Sunday, 23 April 2017

Iceland 1988 - Stamp Day

Today our Iceland journey is coming to an end. But what a ride it has been! Over the last few weeks we have been virtual passengers on the 1836 Gainard expedition. This expedition set off to explore Iceland and Greenland on the ship La Recherche. The leader of this expedition was Paul Gaimard, a French Naval surgeon and naturalist who wrote about the expedition in a nine volume work entitled: Voyage en Islande et au Groënland. This series, which included many illustrations, was then considered the definitive study of the islands. Another participant of the expedition was Auguste Mayer, a French artist who taught drawing at the École Navale. Mayer provided many gorgeous illustrations for Gaimard's book. 

So far we have visited thee Hvita River, where we have watched a group of people ford the river with their horses. To journey back to the Hvita River again, click HERE. Next we set sail for the trading village, Djúpivogur and its rugged mountain vistas. To drop anchor at the trading port of  Djúpivogur and say hi to the residents, click HERE

The final leg of or journey takes us to the farmlands of Núpsstadur, where farmers have been braving the tumultuous conditions since the 17th Century. What sort of dwellings did these intrepid folks live in? Auguste Mayer managed to capture the charm of some of these "very" rural properties in a lovely piece of art, reproduced in Paul Gainard's book, as mentioned above. But more on that in a moment. To whet the appetite, I found a great photo of one of these old farm houses.


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On 9 October 1988 Iceland issued a Souvenir Sheet for Stamp Day. This was the third year in a row that such a Souvenir Sheet was issued to celebrate Stamp Day. As with the other two issues in 1986 and 1987 this Souvenir Sheet was engraved by Czeslaw Slania. The design is based on the artwork of Auguste Mayer.


This design is truly sumptuous! It is a feast for the eyes wherever they roam: from the craggy, cloud-shrouded mountains in the background to the wonderfully detailed farm scene in the foreground. 


Walking along a stone path we come to a series of farmhouses covered in earth for protection against the harsh conditions. Then we are greeted by the locals, enjoying a bit of banter. What are they discussing, I wonder? Perhaps the weather? Or maybe even discussing a recent batch of mail? Whatever the case, we are compelled by this beautiful piece of art to sit, wonder, and ruminate on the lives of these remarkable people.


As I mentioned above, this is the last Iceland issue engraved by Czeslaw Slania. And what a stunner! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring the captivating wonders of Iceland. Honestly, I'm a little sad to be leaving it behind. But all good things must come to an end. What was your favourite Slania Iceland stamp? I'd love to hear your views.

Until next time...

Monday, 17 April 2017

Iceland 1987 - Stamp Day

In 1835 the Gaimard expedition set off to explore Iceland and Greenland on the ship La Recherche. The leader of this expedition was Paul Gaimard, a French Naval surgeon and naturalist who wrote about the expedition in a nine volume work entitled: Voyage en Islande et au Groënland. This series, which included many illustrations, was then considered the definitive study of the islands. Another participant of the expedition was Auguste Mayer, a French artist who taught drawing at the École Navale. Mayer provided many gorgeous illustrations for Gaimard's book. For more on this expedition check out my blog from two weeks ago - click HERE 

One of the locations the expedition visited in Iceland was commercial station at Djúpivogur. Throughout its history, Djúpivogur has been an important trading centre. In fact, its commercial records date all the way back to 1589. A warehouse from 1790, called Langabúð (the oldest warehouse in Djúpivogur)  still stands in the town, and it has even been recently renovated and is a Heritage Museum.

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On 9 October 1987 Iceland issued a beautiful Souvenir Sheet for Stamp Day. This was the second year in a row that Iceland issued a special Stamp Day issue. For the 1986 issue, see the link above. Just like 1986, the 1987 Souvenir Sheet was designed and engraved by Czeslaw Slania. And in my humble opinion, it is even better than the first. But, of course, I may be biased, since this Souvenir Sheet includes sailing ships!


This stunning landscape captures a moment in time with stunning clarity: from the stark and rugged landscapes surrounding Djúpivogur to the tall ships sitting at anchor in the habour; and from the small village perched atop the rugged terrain to the villagers rowing out to the ships in row boats to greet the traders in the ships.









Until next time...


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Iceland 1987 - Rasmus Rask

The ability to understand more than one language is impressive enough, but to understand twenty-five is just amazing! The name of this remarkable person is Rasmus Rask (Rasmus Christian Nielsen Rasch). Rask, born 22 November 1787, was a Danish linguist and Philologist (the study of language in written sources). Rask was passionate about languages, especially Icelandic, which he worked very hard to preserve. In fact, he travelled extensively in order to study languages up close and personal. He visited Russia, Persia, Iceland, India, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). One can only imagine the adventures this man had, and the stories he had to tell.

By the time he died at the age of 44, he had acquired the grammar and dialects of some twenty-five languages. It is uncertain to me exactly how many of these languages he was fluent in, but he did study intensely the following:  Sami, Swedish, Faroese, English, Dutch, Gothic, Old English and Portuguese. He had also started studies of German, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Polish and Czech, although Icelandic continued to be his main interest. Wow! Very impressive.

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On 10 June 1987 Iceland issued a stamp to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Rasmus Rask. Czeslaw Slania designed and engraved the stamp.


This is a beautifully simple portrait that captures the youthful exuberance and determination of a highly intelligent man. One can see the passion in this man's eyes and a vulnerability that belies his innate sense of adventure.

Until next time...

Stay Slania Crazy!


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Iceland 1986 - Stamp Day

An expedition in the 1800's with the promise of many, many months at sea sounds somewhat tedious. But take said expedition and amp it up with eight top scientific and artistic minds... Things just got a lot more interesting! 

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In 1836 the Gaimard expedition set off to explore Iceland and Greenland on the ship La Recherche. Not only was this a research expedition, it was also a search and rescue mission for explorer, Jules de Blosseville, who disappeared a few years earlier in Arctic waters. Among the eight members of the expedition were a naturalist and surgeon, a physicist and cartographer, a linguist, a geologist, a meteorologist, and two artists, one specialising in fauna and the other in landscapes and naval scenes. For the purposes of this blog, two of these men are worthy of note. 

The first is Paul Gaimard, a French Naval surgeon and naturalist who wrote about the expedition. In fact he wrote a nine volume work entitled: Voyage en Islande et au Groënland. This series, which included many illustrations, was then considered the definitive study of the islands.

The other participant of note for us is Auguste Mayer, a French artist who taught drawing at the École Navale. He painted many beautiful naval scenes. One particularly amazing painting was his depiction of The Battle of Trafalgar, entitled: Scene de la bataille de Trafalgar. This painting is housed in the National Museum of Paris.

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On 9 October 1986 Iceland issued a stunning Souvenir Sheet for Stamp Day. It was designed and engraved by Czeslaw Slania.



This impressively intricate engraving was based on a drawing by the artist, Auguste Mayer. The drawing was published in Paul Gaimard's book, mentioned above. The scene depicts a group of people and horses at a crossing in the Hvita River. This river, which starts as a glacial lake and plummets down a gorge into the lowlands, is susceptible to winter flooding. Because of this it has a reputation as one of Iceland's most treacherous rivers.


The details in this composition are magnificent. From the rolling hills in the background to the horses crossing the ford. And from the people in various action poses to the luggage and other ephemera strewn across the barren ground. 




Until next time...