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Posts Tagged "Medieval"

The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

High Ground

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012

In previous posts, we discussed the origins of chess in India centuries ago. For the final post of this blog, we turn to modern-day India, where chess remains as popular as ever.

The city of Banaras (or Varanasi), in Uttar Pradesh, India, is holy to Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is sometimes celebrated as the "City of Temples," of "Learning," or of "Lights." Located on the banks of the Ganges, it is also subject to relentless flooding.

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The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

End Game

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chess games are sometimes accurately represented in works of art, but that is not always the case. Consider, for example, this curiously theatrical photograph from the mid-nineteenth century.

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The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

A Good Companion

Elizabeth Morrison, Acting Senior Curator, Department of Manuscripts, J. Paul Getty Museum

Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I recently visited the Cloisters to see The Game of Kings with curator Barbara Drake Boehm. I had always admired the Lewis Chessmen and was delighted to see them up close. The clever way in which the pieces are displayed on modern reconstructions of black-and-white chessboards reminded me of a manuscript of chess problems found in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

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The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

Horsing Around

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2011

Long forelocks falling over the eyes, groomed manes, tails that reach to the ground, and a short, stocky frame distinguish the horses ridden by the Knights of the Lewis Chessmen. They seem to resemble today's Icelandic horses. I spoke to Heleen Heyning, a breeder of Icelandic horses at West Winds Farm in upstate New York. She immediately saw the resemblance between the Lewis horses and her own. She noted that Icelandic horses were known across Scandinavia in the Viking area and are thought to have been introduced to Iceland about the year 800. For the last thousand years—that is, since before the Lewis Chessmen were carved—there has been no crossbreeding of Icelandic horses. Therefore, the resemblance we see is not accidental.

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The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

Armed to the Teeth

Dirk H. Breiding, Assistant Curator, Department of Arms and Armor; and Michelle Jubin, Intern, Department of Arms and Armor

Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Knights from the Lewis group embody the visual ideal of a knight on horseback: a mounted warrior, protected by armor and shield, and armed with a sword and a spear, or lance. The Rooks (also known as Warders), rendered as battle-ready infantry, show very similar equipment (excluding the lance).

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About this Blog

This blog accompanied the special exhibition The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen from the Isle of Lewis, on view at The Cloisters November 15, 2011–April 22, 2012.