15th Century Context Europe c. 1475• Great Schism still in effect until 1417, separating France (pope inAvignon) and Italy (pope in Rome).• Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France• Duke Philip the Bold (r. 1363-1404) married the daughter of thecount of Flanders (Flanders encompassed modern dayNetherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern France),annexing Burgundy and Flanders, making the dukes of Burgundysome of the most powerful leaders in northern Europe.• New economic system emerging: early stage of Europeancapitalism, involving new financial regulations of trade, and newcredit and exchange systems.• More individuals with wealth = more varied patrons of the arts,including royal, ducal, church, guild, and private patronage.• Oil paint, while invented in the 8th century, finally becomespopular and widely used, leading to rise of realism & detail (thepaintings in this chapter are all oil on wood, unless otherwisenoted).• Invention in 1456 of the printing press/moveable type byGutenberg, lead to greater production of books.• Notable integration of religious and secular concerns.
Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy Chartreuse de Champmol Dijon, France• The dukes of Burgundy were patrons of the arts who understoodthat artworks could support their dynastic and political goals, aswell as decorate their buildings.• Duke Philip the Bold built the Chartreuse de Champmol. Achartreuse (“charter house” in English) is a monastery for theCarthusian order of monks.• Carthusian monks devoted their lives to solitary living and prayer,and did not generate any revenue to support themselves.• Inspired by the French royal mausoleum at St. Denis, Philip theBold intended his patronage to the Carthusian monks to ensure:1.a ducal mausoleum at the site2.salvation in perpetuity for the Burgundian dukes (the monksprayed continuously for the souls of the ducal family).• The Chartreuse de Champmol was also intended to be a dynasticsymbol of Burgundian power.
Well of Moses Well of Moses Chartreuse de Champmol, Dijon, France c. 1400. Painted and gilded limestone. Moses 6’ high.• In 1389, Philip the Bold placed the Haarlem (Netherlands)sculptor Claus Sluter in charge of the sculptures for the Chartreusede Champmol.• In the cloister, Sluter designed a large sculptural fountain locatedin a well.• Although the well served as a water source for the monastery,water probably did not spout from the fountain because theCarthusian commitment to silence and prayer would haveprecluded anything that produced noise.• The Well of Moses features statues of prophets: Moses, David,Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zachariah.• The prophets surround a base that once supported a 25 foot tallgroup of Christ on the cross, the Virgin Mary, John the Evangelist,and Mary Magdalene.• The Well of Moses was considered a fons vitae, a fountain ofeverlasting life that redeemed anyone who drank from it.• Stylistic characteristics: close attention to textural detail,individualized features and clothing, naturalistic, detailed.• Originally painted and gilded to enhance life-likeness.
Oil Paint vs. Tempera• Although invented in the 8th century, it was in the early 1400sthat oil painting became widespread.• Tempera = pigment (color) mixed with egg yolk. Oil paint =pigment mixed with oils.• Tempera has a matte (not shiny) finish, whereas oil paint has aglossy sheen.• Tempera paint cracks when applied too thickly, so artists can addvery few layers. Oil paint is more flexible when dry, so artists canbuild up many layers.• When building layers, artists can add extra oil to oil paint to makeit transparent (see-through), a technique called glazing.• Tempera dries within only a few minutes, whereas oil paint driesvery slowly (anywhere from days to weeks, depending upon thecolor). This allowed artists more time to blend colors and reworkareas until they were perfect. • Oil colors are richer, deeper,and more vibrant.
The Mérode Altarpiece The Mérode Altarpiece Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle) Oil on wood, c. 1425. Center panel 2’ 1” sq.• Example of the integration of secular and religious concerns – • The book, extinguished candle, lilies, copper basin, towels, firethe Annunciation is shown taking place in a Flemish house. screen, and the closed garden outside all symbolize the Virgin’s• The altarpiece was intended for private household prayer. purity and her divine mission.• The patrons of the work (Peter Inghelbrecht, a wealthy • Joseph makes two mousetraps, symbolic of the concept thatmerchant, and his wife Margarete Scrynmakers) kneel outside, Christ is bait set in the trap of the world to catch the Devil.watching the event through the open doorway.
Ghent Altarpiece (closed)Hubert and Jan Van EyckSt. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Ghent Altarpiece (closed)Belgium. Oil on wood. 11.5’ high • Jan van Eyck was one of the pioneers of oil painting. He became the court painter of Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, in 1425, and moved his studio to Bruges in 1432, where the duke lived. • This retable (another word for altarpiece) is a polyptych that was commissioned by Jodocus Vyd (a diplomat), and his wife Isabel Borluut for a chapel they built in the Saint Bavo Cathedral. • Both the inside and outside were painted (as was typical). Usually, the altarpieces would be opened on Sundays and holidays, but kept closed otherwise. • The patrons are shown kneeling on the outside, praying towards the illusionistically painted “sculptures” of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, the patron saints of the city of Ghent. • The annunciation is depicted in the upper register. • The uppermost arched panels depict the prophets Zachariah (left) and Micah (right), with sibyls (Greco-Roman mythological female prophets whose writings the Christian Church interpreted as prophecies of Christ) in the center.
God (the Father) Virgin Mary John the Baptist Angels AngelsAdam Eve Confessors Lamb Virgin Martyrs Judges Knights Fountain Apostles & Pilgrims Hermits Prophets (Justice) (Fortitude) Of Life Martyrs (Prudence) (Temperance)
Ghent Altarpiece (open)Hubert and Jan Van EyckSt. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Ghent Altarpiece (open)Belgium. Oil on wood. 11.5’ high • The interior of the Ghent altarpiece depicts humanity’s redemption/salvation through Christ. • God the Father wears the pope’s triple tiara on his head, and has a worldly crown at his feet. • Mary as queen of Heaven wears a crown with 12 stars. • The message: Even though humans (represented by Adam and Eve) are sinful, they will be saved because God, in his infinite love, will sacrifice his own son for that purpose. • The bottom panels depict the altar of the lamb, which symbolizes the sacrificed son of God, whose heart bleeds into a chalice, while into the fountain spills the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). • The altarpiece celebrates the whole Christian cycle from the fall of man to the redemption, presenting the Church triumphant in heavenly Jerusalem.
Depth of Field• One of the hallmarks of early Northern Renaissance painting is ahigh level of detail.• The extreme level of detail was made possible by the re-workability and layering possibilities of oil paint.• When we look at things in real life, our eye can only focus on onearea at a time; all else appears blurry/out of focus.• If we focus on something up close, that which is far seems out offocus, and vice versa. This is referred to as depth of field (in otherwords, how deep into your field of vision you choose to focus youreye… the more of an image is in focus at once, the greater its depthof field).• However, since a painting is actually flat, artists are able to createa vivid illusion of everything being in focus at once, regardless ofhow near or far it appears to be in the painting.• This attention to the large (macro) and the small (micro) at thesame time correlates to religious beliefs at the time. God wasthought to be in the whole world, but also in a tiny drop of water.
Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride• Emerging capitalism = more bourgeois (middle class) art patrons= more inclusion of patrons into art = more portraiture• This image of a financier and his new wife is secular, but withreligious undertones (integration of secular and religious).• One interpretation is that the image records the couple takingtheir marriage vows. Another is that the image records Giovanniconferring legal privileges on his wife to conduct business in hisabsence. In both cases, the artist functions as a witness (he is seenin the mirror, and the words above it say “van Eyck was here.”• Symbolism:-Cast aside clogs = event taking place on sacred ground-Dog = fidelity (faithfulness) and wealth-Carving on bedpost of St. Margaret, patron saint of childbirth.-Whisk broom = domesticity Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride-Oranges = fertility or Garden of Eden Jan van Eyck, c. 1434. 2’ 9” x 1’ 10.5”-Single candle = all-seeing eye of God-Medallions around mirror = scenes of the Passion of Christ = God’spromise of salvation for the couple-Figure placement – woman stands further in the room (domestic)and the man stands near the window/outside world.
Detail images fromGiovanni Arnolfini and his Bride
Man in a Red Turban• As artists and patrons became more interested in reality (bothphysical and psychological), privately commissioned portraitsbecame more common.• Patrons wanted to memorialize themselves in their dynastic linesand to establish their identities, ranks, and stations with moreconcrete images than a coat of arms.• Portraits also served to represent state officials at events theycould not attend.• This painting was unusual because it was the first known Westernpainted portrait in a thousand years where the subject looksdirectly at the viewer.• The painter created the illusion that from whatever angle aviewer observes the face, the eyes return that gaze.• The image is realistic, including wrinkles, veins in the eyes, andstubble, and is intended to be a “true” portrait.• The image may be of van Eyck himself. If so, it was probably usedto show clients the levels of realism of which he was capable. Man in a Red Turban• The frame is inscribed “As I can” in Flemish, but using Greek Jan van Eyckletters (top), and “Jan van Eyck made me” and the date in Latin 1433. 1’ 1” x 10”(bottom). The use of Greek and Latin may suggest the artist’s viewof himself as a successor to the fabled painters of antiquity.
Portrait of a LadyRogier van der Weydenc. 1460. Oil and tempera Portrait of a LadyOn wood panel. • Rogier van der Weyden was probably a student of Campin.14” x 10.5” • Van der Weyden’s workshop was in Brussels. • He was known for balancing the detailed individuality popular at the time with a flattering idealization of the features of men and women. • The portrait expresses the complex and often contradictory attitudes of the new middle-class patrons of the arts, who balanced pride in their accomplishments with appropriate modesty. • She is pious and humble, wealthy but proper and modest. • Features half-length pose, turned to three-quarters view, as well as high-waisted dress popular at the time.
DepositionRogier van der Weyden Deposition From an altarpiece in • This panel was the center panel of a triptych Louvain, Belgium. commissioned by the archer’s guild of Louvain for their c. 1442. church. Note the crossbow (the guild’s symbol) shaped Oil on wood panel. 7’2” x 8’7” tracery in the upper corners. • Figures are compressed into a shallow stage with a golden background. • The sideways tilts of the figures’ heads, as well as the expressions of grief, unify the group. • Mary, ashen and fainting as her son is removed from the cross, resembles her son in pose. This reflects the belief that Mary suffered the same pain at the crucifixion as her son. Their postures also vaguely resemble the shape of a crossbow. • Which figure is Joseph of Arimathea? How can you tell, based on your knowledge about him? • What is on the ground?
Last Judgment Altarpiece (open) Rogier van der Weyden C. 1443. Oil on wood panel. Open 7’4” x 17’ 11”. The Last Judgment Beaune, France.• Rogier’s largest and most elaborate work was created for a • Behind Mary and John on each side are a row of sixhospital in Beaune that was funded by the duke of Burgundy. apostles, then women (on the right) and men on the left).• Rogier may have been influenced by a recent trip to Rome. • The cloudy gold background signifies a heavenly realm.• Jesus (upper center, in red) presides over the archangel • Across the bottom, men and women climb out of theirMichael (center, lower, in white) as he weighs the souls tombs to be weighed. The good have lighter souls and weighduring the last judgment. Virgin Mary and John the Baptist less than the bad, who then throw themselves into Hell.kneel at either end of the rainbow. • Gabriel welcomes the good into Heaven on the left.
A Goldsmith in his Shop A Goldsmith in his Shop Petrus Christus, c. 1449. Oil on wood. 3’3” x 2’10”.• This image, by Petrus Christus, depicts St. Eligius, who was a Original location: Brugesmaster goldsmith before committing his life to God, sitting in hisshop, conferring with a young couple.• One interpretation of this painting is that the couple (perhaps thepatrons) is picking out wedding rings. The bride’s betrothal girdlelies on the table as a symbol of chastity. The scales that Eligius usesto weigh the gold rings is representative of the Last Judgment.• Another interpretation is that this painting was commissioned bythe goldsmith’s guild of Bruges (of which Eligius was the patronsaint) to decorate the guild chapel adjacent to their meetinghouse.• Historical records show that the reconsecration of the chapeltook place in 1449, the same date as the Christus painting, whichseems to support the theory that it was commissioned for thegoldsmith’s guild.• Christus included a variety of objects that served asadvertisement for the goldsmith’s guild, such as the raw materials(precious stones, beads, crystal, pearls) and finished products(rings, buckles, brooches). These items attest to the importance ofgoldsmiths in the making of secular and sacred objects.• Mirror in bottom left reflects the street behind the viewer.
The Last Supper Last Supper Dirk Bouts, c. 1465. Center panel of the Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament, St. Peter’s, Louvain, Belgium.• Dirk Bouts of Haarlem painted this depiction of the Last Supper asthe central panel of an altarpiece commissioned by theConfraternity of the Holy Sacrament (a group dedicated to theworship of the Eucharist) for Louvain’s town hall.• One of the earliest examples of a vanishing point, where all of theorthogonal (converging diagonal) lines meet.• However, the horizon of the town outside the window is not levelwith the vanishing point, and the back room has its own vanishingpoint.• Bouts does not focus on the biblical narrative itself (such asJudas’ betrayal or Christ comforting John), but instead presentedChrist in the role of a priest performing a ritual from the liturgy –the consecration of the Eucharistic wafer.• The two standing servants, and the two figures in the window,are depictions of members of the Confraternity who commissionedthe artwork.
Portinari Altarpiece Portinari Altarpiece (open) Hugo van der Goes From Sant’Egidio, Florence, Italy, c. 1476. Tempera and oil on wood. 8’3” tall.• Symbols include: • Flemish painting had become renowned throughout Europe by 1450. This altarpiece was-Iris and columbine flowers (sorrows commissioned of a Hugo van der Goes of Ghent (Flemish) for a family chapel in Florence, Italy.of the virgin) • The patron was Tommaso Portinari of Florence, a ship owner and agent for the wealthy Medici-Sheaf of wheat stands for family (more on them later). Portinari and his family appear on the wings of the painting, alongBethlehem, the “house of bread” in with their patron saints.Hebrew, symbol of the Eucharist • The central panel depicts the Adoration of the Shepherds. Figures are solemn, focusing on the-Harp of David (above the doorway) suffering to come.signifies the ancestry of Christ. • Background shows flight to Egypt, annunciation of the shepherds, and the arrival of the Magi.
Virgin with Saints and Angels Virgin with Saints and Angels Hans Memling, c. 1479. Center panel for the Saint John Altarpiece,• Hans Memling, a contemporary of Hugo’s, became a Hospitaal Sint Jan, Bruges, Belgium.citizen of Bruges in 1465. Approx. 5’ 7” x 10.5”• Memling’s depictions of Mary show her as young, slight,and pretty, holding a doll-like baby Christ.• The Virgin with Saints and Angels was commissioned bytwo brothers and two sisters of the order of the Hospital ofSt. John in Bruges (they are depicted on side panels notshown here). Virgin St. John the• This painting depicts the mystic marriage of St. Catherine St. John the Mary Evangelist Baptistof Alexandria, one of the many virgin saints believed to have Angelentered into a spiritual marriage with Christ. Angel• As one of the most revered virgins of Christ, St. Catherineprovided a model of devotion that resonated with womenviewers, especially nuns. Jesus St. Catherine St. Barbara
Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de BerryLimbourg Brothers, c. 1413 Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de BerryColors and ink on vellum, 9” x 5”. • During this time, the French illuminated manuscripts began to depict more 3-dimensional scenes (similar to paintings). • This manuscript was illustrated by the Limbourg Brothers (Pol, Herman, and Jean). They were from the Netherlands, but moved to Paris around 1402. • The Limbourg Brothers worked in Paris and Bourges for Jean, duke of Berry and brother of the French King Charles V of France. The duke ruled the regious of Berry, Poitou, and Auvergne. • Jean, duke of Berry, commissioned the Limbourg Brothers to create a Book of Hours, which was a type of prayer book that contained prayers to be read at specific hours of the day. • The title of this work translates to “The Very Sumptuous Hours of the Duke of Berry” (sumptuous = lavish, magnificent) • The eventual popularity of these books amongst well-off citizens lead to the decentralization of religious practice that was one factor in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. • The centerpiece of a Book of Hours was the “Office [prayer] of the Blessed Virgin,” which contained liturgical passages to be read privately at set times during the day. • An illustrated calendar containing local religious feast days usually preceded the Office of the Blessed Virgin.
Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de BerryLimbourg Brothers, c. 1413 Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de BerryColors and ink on vellum, 9” x 5”. • The full-page calendar illustrations in Les Trés Riches Heures represent the twelve months in terms of the associated seasonal tasks, alternating scenes of nobility and peasantry. • Above each picture is a lunette in which the Limbourgs depicted the zodiac signs and the chariot of the sun as it makes its yearly cycle through the heavens. • The book also visually captures the power of the duke and his relationship to the peasants. • The pleasant way in which peasant life was depicted flattered the duke’s sense of himself as a compassionate master. • The growing interest in naturalism is evident in the carefully depicted architectural details of the Louvre and the shadows cast by the figures in the image on the left. • As a whole, Les Trés Riches Heures reinforced the image of the duke of Berry as a devout man, cultured bibliophile, sophisticated art patron, and powerful and magnanimous leader. • Furthermore, the expanded range of subject matter, especially the prominence of non-religious subjects in a religious book, reflected the increasing integration of religious and secular concerns in both art and life at the time.
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