Tag Archives: photography

Ancient Imagination: A Roman griffin in the Vatican Museum

Updated with this preamble to the photo: I’ve been fascinated with winged gods, goddesses, monsters, and other creatures, mostly from the pre-Christian era. So I will share several upcoming photos, which will include sculptures and other renderings of pre-Christian gods, goddesses, monsters, and other creatures that look a lot like Christian angels yet originate in pagan classical civilizations.

I’m curious about imagination and how it creates unreal, or at least unseen, things. What is it about the human imagination, or about ancient civilizations, that brought about these winged beings?

Maybe it wasn’t much of a step for the mind to see wings and imagine them on human bodies. Maybe — although it seems very unlikely to me — these creatures exist in some other dimension or some Platonic realm of forms. Whatever the source or sources of winged things, through the course of the past 6 years, my curiosity drove me to take hundreds of photos of ancient and medieval art, sculpture, and architecture in England, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Italy.

A Roman griffin in the Vatican Museum; photo by Colin Foote Burch for Public Work, https://liturgical.wordpress.com .

A Roman griffin in the Vatican Museum, photographed Oct. 10, 2014.

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Inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, October 2014

Updated to correct the photo and add another.

Photo taken inside Saint Peter's Basilica, October 2014. Photography by Colin Foote Burch for the Public Work blog, https://liturgical.wordpress.com.

Photo of the side of the altar area, inside Saint Peter's Basilica, October 2014. Photography by Colin Foote Burch for the Public Work blog, https://liturgical.wordpress.com. Travel. Italy. Vatican City. Rome.

Christ busted

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Florence Postcard: Inside the dome of the Florence Cathedral

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On the way up 400-plus steps to the top of Florence Cathedral, a loop around a narrow interior gallery provides a closer look at the dome.

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Florence Postcard: From the Top of the Cathedral

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Ancient Imagination: Hero versus griffin in Persepolis

Ancient Imagination: Hero versus griffin in Persepolis

“Cast of royal hero from doorway … Persepolis, Iran … About 490-470 B.C.” Photographed at the British Museum, Jan. 8, 2010.

I’m curious about the sources of ancient imagination — why our ancestors saw similar things in their minds’ eyes. During the past four years, I’ve been able to travel overseas quite a bit, and I’ve photographed numerous strange creatures in art, architecture, and museums.

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Marcus Aurelius on ancient Roman coins

Marcus Aurelius on ancient Roman coins

Photographed at the Museum of London on January 4, 2011. (c) 2011 Colin Foote Burch