The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Monuments Officers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II

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In 1943, while the world was convulsed by war, a few visionaries -- in the private sector and in the military -- committed to protect Europe's cultural heritage from the indiscriminate ravages of World War II.

In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers—a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists—to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed "the Venus Fixers" by bemused troops.

Working on the front lines in conditions of great deprivation and danger, these unlikely soldiers stripped the great galleries of their incomparable holdings and sent them into safety by any means they could. They worked with skeptical army strategists to make sure air raids didn't take out the heart of an ancient city, and patched up Renaissance palazzi and ancient churches whose lead roofs were sometimes melted away by the savagery of the attacks. Sometimes they failed. But to an astonishing degree, they succeeded, and anyone who marvels at Italy's artistic riches today is witnessing their handiwork.

In the course of her research, Brey gained unprecedented access to private archives and primary sources, and the result is a book at once thorough and grandly entertaining—a revelatory take on a little-known chapter of World War II history. The Venus Fixers is an adventure story with the gorgeous tints of a Botticelli landscape as its backdrop.

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About the author

Ilaria Dagnini Brey is a journalist and translator who was born in Padua, Italy. She now lives in New York City with her husband, Carter Brey, the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic. The Venus Fixers is her first book.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Jun 22, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781466803510
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Conservation & Preservation
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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As part of Operation Husky 2013, a group of Canadians walked this route to honour the memory of the nation’s soldiers who fought in Sicily seventy years earlier and whose sacrifice has been largely forgotten. Under a searing sun, with Mount Etna’s soaring heights always in the distance, a small contingent of marchers trekked each day along winding country roads for between 15 and 35 kilometres to reach the outskirts of a small town or village. Here they were joined by a pipe band, which led them to the skirl of bagpipes in a parade into the community’s heart to be met by hundreds of cheering and applauding Sicilians. Before each community’s war memorial a service of remembrance for both the Canadian and Sicilian war dead followed. Each day also brought the marchers closer to their final destination—Agira Canadian War Cemetery where 490 of the 562 Canadian soldiers who fell during the course of Operation Husky in 1943 are buried. On July 30—after twenty gruelling days—the marchers were joined here by almost a thousand Canadians and Italians. All joined to conduct a profoundly emotional ceremony of remembrance that ended with one person standing before each headstone and answering the roll call on that soldier’s behalf. Mark Zuehlke, author of the award-winning Canadian Battle Series, was one of the Operation Husky 2013 marchers. He uses this arduous and poignant task as a focal point for a contemplative look at the culture of remembrance and the experience of war.
The Holocaust was the systematic murder of six million European Jews by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. The horrors of the Holocaust have documented been many times. Even those that were not killed, mutilated, or starved in concentration camps were stripped of their citizenship and their identities. The Nazis did not stop there, though. Hitler, in his quest to build an empire, planned and executed the most extensive theft of art and cultural treasures in history.

A group of art historians, museum curators, scholars, and others with an expertise in art accepted the enormous responsibility of traveling to the front lines of World War II in an effort to protect art before it could be stolen or recover the art that fell into the hands of the Nazis. Even more lent their expertise when the fighting ended, remaining in Europe for years after the war was over. They were called "Venus fixers" by the troops but have since come to be known as the Monuments Men.

Acting on orders from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had the backing of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, many of the Monuments Men - and women - put their lives on the line for art. By doing so, they preserved not just paintings, sculptures, and tapestries, but a significant portion of the culture that makes life worth living. As Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, said, "Art belongs to humanity. Art is what makes us human."

This book dives into the fascinating history of one of the greatest treasure hunts of all time!

HistoryCaps is an imprint of BookCaps Study Guides. With each book, a brief period of history is recapped. We publish a wide array of topics (from baseball and music to science and philosophy), so check our growing catalogue regularly to see our newest books.
Whether antiquities should be returned to the countries where they were found is one of the most urgent and controversial issues in the art world today, and it has pitted museums, private collectors, and dealers against source countries, archaeologists, and academics. Maintaining that the acquisition of undocumented antiquities by museums encourages the looting of archaeological sites, countries such as Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and China have claimed ancient artifacts as state property, called for their return from museums around the world, and passed laws against their future export. But in Who Owns Antiquity?, one of the world's leading museum directors vigorously challenges this nationalistic position, arguing that it is damaging and often disingenuous. "Antiquities," James Cuno argues, "are the cultural property of all humankind," "evidence of the world's ancient past and not that of a particular modern nation. They comprise antiquity, and antiquity knows no borders."

Cuno argues that nationalistic retention and reclamation policies impede common access to this common heritage and encourage a dubious and dangerous politicization of antiquities--and of culture itself. Antiquities need to be protected from looting but also from nationalistic identity politics. To do this, Cuno calls for measures to broaden rather than restrict international access to antiquities. He advocates restoration of the system under which source countries would share newly discovered artifacts in exchange for archaeological help, and he argues that museums should again be allowed reasonable ways to acquire undocumented antiquities. Cuno explains how partage broadened access to our ancient heritage and helped create national museums in Cairo, Baghdad, and Kabul. The first extended defense of the side of museums in the struggle over antiquities, Who Owns Antiquity? is sure to be as important as it is controversial.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

 Table of Contents 
Introduction 
Making Your Own Wax Flowers 
Making a Wax Flower Candle 
Making a Wooden Flower Press 
Padded Pressboard 
Making Your Thick Padded Board – 
Setting Out Your Flowers 
More Tips for Sand Drying 
Silica Gel Tips 
Silica Gel – Borax Drying Plants 
Drying in Your Microwave 
Picking Your Wildflowers 
How to Dry Wildflowers 
Air Drying Your Flowers 
Conclusion 
Author Bio 
Publisher 

Introduction 

Flowers and other parts of the plant have been dried since ancient times, to be used in herbal remedies. 

I recently wrote a book on how you could preserve flowers by drying them, and make things of beauty and a joy forever out of them. 

As I am fascinated with flowers, and anything else including interesting looking leaves, driftwood, seeds, and even dried fruit which has anything to do with their presence in nature and their presence right in my home after I have gathered them in great handfuls on my many rambles outdoors, is it surprising that you are going to learn more about how you can preserve flowers, especially when you find them right there indoors, when it is 0° outside and a force 10 wind blowing. 

Traditionally, man has been fascinated with the ephemeral quality of flowers for millenniums, and he has tried his best to make sure that they last just a little bit longer after he has collected them from the branches on which they blossomed so beautifully just this morning. This book is going to tell you all about tips and techniques on how you can press flowers in a methodical manner, both traditional and modern, and also how you can try out some interesting creative techniques in order to preserve these flowers for just another year or so right indoors.
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