Thursday, July 2, 2015

Women's roles during the Renaissance













"Man is the measure?"
Women's roles during the Renaissance


Leonardo, Vitruvian Man, 
Study of proportions, c1492 
from Vitruvius's  De Architectura 
(1st century BCE)
Pen and ink, 13"x 9" 
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Giotto di Bondone, 
Virgin and Child Enthroned, 
(Ognissanti Altar,) c 1310. 
Tempera and gold on wood,
10'8"x6'8"
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence



Leonardo, Virgin and St. Anne 
with the Christ Child. 1510
Oil on wood, 168,5 x 130 cm 
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Jan van Eyck Arnolfini Wedding 1434 
oil and tempera on oak 82x60cm



Albrecht Durer, Adam and Eve. 1504
engraving 9"x7" 
Philadelphia Museum of Art

BALDUNG GRIEN, Hans
Aristotle and Phyllis 1513
Woodcut, 33 x 23,6 cm
Context and Iconography: The Male Gaze The series of images at the left are almost major landmarks in understanding the Renaissance conception of the difference between male and female roles.  Images such as these and the writings of Reniassance authors, such as those by Castiglione and Christine de Pizan are in some ways representative of the "ideal" roles for each gender.  Since images like this were primarily commissioned by male patrons and made by male artists some historians have named this phenomena the "male gaze."
Leonardo and his contemporaries literally believed that, "Man is the measure of all things."  In this drawing we see that Leonardo takes this idea almost quite literally and scientifically.  Leonardo, consistent with classical thinking, chooses to represent the nude male figure rather than the nude female.  This choice is quite deliberate because much of the thinking concerning classical humanism revolves around the specifically male experience of the world.  In fact, authors like Castiglione specifically look on men who have,
 

. . .such a countenance as this is, will I have our Courtier to have, and not be so soft and womanish as many procure to have: that do not only curl the hair, and pick the brows, but also pamper themselves in every point like the most wanton and dishonest women in the world. One would think that in the way they walk, stand, and in all their gestures so tender and weak, that their limbs were ready to fall apart. Their pronunciation and language are effeminate. These men, seeing that nature has not made them women, ought not to be esteemed in place of good women, but like common Harlots to be banished, not only out of princes’ courts, but also out of the company of Gentlemen. To come therefore to the quality of the person,
Catiglione, Excerpt from the "Courtier"

Images of Mary can almost always be traced back to the Gothic depiction of Mary as the "Throne of Wisdom."   In most images, such as in these by Giotto and Leonardo, she not only serves as a mother but as a platform or throne for her child.  Stokstad refers to this as symbolic of the old testament references to the Lion Throne of King Solomon who is known as a wise and fair ruler and judge, but it is also a communication of the male conceived ideal of what the perfect woman should be.

Even when the Renaissance artist breaks with tradition and begins to think critically about the new roles of men and women, as in the Arnolfini wedding portrait and Christine de Pizan's writings, we still can see that both support the concept that there are appropriate roles for males and females in the world.
 

God has similarly ordained man and woman to serve Him in different offices and also to aid and comfort one another, each in their ordained task, and to each sex has given a fitting and appropriate nature and inclination to fulfill their offices. Inasmuch as the human species often errs in what it is supposed to do, God gives men strong and hardy bodies for coming and going as well as for speaking boldly. And for this reason, men with this nature learn the laws - and must do so - in order to keep the world under the rule of justice and, in case anyone does not wish to obey the statutes which have been ordained and established by reason of law, are required to make them obey with physical constraint and force of arms, a task which women could never accomplish. Nevertheless, though God has given women great understanding
Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies 1405

In the case of the Arnolfini portrait, the role is that of the good wife.  Notice that being a wife is also being a good mother and we can see this symbolically in Giovanna Cenami's swelling belly and bunched up drapery which symbolizes pregnancy according to Panofsky.

Both Castiglione and de Pizan seem to warn us off of changing the male and female roles and sticking to what we know or is prescribed in the Bible.  In fact, many images of females who break out of these traditional roles, such as the biblical women, Eve, Judith, and Suzanne and the not so biblilical Phyllis are responsible for our down fall and in this case of Eve for our "original sin."
 

Hans Baldung Grien,
Aristotle and Phyllis. 1503
pen and ink
Form:  This is a simple sketch in pen and ink that was probably a prelimionary drawing for an engraving or a painting.  The anatomy is rather stiff and less gestural than those of his contempoarry Italian counterparts. Space is created through a size scale relationship of foreground to background and a variation of marks in the nackground buildings indicates a use of atmospheric perspective. 
Grien uses cross contour lines (lines that literally follow the direction across the curves of the trunks) to indicate the texture of the tree and cross hatching to develop the value structure of the figures and their drapery in the foreground.  These linear techniques would have been important for a printmaker to master.
Iconography:  The them of an "ill matched couple," which usually depicts a young and beautiful maiden in the company of an older man is a common them in Renaissance art of the North.  In many images the younger woman has her hand on the purse of the older man but in this case the subject matter of the image is a young beautiful woman dressed in Renaissance clothing of the Northern style riding around or taming an older man. Images like this were meant to be a warning to men of the power of inappropriate passion and a warning against the sexual powers of young woman.
Context: More specifically this relates to the story of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and Phyllis, the wife of his pupil Alexander the Great.  According to the Brittanica, 
"in late 343 or early 342 Aristotle, at about the age of 42, was invited by Philip II of Macedon to his capital at Pella to tutor his 13-year-old son, Alexander. As the leading intellectual figure in Greece, Aristotle was commissioned to prepare Alexander for his future role as a military leader. As it turned out, Alexander was to dominate the Greek world and defend it against the Persian Empire."
This union of older philosopher master was the beginning of a nearly lifelong advisory position for Aristotle.  Alexander respected the superior intellect of Aristotle in all things and felt that Aristotle represented the ideal intellectual who represented a total mastery of the intellectual over the physical self.  (Remember the Apollonian Dionysian conflict?) 
Phyllis questioned Aristsotles absolute control and according to legend made a bet with Alexander that she could show him that passion was stronger than reason.  She began to flirt with Aristotle.  After inflaming Aristotle with lust, he began to beg for a sexual trist.  Phyllis informed Alexander that she had the proof he sought and instructed Alexander to hide in the bushes and watch while she literally mad an "ass" out of Aristotle. 
In order to get what he wanted, Aristotle had to agree to do whatever Phyllis wanted.  She instructed Aristotle to get down on all fours and allow her to ride him around the courtyard. 

 

BALDUNG GRIEN, Hans
Aristotle and Phyllis 1513
Woodcut, 33 x 23,6 cm
 


Form:  In this variation of the theme, the two figures are nude and the total environment is much more worked out.  This image indicates a fairly good use of anatomy and perspective and shows more of a development of the mark making discussed in Grien's drawing.  The development of the vocabulary of marks would have been important for Grien to be able to make a high quality engraving.
 
Engraving
In engraving, the design is cut into metal with a graver or burin. The burin is a steel rod with a square or lozenge-shaped section and a slightly bent shank. The cutting is accomplished by pushing the burin into the metal plate. The deeper it penetrates into the metal, the wider the line; variations in depth create the swelling tapering character of the engraved line. After the engraving is finished, the slight burr raised by the graver is cleaned off with a scraper. The engraved line is so sharp and clean that it asserts itself even if cut over a densely etched area. In the print, the engraved line is notable for its precision and intensity. In engraving, the hand does not move freely in any direction but pushes the graver forward in a line; a change of direction is achieved by the manipulation of the plate with the other hand. Although copper, zinc, aluminum, and magnesium plates are used--and in the past soft iron and even steel were used--the best all-around metal is copper. It has the most consistent structure and is neither too soft nor too hard.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

 
Context: In the North, places like Germany, France and Holland, the art market was a bit different than in Italy.  Although the Reformation did not officially begin until 1518, there were stirrings of it earlier than that. 
In Northern towns and cities, there was a different distrubution of wealth and probably a larger upper middle class than in Italy.  In addition to these factors, the main patron for the arts was in Italy in the Churches of Rome, Padua and Florence.  Since individuals could afford to buy work for smaller prices many artists sought out this different market. The print market allowed artists to sell multiple copies of the same images to a larger number of people and make as much money from it as the sale of one or two paintings.
This also freed some of the artists from the typical more Catholic or overtly religious iconography of much of the art of the South and allowed them to explore other kinds of imagery and subjects.

Hans Baldung Grien. Stupified Groom. (Bewitched Groom)
1544.  Woodcut 13"x 7" 
State Museum of Berlin
Iconography:  Stokstad describes the iconography of this image as a "moral lesson on the power of evil" but more than that, Stokstad discusses the use of images of witches in his images as an expression of evil.  It is interesting that this is one of the roles that older, perhaps unattractive woman were accused of during the Renaissance and well into the 1800's.  In some ways, the depiction of witches in the art of the Renaissance represents the anti-ideal for a woman.  In this way, woman are still provided with a role model of what not to become.
 
Form and Context: 
Woodcut is the technique of printing designs from planks of wood. . . It is one of the oldest methods of making prints from a relief surface, having been used in China to decorate textiles since the 5th century AD. In Europe, printing from wood blocks on textiles was known from the early 14th century, but it had little development until paper began to be manufactured in France and Germany at the end of the 14th century. . . In Bavaria, Austria, and Bohemia, religious images and playing cards were first made from wood blocks in the early 15th century, and the development of printing from movable type led to widespread use of woodcut illustrations in the Netherlands and in Italy. With the 16th century, black-line woodcut reached its greatest perfection with Albrecht Dürer and his followers Lucas Cranach and Hans Holbein. In the Netherlands Lucas van Leyden and in Italy Jacopo de' Barbari and Domenico Campagnola, who were, like Dürer, engravers on copper, also made woodcuts. As wood is a natural material, its structure varies enormously and this exercises a strong influence on the cutting. Wood blocks are cut plankwise. The woods most often used are pear, rose, pine, apple, and beech. The old masters preferred fine-grained hardwoods because they allow finer detail work than softwoods, but modern printmakers value the coarse grain of softwoods and often incorporate it into the design.

The printing of woodcuts is a relatively simple process because it does not require great pressure. Although presses are used, even hand rubbing with a wooden spoon can produce a good print. The ink used to print woodcuts must be fairly solid and sticky, so that it lies on the surface without flowing into the hollows. The printing ink can be deposited on the relief either with dabbers or with rollers. Thinner papers are particularly suitable for woodcuts because they make rich prints without heavy pressure.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


TIZIANO Vecellio (Titian) The Venus of Urbino 1538 Oil on canvas, 119 x 165 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italian Renaissance
In the background of Titian’s painting entitled "The Venus of Urbino" (1538) are two women looking inside or placing things inside a chest. This chest or cassone is most likely a dowry chest, in which case the women are then preparing the chest with gifts for the upcoming nuptials. Venus, the goddess of beauty, nude in the foreground, presides over the event, but there’s something wrong with this picture. Venus is really the Duke of Urbino’s courtesan (mistress) and the title of the painting is just a disguise to make a nearly pornographic portrait palatable. This kind of double meaning in a painting is common during the Renaissance especially in portrayals of women.
What is also interesting about this images is that the artist chose to juxtapose the eroticized female form with commodities or luxury items.  By playing the textures and body of the female against expensive fabrics, fur, fruit, and dowery chest containing the family jewels and porcelain, the artist is also making the human female form another commodity which can be bought and sold.  In this way, the wealth of the patron is also eroticized.  This device is played off again and again throughout the history of art.
The cassone is a familiar object in the upper class Renaissance home. Provided by the bride’s family and kept throughout her life the chest is symbol of her marriage. The decorations on the chest are designed to educate the woman who owns it. The images that adorn cassoni relate familiar classical and biblical narratives concerning the lives of great women. For example, San Francisco’s "Legion of Honor" has a panel from a cassone by Jacopo del Sellaio that depicts the "Legend of Brutus and Portia," circa 1485. Both Plutarch (AD 46-119), a Greek historian, and Shakespeare (1554-1616) in his play "Julius Caesar," depict Portia as a strong and loyal wife. In Shakespeare’s "Julius Caesar," Portia exclaims, "Think you I am no stronger than my sex, Being so fathered and so husbanded?" (Act 2, i, 319-320) and stabs herself in the leg to prove to Brutus that she can bear any discomfort for him. After she learns of Brutus’ defeat, she kills herself by swallowing hot coals. Another cassone from the Louvre depicts the Old Testament story of Queen Esther and her self-sacrificing patriotic acts that saved the Jewish people. The subtext of these tales is not just loyalty but self-sacrificing loyalty in the face of adversity.
Titian's painting has been the subject of much observation.  It's interesting that so much positive "press" has been associated with this image considering how much it has been vilified in the past.  Mark Twain, in his biography Tramp Abroad, recorded his response to his encounter with the Titian painting:
You enter [the Uffizi] and proceed to that most-visited little gallery that exists in the world --the Tribune-- and there, against the wall, without obstructing rap or leaf, you may look your fill upon the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses -- Titian's Venus. It isn't that she is naked and stretched out on a bed --no, it is the attitude of one of her arms and hand. If I ventured to describe that attitude there would be a fine howl --but there the Venus lies for anybody to gloat over that wants to --and there she has a right to lie, for she is a work of art, and art has its privileges. I saw a young girl stealing furtive glances at her; I saw young men gazing long and absorbedly at her, I saw aged infirm men hang upon her charms with a pathetic interest. How I should like to describe her --just to see what a holy indignation I could stir up in the world...yet the world is willing to let its sons and its daughters and itself look at Titian's beast, but won't stand a description of it in words....There are pictures of nude women which suggest no impure thought -- I am well aware of that. I am not railing at such. What I am trying to emphasize is the fact that Titian's Venus is very far from being one of that sort. Without any question it was painted for a bagnio and it was probably refused because it was a trifle too strong. In truth, it is a trifle too strong for any place but a public art gallery.
Now that you know how Twain felt about this work.  This poem by Browning discusses a similar painting.   It is used by the narrator of the poem as a point of departure to discuss how he feels about his last wife and how he feels women should behave.  As you read it, try to relate the painting above to it.
 
"My Last Duchess" - Robert Browning - 1842   1   That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
  2   Looking as if she were alive. I call
  3   That piece a wonder, now; Frà Pandolf's hands
  4   Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
  5   Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
  6   "Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read
  7   Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
  8   The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
  9   But to myself they turned (since none puts by
10   The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
11   And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
12   How such a glance came there; so, not the first
13   Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
14   Her husband's presence only, called that spot
15   Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps
16   Fra Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps
17   Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
18   Must never hope to reproduce the faint
19   Half-flush that dies along her throat." Such stuff
20   Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
21   For calling up that spot of joy. She had
22   A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad,
23   Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
24   She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
25   Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,
26   The dropping of the daylight in the West,
27   The bough of cherries some officious fool
 

 
28   Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
29   She rode with round the terrace - all and each
30   Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
31   Or blush, at least. She thanked men, - good! but thanked
32   Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked
33   My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
34   With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
35   This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
36   In speech - which I have not - to make your will
37   Quite clear to such an one, and say "Just this
38   Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
39   Or there exceed the mark" - and if she let
40   Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
41   Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse -
42   E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
43   Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
44   Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
45   Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
46   Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
47   As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
48   The company below, then. I repeat,
49   The Count your master's known munificence
50   Is ample warrant that no just pretense
51   Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
52   Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
53   At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
54   Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
55   Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
56   Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.

 





 
 

Sofonisba Anguissola, Portrait of the Artist 
with Sisters and Governess. 1555 
(The Chess Game)
oil on canvas, 27"x37" 
Nardowe Museum, Poznan, Poland

Self Portrait at the Spinaret with Governess c1555

In many of her self portraits Sofinisba is not depicted
painting but rather pursuing an activity that would 
have been a "proper" kind of pursuit.  Notice that 
she is depicted with her chaperone who was 
also a close friend.


Self Portrait


Portrait of Anguissola's brother and sisters c1555

Images like this tend to lend authority to Annie's 
idea that the "Chess Game" is really a portrait
of her regard for her siblings rather than an outright
self portrait.
 
Annie Yang
Art History-Term Paper
Professor Mencher
July 17, 2001
The First Celebrated Woman Artist of the Renaissance:
The Renaissance is a period known as the "rebirth of the classics". Indeed this age, about 1300 CE to 1600 CE, went back to the ideals that Greeks and Romans valued. One social norm that was still present in the 1500s was that of gender roles. Viewed under the male gaze, women were still obligated to be proper housewives. Because the male gaze, which was art made in terms of the male view, was so dominant during that time, women didn’t do much than give birth. However, Sofonisba Anguissola was fortunate enough to be born the eldest of a Cremona nobleman who "was fully committed to the education of his daughters, and obtained for them the best teachers available," (Recognition pg. 25). Sofonisba was so talented in painting that she later studied with Bernardino Campi and was even praised by Michelangelo. After her father died, she was the sole guardian and benefactor to her six siblings. "The Chess Game" (1555) is one painting that shows how she got her "claim to fame". First of all, "The Chess Game" seems to exhibit some form of Renaissance art, which might have made it accepted. Her style of painting, by iconographic analysis, is well within the boundaries of the male gaze, which was similar to the writings of Christine de Pizan (radical, yet still within the status quo). Also, the historical background from which she was from and her soap opera-like life added to her increased popularity. In order for Sofonisba Anguissola to be acknowledged as a Renaissance female artist, she needed to be accepted as an artist with knowledge of basic art skills, considered a traditional female as viewed by the male gaze, but also loved by all.
"The Chess Game" is an oil painting on canvas that displays her vast knowledge of art. I say this because "she colors within the lines" and was a conservative artist, not "crossing the line" at any time. During the Renaissance, more specifically the 1550s, the use of chiaroscuro, perspective, and depth perception were already common. Sofonisba used chiaroscuro on parts of the face by making one side appear lighted and the other with a cast shadow. From her picture, you can tell that she has training and practice from this relatively new style of painting. Also, she uses the new technique of perspective incredibly well and therefore; proving her advanced learning. The lines on the chessboard, along with the edges of the table that it’s on both can be drawn back to a vanishing point somewhere in the background. Anguissola masters depth perception by her use of a foreground, background, and a "side ground". The foreground consists of three of her four younger sisters. The background is a faint outline of hills while the "side ground" is made up with shrubbery and her maid. The placement of these objects show that she understands the fact that as distance increases, so does fuzziness. Her knowledge of Renaissance art techniques is the reason she is accepted as an artist.
Being accepted as an artist, Sofonisba Anguissola then needed to be accepted as a 16th century woman. Many of the desired qualities a woman should have are, coincidently?, depicted in her sisters in this same work of art. After doing a lot of research (including three books all published in 1976) , I have come to realize that "The Chess Game" is actually a painting of Sofonisba’s sisters Lucia, Minerva, and Europa and not a self-portrait in the traditional sense. I realized that she might have not painted under the male gaze for a personal ad for herself, but instead through her sisters by use of iconographic symbols. As the oldest daughter, the younger sisters must have looked up to her. It seems that Sofonisba drew this picture either when she was present at this chess game or after it had occurred. For this reason, we can deduce that she acts like a mother because she is taking care of them. We still know that she is intelligent because she must have been the one who taught her little sisters the game of chess. We also know that she is still "in control"because of the fact that her sisters are well dressed in silk and still have a governess around. The sisters all seem healthy and not skin and bones like one would expect and therefore money is not a problem. These symbols show "the unknown" Anguissola through the male gaze indirectly through "the known information" of the painting. So in a way, she is still "promoting" herself in this picture even though she’s not in it. Painting under and in reference to the themes of popular preference allow for Sofonisba to be accepted now as a woman in the Renaissance.
The last and foremost reason that Sofonisba Anguissola is an internationally known Renaissance painter was because of her social life. Contextually speaking, her educational background, family history, and social life all contributed to her popularity. Her educational background not only included an art apprenticeship, but also learning Latin and how to play musical instruments. Success was reached partly due to her family history and mainly because she was born into nobility. A noble birth means she had already a head start even before some male artists. Her father sent one of her drawings to Michelangelo and the positive response was sure to be another explanation to her fame. This incident is what gave her a chance to be an official court painter for Phillip II of Spain in 1559. Some say that Anguissola didn’t become famous for just her artistic talent and recognition, but because of her public life. In 1570, she married a Sicilian noble named Fabrizio de Moncada, went to Italy went him, and supposedly received a large sum of money from him. I guess the personal ad from all of her self-portraits and the indirect ad from "The Chess Game" paid off! Fabrizio died and after he did, she went back to Genoa on a ship. At the end of her ship "adventure", she agreed to marry the ship’s captain Lomellini.  Her soap opera life, confirmed by, "The publicity that her spectacular and romantic career attracted must have instilled in the minds of other talented young women the idea that an artistic career was possible," (1550-1950 pg.106). Even though Sofonisba may not have been known for her artwork, at least by now she was well known. She probably was accepted by society as an artist, female, and at this point an intelligent, enjoyed person.
Sofonisba Anguissola was not in the painting "The Chess Game", but through formal, iconographic, and contextual analysis, her life, as she wanted it to be seen, was shown. We see that she had to go through a series of acceptances by society to now be admired. Accepted by society as an artist was mainly due to the proper art, language, and music education she had the privilege of getting. As for her acceptance as a female in the Renaissance, I claim that she painted in a male gaze style that was somewhat untraditional (showing women in a different way), but still socially acceptable. By not pushing the extremes too far, I believe she got the appreciation of both men and women. Anguissola almost painted the male gaze and the "female gaze" all at once. The male gaze was that she was still all that a man wanted in a woman (motherly, intelligent, and pretty). The female gaze may have not come from the painting itself, but instead her life. She was the first female Renaissance artist to get the credit she deserved, even if most of her success came from her soap-opera life. Women in art began to grow, as more followed in Sofonisba’s footsteps. Because of her, they knew how to be accepted as a female artist and simply emulated what she did. "A grand love story unfolds, too, as she overcame many obstacles to win her beloved husband," (Internet: Burke, Kathleen), but Sofonisba Anguissola also overcame many obstacles to become famous as the first celebrated woman artist of the Renaissance.
Works Cited
Anguissola, Sofonisba. "The Chess Game". Muzeum Nardowe, Pozna?.
Burke, Kathleen. "Sofonisba Anguissola: Renaissance Painter Extraordinaire" Smithsonian Magazine (May 1995): Online Internet. 1995.
Available at: http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues95/may95/anguissola.html
Harris, Ann Sutherland and Linda Nochlin. Women Artists: 1550-1950 First Edition. New York: Random House Inc., 1976.
Petersen, Karen and J.J Wilson. Women Artists: Recognition and Reappraisal From the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. New York: University Press, 1976.
Sparrow, Walter Shaw. Women Painters of the World. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1976: pg. 24-27.
 

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self Portrait of the Artist with Sisters and Governess. 1555 (The Chess Game) oil on canvas, 27"x37"  Italian Renaissance

Explain how this is both a good example of Renaissance portraiture and a good example of how art was oriented towards a male audience. 
So Jennifer West and I had a dialog by e-mail and she found some inconsistencies in my lecture, which I think is wonderful!  Here's the text of the e-mails: _________________________________________________ Jenn,

YOU ARE WONDERFUL!

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to research this and get things right!

So here's the straight poop!

Yes, I misidentified the Chess Game and I found at least two more sources that say the "Chess Game" is her three sisters.  Giorgio Vasari (historian who lived 1511-1574) and Germain Greer in her book "Obstacle Race) says that it is of her three sisters.

I'm not sure where I learned that she stopped painting after she married, but neither the Brittanica nor Greer say explicitly that she stopped painting.  Can you tell me where you found out that she continued to paint please?

One other thing when I reread the Greer and Brittanica accounts, she was the daughter of a noble who sent her daughters to study with a great painter in place of giving them a dowry.

________________________________________
From: Jenn West

 Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:45 PM
To: Kenney Mencher
Subject: Sofonisba Anguissola & The Chess Game

I have been reading up a little on Sofonisba Anguissola and it has lead me to some questions about the lecture that you gave the other day.

Would you mind to check out this website and let me know your thoughts on this? http://www.students.sbc.edu/drahman08/womenandmeninrenaissanceart(withimages).html

It seems to me that she is not in the painting "The Chess Game" but rather it is a painting of her three sisters? On the page you can see the self-portrait that she panted of herself painting along with the one she did of a male painter doing a panting of her. They look different to me. Another thing I found is that she did not stop painting after she was married and continued art until old age even though her eyesight got progressively worse. Her sisters did quit painting after they were married, but from what I read she did not. Maybe you can clear some of this up for me. Am I on crack and remembering your lecture incorrectly?

Regardless, she seems like a remarkable feminist figure. I found a description of The Chess Game that was very interesting and in a slightly different light than you presented it. It gave the impression that Sofonisba's paintings had hints in them showing her fight for the equality of women and definitely reminds me of Christine de Pisan's writing that you had us read.

This is from an article by Sara Getz:

"The Chess game’s  main subject is also important to Sofonisba’s message for this
painting. Chess had undergone many rule changes as it was introduced and popularized in
Italy in 1510 (Gerrard, 1994). The new game of chess, much like the kind played today, gave the pawns new abilities. For example, in order to make the game move along faster,
the bishop pawn gained the ability to move an infinite number of spaces diagonally, when
previously it could have only moved one diagonal space at a time (Gerrard, 1994). Every
other pawn also had its own new set of rules. The most significant rule change for
Sofonisba’s painting, however, belongs to the Queen. Author Mary D. Gerrard (1994)
states that “The new status and power of the queen-now greater than that of the king
himself--was evidently the most noteworthy result of the rules change…” As the oldest
sister grasps her sibling’s black queen in her left hand, she signifies more than the fact that
she has just won the game; the queen, as a symbol, implies that the status of women should at least be equal to the status of men in society (Gerrard, 1994). As the status of the chess queen has risen, so should the status rise of all women in society."

Also:

"Sofonisba did not create life-like paintings by accident. She knew that what she was
doing was significant. In her Self-Portrait, from 1554, her pose and what she holds in her
hand are important signifiers for her message (Fig. 4) (Perlingieri, 1992). She sits in a three
quarter pose and gazes out at the viewer in a challenging stare (Perlingieri, 1992). She
dresses in a simple, yet elegant gown adorned with lace at her collar and sleeve openings.
Her dress is simple, but shows that her status in society is not of lower-class.

The book that Sofonisba holds in her left hand is a sign of her intelligence and success
(Chicago and Lucie-Smith, 1999). On it is written, “Sofonisba Anguissola virgo se ipsam
fecit 1554 (Sofonisba Anguissola, the unmarried maiden painted this herself, 1554)”
(Perlingieri, 1992, p.78). Here she makes a statement about having never been married.
Therefore, she is also saying that she has never belonged to a man and never given birth to
a child (Perlingieri, 1992). She detaches herself from the theories of Aristotle and in a way
rejects them while also taking on some manlike qualities. She also writes in a very matterof-a-fact tone which puts emphasis on the fact that and unmarried, childless woman painted the portrait.
Women during this time had trouble gaining the full respect from men that they may
have deserved. In order to gain this respect, women who wanted to paint could either
choose to paint with some restrictions, or paint on their own accord but gain no respect.
Artist and author Judy Chicago and Edward Lucie-Smith (1999) describe the situation as
follows:

Essentially a female artist could either elect to be a gentlewoman who
painted, with the restrictions which  this implied in terms of both daily
conduct and longterm social mobility, or she could resign herself to being
thought of as a not quite repectable outsider. A gentlewoman artist had
access to a particular sort of patronage – she could become a favorite with
the female members of a court or aristocratic circle. But this limited the
scope of her art. This seems to have been the choice made by the gifted
mannerist portraitist Sofonisba Anguissola (Chicago & Lucie-Smith, 1999,
p.115).

The book that Sofonisba holds shows that she has joined this circle of intellect and
sacrifices many freedoms in order for her work to be respected and well-known (Chicago &
Lucie-Smith, 1999).
Sofonisba was one of the first women to begin the fight for equal rights among men
and women. She fought for the right to be taken seriously as an artist in the same way that
men were taken seriously as artists. Sofonisba turned her knowledge and determination into
master works of art. Credited by Vasari as have “truly life-like” images, and praised by
Venturi for improving upon her own teacher’s work, Sofonisba has accomplished more
than art; she has helped rise the status of women to a position of equal importance as men
(Jacob, 1999)."
--------------------------

Sorry that this email is so long. Hopefully you can clear up some of these questions for me!

Thanks,
Jennifer West
 
 
   

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Some of My Art



Last Judgment Scenes in Art History







Read Stokstad 516-553
315-750 (1300) CE Early Christian/Byzantine
(some sources say the Byzantine style survived all the way to 1450)
800-1150  Romanesque
1150-1350 Gothic
Romanesque Sculpture The Romanesque style, according to Stokstad, means "in the Roman manner." In essence, it merely refers to the fact that many of the cathedrals built in this time period had the appearance of Roman architecture.

  • Tympanum: the surface enclosed by the arch and lintel of an arched doorway, frequently carved with relief sculptures.
  • Archivolt: the molding fram an arch. In Romanesque and Gothic architecture, each one of a series of arches framing the tympanum of a portal.
  • Lintel: a horizontal beam spanning an openings, as over a window or door, or between two posts.
  • Trumeau: doorpost supporting lintel.
  • Jamb: the side of a doorway or window frame. The jambs of the portals of Romanesque and Gothic churches are frequently decorated with figure sculpture.

 

St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, Burgundy France
West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE
St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, France
West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE
Form: St. Lazare Cathedral. Romanesque.  This is a large relief carving that was originally painted.  The composition is symmetrical and organized using hieratic scale.  The picture plane is also organized according to horizontal bands each filled with figures that are pushed up against the front of the picture plane.  There is no creation of deep space in this relief sculpture. According to the Brittanica,
Typically, the figure of Christ appears in the centre of the composition, dominant in size and usually enclosed in a mandorla (an oval, nimbus-like form). At his right and left are the four Evangelists, sometimes represented or accompanied by their animal symbols. To the sides, smaller figures of angels and demons weigh sins of the resurrected dead, who are ranked along the lowest and smallest section of the tympanum, directly above the lintel.

Iconography: What makes St. Lazare an interesting example of Romanesque architecture and art is the fact that the west portal, which depicts  a "sermon in stone," was originally painted. It is exceedingly well organized and stylized. This means that the figures represented in the relief sculpture are non naturalistic, this is akin to what one would see in Byzantine art. The figures relative size is based not on reality, but  on their spiritual importance. 
Jesus, as the central figure is shown impossibly huge the figures around him are depicting judgment, heaven and hell, and good and evil. The organization of the composition is designed so that all of the other figures relate in some way to the central figure of Jesus.  Figures who are to the right of Christ are literally on his good side while the figures to his left are not.  Likewise there is a hierarchy according to placement in the three bands.  The correlation between left and right (good and evil) does not exist in the topmost band.  Anything placed in the uppermost register of the composition is "good" or heavenly.
Around this interior depiction of a sermon one can see the various signs of the zodiac, which brings forth one of the main differences between the Romanesque and the Gothic style of art within a cathedral, in a Romanesque cathedral one can easily find depiction's of events and symbols that are not necessarily related to what is found in the bible. In a Gothic cathedral, by contrast, the emphasis is put mainly on biblical scenes, and scenes with Jesus in particular.
Context: In Romanesque art, the emphasis to the followers was teaching. The scenes shown in almost all of the artwork found at St. Lazare are intended to teach a morality lesson, tell a story, or establish a sort of religious iconography of good and evil. For example, almost everything in this piece is representative of something else. The arch above Jesus and the scene surrounding him is representative of heaven. The sinners are always found to the left of Jesus, and the believers to the right. Everything in Romanesque art and architecture is highly organized and made to to make it easy for the followers to read the meaning and the message that the church intends.
According to a former student, Maureen Lara,
 
From first glance, one could already see the hierarchy established through the use of three separate levels as well as the scale involved in placing the relatively large sculpture of Jesus in the center enclosed in a glorifying mandorla.    (The topmost level is an exception in the hierarchy since it represents the heavens; the entire band consists of "good" people.  )  The symmetry of the art, to my perspective, expresses the way the world and one's fate after death revolves around how well one learns from and lives their lives according to the teachings of Jesus. The art overall exhibits no deep space and is stylized rather than naturalistic.   Interestingly, the art is organized in such a way that the figures considered good and worthy of the kingdom of God are to Jesus' right and those who fail the last judgment because of sinfulness are to His left.   The smaller size of the figures in the bottom-most band indicates those who await their judgment before the Lord.   The sizes of the figures as well as their placement in the hierarchy are done in accordance to their religious importance.   This can be scene in St. Peter, who is said to be the gatekeeper of Heaven; he is larger in size than the other believers as well as the angels.   The main storyline of the scenes is centered around the battle between good and evil and triumph of one or the other during the weighing of souls after death.   The consequences of being good are illustrated, for instance, by the faithful children joyfully playing with angels to Jesus' right.   The rewards of goodness are also expressed by the graceful appearance of the angels, a persuasive element in the art that urges people to be righteous.
According to the Brittanica,
 
Christianity, further developing the concept of the Last Judgment, teaches that it will occur at the Parousia (the Second Coming, or Second Advent, of Christ in glory), when all men will stand before a judging God. In early Christian art the scene is one of Christ the judge, the resurrection of the dead, the weighing of souls, the separation of the saved and the damned, and representations of paradise and hell. Romanesque artists produced a more terrible vision of the Last Judgment: Christ is shown as a stern judge, sometimes carrying a sword and surrounded by the four mystical beasts--eagle, lion, ox, and winged man--of the apocalypse; the contrast between paradise and hell is between the awesome and the ferocious. In the gentler, more humanistic art of the Gothic period, a beautiful Christ is shown as the Redeemer, his right side undraped to reveal the wound of the lance, and both wounded hands raised high in a gesture that emphasizes his sacrifice. He is surrounded by the instruments of his Passion--cross, nails, lance, and crown of thorns. The intercessors are restored, and the scene of the Judgment is treated with optimism. In the 16th century, Michelangelo produced a radically different version of the Last Judgment in his fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome (1533-41): a vengeful Christ, nude like a pagan god, gestures menacingly toward the damned.


The "elect" rising.
According to Gardener's, the figure at the bottom far right 
has a bag ornamented with a cross and a shell, 
symbols of pilgrims who have journeyed to Jerusalem 
and Santiago de Compostela.
The iconography found on select parts of the tympanum clearly show what happens to the 'good' believers. The smaller figures beneath represent the righteous and the faithful, which includes the children, seen playing with an angel. The Angels are always depicted as elegant, benevolent, beautiful, and kind. This was to give the impression that heaven was a wonderful place, and would inspire the believers into being good and faithful servants of the church.

Peter and the elect
Here, on the right side of Jesus is St. Peter with the faithful. Note again how he depicted as larger than the followers, and even larger than the angels. This shows his relative importance in the spiritual hierarchy.


Pulled to judgment
Though at first one would think this was a depiction of suffering, in truth its meant to show that after the death of this believer, the hands of an angel reach down to pull him heavenward, assuring that his soul has been save.

 


The Judgment
The Damned and the weighing of the souls
On the left side of Jesus is Evil, the Devil and his minions who are participating in the weighing of the souls. In this judgment scene, one can see the Devil and the Archangel Michael both taking part in the judgment. While it appears that the Devil is trying to pull the scale downward in order to be able to claim another soul, Michael appears to be attempting to lift the soul upward, in order to claim the soul for heaven. Though it is a small vignette, it illustrate rather succinctly the struggle of good and evil in the souls of mankind. Note how in contrast to the angel Michael, the Devil is portrayed as emaciated, grotesque, and as terrifying as the stone masons could portray. This was to remind the members of the church how awful hell was, and frighten them into submission. 


Paul makes a last attempt
Here, though it is technically the left, or 'bad' side of Jesus, We see St. Paul and the Angel make a last attempt to pull the damned souls to redemption. Hoping that through the call of the heavenly trumpet, man will be swayed to the side of God. 

 

Sleeping Magi
This relief sculpture is found in the capital above the choir in St. Lazare. It is a rather tender depiction of the sleeping Magi, better known as the 'three wise men' and the Angel who is trying to waken them to view the star over Bethlehem, signaling the birth of Jesus. One of the wise men is shown with his eyes half open in sleep, just beginning to awaken and set forth on the journey to bear their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The sculpture is characteristically diagrammatic and takes liberty with proportion in order to once again show the importance of the individual through their relative size.


 
 
Context:  A quick overview provided by Brittanica:
 
Giotto's Arena Chapel 1305-1306 also called Scrovegni Chapel (consecrated March 25, 1305), small chapel built in the first years of the 14th century in Padua, Italy, by Enrico Scrovegni and containing frescoes by the Florentine painter Giotto.  A "Last Judgment" covers the entire west wall. The rest of the chapel is covered with frescoes in three tiers representing scenes from the lives of Saints Joachim and Anna, the life of the Virgin, the Annunciation, and the Life and Passion of Christ, concluding with the Pentecost. Below the three narrative bands is a fourth containing monochrome personifications of the virtues and vices. The frescoes were completed in or before 1309, and they are generally dated about 1305-06. There is thus no very generally agreed picture of Giotto's early development. It is some relief, therefore, to turn to the fresco cycle in the chapel in Padua known as the Arena or Scrovegni Chapel. Its name derives from the fact that it was built on the site of a Roman amphitheatre by Enrico Scrovegni, the son of a notorious usurer mentioned by Dante. The founder is shown offering a model of the church in the huge "Last Judgment," which covers the whole west wall. "Arena Chapel."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 16, 2002. 
 The rest of the small, bare church is covered with frescoes in three tiers representing scenes from the lives of Joachim and Anna, the life of the Virgin, the Annunciation (on the chancel arch), and the life and Passion of Christ, concluding with Pentecost. Below these three narrative bands is a fourth containing monochrome personifications of the Virtues and Vices. The chapel was apparently founded in 1303 and consecrated on March 25, 1305. It is known that the frescoes were completed in or before 1309, and they are generally dated c. 1305-06, but even with several assistants it must have taken at least two years to complete so large a cycle. The frescoes are in relatively good condition, and all that has been said of Giotto's power to render the bare essentials of a setting with a few impressive and simple figures telling the story as dramatically and yet as economically as possible is usually based on the narrative power that is the fundamental characteristic of these frescoes. These dominating figures, simple and severe, similar to those in the Assisi cycle but placed in settings of more formal abstraction and rendered with more grandeur, are the quintessence of his style, and anatomy and perspective were used--or even invented--by him as adjuncts to his narrative gifts. He never attained to the skill that so often, in fact, misled the men of the 15th and 16th centuries. In the Padua frescoes the details are always significant, whereas it is a characteristic of the Assisi cycle that there occurs from time to time a delighted dwelling on details that are not absolutely essential to the story.
 "Paduan period."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 16, 2002. 
Form: The frescos are executed in a combination of buon fresco and fresco secco.  According to Webster's Dictionary, fresco is "the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments."   Fresco is a term that literally means "fresh."  There are two kinds, buon fresco and fresco secco.  This painting painting is made by coating a wall with plaster and while the wall is still damp, ground up pigments are mixed with water and lime and painted on the wall.  The paint soaks in and literally stains the wall up to a half an inch and becomes permanent.  This is called buon fresco (good fresh).  Details with more expensive colors (such as blue made from lapis lazuli) are added with tempera paint (egg yolks and glue) when the fresco is dry.  This is called secco fresco (dry fresh). 
This technique was first developed in Rome and you can still see some really good examples of early fresco dating from 79 CE in Pompeii.
The arrangement of the frescoes in the Arena Chapel actually adds to the frescoes meanings.   In order to better understand the frescoes art historians use a the same theory that literary analysts do to study the interrelationship of the stories or narratives.  This kind of analysis is called a semiotic or structural analysis.  By looking at this wall as a whole, and interpreting the relationship of panel image to the others, it is possible to come up with a deeper understanding of the set of frescoes as a whole. 
For example, the top set of images represents scenes from the life of Joachim, Mary's father.  This top set of scenes acts as a kind of thematic framework in which to view the life of Jesus which is set in the central section, beneath these stories, acting almost like a foundation or the caryatids from the Acropolis are the seven virtues and vices.  See the diagram below.
Scenes from the Life of Joachim
1. Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple
2. Joachim among the Shepherds
3. Annunciation to St. Anne
4. Joachim's Sacrificial Offering
5. Joachim's Dream
6. Meeting at the Golden Gate Scenes from the Life of the Virgin
7. The Birth of the Virgin
8. Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple
9. The Rods Brought to the Temple
10. Prayer of the Suitors
11. Marriage of the Virgin
12. The Wedding Procession
13. God Sends Gabriel to the Virgin
14. Annunciation: The Angel Gabriel Sent by God
15. Annunciation: The Virgin Receiving the Message
16. Visitation
Scenes From the Life of Christ
17. Nativity: Birth of Jesus
18. Adoration of the Magi
19. Presentation at the Temple
20. Flight into Egypt
21. Massacre of the Innocents
22. Christ among the Doctors
23. Baptism of Christ
24. Marriage at Cana
25. Raising of Lazarus
26. Entry into Jerusalem
27. Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple
28. Judas Receiving Payment for his Betrayal
29. Last Supper
30. Washing of Feet
31. Kiss of Judas
32. Christ before Caiaphas
33. Flagellation
34. Road to Calvary
35. Crucifixion
36. Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ)
37. Resurrection (Noli me tangere)
38. Ascension
39. Pentecost

 
 
Virtues and Vices
Justice and Injustice Form: This is a monochromatic fresco.  It resembles a marble relief sculpture.  Giotto's genius is also seen in his perspective and visual depth.  Light and shadow of the gown she wears resembles the type of gown a Roman woman would wear.  Perhaps this is an allusion to Roman art and law.  The personification of Justice (as well as Injustice) is slightly larger than the rest of the vices and virtues. 
Giotto uses chiaroscuro (the play of light and shadow or shading) to create realism in this work.  The drapery is no longer rendered in the cartoonish or awkward manner of earlier paintings and the light source seems consistent across the entire picture plane.
Iconography:  The pointed domes surrounding her throne resemble the arches of a gothic cathedral.  Though wearing a crown that is a symbol of royalty, this religious backdrop would indicate that she is Godly.  Some people also believe that this is Mary.  The procession of people at the bottom of this image shows people living prosperous lives.  They are dancing, tending their animals and conversing amongst themselves.  The lesson being subtly portrayed would be that if one lives a moral life, he will enjoy happiness and prosperity.
Context:  Literacy of the Middle Ages was very low.  Only the clergy could read the scriptures.  Therefore, the paintings inside the temples during this period were for didactic purposes.  They were meant to tell a story.  In the Arena Chapel the stories are of Jesus’ parents, His life, and then running around the bottom of the church (at eye level) are the Virtues and Vices so that all could see them. Virtues consisted of: Justice (above) prudence, fortitude, temperance, faith, charity, and hope. 
by Annette Abbotte
Form:  Marble during this period was very expensive, so to cut down on costs, Giotto painted the virtues and vices in a way that made them look like marble.  It is also a monochromatic fresco.   Though he sits quite close to the fore of the picture plane, Giotto's use of light, shadow and perspective make this ruler appear to be receding beneath the arches of his throne. Iconography:  The crumbling castle that serves as a backdrop to this ruler’s throne would suggest that he is a tyrant.  He rules his kingdom with a sword.  There are trees growing up in front of him.  They symbolize the idiomatic expression of one not being able to “see the forest for the trees” – not that this is of any value because, with his head tilted away from the viewer, it appears as if he does not wish to see them at all. The procession of people running along the bottom of this painting indicates these people live in a place of unrest - perhaps a civilization in decline.  We see them pillaging, stealing and fighting amongst each other. 
Context:  The seven vices are personified on one side of the temple facing the virtues.  The vices are:  Injustice, desperation, envy, infidelity, wrath, inconstancy and foolishness.
Semiotic or structural analysis:  The seven vices and virtues are positioned around lowest part of the cathedral.  They are intentionally at eye level so that every man who enters the temple can look at and be reminded of the constant and equal struggle of these characteristics in everyone.  Justice and Injustice both occupy a central position on the dado.  The inside of the Arena Chapel is a didactic text.  The higher the eye rises when viewing these frescos, the loftier are the images or stories being portrayed.  We can look up to see Christ's parents and his life, but then when we look at the images on the bottom – the ones nearest to ourselves, we see our own souls.  The Virtues are on the right side of the chapel.  The right in such paintings always represents good (“right hand of God”) or Godliness.  The Vices are located along the left side. 
by Annette Abbotte
Take a virtual tour of the Arena chapel here:
http://www.mystudios.com/gallery/giotto/preamble.html

St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, France
West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE
 
Form: Compare this image to Gislebertus' carving at Autun Cathedral. The composition is symmetrical and organized using hieratic scale.  The picture plane is also organized according to horizontal bands but in this image, unlike its Romanesque predecessor, there is overlapping and some sense of space created.  The structure of the composition is still standard according to depictions of a "Last Judgment." According to the Brittanica,
Typically, the figure of Christ appears in the centre of the composition, dominant in size and usually enclosed in a mandorla (an oval, nimbus-like form). At his right and left are the four Evangelists, sometimes represented or accompanied by their animal symbols. To the sides, smaller figures of angels and demons weigh sins of the resurrected dead, who are ranked along the lowest and smallest section of the tympanum, directly above the lintel.

Iconography: What makes St. Lazare an interesting example of Romanesque architecture and art is the fact that the west portal, which depicts  a "sermon in stone," was originally painted. It is exceedingly well organized and stylized. This means that the figures represented in the relief sculpture are non naturalistic, this is akin to what one would see in Byzantine art. The figures relative size is based not on reality, but  on their spiritual importance. 
Jesus, as the central figure is shown impossibly huge the figures around him are depicting judgment, heaven and hell, and good and evil. The organization of the composition is designed so that all of the other figures relate in some way to the central figure of Jesus.  Figures who are to the right of Christ are literally on his good side while the figures to his left are not.  Likewise there is a hierarchy according to placement in the three bands.  The correlation between left and right (good and evil) does not exist in the topmost band.  Anything placed in the uppermost register of the composition is "good" or heavenly.
According to the Brittanica,
 
Christianity, further developing the concept of the Last Judgment, teaches that it will occur at the Parousia (the Second Coming, or Second Advent, of Christ in glory), when all men will stand before a judging God. In early Christian art the scene is one of Christ the judge, the resurrection of the dead, the weighing of souls, the separation of the saved and the damned, and representations of paradise and hell. Romanesque artists produced a more terrible vision of the Last Judgment: Christ is shown as a stern judge, sometimes carrying a sword and surrounded by the four mystical beasts--eagle, lion, ox, and winged man--of the apocalypse; the contrast between paradise and hell is between the awesome and the ferocious. In the gentler, more humanistic art of the Gothic period, a beautiful Christ is shown as the Redeemer, his right side undraped to reveal the wound of the lance, and both wounded hands raised high in a gesture that emphasizes his sacrifice. He is surrounded by the instruments of his Passion--cross, nails, lance, and crown of thorns. The intercessors are restored, and the scene of the Judgment is treated with optimism. In the 16th century, Michelangelo produced a radically different version of the Last Judgment in his fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome (1533-41): a vengeful Christ, nude like a pagan god, gestures menacingly toward the damned.

 
The iconography of this "Last Judgment" does change a bit also by the inclusion of the patron of the image just to the left of center (Christ's right.)  The inclusion of a patron or donor to the chapel actually is very significant, it tells us that there is a new class of people on the scene and that they consider themselves important.  It also indicates some ideas concerning the sale of indulgences and usury that are later on considered suspicious during the 1500's.  See professor Farber's page for a more complete discussion.  Dr. Farber's Lecture on the Arena Chapel
 
Below the cross, on the left, is the dedicatory scene, in which Enrico Scrovegni kneels before the Virgin and two saints, offering a model of the Arena Chapel upheld by an Augustinian friar. The portrait of Scrovegni, who is shown in sharp profile, is a faithful representation of the youthful features of the same man shown in old age on his marble tomb in the same chapel. His clothing and hair style reflect the fashions of the day, and provide valuable information on contemporary costume. The figure of Scrovegni is on the same scale as the sacred figures he is addressing - it was evidently enough to show him kneeling before these figures to indicate his 'inferior' status.  The model of the chapel presented by Scrovegni differs in a few details from the real chapel, a fact which suggests that the Last Judgment may have been painted before the exterior of the chapel was completed. This is a strong possibility since the most pictorially advanced parts of the cycle, i.e. those most similar to Giotto's later works, appear on the wall opposite the Last Judgment, above and on each side of the chancel arch. The warm, rich coloures of the angels surrounding God, and of the figures of Gabriel and Mary are related to the fresco decorations in the Magdalen Chapel in the Lower Church at Assisi, which are the closest to the Paduan frescoes of all of Giotto's surviving cycles. http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/tours/giotto/lastjudg.html

Context: According to Professor Farber,
In 1300, the wealthy Paduan merchant Enrico Scrovegni bought a piece of land on the site of a former Roman arena. Included in the palace that he built on the site was a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation, Santa Maria Annunziata, and the Virgin of Charity, Santa Maria del Carità. Enrico is shown in the fresco of the Last Judgment presenting a model of the chapel to the Virgin: The family wealth had been amassed by Enrico's father, Reginaldo, whom Dante singled out as the arch usurer in his Inferno. Usury, the lending of money for profit, was considered a sin during the Middle Ages. It is likely that Enrico constructed the chapel as a means to expiate the father's sin. The dedication of the Chapel to the Virgin of Charity, referred to in a document of March of 1304 in which Pope Benedict XI granted indulgences to those who visited "Santa Maria del Carità de Arena," was an obvious choice to disassociate the family from taint of greed and miserliness.

 
Form:  This is a detail of the lower right hand corner (to Christ's left) of the Last Judgment.  In this section the coloring shifts radically with its flames and lava.  The figure of the devil is placed in the center of the sub region of hell. 
  Iconography: 
 
The damned, who are shown in the lower right hand corner, fall into a hell dominated by the figure of Satan. This hell teems with hopeless diminutive figures being subjected to a variety of comically indecent humiliations and torments by apish devils. It is a far cry from Dante's tragic vision of hell and recalls only a few verses of the Inferno about the area of hell known as the Malebolge. Almost all these figures can be attributed to Giotto's assistants, though here, too, the guiding hand of the master can be perceived in the rich play of imagination which characterizes the whole, and in the execution of certain parts, which suggest his direct intervention. This is true of the wonderfully immediate episode that takes place on the brink of hell, below the cross, where two devils conduct a struggling man back to the damned, tugging him by his clothes, which are being pulled over his head to reveal his disproportionate genitals.  (It seems these two sites copied from each other, I'm not sure which is the original source so here's links to both.) http://gallery.euroweb.hu/html/g/giotto/padova/4lastjud/lastj_d4.html http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/tours/giotto/lastjudg.html

According to Dr. Farber, In hell . . . 
the theme of usury is also developed in the adjacent image of Christ expelling the merchants from the Temple and the detail of usurers hanging from the their money bags in the Hell scene included in the Last Judgment:
Giotto's walls and paintings are done in fresco,  According to the Brittanica,
 
Fresco is a method of painting water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster, usually on wall surfaces. The colours, which are made by grinding dry-powder pigments in pure water, dry and set with the plaster to become a permanent part of the wall. Fresco painting is ideal for making murals because it lends itself to a monumental style, is durable, and has a matte surface. Buon', or "true," fresco is the most durable technique and consists of the following process. Three successive coats of specially prepared plaster, sand, and sometimes marble dust are troweled onto a wall. Each of the first two rough coats is applied and then allowed to set (dry and harden). In the meantime, the artist, who has made a full-scale cartoon (preparatory drawing) of the image that he intends to paint, transfers the outlines of the design onto the wall from a tracing made of the cartoon. The final, smooth coat (intonaco) of plaster is then troweled onto as much of the wall as can be painted in one session. The boundaries of this area are confined carefully along contour lines, so that the edges, or joints, of each successive section of fresh plastering are imperceptible. The tracing is then held against the fresh intonaco and lined up carefully with the adjacent sections of painted wall, and its pertinent contours and interior lines are traced onto the fresh plaster; this faint but accurate drawing serves as a guide for painting the image in colour.
A correctly prepared intonaco will hold its moisture for many hours. When the painter dilutes his colours with water and applies them with brushstrokes to the plaster, the colours are imbibed into the surface, and as the wall dries and sets, the pigment particles become bound or cemented along with the lime and sand particles. This gives the colours great permanence and resistance to aging, since they are an integral part of the wall surface, rather than a superimposed layer of paint on it. The medium of fresco makes great demands on a painter's technical skill, since he must work fast (while the plaster is wet) but cannot correct mistakes by overpainting; this must be done on a fresh coat of plaster or by using the secco method.
Secco ("dry") fresco is a somewhat superficial process that dispenses with the complex preparation of the wall with wet plaster. Instead, dry, finished walls are soaked with limewater and painted while wet. The colours do not penetrate into the plaster but form a surface film, like any other paint. Secco has always held an inferior position to true fresco, but it is useful for retouching the latter.
The origins of fresco painting are unknown, but it was used as early as the Minoan civilization (at Knossos on Crete) and by the ancient Romans (at Pompeii). The Italian Renaissance was the great period of fresco painting, as seen in the works of Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Correggio, and many other painters from the late 13th to the mid-16th century. Michelangelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Stanza murals in the Vatican are the most famous of all frescoes. By the mid-16th century, however, the use of fresco had largely been supplanted by oil painting. The technique was briefly revived by Diego Rivera and other Mexican Muralists in the first half of the 20th century.

Paradise

BOSCH, Hieronymus,  Haywain 1500-02
Oil on panel, Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial

Hell
Oil on panel, 147 x 66 cm

 
 
 

Paradise
Context: The subject of sin and its punishments was central to all of Bosch's art. A famous triptych, The Haywain, contains a progression of sin, from Eden to hell, across its panels. In the central panel sin is represented through the metaphor of a large wagonload of hay for which a greedy world grasps. All the while, the wagon is being pulled by demons towards the right panel - which shows one of Bosch's earliest depictions of hell. Form:  Interestingly enough, Bosch again is collaging together elements from images by Giotto in his Last Judgement and Masaccio's Expulsion as well as various elements and compositional devices one might find in the Tympanum of Gothic and Rmanesque Churches such as those found at Autun.
In the sky we see an image of God almost as if he is in a Last Judgement scene.  The composition is very similar to Giotto's Last Judgment.  The arrangement and scale of the angels or possibly even some demons is in a semi- circular form as in Giotto's.
Beneath, in the garden, we the arrangement of the figures in this continuous narrative scene is based on various standard compositions for each story.  For example, the creation of Eve uses the same poses as Michelangelo does about ten years later in his Sistine Chapel panel.
Iconography:  The arraangement of this panel is hierarchical.  The scene at the top, may represent creation but the weird bug like demons grouped at the bottom coupled with the angels who are higher up in the picture plane, may indicate that this is the fall of the angels which is echoed by Adam's expulsion at the very bottom.   An interesting, Catholic icon is represented by God the father as he pulls Eve from Adam's rib.  God is wearing the papal crown.

 

BOSCH, Hieronymus,  Haywain 1500-02
Oil on panel, Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial
Form: The composition of the center scene is fairly symmetrical.  The hay wagon that sits in the center of the image creates the bottom of pyramidal shape that is completed by the figure who sit atop the wagon and God in heaven who looks over the scene. Iconography:  The overall scene is one that represents our unavoidable journey to damnation.  It is a bit pessimistic.
Atop the Hay wagon, angels pray for us and demons also vie for our attention.  A vessel, possibly representing the holy vessel is atop a pike, while opposite this is an owl, representing knowledge and death, sits atop another branch surrounded by blackbirds (death?).
Below the wagon are scenes of chaos, murder, lust and avarice.  Basically all the seven deadly sins are represented in one guise or another and even the clergy are not immune to gluttony in the lower right hand corner.

 

BOSCH, Hieronymus.
Garden of Earthly Delights (closed triptych) c. 1500
"Creation of the World"?
Oil on panel,  (86 5/8 X 76 1/4) 220 x 195 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
   The outer panels of Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights betray little of the wonders which lie within. Here we see the earth as Bosch envisioned it to be on the third day of creation. Light has been separated from the darkness, the waters have been divided above and below the firmament and trees are beginning to grow across the face of the earth. Overlooking this pale and watery earth composed primarily of subtle grays and green-grays is the Creator who is pictured as sitting passively on his throne holding a book which represents the creative Word. And lest we miss the allusion to the effortlessness of the Creator's act, Bosch has added an inscription from Ps. 33.9, "For he spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood forth." http://www.artdamage.com/bosch/gardenex.htm
BOSCH, Hieronymus.
Garden of Earthly Delights
(central panel of the triptych) c. 1500
Oil on panel, 220 x 195 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
The "Garden of Earthly Delights," representative of Bosch at his mature best, shows the earthly paradise with the creation of woman, the first temptation, and the fall. The painting's beautiful and unsettling images of sensuality and of the dreams that afflict the people who live in a pleasure-seeking world express Bosch's iconographic originality with tremendous force. The chief characteristic of this work is perhaps its dreamlike quality; multitudes of nude human figures, giant birds, and horses cavort and frolic in a delightfully implausible, otherworldly landscape, and all the elements come together to produce a perfect, harmonious whole.  "Bosch, Hiëronymus."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002. 
 Various attempts have been made to relate these fantasies to the realities of his own day. For instance, some of the sexually related visions have been related to the  creed of the Adamites, a hereticel sect of the day advocating, at least in theory, sexual freedom like that in Eden. But the most promising line has been to recognize many of them as illustrations of proverbs: for instance, the pair of lovers in the glass bubble would recall the proverb 'Pleasure is as fragile as glass'. This approach  also provides a link between these fantasies and Bosch's other work, such as the Cure of Folly or Haywain, and between Bosch's later work and Bruegel's in the  middle of the sixteenth century: though without Bosch's satanic profusion, Bruegel also made illustrations of proverbs in this way.  http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/b/bosch/painting/triptyc1/delightc.html
At the time of his death, Bosch was internationally celebrated as an eccentric painter of religious visions who dealt in particular with the torments of hell. During his lifetime Bosch's works were in the inventories of noble families of the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and they were imitated in a number of paintings and prints throughout the 16th century, especially in the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 
Bosch's most famous and unconventional picture is The Garden of Earthly Delights which, like most of his other ambitious works, is a large, 3-part altarpiece, called a triptych. This painting was probably made for the private enjoyment of a noble family. It is named for the luscious garden in the central panel, which is filled with cavorting nudes and giant birds and fruit. The triptych depicts the history of the world and the progression of sin. Beginning on the outside shutters with the creation of the world, the story progresses from Adam and Eve and original sin on the left panel to the torments of hell, a dark, icy, yet fiery nightmarish vision, on the right. The Garden of Delights in the center illustrates a world deeply engaged in sinful pleasures. 
http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/b/bosch/painting/triptyc1/delightr.html

 

Left Detail Heaven/Paradise 
with Adam and Eve
    The subdued gray earth of The Garden of Earthly Delight's exterior panels gives way to an explosion of vibrant color within. With the felt panel we move to the final three days of creation when life burst forth on the earth with all of its abundance. Swarms of living creatures inhabit the fertile garden with many gathering near a tall, slender Fountain of Life which occupies a small island in the lake at the center of the panel. To the right of the fountain a group of animals are climbing a bank which transforms itself into a face.      In the foreground, near the Tree of Knowledge we see God presenting Eve to an astounded Adam who seems amazed at this creature who has been brought forth from his rib. It is notable that here God is much more youthful that we have seen in previous representations in that Bosch sets aside his earlier convention and presents the Deity in the Person of Christ. This follows a frequent convention in Fifteenth Century Dutch literature where the marriage of Adam and Eve is performed by a Youthful Deity.
     As is usually the case with Bosch, however, no paradise exists entirely free from at least a foreshadowing of evil and this foreshadowing appears as a pit in the extreme foreground, out of which a variety of creatures are emerging.
http://www.artdamage.com/bosch/gardenl.htm

Right Detail
    The dreamlike paradise of the center panel gives way to the nightmare of Hell in which the excitement of passion is transformed into a frenzy of suffering. Here the lushest paradise Bosch will ever produce leads to the most violent of his always violent hells. As is generally the case in Bosch's vision of Hell a burning city serves as a backdrop to the various activities carried out by Hell's citizens, but here the buildings don't merely burn, rather they explode with firey plumes blasting into the darkness as what appears to be a wave of refugees flee across a bridge toward an illuminated gate house.      As is always the case in Bosch's Hells the general theme is a chaos in which normal relationships are turned upside down and everyday objects are turned into objects of torture. And, given Bosch's use of musical instruments as symbolic of lust it is not surprising that in the Hell musical instruments as objects of torment are prominently featured. From the left we see a nude figure which has been attached by devils to the neck of a lute, while another has been entangled in the strings of a harp and a third has been stuffed down the neck of a great horn.
http://www.artdamage.com/bosch/gardenr.htm
 
The picture shows a detail of The Hell. Several huge musical instruments figure prominently in Bosch's conception of hell. They are shaped similarly to the ones used at that time, but their positioning is unrealistic (for example, a harp grows out of a lute). Their relationship to each other bears strongly fanciful elements, and they have been adapted in form. What is more, the use of these instruments is wholly fantastic. There is a human figure stretched across the strings of a harp; another writhes around the neck of a flute, intertwined with a snake; a third peers out of a drum equipped with bird-like feet, the next one plays triangle while reaching out from a hurdy-gurdy, and even the smoking trumpet displays an outstretched human arm. It is difficult to conceive that the group of damned souls would sing a hymn from the musical score fixed to the reverse of the reclining figure in front of them - although this has been proposed by some scholars. The ensemble, lead by an infernal monster, could more likely be a parody.  http://www.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/b/bosch/painting/triptyc1/delights.html
 
According to Dr. Bruce Lamott, a music historian, the depiction of the individual crucified on the harp, the image of the trumpet shoved up the rear end of one of the figures, and the ears sliced by the knives could be a reference to the ideas that were being debated by the Council of Trent.  Many individuals felt that music was too sensuous and the work of the devil and that the new traditions of playing music in Church was a mistake. There are also some very Giottoesque elements in this painting.  In the lower right hand of hell is an image of a pig dressed in a nun's habit which obviously is a jab at the greedy nature of the Catholic Church.  It is very similar to Giotto's inclusion of the Bishop who is taking money for indulgences and pardoning people in hell.

 
 
 
 
  Michelangelo and Mannerism

Form: Compare this image to Gislebertus' carving at Autun Cathedral. and Giotto's Arena Chapel.  The composition of Michelangelo's fresco is overall symmetrical and organized.  The picture plane is also organized according to horizontal bands but in this image, unlike its Gothic and Romanesque predecessors, the space is not as clearly defined into bands or frets.  Although the left to right and top to bottom hierarchy is preserved according to depictions of a "Last Judgment" Michelangelo changes the space and distorts the anatomy of the figures in a precursor of a style that will come to be known as Mannerism. Italian MANIERISMO (from maniera, "manner," or "style").
Mannerism is a weird overly "stylized" style that is a subset of the Italian Renaissance style and period.  Its main qualities are that it is a bit shocking in terms of the subject matter.  Often, although the themes are classical they are "sexy."  However, although they are a bit shocking and risqué, Mannerist artists still seem to know the basic rules and get away with staying inside the boundaries of good taste.  So another quality of Mannerism is that Mannerist artists seems to know the etiquette or "manner" of good taste but they also bend the rules a bit.
They tend to bend the rules also in terms of the formal qualities.  Mannerist art takes many of its schemas from Michelangelo but they tend to exaggerate the qualities found in his art.  The figures always seem to be perched on the edge of action.  Often they are portrayed in the moment just before they rise up from a chair.  They are neither seated nor are they actually moving.  Often the figures' anatomies are weird, twisting and distorted.  Heads are too small, figures seem to float in ambiguous space and the color and value structure are often over emphasized or exaggerated unnaturally.










 
Iconography:  Jesus, as the central figure is shown impossibly muscular figures around him are depicting judgment, heaven and hell, and good and evil but they do it in a classical manner. The organization of the composition is designed so that all of the other figures relate in some way to the central figure of Jesus.  Figures who are to the right of Christ are literally on his good side while the figures to his left are not.  Likewise there is a hierarchy according to placement in the three bands.  The correlation between left and right (good and evil) does not exist in the topmost band.  Anything placed in the uppermost register of the composition is "good" or heavenly.
According to the Brittanica,
 
Christianity, further developing the concept of the Last Judgment, teaches that it will occur at the Parousia (the Second Coming, or Second Advent, of Christ in glory), when all men will stand before a judging God. In early Christian art the scene is one of Christ the judge, the resurrection of the dead, the weighing of souls, the separation of the saved and the damned, and representations of paradise and hell. Romanesque artists produced a more terrible vision of the Last Judgment: Christ is shown as a stern judge, sometimes carrying a sword and surrounded by the four mystical beasts--eagle, lion, ox, and winged man--of the apocalypse; the contrast between paradise and hell is between the awesome and the ferocious. In the gentler, more humanistic art of the Gothic period, a beautiful Christ is shown as the Redeemer, his right side undraped to reveal the wound of the lance, and both wounded hands raised high in a gesture that emphasizes his sacrifice. He is surrounded by the instruments of his Passion--cross, nails, lance, and crown of thorns. The intercessors are restored, and the scene of the Judgment is treated with optimism. In the 16th century, Michelangelo produced a radically different version of the Last Judgment in his fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome (1533-41): a vengeful Christ, nude like a pagan god, gestures menacingly toward the damned.

 




According to the Brittanica,
Typically, the figure of Christ appears in the centre of the composition, dominant in size and usually enclosed in a mandorla (an oval, nimbus-like form). At his right and left are the four Evangelists, sometimes represented or accompanied by their animal symbols. To the sides, smaller figures of angels and demons weigh sins of the resurrected dead, who are ranked along the lowest and smallest section of the tympanum, directly above the lintel.

 

In this image we see that Michelangelo is using some of the standard iconography associated with the Saints.  The figure with the white beard and hair holding a massive key and a scroll is St. Peter.  Beneath him and to the left, holding a knife and a human skin is St. Bartholomew who some historians believe is a self portrait.  The meaning behind the portrait is a kind of "woe is me" experession of self pity on the part of Michelangelo.  Who, judging by his glare at Jesus in the center, holds God responsible.

 

Michelangelo chose to depict Hell in a mythological fashion after the poet Dante's "Divine Comedy."  In the lower right hand section of the fresco (God's left) is a depiction of Charon the boatman who swats the damned off off the boat after they have traveled across the river Styx.  To the far right of the composition is a mythological depiction of Satan as the evil Minos.  To further classisize this image Minos is a direct quotation from a statue, Laocoon and his sons, c1C BCE by Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenadoros of Rhodes, that was found around 1500 in Rome. In response to a fierce critic, Michelangelo gave Minos the face of a cardinal who objected most strenuously to Michelangelo's use of nudity throughout the Chapel.  
After the fresco was finished, generations of prudish restorers painted clothes on a majority of the figures.  In the last 15 years many of these clothes have been cleaned off including the one over Minos's genitals and it seems that Mike got the last judgment (and word) in after all.  Yikes!  That's gotta hurt!

Laocoon and his sons, c1C BCE by
Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenadoros 
of Rhodes, marble 8' tall
Vatican Museum, Rome
Hellenistic