Sunday, 14 February 2016

La Selle d'Amour


This Italian saddle in wood and carved staghorn dating from about 1500 gives every impression of being acutely uncomfortable. Fortunately saddles like this were for ceremonial purposes, not for journeys of any length. I would guess by the word 'amor' featured on the seat that this one was made for a wedding procession, but it may not have been. Romantic tales of love and virtue, of knights and maidens, were a popular motif for carved bone objects in this period.


The staghorn is carved to give the appearance of ivory, but staghorn is cheaper, more easily available and stronger. The saddles show signs of polychrome painted decoration and gilding as well as signs of use. It seems there were good practical reasons for making them out of staghorn, even if that didn't include the comfort of the rider.

Simon photographed it for me last year in a temporary exhibition at the wonderful Cluny Museum in Paris. If I remember rightly it was on loan from a Florentine collection. There are only 29 of these saddles extant in the world, all held in museums.

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Loire Valley Nature: Two photos of a male have been added to the entry for Common Blue Polyommatus icarus. This little butterfly may be common, but the males are so pretty they always gain my attention.
A new entry has been added for Western Willow Spreadwing Lestes viridis, a common metallic emerald damselfly.


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A la cuisine hier: I was thoroughly grossed out whilst washing up. Washing up, or more precisely, washing up water, is amongst the grossest substances on Earth, but yesterday had added grossness. As I was scrubbing away at some pan or other I noticed that a sizeable Leopard Slug Limax maximus was emerging into the sink from the overflow trap. The gap available for this manoeuvre was only a couple of millimetres, but the slug was able to squeeze through with no problem despite its size. Normally I'm a live and let live kind of creature, and don't mind slugs going about their daily business. But this was too much. Since I was wearing gloves I grabbed it and after a bit of a tussle managed to extract it and dispose of it. Simon is now working on ideas for flooding the overflow with boiling brine in case there is a family down there. They certainly live somewhere in the kitchen or laundry, as we are always finding them (or evidence of where they've been) indoors.

7 comments:

  1. I like Leopard Slugs...
    Yes they are absolutely GROSS...
    but I would have grabbed my camera before putting it back outside...
    besides, if you'd waited, it might have started singing!!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4hnBixaLmk0#
    Enjoy!!

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    1. I'd forgotten about the slugs in Flushed Away. Fantastic! Many thanks for the link :-)

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  2. ewwww....well at least they cant outrun you

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    1. No but they are remarkably difficult to get a grip on if you are wearing rubber gloves.

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  3. Replies
    1. Did you try swishing them around in the dishwashing water? It's bound to improve the flavour...

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    2. Slugs are only snail shell stuffing after all!!
      After the boiling brine, just add lots of garlic and herby butter.....

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