Tag Archives: Christies

today’s birthday: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828)

Rossetti was a British painter, poet, and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an association of painters who aimed to combat the shallow conventionalism of academic painting and revive the fidelity to nature and the vivid realistic color that they considered typical of Italian painting before Raphael. Although Rossetti found some financial success as a painter, his lasting reputation rests upon his poetry. What did he have buried with his wife—and later exhumed? More… Discuss


Saint of the Day for Tuesday, May 5th, 2015: St. Hilary of Arles

quotation: “Evil is not something superhuman, it’s something less than human.”

Evil is not something superhuman, it’s something less than human.

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) Discuss

Rare Cezanne Coming to Auction

Rare Cezanne Coming to Auction

A Paul Cezanne painting of a Mediterranean landscape is expected to draw big money at auction in February, according to Christie’s auction house. The late-19th-century work, called Vue sur L’Estaque et Le Chateau d’If, is one of the few Cezanne works available for sale that was painted in his Estaque apartment. Cezanne’s paintings are known for fetching high sums. His painting The Card Players is widely regarded as the most expensive painting ever sold, reportedly costing $250 million. More… Discuss

today’s holiday/ceremonies/observance: Nobel Prize Ceremony

Nobel Prize Ceremony

Nobel Prizes are awarded each year to people, regardless of nationality, deemed to have made the most significant practical efforts toward the well-being of the human race. In his will, the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) directed that the income from his estate be used to fund five annual prizes. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901; a sixth prize—in economics—was added in 1969. Winners receive the awards at a special ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway. More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: First Nobel Prizes Awarded (1901)

First Nobel Prizes Awarded (1901)

The Nobel Prizes, named after Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, are awarded annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and—since 1969—economic sciences. Nobel is said to have been inspired to create the prizes after reading his own prematurely published obituary, which condemned his invention of dynamite and referred to him as “the merchant of death.” What family has amassed the most Nobel Prizes? More… Discuss

Archimedes’ Secret (BBC Documentary)

This is the story of a book that could have changed the history of the World. To the untrained eye, it is nothing more than a small and unassuming Byzantine prayer book, yet it sold at Christies for over $2m. For faintly visible beneath the prayers on its pages are other, unique, writings – words that have been lost for nearly two thousand years.

The text is the only record of work by one of the world’s greatest minds – the ancient Greek, Archimedes – a mathematical genius centuries ahead of his time. Hidden for a millennium in a middle eastern library, it has been written over, broken up, painted on, cut up and re-glued. But in the nick of time scientists have saved the precious, fragile document, and for the first time it is revealing just how revolutionary Archimedes’ ideas were. If it had been available to scholars during the Renaissance, we might have reached the Moon over a hundred years ago.

The trail begins in the tenth century, when a scribe made a unique copy of the most important mathematics that Archimedes ever developed. For 200 years the document survived, but the mathematics in it was so complex that no one paid it any attention. So when one day a monk was looking for some new parchment – an expensive commodity at the time – to write a new prayer book, the answer seemed obvious. He used the Archimedes manuscript. He washed the Greek text off the pages, cut them in half, rebound them, and turned the Archimedes manuscript into an everyday prayer book. As he piously wrote out his prayers, he had no idea of the genius he was obliterating.

Several hundred years later, the Renaissance was under way. Scientists were beginning to grapple with new concepts, working out how mathematics could be used to explain the World around them. Little did they know that many of the problems they were just encountering Archimedes had already solved more than a thousand years before. So, tragically, they had to do that research all over again, setting back the development of science and technology immeasurably.

Then in 1906, in Constantinople, the document mysteriously turned up in a monastic library. An opportunistic scholar called Johan Ludwig Heiberg identified the text as Archimedes’ writings. Although the Greek text was very faint, Heiberg was able to decipher some of it. What he found astonished him, and made the front page of the New York Times. He revealed that Archimedes’ manuscript contained something called ‘The Method’, which showed not only Archimedes’ final proofs, but for the first time revealed the process of how he went about making his discoveries.