Back for the Around the World in 70 Minutes tour at the British Museum. Happy to say these volunteer docent tours are amplifying the pleasure the museum has to offer. Not only do you hear the details that bring an object and an era alive but the guides – all volunteers I am told – are on fire with enthusiasm. This spark illuminates what you are seeing in a way a dry text on a museum card cannot. They also walk very briskly.
This guide was really excited about the conservator’s recreation of the Sutton Hoo helmet’s ornamentation.
She marveled at an ornate gold buckle with myriad distinct animal figures, almost too small to see. How did they do it without magnification? Craftsmanship thrills her – me too.
When she asked if everyone was okay with viewing human remains, I muttered ‘depends on how recent.’ That was my intro to the Lindow bog man who looked like a deflated human-shaped balloon, skin the color of tea, limbs twisted and floppy. For a 2,000-year-old corpse, he was in extraordinarily good condition. They could even tell his fingernails were manicured, which suggested he wasn’t a manual laborer.
This was a young man in his mid-twenties, in good health, and his last meal was barley bread cooked over a fire. He died from two blows to the skull, strangulation by garotte, and multiple broken ribs. The definition of overkill. Ritual sacrifice was suggested but I don’t know, it seems personal to me, so maybe a jealous husband? As may be, RIP.
Afterward, I went in search of the Raphael exhibit in the print rooms. Side note: ff you are looking for peace and quiet when the rest of the museum has reached maximum cacophony this is the place to find it. It’s hushed and dimly lit to protect the fragile works on paper from the deteriorating effect of light.
Whilst ooking for Raphael, I found this lovely page of botany and bugs – oh, I miss my garden so much.
My impression of Raphael is he can be just a little bit too polished and sweet, but he won me over with this image of tenderness personified. Exquisitely done by silverpoint on pink prepared paper.
This lively sheet of sketches exploring different angles and gestures speaks to the artist in me.
This copy of Michelangelo’s David – you can see him reaching for muscularity and substance.
A self-possessed virgin. What a cooly assessing gaze.
Limping back to my hotel I saw this sundial and the time checked out. Of course, you need sun for it to work. Not something I’ve been able to count on in London.
A bit further on, I looked up and thought where am I? It’s not Vegas but it’s not the staid, gray London I remember either. It was the theater district, bringing the bling. Well done, you descents of Garrick and SIddons.