Albion, Books, Don and Wen

Dear Don: Shadow-play…

Dear Don,

The ‘Facing Fear’ weekend proved to be uncannily prophetic… and its location has been in the news a good deal lately, used as an example of the heroism of the willing sacrifice of life and freedom. ‘Willing’ being the operative word…

Interesting how theatricals seem to be cropping up a lot… and that seems to be all you get when you Google ‘golden globe’.

Sculpture, too, seems a recurrent theme, ever since we decided we were not overly interested in terms of our work… since then, it has been, quite rightly, slapping us around the face with the proverbial wet fish. We should have qualified that statement… Especially as we have been dealing in sculpted earth and stone from the start…

Did you know, though, that there is no Muse for sculpture in Classical Greece? And that, although we ended up with the Nine Muses, there were originally only the three, according to Varro and Plutarch, Melete or “Practice”, born from the movement of water, Mneme or “Memory”  who makes sound by striking the air, and Aoide or “Song”, embodied only in the human voice.

Osiris, bizarrely according to Diodorus, first brought the nine Muses on board and they were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne… Divinity and Memory.

Pallavicini coat of arms. Image: Viennevi CC3

Regarding your caryatids, I can find nothing more on them than that they were the work of Franz Zauner and were added to soften the severe lines of the building to bring it more into line with the rest of the facades on Josefplatz. They do, though, look rather odd…

The severity of the building might have something to do with the fact that the Palais Pallavicini was originally the ‘Convent of Poor Clares Mary, Queen of Angels’. The Poor Clares, be it remembered, were the feminine branch of Franciscan monasticism.

Caryatids were understood, in Renaissance Europe even though the idea was not entirely accurate,  to represent the enslavement of women. So it makes them an interesting choice of décor for a former convent… especially given their imposing size…

Did you happen to notice the arms of the Pallavicini family? Nine alternating squares within a circle, three crowns, three crosses and the insignia of the Golden Fleece, all within a twin-headed eagle… or maybe it is a phoenix, who knows?

I could ask the Bird-dog, but as there was mention of ears, the Bird-dog has beaten a hasty retreat.

Being a diligent Guardian, the dog is also pointedly ignoring the tarantula-sized spider in the kitchen…

Love,

Wen x

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