Welcome! This website has information on courses I'm teaching at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies and assorted musings on art.  Click on the labels at right to find particular topics. Thanks for visiting, and if you'd like to get in touch, it's isherwood dot barbara at g mail dot com.

History of Furniture course coming soon!

Please join me for The History of Furniture, Tuesdays, April 2 to May 7, 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. We’ll be looking at the stories behind furniture masterpieces from ancient times to today. Fun! The course is being offered through the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Registration information is here.

Some pics from Ireland!

Children of Lir (detail) by Oisín Kelly, 1966. Taken from a pagan legend, the story of children who were turned into swans symbolizes the rebirth and resurrection of Ireland (you can't see the pre-swan children in this detail.)
Giant red squirrel made from waste by Portuguese artist Bordalo II highlights the plight of the red squirrel in Ireland. It is part of the artist's Trash Animal series. Brilliant!
Most of the Dublin Castle is 18th century, when Rococo stuccowork was in vogue. This is part of a lovely ceiling in one of the state apartments.

Replica of the 10th century Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise, in its original location, and actual cross, housed for safekeeping in the excellent interpretive centre. At right is a proposed colour scheme. Hard to imagine that these weathered surfaces were once brightly coloured!
Lockes Distillery.

Castle Dunguaire, 16th century.
Lahinch Beach, County Clare. So beautiful!
I was very excited to see Poulnabrone Dolmen, the portal tomb dated from 4200 to 2900 BCE.
Beehive hut on the Dingle Peninsula, ca. 2000 BCE.
Inside the Beehive hut, which apparently never leaks. It is made with the dry stone technique - no mortar!

Sign in outhouse on farmer's property where the beehive tombs are.

The aforementioned sheep, with Atlantic Ocean in background.
 Beautiful Harry Clarke stained glass window in Dingle. Clarke was Ireland's foremost stained glass artist in the 1920s.
Gallarus Oratory, an early Irish stone church dating to the 12th century.
Inside the Oratory.
Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula.
Killarney, 11pm.
Lady's View, Ring of Kerry.
King of Kerry
St Canice's Cathedral, 13th century, Kilkenny.
The residents of Kilkenny are called Kytelers!
At the Rock of Cashal.
Muiredach's Cross at Monasterboice, ca. 900-920. It was bigger than I expected.
Another view of Muiredach's Cross.
Newgrange Passage Tomb, ca. 3200 BCE. Older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids! The exterior was restored using the original building stones found on site.
Entrance stone at Newgrange. Interpretations of the spirals include sun symbols, signs of infinity, constellations, maps, expressions of psychotropic visions…The tomb is aligned to the solstice, so the sun symbol makes sense. 
Slane Abbey. St Patrick is traditionally believed to have lit the first Easter fire on the hill in defiance of the pagan High King Lóegaire. The ruins date to the 16th century.
Traditional music at the Cobblestone in Dublin.
Dublin's River Liffey by night.
Dublin has some gorgeous Victorian buildings.
Beautiful Victorian font in Christchurch Cathedral.

Original Medieval tiles in Christchurch.
Christchurch, in the Early English Gothic Style.
The St Patrick’s Tower, ca. 1757, Dublin.
Formal garden at Irish Museum of Modern Art. The building and grounds date to the 17th century, when it was a home for retired soldiers.

Our hotel, the Leeson Inn, had original Robert Adam furniture in the lobby.

Dalkey, with view of a Martello Tower. These round defensive towers were built in the 19th century. 

View of Irish sea from Dalkey.

Fabulous Frederician! The Loveliest Room in Berlin

Golden Gallery, Charlottenburg, Berlin, 1740s.

Rococo may have sprouted in France, but it blossomed in Germany. During the 18th century, France was the leader of style, and for rulers of present day Germany’s many states, decorating in the French style was a way to demonstrate their sophistication.

Golden Gallery, Charlottenburg.
So accepted was the cultural domination of France that Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1712-1786), could read French better than his native German. When it came time to add a new wing to Charlottenburg, the Berlin palace he’d inherited from his father, Frederick Wilhelm, Frederick the Great hired a team well versed in the style then called “le goût nouveau” or “the French taste.”

Golden Gallery, Charlottenburg.

Supervising architect, Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff (1699-1753), had studied in Paris on Frederick’s tab, while sculptor Johann August Nahl the Elder (1710-1781) had collaborated with noted French designer, Nicolas Pineau. The pair are credited with developing the form of Rococo known as Frederician.

Trellis motif in the Golden Gallery.

While it features the requisite Rococo S and C curves, and of course cupids up the wazoo, what distinguishes the Frederician style is the plentiful references to gardens and nature. Frederick the Great was known for his interest in horticulture, and had his summer palace at Sanssouci designed so that he could walk straight out into the garden.

Cherubs, grapes and birds in the Golden Gallery.

The first thing one notices in the famous Golden Gallery in the New Wing at Charlottenburg is the colour, an extraordinary delicate green that balances the copious amount of gilt stucco. Windows on both of the long sides illuminate the assortment of cherubs, birds, flowers and plants that spread out over the walls and ceiling in delightful asymmetrical fashion.

Candelabra in the Golden Gallery.

Charlottenburg was extensively damaged in WWII and when yours truly visited (June 2017) parts were closed due to on-going restoration work. But the Golden Gallery was what I most wanted to see, and I'm please to say it quite exceeded my expectations. Thanks Frederick, you made my trip!

To find out more about Charlottenburg and the Golden Gallery click here.