Traveling with Art: The Island of Capri, Italy

 

Capri is a stunning island in Italy on the south side of the Gulf of Naples. The island was especially made known in the 19th century through its favorable depiction from artists and writers.

 

The painting you see above shows the brilliant teal waters surrounding the island. It was painted by Giuseppe Salvati, an artist born in Naples in 1900. Capri has a rich history, including settlement in the Roman era and possibly before then in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. In the Middle Ages the island experienced various pirate raids.

 

Capri especially gained popularity from a mid-1800’s book called “Discovery of the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri” by August Kopisch, in which Kopisch favorably describes his stay on the island. Various artists and writers soon came to stay on the island, creating an artist culture that also helped promote the place through works of art and stories.

 

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Portrayal of the Blue Grotto by Jakob Alt.

Today, Capri is a popular destination visited by both Italian and foreign tourists.Capri’s Blue Grotto is its most visited attraction. The Grotto is a sea cave that sunlight shines into from an underwater cavity and through the water, making the cave glow with blue light. Roman sculptures of Neptune and Triton have been found inside the cave, likely from the time of Emperor Tiberius. The discovery of the sculptures made the cave an especially significant emblem of Capri.

 

Tourists swarm Capri during the summer over its peak times of May through September, and locals have the island mostly to themselves for the rest of the rainy year.

Traveling with Art: North Wales

North Wales is a hidden gem full of beautiful landscapes and quiet escapes. It may be small, but that doesn’t mean it’s not full of places to explore. The oil painting above shows a mountain in North Wales, probably in the Snowdonia region. The peace of Wales translates itself to the calm, golden colors of the painting.

 

Plenty of art has been inspired by North Wales, an unofficial region in the country of Wales. The London and North Western Railway once made some postcards to advertise landmarks of the area:

 

w1Conwy Castle (spelled “Conway” on the postcard) is a Medieval castle built in the 13th century. It withstood several wars and saw several holdups. In 1665 it was stripped of its remaining iron and lead to be sold — leaving it functioning mainly just for tourism as it does today.

 

 

w2The quaint seaside town of Llandudno has been titled “Queen of the Welsh Resorts.” The land it settles on formed over many hundreds of years through the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age on the limestone headland.

 

The town of Beddgelert has a fascinating tale surrounding it. A legend says that a dog named Gelert belonged to Llywelyn the Great. Llywelyn returns one day to find that his baby is missing and Gelert is nearby with blood on his mouth. Thinking the worst, Llywelyn kills Gelert. But then he hears a baby wail from the corner of the room — his child is alive, and next to him lies a dead wolf. Llywelyn buries the dog and is said to never have smiled again. Beddgelert is named after the faithful hound in this story; there’s a mound named Gelert’s Grave in the town, although there’s no evidence that the story is actually true.

 

These are just a few gems among the area of North Wales. Which one would you want to visit?

Traveling with Art: Avalon Harbor in Catalina Island, California

The stunning Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island is a tiny, tourism-centered town with a rich history where visitors can go today for excellent boating and other seaside adventures.

The painting you see above is by Marie Antoinette Ney, an artist who helped popularize many California missions and landscapes through her art. This watercolor of the harbor features small sailboats next to colorful orange and brown reflections in the still water.

The history of the bay starts with a Native American tribe of Gabrielino/Tongva people who inhabited the island for almost 7,000 years. They developed a marine-based culture, living a life dependent on the bay.

But when Spanish explorers came to the island, the fate of the tribe changed for the worst. Most of the native inhabitants moved to the mainland when the Spanish began to colonize the California coast. Whether that was by choice was another matter.

A 1903 postcard of Avalon Bay.

A 1903 postcard of Avalon Bay.

By the 1830s, all members of the native tribe had either migrated to the mainland or died off.

Early developers decided the fate of the island. A German immigrant named Augustus William Timms ran a sheep herding business on Catalina Island and would also ferry tourists to the bay. The settlement was from then on referred to as ‘Timms’ Landing’.

Later, one man named George Shatto took advantage of a real estate boom and privately purchased Catalina Island. Though the settlement was at first referred to as ‘Shatto’, he and his family took great care over choosing the name of the island.

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The full width of the painting by Marie Antoinette Ney.

Mr. and Mrs. Shatto and myself were looking for a name for the new town, which in its significance should be appropriate to the place, and the names which I was looking up were ‘Avon’ and ‘Avondale,’ and I found the name ‘Avalon,’ the meaning of which, as given in Webster’s unabridged, was ‘Bright gem of the ocean,’ or ‘Beautiful isle of the blest.’
—Etta Whitney

George Shatto originally introduced the island to the public as a tourist destination, but the island has had many owners over the years, all of whom helped shape the island to become what is today’s pleasant resort location.

With a population of just under 4,000 people, the town is dedicated to its visitors. Its beach is the main attraction, with opportunities for boating and sunbathing. Other attractions include the world’s largest circular ballroom and chances to walk the footsteps of the island’s famous residents and visitors, including Marilyn Monroe.

Have you ever been to Avalon Harbor, or are you planning on taking a little trip to this seaside destination? Let us know in the comments!

Other articles in the ‘Traveling with Art’ series:

Mount Vesuvius and Naples, Italy

Le Quai des Grands-Augustins in Paris, France

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Traveling with Art: Le Quai des Grands-Augustins, Paris

Le quai des Grands-Augustins is a wharf that sits on the left bank of the river Seine in Paris. Residents know the district in which it lies, the sixth arrondissement, for its bohemian and intellectual reputation as well as inclusion of some of the most famous monuments of Paris: the Jardins du Luxembourg and the Pont des Arts.

Along the bank, vendors set up covered stands full of postcards, art and books, ready for the tourists or locals to admire.

Is that five dollar postcard really worth it?

Is that five dollar postcard really worth it?

Excepting the usual Eiffel Tower key chains hanging by every stand, the products in the stands have more diversity and better quality than the touristy T-shirt and hat shops that take advantage of the centrally located Notre Dame cathedral.

What a treat to stroll along the sidewalk and admire the river and watch people’s eyes light up as they find that special something along the bank.

Dufza Full

This etching by the artist Dufza transports the viewers to a scene of people walking along the river bank, admiring the items or simply going about their day while the famous Notre Dame stands watch on the other side of the river. Judging by the fashions in the etching, the date is in the 1940s or early 50s.

What do you think these pedestrians are thinking about as they go about their day? Perhaps the man in the chair is a self-portrait of the artist himself, sketching the scene and taking in the grand Parisian view.