John Atkinson Grimshaw.

 Scarborough Bay

Grimshaw was a Leeds born artist from the second half of the 19th century who specialised in painting in a photo-realistic style delighting in shadow and reflection, often in city scapes. Even now I can remember the Grimshaw print hanging in the doctor’s surgery waiting room when I was 5 or 6 years old (although at that age I didn’t know the artist’s name).

Autumn Afterglow

Grimshaw's primary influence was the Pre-Raphaelites. True to the Pre-Raphaelite style, he created landscapes of accurate colour, lighting, vivid detail and realism. His skill was working with a variety of light sources, in capturing the mood of the passing of twilight into night. After visiting Grimshaw, Whistler remarked that "I considered myself the inventor of Nocturnes until I saw Grimmy's moonlit pictures."

 Autumn Morning

Salterhouse Dock, Liverpool