Renaissance refers to a period in the development of Western Art and culture. Beginning 1300 and ending in 1600. It was a time of rediscovery, changes and had many trends and contradictions. Usually is associated with Italy, especially Florence, Venice and Rome. But Northern Europe also contributed particularly in the development of Naturalism.

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Matthias-Grünewald-The-Mocking-of-Christ

Masters of Art: Matthias Grünewald (1470 – 1528)

Matthias Grünewald or “Mathis” (as first name), “Gothart” or “Neithardt” (as surname), (c. 1470 – August 31, 1528), was a German Renaissance painter of religious works, who ignored Renaissance classicism to continue the expressive and intense style of late medieval Central European art into the 16th century.

Movements: Renaissance

 Benefactor with Bird Cage

Benefactor with Bird Cage

Only ten paintings—several consisting of many panels—and thirty-five drawings survive, all religious, although many others were lost at sea in the Baltic on their way to Sweden as war booty. His reputation was obscured until the late nineteenth century, and many of his paintings were attributed to Albrecht Dürer, who is now seen as his stylistic antithesis. His largest and most famous work is the Isenheim Altarpiece created between 1506-1515.

The details of his life are unusually unclear for a painter of his significance at this date, despite the fact that his commissions show that he had reasonable recognition in his own lifetime. The first source for his biography is the German art historian Joachim von Sandrart, who describes him as around 1505 working on the exterior decoration of an altarpiece by Albrecht Dürer in Frankfurt; this is the sort of work typically performed by apprentices and therefore an estimate of his age can be reached, suggesting he was born in 1480-83.  Sandrart records that Grünewald had as an apprentice the painter Hans Grimmer, who would become famous in his time, but most of whose works were lost in the Thirty Years’ War.  Sandrart describes Grünewald as leading a withdrawn and melancholy life, and marrying unhappily.

More recent investigations have provided further information on Grünewald’s life. In 1511 he became court artist of Uriel von Gemmingen, Archbishop of Mainz, and he also worked for the next archbishop, Albert of Brandenburg. In 1512 he settled in nearby Frankfurt where records indicate he bought a house and married Anna, a converted Jew, then probably aged 18; the marriage was not happy and in 1523 she would be institutionalised with what is variously described as mental illness and demonic possession.

From 1512 to 1514 or 1515 he worked on the Isenheim altarpiece, apparently in partnership with another Mathis, variously surnamed Nithart, Neithart, von Würzburg (after his place of birth), or Gothardt. Grünewald seems to have left Isenheim in a hurry, returning to Frankfurt, and his subsequent poverty suggests he was not fully paid for the altarpiece. In 1527 he entered the services of the wealthy and noble von Erbach family, apparently with a child (whether his own or adopted, is unclear). He most probably died in 1532, although sources vary.

There has been considerable uncertainty about the details of his life. In 1938 Walter Karl Zülch published the theory that Grünewald and his partner Nithart/Gothardt were the same person; this Nithart/Gothardt was a painter, engineer, and “water artist” born in Würzburg in the 1460s or maybe 1470s and probably dying in 1528. This theory is now generally discredited, although more recent historians believe Nithart/Gothardt may have pretended to be Grünewald for business reasons.

The Temptation of St Anthony

The Temptation of St Anthony

The Resurrection

The Resurrection

The Mocking of Christ

The Mocking of Christ

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Stuppach Madonna

Stuppach Madonna

Sts Paul and Anthony in the Desert

Sts Paul and Anthony in the Desert

Matthias Grünewald - St Lawrence and St Cyricus

Matthias Grünewald – St Lawrence and St Cyricus

Matthias Grünewald - St Elizabeth and a Saint Woman with Palm

St Elizabeth and a Saint Woman with Palm

 

Meeting of St Erasm and St Maurice

Meeting of St Erasm and St Maurice

 Lamentation of Christ

Lamentation of Christ

Concert of Angels and Nativity

Concert of Angels and Nativity

 Carrying the cross

Carrying the cross

Grünewald’s first dated painting is probably in Munich, dated 1503 on a much later note which apparently records an older inscription. There is much speculation about Grünewald’s politics, with some people associating him with the Reformation or support for the lower classes. He may have left the Archbishop of Mainz because of sympathies either with the German Peasants’ War, or Lutheranism (he had some Lutheran pamphlets and papers at his death.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 31/08/2012

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (12)

Life and Paintings of Giotto (1266 – 1337)

Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 – January 8, 1337), better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance.

Giotto’s contemporary, the banker and chronicler Giovanni Villani, wrote that Giotto was “the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature. And he was given a salary by the Comune of Florence in virtue of his talent and excellence.”

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (1)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

The late-16th century biographer Giorgio Vasari describes Giotto as making a decisive break with the prevalent Byzantine style and as initiating “the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years.”

Giotto’s masterwork is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, also known as the Arena Chapel, completed around 1305. This fresco cycle depicts the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ. It is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of the Early Renaissance. That Giotto painted the Arena Chapel and that he was chosen by the Comune of Florence in 1334 to design the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral are among the few certainties of his biography. Almost every other aspect of it is subject to controversy: his birthdate, his birthplace, his appearance, his apprenticeship, the order in which he created his works, whether or not he painted the famous frescoes at Assisi, and his burial place.

It has been traditional to hold that Giotto was born in a hilltop farmhouse, perhaps at Colle di Romagnano or Romignano; since 1850 a tower house in nearby Colle Vespignano, a hamlet 35 kilometres north of Florence, has borne a plaque claiming the honour of his birthplace, an assertion commercially publicized. Very recent research, however, has suggested that he was actually born in Florence, the son of a blacksmith. His father’s name was Bondone, described in surviving public records as “a person of good standing”. Most authors accept that Giotto was his real name, but it may have been an abbreviation of Ambrogio (Ambrogiotto) or Angelo (Angelotto).

The year of his birth is calculated from the fact that Antonio Pucci, the town crier of Florence, wrote a poem in Giotto’s honour in which it is stated that he was 70 at the time of his death. However, the word “seventy” fits into the rhyme of the poem better than would have a longer and more complex age, so it is possible that Pucci used artistic license.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (2)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

In his Lives of the Artists, Giorgio Vasari relates that Giotto was a shepherd boy, a merry and intelligent child who was loved by all who knew him. The great Florentine painter Cimabue discovered Giotto drawing pictures of his sheep on a rock. They were so lifelike that Cimabue approached Bondone and asked if he could take the boy as an apprentice. Cimabue was one of the two most highly renowned painters of Tuscany, the other being Duccio, who worked mainly in Siena.

Vasari recounts a number of such stories about Giotto’s skill. He writes that when Cimabue was absent from the workshop, his young apprentice painted such a lifelike fly on the face of the painting that Cimabue was working on, that he tried several times to brush it off. Vasari also relates that when the Pope sent a messenger to Giotto, asking him to send a drawing to demonstrate his skill, Giotto drew, in red paint, a circle so perfect that it seemed as though it was drawn using a compass and instructed the messenger to give that to the Pope.

Many scholars today are uncertain about Giotto’s training, and consider that Vasari’s story that he was Cimabue’s pupil is legendary, citing early sources which suggest that Giotto was not Cimabue’s pupil. Giotto’s art shares many qualities with Roman paintings of the later 13th century. Cimabue may have been working in Rome in this period, and there was an active local school of fresco painters, of whom the most famous was Pietro Cavallini. The famous Florentine sculptor and architect, Arnolfo di Cambio, was then also working in Rome.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (3)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

From Rome, Cimabue went to Assisi to paint several large frescoes at the newly built Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, and it is possible, but not certain, that Giotto went with him. The attribution of the fresco cycle of the Life of St. Francis in the Upper Church has been one of the most hotly disputed in art history. The documents of the Franciscan Friars that relate to artistic commissions during this period were destroyed by Napoleon’s troops, who stabled horses in the Upper Church of the Basilica, and scholars have been divided over whether or not Giotto was responsible for the Francis Cycle. In the absence of documentary evidence to the contrary, it has been convenient to ascribe every fresco in the Upper Church that was not obviously by Cimabue to Giotto, whose prestige has overshadowed that of almost every contemporary. Some of the earliest remaining biographical sources, such as Ghiberti and Riccobaldo Ferrarese, suggest that the fresco cycle of the life of St Francis in the Upper Church was his earliest autonomous work. However, since the idea was put forward by the German art historian, Friedrich Rintelen in 1912,many scholars have expressed doubt that Giotto was in fact the author of the Upper Church frescoes. Without documentation, arguments on the attribution have relied upon connoisseurship, a notoriously unreliable “science.”

However, technical examinations and comparisons of the workshop painting processes at Assisi and Padua in 2002 have provided strong evidence that Giotto did not paint the St. Francis Cycle. There are many differences between the Francis Cycle and the Arena Chapel frescoes that are difficult to account for by the stylistic development of an individual artist. It seems quite possible that several hands painted the Assisi frescoes, and that the artists were probably from Rome. If this is the case, then Giotto’s frescoes at Padua owe much to the naturalism of these painters.

The authorship of a large number of panel paintings ascribed to Giotto by Vasari, among others, is as broadly disputed as the Assisi frescoes. According to Vasari, Giotto’s earliest works were for the Dominicans at Santa Maria Novella. These include a fresco of the Annunciation and the enormous suspended Crucifix, which is about 5 metres high. It has been dated around 1290 and is therefore contemporary with the Assisi frescoes. Other early works are the San Giorgio alla Costa Madonna and Child now in the Diocesan Museum of Santo Stefano al Ponte, Florence, and the signed panel of the Stigmata of St. Francis, once in San Francesco at Pisa, today in the Louvre.

In 1287, at the age of about 20, Giotto married Ricevuta di Lapo del Pela, known as “Ciuta”. The couple had numerous children, (perhaps as many as eight) one of whom, Francesco, became a painter. Giotto worked in Rome in 1297–1300, but few traces of his presence there remain today. The Basilica of St. John Lateran houses a small portion of a fresco cycle, painted for the Jubilee of 1300 called by Boniface VIII. In this period he also painted the Badia Polyptych, now in the Uffizi, Florence.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (6)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

Giotto’s fame as a painter spread. He was called to work in Padua, and also in Rimini, where today only a Crucifix remains in the Church of St. Francis, painted before 1309. This work influenced the rise of the Riminese school of Giovanni and Pietro da Rimini. According to documents of 1301 and 1304, Giotto by this time possessed large estates in Florence, and it is probable that he was already leading a large workshop and receiving commissions from throughout Italy.

Around 1305 Giotto executed his most influential work, the painted decoration of the interior of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Enrico degli Scrovegni commissioned the chapel to serve as a family worship and burial space, even though his parish church was nearby; its construction caused some consternation among the clerics at the Eremitani church next door.  It has also been speculated that Enrico commissioned the chapel as a penitence for his sin of usury (i.e. charging interest for lending money), which at the time was considered unjust. In fact, Dante himself accused Enrico’s father of it and condemned him in his Divine Comedy.  The presence of Enrico near the center of The Final Judgement, handing the Arena Chapel to the Three Marys, on the virtuous side of the judgement and not with the other usurers (shown hanging by the strings of their money bags on the opposite side) may also be seen as proof of his repentance. This chapel is externally a very plain building of pink brick which was constructed next to an older palace that Scrovegni was restoring for himself. The palace, now gone, and the chapel were on the site of a Roman arena, for which reason it is commonly known as the Arena Chapel.

The theme is Salvation, and there is an emphasis on the Virgin Mary, as the chapel is dedicated to the Annunciation and to the Virgin of Charity. As is common in the decoration of the medieval period in Italy, the west wall is dominated by the Last Judgement. On either side of the chancel are complementary paintings of the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, depicting the Annunciation. This scene is incorporated into the cycles of The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Life of Christ. The source for The Life of the Virgin is the Golden Legend of Jacopo da Voragine while The Life of Christ draws upon the Meditations on the Life of Christ by the Pseudo-Bonaventura. The frescoes are more than mere illustrations of familiar texts, however, and scholars have found numerous sources for Giotto’s interpretations of sacred stories.

The cycle is divided into 37 scenes, arranged around the lateral walls in three tiers, starting in the upper register with the story of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin and continuing with the story of Mary. The life of Jesus occupies two registers. The Last Judgment fills the entire pictorial space of the counter-façade.

The top right hand tier deals with the lives of Mary’s parents, the left of her early life and the middle tier deals with the early life and miracles of Christ.

The bottom tier on both sides is concerned with the Passions of Christ. He is depicted mainly in profile, as is customary, historically, when depicting persons of importance. His eyes point continuously to the right, perhaps to guide the viewer onwards in the episodes. The kiss of Judas near the end of the sequence signals the close of this left-to-right procession.

Much of the blue in the fresco has been worn away by time. This is because Enrico degli Scrovegni ordered that, because of the expense of the pigment ultramarine blue used, it should be painted on top of the already dry fresco stucco fresco to preserve its brilliance. For this reason it has disintegrated faster than the other colors which have been fastened within the plaster of the fresco. An example of this decay can clearly be seen on the robe of Christ as he sits on the donkey.

Between the scenes are quatrefoil paintings of Old Testament scenes, like Jonah and the Whale that allegorically correspond and perhaps foretell the life of Christ.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (7)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

While Cimabue painted in a manner that is clearly Medieval, having aspects of both the Byzantine and the Gothic, Giotto’s style draws on the solid and classicizing sculpture of Arnolfo di Cambio. Unlike those by Cimabue and Duccio, Giotto’s figures are not stylized or elongated and do not follow set Byzantine models. They are solidly three-dimensional, have faces and gestures that are based on close observation, and are clothed not in swirling formalized drapery, but in garments that hang naturally and have form and weight. He also took bold steps in foreshortening and with having character face inwards, with their backs towards the observer creating the illusion of space. however, the Medieval tradition of only representing a few faces is continued in Giotto’s representation of the apostles in the Lamentations seen. Those whose faces can be seen show incredible emotion but the others are refused to the form of a group of background halos. What he did achieve was, regardless, remarkable. Although aspects of this trend in painting had already appeared in Rome in the work of Pietro Cavallini and at Assisi, Giotto took it so much further that he earned the reputation for setting a new standard for representational painting.

The heavily sculptural figures occupy compressed settings with naturalistic elements, often using forced perspective devices so that they resemble stage sets. This similarity is increased by Giotto’s careful arrangement of the figures in such a way that the viewer appears to have a particular place and even an involvement in many of the scenes. This dramatic immediacy was a new feature, which is also seen to some extent in the Upper Church at Assisi.

Famous narratives in the series include the Adoration of the Magi, in which a comet-like Star of Bethlehem streaks across the sky. Giotto is thought to have been inspired by the 1301 appearance of Halley’s comet, which led to the name Giotto being given to a 1986 space probe to the comet. Another famous scene is the Lamentation, in which Giotto adapted the traditional Byzantine iconography of the scene to create an emotional representation that draws the viewer into the sacred narrative.

Giotto’s depiction of the human face and emotion sets his work apart from that of his contemporaries. When the disgraced Joachim returns sadly to the hillside, the two young shepherds look sideways at each other. The soldier who drags a baby from its screaming mother in the Massacre of the Innocents does so with his head hunched into his shoulders and a look of shame on his face. The people on the road to Egypt gossip about Mary and Joseph as they go. Of Giotto’s realism, the 19th-century English critic John Ruskin said “He painted the Madonna and St. Joseph and the Christ, yes, by all means … but essentially Mamma, Papa and Baby.”

Among those frescoes in Padua which have been lost are those in the Basilica of. St. Anthony and the Palazzo della Ragione, which are however from a later sojourn in Padua.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (8)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

Numerous painters from northern Italy were influenced by Giotto’s work in Padua including Guariento, Giusto de’ Menabuoi, Jacopo Avanzi, and Altichiero.

From 1306 to 1311 Giotto was in Assisi, where he painted frescoes in the transept area of the Lower Church, including The Life of Christ, Franciscan Allegories and the Maddalena Chapel, drawing on stories from the Golden Legend and including the portrait of bishop Teobaldo Pontano who commissioned the work. Several assistants are mentioned, including one Palerino di Guido. However, the style demonstrates developments from Giotto’s work at Padua.

In 1311 Giotto returned to Florence. A document from 1313 about his furniture there shows that he had spent a period in Rome some time before. It is now thought that he produced the design for the famous Navicella mosaic for the courtyard of the Old St. Peter’s Basilica in 1310, commissioned by Cardinal Giacomo or Jacopo Stefaneschi and now lost to the Renaissance church, except for some fragments and a Baroque reconstruction. According to the cardinal’s necrology he also at least designed the Stefaneschi Triptych, a double-sided altarpiece for St. Peter’s, now in the Vatican Pinacoteca. But the style seems unlikely for either Giotto or his normal Florentine assistants, so he may have had his design executed by an ad hoc workshop of Romans.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (10)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

In Florence, where documents from 1314–1327 attest to his financial activities, Giotto painted an altarpiece known as the Ognissanti Madonna and now in the Uffizi where it is exhibited beside Cimabue’s Santa Trinita Madonna and Duccio’s Rucellai Madonna. The Ognissanti altarpiece is the only panel painting by Giotto that has been universally accepted by scholars, and this despite the fact that it is undocumented. It was painted for the church of the Ognissanti (all saints) in Florence, which was built by an obscure religious order known as the Humiliati. It is a large painting (325 x 204 cm), and scholars are divided on whether it was made for the main altar of the church, where it would have been viewed primarily by the brothers of the order or for the choir screen, where it would have been more easily seen by a lay audience.

At this time he also painted the Dormition of the Virgin, now in the Berlin Gemäldegalerie and the Crucifix in the Church of Ognissanti.

According to Lorenzo Ghiberti, Giotto painted chapels for four different Florentine families in the church of Santa Croce, although he does not identify which chapels they were. It is only with Vasari that the four chapels are identified: the Bardi Chapel (Life of St. Francis), the Peruzzi Chapel (Life of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, perhaps including a polyptych of Madonna with Saints now in the Museum of Art of Raleigh, North Carolina) and the lost Giugni Chapel (Stories of the Apostles) and the Tosinghi Spinelli Chapel (Stories of the Holy Virgin). As with almost everything in Giotto’s career, the dates of the fresco decorations that survive in Santa Croce are disputed. The Bardi Chapel, immediately to the right of the main chapel of the church, was painted in true fresco, and to some scholars the simplicity of its settings seems relatively close to those of Padua, while the Peruzzi Chapel’s more complex settings suggest a later date. The Peruzzi Chapel is adjacent to the Bardi Chapel and was largely painted a secco. This technique, quicker but less durable than true fresco, has resulted in a fresco decoration that survives in a seriously deteriorated condition. Scholars who date this cycle earlier in Giotto’s career see the growing interest in architectural expansion that it displays as close to the developments of the giottesque frescoes in the Lower Church at Assisi, while the Bardi frescoes have a new softness of color that indicates the artist going in a different direction, probably under the influence of Sienese art, and so must be a later development.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (11)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

The Peruzzi Chapel pairs three frescoes from the life of St. John the Baptist (The Annunciation of John’s Birth to his father Zacharias; The Birth and Naming of John; The Feast of Herod) on the left wall with three scenes from the life of St. John the Evangelist (The Visions of John on Ephesus; The Raising of Drusiana; The Ascension of John) on the right wall. The choice of scenes has been related to both the patrons and the Franciscans.Because of the serious condition of the frescoes, it is difficult to discuss Giotto’s style in the chapel, although the frescoes show signs of his typical interest in controlled naturalism and psychological penetration. The Peruzzi Chapel was especially renowned during Renaissance times. Giotto’s compositions influenced Masaccio’s Brancacci Chapels, and Michelangelo is known to have studied the frescoes.

The Bardi Chapel depicts the life of St. Francis, following a similar iconography to the frescoes in the Upper Church at Assisi, dating from 20–30 years earlier. A comparison makes apparent the greater attention given by Giotto to expression in the human figures and the simpler, better-integrated architectural forms. Giotto represents only 7 scenes from the saint’s life here, and the narrative is arranged somewhat unusually. The story starts on the upper left wall with St. Francis Renounces his Father. It continues across the chapel to the upper right wall with the Approval of the Franciscan Rule, moves down the right wall to the Trial by Fire, across the chapel again to the left wall for the Appearance at Arles, down the left wall to the Death of St. Francis, and across once more to the posthumous Visions of Fra Agostino and the Bishop of Assisi. The Stigmatization of St. Francis, which chronologically belongs between the Appearance at Arles and the Death, is located outside the chapel, above the entrance arch. This arrangement encourages viewers to link scenes together: to pair frescoes across the chapel space or relate triads of frescoes along each wall. These linkings suggest meaningful symbolic relationships between different events in St. Francis’s life.

In 1320 Giotto finished the Stefaneschi Triptych, now in the Vatican Museum, for Cardinal Giacomo (or Jacopo) Gaetano Stefaneschi, who also commissioned him to decorate the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica with a cycle of frescoes that were destroyed during the 16th century renovation. According to Vasari, Giotto remained in Rome for six years, subsequently receiving numerous commissions in Italy and in the Papal seat at Avignon, though some of these works are now recognized to be by other artists.

In 1328 the altarpiece of the Baroncelli Chapel in Santa Croce, Florence was completed. This work, previously ascribed to Giotto, is now believed to be mostly a work by assistants, including Taddeo Gaddi who later frescoed the chapel). Giotto was called by King Robert of Anjou to Naples where he remained with a group of pupils until 1333. Few of Giotto’s Neapolitan works have survived: a fragment of a fresco portraying the Lamentation of Christ in the church of Santa Chiara, and the Illustrious Men painted on the windows of the Santa Barbara Chapel of Castel Nuovo (which are usually attributed to his pupils). In 1332 King Robert named him “first court painter” with a yearly pension.

After Naples Giotto stayed for a while in Bologna, where he painted a Polyptych for the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, and, according to the sources, a lost decoration for the Chapel in the Cardinal Legate’s Castle.

In 1334 Giotto was appointed chief architect to Florence Cathedral, of which the Campanile (founded by him on July 18, 1334) bears his name, but was not completed to his design.

Before 1337 he was in Milan with Azzone Visconti, though no trace of works by him remain in the city. His last known work (with assistants’ help) is the decoration of Podestà Chapel in the Bargello, Florence.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (12)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

In his final years Giotto had become friends with Boccaccio and Sacchetti, who featured him in their stories. In The Divine Comedy, Dante acknowledged the greatness of his living contemporary through the words of a painter in Purgatorio (XI, 94–96): “Cimabue believed that he held the field/In painting, and now Giotto has the cry,/ So the fame of the former is obscure.”

Giotto died in January 1337. According to Vasari, Giotto was buried in Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral of Florence, on the left of the entrance and with the spot marked by a white marble plaque. According to other sources, he was buried in the Church of Santa Reparata. These apparently contradictory reports are explained by the fact that the remains of Santa Reparata lie directly beneath the Cathedral and the church continued in use while the construction of the cathedral was proceeding in the early 14th century.

During an excavation in the 1970s bones were discovered beneath the paving of Santa Reparata at a spot close to the location given by Vasari, but unmarked on either level. Forensic examination of the bones by anthropologist Francesco Mallegni and a team of experts in 2000 brought to light some facts that seemed to confirm that they were those of a painter, particularly the range of chemicals, including arsenic and lead, both commonly found in paint, that the bones had absorbed.

The bones were those of a very short man, of little over four feet tall, who may have suffered from a form of congenital dwarfism. This supports a tradition at the Church of Santa Croce that a dwarf who appears in one of the frescoes is a self-portrait of Giotto. On the other hand, a man wearing a white hat who appears in the Last Judgement at Padua is also said to be a portrait of Giotto. The appearance of this man conflicts with the image in Santa Croce.

Vasari, drawing on a description by Boccaccio, who was a friend of Giotto, says of him that “there was no uglier man in the city of Florence” and indicates that his children were also plain in appearance. There is a story that Dante visited Giotto while he was painting the Scrovegni Chapel and, seeing the artist’s children underfoot asked how a man who painted such beautiful pictures could create such plain children, to which Giotto, who according to Vasari was always a wit, replied “I made them in the dark.”

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (13)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

Forensic reconstruction of the skeleton at Santa Reperata showed a short man with a very large head, a large hooked nose and one eye more prominent than the other. The bones of the neck indicated that the man spent a lot of time with his head tilted backwards. The front teeth were worn in a way consistent with frequently holding a brush between the teeth. The man was about 70 at the time of death.

While the Italian researchers were convinced that the body belonged to Giotto and it was reburied with honour near the grave of Brunelleschi, others have been highly skeptical.

 

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (15)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

 

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 12/03/2014

Hieronymus Bosch - The Marriage at Cana

Life and Paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516)

Hieronymus Bosch  born Jheronimus van Aken (c. 1450 – 9 August 1516), was a Dutch painter. His work is known for its use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives.

Movements: Renaissance

Little is known of Bosch’s life or training. He left behind no letters or diaries, and what has been identified has been taken from brief references to him in the municipal records of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and in the account books of the local order of the Brotherhood of Our Lady. Nothing is known of his personality or his thoughts on the meaning of his art. Bosch’s date of birth has not been determined with certainty. It is estimated at c. 1450 on the basis of a hand drawn portrait (which may be a self-portrait) made shortly before his death in 1516. The drawing shows the artist at an advanced age, probably in his late sixties.

Sometime between 1479 and 1481, Bosch married Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen, who was a few years older than the artist. The couple moved to the nearby town of Oirschot, where his wife had inherited a house and land from her wealthy family.

 Garden of earthly delights

Garden of earthly delights

Bosch produced several triptychs. Among his most famous is The Garden of Earthly Delights. This painting, for which the original title has not survived, depicts paradise with Adam and Eve and many wondrous animals on the left panel, the earthly delights with numerous nude figures and tremendous fruit and birds on the middle panel, and hell with depictions of fantastic punishments of the various types of sinners on the right panel. When the exterior panels are closed the viewer can see, painted in grisaille, God creating the Earth. These paintings—especially the Hell panel—are painted in a comparatively sketchy manner which contrasts with the traditional Flemish style of paintings, where the smooth surface—achieved by the application of multiple transparent glazes—conceals the brushwork. In this painting, and more powerfully in works such as his Temptation of St. Anthony (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon), Bosch draws with his brush. Not surprisingly, Bosch is also one of the most revolutionary draftsmen in the history of art, producing some of the first autonomous sketches in Northern Europe.

Bosch never dated his paintings. But—unusual for the time—he seems to have signed several of them, although other signatures purporting to be his are certainly not. Fewer than 25 paintings remain today that can be attributed to him. In the late sixteenth-century, Philip II of Spain acquired many of Bosch’s paintings, including some probably commissioned and collected by Spaniards active in Bosch’s hometown; as a result, the Prado Museum in Madrid now owns The Adoration of the Magi, The Garden of Earthly Delights, the tabletop painting of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, the The Haywain Triptych and The Stone Operation.

Interpretations

In the twentieth century, when changing artistic tastes made artists like Bosch more palatable to the European imagination, it was sometimes argued that Bosch’s art was inspired by heretical points of view (e.g., the ideas of the Cathars and putative Adamites) as well as of obscure hermetic practices. Again, since Erasmus had been educated at one of the houses of the Brethren of the Common Life in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and the town was religiously progressive, some writers have found it unsurprising that strong parallels exist between the caustic writing of Erasmus and the often savage painting of Bosch. “Although the Brethren remained loyal to the Pope, they still saw it as their duty to denounce the abuses and scandalous behaviour of many priests: the corruption which both Erasmus and Bosch satirised in their work”

Others, following a strain of Bosch-interpretation datable already to the sixteenth-century, continued to think his work was created merely to titillate and amuse, much like the “grotteschi” of the Italian Renaissance. While the art of the older masters was based in the physical world of everyday experience, Bosch confronts his viewer with, in the words of the art historian Walter Gibson, “a world of dreams [and] nightmares in which forms seem to flicker and change before our eyes.” In one of the first known accounts of Bosch’s paintings, in 1560 the Spaniard Felipe de Guevara wrote that Bosch was regarded merely as “the inventor of monsters and chimeras”. In the early seventeenth century, the Dutch art historian Karel van Mander described Bosch’s work as comprising “wondrous and strange fantasies”; however, he concluded that the paintings are “often less pleasant than gruesome to look at.”

In recent decades, scholars have come to view Bosch’s vision as less fantastic, and accepted that his art reflects the orthodox religious belief systems of his age.

His depictions of sinful humanity, his conceptions of Heaven and Hell are now seen as consistent with those of late medieval didactic literature and sermons. Most writers attach a more profound significance to his paintings than had previously been supposed, and attempt to interpret it in terms of a late medieval morality. It is generally accepted that Bosch’s art was created to teach specific moral and spiritual truths in the manner of other Northern Renaissance figures, such as the poet Robert Henryson, and that the images rendered have precise and premeditated significance. According to Dirk Bax, Bosch’s paintings often represent visual translations of verbal metaphors and puns drawn from both biblical and folkloric sources. However, the conflict of interpretations that his works still elicit raise profound questions about the nature of “ambiguity” art of his period.

Let’s see some of his most important works:

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St Liberata

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St Liberata

The Ship of Fools

The Ship of Fools

The Marriage at Cana

The Marriage at Cana

The Magician

The Magician

The Last Judgment

The Last Judgment

The Hell and the Flood

The Hell and the Flood

The Hay Wagon

The Hay Wagon

The Adoration of the Magi Triptych

The Adoration of the Magi Triptych

The Adoration of the Child

The Adoration of the Child

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos

Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist

Follower of Jheronimus Bosch

Follower of Jheronimus Bosch

Death and the Miser

Death and the Miser

 Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin, St. John, St. Peter and a Youthful Donor

Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin, St. John, St. Peter and a Youthful Donor

Christ Mocked (Crowning with Thorns)

Christ Mocked (Crowning with Thorns)

 Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross

Hermit Saints Triptych

Hermit Saints Triptych

The exact number of Bosch’s surviving works has been a subject of considerable debate. He signed only seven of his paintings, and there is uncertainty whether all the paintings once ascribed to him were actually from his hand. It is known that from the early sixteenth century onwards numerous copies and variations of his paintings began to circulate. In addition, his style was highly influential, and was widely imitated by his numerous followers.

Over the years, scholars have attributed to him fewer and fewer of the works once thought to be his, and today only 25 are definitively attributed to him.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 27/05/2014

Rogier van der Weyden - Der hl. Lukas zeichnet die Madonna

Masters of Art: Rogier van der Weyden (1399 – 1464)

Rogier van der Weyden or Roger de la Pasture (1399 – 1464) was an Early Flemish painter. His surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces and commissioned single and diptych portraits. Although his life was generally uneventful, he was highly successful and internationally famous in his lifetime. His paintings were exported – or taken – to Italy and Spain and he received commissions from, amongst others, Philip the Good, Netherlandish nobility and foreign princes.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism

Chroniques de Hainaut

Chroniques de Hainaut

By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid 18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years; today he is known, with Robert Campin and van Eyck, as the third (by birth date) of the three great Early Flemish artists (‘Vlaamse Primitieven’), and widely as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century.

Due to the loss of archives in 1695 and again in 1940, there are few certain facts of van der Weyden’s life. Rogelet de le Pasture (Roger of the Pasture) was born in Tournai (in present-day Belgium) in 1399 or 1400. His parents were Henri de le Pasture and Agnes de Watrélos. He married around 1426, to Elisabeth Goffaert, and was made town painter of Brussels in 1436, and changed his name from the French to the Dutch format, becoming ‘van der Weyden’. What is known of him beyond this has been woven together from secondary sources, and some of it is contestable. However the paintings now attributed to him are generally accepted, despite a tendency in the 19th century to attribute his work to others.

Van der Weyden left no self portraits. Many of his most important works were destroyed during the late 17th century. He is first mentioned in historical records in 1427 when, relatively later in life, he studied painting under Campin during 1427–32, and soon outshone his master and, later, even influenced him. After his apprenticeship he was made master of the Tournai Guild of St Luke. He moved to Brussels in 1435, where he quickly established his reputation for his technical skill and emotional use of line and colour. He completed his Deposition in 1435, which as he had deliberately intended, made him one of the most sought after and influential artists in northern Europe and is still considered his masterpiece.

Deposition

Deposition

Van der Weyden worked from life models, and his observations were acute, yet he often idealised certain elements of his models’ facial features, and they are typically statuesque, especially in his triptychs. All of his forms are rendered with rich, warm colourisation and a sympathetic expression, while he is known for his expressive pathos and naturalism. His portraits tend to be half length and half profile, and he is as sympathetic here as in his religious triptychs. Van der Weyden used an unusually broad range of colours and varied tones; in his finest work the same tone is not repeated in any other area of the canvas; even the whites are varied.

Lets see some of his most famous works:

Der hl. Lukas zeichnet die Madonna

Der hl. Lukas zeichnet die Madonna

Braque Family Triptych Center Pane

Braque Family Triptych Center Pane

A Man Reading (Saint Ivo)

A Man Reading (Saint Ivo)

Virgin and Child

Virgin and Child

Tríptic Abegg

Tríptic Abegg

The Magdalen Reading

The Magdalen Reading

Sts Margaret and Apollonia

Sts Margaret and Apollonia

Saint George and the Dragon

Saint George and the Dragon

Porträt einer Frau

Porträt einer Frau

 Polyptych with the Nativity

Polyptych with the Nativity

Influence

His vigorous, subtle, expressive painting and popular religious conceptions had considerable influence on European painting, not only in France and Germany but also in Italy and in Spain. Hans Memling was his greatest follower, although it is not proven that he studied under Rogier. Van der Weyden had also a large influence on the German painter and engraver Martin Schongauer whose prints were distributed all over Europe from the last decades of the 15th century. Indirectly Schongauer’s prints helped to disseminate van der Weyden’s style.

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 10/08/2012

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Life and Paintings of Giovanni Bellini (1430 – 1516)

Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430–1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. He is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it towards a more sensuous and colouristic style. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Giovanni created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school, especially on his pupils Giorgione and Titian.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, Perspectivism

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Giovanni Bellini was born in Venice. He was brought up in his father’s house, and always lived and worked in the closest fraternal relation with his brother Gentile. Up until the age of nearly thirty we find in his work a depth of religious feeling and human pathos which is his own. His paintings from the early period are all executed in the old tempera method; the scene is softened by a new and beautiful effect of romantic sunrise color.

In a somewhat changed and more personal manner, with less harshness of contour and a broader treatment of forms and draperies, but not less force of religious feeling, are the Dead Christ pictures, in these days one of the master’s most frequent themes, (see for example the Pietà: Dead Christ Supported by the Virgin and St. John). Giovanni’s early works have often been linked both compositionally and stylistically to those of his brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegna.

As is the case with a number of his brother, Gentile’s public works of the period, many of Giovanni’s great public works are now lost. The still more famous altar-piece painted in tempera for a chapel in the church of S. Giovanni e Paolo, where it perished along with Titian’s Peter Martyr and Tintoretto’s Crucifixion in the disastrous fire of 1867.

Albrecht Dürer, visiting Venice for a second time in 1506, describes Giovanni Bellini as still the best painter in the city, and as full of all courtesy and generosity towards foreign brethren of the brush.

In 1507 Bellini’s brother Gentile died, and Giovanni completed the picture of the Preaching of St. Mark which he had left unfinished; a task on the fulfillment of which the bequest by the elder brother to the younger of their father’s sketch-book had been made conditional.

Barbarigo Altarpiece

Barbarigo Altarpiece

Both in the artistic and in the worldly sense, the career of Bellini was, on the whole, very prosperous. His long career began with Quattrocento styles but matured into the progressive post-Giorgione Renaissance styles. He lived to see his own school far outshine that of his rivals, the Vivarini of Murano; he embodied, with growing and maturing power, all the devotional gravity and much also of the worldly splendour of the Venice of his time; and he saw his influence propagated by a host of pupils, two of whom at least, Giorgione and Titian, equalled or even surpassed their master. Giorgione he outlived by five years; Titian, as we have seen, challenged him, claiming an equal place beside his teacher.

Let’s see some of his most important works:

Angel of the Annunciation and Virgin Annunciate

Angel of the Annunciation and Virgin Annunciate

Agony in the Garden

Agony in the Garden

San Zaccaria Altarpiece

San Zaccaria Altarpiece

 San Giobbe Altarpiece

San Giobbe Altarpiece

 Polyptych of San Vincenzo Ferreri

Polyptych of San Vincenzo Ferreri

Pesaro Altarpiece

Pesaro Altarpiece

Naked Young Woman in Front of the Mirror

Naked Young Woman in Front of the Mirror

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child with Two Saints (Sacra Conversazione)

Madonna and Child with Two Saints (Sacra Conversazione)

Madonna and Child Blessing

Madonna and Child Blessing

Drunkennes of Noah

Drunkennes of Noah

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

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This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 24/05/2014

Botticelli - The Virgin and Child with Two Angels and the Young St John the Baptist

Masters of Art: Sandro Boticelli (1445 – 1510)

Sandro Botticelli or Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510) was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine school under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later as a “golden age”, a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli.

Movements: Renaissance, Secularism, Classicism

Madonna con Bambino

Madonna con Bambino

Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. Among his best known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera.

There are very few details of Botticelli’s life, but it is known that he became an apprentice when he was about fourteen years old, which would indicate that he received a fuller education than other Renaissance artists. He was born in the city of Florence in a house in the Via Nuova, Borg’Ognissanti. Vasari reported that he was initially trained as a goldsmith by his brother Antonio.

Probably by 1462 he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi many of his early works have been attributed to the elder master, and attributions continue to be uncertain. Influenced also by the monumentality of Masaccio’s painting, it was from Lippi that Botticelli learned a more intimate and detailed manner.

As recently discovered, during this time, Botticelli could have traveled to Hungary, participating in the creation of a fresco in Esztergom, ordered in the workshop of Filippo Lippi by János Vitéz, then archbishop of Hungary.

By 1470, Botticelli had his own workshop. Even at this early date his work was characterized by a conception of the figure as if seen in low relief, drawn with clear contours, and minimizing strong contrasts of light and shadow which would indicate fully modeled forms.

The masterpieces Primavera (c. 1482) and The Birth of Venus (c. 1485) were both seen by Vasari at the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici at Castello in the mid-16th century, and until recently, it was assumed that both works were painted specifically for the villa. Recent scholarship suggests otherwise: the Primavera was painted for Lorenzo’s townhouse in Florence, and The Birth of Venus was commissioned by someone else for a different site. By 1499, both had been installed at Castello.

 Venus

Venus

In these works, the influence of Gothic realism is tempered by Botticelli’s study of the antique. But if the painterly means may be understood, the subjects themselves remain fascinating for their ambiguity. The complex meanings of these paintings continue to receive widespread scholarly attention, mainly focusing on the poetry and philosophy of humanists who were the artist’s contemporaries. The works do not illustrate particular texts; rather, each relies upon several texts for its significance. Of their beauty, characterized by Vasari as exemplifying “grace” and by John Ruskin as possessing linear rhythm, there can be no doubt.

Primavera

Primavera

His later work, especially as seen in a series on the life of St. Zenobius, witnessed a diminution of scale, expressively distorted figures, and a non-naturalistic use of colour reminiscent of the work of Fra Angelico nearly a century earlier.

Let’s see some of his most famous works:

Madone_de_l'Eucharistie

Madone_de_l’Eucharistie

incoronazione della vergine

incoronazione della vergine

Descoberta do corpo de Holofernes

Descoberta do corpo de Holofernes

Pallasetlecentaure

Pallasetlecentaure

Madonna

Madonna

The Virgin and Child with Two Angels and the Young St John the Baptist

The Virgin and Child with Two Angels and the Young St John the Baptist

Venus_and_Mars

Venus and Mars

pala di sant'ambrogio

Pala di sant’ambrogio

Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints

Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi

The Temptations of Christ

The Temptations of Christ

After his death his reputation was eclipsed longer and more thoroughly than that of any other major European artist. His paintings remained in the churches and villas for which they had been created, his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel upstaged by Michelangelo’s. British collector William Young Ottley, had however brought Botticelli’s The Mystical Nativity to London with him in 1799 after buying it in Italy. After Ottley’s death its next purchaser, William Fuller-Maitland of Stansted, allowed it to be exhibited in a major art exhibition held in Manchester in 1857, The Art Treasures Exhibition,where amongst many other art works it was viewed by more than a million people.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 17/08/2012

Vasari_Giorgio_The_Nativity_With_The_Adoration_Of_The_Shepherds

Life and Paintings of Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574)

Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574) was an Italian painter, architect, writer and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.

Vasari Self Portrait (Detail)

Vasari Self Portrait (Detail)

Vasari was born in Arezzo, Tuscany. Recommended at an early age by his cousin Luca Signorelli, he became a pupil of Guglielmo da Marsiglia, a skillful painter of stained glass. Sent to Florence at the age of sixteen by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, he joined the circle of Andrea del Sarto and his pupils Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo Pontormo where his humanist education was encouraged. He was befriended by Michelangelo whose painting style would influence his own.

Painting

Vasari - Allegory of the Immaculate Conception

Vasari – Allegory of the Immaculate Conception

In 1529, he visited Rome where he studied the works of Raphael and other artists of the Roman High Renaissance. Vasari’s own Mannerist paintings were more admired in his lifetime than afterwards. In 1547 he completed the hall of the chancery in Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome with frescoes that received the name Sala dei Cento Giorni. He was consistently employed by members of the Medici family in Florence and Rome, and worked in Naples, Arezzo and other places. Many of his pictures still exist, the most important being the wall and ceiling paintings in the Sala di Cosimo I in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where he and his assistants were at work from 1555, and the frescoes begun by him inside the vast cupola of the Duomo; they were completed by Federico Zuccari and with the help of Giovanni Balducci. He also helped to organize the decoration of the Studiolo, now reassembled in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Architecture

Vasari was perhaps more successful as an architect than as a painter. His loggia of the Palazzo degli Uffizi by the Arno opens up the vista at the far end of its long narrow courtyard, a unique piece of urban planning that functions as a public piazza, and which, if considered as a short street, is unique as a Renaissance street with a unified architectural treatment. The view of the Loggia from the Arno reveals that, with the Vasari Corridor, it is one of very few structures that line the river which are open to the river itself and appear to embrace the riverside environment.

In Florence, Vasari also built the long passage, now called Vasari Corridor, which connects the Uffizi with the Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the river. The enclosed corridor passes alongside the River Arno on an arcade, crosses the Ponte Vecchio and winds around the exterior of several buildings.

He also renovated the medieval churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce. At both he removed the original rood screen and loft, and remodelled the retro-choirs in the Mannerist taste of his time. In Santa Croce, he was responsible for the painting of The Adoration of the Magi which was commissioned by Pope Pius V in 1566 and completed in February 1567. It was recently restored, before being put on exhibition in 2011 in Rome and in Naples. Eventually it is planned to return it to the church of Santa Croce in Bosco Marengo (Province of Alessandria, Piedmont).

In 1562 Vasari built the octagonal dome on the Basilica of Our Lady of Humility in Pistoia, an important example of high Renaissance architecture.

In Rome, Vasari worked with Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Bartolomeo Ammanati at Pope Julius III’s Villa Giulia.

Vasari - The Prophet Elisha

Vasari – The Prophet Elisha

Often called “the first art historian”, Vasari invented the genre of the encyclopedia of artistic biographies with his Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori (Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects), dedicated to Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, which was first published in 1550. He was the first to use the term “Renaissance” (rinascita) in print, though an awareness of the ongoing “rebirth” in the arts had been in the air since the time of Alberti, and he was responsible for our use of the term Gothic Art, though he only used the word Goth which he associated with the “barbaric” German style. The Lives also included a novel treatise on the technical methods employed in the arts. The book was partly rewritten and enlarged in 1568, with the addition of woodcut portraits of artists (some conjectural).

Vasari - Monument to Michelangelo

Vasari – Monument to Michelangelo

The work has a consistent and notorious bias in favour of Florentines and tends to attribute to them all the developments in Renaissance art — for example, the invention of engraving. Venetian art in particular (along with arts from other parts of Europe), is systematically ignored in the first edition. Between the first and second editions, Vasari visited Venice and while the second edition gave more attention to Venetian art (finally including Titian) it did so without achieving a neutral point of view.

Vasari -The Nativity

Vasari -The Nativity

Vasari’s biographies are interspersed with amusing gossip. Many of his anecdotes have the ring of truth, while others are inventions or generic fictions, such as the tale of young Giotto painting a fly on the surface of a painting by Cimabue that the older master repeatedly tried to brush away, a genre tale that echoes anecdotes told of the Greek painter Apelles. With a few exceptions, however, Vasari’s aesthetic judgement was acute and unbiased.  He did not research archives for exact dates, as modern art historians do, and naturally his biographies are most dependable for the painters of his own generation and those of the immediate past. Modern criticism — with new materials opened up by research — has corrected many of his traditional dates and attributions.

Vasari includes a sketch of his own biography at the end of the Lives, and adds further details about himself and his family in his lives of Lazzaro Vasari and Francesco Salviati.

According to the historian Richard Goldthwaite,Vasari was one of the earliest authors to use the term “competition” (or “concorrenza” in Italian) in its economic sense. He used it repeatedly, but perhaps most notably in the introduction to his life of Pietro Perugino, while explaining the reasons for Florentine artistic preeminence. In Vasari’s view, Florentine artists excelled because they were hungry, and they were hungry because their fierce competition amongst themselves for commissions kept them so. Competition, he said, is “one of the nourishments that maintain them”.

Social standing

Vasari enjoyed high repute during his lifetime and amassed a considerable fortune. In 1547, he built himself a fine house in Arezzo (now a museum honouring him), and decorated its walls and vaults with paintings. He was elected to the municipal council or priori of his native town, and finally rose to the supreme office of gonfaloniere.

In 1563, he helped found the Florence Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno, with the Grand Duke and Michelangelo as capi of the institution and 36 artists chosen as members.
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Article publié pour la première fois le 31/10/2013

Albrecht-Dürer-Prayer-Hands

Masters of Art: Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)

Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528) was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since.

Movements: Renaissance, Classicism, Idealism, Perspectivism, Naturalism


His vast body of work includes altarpieces and religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and copper engravings. His woodcuts, such as the Apocalypse series (1498), retain a more Gothic flavour than the rest of his work.

His well-known works include the Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513), Saint Jerome in his Study (1514) and Melencolia I (1514), which has been the subject of extensive analysis and interpretation. His watercolours mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, while his ambitious woodcuts revolutionized the potential of that medium.

Dürer was born on 21 May 1471, third child and second son of his parents, who had between fourteen and eighteen children! His father, Albrecht Dürer the Elder was a successful goldsmith, originally named Ajtósi, who in 1455 had moved to Nuremberg from Ajtós, near Gyula in Hungary.

The German name “Dürer” is derived from the Hungarian, “Ajtósi”. Initially, it was “Thürer,” meaning doormaker, which is “ajtós” in Hungarian (from “ajtó”, meaning door). A door is featured in the coat-of-arms the family acquired. Albrecht Dürer the Younger later changed “Türer”, his father’s diction of the family’s surname, to “Dürer”, to adapt to the local Nuremberg dialect. Albrecht Dürer the Elder married Barbara Holper, the daughter of his master, when he himself became a master in 1467.

Because Dürer left autobiographical writings and became very famous by his mid-twenties, his life is well documented by several sources. After a few years of school, Dürer started to learn the basics of goldsmithing and drawing from his father. Though his father wanted him to continue his training as a goldsmith, he showed such a precocious talent in drawing that he started as an apprentice to Michael Wolgemut at the age of fifteen in 1486. A self-portrait, a drawing in silverpoint, is dated 1484 (Albertina, Vienna) “when I was a child,” as his later inscription says. Wolgemut was the leading artist in Nuremberg at the time, with a large workshop producing a variety of works of art, in particular woodcuts for books. Nuremberg was then an important and prosperous city, a centre for publishing and many luxury trades. It had strong links with Italy, especially Venice, a relatively short distance across the Alps.

After completing his term of apprenticeship, Dürer followed the common German custom of taking Wanderjahre—in effect gap year—in which the apprentice learned skills from artists in other areas; Dürer was to spend about four years away. He left in 1490, possibly to work under Martin Schongauer, the leading engraver of Northern Europe, but who died shortly before Dürer’s arrival at Colmar in 1492. It is unclear where Dürer travelled in the intervening period, though it is likely that he went to Frankfurt and the Netherlands. In Colmar, Dürer was welcomed by Schongauer’s brothers, the goldsmiths Caspar and Paul and the painter Ludwig. In 1493 Dürer went to Strasbourg, where he would have experienced the sculpture of Nikolaus Gerhaert. Dürer’s first painted self-portrait (now in the Louvre) was painted at this time, probably to be sent back to his fiancée in Nuremberg.

In early 1492 Dürer travelled to Basel to stay with another brother of Martin Schongauer, the goldsmith Georg.

Albrecht Dürer - Prayer Hands

Albrecht Dürer – Prayer Hands

Very soon after his return to Nuremberg, on 7 July 1494, at the age of 23, Dürer was married to Agnes Frey following an arrangement made during his absence. Agnes was the daughter of a prominent brass worker (and amateur harpist) in the city. However, no children resulted from the marriage.

Within three months Dürer left for Italy, alone, perhaps stimulated by an outbreak of plague in Nuremberg. He made watercolour sketches as he traveled over the Alps. Some have survived and others may be deduced from accurate landscapes of real places in his later work, for example his engraving Nemesis. These are the first pure landscape studies known in Western art.In Italy, he went to Venice to study its more advanced artistic world. Through Wolgemut’s tutelage, Dürer had learned how to make prints in drypoint and design woodcuts in the German style, based on the works of Martin Schongauer and the Housebook Master.

He also would have had access to some Italian works in Germany, but the two visits he made to Italy had an enormous influence on him. He wrote that Giovanni Bellini was the oldest and still the best of the artists in Venice. His drawings and engravings show the influence of others, notably Antonio Pollaiuolo with his interest in the proportions of the body, Mantegna, Lorenzo di Credi and others. Dürer probably also visited Padua and Mantua on this trip.

On his return to Nuremberg in 1495, Dürer opened his own workshop (being married was a requirement for this). Over the next five years his style increasingly integrated Italian influences into underlying Northern forms. Dürer’s father died in 1502, and his mother died in 1513.His best works in the first years of the workshop were his woodcut prints, mostly religious, but including secular scenes such as The Men’s Bath House (ca. 1496).

Dürer made large numbers of preparatory drawings, especially for his paintings and engravings, and many survive, most famously the Betende Hände (English: Praying Hands, c. 1508 Albertina, Vienna),

Between 1507 and 1511 Dürer worked on some of his most celebrated paintings: Adam and Eve (1507), The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (1508, for Frederick of Saxony), Virgin with the Iris (1508), the altarpiece Assumption of the Virgin (1509, for Jacob Heller of Frankfurt), and Adoration of the Trinity (1511, for Matthaeus Landauer).

 

Albrecht Dürer - Adam and Eve

Albrecht Dürer – Adam and Eve

During this period he also completed two woodcut series, the Great Passion and the Life of the Virgin, both published in 1511 together with a second edition of the Apocalypse series. The post-Venetian woodcuts show Dürer’s development of chiaroscuro modelling effects, creating a mid-tone throughout the print to which the highlights and shadows can be contrasted.Dürer died in Nuremberg at the age of 56, leaving an estate valued at 6,874 florins—a considerable sum. His large house (purchased in 1509 from the heirs of the astronomer Bernhard Walther), where his workshop was located and where his widow lived until her death in 1539, remains a prominent Nuremberg landmark and is now a museum. He is buried in the Johannisfriedhof cemetery.

Let’s now see some of his most famous works!
Albrecht Dürer -Vier Apostel

Albrecht Dürer -Vier Apostel

Albrecht Dürer - Seven Sorrows Polyptych

Albrecht Dürer – Seven Sorrows Polyptych

Albrecht Dürer - Saint Jerome

Albrecht Dürer – Saint Jerome

Albrecht Dürer - Porträt eines bärtigen Mannes mit roter Kappe

Albrecht Dürer – Porträt eines bärtigen Mannes mit roter Kappe

Albrecht Dürer - Portrait of Oswolt Krel

Albrecht Dürer – Portrait of Oswolt Krel

Albrecht Dürer - Maria mit Kind

Albrecht Dürer – Maria mit Kind

Albrecht Dürer - Jesus among the Doctors

Albrecht Dürer – Jesus among the Doctors

Albrecht Dürer - Beweinung Christi

Albrecht Dürer – Beweinung Christi

Albrecht Dürer - Allerheiligenbild

Albrecht Dürer – Allerheiligenbild

Albrecht Dürer - Adorazione dei Magi

Albrecht Dürer – Adorazione dei Magi

Albrecht Dürer -  Martyrdom of ten thousand Christians

Albrecht Dürer – Martyrdom of ten thousand Christians

Legacy and influence

Dürer exerted a huge influence on the artists of succeeding generations, especially in printmaking, the medium through which his contemporaries mostly experienced his art, as his paintings were predominately in private collections located in only a few cities. His success in spreading his reputation across Europe through prints were undoubtedly an inspiration for major artists such as Raphael, Titian, and Parmigianino, all of whom collaborated with printmakers in order to promote and distribute their work.

 

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 04/09/2012

Life and Paintings of  Domenico Ghirlandaio (19)

Life and Paintings of Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494)

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494) was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence . Among his many apprentices was Michelangelo.

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni (1488). Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid; formerly in the Morgan Library.

Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni (1488). Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid; formerly in the Morgan Library.

Giorgio Vasari reported that Domenico was at first apprenticed to a jeweller or a goldsmith ; most likely it was to his own father. The nickname “Il Ghirlandaio” (garland-maker) came to Domenico from his father, a goldsmith who was famed for creating the metallic garland -like necklaces worn by Florentine women. In his father’s shop, Vasari reports, Domenico made portraits of the passers-by and visitors to the shop: “when he painted the country people or anyone who passed through his studio he immediately captured their likeness”. He was eventually apprenticed to Alesso Baldovinetti to study painting and mosaic . According to the art historian Günter Passavent, he was apprenticed in Florence to Andrea del Verrocchio .

He painted frescoes , dated before 1475, for the Santa Fina Chapel in the Tuscan Collegiata di San Gimignano , in an independent commune that had come under the rule of Florence in 1351. In 1480, Ghirlandaio painted the St. Jerome in His Study and other frescoes in the Church of Ognissanti, Florence , and a life-sized Last Supper in its refectory. From 1481 to 1485, he was employed on frescoes in the Sala dell’Orologio of the Palazzo Vecchio ; for its Sala del Giglio he frescoed an Apotheosis of St. Zenobius (1482), an over-life-sized work with an elaborate architectural framework, figures of Roman heroes, and other secular details, striking in its perspective and structural/compositional skill.

In 1483, Ghirlandaio was summoned to Rome by Pope Sixtus IV to paint a wall fresco in the Sistine Chapel , Vocation of the Apostles ; also attributed to him is the Sistine Chapel’s Crossing of the Red Sea , although more likely executed by Cosimo Rosselli or Biagio d’Antonio . Although he is known to have created other works in Rome, they have been for centuries considered lost to history. His future brother-in-law, Sebastiano Mainardi, assisted him with these commissions in Rome and in the early frescoes at San Gimignano.

An Old Man and his Grandson (ca. 1490) Tempera on wood, 62 x 46 cm. Louvre, Paris

An Old Man and his Grandson (ca. 1490) Tempera on wood, 62 x 46 cm. Louvre, Paris

Back in Florence in 1485, Ghirlandaio painted fresco cycles in the Sassetti Chapel of Santa Trinita for the donor and banker Francesco Sassetti , the powerful manager of the branch of the Medici bank in Genoa , a position subsequently filled by Giovanni Tornabuoni , Ghirlandaio’s future patron. In the chapel, Ghirlandaio painted six scenes from the life of Saint Francis , including Saint Francis obtaining from Pope Honorius the Approval of the Rules of His Order, the saint’s Death and Obsequies and a Resuscitation by the interposition of the beatified Francis of a child of the Spini family, who had died as a result of a fall from a window. The first work depicts a portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici , and the third, the painter’s own likeness, which he also included in one of his pictures in the Santa Maria Novella as well as in the Adoration of the Magi in the Florentine orphanage, the Ospedale degli Innocenti . The altarpiece from the Sassetti chapel, the Adoration of the Shepherds, is now in the Florentine Accademia . Immediately after this commission, Ghirlandaio was asked to renew the frescoes in the choir of Santa Maria Novella, which formed the chape l of the Ricci family, but the Tornabuoni and Tornaquinci families, who were much more prominent than the Ricci, undertook the cost of the restoration, with certain contractual conditions. The Tornabuoni Chapel frescoes, by Ghirlandaio and many assistants, were painted in four courses along the three walls, the main subjects being the lives of the Madonna and St. John the Baptist . These works are particularly interesting in that they include many portraits, a genre in which Ghirlandaio was preeminently skilled.

In this cycle, there are no fewer than twenty-one portraits of the Tornabuoni and Tornaquinci families – in the Angel appearing to Zacharias, portraits of Politian, Marsilio Ficino and others; in the Salutation of Anna and Elizabeth, the beautiful Giovanna Tornabuoni (identified (incorrectly) by Giorgio Vasari as Ginevra de Benci ); in the Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple, Sebastiano Mainardi and Alessio Baldovinetti (some art historians have surmised that the latter figure may be the likeness of Ghirlandaio’s father). The Tornabuoni Chapel was completed in 1490; the altarpiece was probably executed with the assistance of Domenico’s brothers, Davide and Benedetto ; the painted window was from Domenico’s own design.

Other distinguished works from Ghirlandaio’s hand are an altarpiece in tempera of the Virgin Adored by Saints Zenobius, Justus and Others, painted for the church of Saint Justus, and considered a remarkable masterpiece—in modern times it has been in the Uffizi gallery. Christ in Glory with Romuald and Other Saints, in the Badia of Volterra ; and the Visitation (Louvre ) which bears the last ascertained date (1491) of all his works. Ghirlandaio did not often attempt the nude—one of his pictures including nudes, Vulcan and His Assistants Forging Thunderbolts, was painted for Lorenzo II de’ Medici , but, as in the case of several others specified by Giorgio Vasari, no longer exists. The mosaics that he produced date before 1491—one, of special note, is the Annunciation, on a portal of the cathedral of Florence.

Ghirlandaio's Tornabuoni Chapel series on the life of Mary, executed with utmost attention to realistic detail, appears to represent domestic scenes from contemporary life of Florentine nobility, rather than a cosmic event. (1485-90)

Ghirlandaio’s Tornabuoni Chapel series on the life of Mary, executed with utmost attention to realistic detail, appears to represent domestic scenes from contemporary life of Florentine nobility, rather than a cosmic event. (1485-90)

Ghirlandaio’s compositional schema were simultaneously grand and decorous, in keeping with 15th century’s restrained and classicizing experimentation. His chiaroscuro , in the sense of realistic shading and three-dimensionalism, was reasonably advanced, as were his perspectives, which he designed on a very elaborate scale by eye alone, without the use of sophisticated mathematics. His color is more open to criticism, but such evaluation applies less to the frescoes than the tempera paintings, which are sometimes too broadly and crudely bright. His frescoes were executed entirely in buon fresco which, in Italian art terminology, refers to abstention from additions in tempera.

A certain hardness of outline may attest to his early training in metal work. Vasari states that Ghirlandaio was the first to abandon, in great part, the use of gilding in his pictures, representing by genuine painting any objects supposed to be gilded; yet this claim is not applicable to his entire oeuvre, since the landscape highlights in, as an example, the Adoration of the Shepherds located, in modern age, at the Florence Academy , were rendered in gold leaf. Those of his drawings and sketches which can be observed and studied at the Uffizi gallery, are considered particularly remarkable for their naturalistic vigor of outline.

One of the great legacies of Ghirlandaio is that he is commonly credited with having given some early art education to Michelangelo, who cannot, however, have remained with him long. Francesco Granacci is another among his best-known pupils.

Ghirlandaio died in 1494 of “pestilential fever” and was buried in Santa Maria Novella. The day and month of his birth remain undocumented, but he is recorded as having died in early January of his forty-fifth year. He had been twice married and left six children. One of his three sons, Ridolfo Ghirlandaio , also became a noted painter. Although he had a long line of descendants, the family died out in the 17th century, when its last members entered monasteries.

Life and Paintings of Domenico Ghirlandaio

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 13/02/2014

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Peasant Dance

Life and Paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525 – 1569)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder [ c. 1525 – 9 September 1569) was a Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so called genre painting). He is sometimes referred to as the “Peasant Bruegel” to distinguish him from other members of the Brueghel dynasty, but he is also the one generally meant when the context does not make clear which Brueghel is being referred to. From 1559 he dropped the ‘h’ from his name and signed his paintings as Bruegel.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism

According to some sources he was born in Breugel near the (now Dutch) town of Breda. There are however also records that he was born in Breda, and there is some uncertainty whether the (now Belgian) town of Bree, called Breda in Latin, is meant.

He was an apprentice of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, whose daughter Mayken he later married. He spent some time in France and Italy, and then went to Antwerp, where in 1551 he was accepted as a master in the painter’s guild. He traveled to Italy soon after, and then returned to Antwerp before settling in Brussels permanently 10 years later.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Peasant Dance

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Peasant Dance

He received the nickname ‘Peasant Bruegel’ or ‘Bruegel the Peasant’ for his alleged practice of dressing up like a peasant in order to mingle at weddings and other celebrations, thereby gaining inspiration and authentic details for his genre paintings. He died in Brussels on 9 September 1569 and was buried in the Kapellekerk. He was the father of Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Both became painters, but as they were very young children when their father died, it is believed neither received any training from him. According to Carel van Mander, it is likely that they were instructed by their grandmother Mayken Verhulst van Aelst, who was also an artist.

In Bruegel’s later years he painted in a simpler style than the Italianate art that prevailed in his time. The most obvious influence on his art is the older Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch, particularly in Bruegel’s early “demonological” paintings such as The Triumph of Death and Dulle Griet (Mad Meg). It was in nature, however, that he found his greatest inspiration as he is identified as being a master of landscapes. It was in these landscapes that Bruegel created a story, seeming to combine several scenes in one painting. Such works can be seen in The Fall of the Rebel Angels and the previously mentioned The Triumph of Death.

Bruegel specialized in genre paintings populated by peasants, often with a large landscape element, but also painted religious works. Making the life and manners of peasants the main focus of a work was rare in painting in Brueghel’s time, and he was a pioneer of the Netherlandish genre painting. His earthy, unsentimental but vivid depiction of the rituals of village life—including agriculture, hunts, meals, festivals, dances, and games—are unique windows on a vanished folk culture and a prime source of iconographic evidence about both physical and social aspects of 16th century life. For example, the painting Netherlandish Proverbs illustrates dozens of then-contemporary aphorisms (many of them still in use in current Dutch or Flemish), and Children’s Games shows the variety of amusements enjoyed by young people. His winter landscapes of 1565 (e.g. Hunters in the Snow) are taken as corroborative evidence of the severity of winters during the Little Ice Age.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap

Using abundant spirit and comic power, he created some of the early images of acute social protest in art history. Examples include paintings such as The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (a satire of the conflicts of the Reformation) and engravings like The Ass in the School and Strongboxes Battling Piggybanks. On his deathbed he reportedly ordered his wife to burn the most subversive of his drawings to protect his family from political persecution.

Let’s now enjoy some of his most celebrated works!

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Corn Harvest (August)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Corn Harvest (August)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Census at Bethlehem

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Census at Bethlehem

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Peasant Wedding

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Peasant Wedding

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Netherlandish Proverbs

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Netherlandish Proverbs

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Magpie on the Gallow

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Magpie on the Gallow

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Haymaking (July)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Haymaking (July)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Gloomy Day (February)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Gloomy Day (February)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Children's Games

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – Children’s Games

Pieter Bruegel the Elder -The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder -The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder -The Hunters in the Snow (January)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder -The Hunters in the Snow (January)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Triumph of Death

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Triumph of Death

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Temptation of St Anthony

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Temptation of St Anthony

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Suicide of Saul

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Suicide of Saul

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Fight between Carnival and Lent

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Fight between Carnival and Lent

Influence

His painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus is the subject of the 1938 poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden, and also of a 1960 poem by William Carlos Williams that also uses Bruegel’s title.

Russian film director Andrei Tarkovksy referenced Bruegel’s paintings in his films several times, notably in Solaris (1972) and The Mirror (1975).

His 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary inspired the 2011 Polish-Swedish film co-production The Mill and the Cross, in which Bruegel is played by Rutger Hauer.

It is believed that his painting Hunters in the Snow influenced the classic short story with the same title written by Tobias Wolff and featured in In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 22/05/2014

Raphael Sanzio -The Canigiani Madonna

16 Great Artists of the Renaissance

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. Though availability of paper and the invention of metal movable type sped the dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century, the changes of the Renaissance were not uniformly experienced across Europe.

As a cultural movement, it encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch, the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. In politics the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation.

16 Great artists of the Renaissance

16 Great artists of the Renaissance

Historians often argue this intellectual transformation was a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term “Renaissance man”.

There is a consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

We talked thoroughly about many renaissance artists in our masters of art series. Here is a list of the 16 great renaissance artists i personally like the most.

Now you might wonder, why instead of just making this list here, i made it on list.ly and then embed it here? Well for one you can embed it too if you so wish in your blog! Which would be cool, but most importantly, those artist are ordered by date of birth, so we can have fun together voting for our top renaissance artists, and ordering the list to become a top 16!

So with no further ado enjoy!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 21/10/2013

Leonardo-DaVinci-The-Virgin-and-Child-with-St.-Anne

Masters of Art: Leonardo DaVinci (1452 – 1519)

Leonardo da Vinci born Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

Movements: Renaissance, Secularism, Naturalism, Idealism

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination.

He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.  According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”.

Leonardo was and is renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon  being reproduced on items as varied as the euro, textbooks, and T-shirts.

Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination.

Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.

Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, and the double hull, and he outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.

 

Annunciation

Annunciation

The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ

Madonne à l'enfant

Madonne à l’enfant

 Last Supper

Last Supper

 

He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.

Despite the recent awareness and admiration of Leonardo as a scientist and inventor, for the better part of four hundred years his fame rested on his achievements as a painter and on a handful of works, either authenticated or attributed to him that have been regarded as among the masterpieces.

These paintings are famous for a variety of qualities which have been much imitated by students and discussed at great length by connoisseurs and critics. Among the qualities that make Leonardo’s work unique are the innovative techniques that he used in laying on the paint, his detailed knowledge of anatomy, light, botany and geology, his interest in physiognomy and the way in which humans register emotion in expression and gesture, his innovative use of the human form in figurative composition, and his use of the subtle gradation of tone. All these qualities come together in his most famous painted works, the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper and the Virgin of the Rocks.

Leonardo was not a prolific painter, but he was a most prolific draftsman, keeping journals full of small sketches and detailed drawings recording all manner of things that took his attention. As well as the journals there exist many studies for paintings, some of which can be identified as preparatory to particular works such as The Adoration of the Magi, The Virgin of the Rocks and The Last Supper. His earliest dated drawing is a Landscape of the Arno Valley, 1473, which shows the river, the mountains, Montelupo Castle and the farmlands beyond it in great detail.

Among his famous drawings are the Vitruvian Man, a study of the proportions of the human body, the Head of an Angel, for The Virgin of the Rocks in the Louvre, a botanical study of Star of Bethlehem and a large drawing (160×100 cm) in black chalk on coloured paper of The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist in the National Gallery, London.

This drawing employs the subtle sfumato technique of shading, in the manner of the Mona Lisa. It is thought that Leonardo never made a painting from it, the closest similarity being to The Virgin and Child with St. Anne in the Louvre

Other drawings of interest include numerous studies generally referred to as “caricatures” because, although exaggerated, they appear to be based upon observation of live models. Vasari relates that if Leonardo saw a person with an interesting face he would follow them around all day observing them.

There are numerous studies of beautiful young men, often associated with Salai, with the rare and much admired facial feature, the so-called “Grecian profile”. These faces are often contrasted with that of a warrior. Salai is often depicted in fancy-dress costume. Leonardo is known to have designed sets for pageants with which these may be associated. Other, often meticulous, drawings show studies of drapery. A marked development in Leonardo’s ability to draw drapery occurred in his early works. Another often-reproduced drawing is a macabre sketch that was done by Leonardo in Florence in 1479 showing the body of Bernardo Baroncelli, hanged in connection with the murder of Giuliano, brother of Lorenzo de’Medici, in the Pazzi Conspiracy. With dispassionate integrity Leonardo has registered in neat mirror writing the colours of the robes that Baroncelli was wearing when he died.

 

Study of a Tuscan Landscape

Study of a Tuscan Landscape

Views of a Foetus in the Womb

Views of a Foetus in the Womb

The interest in Leonardo’s genius has continued unabated; experts study and translate his writings, analyse his paintings using scientific techniques, argue over attributions and search for works which have been recorded but never found.

Liana Bortolon, writing in 1967, said:

Because of the multiplicity of interests that spurred him to pursue every field of knowledge … Leonardo can be considered, quite rightly, to have been the universal genius par excellence, and with all the disquieting overtones inherent in that term. Man is as uncomfortable today, faced with a genius, as he was in the 16th century.Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe!

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 28/08/2012

Guido di Pietro (Fra Angelico) - Coronation of the Virgin

Masters of Art: Fra Angelico (1395 – 1455)

Fra Angelico (born Guido di Pietro; c. 1395 – 1455) was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having “a rare and perfect talent”. He was known to contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole) and Fra Giovanni Angelico (Angelic Brother John). In modern Italian he is called il Beato Angelico (Blessed Angelic One);  the common English name Fra Angelico means “Angelic Brother.”

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, International Gothicism, Perspectivism

Vasari wrote of Fra Angelico:

But it is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.

 Receiving the Stigmata

Receiving the Stigmata

Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro at Rupecanina in the Tuscan area of Mugello near Fiesole towards the end of the 14th century. Nothing is known of his parents. He was baptized Guido or Guidolino. The earliest recorded document concerning Fra Angelico dates from October 17, 1417 when he joined a religious confraternity at the Carmine Church, still under the name of Guido di Pietro. This record also reveals that he was already a painter, a fact that is subsequently confirmed by two records of payment to Guido di Pietro in January and February 1418 for work done in the church of Santo Stefano del Ponte.  The first record of Angelico as a friar dates from 1423, when he is first referred to as Fra Giovanni, following the custom of those entering a religious order of taking a new name. According to Vasari, Fra Angelico initially received training as an illuminator, possibly working with his older brother Benedetto who was also a Dominican and an illuminator. San Marco in Florence holds several manuscripts that are thought to be entirely or partly by his hand. The painter Lorenzo Monaco may have contributed to his art training, and the influence of the Sienese school is discernible in his work. He had several important charges in the convents he lived in, but this did not limit his art, which very soon became famous. According to Vasari, the first paintings of this artist were an altarpiece and a painted screen for the Carthusian Monastery of Florence; none such exist there now.

From 1408 to 1418 Fra Angelico was at the Dominican friary of Cortona where he painted frescoes, now destroyed, in the Dominican Church and may have been assistant to or follower of Gherardo Starnina. Between 1418 and 1436 he was at the convent of Fiesole where he also executed a number of frescoes for the church, and the Altarpiece, deteriorated but restored. A predella of the Altarpiece remains intact in the National Gallery, London which is a superb example of Fra Angelico’s ability. It shows Christ in Glory, surrounded by more than 250 figures, including beatified Dominicans.

The Story of St Nicholas

The Story of St Nicholas

In 1436 Fra Angelico was one of a number of the friars from Fiesole who moved to the newly-built Friary of San Marco in Florence. This was an important move which put him in the centre of artistic activity of the region and brought about the patronage of one of the wealthiest and most powerful members of the city’s Signoria, Cosimo de’ Medici, who had a large cell (later occupied by Savonarola) reserved for himself at the friary in order that he might retreat from the world. It was, according to Vasari, at Cosimo’s urging that Fra Angelico set about the task of decorating the monastery, including the magnificent Chapter House fresco, the often-reproduced Annunciation at the top of the stairs to the cells, the Maesta with Saints and the many smaller devotional frescoes depicting aspects of the Life of Christ that adorn the walls of each cell.

Tempera on panel

Tempera on panel

In 1439 he completed one of his most famous works, the Altarpiece for St. Marco’s, Florence. The result was unusual for its times. Images of the enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded by saints were common, but they usually depicted a setting that was clearly heavenlike, in which saints and angels hovered about as divine presences rather than people. But in this instance, the saints stand squarely within the space, grouped in a natural way as if they were able to converse about the shared experience of witnessing the Virgin in glory. Paintings such as this, known as Sacred Conversations, were to become the major commissions of Giovanni Bellini, Perugino and Raphael.

In 1445 Pope Eugenius IV summoned him to Rome to paint the frescoes of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at St Peter’s, later demolished by Pope Paul III. Vasari claims that at this time Fra Angelico was offered by Pope Nicholas V the Archbishopric of Florence, and that he refused it, recommending another friar for the position. While the story seems possible and even likely, if Vasari’s date is correct, then the pope must have been Eugenius and not Nicholas. In 1447 Fra Angelico was in Orvieto with his pupil, Benozzo Gozzoli, executing works for the Cathedral. Among his other pupils were Zanobi Strozzi.

From 1447 to 1449 he was back at the Vatican, designing the frescoes for the Niccoline Chapel for Nicholas V. The scenes from the lives of the two martyred deacons of the Early Christian Church, St. Stephen and St. Lawrence may have been executed wholly or in part by assistants. The small chapel, with its brightly frescoed walls and gold leaf decorations gives the impression of a jewel box. From 1449 until 1452, Fra Angelico was back at his old convent of Fiesole, where he was the Prior.

In 1455 Fra Angelico died while staying at a Dominican Convent in Rome, perhaps in order to work on Pope Nicholas’ Chapel. He was buried in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

When singing my praise, don’t liken my talents to those of Apelles.
Say, rather, that, in the name of Christ, I gave all I had to the poor.
The deeds that count on Earth are not the ones that count in Heaven.
I, Giovanni, am the flower of Tuscany.

So let’s see some of his most important works:

Saint Lawrence receives the treasures of the Church

Saint Lawrence receives the treasures of the Church

Saint Anthony the Abbot Tempted by a Lump of Gold

Saint Anthony the Abbot Tempted by a Lump of Gold

Massacre of the Innocents

Massacre of the Innocents

Giudizio universale

Giudizio universale

 Entombment of Christ

Entombment of Christ

Deposition from the Cross

Deposition from the Cross

Coronation of the Virgin

Coronation of the Virgin

Circumcision

Circumcision

Annunciation

Annunciation

Artistic legacy

Through Fra Angelico’s pupil Benozzo Gozzoli’s careful portraiture and technical expertise in the art of fresco we see a link to Domenico Ghirlandaio, who in turn painted extensive schemes for the wealthy patrons of Florence, and through Ghirlandaio to his pupil Michelangelo and the High Renaissance.

Apart from the lineal connection, superficially there may seem little to link the humble priest with his sweetly pretty Madonnas and timeless Crucifixions to the dynamic expressions of Michelangelo’s larger-than-life creations. But both these artists received their most important commissions from the wealthiest and most powerful of all patrons, the Vatican.

When Michelangelo took up the Sistine Chapel commission, he was working within a space that had already been extensively decorated by other artists. Around the walls the Life of Christ and Life of Moses were depicted by a range of artists including his teacher Ghirlandaio, Raphael’s teacher Perugino and Botticelli. They were works of large scale and exactly the sort of lavish treatment to be expected in a Vatican commission, vying with each other in complexity of design, number of figures, elaboration of detail and skilful use of gold leaf. Above these works stood a row of painted Popes in brilliant brocades and gold tiaras. None of these splendours have any place in the work which Michelangelo created. Michelangelo, when asked by Pope Julius II to ornament the robes of the Apostles in the usual way, responded that they were very poor men.

Within the cells of San’Marco, Fra Angelico had demonstrated that painterly skill and the artist’s personal interpretation were sufficient to create memorable works of art, without the expensive trappings of blue and gold. In the use of the unadorned fresco technique, the clear bright pastel colours, the careful arrangement of a few significant figures and the skilful use of expression, motion and gesture, Michelangelo showed himself to be the artistic descendant of Fra Angelico. Frederick Hartt describes Fra Angelico as “prophetic of the mysticism” of painters such as Rembrandt, El Greco and Zurbarán.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 07/08/2012

Michelangelo - Pietta

Masters of Art: Michelangelo (1475 – 1564)

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo , was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.

Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.

Movements: Renaissance, Idealism, Classicism, Monumentalism, Humanism

Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time.

A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century.

Michelangelo - Pietta

Michelangelo – Pietta

Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo’s design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.

 

Michelangelo - David

Michelangelo – David

In a demonstration of Michelangelo’s unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive.

Two biographies were published of him during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino (“the divine one”).

One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and it was the attempts of subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo’s impassioned and highly personal style that resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

Michelangelo - The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo – The Creation of Adam

The fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Clement VII, who died shortly after assigning the commission. Paul III was instrumental in seeing that Michelangelo began and completed the project. Michelangelo labored on the project from 1534 to October 1541. The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo - The last judgement

Michelangelo – The last judgement

The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse; where the souls of humanity rise and are assigned to their various fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by the Saints. In that work, the position of the figure of Christ appears to pay tribute to that of Melozzo’s Christ in the Ascension of our Lord, once in the Santi Apostoli, now in the Quirinal Palace.

Censorship always followed Michelangelo, The infamous “fig-leaf campaign” of the Counter-Reformation, aiming to cover all representations of human genitals in paintings and sculptures, started with Michelangelo’s works. To give two examples, the marble statue of Cristo della Minerva (church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome) was covered by added drapery, as it remains today, and the statue of the naked child Jesus in Madonna of Bruges (The Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium) remained covered for several decades. Also, the plaster copy of the David in the Cast Courts (Victoria and Albert Museum) in London, has a fig leaf in a box at the back of the statue. It was there to be placed over the statue’s genitals so that they would not upset visiting female royalty.

Michelangelo - Cristo della Minerva

Michelangelo – Cristo della Minerva

In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome. As St. Peter’s was progressing there was concern that Michelangelo would pass away before the dome was finished. However, once building commenced on the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring, the completion of the design was inevitable. Michelangelo died in Rome at the age of 88 (three weeks before his 89th birthday).

His body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro’s last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany.

Lets now enjoy some of his other celebrated works:

 

Sculpting

 

Painting

 

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 07/09/2012