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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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.

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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

 

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

Jan Van Eyck - Self-portrait

Masters of Art: Jan Van Eyck (1395 – 1441)

Jan van Eyck (or Johannes de Eyck)(c. 1395 –  1441) was a Flemish painter active in Bruges and is generally considered one of the most significant Northern European painters of the 15th century. The few surviving records indicate that he was born around 1390, most likely in Maaseik. Little is known of his early life, but his activities following his appointment to the court of Philip the Good c. 1425 are comparatively well documented.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism

Jan Van Eyck - Self-portrait

Jan Van Eyck – Self-portrait

Van Eyck had previously served John of Bavaria-Straubing, then ruler of Holland, Hainault and Zeeburg. By this time van Eyck had assembled a workshop and was involved in redecorating the Binnenhof palace in The Hague. He moved to Bruges sometime around 1425 and there came to the attention of Philip the Good. He served as both court artist and diplomat and became a senior member of the Tournai painters’ guild, where he enjoyed the company of similarly esteemed artists such as Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden. Over the following decade van Eyck’s reputation and technical ability grew, mostly from his innovative approaches towards the handling and manipulating of oil paint.

His revolutionary approach to oil was such that a myth, perpetuated by Giorgio Vasari, arose that he had invented oil painting.

It is known from historical record that van Eyck was considered a revolutionary master across northern Europe within his lifetime; his designs and methods were heavily copied and reproduced. His motto, one of the first and still most distinctive signatures in art history, “ALS IK KAN” (“AS I CAN”) first appeared in 1433 on Portrait of a Man in a Turban, which is most likely a self portrait and indicative of his emerging self confidence at the time.

The years between 1434 and 1436 are generally considered his high point when he produced works including the Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, Lucca Madonna and Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele. That year he married the much younger Margaret. Records from 1437 on suggest that he was held in high esteem by the upper ranks of Burgundian nobility while also accepting many foreign commissions. He died young in July 1441, leaving behind many unfinished works to be completed by workshop journeymen; works that are nevertheless today considered major examples of Early Netherlandish painting. His local and international reputation was aided by his ties to the then political and cultural influence of the Burgundian court.

Lets enjoy some of his most important works:

St Jerome

St Jerome

Madonna mit dem lesenden Kinde

Madonna mit dem lesenden Kinde

Madonna des Kanonikus Georg van der Paele

Madonna des Kanonikus Georg van der Paele

Madonna at the Fountain

Madonna at the Fountain

Die Stigmatisation des Hl. Franziskus

Die Stigmatisation des Hl. Franziskus

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Article publié pour la première fois le 03/08/2012

Giorgione - The Three Ages

Masters of Art: Giorgione (1477 – 1510)

Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco;  or simply Giorgione; (c. 1477/8 – 1510) was a Venetian painter of the High Renaissance in Venice, whose career was cut off by his death at a little over thirty.

Giorgione is known for the elusive poetic quality of his work, though only about six surviving paintings are acknowledged for certain to be his work. The resulting uncertainty about the identity and meaning of his art has made Giorgione one of the most mysterious figures in European painting.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, Monumentalism, Secularism

Together with Titian, who was slightly younger, he is the founder of the distinctive Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting, which achieves much of its effect through colour and mood, and is traditionally contrasted with the reliance on a more linear disegno of Florentine painting.

The painter came from the small town of Castelfranco Veneto, 40 km inland from Venice. How early in boyhood he went to Venice we do not know, but stylistic evidence supports the statement of Carlo Ridolfi that he served his apprenticeship there under Giovanni Bellini; there he settled and made his fame.

Contemporary documents record that his gifts were recognized early. In 1500, when he was only twenty-three, he was chosen to paint portraits of the Doge Agostino Barbarigo and the condottiere Consalvo Ferrante.

In 1504 he was commissioned to paint an altarpiece in memory of another condottiere, Matteo Costanzo, in the cathedral of his native town, Castelfranco. In 1507 he received at the order of the Council of Ten part payment for a picture (subject not mentioned) on which he was engaged for the Hall of the Audience in the Doge’s Palace.

Giorgione - Portrait of Warrior with his Equerry

Giorgione – Portrait of Warrior with his Equerry

In 1507-1508 he was employed, with other artists of his generation, to decorate with frescoes the exterior of the newly rebuilt Fondaco dei Tedeschi (or German Merchants’ Hall) at Venice, having already done similar work on the exterior of the Casa Soranzo, the Casa Grimani alli Servi and other Venetian palaces. Very little of this work survives today.

Giorgione met with Leonardo da Vinci on the occasion of the Tuscan master’s visit to Venice in 1500. All accounts agree in representing Giorgione as a person of distinguished and romantic charm, a great lover and a musician, given to express in his art the sensuous and imaginative grace, touched with poetic melancholy, of the Venetian existence of his time. They represent him further as having made in Venetian painting an advance analogous to that made in Tuscan painting by Leonardo more than twenty years before; that is, as having released the art from the last shackles of archaic rigidity and placed it in possession of full freedom and the full mastery of its means.

He was very closely associated with Titian; Vasari says Giorgione was Titian’s master, while Ridolfi says they both were pupils of Bellini, and lived in his house. They worked together on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi frescoes, and Titian finished at least some paintings of Giorgione after his death, although which ones remains very controversial.

Giorgione also introduced a new range of subjects. Besides altarpieces and portraits he painted pictures that told no story, whether biblical or classical, or if they professed to tell a story, neglected the action and simply embodied in form and color moods of lyrical or romantic feeling, much as a musician might embody them in sounds. Innovating with the courage and felicity of genius, he had for a time an overwhelming influence on his contemporaries and immediate successors in the Venetian school, including Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo, Palma il Vecchio, il Cariani, Giulio Campagnola (and his brother), and even on his already eminent master, Giovanni Bellini. In the Venetian mainland, Giorgionismo strongly influenced Morto da Feltre, Domenico Capriolo, and Domenico Mancini.

Giorgione died, probably of the plague then raging, by October, 1510. October 1510 is also the date of a letter by Isabella d’Este to a Venetian friend; asking him to buy a painting by Giorgione; in the letter she is aware he is already dead. Significantly, the reply a month later said the painting was not to be had at any price.

Giorgione - Sleeping Venus

Giorgione – Sleeping Venus

His name and work continue to exercise a spell on posterity. But to identify and define, among the relics of his age and school, precisely what that work is, and to distinguish it from the similar work of other men whom his influence inspired, is a very difficult matter.

Though there are no longer any supporters of the “Pan Giorgionismus” which a century ago claimed for Giorgione nearly every painting of the time that at all resembles his manner, there are still, as then, exclusive critics who reduce to half a dozen the list of extant pictures which they will admit to be actually by this master.

Giorgione - The Three Philosophers

Giorgione – The Three Philosophers

The difficulty in making secure attributions of work by Giorgione’s hand dates from soon after his death, when some of his paintings were completed by other artists, and his considerable reputation also led to very early erroneous claims of attribution. The vast bulk of documentation for paintings in this period relates to large commissions for Church or government; the small domestic panels that make up the bulk of Giorgione’s oeuvre are always far less likely to be recorded. Other artists continued to work in his style for some years, and probably by the mid-century deliberately deceptive work had started.

Giorgione - The Three Ages

Giorgione – The Three Ages

Though he died at 33, Giorgione left a lasting legacy to be developed by Titian and 17th-century artists. Giorgione never subordinated line and colour to architecture, nor an artistic effect to a sentimental presentation. He was arguably the first Italian to paint landscapes with figures as movable pictures in their own frames with no devotional, allegorical, or historical purpose — and the first whose colours possessed that ardent, glowing, and melting intensity which was so soon to typify the work of all the Venetian School

Let’s enjoy some of his other most celebrated works:

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Article publié pour la première fois le 11/09/2012

Antonio da Correggio - Danaë

Life and Paintings of Antonio da Correggio (1489 – 1534)

Antonio Allegri da Correggio (August 1489 – March 5, 1534), usually known as Correggio, was the foremost painter of the Parma school of the Italian Renaissance, who was responsible for some of the most vigorous and sensuous works of the 16th century. In his use of dynamic composition, illusionistic perspective and dramatic foreshortening, Correggio prefigured the Rococo art of the 18th century.

Movements: Renaissance, Illusionism, Monumentalism

[Please note that Corregio’s paintings contain nudity, if that offends you don’t read the article.]

Antonio da Correggio - The Education of Cupid

Antonio da Correggio – The Education of Cupid

Antonio Allegri was born in Correggio, Italy, a small town near Reggio Emilia. His date of birth is uncertain (around 1489). His father was a merchant. Otherwise, little is known about Correggio’s life or training. In the years 1503-1505 he apprenticed to Francesco Bianchi Ferrara of Modena. Here he probably knew the classicism of artists like Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Francia, evidence of which can be found in his first works. After a trip to Mantua in 1506, he returned to Correggio, where he stayed until 1510.

To this period is assigned the Adoration of the Child with St. Elizabeth and John, which shows clear influences from Costa and Mantegna. In 1514 he probably finished three tondos for the entrance of the church of Sant’Andrea in Mantua, and then returned to Correggio: here, as an independent and increasingly renowned artist, he signed a contract for the Madonna altarpiece in the local monastery of St. Francis (now in the Dresden Gemäldegalerie). Correggio’s first major commission (February–September 1519) was the ceiling decoration of the private dining salon of the mother-superior (abbess Giovanna Piacenza) of the convent of St Paul called the Camera di San Paolo at Parma. Here he painted a delightful arbor pierced by oculi opening to glimpses of playful cherubs.

Below the oculi are lunettes with images of feigned monochromic marble. The fireplace is frescoed with an image of Diana. The iconography of the unit is complex, joining images of classical marbles to whimsical colorful bambini. While it recalls the secular frescoes of the pleasure palace of the Villa Farnesina in Rome, it is also a strikingly novel form of interior decoration. Other masterpieces include The Lamentation and The Martyrdom of Four Saints, both at the Galleria Nazionale of Parma.

The Lamentation is haunted by a lambence rarely seen in Italian painting prior to this time. The Martyrdom is also remarkable for resembling later Baroque compositions such as Bernini’s Truth and Ercole Ferrata’s Death of Saint Agnes, showing a gleeful saint entering martyrdom

Let’s now enjoy some of his most celebrated works

Antonio da Correggio - Noli Me Tangere

Antonio da Correggio – Noli Me Tangere

Antonio da Correggio - Assumption of the Virgin

Antonio da Correggio – Assumption of the Virgin

Antonio da Correggio - Allegory of Virtues

Antonio da Correggio – Allegory of Virtues

Antonio da Correggio - Allegory of Vices

Antonio da Correggio – Allegory of Vices

Antonio da Correggio - Venus and Cupid with a Satyr

Antonio da Correggio – Venus and Cupid with a Satyr

Antonio da Correggio - The Adoration of the Magi

Antonio da Correggio – The Adoration of the Magi

Antonio da Correggio - Madonna of the Basket

Antonio da Correggio – Madonna of the Basket

Antonio da Correggio - Madonna with St. Francis

Antonio da Correggio – Madonna with St. Francis

Antonio da Correggio - Madonna and Child with Sts Jerome and Mary Magdalen (The Day)

Antonio da Correggio – Madonna and Child with Sts Jerome and Mary Magdalen (The Day)

Antonio da Correggio - Leda with the Swan

Antonio da Correggio – Leda with the Swan

Antonio da Correggio - Danaë

Antonio da Correggio – Danaë

Correggio was remembered by his contemporaries as a shadowy, melancholic and introverted character, traits possibly conditioned by his birth into a large and poor family.

Correggio is an enigmatic and eclectic artist, and it is not always possible to identify a stylistic link between his paintings. He appears to have emerged out of no major apprenticeship, and to have had little immediate influence in terms of apprenticed successors, but his works are now considered to have been revolutionary and influential on subsequent artists. A half-century after his death Correggio’s work was well known to Vasari, who felt that he had not had enough “Roman” exposure to make him a better painter. In the 18th and 19th centuries, his works were often remembered in the diaries of foreign visitors to Italy, which led to a reevaluation of his art during the period of Romanticism.

The flight of the Madonna in the vault of the cupola of the Cathedral of Parma inspired numerous scenographical decorations in lay and religious palaces during those centuries.

Corregio’s illusionistic experiments, in which imaginary spaces replace the natural reality, seem to prefigure many elements of Mannerist and Baroque stylistic approaches. In other words, he appears to have fostered artistic grandchildren, despite having no direct disciples outside of Parma, where he was influential on the work of Giovanni Maria Francesco Rondani, Parmigianino, Bernardo Gatti, and Giorgio Gandini del Grano. His son, Pomponio Allegri became a painter.

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

Luca Signorelli - Madonna and Child with Saints

Life and Paintings of Luca Signorelli (1445 – 1523)

Luca Signorelli (c. 1445 – 16 October 1523) was an Italian Renaissance painter who was noted in particular for his ability as a draughtsman and his use of foreshortening. His massive frescoes of the Last Judgment (1499–1503) in Orvieto Cathedral are considered his masterpiece.

Movements: Renaissance

He was born Luca d’Egidio di Ventura in Cortona, Tuscany (some sources call him Luca da Cortona). The precise date of his birth is uncertain; birth dates of 1441–1445 are proposed. He died in 1523 in Cortona, where he is buried. He was perhaps eighty-two years old. He is considered to be part of the Tuscan school, although he also worked extensively in Umbria and Rome.

His first impressions of art seem to be due to Perugia — the style of Benedetto Bonfigli, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo and Pinturicchio. Lazzaro Vasari, the great-grandfather of art historian Giorgio Vasari, was brother to Luca’s mother; according to Giorgio Vasari he got Luca apprenticed to Piero della Francesca. In 1472 the young man was painting at Arezzo, and in 1474 at Città di Castello. He presented to Lorenzo de’ Medici a picture which is probably the one named the School of Pan. Janet Ross and her husband Henry discovered the painting in Florence circa 1870 and subsequently sold it to the Kaiser Frederick Museum in Berlin. The painting was destroyed by allied bombs in WWII. See Benjamin, Sarah (2006) A Castle In Tuscany at 63-67 (image of the painting at 64-65) Murdoch Books Australia. The painting’s subject is almost the same which he painted also on the wall of the Petrucci palace in Siena—the principal figures being Pan himself, Olympus, Echo, a man reclining on the ground and two listening shepherds.

He executed, moreover, various sacred pictures, showing a study of Botticelli and Lippo Lippi. Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Signorelli to paint some frescoes, now mostly very dim, in the shrine of Loreto—Angels, Doctors of the Church, Evangelists, Apostles, the Incredulity of Thomas and the Conversion of St Paul. He also executed a single fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the Testament and Death of Moses, although most of it has been attributed to Bartolomeo della Gatta; another, the Moses Leaving to Egypt, once ascribed to Signorelli, is now recognized as the work of Perugino and other assistants.

Krönung Mariä

Krönung Mariä

 

Signorelli worked in Rome from 1478 to 1484. In the latter year he returned to his native Cortona, which remained from this time his home. In the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Siena) he painted eight frescoes, forming part of a vast series of the life of St. Benedict; they are at present much injured. In the palace of Pandolfo Petrucci he worked upon various classic or mythological subjects, including the School of Pan already mentioned.

From the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore near Siena, Signorelli went to Orvieto, and produced his masterpiece, the frescoes in the chapel of S. Brizio (then called the Cappella Nuova), in the cathedral.

The Cappella Nuova already contained two groups of images in the vaulting over the altar, the Judging Christ and the Prophets, by Fra Angelico, who had begun the murals fifty years earlier. The works of Signorelli in the vaults and on the upper walls represent the events surrounding the Apocalypse and the Last Judgment. The events of the Apocalypse fill the space which surrounds the entrance into the large chapel.

The Apocalyptic events begin with the Preaching of Antichrist, and proceed to the Doomsday and The Resurrection of the Flesh. They occupy three vast lunettes, each of them a single continuous narrative composition. In one of them, Antichrist, after his portents and impious glories, falls headlong from the sky, crashing down into an innumerable crowd of men and women.

 

Crucifixion

Crucifixion

The Damned

The Damned

The Birth of St John the Baptist

The Birth of St John the Baptist

The Archangel Gabriel

The Archangel Gabriel

Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels

Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels

Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist

Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist

 

The events of the Last Judgment fill the facing vault and the walls around the altar: Paradise, the Elect and the Condemned, Hell, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the Destruction of the Reprobate.

To Angelico’s ceiling, which contained the Judging Christ and the Prophets led by John the Baptist, Signorelli added the Madonna leading the Apostles, the Patriarchs, Doctors of the Church, Martyrs, and Virgins. The unifying factor of the paintings is found in the scripture readings in the Roman liturgies for the Feast of All Saints and Advent.

Stylistically, the daring and terrible inventions, with their powerful treatment of the nude and arduous foreshortenings, were striking in its day. Michelangelo is claimed to have borrowed, in his own fresco at the Sistine Chapel wall, some of Signorelli’s figures or combinations. The decoration of the lower walls, unprecedented in the history of art, are richly decorated with a great deal of subsidiary work connected with Dante, specifically the first eleven books of his Purgatorio, and with the poets and legends of antiquity. A Pietà composition in a niche in the lower wall contains explicit references to two important Orvietan martyr saints, S. Pietro Parenzo and S. Faustino, in the centuries preceding the execution of the lunette paintings.

The contract for Signorelli’s work is still on record in the archives of the Cathedral of Orvieto. He undertook on April 5, 1499 to complete the ceiling for 200 ducats, and to paint the walls for 600, along with lodging, and in every month two measures of wine and two quarters of corn. The contract directed Signorelli to consult the Masters of the Sacred Page for theological matters. This is the first such recorded instance of an artist receiving theological advice, although art historians believe the two groups routinely discussed such matters. Signorelli’s first stay in Orvieto lasted not more than two years. In 1502 he returned to Cortona. He returned to Orvieto and continued the lower walls. He painted a dead Christ, with Mary Magdalen and the Virgin Mary and the martyrs local Saints Pietro Parenzo and Faustino.The figure of the dead Christ, according to Vasari, is the image of Signorelli’s son Antonio, who died from the plague during the course of the execution of the paintings.

 

After finishing the frecoes at Orvieto, Signorelli was often in Siena. In 1507 he executed a great altarpiece for S. Medardo at Arcevia in the Marche, the Madonna and Child, with the Massacre of the Innocents and other episodes.

In 1508 Pope Julius II summoned artists to Rome, including Signorelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio and Il Sodoma to paint the large rooms in the Vatican Palace. They began work, but soon the pope dismissed all to make way for Raphael. Their work was taken down, except for the ceiling in the Stanza della Segnatura. Luca returned to Siena, but mostly lived in his hometown of Cortona. He was constantly at work, but the products of his closing years were not of the quality of his works from 1490–1505.

In 1520 Signorelli went with one of his pictures to Arezzo. He was partially paralysed when he began a fresco of the Baptism of Christ in the chapel of Cardinal Passerini’s palace near Cortona, which (or else a Coronation of the Virgin at Foiano) is the last picture specified as his . Signorelli stood in great repute as a citizen; he entered the magistracy of Cortona as early as 1488, and held a leading position by 1524 when he died.

Signorelli paid great attention to anatomy. It is said that he carried on his studies in burial grounds. Certainly his mastery of the human form indicates that he had performed dissections. He surpassed contemporaries in showing the structure and mechanism of the nude in immediate action; and he even went beyond nature in experiments of this kind, trying hypothetical attitudes and combinations. His drawings in the Louvre demonstrate this and bear a close analogy to the method of Michelangelo. He aimed at powerful truth rather than nobility of form; colour was comparatively neglected, and his chiaroscuro exhibits sharp oppositions of lights and shadows. He had a vast influence over the painters of his own and of succeeding times, but had no pupils or assistants of high mark; one of them was a nephew named Francesco.

 

Resurrection of the Flesh

Resurrection of the Flesh

Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man

Madonna and Child with Saints

Madonna and Child with Saints

Vasari, who claimed Signorelli as a relative, described him as kindly, and a family man, and said that he always lived more like a nobleman than a painter. Vasari included Signorelli’s portrait, one of seven, in his study in Arezzo, along with Michelangelo and himself. The Torrigiani Gallery in Florence contains a grand life-sized portrait by Signorelli of a man in a red cap and vest, and corresponds with Vasari’s observation. In the National Gallery, London, are the Circumcision of Jesus and three other works. Legend holds that Signorelli depicted himself in the left foreground of his Orvietan mural The Rule of Antichrist. Fra Angelico, his predecessor in the Orvieto cycle, is thought to stand behind him in the piece. However, the figure thought to be Fra Angelico is not dressed as a Dominican friar, and Signorelli’s supposed portrait does not match that in Vasari’s study.

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.

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)

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.

Jacobo-Robusti-(Tintoretto)---Christ-Washing-the-Feet-of-His-Disciples

Life and Paintings of Tintoretto (1518 – 1594)

Tintoretto (September 29, 1518 – May 31, 1594), real name Jacopo Comin, was a Venetian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style, while maintaining color and light typical of the Venetian School.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism

In his youth, Tintoretto was also known as Jacopo Robusti as his father had defended the gates of Padua in a rather robust way against the imperial troops during the War of the League of Cambrai (1509–1516). His real name “Comin” has only recently been discovered by Miguel Falomir, the curator of the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and was made public on the occasion of the retrospective of Tintoretto at the Prado in 2007. Comin translates to the spice cumin in the local language.

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - St Roch in Prison Visited by an Angel

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – St Roch in Prison Visited by an Angel

Tintoretto was born in Venice in 1518, as the eldest of 21 children. His father, Giovanni, was a dyer, or tintore; hence the son got the nickname of Tintoretto, little dyer, or dyer’s boy, which is anglicized as Tintoret. The family originated from Brescia, in Lombardy, then part of the Republic of Venice. Older studies gave the Tuscan town of Lucca as the origin of the family.

In childhood Jacopo, a born painter, began daubing on the dyer’s walls; his father, noticing his bent, took him to the studio of Titian to see how far he could be trained as an artist. This was supposedly towards 1533, when Titian was already (according to the ordinary accounts) fifty-six years of age. Tintoretto had only been ten days in the studio when Titian sent him home once and for all, the reason being that the great master observed some very spirited drawings, which he learned to be the production of Tintoretto; and it is inferred that he became at once jealous of so promising a scholar. This, however, is mere conjecture; and perhaps it may be fairer to suppose that the drawings exhibited so much independence of manner that Titian judged that young Jacopo, although he might become a painter, would never be properly a pupil.

From this time forward the two always remained upon distant terms, Tintoretto being indeed a professed and ardent admirer of Titian, but never a friend, and Titian and his adherents turning the cold shoulder to him. Active disparagement also was not wanting, but it passed unnoticed by Tintoretto. The latter sought for no further teaching, but studied on his own account with laborious zeal; he lived poorly, collecting casts, bas-reliefs, &c., and practising by their aid. His noble conception of art and his high personal ambition were evidenced in the inscription which he placed over his studio Il disegno di Michelangelo ed il colorito di Tiziano (“Michelangelo‘s design and Titian’s color”)

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Origin of the Milky Way

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Origin of the Milky Way

He studied more especially from models of Michelangelo’s Dawn, Noon, Twilight and Night, and became expert in modelling in wax and clay method (practised likewise by Titian) which afterwards stood him in good stead in working out the arrangement of his pictures. The models were sometimes taken from dead subjects dissected or studied in anatomy schools; some were draped, others nude, and Tintoretto was to suspend them in a wooden or cardboard box, with an aperture for a candle. Now and afterwards he very frequently worked by night as well as by day.

Tintoretto scarcely ever travelled out of Venice.  He loved all the arts and as a youth played the lute and various instruments, some of them of his own invention, and designed theatrical costumes and properties. He was also versed in mechanics and mechanical devices. While being a very agreeable companion, for the sake of his work he lived in a mostly retired fashion, and even when not painting was wont to remain in his working room surrounded by casts. Here he hardly admitted any, even intimate friends, and he kept his mode of work secret, with the exception of his assistants. He abounded in pleasant witty sayings, whether to great personages or to others, but he himself seldom smiled.

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Miracle of St Mark Freeing the Slave

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Miracle of St Mark Freeing the Slave

Out of doors, his wife made him wear the robe of a Venetian citizen; if it rained she tried to induce him with an outer garment which he resisted. When he left the house, she would also wrap money up for him in a handkerchief, expecting a strict accounting on his return. Tintoretto’s customary reply was that he had spent it on alms to the poor or to prisoners.

An agreement is extant showing a plan to finish two historical paintings, each containing twenty figures, seven being portraits in a two month period of time. The number of his portraits is enormous; their merit is unequaled, but the really fine ones cannot be surpassed. Sebastiano del Piombo remarked that Tintoretto could paint in two days as much as himself in two years; Annibale Carracci that Tintoretto was in many pictures equal to Titian, in others inferior to Tintoretto. This was the general opinion of the Venetians, who said that he had three pencils—one of gold, the second of silver and the third of iron.

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Last Supper

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Last Supper

A comparison of Tintoretto’s final The Last Supper with Leonardo da Vinci’s treatment of the same subject provides an instructive demonstration of how artistic styles evolved over the course of the Renaissance. Leonardo’s is all classical repose. The disciples radiate away from Christ in almost-mathematical symmetry. In the hands of Tintoretto, the same event becomes dramatic, as the human figures are joined by angels. A servant is foregrounded, perhaps in reference to the Gospel of John 13:14-16. In the restless dynamism of his composition, his dramatic use of light, and his emphatic perspective effects, Tintoretto seems a baroque artist ahead of his time.

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Last Supper 2

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Last Supper 2

Let’s now enjoy some of his most celebrated works!
Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Meeting of Tamar and Judah

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Meeting of Tamar and Judah

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (fragment)

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (fragment)

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Descent into Hell

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Descent into Hell

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Deposition

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Deposition

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Crucifixion of Christ

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Crucifixion of Christ

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - Marriage at Cana

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – Marriage at Cana

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - Creation of the Animals

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – Creation of the Animals

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - Christ at the Sea of Galilee

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – Christ at the Sea of Galilee

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) -Venus, Mars, and Vulcan

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) -Venus, Mars, and Vulcan

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) - The Supper at Emmaus

Jacobo Robusti (Tintoretto) – The Supper at Emmaus

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.

 

 

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Perseus and Andromeda

Life and Paintings of Titian (1488 – 1576)

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576)  known in English as Titian, was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno (in Veneto), in the Republic of Venice. During his lifetime he was often called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, Classicism, Secularism

[Please note that Titian’s paintings contain nudity, if that offends you don’t read the article.]

Recognized by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars” (recalling the famous final line of Dante’s Paradiso), Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art.

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence

During the course of his long life, Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of polychromatic modulations are without precedent in the history of Western art.

The exact date of Titian’s birth is uncertain; when he was an old man he claimed in a letter to Philip II to have been born in 1474, but this seems most unlikely. Other writers contemporary to his old age give figures which would equate to birthdates between 1473 to after 1482, but most modern scholars believe a date nearer 1490 is more likely; the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s timeline supports c.1488, as does the Getty Research Institute.

He was the eldest son of Gregorio Vecelli and his wife Lucia. His father was superintendent of the castle of Pieve di Cadore and managed local mines for their owners. Gregorio was also a distinguished councilor and soldier. Many relatives, including Titian’s grandfather, were notaries, and the family of four were well-established in the area, which was ruled by Venice.

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - The Venus of Urbino

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – The Venus of Urbino

A fresco of Hercules on the Morosini Palace is said to have been one of Titian’s earliest works; others were the Bellini-esque so-called Gypsy Madonna in Vienna, and the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth (from the convent of S. Andrea), now in the Accademia, Venice.

Titian joined Giorgione as an assistant, but many contemporary critics already found his work more impressive, for example in the exterior frescoes (now almost totally destroyed) that they did for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (state-warehouse for the German merchants), and their relationship evidently had a significant element of rivalry. Distinguishing between their work at this period remains a subject of scholarly controversy, and there has been a substantial movement of attributions from Giorgione to Titian in the 20th century, with little traffic the other way. One of the earliest known works of Titian, Christ Carrying the Cross in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, depicting the Ecce Homo scene, was long regarded as the work of Giorgione.

It took Titian two years (1516–1518) to complete his Assunta, whose dynamic three-tier composition and color scheme established him as the preeminent painter north of Rome.

During this period (1516–1530), which may be called the period of his mastery and maturity, the artist moved on from his early Giorgionesque style, undertook larger and more complex subjects and for the first time attempted a monumental style.

Giorgione died in 1510 and Giovanni Bellini in 1516, leaving Titian unrivaled in the Venetian School. For sixty years he was to be the undisputed master of Venetian painting. In 1516 he completed for the high altar of the church of the Frari, his famous masterpiece, the Assumption of the Virgin, still in situ. This extraordinary piece of colorism, executed on a grand scale rarely before seen in Italy, created a sensation.

The Signoria took note, and observed that Titian was neglecting his work in the hall of the great council, but in 1516 he succeeded his master Giovanni Bellini in receiving a pension from the Senate.

To this period belongs a more extraordinary work, The Death of St. Peter Martyr (1530), formerly in the Dominican Church of San Zanipolo, and destroyed by an Austrian shell in 1867. Only copies and engravings of this proto-Baroque picture remain; it combined extreme violence and a landscape, mostly consisting of a great tree, that pressed into the scene and seems to accentuate the drama in a way that looks forward to the Baroque.
During the next period (1530–1550), Titian developed the style introduced by his dramatic Death of St. Peter Martyr. The Venetian government, dissatisfied with Titian’s neglect of the work for the ducal palace, ordered him in 1538 to refund the money which he had received, and Pordenone, his rival of recent years, was installed in his place. However, at the end of a year Pordenone died, and Titian, who meanwhile applied himself diligently to painting in the hall the Battle of Cadore, was reinstated.

This major battle scene was lost along with so many other major works by Venetian artists by the great fire which destroyed all the old pictures in the great chambers of the Doge’s Palace in 1577. It represented in life-size the moment at which the Venetian general, D’Alviano attacked the enemy with horses and men crashing down into a stream, and was the artist’s most important attempt at a tumultuous and heroic scene of movement to rival Raphael’s Battle of Constantine and the equally ill-fated Battle of Cascina of Michelangelo and The Battle of Anghiari of Leonardo (both unfinished). There remains only a poor, incomplete copy at the Uffizi, and a mediocre engraving by Fontana.

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - The Death of Actaeon

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – The Death of Actaeon

Titian had from the beginning of his career shown himself to be a masterful portrait-painter, in works like La Bella (Eleanora de Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, at the Pitti Palace). He painted the likenesses of princes, or Doges, cardinals or monks, and artists or writers. “…no other painter was so successful in extracting from each physiognomy so many traits at once characteristic and beautiful”, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia. Among portrait-painters Titian is compared to Rembrandt and Velázquez, with the interior life of the former, and the clearness, certainty, and obviousness of the latter.

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

 

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Adam and Eve

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Adam and Eve

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) -  Portrait of Gerolamo Barbarigo

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Portrait of Gerolamo Barbarigo

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) -Sacred and Profane Love

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) -Sacred and Profane Love

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Venus with a Mirror

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Venus with a Mirror

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Venus and Cupid with an Organist

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Venus and Cupid with an Organist

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Venus Anadyomene

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Venus Anadyomene

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Tityus

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Tityus

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - The Worship of Venus

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – The Worship of Venus

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - The Three Ages of Man

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – The Three Ages of Man

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - The Rape of Europa

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – The Rape of Europa

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - The Birth of Adonis

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – The Birth of Adonis

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Spain Succouring Religion

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Spain Succouring Religion

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Philip II Offering Don Fernando to Victory

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Philip II Offering Don Fernando to Victory

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Perseus and Andromeda

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Perseus and Andromeda

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Orpheus and Eurydice

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Orpheus and Eurydice

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Mocking of Christ

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Mocking of Christ

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Diana and Callisto

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Diana and Callisto

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Danae

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Danae

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) - Bacchanal of the Andrians

Tiziano Vecellio da Cadore (Titian) – Bacchanal of the Andrians

Titian’s unmatched handling of color is exemplified by his Danaë with Nursemaid, one of several mythological paintings, or “poesie” (“poems”) as the painter called them, done for Philip II of Spain. Although Michelangelo adjudged this piece deficient from the point of view of drawing, Titian and his studio produced several versions for other patrons.

Titian was probably in his late eighties when the plague raging in Venice took him on 27 August 1576. He was the only victim of the Venice plague to be given a church burial. He was interred in the Frari (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari), as at first intended, and his Pietà was finished by Palma the Younger. He lies near his own famous painting, the Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro. No memorial marked his grave, until much later the Austrian rulers of Venice commissioned Canova to provide the large monument.

Immediately after Titian’s own death, his son and assistant Orazio died of the same epidemic. His sumptuous mansion was plundered during the plague by thieves.

 

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