Susan here, bringing a bit of time-traveling today. Recently while flipping through channels at our house, we came across Timeline, a movie based on a novel by Michael Crichton, starring Gerard Butler, Paul Walker, Frances Connor, and others – a fun movie about a team of archaeologists who find a way to travel back through time to 14th century France to retrieve an important item, only to be stranded when the time machine breaks (of course!), forcing them to figure out how to get back.
And I sat there thinking, hey I wouldn't mind traveling across time back to 14th century France if I could. And if that were possible, what other time periods would I like to pop into (and safely out of again)? I'd want to step into ancient Egypt, early medieval Britain, medieval France, just about any era in Scotland, and I'd visit Native America (before the -other visitors- arrived!), and just about anywhere along the 19th-century timeline . . . and more. With so many times and places that I'd want to explore, I’d keep that time machine humming.
So I thought it would be fun to gather up some art images that particularly evoke different eras and places, and see which ones appeal to you all the most. We all feel a draw to certain places and time periods, whether it's past lives calling us, or simply a fascination with history – and the pull on the individual often leads to our preferences in studying history, and reading and writing historical fiction as well.
Let's see what comes of this experiment for you. We'll just use an ordinary imaginary time machine here – hop in! – and then browse the images below. I've chosen several portraits and lots of scenes with people to place us there , and some images I chose for realism over historical accuracy; Romantic historical painters often did a cracking job of evoking historical settings, and that illusion of place and time will help in this little trek through time. . .
This isn't a time machine, but sure looks like one! Joseph Wright, The Orrery.
So let's hope this apparatus works. Where would you like to go?
Ancient Egypt . . . (Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Egyptian Chess Players)
Early Medieval . . . (William Holt, mural, The Meeting of Margaret and Malcolm – which took place in the 1070s)
Perhaps you'd like to try some other medieval era (with four of five centuries from very early to late, there's a lot to choose from!) —
(Edmund Blair Leighton, The Accolade, 1901 – Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Holy Family at Home, 15th c. – and Castle Stalker, Scotland, my photo.)
Or would you rather pop into the 17th century with Vermeer?
Or 18th century France –
(Fragonard, The Swing — Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, Self-Portrait)
And move on into a quiet spot in a Regency home, or a lively and crowded ballroom . . .
(Jacques-Louis David, Mme. Recamier,1800 …
Marie-Denise Villers, portrait of Charlotte du Val d'Ognes, 1801)
(Rolinda Sharples, Clifton Assembly, 1818)
Or go decades later into a Victorian or Edwardian household . . .
Or jump back not so far in time – to another era where life was simpler than today . . .
Where would you go in time if you had a safe (!) time machine – and if you could reliably step back there and visit – or even stay . . .
Let us know where you would like to emerge, what you would enjoy most there – and why!