Happy 2006, Everybody!
I'm back from NY where I spent my days wandering through the Met and eating whitefish salad on bagels. The highlight was the Fra Angelico exhibition. A lot of minor works and pseudo-attributions, but the really good stuff is really good. Fra Angelico's frescoes at the Museo di San Marco in Florence rank very high on my list of all-time favorite human accomplisments (up there with Cycladic sculpture and lemon sorbet). This show was full of tempera pieces on board, which are smaller and, in some ways, more intimate that the frescoes. So lovely and delicate - I think the jostling crowds are the only thing that kept Stendhal's Syndrome at bay. Other highlights were an Indian illustrated manuscript and a collection of drawings admired by Vincent Van Gogh. This last struck me because it was my first exposure to a real, live Daumier drawing.
Anyway, enough of my yap. Here's a drawing of some of the different harpoons used to in historical whaling. As you can see, they're all variations of barbs, intended to go in more easily than they'll come out. Modern whalers use explosive bolts, which probably aren't any crueler, but still seems less fair, somehow.