OT: The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day. Pieter Bruegel the Elder

I had the opportunity to visit the Museo del Prado this week. I went to see the exhibition  The Hermitage in The Prado. See my previous post HERE. But I had the chance as well to discover a previously unknown work by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day. It has been attributed to the artist by the Museo del Prado following several months of study and the restoration of the painting at the Museum.

The Wine of Saint Martin’s was acquired in 2010 by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and the Museo del Prado. It is one of the most ambitious and complex works within the oeuvre of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525/30 – 1569), the most important Flemish painter of the sixteenth century.

The work was known from an engraving that was commissioned by Bruegel’s great-grandson, Abraham Bruegel but the original painting was thought to be lost.

Bruegel depicted the annual celebration of the eve of Saint Martin’s day on 11 November just outside the city when wine from the new vintage was distributed for free. His depictions has much of the flavour of a bacchanal. Clustered around a large barrel, the gluttonous participants in the celebration fill a variety of vessels (including their shoes) with the wine flowing from it.

The work required restoration in order to remove both the thick layer of polyester varnish that covered the paint surface and the lining that had produced creases and bulges in the linen support. As a result, exceeding all initial expectations, Bruegel’s work has regained much of its original matte texture, characteristics of painting of this type.

It displayed alongside the X-radiograph of the painting that provides information on its physical condition and reveals the artist’s distinctive execution. Finally, a video shows the different stages of the restoration process. (Information provided by the Museo Nacional del Prado)

See additional information at The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Museo Nacional del Prado).

Film Review – The Artist (2011) directed by Michel Hazanavicius

Last Thursday, 19 January, Begoña and I went to see The Artist, a 2011 French film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The story is about a declining actor and a rising actress at a time when silent cinema is being replaced by talkies. The film itself is black-and-white, and mainly silent.

The Artist (2011)

A charming film, nice and entertaining, I’ll certainly recommend it to any film lover.

My rating: 8 out of 10.

Review: Cop Killer – Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

Esta entrada es bilingüe, desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en castellano

Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal. Original title Polismördaren, 1974. This translation first published by Random House Inc. New York, 1973. Harper Perennial 2007. 308 pages. ISBN: 978-0-00-724299-3.

A divorced woman, Sigbrid Mård, has gone missing in Anderslöv, Southern Sweden. Bertil, her former husband has an alibi the day of her disappearance. The main suspect is Folke Bengtsson. Martin Beck had arrested him before (see Roseanna), reason why Beck and his right-hand man Lennart Kollberg are sent to investigate. Beck also runs into an old acquaintance, a local newspaper journalist who calls himself now Ake Boman, although Beck knows him as Ake Gunnarson (see The Man Who Went Up in Smoke). Under media pressure Bengtsson is arrested, the order given directly by the National Police Commissioner, Stig Malm. Beck knows the evidence against him is circumstantial and the charges are feeble. No one can assume a crime has been committed. But the case takes an unexpected turn. Sigbrit Mård is no longer missing, her corpse has been found buried in the woods, in a marshy area. Meanwhile in Malmö a shootout between three policemen and two teenage boys is settled with two dead and two wounded, thus triggering the chase of one of the boys.

Cop Killer is the ninth book in the series featuring Martin Beck and his team. A series that I have thoroughly enjoyed so far and I highly recommend. In Cop Killer, Sjöwall and Wahlöö offer, among other things, a sharp reflection about the role of the police in our society and the use of force. Despite having been written almost thirty years ago is worth reading. Other aspects of this stimulating and thought-provoking book, such as media pressure and public opinion, can be highlighted as well. But above all it provides some hours of a very rewarding reading and has a fine sense of humour.

My rating a 4 out of 5.

Cop Killer has been reviewed by Maxine at Euro Crime, NacyO at the crime segments, Simon Quicke at inside books, Shane Richmond at 26 books.

Harper Collins

Random House

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö at Wikipedia

Cop Killer at Amazon.co.uk

Muerte de un policía – Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

Una mujer divorciada, Sigbrid Mård, ha desaparecido en Anderslöv, al sur de Suecia. Bertil, su ex marido tiene una coartada el día de su desaparición. El principal sospechoso es Folke Bengtsson. Martin Beck le había detenido antes (ver Roseanna), razón por la que Beck y su mano derecha Lennart Kollberg son enviados a investigar. Beck también se encuentra con un viejo conocido, un periodista local que se hace llamar ahora Ake Boman, aunque Beck le conoce como Ake Gunnarson (ver El hombre que se esfumó). Bajo presión de los medios de comunicación Bengtsson es arrestado, la órden dada directamente por el Inspector Jefe de la Policía Nacional, Stig Malm. Beck sabe que las pruebas contra él son circunstanciales y los cargos son débiles. Nadie puede asumir que se haya cometido un crimen. Pero el caso toma un giro inesperado. Sigbrit Mård ya no está desaparecida, su cadáver ha sido encontrado enterrado en el bosque, en una zona pantanosa. Mientras tanto, en Malmö un tiroteo entre tres policías y dos adolescentes se salda con dos muertos y dos heridos, lo que desencadena la persecución de uno de los muchachos.

Muerte de un policía (Editorial Noguer, 1979) es el noveno libro de la serie protagonizada por Martin Beck y su equipo. Una serie que he disfrutado mucho hasta ahora y que recomiendo encarecidamente. En Muerte de un policía, Sjöwall y Wahlöö ofrecen, entre otras cosas, una aguda reflexión sobre el papel de la policía en nuestra sociedad y sobre el uso de la fuerza. A pesar de haber sido escrito hace casi treinta años vale la pena leerlo. Otros aspectos de este estimulante y provocador libro, como  la presión de los medios de comunicación y de la opinión pública también se pueden destacar también. Pero sobre todo, nos ofrece algunas horas de lectura muy gratificantes y tiene un fino sentido del humor.

Mi valoración un 4 de 5.

Reseña: Ciudad Santa – Guillermo Orsi

This post is bilingual. Scroll down for the English version.

Almuzara, 2009. 318 páginas. ISBN: 978-84-92573-34-9

Ciudad Santa: En Buenos Aires no hay vida para todos me resulta imposible de resumir. La propaganda editorial dice: “Un político es ejecutado a la luz del día en un barrio marginal a las afueras de Buenos Aires. Una reina de la belleza busca la ayuda de una abogada que ha enviudado a balazos en dos ocasiones. Un crucero de turistas encalla en el fangoso Río de la Plata: el manjar está servido para una banda de secuestradores. Entre los turistas, un barón colombiano de la droga y su amante son el plato fuerte. Un coleccionista de cabezas humanas desvela entretanto a dos policías, enfrentados en un duelo que poco tendrá que ver con la ley y mucho con sus lealtades y decepciones. Buenos Aires, como un cayuco colmado de fugitivos de sucesivos desastres, navega sin rumbo por un mar sin playas ni horizontes.”

Tiene demasiados personajes y tramas y, en el trasfondo, Buenos Aires es un personaje más que nos presenta su cara menos conocida y menos atractiva. 

Ciudad Santa es también muy difícil de reseñar. Orsi es, probablemente, uno de los mejores escritores que hay hoy en día en español. Admiro su capacidad para captar la atención del lector a través de múltiples relatos y múltiples personajes en este libro complejo. Sin embargo tengo que admitir que, a veces, me perdí debido a los constantes cambios entre los diferentes personajes y tramas. Incluso si todo empieza a encajar en su sitio al final hay ciertos aspectos que siguen sin aclararse. En esencia he encontrado una cierta falta de profundidad en los personajes, las diferentes historias son demasiado confusas a veces y la trama al final sigue estando poco clara. Pero, a pesar de todo, respeto su originalidad.

Mi calificación: 3 de 5.

Ciudad Santa ha sido reseñada por Jesús Lens en Pateando el mundo, José Luis Muñoz en Más que palabras y Ariel en La forma en que algunos mueren.

Editorial Almuzara

El blog de Guillermo Orsi

Biografía y obra de Guillermo Orsi en La Gansterera

Entrevista a Guillermo Orsi 

Buenos Aires corrupto por la violencia política

Guillermo Orsi lee un fragmento de Ciudad Santa

Review: Hoy City – Guillermo Orsi

Translator Nick Caistor. Original title: Ciudad Santa. Orion (1st March 2012) ISBN: 9780857050625.

Holy City subtitle in Spanish is There is no life for all in Buenos Aires, and I found it’s almost impossible to summarise. The editorial blurb reads: “A politician is executed at day light in a suburb on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. A beauty queen seeks help from a twice-widowed female lawyer. A passenger liner runs aground on the muddy banks of Rio de la Plata: The food is ready for a band of kidnappers. Among the tourists, a Colombian drug baron and his girlfriend are the main course. Meanwhile, a collector of human heads keeps two policemen awake, confronted in a match that has nothing to do with the law but with their loyalties and deceptions. Buenos Aires, as a cayuco (canoe) filled with fugitives from successive disasters, lacking direction through a sea without beaches or horizons.

There are far too many characters and plots on its pages and, in the background, Buenos Aires is one more character showing its less known and less appealing faces.

Holy City is also extremely difficult to review. Orsi is probably one of the best writers today in Spanish. I do admire his ability to grab the reader’s attention through multiple storylines and multiple characters in this complex book. However I have to admit that, at times, I was lost due to constant changes between the different characters and plots. Even if everything starts to fall into place at the end there are certain aspects that remain unclear. In essence I found a certain lack of depth in the characters, the different storylines are too confusing at times and the plot remains obscure at the end. But, despite all, I do respect his originality.

My rating: 3 out of 5.

Maclehose Press

Pan Macmillan Australia

Bookbank Literary Agency

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2012 – a meme

Since most bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they’ve read and some even go as far as naming their pick of the month, Kerrie at MiP has launched a new crime fiction meme: Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2012 – a meme.

This new meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts. All you have to do is write a summary post at the end of each month and identify the best crime fiction read of the month. Then visit MYSTERIES in PARADISE on the first day of the next month and add your post’s URL to the Mr Linky that will be provided.

My entry in December 2011 would have been: 

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin – TG’sA (or Jose Ignacio)

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