It’s Labor Day weekend, folks, so for those of you right here in the U.S. of A., enjoy. This will be a long weekend for most people, but I’m taking the whole week off from work. Yesterday began my ten-day stretch of sleeping late and not having to go into the office – proof that life can be good every now and then.

My good friend Dave Levingston had invited me to visit him in Ohio this week, and though he enticed me with the lure of some beautiful locations in which to photograph, I eventually had to put his offer on hold. I’d love to have gone, but I need to save money and I’ve got a ton of stuff to do right here at home. I’m planning to tackle some of that “stuff” this week, primarily developing film. I’ve got about 70 rolls to develop, going back to September last year, and I’d like to take care of at least 40. We’ll see. (I've already done three today, from September last year, and hope to do three more before my head hits the pillow tonight.)

Still, I began the weekend yesterday by going into Manhattan to pay a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m a member and hadn’t been there for a while so I was due. There are also some special exhibitions that are closing this weekend that I wanted to see.

The primary exhibit I wanted to see was one of 19th Century photographs, “Napoleon III and Paris.” This dealt with the changing of Paris from a medieval city (a place where one could not go out at night unless accompanied by a gang of armed men with lanterns) to the beautiful city we know today, based on the designs of Baron Hausmann.

This was a relatively small exhibition, placed in a smaller gallery, but it was nice to see these old salt and albumen prints and to marvel at the skills of those 19th Century photographers. There were some engravings and lithographs, too, including a striking one by Edouard Manet of a soldier killed during the Paris Commune riots – the type of thing that it would have been impossible to photograph with a large camera on a tripod due to the danger of the time and place.

Two photographs that depict this change in Paris are these by Charles Marville. The first here shows the Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche – a street that was basically unchanged since medieval times. Apparently much of Paris still looked like this in the middle of the 19th Century. This next image is a well known one by Marville showing one of the many ornate street lamps that were installed according to Hausmann’s plan. Finally, one of my favorite photos from the exhibit was this one by Pierre-Ambrose Richebourg made in 1871 during the time of the Paris Commune riots, showing guns barricaded with cobblestones. As I said, some of the photographers in the old days certainly knew what they were doing. You can see more photos from the exhibit by clicking here.

Following Paris, I went to see another exhibition, those of treasures from the National Museum in Kabul, Afghanistan. These were believed to have been lost due to the civil war and the Taliban, but they were found packed away in a vault in Kabul’s Presidential Palace. We tend to think of Afghanistan only as a place of recent conflict, but centuries ago it was one of the crossroads between east and west. It was also the easternmost outpost of the Hellenistic empire founded by Alexander the Great.

Many of the works on display came from some of those outposts, but there were also some amazing items made of gold from the late Third Millennium BCE and, especially, some beautifully crafted items found in tombs of local nomadic tribes from the First Century CE, such as the one below. After that I just wandered around, gazing upon favorites old and new. One of those new ones was a wonderful pastel drawing by Renoir titled “The Milliner.” This rendering of a shopgirl has got to be one of the most charming and delightful artworks I’ve ever seen. It’s just too bad that the only photo of it I could find is in B&W (below); the original is in color.
I do have to admit that I had one disappointment. One of the temporary exhibits that I failed to see was of Michelangelo’s first painting – something that apparently has recently been attributed to him following the painting’s cleaning and restoration. After I left the museum, I saw a sign outside promoting the exhibit. It noted that it, too, will be closing this weekend. In Italy I saw what may have been the last work that Michelangelo worked on. I guess I have only myself to blame for missing one of his first.

In the “Welcome” category, I’d like to thank Nettie R. Harris as a new Follower of the blog. Nettie is a wonderful model who I plan to work with in the near future, and her blog, Rhythm Before Unknown, is certainly worth following.

Finally, at the top, another photo from my trip to Colorado last year.

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