Monday, September 27, 2010

Imagining Atlantis


The Fall of Atlantis, by Monsu Desiderio, c. 1600s

We continue today with more imaginative visions and obscure histories!

Compared to artistic visions of the seven ancient wonders of the world, depictions of the lost city of Atlantis are rather rare. The one above comes from a somewhat obscure 17th century tradition known the capriccio - fantastical and often grotesque works that went outside the bounds of tradition and allowed artists to give their imaginations free reign.

Art historians long considered Monsu Desiderio to have been a pseudonym for two or three different artists who collaborated on such pre-surrealist fantasies. However, the following comes from artist John Coulhart's Web journal:

“Enigma” or “mystery” are the words usually associated with “Desiderio” (or even “Monsù Desiderio”), due to years of misattribution that made two obscure painters of the same period with similar styles appear to be a single artist. Until some fifty years ago, the identity of François de Nomé (ca. 1593–after 1634) was hidden by confusion with another contemporary painter from the Lorraine, Didier Barra (called “Monsù Desiderio”), whose work was at times disturbingly similar. In the 1930s, when the Surrealists were searching for forerunners, there was a revival of interest in Nomé, a painter most noted for fantastic architectures, eerily lit night scenes of the ruins of cities, and of catastrophic visions. He has continued to fascinate the modern mind for fifty years

You can read the rest here.


As a side note, my great grandfather, Ronald Alexander Edumnd Strath, aka Dr. A. E. Strath-Gordon, who was a spy for the British government and a lecturer on comparative mythology and the Great Pyramid, among other things, was one of the early searchers for the lost Atlantis. True story.

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