Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Recently I have been going to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to draw beetles.  I find them quite beautiful and fascinating.  Check out some of the rare beauties!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Nurnberg - Germanic National Museum and Albrecht Durer

Our tour came to an end in Nurnberg (Nuremberg).  We visited the Germanic National Museum, the Albrecht Durer House, a medieval outdoor market and sampled the awesome and famous Bavarian gingerbread. I must say, this was the best gingerbread I have ever eaten! Yum!

Nuremberg was founded around the turn of the 11th century.  Nuremberg is often referred to as having been the 'unofficial capital' of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly because Imperial Diet (Reichstag) and courts met at Nuremberg Castle. The Diets of Nuremberg were an important part of the administrative structure of the empire. The increasing demand of the royal court and the increasing importance of the city attracted increased trade and commerce to Nuremberg. The cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the centre of the German Renaissance. Between 1945 and 1946, German officials involved in the Holocaust and other war crimes were brought before an international tribunal in the Nuremberg Trials.

We toured the Albrecht Durer House which was Dürer's residence between 1509 and 1528. Of particular interest was the large painting and printing workshop from Dürer's time where artistic techniques are demonstrated.
Statue of Albrecht Durer

Albrecht Durer House

Engraving Tools

Dragon Chandelier
Printing Press

The Germanic National Museum is one of Europe's largest and greatest museums.  Its incomparable stores of exceptional art and artisanship afford a panoramic overview of the cultural history of German-speaking central Europe.  It boasts of the Albrecht Durer collections and the unique Codex aureus, produced in the 10th century.
St. George Killing the Dragon


Faber-Castell Castle

Architectural Detail

Grand Staircase

Ceiling Detail

Pencil Factory

Print of Factory


We toured the Faber-Castell home and factory.  Faber-Castell is one of the world's largest manufacturers of pens, pencils and art supplies, as well as high-end writing instruments and luxury leather goods.  Founded in 1761 at Stein near Nurnberg by cabinet maker Kaspar Faber, the enterprise remained in the Faber family for eight generations.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pharmacy Museum, Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle
Nestled in the hill 300 feet above the city of Heidelberg stands the breath-taking Heidelberg Schloss (castle). The castle is a combination of several buildings surrounding an inner courtyard, put together with a haphazard look. Each building highlights a different period of German architecture.

The castle has a history almost as old as the city itself. The first parts of the castle were constructed around 1300, but it wasn’t before Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398 – 1410) that the castle was used as a regal residence. Until it was destroyed by lightning in 1764 leaving it permanently uninhabitable, the castle was the residence for most of the Prince Electors. In 1800, Count Charles de Graimberg began the difficult task of conserving the castle ruins. Up until this time, the citizens of Heidelberg had used the castle stones to build new houses.

Just as breath-taking as the castle is from the city, so too is the city from the castle. From either the Great Terrace or the gardens, one has an amazing view of Heidelberg, the Neckar River, and the Neckar valley far into the Rhine plain. On a clear day, Mannheim is even visible on the horizon.

Red Roofs, Heidelberg


The German Pharmacy Museum's collection of over 20.000 objects represents the rich history of medical sciences, especially the history of pharmacy.

Housed in one of Germany's architectural landmarks, the Heidelberg Castle, the collection is the largest and finest in existence, spanning two thousand years of pharmacy history.

Pharmacy Museum


Laboratory Equipment
Distilling Apparatus
Dried Fern

Remedies for the Kiddies

Disturbing Unicorn

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Scloss Hohentubingen Museum

Venus of Hohle Fels, Ice Age Mammoth Ivory Carving
Nicholas Conrad, an archeologist at the University of Tubingen, in Germany, found the small carving in a cave in 2008.  It is at least 35,000 years old and one of the oldest known examples of figurative art in the world.

Vogelherd Ivory Horse and Mammoth, Mammoth Ivory Carvings

Cross Hatching on Mammoth's Feet

The figure of the woolly mammoth is tiny, measuring just 3.7 cm long and weighing a mere 7.5 grams, and displays skilfully detailed carvings. It is unique in its slim form, pointed tail, powerful legs and dynamically arched trunk. It is decorated with six short incisions, and the soles of the pachyderm's feet show a crosshatch pattern. It is also estimated to be 35,000 years old.

Leonhart Fuchs Collection, Botanic Gardens, Tubingen, Germany

Fuch's Original Engraved Woodcut on Pear Wood

Woodcut with Worm Holes

Copied Portrait of Leonhart Fuchs

Leonhart Fuchs Collection: Herbals are books containing the names and descriptions of plants and their medicinal properties. The herbal had declined during the Middle Ages, western European herbals of that era were based on the works of classical authors, in particular Pedanios Dioscorides, the ancient Greek writer who was the father of medical botany. This would change with the publication of Leonhart Fuchs’ illustrated herbal De historia stirpium commentarii insigne. The plan and organization of the herbal was entirely original with Fuchs, although the work did include some material derived from his Classical predecessors. Fuchs’ De historia stirpium represented an impressive first step from medieval superstition to modern botany. Leonhart Fuchs, a German doctor of medicine, deplored the terrible state of medical practice during his lifetime. Most doctors of his time relied on information from illiterate apothecaries, whom were, in turn, depending upon the peasants who gathered roots and herbs for them. Fuchs realized that patients could easily be poisoned rather than cured because of improper identification of plants. Therefore he compiled this herbal to improve the German pharmacopoeia with a reference of accurate illustrations and identifications of medicinal herbs in both German and Latin. The result was a book of great splendor, without equal among sixteenth-century herbals. It is illustrated with 511 hand-colored woodcut figures, all original and depicted from life. Fuchs looked to living plants for his illustrations, a departure from common practice at that time, but then “improved” them by removing any natural imperfections and by showing a plant in the flowering and fruiting stages simultaneously.

In 1535, Fuchs was appointed to a professorship at Tubingen, and, while he held this post, he declined a call to the University of Pisa, and also an invitation to become physician to the King of Denmark. It is clear that, both as a physician and a teacher, he was in great demand. He acquired a wide-spread reputation by his successful treatment of a terrible epidemic disease, which swept over Germany in 1529. A little book of medical instructions and prayers against the plague, which was published in London in the latter half of the sixteenth century, shows that his fame had extended to England. It is entitled, ' A worthy practise of the moste learned Phisition Maister Leonerd Fuchsius, Doctor in Phisicke, most necessary in this needfull tyme of our visitation, for the comforte of all good and faythfull people, both olde and yonge, both for the sicke and for them that woulde avoyde the daunger of contagion.'

The man (on right) who discovered the Fuchs Plates in a rubbish pile.

Off to the University of Tubingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Inspecting Renaissance Botanical Manuscripts at the University of Tubingen
Medici et Botanici Celeberrimi, Exquisite Simul et Artificiose, Published in 1595
Beautiful Architecture

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Trier is a historic city in west central Germany and the country's oldest city.  Legend has it that in 2000 BC, the Assyrians established a colony here.  The Roman colony of Augusta Treverorum (Trier) was founded by Augustus in 16 BC.  Trier became the favored residence of several Roman emperors, including Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor.  The cathedral Constantine built in Tier in 326 AD is Germany's oldest.  After destruction by Germanic tribes in the 5th century, the great city of Trier became a small town.  Trier's market square (Hauptmarket) is one of the nicest in Germany.  Catholic pilgrims still come to Trier in large numbers to honor the relic of the Holy Robe at the Dom St. Peter and the tomb of St. Matthias in the Benedictine church named for him.

Porta Negra
The impressive "Black Gate" is a 2nd-century Roman gate

The Goethe House

Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born on 28 August 1749 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany as son of a lawyer. After growing up in a privileged upper middle class family, he studied law in Leipzig from 1765 to 1768, although he was more interested in literature. As he was seriously ill, he had to interrupt his studies, but finally graduated in Strassburg with a degree in law. In the following years, his novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (1774) became one of the first bestsellers. In 1775, he settled down in Weimar, being the Duke's adviser and writing popular dramas such as "Egmont" or "Torquato Tasso". One of his life's important milestones was the Italian Journey from 1786 and 1788, where he discovered his interest in Greek and Roman classicism. After his return to Germany, he began the "Weimar Classicism" movement with his good friend Friedrich Schiller, concentrating on poems and dramas such as his best known work "Faust", which he published in two parts (1808/1832). Beside his literary work, he contributed many interesting theories to sciences, making him Germany's leading polymath in that period. He wrote several works on morphology, and colour theory. Goethe also had the largest private collection of minerals in all of Europe. By the time of his death, in order to gain a comprehensive view in geology, he had collected 17,800 rock samples. During his Italian journey, Goethe formulated a theory of plant metamorphosis in which the archetypal form of the plant is to be found in the leaf.I n 1790, he published his Metamorphosis of Plants. On 22 March 1832, he died in Weimar, the town he had lived for more than fifty years.

Stadel Museum

Merchant and banker Johann Friedrich Städel of Frankfurt set forth in his will in 1815 that his sizeable collection of paintings, engravings and art objects be dedicated to the founding of one of Germany’s oldest art museums, the Städelsches Kunstinstitut. The art institute was to encompass not only a collection to which the public would have access, but also a facility for the education of each new generation of artists – the present-day Städelschule. The collection presently comprises some 2,900 paintings, 600 sculptures, 500 photographs and more than 100,000 drawings and prints. With its rich holdings, the Städel Museum presents an overview of seven hundred years of European art history – beginning with the early fourteenth century and covering the Renaissance, the Baroque, Early Modern and contemporary art. Among the highlights of this comprehensive collection are works by Holbein the Younger, Cranach the Elder, Dürer, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Vermeer, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Kirchner, Beckmann and Klee, Bacon, Klein, Serra, Richter, Kippenberger and Tillmans.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

British Library

We toured the British Library's medieval illuminations and herbals collection as well as the conservation studios.  I loved the conservation studios.  We were allowed to see how they repair all of the old, precious documents.  We also viewed the Olga Hirsch Collection.  Her husband Paul Hirsch was an acclaimed music collector.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Veiko Kespersaks

Another fabulous highlight to our trip was a visit to Veiko Kespersak's studio in London.  Veiko is a fabulous calligrapher who did the calligraphy for the movie, "The Tale of Despereaux."

Veiko Signing His Book, "Calligraphy in 24 1 Hr Lessons
Veiko's Book

Kew Gardens and the Shirley Sherwood Collection

We visited Key Gardens and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.  The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was founded in 1759.  Kew is a world leader in plant science and conservation.  Kew's Millennium Seed Bank now conserves over 32,749 species as seed samples from at least one population. This equals a stunning 1.9 billion seeds in the bank, with another 1.9 billion conserved in the countries of origin.  

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art opened at Kew Gardens in April 2008 and is the only continuously open gallery in the world dedicated solely to botanical art.  It holds regular exhibitions throughout the year featuring historical and contemporary botanical illustrations.