Parmagianino Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror c. 1524
Lucas Cranach the Elder The Judgment of Paris c. 1528 Oil on wood, 101,9 x 71,1 cm Cranach was one of the most versatile artists of the Northern Renaissance, a staunch patron of the Reformation, and a close friend of Martin Luther. He painted didactic religious paintings, but he also produced mythological scenes and explored the depiction of the female nude. Although his style, unlike that of Dürer, borrowed little from the Italians, he favoured mythological and classical subjects and painted the story of the Judgment of Paris many times during the course of his career. Here the artist has chosen a German version of the story, in which Mercury presents the three goddesses - Juno, Venus, and Minerva - to Paris in a dream. Cranach signals Venus's victory by placing Cupid, her son, in the upper left, aiming in her direction as she points to him. The figures of the three women give the artist an opportunity to make a visual tour of the female nude from different perspectives. Paris wears the armor of the German knight and not the garb of antiquity.
The Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias GRÜNEWALD The Isenheim Altarpiece was executed for the hospital chapel of Saint Anthony's Monastery in Isenheim in Alsace, which explains the presence of the plague saint, St Sebastian, and the patrons of the more austere and solitary forms of monasticism, St Antony Abbot and St Paul the Hermit. The altarpiece is now at the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar, a nearby town. The Isenheim Altar is a complicated structure with four layers of painted surfaces - that is, two sets of folding wings, like a double cupboard, enclosing the final altarpiece, which consists of three carved wood statues of saints. There are also two side panels and a predella. In form, therefore, it harks back to the type of Burgundian and German carved altar of which the Broederlam at Dijon is a classic example. There are three views of the altarpiece. The first, with the wings closed, is a Crucifixion showing a harrowingly detailed, twisted, and bloody figure of Christ on the cross in the center flanked, on the left, by the mourning Madonna being comforted by John the Apostle, and Mary Magdalene kneeling with hands clasped in prayer, and, on the right, by a standing John the Baptist pointing to the dying Saviour. At the feet of the Baptist is a lamb holding a cross, symbol of the "Lamb of God" slaughtered for man's sins. Mah-tee-us Groo-nuh-valt
Art for Grünewald did not consist in the search for the hidden laws of beauty - for him it could have only one aim, the aim of all religious art in the Middle Ages - that of providing a sermon in pictures, of proclaiming the sacred truths as taught by the Church. The central panel of the Isenheim altarpiece shows that he sacrificed all other considerations to this one overriding aim. Of beauty, as the Italian artists saw it, there is none in the stark and cruel picture of the crucified Saviour. Christ's dying body is distorted by the torture of the cross; the thorns of the scourges stick in the festering wounds which cover the whole figure. There is one unreal and fantastic trait: the figures differ greatly in size. We need only compare the hands of St Mary Magdalene under the Cross with those of Christ to become fully aware of the astonishing difference in their dimensions. It is clear that in these matters Grünewald rejected the rules of modern art as it had developed since the Renaissance, and that he deliberately returned to the principles of medieval and primitive painters, who varied the size of their figures according to their importance in the picture. Just as he had sacrificed the pleasing kind of beauty for the sake of the spiritual lesson of the altar, he also disregarded the new demand for correct proportions, since this helped him to express the mystic truth of the words of St John. His suffering is reflected in the traditional group of Mary, in the garb of a widow, fainting in the arms of St John the Evangelist, to whose care the Lord has commended her, and in the smaller figure of St Mary Magdalene with her vessel of ointments, wringing her hands in sorrow. On the other side of the Cross, there stands the powerful figure of St John the Baptist with the ancient symbol of the lamb carrying the cross and pouring out its blood into the chalice of the Holy Communion. With a stern and commanding gesture he points towards the Savior, and over him are written the words that he speaks (according to the gospel of St John iii. 30): 'He must increase, but I must decrease.'
The work of Grünewald expresses the torment of the early sixteenth century more fully than that of any other artist. This was painted before Luther nailed his theses to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517, but it is painted by a man who, like Bosch, used his great technical powers to express a simple, unmistakable message of emotional intensity and terrible realism.. In the Alsase region of France, in the little town of Issenheim, a monastery dedicated to St. Anthony was founded to take care of people suffering from a disease known as "St. Anthony's fire." The disease is known today as ergotism and is caused by a poisonous fungus that lives on rye grain ‹ a staple in that part of the world. St. Anthony's fire is a truly horrible disease. It produces putrefying sores all over the body. The sores generate a burning sensation, as though one is truly being attacked by fire. There are patches of gangrene all over the skin. In the advanced stages, patients are subject to terrifying hallucinations in which they think they are being attacked by demons and fiends from Hell. The only treatment available, at the time, was to amputate the limbs in the hopes of keeping the poison from spreading to the brain. The cure, as is often the case, was often as bad as the disease. So, the members of the Order of St. Anthony wanted to try something else. They commissioned the artist, Matthais Grunewald, to paint a marvelous triptych of the crucifixion to hang over the altar of their chapel. Patients admitted to the monastery had to go, every day, to the altar and simply stare, for hours at a time, at the suffering and crucified Christ ‹ a Christ who was painted, in horrifying detail, with the exact symptoms of St. Anthony's fire. Anyone who has suffered, anyone who loves someone who suffers, is awestruck in the presence of this tremendous work of art The predella (lower section) opens to expose an inner scene. The sliding of the pieces make Christ’s legs appear to amputated.
In the second view, when the wings are opened, three scenes of celebration are revealed: the Annunciation, the Angel Concert for Madonna and Child, and the Resurrection.
And just as he used his brush to depict the dead and tormented body of Christ, he used it on another panel to convey its transfiguration at the Resurrection into an unearthly apparition of heavenly light. It is difficult to describe this picture because, once more, so much depends on its colors. It seems as if Christ has just soared out of the grave, leaving a trail of radiant light the shroud in which the body has been swathed reflecting the colored rays of the halo. There is a poignant contrast between the risen Christ, who is hovering over the scene, and the helpless gestures of the soldiers on the ground, who are dazzled and overwhelmed by this sudden apparition of light. As we cannot assess the distance between foreground and background, the two soldiers behind the grave look like puppets who have tumbled over, and their distorted shapes only serve to throw into relief the serene and majestic calm of the transfigured body of Christ. Piero della Francesca
The third view with wings opened again discloses on either side of the carved innermost shrine two panels, Sts Paul and Antony in the Desert and a Temptation of St Antony .
The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse 1497-98 Woodcut, 399 x 286 mm The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is the best known and most frequently referred to scene in the Apocalypse. After the opening of the first four seals (Rev. 6, 1- 8), the Horsemen enter the world and bring plague, war, hunger and death to mankind. The four horsemen are 1) The `conqueror' holding a bow; 2) `War' with. a sword; 3) `Famine' with a pair of scales; 4) `Death', on a `sickly pale' horse, closely followed by Hades, a gaping jawed Leviathan. The horsemen have been variously interpreted. To the Middle Ages the first stood for Christ and the Church; but more commonly all four are seen as the agents of divine wrath. The group of riders, accompanied by an angel, thunders across mankind and does not appear to touch the ground. Finally, Hades, the hellish creature at the side of the Four Horsemen is swallowing everything in his enormous jaws that Death, the final rider, has passed.
The Fall of Man/Adam and Eve 1504 Engraving, 252 x 194 mm This engraving is one of Dürer's most famous engraved works. It draws on the sum of his four-year study of the ideal proportions of the human body (ie. Influence of Italian Renaissance). The poses are reminiscent of the “Apollo Belvedere” and the “Medici Venus.” His interest in the biblical narrative is subordinate to his depiction of Adam and Eve as ideal proportioned female and male nudes in imitation of classical sculptures. The elk, hare, cat and ox symbolize the four humors into which the human soul divided after the Fall of Man. The four humors were four fluids that were thought to permeate the body and influence its health. ( blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile) The "humours" gave off vapors which ascended to the brain; an individual's personal characteristics (physical, mental, moral) were explained by his or her "temperament," or the state of theat person's "humours." The parrot represents Mary as a second Eve and the ibex in the background represents the infidels. The conscious application for the first time of a set of rules of proportion explains why these figures have a rigid pose, contradictory to the essence of Dürer's concept of nature. It is certain that the biblical story served the artist only as a pretext for representing the nude, both male and female, based on Apollo Belvedere and on Venus. Nowhere else has Dürer treated the flesh with such caressing care, using much fine dotting in the modeling, and in no previous plate has he used such a variety of textures in the conscious striving for color.
All botanical details are rendered with an almost microscopic precision, and Dürer tried to give the impression that this partial view was totally accidental by showing a chaotic arrangement of grasses, leaves and meadow flowers. The plants that have been identified are daisies, yarrow, plantains, dandelions, pimpernels and cocksfoot. Symbolic aspects are not likely to be involved here. Dürer was probably more interested in the medicinal and herbal aspects, as well as the healing powers, of different kinds of sap. The Great Piece of Turf 1503 Watercolor and gouache on paper Dürer was one of the earliest artists to tackle nature studies and this is one of his finest examples. The frightened hare has cowered down with its ears alert, ready to spring up and flee. Dürer probably painted the hare from both a stuffed model and very careful observation of live animals. Young Hare 1502 Watercolor and gouache on paper
Melencolia I 1514 Engraving, 239 x 189 mm Melencolia I is by far the most complex of the three master engravings. The winged genius, representing the figure of Melancholy, rests her head on her hand, in a reflective pose, and holds a compass. Around her are geometric shapes, including a sphere and a giant polyhedron, along with scattered woodworking tools. The tools are drawn from the field of measuring and building, in other words, architecture. The rhomboid and sphere represent geometry, the science of measurement and numbers upon which all arts are based. On the wall of the building hang a bell, an hourglass, scales and a magic square of 16 numerals (with each line adding up to 34). A dog sleeps at Melancholy's feet and a cherub sits astride an upturned millstone. A bat-like creature holds up the inscription `Melencolia I'. The dog and bat correspond to this melancholy humor. Melancholy was considered to be both a negative and positive power of the mind, as represented by the bat and writing putto. Although the precise meaning of the image is now elusive, it deals with the relationship between melancholy and creativity. While melancholy may take away enthusiasm for creativity, it is often a characteristic of the creative.
Knight, Death and the Devil 1513 Engraving, 245 x 188 mm During 1513 and 1514 Dürer created the greatest of his copperplate engravings: the Knight, St Jerome in His Study, and Melencolia I - all of approximately the same size. The extensive, complex, and often contradictory literature concerning these three engravings deals largely with their enigmatic, allusive, iconographic details. Although repeatedly contested, it probably must be accepted that the engravings were intended to be interpreted together. There is general agreement, however, that Dürer, in these three master engravings, wished to raise his artistic intensity to the highest level, which he succeeded in doing. Finished form and richness of conception and mood merge into a whole of classical perfection. Knight, Death and the Devil, also known as The Rider, represents an allegory on Christian salvation. Unflustered either by Death who is standing in front of him with his hour-glass, or by the Devil behind him, an armored knight is riding along a narrow defile, accompanied by his loyal hound. This represents the steady route of the faithful, through all of life's injustice, to God who is symbolized by the castle in the background. The dog symbolizes faith, and the lizard religious zeal. The horse and rider, like other preliminary studies made by Dürer, are derived from the canon of proportions drawn up by Leonardo da Vinci.
Albrecht Durer The Four Holy Men 1526 Dürer did not paint these four paintings on commission. It was he who wanted to donate them to Nuremberg, his native city. On 6 October 1526 the artist offered The Four Holy Men to the city fathers of Nuremberg: `I have been intending, for a long time past, to show my respect for your excellencies by the presentation of some humble picture of mine as a remembrance; but I have been prevented from so doing by the imperfection and insignificance of my works... Now, however, that I have just painted a panel upon which I have bestowed more trouble than on any other painting, I considered none more worthy to keep it as a memorial than your excellencies.'. The four monumental figures remained in the municipality of Nuremberg until 1627, when,, they had to be sold to the elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I, a great enthusiast of Dürer's work. On that occasion, however, the prince had the inscriptions, at the bottom of the paintings, sawed off and sent back to Nuremberg, as they were considered heretical and injurious to his position as the sovereign Catholic. The city handed them over to the museum in Munich in 1922, where they were rejoined with their respective panels. Despite the presence of the Evangelist Mark, the pair of panels with their slightly larger than life-size figures have since the 1530s usually been called `The Four Apostles', although The Four Holy Men is a more accurate title. John the Evangelist stands on the far left, holding an open New Testament from which he is reading the first verses of his Gospel. Behind him is the figure of Peter, holding the golden key to the gate of heaven. On the other panel, standing at the back, is the Evangelist Mark, with a scroll. On the far right is Paul, holding a closed Bible and leaning on the sword - a reference to his subsequent execution. The Four Apostles, witnesses to the faith, were to simultaneously function as a warning. For this, their figures had inscriptions affixed that the calligrapher Johann Neudörfer had added to the bottom of the panels, which reproduced biblical passages from the recent translation of Martin Luther (1522). The first line of both are references to the Apocalypse of St John (22:18 ff.), but the essential content has another origin: it is a reproach to the secular powers not to conceal the divine word in seductive human interpretation. The Four Apostles undoubtedly represents his personal religious credo through the inscriptions. His position is to be on guard against the "false prophets." This becomes understandable if one considers the political-religious background of that time and the violence and passion of the religious upheavals, which favored the onset of false doctrines. Dürer knew that his support of the Lutheran movement, which surely came out from the words of the inscriptions, would have been shared by important and influential citizens; in fact, different from the majority of Nuremberg sovereignties, firmly embraced Protestantism in toto.
Portraits of Henry VIII and his Family by Hans HOLBEIN the Younger
(Hahnz HOLE-bine ) Hans Holbein the Younger Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (`The Ambassadors') 1533
This huge panel is one of the earliest portraits combining two full-length figures on the scale of life. While life is short, Holbein seems to say, art is long-lasting - but eternity endures for ever. On our left stands Jean de Dinteville, a French nobleman posted to London as ambassador. The globe on the bottom shelf shows Polisy, where he had his château; the ornate sheath of the dagger in his right hand gives his age as 29. To his left stands his friend and fellow-countryman, Georges de Selve, whose visit to London in 1533 is commemorated here. A brilliant classical scholar, he had some years earlier been created Bishop of Lavaur. He leans his elbow on a book inscribed with his age: 25. In their attire, their poses and their bearing the two friends exemplify, respectively, the active and the contemplative life, which, together, complement each other. On the what-not between them Holbein has depicted the wide range of their interests - a compendium of the culture of the age. On the top shelf, the minutely rendered `Turkey' carpet bears a celestial globe and an array of astronomical and navigational instruments. The cylindrical dial gives the date as 11 April; the polyhedral dial on the right indicates two different times of day. In front of the terrestrial globe on the lower shelf lies a German text-book of Arithmetic for Merchants, propped open with a T-square. A lute and a case of recorders or flutes demonstrate both Holbein's mastery of foreshortening and the sitters' musical interests. But a string of the lute has snapped, a traditional emblem of fragility. Just visible in the top left corner, at the edge of the magnificently patterned green hanging, is a crucifix. The hymnal in front of the lute is open at Martin Luther's hymn,'Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire'. Christian faith offers hope of eternal life when dust returns to dust. Across the mosaic floor - derived from the medieval pavement in Westminster Abbey - there spreads a curious shape between the two friends. It is a skull, skilfully distorted so that its true form can only be perceived from the correct viewpoint at the edges of the panel. The painting may have been intended to hang over a staircase so that viewers might see it when ascending or descending. Possibly referring to a personal device of Jean de Dinteville, whose cap medallion bears a skull, it is also the quintessential memento mori, reminder of mortality. In Holbein's meticulously real-seeming picture, the distortion also functions as a signal that reality, as perceived by the senses, must be viewed `correctly' to reveal its full meaning. A frontal nod of recognition at the worldly semblance of things is not enough.
The painting is part of a series executed for Philip of Burgundy. The painting shows the first nudes in the history of Flemish art. Mabuse was one of the first artists to disseminate the Italian style in the Low Countries, an interest stimulated when he accompanied his patron Philip of Burgundy to Rome in 1508-9. For the next 150 years, it was customary for Flemish painters to visit Italy, often adopting an Italianate style of painting. Gossaert's version of the style married Flemish figures with Italianized architectural elements and classical poses. All of Italy was filled with enthusiasm for the monuments of antiquity. Mabuse devoted his whole sojourn to studying and copying for Philip of Burgundy the ruins of Rome. The first result of this journey was a change in his decorative scheme, to which we owe the architectural backgrounds, the colonnades, the palaces, the visions of a world of marble with magnificent pediments, which raise their noble outlines in his pictures. Jan Gossaert ( Mabuse) Neptune and Amphitrite 1516 Oil on wood In 1515, humanist and longtime Gossaert patron Philip of Burgundy commissioned Gossaert and Venetian artist Jacopo de' Barbari to decorate his Castle Souburg near Middelburg. Philip wanted to surround himself with scenes from classical mythology, giving Gossaert his first major opportunity to explore the nude in movement. Only one panel survives, but it demonstrates why Gossaert is credited with introducing nude figures into Flemish art. The nude figures in this picture, Neptune and Amphitrite , are greatly influenced by Albrecht Dürer's work.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder The Hunters in the Snow (Winter) 1565 Oil on panel Bruegel specialized in landscapes populated by peasants, painted in a simpler style than the Italianate art that prevailed at the time. The most obvious influence on his art is the older Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. He is nicknamed 'Peasant Brueghel' to distinguish him from other members of the Brueghel dynasty, but is also the one generally meant when the context does not make clear which "Brueghel" is being referred to. He is often credited as being the first western painter to paint landscapes for their own sake, rather than as a backdrop to a religious allegory. The painting belongs to a series of painting representing the Months. The paintings were commissioned by a collector in Antwerp. <ul><ul><li>PAYT-ur BROY-gul </li></ul></ul>
Netherlandish Proverbs , or the Blue Cloak as it is sometimes called, includes visual representations of perhaps more than 90 individual proverbs. Neverlandish Proverbs relates to northern parables, and has a multitude of surreal details, such as pies on the roof and a man bashing his head against a wall. The meaning of most of these images are now lost, but it is certain that they include some type of moral commentary. The precise number of proverbs remains somewhat uncertain because modern scholarly interpretations vary and, in some case, more than one proverb might be assigned to the same component in the painting. The painting of a bustling village scene is filled with humorous references to 16th-century visual culture while also warning against foolish behavior and addressing the relationship of the individual to society. Many of the proverbial expressions are familiar to us today, such as "swimming against the tide" and "big fish eat little fish." Others are no longer in use, such as to "have one's roof covered in tarts." One woman holds a distaff while the other woman spins. He carries a basket of light into the daylight. A young woman hangs a blue cloak on her elderly husband (a deceived or cuckolded man). Don't count your chickens before they hatch
<ul><li>Daar zijn de daken met vladen gedekt. There the roofs are tiled with tarts! The image is one connoting a plentitude or a state of wealth. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Daar steekt de bezem uit. There the broom sticks out. This signifies that the head of the household is not at home which in turn indicates that a party is in progress or soon will be. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Onder het mes zitten. Sitting under the knife. A severe testing under great pressure. </li></ul><ul><li>4. 't is naar het vallen van de kaart. It depends on the fall of the cards. So much of life is a matter of luck. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Een pilaarbijter. A pillar biter. A religious hypocrite. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Zij draagt water in de eene, en vuur in de andere hand. She carries water in one hand and fire in the other. Someone who is two-faced. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Men kan met het hoofd niet door den muur loopen. One cannot walk headfirst through a wall. A man foolishly trying to ignore the hard realities of the natural world. </li></ul><ul><li>8. De een scheert de schapen, de ander de varkens. The one shears the sheep, the other the pigs. In life some individuals have opportunities for material success while others do not. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
Unlike the “ideal” humans painted by Italian Renaissance artists, Brueghel’s subjects are truly recognizable people, although they are somewhat generalized and anonymous. Each of his paintings is so realistic that the viewer almost feels invited to participate in the fun. His work offers a satirical look at a kerness (festival for a saint) becoming an event for man’s anger, lust, and gluttony. Kissing in public Peacock feather in hat = vanity No one paying attention to Madonna on poster tacked to tree A fight is brewing at the table Pieter Brueghel the Elder The Peasant Dance 1568
Jean Clouet Portrait of François I, King of France 1525-30 (Kloo-Ay) Francis I (1494-1547) became king of France in 1515 while still a young man, and like the German emperor Charles V (emperor 1519-1556) and Henry VIII of England (king 1509-1547) he was always eager to present himself in a setting of great splendour. Clouet's portrait of Francis had an important role in this. In the unusually large Louvre portrait, Clouet shows Francis I in opulent Renaissance apparel; the traditional insignia of royal majesty were dispensed with, but crowns are woven in to the costly red damask behind the figure of the king. The painting is one of the masterpieces of Renaissance portraiture. The half length figure of the king is painted in front of a scarlet brocade background. His cap, studded with pearls, is encircled with white feathers. His magnificent black and white striped satin doublet is lavishly embroidered in gold. A medal of St Michael is suspended on a gold chain around his neck. His right hand, holding gloves, rests on a table with a green velvet cover; his left on a magnificently worked sword hilt. His narrowed blue eyes, his shrewd glance, his dark moustache and beard lend his face a singular attraction. The whole is a telling portrait of a sovereign who was an outstanding personality and a generous Renaissance patron of art.
The Royal Château at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher , France , is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture that blends traditional medieval forms with classical Italian structures. It is the largest castle in the Loire Valley , but was built to serve only as a hunting lodge for King François I who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and at Château d'Amboise . The original design of the Château de Chambord was by Domenico da Cortona , but was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction (1519‑1539). Leonardo da Vinci , a guest of King Francois at Clos Lucé near Amboise, is believed to have been involved in the original design. Nearing completion, King François showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old enemy, Emperor Charles V . The massive castle features 6 immense towers, 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Four rectangular vaulted hallways on each floor form a cross-shape, meeting in the center. One of the architectural highlights, and very popular with the general public, is the spectacular double-helix open staircase where people can ascend and descend at the same time without ever meeting. The castle is surrounded by a 52.5‑km² (13,000‑acre) wooded park and game reserve filled with Red Deer enclosed by a 31‑kilometre (20‑mile) wall. The Royal Château at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher , France, is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture that blends traditional medieval forms with classical Italian structures. It is the largest castle in the Loire Valley, but was built to serve only as a hunting lodge for King François I who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and at Château d'Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord was by Domenico da Cortona , but was altered considerably during the twenty years of its construction (1519‑1539). Leonardo da Vinci, a guest of King Francois at Clos Lucé near Amboise, is believed to have been involved in the original design. Nearing completion, King François showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old enemy, Charles V. Château de Chambord (shän -bôr)
Francis I appointed him architect of the Louvre in 1546, and with this building his fame will always be connected. For remodeling the old bastions of the fortress into a residence, the celebrated Italian, Serlio, drew up a plan which he himself afterwards put aside in favor of Lescot's design. Three sides of a square court were to be enclosed by living apartments of royal splendor while the fourth or east side was probably destined to open with an arcade. Corner pavilions, remarkable for commanding height and adorned by pillars and statues, replaced the medieval towers. The master was destined to finish only the west side and part of the south side. The building was two stories high with a richly ornamented attic crowned by a tasteful roof. In the ground story the windows were rounded; the small round windows over the portals ( oeils de boeuf ) afterwards become very popular. In the second story the windows are square and finished off with plain Renaissance pediments. Slightly projecting members and slabs of colored marble give fife to the massive masonry. A peculiar effect was obtained by the sparing use of rough-hewn stone in the corner decorations. Pierre Lescot Square Court of Louvre, 1546-
Jean Goujon chiseled the sculpted ornaments of the facade, showing surprising allegories of the monarchic power. These are a few details of the reliefs from the façade of the Louvre.
Jean Goujon, the greatest 16th-century French sculptor, began work on his masterpiece, the Fontaine des Innocents, at the end of 1548. Its original architecture is now greatly modified. Five nymphs personifying the rivers of France are placed between pilasters. While Goujon may have been inspired by Rosso, he rejected the Mannerism of the Fontainebleau school and devoted his masterly talents to a revival of the classical purity of later 5th century Greek art, thus paving the way for modern French sculpture. In the figure reproduced, the supple, graceful gesture, admirably composed within the architectural frame, is counterbalanced by the delicate thrust of hips and breasts. The essence of Goujon's art is summarized in the fluid movements, subtle modeling, and rippling folds - here especially appropriate to the theme - combined with accurate drawing. The elongated figures confined in tall vertical panels create a rhythmical linear pattern in the arrangement of their filmy draperies, achieving an expression of great delicacy, elegance, and sophistication Jean Goujon, 1548-49 Fontaine des Innocents (zhäN goo zhôN)
Cretan-born painter, sculptor, and architect who settled in Spain and is regarded as the first great genius of the Spanish School. He was known as El Greco (the Greek), but his real name was Domenikos Theotocopoulos; and it was thus that he signed his paintings throughout his life, always in Greek characters, and sometimes followed by Kres (Cretan).
The painting illustrates a popular local legend. In 1312, a certain Don Gonzalo Ruíz, native of Toledo, and Señor of the town of Orgaz, died (the family received the title of Count, by which he is generally known, only later). He was a pious man who, among other charitable acts, left moneys for the enlargement and adornment of the church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's parish church). At his burial, Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine intervened to lay him to rest. The occasion for the commission of the painting for the chapel in which the Señor was buried, was the resumption of the tribute payable to the church by the town of Orgaz, which had been withheld for over two centuries. It was the custom for the eminent and noble men of the town to assist at the burial of the high-born, and it was stipulated in the contract that the scene should be represented in this way.. Unfortunately, there is no record of the identity of the sitters. Andrés Núñez, the parish priest, and a friend of El Greco's, who was responsible for the commission, is certainly the figure on the extreme right. The artist himself can be recognized in the caballero third from the left, immediately above the head of Saint Stephen. The artist's son acts as the young page. The signature of the artist appears on the handkerchief in the pocket of the young boy, and by a strange conceit it is followed by the date '1578' - the year of Jorge Manuel's birth, and certainly not the date of the painting. The boy points to the body of the deceased, thus bringing together birth and death. The painting is very clearly divided into two zones, the heavenly above and the terrestrial below, but there is little feeling of duality. The upper and lower zones are brought together compositionally (e.g., by the standing figures, by their varied participation in the earthly and heavenly event, by the torches, cross, . . .). The grand circular mandorla-like pattern of the two Saints descended from Heaven echoes the pattern formed by the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist, and the action is given explicit expression. The point of equilibrium is the outstretched hand poised in the void between the two Saints, whence the mortal body descends, and the Soul, in the medieval form of a transparent and naked child, is taken up by the angel to be received in Heaven. The supernatural appearance of the Saints is enhanced by the splendor of color and light of their gold vestments.