September 30, 2023


How Art Works

Blue flame and fascinating architectural particulars in Astoria – The Artsology Weblog

3 min read

I used to be in Astoria, Queens over the weekend, and after spending a while there and was strolling again to my automobile, I observed this uncommon architectural element on a brick dwelling close to the sting of the park. There’s one thing about the way in which these white columns and balustrade* act as a dramatic focus on an in any other case typical brick construction that grabbed my consideration. However as I walked by, I additionally observed the ornamental urns with blue flames, and needed to zoom in for a better look.

(* A “baluster” is an upright help present in architectural options; a gaggle of balusters supporting a handrail – as seen surrounding this second story terrace – is known as a “balustrade.” I needed to look that one up, so I may know find out how to check with what I used to be seeing right here)

blue flame and architectural details in Astoria, Queens
Architectural particulars and a blue flame seen on a house in Astoria, Queens.

The selection of blue for the flames made me curious – is there some particular that means to this? A gasoline flame may seem blue, however I don’t suppose this specific use of the colour is supposed as any type of reference to gasoline flames. Astoria has lengthy been generally known as having the biggest Greek neighborhood in New York, so an web seek for “blue flame Greek artwork” got here up with this sudden tidbit: “In Greek mythology, blue flame normally represents opposition, most likely as a result of blue being the “reverse” of yellow/orange. Scientifically, blue flame is produced by burning sulfur, one thing Christians normally affiliate with hell.” This led my curiosity to dig deeper, and I realized there’s one thing generally known as “Greek Hearth,” which was a flame-throwing weapon utilized by the Japanese Roman Empire within the seventh Century. There’s a query as to what shade it may need been, as the unique recipe for Greek Hearth has been misplaced to historical past, with some recommendations that it included potassium nitrate, or maybe calcium oxide. All they know is that it was some type of mysterious chemical concoction which might proceed to burn on water, which explains its use in naval battles – try this image from an ancient manuscript which describes a fleet of the Romans utilizing “Greek Hearth” to set ablaze the fleet of their enemies (however – in fact as you possibly can see, the flame is not blue).

Okay, I do know I’m going method off on a tangent as to why there could be sculptural flames painted blue on a terrace of a house in Astoria, it may merely be the results of a Greek home-owner utilizing a shade of blue that’s fairly widespread all through all of Greece, as one has little question seen in pictures such as these or pictures like these. Regardless that that might be the straightforward reply, the entire facet of Greek historical past and chemical weapons and historical manuscripts appeared like an fascinating detour to share right here.

If anybody has every other theories as to why these flames are blue, please share your ideas within the feedback part under.

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