Friday, September 2, 2016

Dog Days of Summer - A girl, her dog, & a few flowers

William Sergeant Kendall (1896-1938) Girl with Her Dog 1909

Dog Days of Summer is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was determined to extend from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) & the sun.  The Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) & Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer, in their writings, to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation, that the later Romans, & we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation. Homer, in the Iliad, references the association of "Orion's dog" (Sirius) with oncoming heat, fevers, & evil, in describing the approach of Achilles toward Troy:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

The term "dog days" was used by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.  Astronomer Geminus, around 70 B.C., wrote: "It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the 'dog days,' but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun"s heat is the greatest." The lectionary of 1559 edition of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer indicates: "Naonae. Dog days begin" with the readings for July 7 & end August 18. But the readings for September 5 indicate: "Naonae. Dog days end."  This corresponds very closely to the lectionary of the 1611 edition of the King James Bible which indicates the Dog Days beginning on July 6 & ending on September 5.

Waterside with Frenchman Pierre Auguste Renoir 1841-1919

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Children on the Seashore Guernsey 1883

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) On the Beach, Figures under a Parasol 1898

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) By the Seashore 1883

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Children on the Seashore Guernsey 1883

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Figures on the Beach 1890s

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Two Little Girls at the Beach

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) The Beach at Purnic

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Young Girls on the Beach 1898

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) By the Water

Madonnas attributed to Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678)

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) Madonna and Child in Large Flower Garland

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) Adoration of the Shepherds

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) Holy Family and St John the Baptist

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) The Holy Family 1616

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) The Holy Family with St Anne, John the Baptist, and his parents

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) The Holy Family

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) The Nativity

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.