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Wanted: Swordsmith apprentices for Edinburgh master-at-arms

SCAtoday.net - Mon, 2014-03-31 06:26

Master-at-arms Paul Macdonald, of Macdonald Armouries in Edinburgh, Scotland, is looking for two apprentices. Qualifications include the ability to learn quickly and a passion for history.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Wadsworth Atheneum acquires Artemisia Gentileschi self-portrait

History Blog - Sun, 2014-03-30 23:57

The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, the oldest public art museum in the United States, has acquired a rare self-portrait of Baroque master Artemisia Gentileschi. Self-Portrait as a Lute Player was the leading lot in Christie’s Old Master Paintings auction on January 29th. With a pre-sale estimate of $3-5 million, the painting failed to meet the reserve and did not sell at the auction. Christie’s then offered it to the Wadsworth Atheneum which last December received a $9.6 million donation from the Charles H. Schwartz Fund for European Art earmarked for the acquisition of pre-19th century art. The final price the museum paid has not been released, but curator Oliver Tostmann says it was significantly less than the low estimate of $3 million.

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player is the first work by Artemisia Gentileschi in a New England museum. It’s also the first painting in the museum’s Baroque Italian art collection that was done by a woman. It will join works by her father, Orazio Gentileschi, and by Caravaggio, the great innovator of the age who was a strong influence on Artemisia’s mature work. Orazio is represented by a painting of Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes (1621-24), a subject that Artemisia returned to repeatedly in what may be her most famous and dramatic works. The Wadsworth Atheneum’s Caravaggio is Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy painted in 1594.

The Morgan Memorial Building, home of the Wadsworth’s European collection, is currently in the last two years of a five-year refurbishment project so Artemisia’s Lute Player won’t be on display right away. When the building reopens in Fall of 2015, she will be the centerpiece of the inaugural exhibition. The premier members of the museum’s Society of Daniel Wadsworth will be given a special preview of the work this spring (you can join, but it’ll cost ya $2,500.)

One of no more than three known self-portraits that are thought to have been painted by Artemisia Gentileschi (the others are Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting in the Royal Collection in London and the Allegory of Inclination, a fresco on the ceiling of the art gallery in Casa Buonarroti in Florence) is probably the most recognizable), Self-Portrait as a Lute Player was painted around 1616-1617 when Artemisia was 25 years old and had just been inducted into the prestigious Accademia del Disegno in Florence, the first woman ever to be accepted into that august assemblage of artists.

Her patrons included Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger, a great-nephew of the great Michelangelo, and Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. It’s likely that the latter commissioned Lute Player since it appears in the inventory of the Villa Medici at Artimino in 1638, only 20 or so years after it was painted. The inventory describes it as “A picture on canvas 1 1/2 braccia high and 1 1/4 braccia wide in a black frame bordered in gold, the portrait of Artemisia playing a lute painted by her own hand.” (A Florentine braccio is 58.4 centimeters, which would make the portrait 87.6 cm x 73 cm when in fact it’s 77.5 x 71.8 cm, but it was probably trimmed by idiots over the centuries. You can see the bottom edge crops the arm and lute awkwardly.)

Her success at the Florentine court was unprecedented for a woman and was all more astonishing considering the personal horror that brought her to the city. In 1611, when she was 17 years old, Artemisia Gentileschi was raped by Agostino Tassi, a colleague of her father’s and full-on psycho stalker who had already raped at least two women (his sister-in-law and one of his wives, the latter of whom disappeared and was probably murdered by bandits Tassi hired). The rape trial lasted seven months and all except a few final pages of the transcripts have survived. Artemisia, per standard legal practice in the Papal States at that time for all woman who accused someone of rape, was tortured with thumbscrews to prove she wasn’t lying. Tassi was convicted but only served eight months in prison after the judge pardoned him.

Even though Tassi’s testimony — denials coupled with completely fictitious claims about Artemisia’s purported promiscuity which fit handily into the blame-the-victim template that still haunts the halls of justice today — was blatantly false and widely seen as such, the scandal of the trial generated so much malicious gossip against her that a few months after Tassi’s conviction, she was hastily married to Pierantonio Stiattesi, a mediocre Florentine artist, and left Rome with him to start afresh in Florence where she supported them with her commissions. Her husband proved to be a deadbeat who ran up huge debts and forced her to leave Florence with creditors baying for blood. She dumped the bum and moved back to Rome in 1621 without him.

Her immense gifts have been recognized by art critics from the beginning, but for many centuries the rape trial overshadowed her talent. It was 20th century feminist analysis that brought Artemisia Gentileschi back into the spotlight to take her rightful place among the greatest artists of her era.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

"Impressive basilica" unearthed at Moshav Aluma

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-03-30 19:06

Archaeologists from the Israel Land Authority have discovered a 6th century Byzantine basilica, featuring "magnificent mosaic" floors, at Moshav Aluma, near Pelugot Junction, in Israel. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Construction workers uncover mass grave at the Uffizi

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-03-30 14:46

Construction workers at the site of a new elevator for Florence, Italy's famous Uffizi gallery were surprised to find not the usual Roman artifacts, but a mass grave that might contain over a thousand bodies.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Writing award recommendations in the Midrealm

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-03-30 10:14

Brynn Herleifsson reports that he has created a series of three video tutorials on how to write award recommendations using the Middle Kingdom's online forms. The tutorials are available on YouTube.

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Categories: SCA news sites

What is this hinged imperial white jade piece?

History Blog - Sat, 2014-03-29 23:56

An imperial white jade object from the 18th century that is as mysterious as it is beautiful will be going up for auction at Bonhams next month. Made for the Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1735-1796), sixth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the piece is made out of two hollowed rectangles that are connected to a central triangle via two hinges. They hinges work, allowing the rectangles to move from laid out straight to fully vertical.

The hinge-fitting embodies much of the artistic and historical pre-occupations of the Qianlong period. Carved from exceptionally fine and lustrous white stone, with even the minor flaws most cleverly incorporated into the scrollwork, the thinly hollowed supremely challenging yet technically flawless piece is representative of the highest skill of the 18th century craftsman. Furthermore it falls into a group of jade pieces carved with the Qianlong fanggu mark, specifically carved with archaistic designs inspired by archaic bronzes to reflect the concerns of the Qianlong Emperor with drawing moral strength and righteousness from the examples of the ancients.

The ancient bronze that inspired this piece was described in the 1751 catalog of the imperial bronzes as a “Han Dynasty ornament,” which means they had little idea what it was for either.

The Qianlong Emperor was a passionate collector of art. His agents would buy up entire private collections from people who had fallen in hard times or whose descendants didn’t want to be associated with them because they had taken the wrong side during the wars of the Qing Conquest. There are thousands of jade pieces in the imperial collection and almost all of them were acquired or commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor.

Although he was an artistic polyglot who welcomed the fusion of Chinese and Western styles (the famous bronze animal heads of the Chinese zodiac were made during his reign), the Qianlong Emperor saw himself first and foremost as the keeper of China’s artistic heritage. His collection of ancient bronzes was unparalleled, as was his collection of antique paintings. An incredibly prolific poet in his own right, he adopted a practice of the Song dynasty emperors and inscribed his poems on paintings in the collection.

That desire to integrate the glorious past of China’s cultural heritage and its glorious present as incarnated by him may be key to identifying the purpose of the hinged jade object. There is another hinged white jade piece similar to this one which is engraved with an imperial poem.

The poem appears to refer to the jade piece as a ‘ruler’ to be used to ‘compare lengths’ with ‘precisely fitting workmanship’. This pre-occupation with the idea of measuring is also connected to the idea of the benevolent ruler who is guided well.

That’s not to say this was its original purpose. The Han bronze may have had a whole other significance to which the Qianlong Emperor ascribed his own meaning.

The piece is estimated to sell for £200,000 to £300,000 ($333,000 – $500,000), but the market for Chinese antiquities is insane right now so those numbers could go increase geometrically. The auction catalog is not available yet. They’re usually released four weeks before the auction, so if you’d like to leaf through it, check this page the last week in April.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

St Piran's Oratory to be excavated

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-03-29 18:41

In 1910, the remains of St Piran's Oratory near Perranporth, Cornwall were encased in a concrete bunker to preserve them from the coast's harsh weather, but now archaeologists have received permission to excavate the sixth century chapel, believed to be Britain's oldest place of Christian worship. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Kings And Queen’s Rapier Champions: Queen’s Champion Named

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 17:41

Lord Thomas of Effingham was chosen by Her Majesty Avelina as her Queen’s Champion of Fence.


Filed under: Fencing Tagged: fencing, Kings and Queens Champion, rapier, rapier champions

King’s And Queen’s Fencing: New King’s Champion of Fence: Don Donovan Shinnock

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 16:01

Don Donovan Shinnock won the tournament and the title of King’s Champion of Fence.

Don Donovan beats Lord Lucien to win the title of King’s Champion of Fence

The finals between Lord Lucien de Wyntere and Don Donovan Shinnock were decided from the best of 5 bouts. The match went all 5 bouts, with Donovan taking the first, Lucien the next two, and Donovan the last 2. Each round was a different, matched weapons form.

The Gazette thanks Raziya Bint Rusa, Martyn de Halliwell, and Tola knityr for updates and photos throughout the day.

Filed under: Fencing Tagged: Kings and Queens Champions, rapier, rapier champions

King’s And Queen’s Rapier Champions: Finals

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 15:47

Don Donovan Shinnock will fight Lord Lucien de Wyntere in a best 3 out of 5 match to determine the King’s Rapier Champion.

Donovan and Lucien face off in an earlier round -photo by Tola

Gryffith vs. Brokk -photo by Tola








The Gazette thanks Raziya Bint Rusa, Martyn de Halliwell, and Tola Knityr for updates and photos throughout the day.

Filed under: Fencing Tagged: King and Queen's Champions

King’s and Queen’s Rapier: Final Six and Final Four

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 15:32

Gryffith Davion vs. Donovan Shinnock -taken by Tola

Thomas vs. Andre -Taken by Tola








At the Final Six:

In the undefeated list:

  • Lord Lucien de Wyntere
  • Don Donovan Shinnock

In the 1 defeat list

  • Mistress Xandra Rozina
  • Lord Brokk Jarlson
  • Lord Thomas of Effingham
  • Don Gryffith Davion

And down to Four:

  • Lord Lucien de Wyntere
  • Don Donovan Shinnock
  • Don Gryffith Davion
  • Lord Brokk Jarlson

Filed under: Fencing Tagged: King and Queen's Champions

King’s and Queen’s Rapier: Final 8

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 15:00

Thomas vs. Orlando photo by Tola knityr







  • Lord Lucien de Wyntere
  • Don Ogedei Becinjab
  • Don Andre L’Epevier
  • Mistress Xandra Rozina
  • Lord Brokk Jarlson
  • Lord Thomas of Effingham
  • Don Gryffith Davion
  • Don Donovan Shinnock

Ogedei vs. Christopher -photo by Tola knityr


The Gazette thanks Raziya Bint Rusa, Martyn de Halliwell, and Tola knityr for updates and photos throughout the day.

Filed under: Fencing Tagged: King and Queen's Champions

King’s And Queen’s Fencing: Round 3 Update

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 14:44


After the first 2 rounds of the double elimination tourney, the following fencers are still in contention for the title of King’s Champion of Fence:

  • Lucien de Wyntere
  • Ogedei Becinjab
  • Andre
  • Orlando Sforza
  • Xandra Rozina
  • Brokk Jarlson
  • Borujin Acilaldae
  • Thomas of Effingham
  • Gryffith Davion
  • Brendan
  • Christopher Serpentius
  • Donovan Shinnock

The Gazette thanks Raziya Bint Rusa, Martyn de Halliwell, and Tola knityr for updates and photos throughout the day.

Filed under: Fencing Tagged: King and Queen's Champions, rapier

King’s And Queen’s Rapier Champions: Sweet 16

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 14:29

On this last Saturday in March, 80 of our kingdom’s fencers vied for the titles of King’s and Queen’s Champions of Fence. In rapier, the King’s Champion title is held by the winner of the tourney, and the Queen’s Champion is chosen by Her Majesty, for courtesy and valor throughout the tourney.

The format for today’s tourney can be found in detail on the rapier announcements site.

The first round was fought in the following manner: 2 fencing bouts per pairing. The first bout fought using offensive weapons forms (Two rapiers, 2 handed rapier, rapier and dagger) and the second bout fought using defensive weapons forms (Rapier and buckler, Rapier and cloak, or single rapier with off hand if it is the only authorized form) Double kills were refought once, with a second double kill deemed a death for both combatants. The fights were scored using the following points system:

  • 4 points for winning both bouts
  • 3 points for winning offensive form bout only
  • 2 points for winning defensive form bout only
  • 0 points for losing both bouts

The top 16 fencers advanced to a double elimination tourney using a similar format, with best out of three instead of 2. The third bout was single rapier only. Each pairing could choose which order to fight the three forms in.

Advancing to the sweet sixteen were, in order of first fight:

The fencers who qualified for the final 16, both those who advanced, and those who declined to advance. -Photo by Martyn de Haliwell

  • Sorcha
  • Lord Lucien de Wyntere
  • Don Ogedei Becinjab
  • Don Andre L’Epevier
  • Don Orlando Sforza
  • Mistress Xandra Rozina
  • Lord William d’eth
  • Lord Brokk Jarlson
  • Lady Borujin Acilaldae
  • Lord Thomas of Effingham
  • Don Gryffith Davion
  • Lord Melchior Krievel
  • Lord Brendan Firebow
  • Baron Christopher Serpentius
  • Master Thomas de Castellan
  • Don Donovan Shinnock

(The Gazette is happy to update these with full names and titles, )



The Gazette thanks Raziya Bint Rusa, Martyn de Halliwell, and Tola knityr for updates and photos throughout the day.

Filed under: Fencing Tagged: King and Queen's Champions, Kings and Queens Champions, rapier

The basilica under the lake

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-03-29 14:21

The foundations of a 5th century Byzantine basilica have been discovered beneath the waters of Lake İznik near Bursa in northwest Turkey. The discovery was revealed by aerial photosgraphs. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Event Announcement: Carolingian Family Day

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-03-29 13:47

Join the Barony of Carolingia (northeastern Massachusetts) for a day full of activities for all ages on May 3rd. Spend the day trying out all the Society has to offer for our younger members, from youth combat to classes on all manners of arts and sciences, from dancing and music to thrown weapons. There will be equestrian activities, youth fencing, archery, and much more.

Come meet other parents with children around your child’s age with parent and child meet and greets, bring the garb your children have outgrown to swap with other parents, and enjoy a sumptious dayboard of kid-friendly treats prepared by Ulf and Justinius, under the supervision of Fergus Redmeade.

Teens and Tweens! Come learn to make cheese, help out in the kitchen, or work gate. Have a skill you know how to do? Come teach it to younger kids. Bring the Arts and Sciences project you are working on to display, learn a new skill in one of our classes or pick up a new martial art.

If you would like to teach a class, please contact Baroness Leonete. You do not need a background check or specific experience teaching children in order to teach, and we are happy to help you adapt your class for the younger set. We are especially looking for those under 18 willing to teach.

More information can be found at the event announcement or on the Facebook Event Page.

Feel free to crosspost this announcement

Yours in Service,

Baroness Leonete D’Angely

Lord Hrut Skumsonnur

Filed under: Events Tagged: archery, Carolingia, classes, fencing, thrown weapons, Youth, youth combat

Excavations at Cardigan Castle reveal part of original structure

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-03-29 09:50

Wales' Cardigan Castle, built in the late 12th century, was the site of recent excavations by NPS Archaeology revealing a section of the structure dating to the 1170s. Archaeologists also found over 9,000 artifacts including medieval pottery and rusted arrowheads. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Piece of cake from 1924 Vanderbilt wedding found

History Blog - Fri, 2014-03-28 23:48

A 90-year-old piece of cake from the wedding of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt to John Francis Amherst Cecil on April 29, 1924, has been rediscovered and donated to the Biltmore House collection. The small sliver of fruitcake, that most enduring of cake varietals, was found by Frederick Cochran when he was going through a trunk he inherited from his aunt Bonnie Revis, formerly a cook at Biltmore House. It was in a tiny beige box stamped “Biltmore House” on the lid.

Cochran looked inside and saw what he thought was a piece of cheese (fruitcake looks cheesy after a century, it seems). He called Biltmore House and reported his find. Biltmore Museum Services collections manager Laura Overbey went to Cochran’s home to examine the artifact and bring it back to the great estate in Asheville, North Carolina. She recognized the box from the two distinctive monograms on either side of the “Biltmore House” on the lid as those of Cornelia Vanderbilt and John F. A. Cecil, which marked the box and its contents as originating at their huge society wedding.

As far as she knew, however, there was no cheese gifting at the Vanderbilt-Cecil wedding. It wasn’t until she overheard a couple of conversations that she was able to put the pieces together.

Back at Biltmore, one of Overbey’s coworkers happened to be talking about “how a friend had found a piece of Grover Cleveland’s wedding cake” — and she realized what she likely had in the pretty little box. Even more coincidental, as she walked into the office of her director, Ellen Rickman, to tell her the news, she heard an oral history to which Rickman was listening, about Cornelia’s nuptials.

“Right as I was coming in the door, this gentleman (on the recording) is saying he remembers getting a small box of fruitcake for the wedding,” Overbey said. Thus it was that an interview done in 1989 helped a collections manager in 2014 to identify a piece of cake from 1924.

In the interview, an elderly Paul Towe, whose father worked at Biltmore in the 1920s and ’30s, recalled attending Cornelia’s wedding as a small boy. His sister, Sarah, was a flower girl, and he remembered that “everybody got a little white box with their name on it with a piece of fruitcake.”

That would explain why Bonnie Revis had a sliver of the cake, because it was widely distributed to all the staff and attendants, and she was cook from 1924 to 1935 (coincidentally almost exactly the duration of the Vanderbilt-Cecil marriage). Cornelia’s late father George Vanderbilt (grandson of railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt) and her mother Edith Stuyvesant Dresser were deeply involved in the Asheville community and employed hundreds of people at the estate. When Cornelia, only child of George and Edith, married the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil, third son of Lord Cecil and the Baroness Amherst of Hackney, direct descendant of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth I’s Lord High Treasurer, the entire town assembled outside All Souls’ Church to watch the couple and 1,000 guests arrive and depart.

Many workers at the Biltmore Estate were guests or actually part of the wedding. When the newlyweds left the church arm in arm after the ceremony, they and the wedding party walked through an arch of crossed flowering branches held by 44 children of Biltmore Estate staff. The youngest, Polly Ann Flower, greeted them at the end of the arch wearing a little white Cupid outfit.

There are no records surviving of what kind of wedding cake was served, but fruitcake was traditionally the groom’s cake, so it’s like this sliver was carved off John Cecil’s cake rather than whatever massive confection served as the primary wedding cake. It was made by Rauscher’s, identified by a stamp inside the bottom of the box, a bakery in Washington, D.C. George and Edith had a home on K Street in D.C., and Cornelia was staying there when she met Cecil. He was ten years older than her and an accomplished diplomat. When they met in 1923, he was the first secretary at the British Embassy and part of a group of highly eligible men known in D.C. society as the “British Bachelors.” Cornelia and John hit it off right away, announcing their engagement just a few months after they met.

John Cecil resigned his position before the wedding, choosing instead to focus on the management of the Biltmore Estate. It became his life-long vocation. He continued to live at and manage Biltmore until his death in 1954, twenty years after his divorce from Cornelia. She, on the other hand, got married to an English banker in 1949 and moved to England where she spent the rest of her life. John and Cornelia’s sons took over management of the estate after John’s death, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil running Biltmore Farms (the successful dairy farm branch), his younger brother William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil taking on the Biltmore Estate, including the house and vinyards he planted. Their children manage the estate today.

As for the piece of cake, it is now in the freezer, for historical rather than culinary preservation purposes. It is still inside its original gift box, protected by several nested Ziploc bags.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Yorkshire Museum covets Bedale Hoard

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2014-03-28 17:17

In 2012, a "nationally significant" Viking hoard, including a gold sword pommel and silver neck ring, was discovered in Bedale, North Yorkshire. Now the Yorkshire Museum hopes to buy the collection which is valued at UK£51,636.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Youth battle in Concordia of the Snows

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2014-03-28 13:46

Gavin Haley is the youth champion in the Northeast, in the East Kingdom. He, along with his comrades do battle each week, under the watchful eyes of his dad, Don “Asgar” Haley, as part of the youth combat program of the SCA groups Barony of Concordia of the Snows (based out of Albany, New York) and the Shire of Glenn Lynn. Eric Jenks of the Saratogian has the story.

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Categories: SCA news sites