Today we visited EU building and learned about the process of joining the EU, the services it provides, and what opportunities there are career wise within the administration. At night we attended Inter-Changes: A showcase of Fulbright Writers & Performers. This was a showcase of the wonderful artistic talents of those within the Fulbright program. Four poetry readings including another appearance of the esteemed Tom Healy, Nell Regans wonderfully crafted poem describing the vistas of New Mexico, and a hilarious poem by Lily Akerman describing the mindset of a cyclist in a metropolitan area. There were also four musical performances, including the esteemed uilleann piper Jimmy Moran O’Brien, and our own wonderful teacher, Judith Coe. They were all quite fantastic, and writing about them does no justice to the actual performances, so Ill leave it at, you should have been there.
Now you may be wondering why I quickly breezed through the beginning and end of my day while omitting what I did during the middle of the day. Its a place that we had visited for about an hour the day before, and unanimously we decided that it required us to revisit it, an hour simply was not enough. I could easily write a dozen paragraphs on today and still have plenty more to write, so forgive me if this post ends up being longer then normal. This place, which seemed to grab such a firm hold upon myself, and the entirety of the group, is the Chester Beatty Library.
Chester Beatty was a mining engineer outside of Denver Colorado. Unable to get a job as an engineer, he resorted to being a mucker, one of the lowest possible positions in the mining industry. Due to his drive and ability to spot minerals of value, a skill that would prove very prominent in the rest of his life, he quickly rose through the ranks of the mining world before eventually moving to London and founding his own mining company. This enterprise quickly grew and it wasn’t long before he was opening up mines all across Europe and his coffers were growing just as proportionally. He put this wealth to great use. Ever since he was 10 years old he had a great interest in quality artifacts. It is said that he was attending an auction with his father when he saw this beautiful mineral and he instantly wanted it. He only had 15 cents on him though, so when the bid came up for the mineral he instantly raised his hand and opened the bid at 10 cents. The fellow auctioneers were so astounded and amused by this child’s bet that none bid against him. This allowed Beatty to buy the mineral for an astounding low big much to the dismay of the auctioneer. This showcased what the rest of the Chester Beatty life would be.
His love of collecting mineral, Chinese snuff bottles, and stamps which he has had ever since this first auction only grew as he traveled around the world. In Europe he begin collecting ancient European and Persian manuscripts. While on a brief trip to Egypt he quickly fell in love with the place and bought a house overlooking the pyramids for holidays with his family. He traveled down to Asia and his collection grew to include Chinese and Japanese art and manuscripts as well. Beatty’s collection is the most astounding private literately collection in the modern world. It contains manuscripts and art from as far back as 2700 BC until modern day. I will talk below about some of the more specific exhibits I enjoyed, but as amazing as this collection was, its only 1% of his total collection which I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around.
One of the exhibits that I gawked over was original copies of Goya’s Disasters of War. These disturbing pieces showed the conflict between the Spanish people and Napoleons Invading army between 1810 and 1820. Each etching showed the horrendous nature of man, and the brutality evoked upon each other. They highlight images of rape and murder, and not just the atrocities committed by the French troops, but the acts of violence committed by the Spanish people. Mothers chopping into french soldiers with ax’s to protect there children, farmers dying in hopeless defense of their daughters. These brutal images are a powerful message on how war destroys the humanity of spirit of all. We sink to the lowest depths of barbarity in our struggle to live. I was deeply moved by these images.
On a lighter note Chester Beeaty also gathered a large collection of various world atlas’s. These included maps by Blaeu, Jean Reynaud’s “The Nature of Things” and Alain Manesson Mallets “Descriptions of the Universe.” I have always had this love for cartography as well as views and maps of cities. (Much like the one located inside Dublin Castle in my previous post.) That must be why I was really drawn to the Descriptions of the Universe. Mallets experience as a teacher led him to produce more then just maps of the areas he explored. He summarized the customs, religions, government and astronomical concepts of the areas as well. There was also lavish paintings of towns, people, and landscapes, which are works of art within themselves. I was particularly drawn to his maps of japan and Asia, which I’m sure was one of the reasons Chester Beatty found them fascinating as well.