Grand Canyon at twilight.

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Grand Canyon at twilight.

Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet / 1,800 metres) Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists, recent evidence suggests the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River continued to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.

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Albi Cathedral Nave

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia (French: Basilique Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile d’Albi), also known as Albi Cathedral, is the most important Catholic building in Albi, France, and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Albi (in full, Albi-Castres-Lavaur). First built as a fortress in the aftermath of the Albigensian Crusade; begun in 1282 and under construction for 200 years, it is claimed to be the largest brick building in the world. In 2010 the cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The present cathedral was preceded by other buildings. The first dated from the fourth century and in 666 was destroyed by fire. The second is recorded in 920 by the name of Saint Cecilia, the present-day patroness of musicians. It was replaced in the thirteenth century by a Romanesque cathedral in stone.

The Brick Gothic cathedral was constructed in brick between 1287 and 1480 in the wake of the Cathar Church, a Christian non-trinitarian dualist movement with an episcopal see at Albi around 1165 AD. Pope Innocent III initiated a brutal crusade (“Cathar Crusade”, 1209–1229) to extinguish Catharism in southern France, with great loss of life to area residents. In the aftermath of the bloodshed, the cathedral’s dominant presence and fortress-like exterior were intended to convey the power and authority of the trinitarian Roman Catholic Church. The instigator of the cathedral’s construction was Bernard de Castanet, Roman Catholic Bishop of Albi and Inquisitor of Languedoc. Work on the nave was completed about 1330.

The cathedral is built in the Southern Gothic Style. As suitable building stone is not found locally, the structure is built almost entirely of brick. Notable architectural features include the bell-tower (added in 1492), which stands 78 metres (256 ft) tall, and the doorway by Dominique de Florence (added circa 1392). The nave is the widest Gothic example in France at 60 feet (18 m). The interior lacks aisles which are replaced by rows of small chapels between brick internal buttresses, making Albi a hall church. Compared with regular Gothic, the buttreses are almost entirely submerged in the mass of the church. The principal entry is on the south side through an elaborate porch entered by a fortified stair, rather than through the west front, as is traditional in France.

The side chapels in the nave received overhead galleries in the 15th century, diminishing their impact.

The elaborate interior stands in stark contrast to the cathedral’s military exterior. The central chœur, reserved for members of the religious order, is surrounded by a roodscreen with detailed filigree stone work and a group of polychrome statues.

Below the organ, a fresco of the Last Judgement, attributed to unknown Flemish painters, originally covered nearly 200 m² (the central area was later removed).

In the middle register of the painting, angels blow trumpets announcing the resurrection and the judgement. The dead rise up from their tombs.

The composition marks the rupture between Christ and the condemned, separated by a gloomy, greenish sky. The dead all carry around their necks the book of their good and bad actions, indicating that each shall be judged by their deeds on earth and that holy mercy alone does not suffice to assure salvation.

Hell appears as an underground world of despair, far from God. Disorder and chaos constitute its fundamental structure: swarming promiscuous masses, pandemonium, foetid, nauseating odours and an infernal din. Monsters proliferate; hideous clawed, flabby skinned demons arouse fear and loathing. Some have the heads of goats; putrid, diabolical creatures, symbolising lust.

An immense garden of torment, hell is represented as a furnace. Streaks of colour show the omnipresence of the fire burning, but not consuming, the damned. Other tortures are represented, the breaking wheel, forced feeding, boiling in giant cauldrons and impalement.

In this terrible world physical suffering (we see mouths pathetically screaming in horror) is accompanied by moral suffering which goes with the eternal separation from God.

Hell is organised into seven sectors, the same as the number of deadly sins. The first, at the left, corresponds to pride, which led Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and to fall into lust, which, with its accompanying punishment, features at the far right.

Between the two we see successively the punishments meted out to the envious, the wrathful, the slothful and the greedy. The lazy and their punishment were lost in the 17th century.

The frescoes on the enormous vaulted ceiling comprise the largest and oldest ensemble of Italian Renaissance painting in France.

The origin of the classic organ whose actual case remains, is attributed to Christophe Moucherel (1736). This gigantic organ (width : 16.2 m) has been restored by Francois & Jean-Francois Lepine (1747), Joseph Isnard (1779), Antoine Peyroulous (1824).

It was then transformed into a romantic organ by Claude brothers (1840), Thibault Maucourt (1865), Puget Co. (1904).

After the study of the Historic Organ Committee in 1960s, they confirmed a restauration to a classic instrument by Schwenkedel in 1971 and by Bartholomeo Formentelli in 1977 who restored it in 1981.
(Description from Wikipedia and mypipeorganhobby.blogspot).

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Banff National Park

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

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© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

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Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park, established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains.

The park, located 110–180 kilometres (68–112 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast.

Over the past few million years, glaciers have at times covered most of the park, but today are found only on the mountain slopes though they include the Columbia Icefield, the largest uninterrupted glacial mass in the Rockies. Erosion from water and ice have carved the mountains into their current shapes.

Johnston Creek is a tributary of the Bow River in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. The creek is located in Banff National Park.

Johnston Creek originates north of Castle Mountain in a glacial valley southwest of Badger Pass and south of Pulsatilla Pass, at an elevation of 2,500 meters (8,200 ft). The creek flows southeast between Helena Ridge and the Sawback Range, and then south through a gorge known as Johnston Canyon. The stream empties into the Bow River, south of Castle Mountain, between Banff and Lake Louise, at an elevation of 1,440 meters (4,720 ft).

As Johnston Creek approaches the Bow River, it flows through a large canyon formed by erosion over thousands of years. The creek has cut through the limestone rock to form sheer canyon walls, as well as waterfalls, tunnels, and pools.

A popular hiking trail follows the canyon and leads to a meadow within the Johnston Valley above the canyon. The first part of the trail consists of a constructed walkway with safety rails and bridges, while the last part of the trail is natural and more rugged. Within the meadow are the Ink Pots, which are six blue-green spring-fed pools.

Ice climbing is a popular activity on the frozen waterfalls in winter. (Description from Wikipedia).

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Our Lady Chapel detail in the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder Amsterdan BW

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Our Lady chapel detail in the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), a 17th-century canal house in the city center of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The canal house on the 14th century canal Oudezijds Voorburgwal, currently on number 40, was built in 1630. Between 1661 and 1663 the top three floors of the house were changed into a house church. The building was renovated in the 18th and 19th century.

The Catholic Church was built on the top three floors of the canal house during the 1660s. It is an important example of a “schuilkerk”, or “clandestine church” in which Catholics and other religious dissenters from the seventeenth century Dutch Reformed Church, unable to worship in public, held services.

Since there is no room for an altar to Mary in the Attic Church, the area behind the main altar has been set up as a chapel to Our Lady. Immediately alongside the altar, there is a multi-coloured limewood statue of Maria (circa 1690) thought to originate from the Attic Church. She carries Jesus under her arm and is standing on the crescent moon. She has a snake caught under her feet, a symbol of all evil.

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Saskia Rembrandt’s tomb

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Description

Saskia Rembrandt’s tomb in Oude Kerk (Old church), Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Saskia van Uylenburgh (August 2, 1612 – June 14, 1642) was the wife of painter Rembrandt van Rijn. In the course of her life she was his model for some of his paintings, drawings and etchings. She was the daughter of a Frisian mayor.

Saskia was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, the youngest of the eight children of Sjoukje Ozinga and Rombertus van Uylenburgh, a top lawyer, a town burgomaster, and one of the founders of the University of Franeker.

In 1631 and in the company of the Mennonite painters Govert Flinck and Jacob Backer, traveled to Amsterdam. There she met Rembrandt, who produced paintings and portraits for Uylenburgh’s Amsterdam clients. In turn Rembrandt travelled to Leeuwarden, where he was received by the painter Wybrand de Geest, who had married Saskia’s niece.

Saskia and Rembrandt were engaged in 1633, and on 10 June 1634 Rembrandt asked permission to marry in Sint Annaparochie. He showed his mother’s written consent to the schepen. On 2 July the couple married. The preacher was Saskia’s cousin, but evidently none of Rembrandt’s family attended the marriage. That Saskia fell in love with an artist who was socially no match for the daughter of a patrician and that she pressed for a speedy betrothal against all conventions certainly shows that she was a very strong and independent character. In 1635 the couple moved to one of the most desirable addresses in Amsterdam, the Nieuwe Doelenstraat, with prominent neighbors and a view of the river Amstel.

Three of their children died shortly after birth and were buried in the nearby Zuiderkerk. The sole survivor was Titus, who was named after his mother’s sister Titia (Tietje) van Uylenburgh. Saskia died the year after he was born, in Amsterdam, aged 29, probably from tuberculosis. She was buried in the Oude Kerk.[7] For ten years Rembrandt focused on drawings and etchings.

In 1662 Rembrandt, having been in financial trouble for several years, sold Saskia’s grave. Hendrickje died the following year.

The vase of flowers is part of the work ‘Celebration (you only live once)(you only die once)’ that Job Koelewijn (NL, 1962) has created especially for the exhibition “Once in a lifetime” (12 May – 28 August 2016). The work consists of an installation of vases with colourful, fragrant flowers. The vases are placed carefully on the church’s tombstone floor, in memory of the dead who were buried here many centuries ago.

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An empty cell in Old Cork City Gaol BW

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Cork City Gaol is a former prison located in Cork City, Ireland.

In 1806 an Act of Parliament was passed to allow the building of a new Cork City Gaol to replace the old Gaol at the Northgate Bridge (the old Gaol which was nearly 100 years was on a confined site and was overcrowded & unhygienic).

A site on Sunday’s Well was eventually chosen, its altitude being seen as an advantage for containing “Gaol fever” (typhus). The site, its approach roads and perimeters was commenced in 1816 and the building of the prison proper started in 1818. The building was designed by William Robertson of Kilkenny and built by the Deane family.

The new Cork City Gaol opened in 1824 & was reported as being “the finest in 3 kingdoms”. In 1870 the west wing was remodelled into a double sided cell wing.

When the prison opened in the 1820s it housed both male and female prisoners, whose crimes were committed within the city boundary. Anyone committing a crime outside that boundary were committed to the County Gaol, across the river from the City Gaol near University College Cork. The Fenian Brian Dillon was remanded at Cork City Gaol when he was arrested in September 1865.

The 1878 General Prisons Act reorganised the prisons in Cork. The Cork City Gaol became a Women’s Gaol (for Cork City and Cork County) and the Cork County Gaol near UCC became the men’s gaol (for Cork City and Cork County). On the day the change came into effect male prisoners were marched out of the Sunday’s Well Prison and over to the Western Road Gaol, while the women were marched in the opposite direction.

Nineteenth Century.
Many of the prisoners in the late 19th Century were repeat offenders locked up for what would not today be imprisonable offences; for example, a woman named Mary Tucker from Rathmore in County Cork was imprisoned at least three times between 1849 and 1908, sometimes for offences such as ‘Obscene Language’ or ‘Drunkenness’.

Twentieth Century.
During the Irish War of Independence Republican women prisoners were imprisoned in the Gaol. In October 1919, Constance Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament, was imprisoned at Cork Gaol for making a seditious speech. In January 1919, another member of Cumann na mBan, Mary Bowles, was imprisoned for arms offences. Later that month a Republican prisoner named Dolly Burke escaped from the prison.

In 1922 and 1923, the prison was opened to male and female Republican (anti-treaty) prisoners of the Irish Civil War. One of those imprisoned at the time was the writer Frank O’Connor.

A spectacular escape was made from the Gaol in November 1923. The escapees were high-value prisoners who had been sent to the Gaol as it was “the safest place to hold them”.

The Gaol closed in August 1923 with all remaining prisoners either released or transferred to other prisons.

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A Scene In Oude Kerk Amsterdam

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Two works of the exhibition “Once in a lifetime” (12 May – 28 August 2016) in Oude Kerk (Old church), Amsterdam, Netherlands.

1.- In the work ‘Heritage’ by Folkert de Jong (NL, 1972), and older man and child are sitting on a stack of pallets. Downcast and timid they stare straight ahead. In the monumental church they seem particularly vulnerable and lonely. Where do they come from? What are they waiting for? What is making them so dejected? By calling the work Heritage, Folkert de Jong is alluding to the fact that we are not only responsible for our behaviour in the present, but are responsible for the behaviour of our predecessors in the past as well. Typical of Folkert de Jong’s work is his use of coloured styrofoam and polyurethane foam. These materials are not intended to last for eternity and are not environmentally friendly whatsoever. It is this disturbing property that intrigues the artist. In his sculptures he often refers to dark events in the past, which he then relates to contemporary events with an ironic twist, connecting the history of art with the present day.

2.- The work ‘Celebration (you only live once)(you only die once)’ that Job Koelewijn (NL, 1962) has created especially for the exhibition consists of an installation of vases with colourful, fragrant flowers. The vases are placed carefully on the church’s tombstone floor, in memory of the dead who were buried here many centuries ago. Flowers are used at many moments in life as an expression of joy, but they are also used at moments that are coupled with sorrow, as an expression of love and solace for the bereaved. In the church the flower arrangements leave a solemn, serene and at the same time slightly absurd impression. Who are we commemorating here and for whom do the flowers provide solace? Job Koelewijn’s work is often conceptual in character, but is at the same time strongly sensual and always alludes to reality. The subjects of ‘time’ and ‘timelessness’ play an important part in his work, which ranges from photos and films to small objects and space-filling installations. Koelewijn often uses materials that appeal to our sense of touch and smell, that possess a great fragility and ‘purity’.

The 800-year-old Oude Kerk (“old church”) is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church, founded ca. 1213 and consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht with Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. After the Reformation in 1578 it became a Calvinist church, which it remains today. It stands in De Wallen, now Amsterdam’s main red-light district. The square surrounding the church is the Oudekerksplein.

Today, the Oude Kerk is a centre for both religious and cultural activities and can be rented for presentations, receptions and dinner parties. Among the events hosted is the prestigious annual World Press Photo awards ceremony. The venue hosts many concerts with performers including the BBC Singers and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

The plaque at the pillar is dedicated to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), a Dutch composer, organist, and pedagogue whose work straddled the end of the Renaissance and beginning of the Baroque eras. He was among the first major keyboard composers of Europe, and his work as a teacher helped establish the north German organ tradition.
(Description from oudekerk.nl and Wikipedia)

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