London Museums

The first three days of our trip were spent in London, and we toured one museum each day.

We began with the British Museum, which houses the treasures Britain has accumulated from around the globe.

The building itself is the largest glass-ceilinged building in the world, and the fascinating architecture continually draws your eye upward.

One of the greatest treasures of the British Museum, and definitely a highlight for me, is the Rosetta Stone. It is the stone that enabled mankind to crack the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Rameses II.

This is one of the earliest known libraries. It belonged to King Ashurbanipal of Assyria. The placard next to this library said, "Ashurbanipal was always proud of being literate and boasted of his learnedness. Some of these texts were written in his own hand. His sister and his wife also learned to write." Amazing!

There is one large room devoted to the Parthenon frieze and sculptures. While the Parthenon still stands in Greece, these pieces once adorned its sides and crowned its top.

The Greek emphasis on their flowing textiles really caught my eye at this museum. Such beautiful work. You can almost feel the folds and drapes in the fabric.

In the galleries not devoted to ancient art, these two items caught my eye. The first is an early, Celtic shield.

And this is an early automaton (c. 1585). The placard read, "This spectacular machine, in the form of a medieval galleon, was intended to announce banquets at court. The entertainment began with music from a miniature organ inside the hull, drumming and a procession. Afterwards, the ship would travel across the table. When it stopped, as a grand finale, the front cannon would automatically fire, lighting a fuse that would fire the other guns."

The next day, we explored the many rooms of the National Portrait Gallery. 

Among my favorites of the day were these well-known portraits of: Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, and John Bunyan.

And this painting, which spanned nearly the width of a large room, just made me gasp. So beautifully captured! The artist may surprise you. It did me! It was painted by John Singer Sargent, probably better known for painting elegantly attired, late-Victorian women than military leaders.

Another of my favorites was this life-size sculpture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Such devotion captured in stone!

And on our third day, we visited the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is a museum to the decorative arts, or, as I've heard it Martha Stewart-types will enjoy. Oh yes. I'll take that! It's mostly known for its extensive textile collection. However, I will be sharing the textile pictures in another posting.

A Raphael.

A fascinating small item that piqued my interest.

And lastly, this parade shield from Florence, Italy struck me as so beautiful. What workmanship!

Next posting: Textile Touring.

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