April 23, 2004

Four Babels

I recently subscribed to FMR magazine, and my first copy arrived in the mail the other day. This current issue happens to be the first one produced without the editorial hand of Sig. Ricci himself, and is a kind of ‘best-of’ compilation of pieces from past issues. This might have pissed me off had I been a long-time subscriber, but, as a relative newcomer to the magazine (I had subscribed once before, for one year, back in ‘95-‘96) it serves as the perfect re-introduction, featuring a fine selection of beautifully-illustrated articles by such big-name writers as Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Octavio Paz, Angela Carter, Michel Butor and Yves Bonnefoy.

'The Tower of Babel', known as 'The Little Tower', by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, mid 16th Century, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

One of the pieces in the magazine is concerned with pictorial representations of the Tower of Babel, and reproduces a fabulous selection of paintings and miniatures with the Tower as their subject. I picked out just four of the most readily scannable of these reproductions to feature on this page: click on the images to see them considerably enlarged.

'Tower of Babel' by an unknown Flemish Master, 1587, Kurpfälzisches Muesuem, Heidelberg.

The only one of these paintings I had seen before was the first one, Brueghel’s, and had naïvely supposed that this colossal imaginary ziggurat was a singular product of his extraordinary imagination, whereas I now see it as just one instance of an oft-depicted theme, although, I don’t know (and I’ve yet to read the article right through), perhaps it was the first…

'The Tower of Babel', by an unknown Flemish Master, late 16th Century, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena.

One of the nice things about FMR magazine is the little glossy booklet that comes with it, the ‘guide for the inquisitive traveller’, which lists current and forthcoming art exhibitions of note throughout the world: just the thing for the globe-trotting, museum-going aesthete that I sometimes daydream of becoming.

'The Construction of the Tower of Babel', by Hendrick III van Cleve, 16th Century, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.


Posted by misteraitch at April 23, 2004 11:02 AM | TrackBack

Wonderful pictures. You may find Paul Zumthor's Babel ou l'inachvement interesting...

Posted by: miladus on April 23, 2004 10:23 PM

I took a course in Breugel this semester. It was very interesting. Nice to see the interest in him goes around! :)

Posted by: Fire and Ice on April 24, 2004 07:05 PM

These are fabulous. They're going straight into my dream library.

Posted by: Dick Jones on April 26, 2004 07:42 AM

If you like engravings you might interested in the Towers by Gustav Dor and Athanasius Kircher

Posted by: John Hardy on April 27, 2004 09:42 AM

And here’s another vision of Babel, this time from the 18th Century…

Posted by: misteraitch on April 27, 2004 01:51 PM

I have the original 8 editions (1984-1985) in mint condition (with the little booklets.) Is anyone interested in making an offer?

I subscribed when the magazine was first published, and have numbers 1 through 8.

They are fabulous - but I am moving, and trying to prune my collections. I'd like to see them go to someone who will appreciate them.

Posted by: Karen Grace on July 7, 2004 05:46 PM

I have looked in vain for the information on where I can order FMR. Can anyone give me this information to subscribe to the US-English FMR magazing. Thanks

Posted by: sherry on November 5, 2004 10:26 PM

Sherry: perhaps you could try contacting the Rizzoli bookstore in New York, who are listed as the principal FMR stockists for the US. You can contact them on 1-800-52BOOKS.

Posted by: misteraitch on November 6, 2004 01:51 PM

My sincere apologies to the person whose comment I accidentally deleted from this entry: I was clearing out some spam & inadvertently left checked a box I should have unchecked.

Posted by: misteraitch on November 22, 2004 09:16 AM

this place suck what drugare yuou p[eople on all ur information is tottlay wrong

Posted by: Mohan on October 18, 2005 04:36 PM

This place suck, and blow Mohan; what do you suggest can be done about it? Us people are on nice drug make us feel good, however. We are quite aware of the tottl wrongness of our information, thank you, and merely choose not to give a shit about it.

Posted by: misteraitch on October 18, 2005 07:17 PM


Just for posterity, a commenter above gave a link to Kircher's Tower of Babel which is now dead.
I would think/hope there are better versions online (Stanford probably) but this one has been around for 10 years at Oxford and sent me over here fossicking...

Posted by: peacay on February 5, 2006 03:42 PM

i dont no mutch abbout this but its nice to know that there are more than one paintings abbout the tower of babel
nice site!

Posted by: robbieka on December 12, 2006 06:21 PM

i found a fifht painting by google
see "url"

Posted by: robbieka on December 12, 2006 06:25 PM
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