A Tale of Little Cities

How many items of a certain object does one need to own to call it a "collection"?  I will say 4 items or more, that is exactly how many Architectural Models made in plaster by Mr. Timothy Richards of Bath, England I have in my possession, and I go around saying that I "collect" 'Timothy Richards Models'.  If this does not mean anything to you, I will explain:

Mr. Richards follows a centuries old tradition of illustrating Architecture's greatest examples in three-dimensional form for the purpose of instruction and decoration.  This tradition can be seen in Sir Herbert Oakley's collection of Cathedral Models - based on the book by Sir Bannister Fletcher "A History of Architecture"; or in the casts taken from Italian and Greek buildings during the Grand Tour to L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris to continue the study of antiquities while away from its source; or more famously, in the casts and models owned by Sir John Soane R.A., architect, for private enjoyment and learning at his residence at No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields (appropriately enough Mr. Richards has made a model of No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, among many other of Soane's buildings).

I think the last two examples is what draws me to Mr. Richards' work: the idea of "owning" pieces of great architecture to admire and study...from my nightstand, because did I mention?  Mr. Richards' work is diminutive!

The Queen's Doorway at Kensington Palace, by Sir Christopher Wren.  Doorway Bookend Series.

What makes Mr. Richards' work truly amazing is not only the accuracy of the architectural detail, but the DETAIL itself.  The small models are lovingly made by hand by Mr. Richards and his team, with great care to depict the most minute carving as you can see in the picture above and below:

Bond Hall.  University of Notre Dame.  Doorway Bookend Series.

Following tradition, the models can also be instructive (you can see that the names of the elements that compose each order have been etched on the side):

The Doric Order.  The Orders Bookend Series.

The Ionic Order.  The Orders Bookend Series.
The pen is mightier than the column...in scale, I mean.

If I had my way I would fill my house and Studio with a few more of these:

Ca D'Oro Palace.  Limited Edition and Collectors Pieces.  This piece is exquisite in person, so delicately crafted.
Image by Timothy Richards.

Villa Rotonda by Palladio.  Palladio and his Legacy Series.  This model was part of the exhibit "Palladio and his Legacy - a Transatlantic journey" at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, and the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Image by Timothy Richards.

 And for some American flavor:

The Flat Iron by Daniel H. Burnham.  Limited Edition and Collector Pieces.
Image by Timothy Richards.

Mr. Richards' models can be purchased in many "to the trade" places and also at his UK and USA website.  For more eye candy visit: http://www.timothyrichards.co.uk/

Images by NPL unless otherwise noted.


Giornale di bordo

I like to sketch.  It's a fact.  I have been doodling since before I could write.  I like to travel.  I was sort of born traveling, my first trip was at three months old.  So it would follow that I sketch when I travel.  I think it all started because my mother would keep two little sketch pads in her purse when she traveled, one for herself and one for me.  In her sketch pad she would note anything that caught her interest, but mainly she would sketch interesting fashions that she would later reproduce at home.  I would sit next to her and try to imitate her wonderful skills.

Some years ago I finally treated myself to a "proper sketch journal", I happened to be in Rome, so I walked to Cartoleria Pantheon and bought a leather-bound volume filled with Carta di Amalfi paper.  I have been going back to Cartoleria Pantheon ever since, except for the one time that I cheated and got one from Lilium, which is located in Florence.

Of all the sketchbooks I have owned, my favorite is the little one you see on top-it also happens to be my current one.  It is the perfect size and weight to fit in my purse, while the size of the page still allows me to produce detailed drawings.  The book I purchased at Lillium (the largest one) is a beautiful one, with the strap of leather wrapping itself around the volume and the the lily engraving on the corner, but it is too big to fit in most of my purses, so I reserve for it special, local ocasions.

Sketching on the steps of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy.

Over the years I have experimented with different kinds of pencils and pens and have come to the conclusion that when traveling or visiting a museum I just can't be bothered with a pencil, and associated trouble of carrying an eraser, a sharpener, and the question of what to do with the shavings (which inevitably end up making a HUGE mess at the bottom of my bag)...Instead, technical ink pens have become my medium of choice to the point that I carry one at all times and I even write with them on non Architecture/Art related situations.

Sketching is one the things I enjoy doing the most, so here I'd like share some samples from my books, some very old, some very new, but all carrying a memory of a wonderfully spent morning or afternoon:

The Parthenon, Athenian Acropolis. 
Athens, Greece.

The Erechtheum, Athenian Acropolis.  Athens Greece.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy.

Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy

Diadúmeno.  Museo del Prado.  Madrid, Spain.

Venus de Milo.  Musee du Louvre.  Paris, France.

John.  En route to Caldonazzo.  Italy.

Venus.  Museum of
Fine Arts, Houston.

Torero.  Sevilla, Spain.

Adam.  Cullen Sculpture Garden.  Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Drawings were executed on location.  All images are the Intellectual Property of
Nadia Palacios Lauterbach.


Welcome Home Polia!

People often ask me "why did you decide to go into Architecture?", the answer is two-fold:  I survived several home improvement projects as a child, and I grew up in Nicaragua.

When one thinks of Nicaragua the usual thoughts are Somoza, Sandinistas, La Contra, Roberto Clemente (if you are a baseball fan and are old enough), and for some musically minded folks that quirky song that goes "Managua, Nicaragua donde yo me enamoré..." but I digress.  One usually doesn't associate great Architecture when thinking of Nicaragua, but I'm here to set the record straight:

Nicaragua is home to some of the most beautiful examples of Spanish Colonial Architecture that the Americas have (both in the classical and vernacular tradition), woven together to form a colorful tapestry of cities surrounded by luxurious tropical landscape and furiously hot volcanoes.

So here's to Nicaragua, my original source of inspiration:

Basílica Catedral de la Asunción, León Santiago de los Caballeros.  The most magnificent church building in Nicaragua, and arguably in all of Central America.  Viva León J#dido!
Aerial view of the city of Granada, La Gran Sultana, with her cathedral and lake in the background.

Rooftops of Granada, seen from the belltower of the Iglesia de la Merced.
Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepción.  El Viejo, Chinandega, where my grandfather grew up.
Another view of Granada.
Cathedral of San Rafael del Norte, Jinotega, cradle of so many fallen heroes...  
Customs House at San Juan del Sur, Rivas.  Witness to the California Gold Rush.
Finca San Juan de la Isla.  Isla de Ometepe.  A quiet, centenary retreat. 
Church of San Juan Bautista in San Juan del Sur, Rivas.  Spiritual guidance among the waves.

All images by Nadia Palacios Lauterbach unless noted otherwise.

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