Warrior Pope at this best!
Saturday was our travel day from Ostia Antica to Colordesoli, up in Tuscany. Before we left Ostia Antica, we wanted to take the opportunity to visit the papal castle of Julius II, as it is open for visiting during the weekend.
I mentioned Julius II in a previous post; he was nicknamed ‘The Fearsome Pope’ or ‘The Warrior Pope’ likely due to his rather active foreign policy. He was elected to the papacy unanimously in 1503, due to a bit of backroom dealing, in which he made the Borgias believe that they would get lots of money as a result of his election.
However, upon getting elected, he stated:
“I will not live in the same rooms as the Borgias lived. He [Alexander VI] desecrated the Holy Church as none before. He usurped the papal power by the devil’s aid, and I forbid under the pain of excommunication anyone to speak or think of Borgia again. His name and memory must be forgotten. It must be crossed out of every document and memorial. His reign must be obliterated. All paintings made of the Borgias or for them must be covered over with black crepe. All the tombs of the Borgias must be opened and their bodies sent back to where they belong—to Spain.”
He very much became his own Pope and was ambitious in building, as much as striking out into foreign lands. His building projects included the destruction and rebuilding of the St. Peter Basilica (it wasn’t big enough before) and the commission of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.
The castle in Ostia Antica is not huge by castle standards, but nonetheless very impressive. It is clearly set up for battle, both inside the castle and taking on any siege that may be laid upon it. Canon and gun ports are everywhere, and they even used the residual heat from gun fire to warm that water for bathing. In its more recent past, the castle has also been used as a prison, as evidenced by prisoner’s markings on the walls of cells, counting down the days till their death.
The guided tour of the castle is full of information, and even though our tour was in Italian, a couple of our fellow tour participants were nice enough to provide us English translation of a number of tour highlights. So, if you’re in Ostia Antica during a weekend, check out the Castello de Giulio II!
A Fresh Perspective
Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment.
Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael.
My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals.
My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation.
This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections.
Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client.
And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!
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