Monday, February 22, 2016

Read Renaissance Art

For all the videos in order with a textbook and study guides please visit:
http://art-and-art-history-academy.usefedora.com/










Perspective
Webster's dictionary defines "perspective" in a variety of ways:
2 a: the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed ; also: point of view b: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
So perspective is really just a point of view.  This section will deal with a variety of points of view.  Visual systems such a linear perspective will be discussed as well theological, humanistic and neoplatonic points of view.

Cimabue, Madonna Enthronedc1280
Late Gothic Italian 

space,  picture plane, and overlappingPaintings on a flat two dimensional space employ different ways of creating space.  Before the Renaissance period artists looked at a picture as a kind of window.  The front of this window is sometimes referred to as the picture plane.  As you look through the front of the plane, like a window, you will see things that are in the foreground or front of the picture, then in the middle ground, and finally the background.  In this painting in particular, this artist, named Cimabue, is trying to create the illusion of space by layering or overlapping one figure in front of another, however, you can see that he really does not create the illusion of space or deep space too convincingly.


Giotto, St Francis Giving his Mantle to a Poor Man, c1305
Late Gothic sometimes his style is considered 
Proto Renaissance or Early Renaissance
Giotto, a student of Cimabue, is one of the first Italian artists to really try to create some sort of space in the picture plane.  If you look at this painting you can see that he has claerly created a foreground, where the men and the donkey are, a mid-ground, where the mountains start to rise, and then a background where the buildings are.  He creates this illusion in several ways. One way is that he overlaps or layers the figures.  The other is that he uses dimunution.  Things in the background diminish, or get smaller.  Giotto creates space is that he changes the size of things as they move back in space.  The buildings and mountains are much smaller than the people are in the foreground.  This difference in size is refered to as a size scale relationship
The building in this image and the others like it are rendered with the illusion of space called intuitive perspective andisometric perspective.  (This kind of perspective is not as illusionistic as the linear perspective that is invented during the Renaissance around 1400 CE.)

Different artists and different cultures through out time have tried their hand at creating the illusion of space or realism in their art.



Fowling Scene from the tomb of Nebamun
1400 BCE - 1350 BCE
Thebes, Egypt
Dynasty 18
According to the Brittanica:Perspective is a method of graphically depicting three-dimensional objects and spatial relationships on a two-dimensional plane or on a plane that is shallower than the original (for example, in flat relief).
Perceptual methods of representing space and volume, which render them as seen at a particular time and from a fixed position and are characteristic of Chinese and most Western painting since the Renaissance, are in contrast to conceptual methods. Pictures drawn by young children and primitives (untrained artists), many paintings of cultures such as ancient Egypt and Crete, India, Islam, and pre-Renaissance Europe, as well as the paintings of many modern artists, depict objects and surroundings independently of one another--as they are known to be, rather than as they are seen to be--and from the directions that best present their most characteristic features. Many Egyptian and Cretan paintings and drawings, for example, show the head and legs of a figure in profile, while the eye and torso are shown frontally . This system produces not the illusion of depth but the sense that objects and their surroundings have been compressed within a shallow space behind the picture plane.


Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-7 Milan, 
Santa Maria delle Grazie 
According to the Brittanica:
In Western art, illusions of perceptual volume and space are generally created by use of the linear perspective system, based on the observations that objects appear to the eye to shrink and parallel lines and planes to converge to infinitely distant vanishing points as they recede in space from the viewer. Parallel lines in spatial recession will appear to converge on a single vanishing point, called one-point perspective. Perceptual space and volume may be simulated on the picture plane by variations on this basic principle, differing according to the number and location of the vanishing points. Instead of one-point (or central) perspective, the artist may use, for instance, angular (or oblique) perspective, which employs two vanishing points.

Linear perspective is a mathematical system for creating the illusion of space and distance on a flat surface. The system originated in Florence, Italy in the early 1400s. The artist and architect Brunelleschi demonstrated its principles, but another architect and writer, Leon Battista Alberti was first to write down rules of linear perspective for artists to follow. Leonardo da Vinci probably learned Alberti's system while serving as an apprentice to the artist Verrocchio in Florence.To use linear perspective an artist must first imagine the picture surface as an "open window" through which to see the painted world. Straight lines are then drawn on the canvas to represent the horizon and "visual rays" connecting the viewer's eye to a point in the distance.
The horizon line runs across the canvas at the eye level of the viewer. The horizon line is where the sky appears to meet the ground.
The vanishing point should be located near the center of the horizon line. The vanishing point is where all parallel lines (orthogonals) that run towards the horizon line appear to come together like train tracks in the distance.
Orthogonal lines are "visual rays" helping the viewer's eye to connect points around the edges of the canvas to the vanishing point. An artist uses them to align the edges of walls and paving stones.
Please visit this site for more of an explanation.
http://psych.hanover.edu/Krantz/art/linear.html



Masaccio, Trinity with Donors, c1425 - 8?
fresco in the 
Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence
21'x10'5"
According to the Brittanica:
The early European artist used a perspective that was an individual interpretation of what he saw rather than a fixed mechanical method. At the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, early in the 15th century, the mathematical laws of perspective were discovered by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi, who worked out some of the basic principles, including the concept of the vanishing point, which had been known to the Greeks and Romans but had been lost. These principles were applied in painting by Masaccio (as in his "Trinity" fresco in Santa Maria Novella, Florence; c. 1427), who within a short period brought about an entirely new approach in painting. A style was soon developed using configurations of architectural exteriors and interiors as the background for religious paintings, which thereby acquired the illusion of great spatial depth. In his seminal Della pittura (1436; On Painting), Leon Battista Alberti codified, especially for painters, much of the practical work on the subject that had been carried out by earlier artists; he formulated, for example, the idea that "vision makes a triangle, and from this it is clear that a very distant quantity seems no larger than a point."Linear perspective dominated Western painting until the end of the 19th century, when Paul Cézanne flattened the conventional Renaissance picture space. The Cubists and other 20th-century painters abandoned the depiction of three-dimensional space altogether and hence had no need for linear perspective.
Linear perspective plays an important part in presentations of ideas for works by architects, engineers, landscape architects, and industrial designers, furnishing an opportunity to view the finished product before it is begun. Differing in principle from linear perspective and used by both Chinese and European painters, aerial perspective is a method of creating the illusion of depth by a modulation of color and tone. 


Dennis Hwang, a student from Stanford was so taken with the three dimensional quality of the image that he designed a virtual reality image that simulates another view of Masaccio's fresco.http://graphics.stanford.edu/courses/cs99d-98/online_projects.html




Masaccio, Trinity with Donors, c1425 - 8?
fresco in the Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence
21'x10'5"
Form: This is a tremendous work of art.  The figures in the work are just slightly bigger than life size.  The overall composition of the works is symmetrical and the composition within the arch is based on a stable pyramidal form.  While not strictly in accordance with the rules of perspective, this form is a visual device that draws the eye back into the picture plane.The figures of God the Father, The Spirit (which is a Dove that doubles for God's collar) and the crucified Jesus are placed with a Roman triumphal arch complete with Pantheon like coffers and ionic columns on the edges.  Moving out of the arch on either side are two flattened pilasters (squared off half columns) that have corinthian capitals.
The work is executed in one point perspective with the horizon line placed right on the level of the first trompe l’oeil ledge at the viewer's eye level.   The figures representing the two donors or patrons are located on a ledge about six feet off the ground, just outside of the arch slightly above the viewer's point of view. Beneath the ledge/horizon line is a painted skeleton representing a tomb.
Iconography:  Symbolically speaking this image is packed with all kinds of different perspectives. 
The linear perspective is both a formal device, which creates space, and a way of including the viewer.  The fact that the use of linear perspective is used actually symbolizes that the real subject of the painting is not the Trinity but rather the Renaissance man's relationship to it.  This leads us to discuss the various themes that are hidden within the obvious meaning behind the fresco.
It's almost a shopping list of ideas. 
idealism
neoplatonism
humanism
theology
Overall, the fresco does represent a theological (religious) point of view.  More specifically it represents a unification of the Trinity as expressed in the Catholic Nicene Creed.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.
The Brittanica refers to Masaccio's Trinity as "rational, human-scaled and human-centred, and inspired by the ancient world."  This statement illustrates that beyond a theological point of view, the naturalistic life-size scale and placement of the figures of God the Father, The Spirit, within a Roman triumphal arch complete with Pantheon like coffers and ionic columns on the edges, represents how the Renaissance person was framing their view of the world within a classicizing and humanistic point of view.  Jesus' body is idealized and he looks almost as if he is a Greek god.  God the Father looks like a Greek or Roman philosopher and these representations make reference to the new ideas concerning neoplatonism and humanism.The neoplatonic aspect, deals with the concept of humankind's ability to be perfected to an ideal state.  One that is more spiritual and mental than flesh.  The humanistic point of view deals with the concept that while humankind is spiritual it is also physical and emotional.  When the body of Christ is depicted as a real human's body, the artist is showing you a point of view based on a more human and possibly even fallible point of view of the world.  The perfectibility of man and the ideal conception of a what a perfect person should be is discussed in Mencher, Liaisons 109-112 Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) Il Cortegiano (The Courtier) Excerpts from "The First Book of the Courtier"  and William Shakespeare c1600 excerpts fromHamlet 115-117All of these points of view are pulled together in by the appearance and text above the skeleton.
Above the skeleton is inscribed, "What I was you are.  What I am, you will become."  This idea that we are to be reminded of our mortality and frailty is a reminder or a lesson referred to as a memento mori.  A literal reminder of death.  This them is taken up not just in the visual arts but also in literature and theatrical productions.  Read Mencher, Liaisons, William Shakespeare c1600 excerpts from Hamlet115-117 for another example.  What kinds of iconography to they both share?

Masaccio. Tribute Money, and Expulsion, fresco c1427 
Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine Florence, 
Italy, Italian Renaissance

Context: Masaccio. Tribute Money, and Expulsion, fresco c1427  are prime examples of many of the innovations that marked 15th century Italian art.  In addition to demonstrating all of the formal views concerning perspective, these frescoes also express all of the more philosophical points of view.According to the Brittanica: 
The Brancacci Chapel. Shortly after completing the Pisa Altarpiece, Masaccio began working on what was to be his masterpiece--the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel (c. 1427) in the Florentine Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. He was commissioned to finish painting the chapel's scenes of the stories of St. Peter after Masolino (1383-1447) had abandoned the job, leaving only the vaults and several frescoes in the upper registers finished. Previously, Masaccio and Masolino were engaged in some sort of loose working relationship. They had already collaborated on a "Madonna and Child with St. Anne" (Uffizi Gallery, Florence) in which the style of Masaccio, who was the younger of the two, had a profound influence on that of Masolino. It has been suggested, but never proven, that both artists were jointly commissioned to paint the Brancacci Chapel. The question of which painter executed which frescoes in the chapel posed one of the most discussed artistic problems of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is now generally thought that Masaccio was responsible for the following sections: the "Expulsion of Adam and Eve" (or "Expulsion from Paradise"), "Baptism of the Neophytes," "The Tribute Money," "St. Peter Enthroned," "St. Peter Healing the Sick with His Shadow," "St. Peter Distributing Alms," and part of the "Resurrection of the Son of Theophilus." (A cleaning and restoration of the Brancacci Chapel frescoes in 1985-89 removed centuries of accumulated grime and revealed the frescoes' vivid original colours.)
There are other forms of perspective and one of them, which is slightly later development used by Masaccio but perfected by Leonardo is called aerial perspective.  According to the Brittanica,



Masaccio. Tribute Money, and Expulsion, fresco c1427 
Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine Florence, Italy, Italian Renaissance
Photo of atmospheric perspective 
Aerial perspective also called ATMOSPHERIC PERSPECTIVE, method of creating the illusion of depth, or recession, in a painting or drawing by modulating color to simulate changes effected by the atmosphere on the colours of things seen at a distance. Although the use of aerial perspective has been known since antiquity, Leonardo da Vinci first used the term aerial perspective in his Treatise on Painting, in which he wrote: "Colours become weaker in proportion to their distance from the person who is looking at them." It was later discovered that the presence in the atmosphere of moisture and of tiny particles of dust and similar material causes a scattering of light as it passes through them, the degree of scattering being dependent on the wavelength, which corresponds to the color, of the light. Because light of short wavelength--blue light--is scattered most, the colours of all distant dark objects tend toward blue; for example, distant mountains have a bluish cast. Light of long wavelength--red light--is scattered least; thus, distant bright objects appear redder because some of the blue is scattered and lost from the light by which they are seen.The intervening atmosphere between a viewer and, for example, distant mountains, creates other visual effects that can be mimicked by landscape painters. The atmosphere causes distant forms to have less distinct edges and outlines than forms near the viewer, and interior detail is similarly softened or blurred. Distant objects appear somewhat lighter than objects of similar tone lying closer at hand, and in general contrasts between light and shade appear less extreme at great distances. All these effects are more apparent at the base of a mountain than at its peak, since the density of the intervening atmosphere is greater at lower elevations.
 "aerial perspective."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 19, 2002. 




chiaroscuro
 
The picture plane is further unified by its value structure or shading.  This use of light and shadow to create a dramatic and consistent picture plane is  referred to as chiaroscuro.According to the Brittanica, 

Chiaroscuro (from Italian chiaro, "light"; scuro, "dark"),
technique employed in the visual arts to represent light and shadow as they define three-dimensional objects.Some evidence exists that ancient Greek and Roman artists used chiaroscuro effects, but in European painting the technique was first brought to its full potential by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century in such paintings as his "Adoration of the Magi" (1481; Uffizi, Florence). Thereafter, chiaroscuro became a primary technique for many painters, and by the late 17th century the term was routinely used to describe any painting, drawing, or print that depends for its effect on an extensive gradation of light and darkness.
The scene depicted in "The Tribute Money" is consistently lit from the upper right and thus harmonizes with the actual lighting of the chapel, which comes from a window on the wall to the right of the fresco. The mountain background of the fresco is convincingly rendered using aerial perspective; an illusion of depth is created by successively lightening the tones of the more distant mountains, thereby simulating the changes effected by the atmosphere on the colours of distant objects. In "The Tribute Money," with its solid, anatomically convincing figures set in a clear, controlled space lit by a consistent fall of light, Masaccio decisively broke with the medieval conception of a picture as a world governed by different and arbitrary physical laws. Instead, he embraced the concept of a painting as a window behind which a continuation of the real world is to be found, with the same laws of space, light, form, and perspective that obtain in reality. This concept was to remain the basic idiom of Western painting for the next 450 years. 
 "chiaroscuro."  and "Masaccio"  Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 19, 2002. 
Although Giotto uses the technique somewhat in his paintings, notice how chiaroscuro is employed by Masaccio in the image on the left to make the figures appear more life like. Also notice how Masaccio has become so involved with perspective that the halo atop the apostles heads are represented as an elliptical plates floating above rather than the more traditional circle of light that surrounds the heads of Giotto's and Cimabue's figures.
Context and Iconography:  In order to really understand this next section you need to know the story of the Tribute Money.  I think that what Masaccio was doing was following the lessons and type of sermons that would have been delivered in Church.  In these sermons, two stories concerning the testing of Jesus might have been combined.

Matthew Chapter 17


24  When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"


25 "Yes," he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?"


26 When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt.


27 But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you."


Matthew Chapter 22


15  Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.


16 They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status.


17 Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"


18 Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?


19 Show me the coin that pays the census tax." Then they handed him the Roman coin.


20 He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"


21 They replied, "Caesar's." At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."


22 When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away.
Masaccio also uses linear perspective to focus the attention on the viewer to the central figure of Christ.  In addition to this, he also places the heads of the apostles on the horizon line almost as if they were ducks in a shooting gallery.The Tribute Money is a continuous narrative.  Meaning that all the episodes of the story are united in one picture plane, such as we see in Nicola Pisano's Nativityhowever in Masaccio's image the space makes more sense.  He also divides the story in three segments by using linear perspective.
The vanishing point also divides the picture plane in two sections.  On the left we see the mountains and natural world depicted almost as an infinite place.  To the right of the picture plane, and on the left hand of Jesus, the place where the damned are traditionally placed are the manmade structures of the city.
What this may represent is a concept that is expressed by the story of the Tribute Money as interpreted by St. Augustine 354-430.  According to the Brittanica, Augustine's, "adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence. His numerous written works, the most important of which are Confessions and City of God, shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought."
St. Augustine, came up with a concept in which he viewed the universe and man's existence as divided in two worlds.  One was the City of Man which was temporary and fallible.  This is represented by the architecture and the place in which the tax collectors stands and collects what is "due Caesar."  The other world is the City of God which goes on forever and in which god will provide for the faithful.  This is where Peter pulls the coin from the fishes mouth.Stokstad points out that this story was also used as a propagandistic tool and a way of instilling patriotism for Florence and raising funds.
oForm:  These two nude figures are depicted in an anatomically accurate manner.  The angel of Michael above escorts them out of a triumphal arch and out into a seemingly featureless landscape.  The bodies are arranged in expressive poses.The torso of the angel floating above has been somewhat foreshortened.

Iconography:  The classical arch symbolizes the figures expulsion from a classical and ideal world: the Garden of Eden.  The expression of there bodies ties in with some of the ideas of human expression that one can see in monuments like the Parthenon's metopes and the Ara Pacis Augustae, except in this case, Masaccio uses the language of gesture to directly communicate what each one of these figures is feeling.  My Professor Broderick, from Lehman college, suggested that the figure of Adam is ashamed of himself in a more internal way and therefore hides his face from us and from God.  In contrast to this, Eve, is more superficially ashamed and hides her body.  For Broderick, this was an expression of male and female roles during the Renaissance.

  



Albrecht Durer, Alberti's Veil c1500
One way of dealing with perspective and foreshortening is to use mechanical devices to help the artist figure out how perspective works. In the central image, Durer is using a device based on a treatise by Alberti.  This device allows the artist to abstract the image and chart the image into a series of squares.  This gives the artist many more reference points and allows him to check and measure the way things are foreshortened.
This machine is based on a device that artists used to make multiple copies of the same image or to enlarge a drawing accurately for placement on a wall or canvas.  This process is called "grid and transfer" or "squaring."  According to the Brittanica,
"Squaring" in painting, simple technique for transferring an image from one surface to another (and sometimes converting the image from one scale to another) by non mechanical means. The original work to be transferred is divided into a given number of squares; the same number of squares is then marked off-- with charcoal or some other easily removable medium--on the surface of the receiving area. The contents of each square of the original are then drawn in the corresponding square of the reproduction. The use of the grid ensures the accurate placement of images onto the reproduction.The Egyptians used squaring at least 5,000 years ago. It has been used to transfer cartoons onto murals, to transfer preparatory drawings onto canvas paintings, and to alter the scale of any work in the same media.
This process was used extensively during the Renaissance.  Check this out:
http://www.clevelandart.org/techniques/squaring.htmlalso see this
http://www.aliciastrose.com/f-process.html
Two Point Perspective


1) To draw a simple shape in two point perspective you start with a single line across the picture plane called the horizon line.
 
3) Next, add converging lines from the top and bottom of the vertical line and draw two vertical lines which will become the back corners of the box.

Then add two vanishing points.  Place one at each end of the horizon line. Then draw a vertical line as big as you want the first box.
4) After erasing some of the horizon line (the part behind the box) it looks like a three dimensional form.
A page with a great example of two point perspective.
http://www.proviso.k12.il.us/EAST/GeometryWorld/2PER.HTM



Gustave Caillebotte, Paris a Rainy Day, 1877
French, Impressionism
Here's an example of two point perspective in a painting.  This painting actually has multiple points on the horizon line but I've traced most of the orthagonals to the two most dominant ones in the black and white illustration.
Here's how Giotto kind of had it right.


Here's where the lines should have gone.



Giotto di Bondone, Virgin and Child Enthroned, 
(Ognissanti Altar,) c 1310. 
Tempera and gold on wood, 10'8"x6'8"
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Cimabue, Virgin and Child Enthroned, 
from the Church of Santa Trinita, Florence
c 1280. Tempera and gold on wood, 12' 7"x7'4"
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Masaccio, Madonna Enthroned, 1426,
oil on panel, 56x29"
London, National Gallery
These two works of art on the left are ones that you have already studied extensively.  Compare these two works to this one by Masaccio.  Think about and be prepared to relate the concepts you have just learned about to them.


hu.man.ism n (1832) 1 a: devotion to the humanities: literary culture b: the revival of classical letters, individualistic and critical spirit, and emphasis on secular concerns characteristic of the Renaissance 2: humanitarianism 3: a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; esp: a philosophy that usu. rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason -- hu.man.ist n or adj -- hu.man.is.tic adj -- hu.man.is.ti.cal.ly advme.men.to mo.ri n, pl memento mori [L, remember that you must die] (1596): a reminder of mortality; esp: death's-head
me.men.to n, pl -tos or -toes [ME, fr. L, remember, imper. of meminisse to remember; akin to L ment-, mens mind--more at mind] (1580): something that serves to warn or remind; also: souvenir
Neo.pla.to.nism n (1845) 1: Platonism modified in later antiquity to accord with Aristotelian, post-Aristotelian, and oriental conceptions that conceives of the world as an emanation from an ultimate indivisible being with whom the soul is capable of being reunited in trance or ecstasy 2: a doctrine similar to ancient Neoplatonism -- Neo.pla.ton.ic adj -- Neo.pla.to.nist n
trompe l’oeil - (French: "deceive the eye"), in painting, the representation of an object with such verisimilitude as to deceive the viewer concerning the material reality of the object. This idea appealed to the ancient Greeks who were newly emancipated from the conventional stylizations of earlier art. Zeuxis, for example, reportedly painted such realistic grapes that birds tried to eat them. The technique was also popular with Roman muralists. Although trompe l’oeil never achieved the status of a major artistic aim, from the early Renaissance on, European painters occasionally fostered illusionism by painting false frames out of which the contents of a still life or portrait appeared to spill, or by creating window-like images suggesting actual openings in the wall or ceiling. (Brittanica)
Value Structure
Is the lightness or darkness of a color or shade.  Chiaroscuro and tenebrism both employ the use quick shifts of light and dark.
Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. It is a variable that can substantially alter a color's appearance, and as we will see later, it is also an important factor in achieving legibility with type and color. A hue changes in value when either white or black are added to it. A color with added white is called a tint (fig.7) ; a color with added black is called a shade (fig.8). Generally speaking, pure hues that are normally light in value (yellow, orange, green) make the best tints, white pure hues that are normally dark in value (red, blue, violet) make the most desirable shades. The palettes colors below shoes a spectrum of tints and shades based on the hues from the colors clearly shows that changes in value greatly expand color possibilities.



fig.7


fig.8



The Northern Renaissance
 
Jan Van Eyck and Perspective 


Jan van Eyck Arnolfini Wedding 1434
oil and tempera, 33x22.5" London National Gallery
Form:  The first thing one is struck with when looking at this painting is how "real" it looks.  Van Eyck was one of the first painters to really use oil paint.  For this reason sometimes he is attributed by some sources as the inventor of oil paint.  Stokstad doesn't mention this specifically about this painting but I think that it was probably painted first in tempera paint and then glazed in succesive layers with oil paint.According to the Brittanica,

Oil paints are made by mixing dry pigment powder with refined linseed oil to a paste, which is then milled in order to disperse the pigment particles throughout the oil vehicle. According to the 1st-century Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, whose writings the Flemish painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck are thought to have studied, the Romans used oil colours for shield painting. The earliest use of oil as a fine-art medium is generally attributed to 15th-century European painters, such as Giovanni Bellini and the van Eycks, who glazed oil colour over a glue-tempera underpainting. It is also thought probable, however, that medieval manuscript illuminators had been using oil glazes in order to achieve greater depth of colour and more subtle tonal transitions than their tempera medium allowed. "Oil."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 19, 2002. 
Part of the images reality is also based on the fact that the image appears to have some sort of depth, however, if one was to really diagram the image and trace all the orthagonals in the image you will discover that rather than having a single vanishing point or horizon line, this image has a zone where the lines kind of converge.Compare Masaccio's use of perspective with Van Eyck below.

MASACCIO 1401-1428 Trinity with Donors c1428 
Florence,S.Maria Novella 16' tall fresco

Jan van Eyck Arnolfini Wedding 1434
oil and tempera


Iconography:  Traditionally this image was interpreted by Irwin Panofsky, a mid twentieth century art historian as a wedding contract. 

The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini, commonly called the Arnolfini Wedding, is van Eyck's most famous work. The subject is obvious, given the pose of the couple. It may, however, be confusing to the modern viewer that he chose to portray them in their bed chamber, instead of in a church. Here, it is necessary to keep in mind that everything portrayed in this picture has symbolic meaning. The fact that the woman appears to be pregnant is symbolic of the holy purpose of their matrimony of bringing children into the world. This also explains the choice of the color of her dress (green representing fertility), and the fact that she is pulling her dress up in the front (signifying that she is willing to bear children). Other specifically sybolic imagery includes the dog who stands between them (fidelity to each other; loyalty to God), the sandals which have been removed (signifying that they are standing on holy ground), and the single candle in the candelabra (the presence of Christ in their union). A detail of the back wall reveals a convex mirror which reflects their backs and two other persons (probably the priest and the artist). A signature above which says "Jan van Eyck was here" testifies to the artist's presence during the ceremony, and it is possible that the purpose of the painting is partly a matter of documenting the legality of their matrimony.http://www.urtonart.com/history/Renaissance/northrenaiss.htm
However, this interpretation of this iconography has come into question about ten years ago when Craig Harbison published his book, "Jan van Eyck: The Play of Realism."  (London: Reaktion Books,) 1995.Visit this website to get the opposing point of view on this image:
From the Open University Website: Read The Mystery of Marriage at this Website
Context and Iconography: Some of the debate about the iconography of this image stems form the development of new subject matter in art because of the rise of a new class of people.  The new merchant classes were now beginning to commission artists to paint their portraits.  In the process of including every day people in these images an element called genre began to show up in art.  Genre in French means a kind, but art historians have assigned a different meaning to the word.  A genre element is one in which an everyday person or objects appear in the painting.  Unfortunately for art historians, the introduction of genre elements  introduces some confusion into the interpretation of some of these images.  In general though, the introduction of genre is symbolic of the rising of a new class of people who are patrons of the arts in Europe.







The Renaissance in Flanders c1400s
Perspectives:  The Every Day or "God is in the Details"
Paul, Herman and Jean Limbourg. (The Limbourg Brothers)
Le Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry 8"x5" 1413 
tempera on parchment French Renaissance
March

February
Paul, Herman and Jean Limbourg. (The Limbourg Brothers)
Le Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry 8"x5" 1413 
tempera on parchment French Renaissance
genre
Form:  This book is tiny!   At 8" by 5" the artist had a very small area to work with in rendering his subjects, yet each image is extremely detailed and realistic.  The figures clothing, postures, and environments such as landscapes and homes were extreemly carefully and accurately rendered.  Nevertheless, the artists who painted these did not bother with the strict conventions of linear perspective that we see in Italian art from the same period.The space is constructed using a combination of intuitive perspective, some linear and vertical perspective.  Atmospheric perspective is out of the question.
Iconography:  The depiction of genre scenes, the depiction of everyday life and everyday events,  is a convention that really begins with Giotto's and Assisi's humanism.  If one sees the face of God in every event and every interactaction, well then one might behave.  The realer it looks, the more we can personally realte to it and the more pursuasive it might be.  God is then in the everyday details.  However, the lack of linear and atmospheric perspectives of these images is iconic or at the very least somewhat symbolic of a very Northern idea, that "God is in the details" in another way as well. 
For the Limbourg brothers, the idea that images should be didactic first is a prime concern.  Even though the images are very real looking and therefore we can relate to them because the realism is so pursuasive and the clothing so accurate it was more imortant that the ideas were clear.  Sometimes realism was sacrificed for clarity.
These pages are out of what's called a "Book of Hours."  According to the Brittanica, a "Book of Hours" was,
devotional book widely popular in the later Middle Ages. The book of hours began to appear in the 13th century, containing prayers to be said at the canonical hours in honour of the Virgin Mary. The growing demand for smaller such books for family and individual use created a prayerbook style enormously popular among the wealthy. The demand for the books was crucial to the development of Gothic illumination. These lavishly decorated texts, of small dimensions, varied in content according to their patrons' desires.One of the most splendid examples, the Trés Riches Heures of the Duc de Berry, was created in northern France and the Low Countries during the 14th and 15th centuries. Now held in Chantilly at the Musée Condé, it is an excellent pictorial record of the duke's spectacular residences, with magnificent calendar pages illuminated by the Pol de Limbourg and his brothers (c. 1414-18), as well as many biblical scenes and illustrations of the lives of the saints. 
Most likely, the use of the book of hours and specifically this one is based on this Bible passage from Ecclesiastes.  The passage and the pages might share the following.  In almost all of the images from this manuscript there are images of work in the foreground of the image.  In the background are images of castles and churches.  It might be possible to conclude, at the risk of reading too much into things, that the kingdom of heaven awaits after all the hard work of living a righteous life is done. Ecclesiastes Chapter 3
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. 
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. 
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. 
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. 
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. 
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. 
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. 
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 
What advantage has the worker from his toil? 
10 
I have considered the task which God has appointed for men to be busied about. 
11 
He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without men's ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. 
12 
I recognized that there is nothing better than to be glad and to do well during life. 
13 
For every man, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruit of all his labor is a gift of God. 
14 
I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Thus has God done that he may be revered. 
15 
1 What now is has already been; what is to be, already is; and God restores what would otherwise be displaced. 
16 
And still under the sun in the judgment place I saw wickedness, and in the seat of justice, iniquity. 
17 
And I said to myself, both the just and the wicked God will judge, since there is a time for every affair and on every work a judgment. 
18 
I said to myself: As for the children of men, it is God's way of testing them and of showing that they are in themselves like beasts. 
19 
For the lot of man and of beast is one lot; the one dies as well as the other. Both have the same life-breath, and man has no advantage over the beast; but all is vanity. 
20 
Both go to the same place; both were made from the dust, and to the dust they both return. 
21 
Who knows if the life-breath of the children of men goes upward and the life-breath of beasts goes earthward? 
22 
And I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to rejoice in his work; for this is his lot. Who will let him see what is to come after him?
If you count your time on earth and keep track of the days and seasons, well then there is still a possibilty of making it into heaven.  The book of hours and its tracking of the heavenly bodies and the seasons also refers to Aquinas ideas having to do with the harmony of the universe.
Context:
Limburg also spelled LIMBOURG (all b. after 1385, Nijmegen, Brabant [now in The Netherlands]--d. by 1416), three Flemish brothers who were the most famous of all late Gothic illuminators. They synthesized the achievements of contemporary illuminators into a style characterized by subtlety of line, painstaking technique, and minute rendering of detail. The sons of a sculptor, Arnold van Limburg, they were also the nephews of Jean Malouel, court painter to the Duke of Burgundy, and are sometimes known by the name "Malouel." The brothers worked together, and although the most celebrated appears to have been the eldest brother, Pol, it is difficult to distinguish their individual styles.About 1400 the brothers were apprenticed to a goldsmith in Paris, and between 1402 and 1404 Pol and Jehanequin were working for the Duke of Burgundy in Paris, possibly on the illustration of a Bible moralisée now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Some time after Burgundy's death in 1404, they entered the service of his brother, the Duke de Berry, and it was for him that their most lavishly illustrated books of hours (the popular form of private prayer book of the period) were produced. The Belles Heures (or Les Heures d'Ailly; now in The Cloisters, New York) show the influence of the Italianate elements of the contemporary French artist Jacquemart de Hesdin's illuminations. The Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (Musée Condé, Chantilly, Fr.), considered their greatest work, is one of the landmarks of the art of book illumination and ranks among the supreme examples of the International Gothic style. It is essentially a court style, elegant and sophisticated, combining naturalism of detail with overall decorative effect. An awareness of the most progressive international currents of the time, particularly those deriving from Italy, suggests that at least one of the brothers visited there. The Très Riches Heures was left unfinished in 1416 but was completed about 1485 by Jean Colombe.
The Limburg brothers were among the first to render specific landscape scenes with accuracy. Their art did much to determine the course that Early Netherlandish art was to take during the 15th century.
"LIMBOURG."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 26, 2002.


Robert Campin (the Master of Flemalle) Merode Altarpiece c. 1425
Form:  This image shares much in common with the Arnolfini portrait.  The first thing one is struck with when looking at this painting is how "real" it looks.  This too was probably painted first in tempera paint and then glazed in succesive layers with oil paint.According to the Brittanica,

Oil paints are made by mixing dry pigment powder with refined linseed oil to a paste, which is then milled in order to disperse the pigment particles throughout the oil vehicle. According to the 1st-century Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, whose writings the Flemish painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck are thought to have studied, the Romans used oil colours for shield painting. The earliest use of oil as a fine-art medium is generally attributed to 15th-century European painters, such as Giovanni Bellini and the van Eycks, who glazed oil colour over a glue-tempera underpainting. It is also thought probable, however, that medieval manuscript illuminators had been using oil glazes in order to achieve greater depth of colour and more subtle tonal transitions than their tempera medium allowed. "Oil."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 19, 2002. 
Part of the images reality is also based on the fact that the image appears to have some sort of depth, however, if one was to really diagram the image and trace all the orthagonals in the image you will discover that rather than having a single vanishing point or horizon line, this image has a zone where the lines kind of converge.  Campin chooses to do away with the perspective system but I'm not sure if it's on purpose or because he hasn't chosen to master it and Stokstad avoids the issue by saying that Campin is perpetuating the international Gothic style. 
Iconography: This painting is overtly a  genre scene.  The idea behind making this scene look like a scene from everyday life is meant to make the viewer identify with the message of the image.  If a person who sees this image identifies with Mary and sees that Mary lives in a home similar to their own they may feel like it is possible to be like her.  Therefore, all the objects and trappings of the home could also have similar meanings and therefore, "God is in the details" in another way as well.  For this reason, the iconography is important and often has a dual or submerged meaning sometimes referred to as submerged symbolism.
If this image looks familiar to you it's probably because it is very similar in for to some earlier paintings of Annunciations we have looked at.
The Merode Altarpiece was created by Robert Campin, a Flemish artist (previously known as "the Master of Flemale"). The picture is a triptych, composed in three hinged panels (the outer wings can be closed over the middle panel, and probably has another painting on the closed wings). A particularly northern aspect of this painting are the many details, which are rich with symbolic meaning. The central panel focuses on Mary, who is absorbed in her reading. The angel Gabriel comes to her, announcing that she will be the mother of the Christ child. Symbols of her purity include the vase of white lillies, the open biblical text, (Mencher's note: the open biblical text is probably a book or hours like the Limbourg brothers)  and the white linen. Close inspection also reveals an image of Christ on the Cross, floating from the direction of the circular windows, and the extinguished candle probably also relates to his death. The tilted perspective of the room allows all of the contents to be seen more easily than if he had used linear perspective (which has, by now, spread to the north, but not always used). Note also the gothic details evident in the architecture. To the left, a couple kneels at Mary's doorway to witness the scene (these are the donors who paid for the painting), and the right panel reveals Joseph working in his workshop. He is building mouse-traps, which is symbolic of Jesus' "trapping" of evil.
http://www.urtonart.com/history/Renaissance/northrenaiss.htm
The iconography of flowers plays particularly strong into this image because in the left hand panel we have an image of who is most likely the patrons of the image who are kneeling just outside of the door.  This patron could be in the guise of a Saint, perhaps Peter, because of the key, or John the Evangelist.  The flowers he is almost kneeling on are violets.  Violets, although royal in color, grow close to the earth and are often walked on.  In this way, these flowers represent Mary, who is both royal an humble.  The rose bush behind them also may represent Mary because images, such as the rose windows of Gothic cathedrals, represent Mary and her passion. 
  

Context: You've probably noticed that the caption above gives two names: Robert Campin and the Master of Flemalle.  This is because there originally was a series of paintings attributed on the basis of style to a single painter but historians didn't know his name but they knew he was from Flemalle.  Later on researchers discovered,
Documents show that Campin was established as a master painter in Tournai in 1406. Two pupils are mentioned as entering his studio in 1427--Rogelet de la Pasture (generally identified with the great Rogier van der Weyden) and Jacques Daret. The only documented work by Jacques Daret, an altarpiece executed for the Abbey of St. Vaast near Arras, shows close stylistic analogies with works by Rogier van der Weyden on one hand and works earlier in style by the Master of Flémalle on the other. Both seem to proceed from common models, for they obviously are not copies of one another. As the Tournai records give the name of Campin as master of both Daret and Rogier, it has been generally assumed that the Master of Flémalle may be reasonably identified with Campin. Some scholars, however, have stylistically considered the works ascribed to the Master of Flémalle as early works by Rogier himself."Campin, Robert."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 19, 2002.
And so the debate goes on.
Context and Iconography: Art historians have often described this image as one that is full of "submerged symbolism."  This means that the symbolism of the image is not exactly clear and many historians invent complex theories in which to interpret the introuction of such elements as mouse traps.  One historian has proposed that the mouse traps represent that Jesus is the rat catcher of heaven.
Some of the debate about the iconography of this image stems form the development of new subject matter in art because of the rise of a new class of people.  The new merchant classes were now beginning to commission artists to paint their portraits.  In the process of including every day people in these images an element called genre began to show up in art.  Genrein French means a kind, but art historians have assigned a different meaning to the word.  A genre element is one in which an everyday person or objects appear in the painting.  Unfortunately for art historians, the introduction of genre elements  introduces some confusion into the interpretation of some of these images.  In general though, the introduction ofgenre is symbolic of the rising of a new class of people who are patrons of the arts in Europe.




Petrus Christus. Saint Eloy (Eligius) in his Shop.1449
Oil on oak panel, 38"x33" (98 x 85 cm) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Flemish, Renaissance
Form:  The use of oil paint to create an incredible level of realism is quite evident in this image.  Here, the artist shows off again by showing how well he is able to paint the textures and surfaces of all of these loveley items.Iconography:  We see all the images of wealth and power.  Petrus Christus has probably even included a "cameo" shot of the patrons of the image next to the Saint.  Everyday life is transposed on the story of Saint Eloy who payed a ransom for his fellow brothers out of his own pocket.  The elevation of a goldsmith, or moneylender, who is roughly the equivalent of our bankers is certainly a way of giving one's profession a positive spin.  Manuel Santos Redondo discusses this in the passage below. 
St. Eloy (Eligius) in His Shop, 1449, by Petrus Christus,[xxix] is the clear representation of a goldsmith working in his shop and attending two clients: a rich, well-born bridal couple. It seems to be a representation of the goldsmith's trade, with the excuse of the portrait of a saint (hardly a subtle ploy, since St. Eloy is the patron of goldsmith's guild). The goldsmith sits behind a window sill extended to form a table, a pair of jeweler's scales in one hand, a ring in the other. Only his halo suggests that the painting deals with legend. On the right is a display of examples of the goldsmith's craft. The picture may very well have been painted for a goldsmith's guild (the one in Antwerp)
St. Eligius is the Patron of metalworkers. As a maker of reliquaries he has become one of the most popular saints of the Christian West. Eligius (also known as Eloy) was born around 590 near Limoges in France. He became an extremely skillful metalsmith and was appointed master of the mint under King Clothar of the Franks. Eligius developed a close friendship with the King and his reputation as an outstanding metalsmith became widespread.  It is important to notice that most prominent features in the life of St. Eligius can be seen both as indications of sanctity and the best professional characteristics of a good goldsmith. In the goldsmith's trade, skills were as important as reliability, as Adam Smith notices in Wealth of Nations: “The wages of goldsmiths and jewelers are every-where superior to those of many other workmen, not only of equal, but of much superior ingenuity; on account of the precious materials with they are intrusted”.[xxx]   Eligius is praised for both qualities. From his biography, we can see how important this reliability of his goldsmith was, for the king to become Eligius' protector: "The king gave Eligius a great weight of gold.  Eligius began the work immediately and from that which he had taken for a single piece of work, he was able to make two. Incredibly, he could do it all from the same weight for he had accomplished the work commissioned from him without any fraud or mixture of siliquae, or any other fraudulence. Not claiming fragments bitten off by the file or using the devouring flame of the furnace for an excuse."[xxxi] The portrait Saint Eligius by Petrus Christus is a fine example of the “occupational portrait”, describing a goldsmith's shop, the only religious connection being the halo and the fact than the saint is the patron of the guild.The moneychanger and his wife: from scholastics to accounting,
by Manuel Santos Redondo
Context:  About the artist: Petrus Christus 1420-1472/73, Bruges
Born in Baerle, a village in Brabant, in the early 1400s, PetrusChristus came to the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Bruges in 1444, when he purchased citizenship. His earliest extant works date from around 1445. They are deeply influenced by the supersharp delineations of Jan van Eyck. It used to be thought that Christus studied with Jan, but it is now known that he arrived in Bruges too late to have had any direct encounters with the master. Nevertheless, the many copies he made of Jan's work (several of which are included in this exhibition) suggest that he had access to Jan's workshop after his death.Exhibition notes. by Roger Kimball New Criterion, May94, Vol. 12 Issue 9, p55, 2p  HTML Full Text


MASSYS, Quentin. also called Metsys 
The Moneylender and his Wife, 1514
Oil on panel, 71 x 68 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris
by Manuel Santos Redondo says this about 

Quentin Massys'[i]The Moneychanger and his Wife, dated 1514.  On the table are placed coins, a set of scales, and various other tools of their trade. ("various other tokens of their wealth", says the art historian Jean-Claude Frère, 1997, p. 186. This is our first difference in interpretation). The man is weighing gold coins with great care. At that time, coins with the same face value varied in the amount of gold they contained (and therefore in their real exchange value), because it was a normal practice to file them down, clip them, or to shake them together in a bag in order to collect the gold dust they produced. So, the moneychanger is simply going about his business, not counting his money as a miser would do. And, if you look at his face, it is not the face of a miser, but the face of a concentrating working man, carefully carrying out his job. His wife is looking at the coins and scales too; but she has a book in her hands. The book is a religious one, an illustrated "book of hours". Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, the historian of economic thought who first brought economists attention to the Spanish Scholastics of the "School of Salamanca", considers Massys painting an illustration of the intention of the Scholastics to make compatible the commercial practices of their time with the Church's doctrine on usury. According to her interpretation, Massys painting portrays the money lender at work and, at the same time, discussing with his wife the fairness of a particular commercial deal, helped by consulting the religious book his wife is reading.[ii]
Many other interpretations of Massys’s work consider this picture as to be a moralizing one, in a much stronger sense than that of Grice-Hutchinson's view. The Encarta Encyclopedia says: "In The Moneychanger and his Wife, the subtly hinted conflict between avarice and prayer represented in the couple illustrates a new satirical quality in his paintings."[iii] (It is curious that the "Web Gallery of Art", together with the Encarta article, provides this contradictory explanation:"The painting remains in the Flemish tradition of van Eyck, with the addition of a profane sense of beauty, sign of a new world").[iv) Another scholar says this about Massys: "Painters also began to treat new subjects. Men like Quentin Massys, for example, played an active role in the intellectual life of their cities and began to mirror the ethical concerns expressed by humanist thinkers with new paintings that used secular scenes to impart moralizing messages. Vivid tableaux warned against gambling, lust, and other vices."[v]
At the bottom of the painting there is a circular mirror; we can see the tiny figure of a man wearing a turban.  For some reason, the following is the explanation of the art historian Jean-Claude Frère: "a side window, under which we can just make out the tiny figure of a thief. He would seem to be spying on the couple as they count their gold, while they would seem to be oblivious to his presence, blinded by their greed".[vi] Let us leave aside the greed and concentrate on the tiny man. Is he a thief? I don't know. But I'm sure he is not "spying on the couple as they count their gold": I am not an art historian, but it seems clear to me that the man is inside the room, he is reading a book and looking out of the window to the street. In think that this is not a casual mistake: it is consistent with art historians’ interpretation.Symbolism, a source of moralistic interpretation My view is that art historians explanation of The Moneychanger and his Wife as a satirical work containing symbolic allusions hidden from contemporary observers, is merely a reflection of their own prejudices concerning certain economic activities. Let us consider the serious arguments supporting the symbolic explanations of paintings of the Flemish Renaissance, in order to be able to judge when a painting has this meaning and when has not. The famous art historian Erwin Panofsky held that the Early Flemish painters had to reconcile the "new naturalism" with a thousand years of Christian tradition. Based on St. Tomas Aquinas, who thought that physical objects were "corporeal metaphors for spiritual things", Panofsky (Early Netherlandish Painting, 1953) maintains that "in early Flemish painting the method of disguised symbolism was applied to each and every object, man made or natural".
The moneychanger and his wife: from scholastics to accounting,
by Manuel Santos Redondo


genre n [F, fr. MF, kind, gender--more at gender] (1770) 1: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content 2: kind, sort 3: painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life usu. realistically
     




Mantegna's Use of Perspective in Italy


Andrea Mantegna,  The Dead Christ, c1490-1501, 
tempera on canvas 20"x31" 
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy
Italian Renaissance
Form,  From the left hand side of the image are the two profile views of Mary and St. John who lean over the body of Jesus who is rendered in an idealized and muscular fashion The shroud which partially covers the lower part of the body accentuates the form of the anatomy beneath the drapery.
The most striking aspect of this image is the fact that the portrayal of Christ from a radical point of view.  This view is called foreshortening which you have already encountered in Giotto's Lamentation.   According to the Brittanica, foreshortening is a, 
method of rendering a specific object or figure in a picture in depth. The artist records, in varying degrees, the distortion that is seen by the eye when an object or figure is viewed at a distance or at an unusual angle.In a photograph of a recumbent figure, for instance, those parts of it, such as the feet, that are nearest the lens will seem unnaturally large, those at a distance, such as the head, unnaturally small. The artist may either record this effect exactly, producing a startling illusion of reality that seems to violate the picture plane (surface of the picture), or modify it, slightly reducing the relative size of the nearer part of the object, so as to make a less aggressive assault on the viewer's eye and to relate the foreshortened object more harmoniously to the rest of the picture. Insofar as foreshortening is basically concerned with the persuasive projection of a form in an illusionistic way, it is a type of perspective, but the term foreshortening is almost invariably used in relation to a single object, or part of an object, rather than to a scene or group of objects.

Iconography:  The muscular and idealized quality of the figure probably relates back to the new humanistic and neoplatonic concepts now being used by the REnaissance artists.  Here Mantegna is getting you to identify with the more human qualities of the earthly or corporal body of Christ. 
In fact, the draper reveals how fully human he is.  To paraphrase the ideas from The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, by Leo Steinberg, images of Jesus which accentuate how earthly nature, notice how the genitals are somewhat highlighted by the drapery, are an attempt to show the dual nature of Jesus.  Jesus was both of the flesh and spirit and the depiction of his ability to function fully as a carnal being is an attempt to demonstrate that Jesus made a choice to follow a more fully Platonic or ideal path.
Even though the figure is foreshortened, there is a bit of a problem in how the foreshortening is portrayed.  If you compare the foreshortening in Mantegna's work to the drawing below, you may notice that the feet are a bit too small in Mantegna's work and this appears to be done on purpose.    Why do you think this is so?  What purpose do you think it might serve? 
According to this site (I'm not sure how accurate it is but it sure is a great idea), http://www.sindone.org/en/icono/mantegna.htm
The body of Christ is partially covered by the shroud, it lays on a reddish stone with light white veins. (the anointing rock). . .Although this rock is never mentioned in the gospels, it appears in  Costantinopolis as a passion relic in about 1170. The description which coincides with the painting of Mantegna was transmitted in reports made by pilgrims.  It was believed it came from Ephesus (Mary of Magdala took it there from Jerusalem) and the white veins were produced by the tears of Our Lady weeping next to the body of her dead son.
The boldness of the view makes the scene more dramatic; the vision from the top to the bottom and from the depth gives prominence to the nail open wounds which are no longer bleeding. The flesh beneath the torn skin is depicted by the precision of an anatomist.  On the left there are some characters: Mary is weeping, John is praying and Mary of Magdala perhaps is sorrowful. On the right there is a small flask of ointment and an opening towards a dark room: both signs of the imminent burial.

Mantegna, Camera Picta (Camera degli Sposi) Ducal Palace, Mantua, Italy. 1474
"Arrival of Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga," fresco 
by Andrea Mantegna, completed 1474
Stokstad gives a very good description and discussion of the form, iconography and context surrounding this room.  So I won't attempt to repeat those ideas here.  This section will consist of a guided viewing of some of the more important or interesting details surrounding this room.Robert Hughes comments,
Taking classical sculpture as his model, Mantegna populated the new world of the Renaissance Andrea Mantegna has never been easy to approach, alive or dead. A The "rock-born giant," as Bernard Berenson called him, with his dedication to archaeology and his obsession with empirical vision, was one of the quintessential artists of the early Italian Renaissance. He was innovative, flinty and tough-minded, without an iota of sentiment. 
This son of a Paduan carpenter, who rose to become the cynosure of every humanist eye in northern Italy, once sent a gang of thugs to bash up a printer who fell foul of him, and then had the poor man denounced for sodomy--a crime that, in 15th century Venice, carried the death penalty. Mantegna could also be sardonic and disrespectful to tardy patrons, up to and including the Pope himself. When Innocent VIII hired him to decorate the chapel of the Villa Belvedere in the Vatican, he was puzzled to see, tacked onto allegorical roundels of the Seven Virtues, an eighth that held the sketched-in figure of an old woman. What did she signify? asked the Pontiff. "Ingratitude," snapped Mantegna, who had not yet been paid. 
You must go to his work; most of it cannot come to you--not the murals and not many of the paintings either, most of which are now considered too frail to travel. Neither the St. Luke Altarpiece nor The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, that unsurpassably bitter and poignant image of the corpse on the stone slab, can leave the Brera in Milan, and the Louvre will never lend the Madonna della Vittoria to another museum. 
A Genius Obsessed by Stone. by Robert Hughes. Time, 2/24/92, Vol. 139 Issue 8, p70, 2p, 3c HTML Full Text
According to the Brittanica,
Perhaps of even greater significance were his achievements in the field of fresco painting. Mantegna's invention of total spatial illusionism by the manipulation of perspective and foreshortening began a tradition of ceiling decoration that was followed for three centuries. Mantegna's portraits of the Gonzaga family in their palace at Mantua (1474) glorified living subjects by conferring upon them the over life-size stature, sculptural volume, and studied gravity of movement and gesture normally reserved for saints and heroes of myth and history.
This image really does demonstrate many of the concepts from the above passages.  Mantegna is showing off for us all of his "special effects." 
We see his use of atmospheric and linear perspectives in the background as well as a bit of humanistic perspective in the gestures.  His foreshortening of the horse and dogs' bodies is almost "show offy."The landscape behind the figures is almost an attempt to show off the perspective of the land holding Gonzaga family, but, the landscape he portrays is actually a mountainous and craggy invented landscape.  The landscape around Padua was flat and fairly featureless.
The putti (cherubs) surrounding the main doorway elevating the familial inscription, are references to the classical past and could almost be a reference to their lineage in much the same way was accomplished in the portrait of Augustus.  In fact the Roman tradition of verism is clearly expressed throughout the room and the architectural details refer back to the ornamentation on the ara pacis. 
The images and medallions on the ceiling are also probably designed with a similar intention to theportrait of Augustus.  Here is a kind of made up reference to the ancestors of the Gonzaga family, which, they would have us believe, can be traced all the way back to the Roman Republican period.  Again the Roman tradition of verism is clearly expressed throughout the room and the architectural details refer back to the ornamentation on the ara pacis, to support these ideas.


This image is located above the mantel of the fireplace far enough above eye level that the viewer must look up at it.  From this point of view one can almost look up the tunics of the men who stand above you.  Mantegna has also used a consistent use of chiaroscuro across the picture plane to unify it and make it believable.In this portrait image (see Stokstad for details) Mantegna shows both his strengths and weaknesses with the human form.  In some ways he gets an excellent likeness of each of the characters and their gestures and the foreshortening of the human form is well executed.  Nevertheless, there are some areas where he has some awkward patches.  The troll like child (click to enlarge) to the right of Barbara von Hohenzollern is one.  At times the anatomy of the figures seems a bit stiff.

According to the Brittanica, 
sotto in su (Italian: "from below to above"), in drawing and painting, extreme foreshortening of figures painted on a ceiling or other high surface so as to give the illusion that the figures are suspended in air above the viewer. It is an approach that was especially favored by Baroque and Rococo painters, particularly in Italy, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The peacock is probably a classical reference to Juno or Minerva, the putti are similar again to those found on the base of the image of Augustus.  The image of the African is probably a reference to the sophisticated international qualities of the family or perhaps even an attempt to make the image a bit exotic.



Donatello

Donatello. David. c1425-1430. Bronze,
height 5'2"
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Form:  This lifesize bronze sculpture stands in a contrapposto stance.  His musculature is that of a young boy, probably around the age of thirteen or so.  The hat he wears (described by Stokstad as jaunty) is anachronistic and possibly out of place even for a shepherd boy from Italy in the 15th century.  David stands atop the bearded and helmeted head of Goliath who he has just vanquished. Iconography and Context:  According to Janson, "this is the first life sized free standing sculpture since antiquity."  The figures size and pose are almost direct references to the classical tradition of casting idealized athletic figures in bronze with the lost wax process as evinced by theDoryphoros and Riace Bronzes (although they would not have been familiar with the bronzes since they were discovered in the 1970's).  In this way, Donatello would have combined the Bible story of David and Goliath with the classical and humanistic concept of kalos.  In effect, he was uniting both a theological and neoplatonic/humanistic point of view.
The iconography also points towards a political point of view.  The Italian city states were constantly at war with each other.  For example, Florence thought of themselves as the "David" to Rome's Goliath.  In this case, David is standing atop Goliath's head who sports a helmet.  According to Janson's Art History, the "elaborate helmet of Goliath with visor and wings, (is) a unique and implausible feature that can only refer to the dukes of Milan, who had threatened Florence."  For Janson, the hat David sports is then a reference to peace.
You may find Donatello's David a little bit ridiculous looking in his sun hat and almost effeminate stance and you are in good company.  Irving Stone's the chapter entitled "The Giant" from the book The Agony and the Ecstasy excerpted in Liaisons (page 164) Michelangelo explains why he thinks Donatello's version of David is ridiculous.
Stone quotes the Bible extensively in his passage.  Read the whole thing for yourself here and (I know it's a crazy idea), maybe you might even want to look it up in Liaisons!
1 Samuel
Chapter 17 (David and Goliath)
http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/1samuel/1samuel17.htm
1
The Philistines rallied their forces for battle at Socoh in Judah and camped between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes-dammim.
2
Saul and the Israelites also gathered and camped in the Vale of the Terebinth, drawing up their battle line to meet the Philistines.
3
The Philistines were stationed on one hill and the Israelites on an opposite hill, with a valley between them.
4
A champion named Goliath of Gath came out from the Philistine camp; he was six and a half feet tall.
5
He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a bronze corselet of scale armor weighing five thousand shekels,
6
1and bronze greaves, and had a bronze scimitar slung from a baldric.
7
2 The shaft of his javelin was like a weaver's heddle-bar, and its iron head weighed six hundred shekels. His shield-bearer went before him.
8
He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel: "Why come out in battle formation? I am a Philistine, and you are Saul's servants. Choose one of your men, and have him come down to me.
9
If he beats me in combat and kills me, we will be your vassals; but if I beat him and kill him, you shall be our vassals and serve us."
10
The Philistine continued: "I defy the ranks of Israel today. Give me a man and let us fight together."
11
Saul and all the men of Israel, when they heard this challenge of the Philistine, were dismayed and terror-stricken.
12
3 (David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. He had eight sons, and in the days of Saul was old and well on in years.
13
The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to war; these three sons who had gone off to war were named, the first-born Eliab, the second son Abinadab, and the third Shammah.
14
David was the youngest. While the three oldest had joined Saul,
15
David would go and come from Saul to tend his father's sheep at Bethlehem.
16
(Meanwhile the Philistine came forward and took his stand morning and evening for forty days.
17
(Now Jesse said to his son David: "Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves for your brothers, and bring them quickly to your brothers in the camp.
18
Also take these ten cheeses for the field officer. Greet your brothers and bring home some token from them.
19
Saul, and they, and all Israel are fighting against the Philistines in the Vale of the Terebinth."
20
Early the next morning, having left the flock with a shepherd, David set out on his errand, as Jesse had commanded him. He reached the barricade of the camp just as the army, on their way to the battleground, were shouting their battle cry.
21
The Israelites and the Philistines drew up opposite each other in battle array.
22
David entrusted what he had brought to the keeper of the baggage and hastened to the battle line, where he greeted his brothers.
23
While he was talking with them, the Philistine champion, by name Goliath of Gath, came up from the ranks of the Philistines and spoke as before, and David listened.
24
When the Israelites saw the man, they all retreated before him, very much afraid.
25
The Israelites had been saying: "Do you see this man coming up? He comes up to insult Israel. If anyone should kill him, the king would give him great wealth, and his daughter as well, and would grant exemption to his father's family in Israel."
26
David now said to the men standing by: "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and frees Israel of the disgrace? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine in any case, that he should insult the armies of the living God?"
27
They repeated the same words to him and said, "That is how the man who kills him will be rewarded."
28
When Eliab, his oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he grew angry with David and said: "Why did you come down? With whom have you left those sheep in the desert meanwhile? I know your arrogance and your evil intent. You came down to enjoy the battle!"
29
David replied, "What have I done now?--I was only talking."
30
Yet he turned from him to another and asked the same question; and everyone gave him the same answer as before.
31
The words that David had spoken were overheard and reported to Saul, who sent for him.)
32
Then David spoke to Saul: "Let your majesty not lose courage. I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine."
33
But Saul answered David, "You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him, for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth."
34
Then David told Saul: "Your servant used to tend his father's sheep, and whenever a lion or bear came to carry off a sheep from the flock,
35
I would go after it and attack it and rescue the prey from its mouth. If it attacked me, I would seize it by the jaw, strike it, and kill it.
36
Your servant has killed both a lion and a bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be as one of them, because he has insulted the armies of the living God."
37
David continued: "The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine." Saul answered David, "Go! the LORD will be with you."
38
Then Saul clothed David in his own tunic, putting a bronze helmet on his head and arming him with a coat of mail.
39
David also girded himself with Saul's sword over the tunic. He walked with difficulty, however, since he had never tried armor before. He said to Saul, "I cannot go in these, because I have never tried them before." So he took them off.
40
Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag. With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.
41
With his shield-bearer marching before him, the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.
42
When he had sized David up, and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance, he held him in contempt.
43
The Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?" Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods
44
and said to him, "Come here to me, and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field."
45
David answered him: "You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.
46
Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand; I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will leave your corpse and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field; thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.
47
All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves. For the battle is the LORD'S, and he shall deliver you into our hands."
48
The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters, while David ran quickly toward the battle line in the direction of the Philistine.
49
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell prostrate on the ground.
50
(Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone; he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.)
51
Then David ran and stood over him; with the Philistine's own sword (which he drew from its sheath) he dispatched him and cut off his head.When they saw that their hero was dead, the Philistines took to flight.
52
Then the men of Israel and Judah, with loud shouts, went in pursuit of the Philistines to the approaches of Gath and to the gates of Ekron, and Philistines fell wounded along the road from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.
53
On their return from the pursuit of the Philistines, the Israelites looted their camp.
54
4 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he kept Goliath's armor in his own tent.
55
(When Saul saw David go out to meet the Philistine, he asked his general Abner, "Abner, whose son is that youth?" Abner replied, "As truly as your majesty is alive, I have no idea."
56
And the king said, "Find out whose son the lad is."
57
So when David returned from slaying the Philistine, Abner took him and presented him to Saul. David was still holding the Philistine's head.
58
Saul then asked him, "Whose son are you, young man?" David replied, "I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem."




Donatello, The Feast of Herodabout 1425(60 cm sq)
Baptismal Font, Cathedral, Siena, Italy
 Points of view are very important in Donatello's work.  Stokstad gives a fantastic formal analysis of this work in her book but the most important formal point I think you should know is that linear perspective is introduced into relief sculpture.  Stokstad even describes the varying levels of relief as a way of creating depth, which is not unlike linear perspective.  A good example of this is in the Ara Pacis in Rome.  The Bible passage below should provide you with enough context to understand my contextual analysis which comes after.
Mark
Chapter 6
http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/mark/mark6.htm
17
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
18
John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
19
Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
20
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.
21
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
22
Herodias's own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."
23
He even swore (many things) to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom."
24
She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist."
25
The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist."
26
The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her.
27
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
28
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
29
When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
 
Context and Iconography:  Overall, the image uses linear perspective to unify the image but still uses some of the old traditional tools of the continuous narrative that we see in Nicola Pisano's Nativity and Masaccio's work.  In the background, through the arches, servants carry the head on a tray.
The next sets of perspective Donatello expresses is a Catholic and Neoplatonic one as well as one dominated by a male point of view of the world that some historians refer to as the "male gaze."
The passage above describes the immorality of King Herod.  Not only is he a king who rejects the teachings of Jesus, he also supports immoral and sexually indiscreet behaviors such as incest and improper marriage.  Ultimately, it is Herod's lust for his daughter that leads to his sin of beheading John.  This story presents women in a way which might be referred to as afemme fatale.  According to Webster's a  femme fatale a "disastrous woman." "A seductive woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations." and "a woman who attracts men by an aura of charm and mystery."
Similar tales, such as "Judith and Holofernes" and "Suzanna and the Elders" (both excerpted from the Old Testament in Liaisons pages 197-214)  depict men's lust for women as responsible for powerful men's demise.  The depiction of women in this way is interesting because it is a theme that becomes a popular one throughout the Renaissance and ties very neatly into the concept of Platonic love.  By the time the 20th century rolls around depictions of women with heads on  trays become so commonplace that the story of "Judith and Holofernes" and the "Dance of Salome" become indistinguishable.



Donatello, St. Mark 1411-13
Orsanmichele and is in the Arte dei Linauiulo e Rigattieriniche
Florence, Italy

Form: Points of view are very important in Donatello's work.  Notice how the image on the left has been photographed from a point of view in which the viewer is looking at the work from a point of view in which they are on the same level with the sculpture.  The image on the right is taken from below as the sculpture would have been seen in its original context.Notice how the image on the left feels imbalanced and the head is a little too large and placed oddly.  However, when you look at the image in the way that it was supposed to be viewed it looks correct.  This is because Renaissance artists like Donatello compensated for the viewer's point of view or perspective when creating works of art. 
In the essay below, Dennis Nolasco also explains how the sculpture expresses a civic perspective and the point of view of the merchants who commissioned it into account.




 Dennis Nolasco
 Art History 103B
 April 16, 2001
The Vigilance of St. Mark over the Florentine People
Quattrocento (15th century) Florence was in a peculiar situation during the first decade of the 1400s. Florence, at that time, was controlled by guilds and the citizens truly valued their prosperity and liberty. It also had the most powerful of the free merchant guilds and controlled quite a bit of trade. As a result, Florence was constantly under siege by its neighbors and some of the attacks were seemingly halted by divine intervention. These dire circumstances led to the creation of artworks such as Donatello's St. Mark. A truly revolutionary statue, this piece single-handedly changed the state of the arts in Italy from Gothic to “fully Renaissance.” (Hartt 100) By analyzing St. Mark further through its form, iconography, and context, one can empathize with Donatello and his fellow Florentines. The St. Mark signifies true Renaissance art and reflects the humanism, spirit and ideals of the Florentine people of the time.
 Donatello's St. Mark is an impressive seven feet nine inches and is carved of marble. It was begun around 1411 and finished in 1413. According to Hartt, the statue is located in the Florentine church Orsanmichele and is in the Arte dei Linauiulo e Rigattieri niche. The figure stands in a contrapposto pose and is robed in wet drapery. He holds a book (probably a Bible) in his left, is barefooted and seems to be standing on a cushion. The statue is in an apse, which is heavily decorated and also made of marble. The apse is in the shape of a Gothic arch and is decorated appropriately. A griffin sits below the statue and in front of a flower motif. The same motif is patterned behind the statue. There are faux columns on top of pedestals to either side of St. Mark, which do not seem to represent any Greek order. The columns actually have three parts, the topmost having a small Gothic arch crowned with small figures. A bust of a man resides within the arch. He has a halo behind his head, has his right hand held forward and holds a book in his left hand. Below and to either side of the center bust are side profiles of two men, which are surrounded by the same motif that decorates the rest of the piece. 
Despite all the decorations, St. Mark still stands at the center of attention. To begin with, he has a stern and imposing stare about him. The statue seems to be concentrating on something beyond the viewer's peripheral view. This symbolizes St. Mark's constant vigil of Florence and the land beyond; always wary of what moves Florence's neighbors might be up to. The figure also has a full mustache and beard. An iconographic analysis reveals that beards have been a symbol of wisdom and knowledge since the time of ancient Greece. St. Mark also holds a book and wears a robe. The symbol of the book can be read in a couple different ways. The most obvious interpretation would be a Bible, because St. Mark was the author to one of the Gospels. This implies the saints closeness with heaven and God. Another interpretation could be that of a record book. According to Encarta Online, Mark was the “patron saint of notaries” and also served as a translator for St. Peter. This could be a symbol of learning and record keeping. Most Renaissance artwork of saints usually has them outfitted in robes. It is probably due to the fact that priests and monks dress in a similar fashion--which again represents the figure's affinity to the spiritual world. St. Mark also stands in the classic contrapposto pose. This is a pose in which the body takes on a natural s-curve. The pose was adopted from ancient Greek and Roman statues and exemplifies the neo-platonism and humanism of the Florentine people. Neo-platonism is the rebirth of the higher ideals of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Similarly, humanism is “A new realism based on the study of humanity and nature, an idealism found in the study of Classical forms.” (Tansey 683) The columns can also be thought of in this way, because it is only used for decorative purposes and just serves to remind the Quattrocento Florentines of their mastery over classical forms. Finally, the Gothic arch with the figures serves a purpose similar to the main statue of St. Mark. The major iconographic differences would be the raised hand, halo, and arch; these respectively may suggest peace, enlightenment, and a connection to heaven.
With all that the Quattrocento Florentines had to endure at the time, one may wonder why they chose to create icons of peace and not use their resources to help protect their city-state from harm. Quattrocento Florentines were no Spartans of old; whenever they tried to do battle with their enemies, they would fail miserably in combat. (Hartt 105) Their pride was in their powerful artisan guilds, resilience, and . . . divine intervention. Florence had been desired by a host of conquerors and was several times on the edge of defeat, if not but for miracles of some sort. Natural disaster and disease would often befall upon Florence's enemy before they could seize her gates. The Florentines did not take this lightly and thought that God had intervened on their behalf because of what their city represented--freedom. (Hartt 104) With this mindset, artists began to create truly natural, expressive and humanistic art, and Donatello was at the forefront of this movement. Donatello wanted to create a piece that captured Florence's spirit and resilience. He did this perfectly. The iconographic analysis revealed that the saint seemed to be a vigil of some sort. A contextual analysis further reinforces this. St. Mark seems ready to leap into action and protect the people of Florence from the dangers that lurked abroad. Unsurprisingly, the St. Mark was actually commissioned by the guild of linen drapers. (Tansey 683) As one can see, it is a perfect piece for the reintroduction of wet-drapery (clothing that seemed to follow the natural curves of the body). Moreover, the most likely meaning of the flower motifs would probably have to do with the guild of linen drapers. The linen drapers were, in all likelihood, just as thankful for the supposed divine intervention as the other Florentines, and they thanked God by commissioning the statue.
 Gothic statues similar to St. Mark were actually commissioned before the birth of the Renaissance in the 1300s; nevertheless, a few enlightened individuals were already reveling in the classical ideas of neo-platonism that had originated during this time. In any event, Gothic art still survived and influenced many artists. It wasn't until the time of Donatello and his radical St. Mark when true Renaissance art was fully realized in Quattrocento Florence. In part, due to amazing miracles that happened, the Florentine people suddenly embraced their humanity and tried to give expression to this overwhelming sensation. Donatello realized this and became a major player in actualizing this newfound feeling through his St. Mark, and inspired many of his contemporaries (and later artists) to further push in the direction of humanism in art. An embodiment of true neo-platonic ideals--perseverance, spirituality, and freedom--the creation of the St. Mark truly gave birth to the Renaissance for those that lived in Quattrocento Florence.
Works Cited
Hartt, Frederick, and Carole Gold Calo, ed. “Art and Freedom in Quattrocento Florence.”
Viewpoints: Readings in Art History. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2001
“Mark, Saint,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001
 16 Aug. 2001
Tansey, Richard G., and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. 10th ed. Fort 
Worth: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1996.





Ghiberti's Perspective in Sculpture 

Context:
Few buildings in Florence have as much significance to the life of the city as the Baptistry. Opposite the west facade of the Duomo, the Baptistry is at the religious center of Florence. The building was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. It is in this building up until recent years that every Florentine citizen received the sacrament of Baptism. This building is thus critical in the religious and social identity of the city.The current building was probably built between 1059 and 1150 , and it is an excellent example of Tuscan Romanesque architecture. In the thirteenth century, it was believed that the building was built as early as the mid-sixth century and had been designed as a copy of Lateran Baptistry in Rome, the most important baptistry in Christendom. Another legend, developed during the thirteenth and fourteenth century, traced the foundation of the Baptistry back to a Roman temple of Mars that was subsequently rededicated to St. John the Baptist. The Baptistry was thus the principal monument in Florence associated with the ancient Roman foundation of the city.
The Arte del Calimala, the wool merchants' guild, from as early as 1157 but at least by 1182 was given responsibility for the maintenance and embellishment of the building. The Calimala was the wealthiest and most influential of the major guilds. Established in the twelfth century, the guild was composed of dealers and refiners of foreign cloth and the wool importers as well as importers of silk, brocade, jewels, and other precious materials from the Levant. Until the late twelfth century, the Calimala also represented to the bankers, but they withdrew to form their own guild, the Arte del Cambio. The retail dealers were joined in 1247 by importers of goods from Levant to form the Arte della Seta. Despite these split-offs, the Calimala was still the most prestigious guild in Florence. During the thirteenth century, the Calimala had commissioned Coppo di Marcolvaldo to decorate the octagonal dome of the building:
Dr Farber Oneonta College
http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/Arth213/baptistry_competition.html



Ghiberti, Lorenzo.
Competition Panel, Abraham, 1401
Lorenzo, Ghiberti "The Gates of Paradise" Florence, Baptistry
Eastern Door, 1425-52 in situNotice that the viewers have to look up to see some of the panels.  In the section below is a discussion of how Ghiberti distorts the image to compensate for the viewer's point of view just like in Donatello's St. Mark.
Stokstad states that Ghiberti was the winner, but, I read in a tour book that both Brunelleschi and Ghiberti won the commission and were expected to share it.  The tour book explained that Brunelleschi was a sore loser and gave up the commission so that he wouldn't have to work with Ghiberti.

BRUNELLESCHI, Filippo.
Competition Panel, Abraham, 1401

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Arte del Calimala initiated another major project: the creation of three magnificent, bronze entrance doors for building. In 1330, Andrea Pisano (c. 1290-1348) was commissioned to do the first set of doors on the south side. Pisano completed the project in 1336:An economic crash between 1339 to 1346, political upheaval, and the outbreak of the Black Death in 1348 led to the suspension of plans to complete the two remaining doors. During the winter of 1400 - 1401, the consuls of the Calimala decided to open a competition for another set of doors. These were originally intended for the East door. These doors, facing the west entrance of the Duomo, were the most important doors. Just as the competition was initiated Milanese troops under the leadership of Gian Galeazzo Visconti were threatening Florence. Some see the motivation of the Calimala to revive the door project as an attempt to bolster civic unity and pride by embellishing one of the city's most important monuments. Another factor frequently cited for initiating the competition was Calimala's rivalry with the Arte della Lana, the Woolworkers Guild, which was given authority over the fabric of the Duomo. The Arte della Lana was at that moment engaged in the project of decorating the west facade of the Duomo, directly opposite the east entrance of the Baptistry.
This combination of factors -- the history of the building, the Arte del Calimala's patronage, the fame of Andrea Pisano's doors-- made this an extremely desirable commission. As stated by Richard Krautheimer (Lorenzo Ghiberti, p. 34): "The most important group of patrons in Florence called for a trial piece for the new bronze door which would eventually decorate the most illustrious building in the city and which would, besides, have the privilege of standing alongside the only important bronze sculpture theretofore produced in Florence."
The competitors were expected to submit panels representing the Old Testament story of the Abraham's Sacrifice of Isaac. It depicts the moment when Abraham, ordered by God to sacrifice his only son, is about to plunge the knife into Isaac's neck, but his hand is stayed at the last moment by an angel. This story of divine deliverance would undoubtedly have resonated with Florentines, whose city had been delivered by the sudden death Gian Galeazzo Visconti in September of 1402.
Ghiberti in his account of the competition records the name of seven competitors, all from Tuscany: Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia, Simone da Colle, Niccolò d'Arezzo, Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti, and Francesco di Valdambrino. Two of the competition panels have been preserved: one by Lorenzo Ghiberti and the other by Filippo Brunelleschi.
Dr Farber Oneonta College
http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/Arth213/baptistry_competition.html



EveAdam
Ezekiel?Genesis
Adam, Eve, 
Expulsion
Jeremiah?Unidentified
Sibyl
Cain and AbelJoab?Expulsion
Sin
Elias?NoahJonahHannah?AbrahamSamsonRenewed
pact
Covenant
Unidentified
Prophet
Isaac
Rebecca Praying
Essau and his Dogs
Blessing
Rachel?Unidentified
Prophet(self-
portrait)
Joseph
Distribution of Grain
Revealing Himself
Unidentified
Prophet
Covenant
MiriamMoses
Moses and Laws
AaronJoshuaJoshua
Jericho
GideonLeaders
Deliverance
JudithDavidNathanDanielSolomonBileamLeaders
Kings
NoahPuarphara
The Arrangement of the Narrative
A semiotic or structuralist analysisThe diagram below explains that Ghiberti actually had "program" or design for the creation and flow of the overall narrative associated with the doors very similar in nature to the way in which Giotto arranged the Arena Chapel.
The arrangement of the panels actually adds to the overall door's  meaning.   In order to better understand this 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.   In this case the overall meaning of the Doors relate to their function as portals into the Church and therefore into heaven.  The order and theme of the doors narrative relates to the Catholic conception of a spiritual journey to heaven.
For example, the top set of images represents scenes from the Old Testament.  The main themes are expulsion and sin.  This refers to our "original sin" and how we lost heaven. 
Next we are saved through a renewed compact or covenant with God.  The central panels define and explain the covenant.
This top set of scenes acts as a kind of thematic framework in which to view spiritual life and our journey.  They are almost parallel to the early Christian conception of the typological exegesis  from the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus c359 CE.
Beneath these stories and surrounding them are depictions of prophets who guide us and the Kings from the Old Testament who have established the foundation that all this is built on.  This  foundation is very similar in content and structure to the caryatids from the Acropolisand the seven virtues and vices from the Arena Chapel
An interesting little detail is that Ghiberti gives himself a little cameo appearance on the doors almost like the donors form the outer framework of Masaccio's Trinity with Donors.

Lorenzo Ghiberti The Gates of Paradise 1425-52
Jacob and Esau, Florence Cathedral
 
Form: Points of view are very important in Ghiberti's work in the same way that they are in Donatello's.  In fact, Stokstad places Donatello's The Feast of Herod  right next to Ghiberti's Jacob and Essau.   Stokstad gives a fantastic formal analysis of Donatello's The Feast of Herod  in her book and Ghiberti's panel shares a lot in common with it.  The most important formal point I think you should know is that linear perspective is introduced into relief sculpture.  Stokstad even describes the varying levels of relief as a way of creating depth, which is not unlike linear perspective.  A good example of this is in the Ara Pacis in RomeLike Donatello's St. Mark this panel is designed to be viewed from a specific point of view.  Notice how the image on the top has been photographed from a point of view in which the viewer is looking at the work on the same level with the sculpture.  The image below is taken from below as the sculpture would have been seen in its original context.
Notice how the image on on top feels imbalanced and the head is a little too large and placed oddly.  The figures are actually leaning out at the top and lower relief at their bottoms.  However, when you look at the image in the way that it was supposed to be viewed it looks correct.  This is because Renaissance artists like Donatello and Ghiberti compensated for the viewer's point of view or perspective when creating works of art.
Overall, the image uses linear perspective to unify the image but still uses some of the old traditional tools of the continuous narrative that we see in Nicola Pisano's Nativity and Masaccio's work.
Iconography: Symbolically speaking this image is packed with all kinds of different perspectives. 
It's almost a shopping list of ideas. 
neoplatonic 
classic
humanist
theological
The classical and platonic ideas are evidenced in the architectural structures in the image, the contrapposto poses and the uses of wet drapery.
The humanist and theological/Catholic point of view is expressed partially by the Bible passage about Jacob and Essau in Liaisons 15-21 (Selections from Genesis-Jacob and Esau) which describes a story in which Jacob who has wronged his older brother must work hard to win back his good graces, like Jesus, Essau forgives his brother and invites him back into the family.  Here again is a typological exegesis but with a very humanistic bent.  We can imagine how it might have felt to be either character.
The linear perspective is both a formal device, which creates space, and a way of including the viewer.  The fact that the use of linear perspective is used actually symbolizes that the real theological and humanistic subject of the relief.  It is not just the story of "Jacob and Essau" but rather the Renaissance man's relationship to it and what he can learn from it.  This leads us to discuss the various themes that are hidden within the obvious meaning behind the image: a message that to get into the kingdom of heaven one has to wrestle and work hard but that forgiveness is also a component.







"Man is the measure of all things."

Leonardo da Vinci, Self Portrait, 1512
Form:  The formal qualities of this drawing are not as significant as the iconographic and contextual qualities it represents.  The drawing is a fine representation of the human head and face and demonstrates a close attention to proportion, detail, and texture.  The diagonal lines that run from the upper left hand corner of the drawing and flow down to the lower right unify the drawing and make a cohesive value structure by flowing along like waves against the direction of the light source which is coming from the upper right hand corner.  The use of line and cross hatch marks to create texture and chiaroscuro are typical of Leonardo's style especially in his drawing and are complimented in their contrast to the types of lines that he uses to depict the hair which are long, flowing and curvilinear. Iconography:  This drawing was probably a fairly quick "sketch" by Leonardo and the artist probably did not intend for the drawing to be deeply symbolic, nevertheless, to us it is.  Because the drawing was drawn from direct observation it is a snapshot of Leonardo's penetrating gaze.  As a viewer it is easy to imagine that this drawing and his facial expression sum up some of the qualities of this intense individual.  Interestingly enough, he looks kind of grumpy in the drawing but most accounts describe him as a witty and charming individual.
One of the skills that most painters needed to develop during the Renaissance period was the ability to paint portraits and accurate likenesses.  Often this skill was developed by painting with a the only model that one might have available which is one's self.  The humanistic and platonic idea of perfectability also gave rise to self reflection and observation.  A portrait then is not just about the immediate apprearance but also it is a symbol of the person.  In this image we see that Leonardo is studying himself and also demonstrating his ability to create a strong physical likeness as well a psychological likeness.
Context:  Here is Leonardo's letter to the Duke of Milan asking for employment,
To My Lord the Duke of Milan, Florence, 1482Most Illustrious Lord,
Having until now sufficiently studied and examined the experiments of all those who claim to be experts and inventors of war machines, and having found that their machines do not differ in the least from those ordinarily in use, I shall make so bold, without wanting to cause harm to anyone, as to address myself to Your Excellency to divulge my secrets to him, and offer to demonstrate to him, at his pleasure, all the things briefly enumerated below :
1. I have the means to construct light, solid and sturdy bridges, easy to transport, in order to follow and if necessary rout the enemy, and other even more solid which resist fire and storm, simple to remove and lay down. And the means to burn and destroy those of the enemy.
2. For the siege of a stronghold, I know how to clear the moats of water and construct an infinite number of bridges, battering-rams and scaling-ladders and other machines useful for this sort of enterprise.
3. Item, if a stronghold could not be reduced by bombardment, because of the height of its slopes or the strength of its position, I have the means of destroying any citadel or other emplacement whose foundations do not rest upon the ground.
4. I also have methods for making mortars that are simple and practical to move, that throw rubble in an almost steady stream, causing much fear and terror in the enemy camp with their smoke, as well much damage and confusion.
5. Item, I also have the means, using tunnels and twisting secret passageways, dug noiselessly, of arriving at a determined point, even if this meant going under moats and rivers.
6. Item, I shall make sure and invincible covered wagons, which will penetrate the ranks of the enemy with their artillery, and that group of armed men does not yet exist which can stop them; infantry can then follow them unharmed and unobstructed.
7. Item, if necessary I shall make siege guns, mortars and other machines, of beautiful and practical shape, completely different from what is generally in use.
8. Wherever the use of cannon is impossible, I shall forge catapults, mangonels, trabocchi and other admirably effective engines, generally little used. In short, according to the situation, I shall manufacture an indefinite number of various machines, both offensive and defensive.
9. And if, by chance, the engagement took place at sea, I have plans for the construction of engines quite suited to attack or defense, of vessels which resist the fire of the largest guns, powder, and smoke.
1O. In time of peace, I believe I am capable of giving you as much satisfaction as anyone, whether it be in architecture, for the construction of public or private buildings, or in bringing water from one place to another. Item, I can sculpt in marble, bronze or terracotta; while in painting, my work is the equal of anyone¹s. What is more, I shall undertake the execution of the bronze horse which will be the immortal glory, eternal homage, to the beloved memory My Lord Your Father, and to the illustrious house of Sforza. And if one or another of the things listed above seems impossible or impractical, I should be pleased to demonstrate on your grounds or in any other place which may please Your Excellency, of whom I beg to remain the most humble servant.
Leonardo da Vinci
quoted from Artists on Art, from the 14th to the 20th Century, edited by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, (New York, Pantheon Books)

Notice that he begins his letter by telling the Duke all about his abilities as a scientist, inventor, and strategist and end at the end of the letter he says "Oh by the way, I'm an artist too."  What this anecdote indicates is that Leonardo was the quintessential Renaissance man.  Although this story indicates that Leonard is portraying himself as a scientist philosopher and architect first, this is just a dramatic way of introducing himself.   Leonardo new full well that his reputation as an artist preceded him.
A link to a biography about Leonardo.




Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-7 Milan, 
Santa Maria delle Grazie 


1) The door was enlarged in 1652
2) Half a dozen well meaning restorers seem to have been its worst enemy.
3) A protective curtain hung by friars in 1768 
trapped humidity and abraded the mural when opened for visitors.
4) To ward against sunlight, nearby windows are now boarded.
5) Post world war rebuilding added central heating which 
stabilized the environment.
6) The foundations of the structure were strengthened.
(Source: National Geographic Magazine)
Form: The Last Supper is a mural in bad condition.  Leonardo used a combination of materials to paint this fresco and his experiment failed almost immediately.  Leonardo painted a lead white primer on top of the plaster wall to slow the drying and so he could paint more slowly.  It's not clear why the two didn't adhere but possibly the moisture of the plaster wall rejected the oil based primer on its surface and kept it from creating a tight cohesive bond.  As a result the paint almost immediately began to flake.  For some detail views of the fresco and its context see this page.The figures are life sized and placed in a single frieze like band on one side of the table.  The apostles are also arranged into four groups of three figures each.  Each figure in the group is posed or arranged in a unique manner and exhibits a unique emotional gesture.  The composition is symmetrical with Christ at it's center and arranged using one point perspective whose vanishing point converges behind Christ's head.  Almost all of the figures, except for the single figure of Judas have their heads' placed on the horizon line.
The use of linear perspective is exaggerated and further complimented by the arrangement of the coffers in the ceiling, the doors along each side of the room and the atmospheric perspective of the landscape through the windows.  This is further exaggerated by the gesture of Christ's body in the center whose arms are outstretched and whose body forms a triangular shape that points back towards the window and the vanishing point.
Iconography: The figures size and placement in a single frieze like band on one side of the table.  Serve two purposes.  First, they arrange the figures in such a way that the monks who would eat in this room felt as if they were pulling up a chair and eating with Jesus and the apostles.  Second, the arrangement also refers to the classical friezes that Leonardo would have studied and this reference would not have been lost on the viewers. 
The apostles arrangement into four groups of three figures is a reference to the sacred number of the trinity which represents the father, son, and the holy spirit.  This symbolism could also be part of why there are three windows in the background and is also part of why Christ's figure is arranged in the three sided triangular form. 
For Leonardo and his contemporaries, humanism or the human experience of religion was the key to unlocking the world.  Since the study of man and his experience was so important it makes sense that human gesture and pose is central to understanding this painting.  Here's a quote from Leonardo's notebook in which he discusses how to compose groups of figures in historical pictures:

When you have thoroughly learned perspective and have fixed in your memory all the various parts and forms of things, you should often amuse yourself, when you take a walk for recreation, by watching and taking note of the attitudes and actions of men as they talk and dispute, or laugh or come to blows one with another - both their actions and those of the bystanders who either intervene or stand looking on at these things; noting them down with rapid strokes in this way, in a little pocket book, which you ought always to carry with you.
quoted from Artists on Art, from the 14th to the 20th Century, edited by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, (New York, Pantheon Books)
As you can see, Leonardo believed in drawing from figures from observation and that he particularly was interested in communicating emotion and experience through gesture.  Christ's pose, with his arms outstretched is further invitation to the scene and an indication in which he is willing participant in his sacrifice.  Each apostles' figure is posed or arranged in a unique manner and exhibits a unique emotional gesture.  This refers back to the viewer and how the viewer might have had a similar reaction to one of the apostles.  This is a humanistic way of looking at the story because the viewer is supposed to look for a figure that he best identifies with.  The composition is arranged using one point perspective whose vanishing point converges behind Christ's head which places him in the most important and literally the most central location in the image.  All of the figures, except for the single figure of Judas have their heads' placed on the horizon line and this is symbolic of Judas status as a betrayer and therefore "beneath" the other apostles.
Context:  Since Leonardo was a scientist as well as a painter he attempted to try mixing tempera, oil paint and fresco in this painting.  The result was that the mural almost immediately had a really bad "dandruff" problem.The drawing condenses misfortunes the "Last Supper" has suffered and reveals modern correction.
Leonardo painted a lead white primer on top of the plaster wall to slow the drying and so he could paint more slowly.  It's not clear why the two didn't adhere but possibly the moisture of the plaster wall rejected the oil based primer on its surface and kept it from creating a tight cohesive bond.



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
Form: This is a fairly small pen and ink drawing, depicting a nude male figure whose body is inscribed within several geometric forms.  The rendering utilizes contour drawing rather than much attempt to portray value or chiaroscuro.   In the margins of the pages are inscribed in reverse (or mirror writing) Leonardo's observations about Vitruvius's' text.  The drawing is an interpretation of these ideas which are quoted in Stokstad. (Make sure you read them!)Iconography:  In a more general sense, this drawing represents Leonardo and his contemporaries neoplatonic and humanistic ideologies which can be traced back to the writings of Vitruvius and classical thinking.  The most relevant humanistic "sound bite" from that era being, "Man is the measure of all things."  In this drawing we see that Leonardo takes this idea almost quite literally and scientifically.
In addition to the idea of "man" in a general sense, 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.
Context:  Leonardo's notebooks are precisely and this is why Bill Gates has bought them all up and now owns all the rights to them.  Aside from their initial value as antique works by a master, they are an invaluable source of information for modern scholars concerning both how Leonardo thought about the world and also how an artist from the Renaissance might have thought.  Within its pages are his observations concerning science, art, his inventions of flying machines, his studies of anatomy, observations of his fellow man and commentaries on other's ideas and texts. 
In Stokstad you can read the quote from Vitruvius' treatise.  Here's another quote from Leonardo that applies to how he thought about the human figure in a rationalistic and scientific manner.

From chin to the starting of the hair is a tenth part of the figure.
From the chin to the top of the head is an eighth part.
And from the chin to the nostrils is a third a part of the face.
And the same from the nostrils to the eyebrows, and from the eyebrows to the starting of the hair.
If you set your legs so far apart as to take the fourteenth part from the height, and you open and raise your arms until you touch the line of the crown of the head with your middle fingers, you must know that the center of the circle formed by the extremities of the outstretched limbs will be the navel, and the space between the legs will form an equilateral triangle.
The span of a man's outstretched arms is equal to his height.quoted from Artists on Art, from the 14th to the 20th Century, edited by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, (New York, Pantheon Books)

According to the Brittanica
Vitruvius
 fl. 1st century BC in full MARCUS VITRUVIUS POLLIO, Roman architect, engineer, and author of the celebrated treatise De architectura (On Architecture), a handbook for Roman architects. Little is known of Vitruvius' life, except what can be gathered from his writings, which are somewhat obscure on the subject. Although he nowhere identifies the emperor to whom his work is dedicated, it is likely that the first Augustus is meant and that the treatise was conceived after 27 BC. Since Vitruvius describes himself as an old man, it may be inferred that he was also active during the time of Julius Caesar. Vitruvius himself tells of a basilica he built at Fanum (now Fano).De architectura was based on his own experience, as well as on theoretical works by famous Greek architects such as Hermogenes. The treatise covers almost every aspect of architecture, but it is limited, since it is based primarily on Greek models, from which Roman architecture was soon decisively to depart in order to serve the new needs of proclaiming a world empire. De architectura is divided into 10 books dealing with city planning and architecture in general; building materials; temple construction and the use of the Greek orders; public buildings (theatres, baths); private buildings; floors and stucco decoration; hydraulics; clocks, mensuration, and astronomy; and civil and military engines. Vitruvius' outlook is essentially Hellenistic. His wish was to preserve the classical tradition in the design of temples and public buildings, and his prefaces to the separate books of his treatise contain many pessimistic remarks about the contemporary architecture. Most of what Pliny says in his Natural History about Roman construction methods and wall painting was taken from Vitruvius, though unacknowledged. Vitruvius' expressed desire that his name be honoured by posterity was realized. Throughout the antique revival of the Renaissance, the classical phase of the Baroque, and in the Neoclassical period, his work was the chief authority on ancient classical architecture.
The text of De architectura with an English translation is published in the Loeb Classical Library in two volumes.
 "Vitruvius."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 11, 2002.

Anatomical studies from Leonardo's notebooks

Even though it was against the law, Leonardo was still able to obtain corpses and dissect them.  Leonardo's studies of anatomy initially make sense from a rationalistic point of view for artists.  He states in one of his notebooks,It is a necessary thing for a painter, in order to be able to fashion limbs correctly in the positions and actions which they can represent in the nude, to know anatomy of sinews, bones, muscles, and tendons in order to know, in the various different movements and impulses, which sinew or muscle is the cause of each movement and to make only those prominent and thickened, and not the others all over the limb, as do many who, in order to appear great draftsmen, make their nudes wooden and without grace, so that it seems rather as if you were looking at a sack of nuts than a human form or a bundle of radishes rather than the muscles of nudes.
quoted from Artists on Art, from the 14th to the 20th Century, edited by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves, (New York, Pantheon Books)
So then, you may ask yourself, why did he choose to study an unborn child in the womb.  The answer is that he was a Renaissance man an interested also in pure science.

A flying machine by Leonardo.

Leonardo, Virgin and St. Anne with the Christ Child 
and the Young John the Baptist. c 1500-1 
Charcoal heightened with white on brown paper, 
54x39" (139x101 cm)
National Gallery, London
Form:  This is a large drawing on brown paper that uses the brown of the paper as part of its value structure.  The medium brown tone of the paper served as the middle tones of the drawing and then the lights and darks were established with chalk and charcoal. In several sections of the drawing, Leonardo has chosen to leave sections unfinished in terms of value and we can see contour lines that indicate the forms.  Some of the contour lines are rough and several have some "false" starts and corrections he made.
The overall composition is fits the figures in a pyramidal form in the foreground of the image.  The relationship of the figures although placed within a stable triangular form is still somewhat awkward and it looks almost as if Leonardo has collaged the figures together.  In the background of the image is an idealized landscape.
Iconography:  The iconography of the image deals with the holy family in a humanistic fashion.  This holy family and its gestures are meant to relate to your own family and this ties in with the Catholic humanist ideal of seeing the image of Christ in the world that surrounds you and with the concept of traditional family values.
The concept of faith, sacrifice, wisdom and idealism are related almost in a river like flow from Anne all the way down to St. John.  The start or source of this knowledge comes from "God the Father" who is not represented but pointed towards by St. Anne, Mary's mother on whom Mary sits.  In some ways, this refers back to the "throne of wisdom" them that was evidenced in Giotto and Cimabue's painting but in this case, Leonardo's drawing is a correction of the original schema.  In this case, St. Anne becomes the original throne on which Mary rests.
From Anne comes Mary, who offers her child to the world and he in turn offers his blessing, in the form of a gesture, and therefore wisdom, to the apostle John who will go and relate the "good news" to his followers.
From another perspective, this image also communicates the point of view of the Renaissance audience about the roles of women.  The women in this image are in some ways representative of the "ideal" woman.  Clearly an image like this incorporates the point of view that motherhood is a very high calling.  Since images like this were primarily commissioned by male patrons and made by male artists some historians have named this phenomena the "male gaze."
Context:  This large drawing is neither a study of a finished drawing for presentation in the strictest sense.  Although in some ways it is both.  This drawing is a cartoon and is a planning drawing or design.  In some ways it's a form of carbon paper.  The drawing would have been used in a similar fashion to the paper designs dress makers use.  The drawing would have been pierced with a pin or awl along its main contours and then the image would have been transferred to a canvas or board by "pouncing" charcoal or chalk through the holes created by the pin. 
Stokstad explains that there is no finished painting associated with this drawing, however, Leonardo has several paintings that are very similar to it.  It was not unknown of and actually a fairly common practice to recycle old cartoons, and the basic designs of paintings over and over again.  For example, Cimabue has several version of the seated Madonna that look almost identical but for minor differences in color, iconography the number of angels and the apostles who accompany her.  This may account for the weird interrelationship and tangle of legs between Mary and Anne in the image.  It is possible that Leonardo recycled and collaged some old ideas and figures in this cartoon.  Another painting that shares many of these qualities with this cartoon is Leonardo's Virgin and St. Anne with the Christ Child, 1510 now in the Louvre.



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

Photo of atmospheric perspective
Iconography:  This work shares almost the same exact content as the cartoon above; however, in this the St. John is substituted with a lamb.  The lamb is symbolic of Christ as the Lamb of God and of his preordained sacrifice.Some minor changes dealing with the gestures and poses of the figures are in evidence.  Most noticeably is Anne's.  In this version she does not chose to gesticulate towards the heavens but instead places her hand on her hip in to compliment this self assured and calm gesture she smiles benevolently down on her progeny.
Formal: An element that blurs the line between iconography and formalism is the use of the triangular or pyramidal organization of the figures. This shape is both iconic of the Trinity and it is a visual device which pulls the eye back into the picture plane and stabilizes the composition.
The "cut and paste" of the three figures, especially in how the figure of Mary relates to the figure of St. Anne, can probably be traced back to the use of older studies or cartoons which Leonardo has combined.  This painting also shares a lot in common with his Mona Lisa.  The shared qualities involved deal with his creation of space by using two devices, the use of atmospheric or aerial perspective and the use ofsfumato.

Alberti's system of linear perspective failed to solve many problems related to the effective portrayal of depth by limiting it to a horizon line and by giving the appearance that the various planes in a painting are stacked much like a stage set.3 By careful observation of nature as the ultimate teacher, Leonardo solves these problems, "Perspective is divided into three parts, of which the first is concerned solely with the outlines of the bodies; the second in the diminution of colors at varying distances; the third in the loss of definition of bodies at various distances."4 Leonardo observed and defined atmospheric perspective and color perspective which in combination are often referred to as "aerial perspective."Leonardo explains color perspective this way, ". . . through variations in the air we are made aware of the different distances of various buildings. . . therefore make the first building. . . its own color; the next most distant make more blue. . . at another distance bluer yet and that which is five time more distant make five times more blue."5 This principle is demonstrated in the background of Mona Lisa: the ground and hills directly behind the subject are painted in warm tones of reddish browns and tans. As the landscape recedes the mountains and water become progressively more blue. Leonardo also noted that air is more dense closest to the earth, therefore the bases of hills will always appear lighter than the summit; he applies this theory to the hills behind the sitter's shoulders which start out a tan color and become dark brown.6
Leonardo's optical observations delineated atmospheric perspective in this way: "[t]hat thing will be less evident that is furthest removed from the eye. The boundaries of things in the second plane will not be discerned like those in the first."7 This theory is especially well developed in the backgrounds of Mona Lisa and Madonna and Saint Anne, which become less and less detailed as the images recede until they become so distant to the eye that they disappear in the atmosphere. Leonardo's establishment of these principles brought to an end the medieval system of absolute color and allowed artists to compress miles of landscape onto a flat picture plane.8
Endnotes
1. Martin Kemp, ed., Leonardo on Painting, (New Haven and others: Yale University Press, 1989), 197.
2. Serge Bramly, Leonardo: Discovering the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, Sian Reynolds, trans., (New York: Harper and Collins Publishers, 1991),
3. William V. Dunning, Changing Image of Pictorial Space: A History of Spatial Illusion in Painting, (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1991), 42.
4. Kemp, 16.
5. Kemp, 80.
6. Kemp, 83-84.
7. Kemp, 85-87.|
8. Marcia Hall, Color and Meaning: Practice and Theory in Renaissance Painting, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 68.
The following is part of an essay excerpted from an art historical magazine published by Chico State called "Contrapposto"  which can be found at http://www.csuchico.edu/art/contrapposto/contrapposto99/pages/contents.html
"What Insights do Leonardo's Writings Shed on His Work?" by S. Lee Hager go to  this site for the full essayhttp://www.csuchico.edu/art/contrapposto/contrapposto99/pages/essays/art345/hagerl.html






"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 GazeThe 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, Self 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.



Perugino's Perfect Plan 

Pietro Perugino, Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter, 
(bottom most image)
Fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome. 1482. 11'5.5" x 18'
Context: Pietro Perugino
b. c. 1450,, Città della Pieve, near Perugia, Romagna
d. , February/March 1523, Fontignano, near Perugia 
byname of PIETRO DI CRISTOFORO VANNUCCI Italian early Renaissance painter of the Umbria school, the teacher of Raphael. His work (e.g., "Giving of the Keys to St. Peter," 1481-82, a fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Rome) anticipated High Renaissance ideals in its compositional clarity, sense of spaciousness, and economy of formal elements. 
The first certain work by Perugino is a "Saint Sebastian," at Cerqueto, near Perugia. This fresco, or mural painted on plaster with water-dissolved pigments, dates from 1478 and is typical of Perugino's style. He must have attained a considerable reputation by this time, since he probably worked for Pope Sixtus IV in Rome, 1478-79, on frescoes now lost. Sixtus IV also employed him to paint a number of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace. Completed between 1481 and 1482, three narrative scenes behind the altar were destroyed by Michelangelo in 1535-36 in order to use the space for his fresco of the "Last Judgment." Of the scenes completely by Perugino's own hand, only the fresco "Giving of the Keys to St. Peter" has survived. The simple and lucid arrangement of the composition reveals the centre of narrative action, unlike the frescoes in the same series by the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli, which, in comparison, appear overcrowded and confused in their narrative focus. After completing his work in the Sistine Chapel, Perugino returned to Florence, where he was commissioned to work in the Palazzo della Signoria. In 1491 he was invited to sit on the committee concerned with finishing the Florence cathedral.
 "Perugino."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 30, 2002. 



Pietro Perugino, Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter,
Fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome. 1482. 11'5.5" x 18'
Make sure you read Stokstad's analysis of this work.Form:  Perugino's fresco is an excellent synthesis of many different kinds of formal perspectives.  The use of linear perspective in this image places the vanishing point directly in the center of the picture plane and directly in the doorway of the temple in the center of the image.  The linear perspective is further enhanced by the use of the gridlike pavement that stretches across the picture plane and the use of atmospheric perspective.  There is also a consistent use of chiaroscuro across the picture plane which unifies the illusion of a consistent space.
Iconography and Context:  First and foremost this image provides us with a theological perspective in that the image centers around Jesus' passing his authority down to Peter.  In this instance, the point of view is decidedly Catholic in how it supports the Roman papacy of Sixtus IV.
We also see an idealistic and neoplatonic perspective in the depiction of an idealized or an imaginary space (which Stokstad discusses in some detail) and the depiction of ideal and classical architectural forms.   Notice that the buildings in the background are based on Roman building forms.
The two structures flanking the center building are both Roman triumphal arches.  The use of arches for a monument is an expression of Roman technology and therefore Roman genius.  The triumphal arch is a common symbol that is dedicated to the victories of particular emperors. 
The building in the center looks very much like the Pantheon in Rome and this is no accident.  The use and creation of central plan churches really took off during the Renaissance.
The image above is an interpretation of the following from the Matthew 16
Matthew
Chapter 16
13
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
14
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
17
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
20
Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
21
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.
22
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you."
23
He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
25
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
27
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
28
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

Raphael Marriage Of The Virgin 1509 oil on panel
Notice that the same iconography of the central plan church is used in Raphael's work as well who was Perugino's teacher.
  According to the Brittanica, 
During the Renaissance the ideal church plan tended to be centralized; that is, it was symmetrical about a central point, as is a circle, a square, or a Greek cross (which has four equal arms). Many Renaissance architects came to believe that the circle was the most perfect geometric form and, therefore, most appropriate in dedication to a perfect God.
Part of the reason for this was because of Leon Battista Alberti's treatise.  According to the Brittanica, Alberti wrote several treatises, his first,
The book On Painting, which he wrote in 1435, set forth for the first time the rules for drawing a picture of a three-dimensional scene upon the two-dimensional plane of a panel or wall. It had an immediate and profound effect upon Italian painting and relief work, giving rise to the correct, ample, geometrically ordered space of the perspectival Renaissance style. Later perspectival theorists, such as the painter Piero della Francesca and Leonardo, elaborated upon Alberti's work, but his principles remain as basic to the projective science of perspective as Euclid's do to plane geometry.
He then restored,
the classic text of Vitruvius, architect and architectural theorist of the age of the Roman emperor Augustus. With customary thoroughness, Alberti embarked upon a study of the architectural and engineering practices of antiquity that he continued when he returned to Rome in 1443 with the papal court. By the time Nicholas V became pope in 1447, Alberti was knowledgeable enough to become the Pope's architectural adviser. The collaboration between Alberti and Nicholas V gave rise to the first grandiose building projects of Renaissance Rome, initiating among other works the reconstruction of St. Peter's and the Vatican Palace. As the Este prince was now dead, it was to Nicholas V that Alberti dedicated in 1452 the monumental theoretical result of his long study of Vitruvius. This was his De re aedificatoria (Ten Books on Architecture), not a restored text of Vitruvius but a wholly new work, that won him his reputation as the "Florentine Vitruvius." It became a bible of Renaissance architecture, for it incorporated and made advances upon the engineering knowledge of antiquity, and it grounded the stylistic principles of classical art in a fully developed aesthetic theory of proportionality and harmony."Alberti, Contribution to philosophy, science, and the arts."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 30, 2002. 
OK.  So now you probably want to know who Vitruvius was. Vitruvius's ideas were first published in his De architectura.  The De architectura was then republished many times during the Renaissance and  used by such artists as Leonardo who expresses  Vitruvius's ideas in his Vitruvian Man.
According to the Brittanica
Vitruvius
 fl. 1st century BC in full MARCUS VITRUVIUS POLLIO, Roman architect, engineer, and author of the celebrated treatise De architectura (On Architecture), a handbook for Roman architects. Little is known of Vitruvius' life, except what can be gathered from his writings, which are somewhat obscure on the subject. Although he nowhere identifies the emperor to whom his work is dedicated, it is likely that the first Augustus is meant and that the treatise was conceived after 27 BC. Since Vitruvius describes himself as an old man, it may be inferred that he was also active during the time of Julius Caesar. Vitruvius himself tells of a basilica he built at Fanum (now Fano).De architectura was based on his own experience, as well as on theoretical works by famous Greek architects such as Hermogenes. The treatise covers almost every aspect of architecture, but it is limited, since it is based primarily on Greek models, from which Roman architecture was soon decisively to depart in order to serve the new needs of proclaiming a world empire. De architectura is divided into 10 books dealing with city planning and architecture in general; building materials; temple construction and the use of the Greek orders; public buildings (theatres, baths); private buildings; floors and stucco decoration; hydraulics; clocks, mensuration, and astronomy; and civil and military engines. Vitruvius' outlook is essentially Hellenistic. His wish was to preserve the classical tradition in the design of temples and public buildings, and his prefaces to the separate books of his treatise contain many pessimistic remarks about the contemporary architecture. Most of what Pliny says in his Natural History about Roman construction methods and wall painting was taken from Vitruvius, though unacknowledged. Vitruvius' expressed desire that his name be honoured by posterity was realized. Throughout the antique revival of the Renaissance, the classical phase of the Baroque, and in the Neoclassical period, his work was the chief authority on ancient classical architecture.
The text of De architectura with an English translation is published in the Loeb Classical Library in two volumes.
 "Vitruvius."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 11, 2002.



Donato Bramante, Tempietto.
in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome
1502
Vesta at Tivoli engraving by Piranesi

Form:  This small temple is a kind of cross between the Pantheon and the Parthenon.  It has a dome and is a central plan like the Pantheon but uses a different order, the Doric as in the Parthenon.  It is also contained within a small courtyard that was not part of its original design.   Originally, the building was to be placed in a circular colonnaded courtyard which was designed to "set off" the design of the temple itself.   According to the Brittanica, the building was "specifically inspired by the temple of Vesta at Tivoli."Iconography:  The use of a classical design that refers back to the Parthenon and Pantheon is designed to give the building an antique and therefore authoritative and classic feel.  The circular shape is almost like a target from above and would have been even more powerful as an icon if Bramante's original plans had been followed.  As it is, the buildings shape and design are also very appropriate because the symmetrical design plays into its function which was to focus the attention of the monument on the site where St. Peter was supposedly martyred. 
Context:  The construction of the Tempietto was commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.  It's name is actually an affectionate kind of nickname.  Tempietto is an Italian nickname for small temple.
This building is specifically important in terms of context because it allowed Bramante to explore some ideas that he would later on use in his design of St. Peter's Cathedral which was rebuilt, at least at first, in central style plan.



Raphael



Stanza della Segnatura
Raphael School of Athens 1509-1510
fresco
from Raphael
Last years in Rome.
Raphael was called to Rome toward the end of 1508 by Pope Julius II at the suggestion of the architect Donato Bramante. At this time Raphael was little known in Rome, but the young man soon made a deep impression on the volatile Julius and the papal court, and his authority as a master grew day by day. Raphael was endowed with a handsome appearance and great personal charm in addition to his prodigious artistic talents, and he eventually became so popular that he was called "the prince of painters."Raphael spent the last 12 years of his short life in Rome. They were years of feverish activity and successive masterpieces. His first task in the city was to paint a cycle of frescoes in a suite of medium-sized rooms in the Vatican papal apartments in which Julius himself lived and worked; these rooms are known simply as the Stanze. The Stanza della Segnatura (1508-11) and Stanza d'Eliodoro (1512-14) were decorated practically entirely by Raphael himself; the murals in the Stanza dell'Incendio (1514-17), though designed by Raphael, were largely executed by his numerous assistants and pupils.
The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura was perhaps Raphael's greatest work. Julius II was a highly cultured man who surrounded himself with the most illustrious personalities of the Renaissance. He entrusted Bramante with the construction of a new basilica of St. Peter to replace the original 4th-century church; he called upon Michelangelo to execute his tomb and compelled him against his will to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; and, sensing the genius of Raphael, he committed into his hands the interpretation of the philosophical scheme of the frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. This theme was the historical justification of the power of the Roman Catholic church through Neoplatonic philosophy.
The four main fresco walls in the Stanza della Segnatura are occupied by the "Disputa" and the "School of Athens" on the larger walls and the "Parnassus" and "Cardinal Virtues" on the smaller walls. The two most important of these frescoes are the "Disputa" and the "School of Athens." The "Disputa," showing a celestial vision of God and his prophets and apostles above a gathering of representatives, past and present, of the Roman Catholic church, equates through its iconography the triumph of the church and the triumph of truth.
 "Last years in Rome.."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002. 
The "School of Athens" is a complex allegory of secular knowledge, or philosophy, showing Plato and Aristotle surrounded by philosophers, past and present, in a splendid architectural setting; it illustrates the historical continuity of Platonic thought. The "School of Athens" is perhaps the most famous of all Raphael's frescoes, and one of the culminating artworks of the High Renaissance. Here Raphael fills an ordered and stable space with figures in a rich variety of poses and gestures, which he controls in order to make one group of figures lead to the next in an interweaving and interlocking pattern, bringing the eye to the central figures of Plato and Aristotle at the converging point of the perspectival space. The space in which the philosophers congregate is defined by the pilasters and barrel vaults of a great basilica that is based on Bramante's design for the new St. Peter's in Rome. The general effect of the fresco is one of majestic calm, clarity, and equilibrium. "Last years in Rome.."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002. 


Raphael put portraits of important and influential people in the painting as a way to express the idea that the new Papal court was an updated, yet Catholic, school of Athens.Raphael uses Leonardo's face as a model for Plato, who gestures up.

Zoroaster, Ptolemy, Raphael and SodomaOne of the skills that most painters needed to develop during the Renaissance period was the ability to paint portraits and accurate likenesses.  Often this skill was developed by painting with a the only model that one might have available which is one's self.  The humanistic and platonic idea of perfectability also gave rise to self reflection and observation and in this case, self aggrandizement.  A portrait then is not just about the immediate apprearance but also it is a symbol of the person.  In this image we see that the artist is studying himself and also demonstrating his ability to create a strong physical likeness as well a psychological likeness.

Raphael, Self Portrait, 1506






Michelangelo

Michelangelo, Dying Slave, c1513
Form:  This just over lifesize sculpture of a dying or bound "slave" shows us a powerful naturalistic figure carved in marble.  The anatomy is slightly distorted in that the head is a touch too small.  The figure's posture is also an exaggerated contrapposto that was referred to as a serpenata referring to the snake like writhing and counter posture of the figure which is characteristic of Michelangelo's work.  These are some of the characteristics you can see throughout Michelangelo's works and is a quality that we also see in the artists of the Mannerist movement who follow after him. Charles Baudelaire's poem Beacons provides a description that is both a formal description and an symbolic analysis:

Michelangelo, a vague plane where one sees
Hercules mingled with Christ,
Powerful phantoms which in their twilights
Tear their shrouds by stretching their fingers;

Baudelaire's interpretation is not too far off the mark if you compare this sculpture against this stanza dedicated to Michelangelo. 
Marylin Stokstad devotes almost six pages of her survey to this giant, and if you've done the readings out of Liaisons, you've probably have an impression of Michelangelo as a moody, tortured and melancholy artist.  This sculpture is an excellent work to begin with because it in some ways is the perfect symbol of what Michelangelo strove for and often could not accomplish.
Context:  This was meant to be part of a greater work that Michelangelo was called from Florence to Rome to create by Pope Julius II in 1505.  It was meant to be a monumental work which would have been placed within the nave of the future reconstruction of St. Peter's.  It was never completed and Michelangelo was pulled off the project to work on the small chapel of Pope Sixtus called the Sistine Chapel in 1506.  Michelangelo fought against this new commission and much of the novel The Agony and the Ecstasy outlines the struggle between the Pope and Michelangelo over these two projects.  In short, Michelangelo was the loser in the battle and felt trapped and tormented by the Pope.
Iconography:  There are various interpretations of this sculpture since it was designed as one of the works that was to be on Julius' tomb.  The most apologetic to the Pope is that he freed Italy from ignorance and anarchy and that the sculpture is symbolic of the forthcoming liberation.  Another, proposed by Janson, is that the sculptures were part of a series that represented the arts and were now shackled because of the Pope's death, but I like the more contemporary psychological interpretation.  This sculpture is probably a representation of Michelangelo's emotions.  He felt enslaved to the Pope and to his projects.
There is also the possibility that Michelangelo was also tortured by a carnal desire to be with men.  This is evidenced in the poems and sonnets he composed for a you beautiful man named Tommasso Calvierri (who did not return his affections) and in the various sensuous male nudes he sculpted over his career.  One only needs to compare these images of males to his females to get the idea.

Michelangelo, Self Portrait

Michelangelo, Detail of the Last Judgment, c1535
Sistine Chapel, Rome
On the left are two images.  The top one is a documented self portrait.  In this image we can see Michelangelo uses heavy chiaroscuro and a deep penetrating gaze to create an image that is honest but also a bit dramatic.  Notice that he includes his shattered nose that you read about in both Vasari and Stone's accounts. One of the skills that most painters needed to develop during the Renaissance period was the ability to paint portraits and accurate likenesses.  Often this skill was developed by painting with a the only model that one might have available which is one's self.  The humanistic and platonic idea of perfectability also gave rise to self reflection and observation.  A portrait then is not just about the immediate appearance but also it is a symbol of the person.  In this image we see that the artist is studying himself and also demonstrating his ability to create a strong physical likeness as well a psychological likeness.
If the likeness is at all accurate one can then relate it to this image of St. Bartholomew from theLast Judgment in the Sistine Chapel which was painted in 1535.  More than twenty years after the completion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1508-1512).
The Saint was flayed alive for his troubles and if you look closely at the skin you may see that it looks a bit like Mike.  Further support for my interpretation of the Dying Slave image above.



Hagesandros, Polydoros, 
and Athanadoros of Rhodes.
Laocoon and His Sons, probably the original 
of the 1st C. CE or a Roman copy. 
Marble ht 8' Musei Vaticani, Rome
Excavated 1506

Michelangelo. MosesTomb of Julius II.
c1513-1515. Marble, height 7'8.5"
Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Belvedere Torso
c300-50 BCE- probably 1C BCE
"Apollonius son of Nestor an Athenian"
Stokstad discusses at length the circumstances and context surrounding this sculpture for the Tomb of Julius.Form:  This image of Moses is extremely naturalistic and also exhibits a bit of the serpentine movement that we see in his other work.  The posture of the figure and the proportions are also a bit exaggerated because this work was meant to be seen from below.  This is one of the characteristics you can see throughout Michelangelo's works and is a quality that we also see in the artists of theMannerist movement who follow after him.
Some of the details that show Michelangelo's virtuosity are the fingers that are intertwined with the fabric and hair and the deep undercutting and details of the hair itself.  Often Michelangelo will show fingers pressed into hair, fabric or flesh and these materials seem to be responding to the pressure.  This what is referred to as an artist's conceit or concetto (italian for conceit) because it is hard to do and shows his skill as an artist.
The pose is one in which the figures seem to be on the brink of movement, almost as if they are about to rise out of the chairs.  This pose can be seen throughout the body of Michelangelo's work and can be directly related to the two classical works with which he would have been very familiar.  TheLaocoon and His Sons group newly excavated in Rome in 1506 and another fragment of sculpture, also in the Vatican collection called the Belvedere torso.
Iconography:  The Renaissance understanding of classicism and its kalos is strongly represented in Moses.  Michelangelo has unified the head of Greek philosopher, with the body of an athlete to form a Christian Old Testament superman. 
The horns on Moses' head refer to a mistranslation.  As many artists, he was misled by the translation of the word keren (plural karnaim), which in Hebrew can mean both “horn” and “ray.”
Exodus xxxiv. 30, “All the children of Israel saw Moses, and the skin of his face shone,” translated in the Vulgate, “Cornta esset facies sua.” Rays of light were called horns. Hence in Habakkuk (iii. 4) we read of God, “His brightness was as the light, and He had horns [rays of light] coming out of His hand.” Michel Angelo depicted Moses with horns, following the Vulgate.http://www.bartleby.com/81/11704.html

According to the Brittanica,
The Sistine Chapel is the papal chapel in the Vatican Palace that was erected in 1473-81 by the architect Giovanni dei Dolci for Pope Sixtus IV (hence its name). It is famous for its Renaissance frescoes by Michelangelo.The Sistine Chapel is a rectangular brick building with six arched windows on each of the two main (or side) walls and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The chapel's exterior is drab and unadorned, but its interior walls and ceiling are decorated with frescoes by many Florentine Renaissance masters. The frescoes on the side walls of the chapel were painted from 1481 to 1483. On the north wall are six frescoes depicting events from the life of Christ as painted by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandajo, and Cosimo Rosselli. On the south wall are six other frescoes depicting events from the life of Moses by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Botticelli, Domenico and Benedetto Ghirlandajo, Rosselli, Luca Signorelli, and Bartolomeo della Gatta. Above these works, smaller frescoes between the windows depict various popes. For great ceremonial occasions the lowest portions of the side walls were covered with a series of tapestries depicting events from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. These were designed by Raphael and woven in 1515-19 at Brussels.
. . .The frescoes on the ceiling, collectively known as the Sistine Ceiling, were commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 and were painted by Michelangelo in the years from 1508 to 1512. They depict incidents and personages from the Old Testament. The "Last Judgment" fresco on the west wall was painted by Michelangelo for Pope Paul III in the period from 1534 to 1541. These two gigantic frescoes are among the greatest achievements of Western painting. A 10-year-long cleaning and restoration of the Sistine Ceiling completed in 1989 removed several centuries' accumulation of dirt, smoke, and varnish. Cleaning and restoration of the "Last Judgment" was completed in 1994.
As the pope's own chapel, the Sistine Chapel is the site of the principal papal ceremonies and is used by the Sacred College of Cardinals for their election of a new pope when there is a vacancy.
 "Sistine Chapel."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002.
The Arrangement of the Narrative A semiotic or structuralist analysisThe diagram below explains that Michelangelo actually had "program" or design for the creation and flow of the overall narrative associated with the ceiling very similar in nature to the way in which Giotto arranged the Arena Chapel and Ghiberti's doors.
The ceiling is entirely decorated with Old Testament stories, in keeping with the narrative as a typology.   Over all the divisions in the ceilings are painted trompe l’oeil frames that create distinctions between each story and allow for the organization of the panels.   In order to better understand the overall meaning of the narrative order of these stories, 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.   In this case the overall meaning of the frescoes relate to the Bible as it might have been interpreted by St. Augustine 354-430.  According to the Brittanica, Augustine's, "adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence. His numerous written works, the most important of which are Confessions and City of God, shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought."

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Built 1475-1481 painted by 
Michelangelo between 1508-12
St. Augustine, came up with a concept in which he viewed the universe and man's existence as divided in two worlds.  One was the City of Man which was temporary and fallible. This is represented by the way in which the ceiling and the chapel's space is divided.
Across the center of the chapel is a screen (called a rood screen).  Marked on the diagram as thick black line.  Since the Sistine Chapel was the Pope's private chapel and only he and the clergy are allowed on the side of the screen closest to the altar.  This divides the worshippers from the clergy.
On the clergy's side of the screen all the Old Testament stories deal with Heaven.  This is the "City of God" which goes on forever and in which god will provide for the faithful.  This is where man was before sin.
On the other side of the screen is where we are allowed to stand.  Notice how it is quite literally the "City of Man."  The three episodes depicted on the ceiling which depict sin are where we are allowed to stand.



Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Built 1475-1481 painted by Michelangelo between 1508-12
The center set of images represents scenes from the Old Testament.  The main themes are expulsion and sin.  This refers to our "original sin" and how we lost heaven. Surrounding these scenes are images of the prophets and Sibyls (prophets from Ancient Greece) and serve as a kind of thematic framework in which to view the center scenes. 
Beneath these stories and surrounding them are depictions of ancestors of Christ and the Old Testament prophets who guide us.  Included in this are the Sibyls (prophets from Ancient Greece) who have established the Classical foundation that all this is built on.  This  foundation is very similar in content and structure to the caryatids from the Acropolis, the seven virtues and vices from the Arena Chapel and Ghiberti's doors
All of these elements are further framed by the illusion of classical architecture which surrounds each scene.  This is very similar to the the triumphal arch that serves as the framework of Masaccio's Trinity with Donors.

 


God Creating Adam
Mosaic portrait from Pompeii79 CE
Form: This reproduction is one of the best for demonstrating Michelangelo's use of intense or saturated colors on the ceiling.  After the cleaning of the chapel, many art historians were disturbed by the purity and exaggerated nature of his color.  If one looks very closely at the images, Michelangelo sometimes would put pure strokes of color one next to the other so that when the viewer saw it from below the colors would mix because the eye would blend them together.  This is called optical mixing.   Mosaics also use this quality but and is one of the first instance of its use in painting that we know of. This is one of the central panels from the Sistine Chapel and perhaps one of the most important.  The figures are well over life size and they are muscular and idealized.  The figure of Adam is posed in a reclining languid attitude with the hand and finger extended towards God's finger.
The figure of God is surrounded by some kind of veil and contains figures that range in age from infancy to young adulthood.  God is depicted in motion as an older bearded male. God's body is draped in a semi transparent veil which allows the viewer to see the overall youthful musculature and detail without revealing the genitals.
Iconography: The idealized musculature and nudity are references to the classical humanistic tradition within which Michelangelo was working.  The concept of kalos is significant in that God is represented as both youthful and beautiful as well as aged and wise as evidenced by his beard.  The fact that God is clothed is a "nod" to the more conservative conventions of the day in which it would have been unacceptable to depict God as nude.  It could also be a reference to the Platonic concept that God is genderless.
The fingers of God and Adam do not touch.  The juxtaposition (comparison) in Adam's languid almost lazy pose and God's active one is symbolic of the moment just before Adam is brought to life.  This is one of the characteristics you can see throughout Michelangelo's works and is a quality that we also see in the artists of theMannerist movement who follow after him.
Context:  This image, as in many others, especially his Last Judgment were always considered a bit controversial because of the nudity.  At times, Michelangelo did take some abuse for his use of nude figures.  He was accused of impropriety for them.

Belvedere Torso
c300-50 BCE- probably 
1C BCE
"Apollonius son of 
Nestor an Athenian"
Form:  Scattered throughout the frescoes, almost as framing devices are the nude figures of young athletic looking men.  These ignudi (singular ignudo) all are derived somewhat from the poses of the Laocoon Group and from the Belvedere Torso.  In fact, if you look at these ignudi throughout the ceiling, they all seem to be the Belvedere torso with different arms, legs and heads pasted on them.Iconography:  The bunches of acorns found close to each figure and scattered throughout the ceiling's decorations are symbols of Pope Julius' family name the della Rovere (oak in Italian). 
Again as in all the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel the concept of kalos is important.  The idealized musculature and nudity are references to the classical humanistic tradition within which Michelangelo was working but in addition to this these heroic figures are adjusted to fit in with a Christian point of view.   According to art historian Irwin Panofsky (remember he did the analysis of the Arnolfini portrait) these nude figures are representations of the "athletes of god" and as such they are classical wingless angels.


Libyan Sibyl
Form: Placed within regular intervals in trompe l’oeil niches are a series of female figure all with scrolls and books.  They are depicted as having extremely masculine looking musculature and form but they are actually labeled in a painted plaque underneath each figure as a "Sibyl."  It seems obvious from the preliminary drawing below that Michelangelo studied nude males for these figures.  We also know from looking at Michelangelo's Pieta that he was capable of depicting feminine looking women but he made the choice in these figures and others to depict women as extremely strong looking.
 Iconography:  The appearance of strength is a depiction of symbolic strength.  These Sibyls (prophets from Ancient Greece) who have established the Classical foundation that all this is built on.  In order to "hold up" there prophetic points of view, symbolized by the large books and scrolls, these figures would have to have been powerful.  As such they are holding up the foundations of Christianity and this is very similar in content and structure to the caryatids from the Acropolis, the seven virtues and vices from the Arena Chapel and Ghiberti's doors

  


PERUGINO, Pietro
Charge to Saint Peter (Handling of the Keys)
1481-1483 Vatican, Sistine Chapel, fresco
On the north wall are six frescoes depicting events from the life of Christ as painted by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandajo, and Cosimo Rosselli. .  . Above these works, smaller frescoes between the windows depict various popes. Above the Popes are images that represent the ancestors of Christ and they, like the Sibyls, function as symbolic caryatids who support the narrative of the images above them.


Raphael



Stanza della Segnatura
Raphael School of Athens 1509-1510
fresco
from Raphael 
Last years in Rome.
Raphael was called to Rome toward the end of 1508 by Pope Julius II at the suggestion of the architect Donato Bramante. At this time Raphael was little known in Rome, but the young man soon made a deep impression on the volatile Julius and the papal court, and his authority as a master grew day by day. Raphael was endowed with a handsome appearance and great personal charm in addition to his prodigious artistic talents, and he eventually became so popular that he was called "the prince of painters."Raphael spent the last 12 years of his short life in Rome. They were years of feverish activity and successive masterpieces. His first task in the city was to paint a cycle of frescoes in a suite of medium-sized rooms in the Vatican papal apartments in which Julius himself lived and worked; these rooms are known simply as the Stanze. The Stanza della Segnatura (1508-11) and Stanza d'Eliodoro (1512-14) were decorated practically entirely by Raphael himself; the murals in the Stanza dell'Incendio (1514-17), though designed by Raphael, were largely executed by his numerous assistants and pupils.
The decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura was perhaps Raphael's greatest work. Julius II was a highly cultured man who surrounded himself with the most illustrious personalities of the Renaissance. He entrusted Bramante with the construction of a new basilica of St. Peter to replace the original 4th-century church; he called upon Michelangelo to execute his tomb and compelled him against his will to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; and, sensing the genius of Raphael, he committed into his hands the interpretation of the philosophical scheme of the frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura. This theme was the historical justification of the power of the Roman Catholic church through Neoplatonic philosophy.
The four main fresco walls in the Stanza della Segnatura are occupied by the "Disputa" and the "School of Athens" on the larger walls and the "Parnassus" and "Cardinal Virtues" on the smaller walls. The two most important of these frescoes are the "Disputa" and the "School of Athens." The "Disputa," showing a celestial vision of God and his prophets and apostles above a gathering of representatives, past and present, of the Roman Catholic church, equates through its iconography the triumph of the church and the triumph of truth. 
 "Last years in Rome.."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002. 
The "School of Athens" is a complex allegory of secular knowledge, or philosophy, showing Plato and Aristotle surrounded by philosophers, past and present, in a splendid architectural setting; it illustrates the historical continuity of Platonic thought. The "School of Athens" is perhaps the most famous of all Raphael's frescoes, and one of the culminating artworks of the High Renaissance. Here Raphael fills an ordered and stable space with figures in a rich variety of poses and gestures, which he controls in order to make one group of figures lead to the next in an interweaving and interlocking pattern, bringing the eye to the central figures of Plato and Aristotle at the converging point of the perspectival space. The space in which the philosophers congregate is defined by the pilasters and barrel vaults of a great basilica that is based on Bramante's design for the new St. Peter's in Rome. The general effect of the fresco is one of majestic calm, clarity, and equilibrium. "Last years in Rome.."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002. 


Raphael put portraits of important and influential people in the painting as a way to express the idea that the new Papal court was an updated, yet Catholic, school of Athens.Raphael uses Leonardo's face as a model for Plato, who gestures up.

Zoroaster, Ptolemy, Raphael and SodomaOne of the skills that most painters needed to develop during the Renaissance period was the ability to paint portraits and accurate likenesses.  Often this skill was developed by painting with a the only model that one might have available which is one's self.  The humanistic and platonic idea of perfectability also gave rise to self reflection and observation and in this case, self aggrandizement.  A portrait then is not just about the immediate apprearance but also it is a symbol of the person.  In this image we see that the artist is studying himself and also demonstrating his ability to create a strong physical likeness as well a psychological likeness.

Raphael, Self Portrait, 1506





The Northern Renaissance Part 2
Bosch

BOSCH, Hieronymus. 
Death and the Miser c. 1490 
Oil on wood, 93 x 31 cm 
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Context:  Even though the Reformation doesn't officially start until Luther publishes his writings around 1516-20 there are strains of the ideas and Luther and his writings are probably the result of years of moving in that direction in the North.  Many of Luther's ideas can be seen to evolve in the Northern art of the mid 1400's.  It makes sense that the critical and often sarcastic imagery we saw in Metsys' The Moneylender and his Wife, 1514 and the ideas expressed in Petrus Christus. Saint Eloy (Eligius) in his Shop.  1449 evolve into a critical point of view about the main religious institution controlling their lives.

Hiëronymus Bosch, 
b. c. 1450,, 's Hertogenbosch, Brabant [now in The Netherlands]
d. Aug. 9, 1516, 's Hertogenbosch 
also spelled JHERONIMUS BOS, pseudonym of JEROME VAN AEKEN, also spelled AQUEN, OR AKEN, also called JEROEN ANTHONISZOON, brilliant and original northern European painter of the late Middle Ages whose work reveals an unusual iconography of a complex and individual style. Although at first recognized as a highly imaginative "creator of devils" and a powerful inventor of seeming nonsense full of satirical meaning, Bosch demonstrated insight into the depths of the mind and an ability to depict symbols of life and creation.Bosch was a pessimistic and stern moralist who had neither illusions about the rationality of human nature nor confidence in the kindness of a world that had been corrupted by man's presence in it. His paintings are sermons, addressed often to initiates and consequently difficult to translate. Unable to unlock the mystery of the artist's works, critics at first believed that he must have been affiliated with secret sects. Although the themes of his work were religious, his choice of symbols to represent the temptation and eventual ensnarement of man in earthly evils caused many critics to view Bosch as a practitioner of the occult arts. More recent scholarship views Bosch as a talented artist who possessed deep insight into human character and as one of the first artists to represent abstract concepts in his work. A number of exhaustive interpretations of Bosch's work have been put forth in recent years, but there remain many obscure details.
 "Bosch, Hiëronymus."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 3, 2002. 
Notice that Bosch's iconography is a problem for art historians and each one attempts to interpret it according to what they know.  Below you will find several points of view as to what the iconography may or may not mean.  Read these different accounts and decide for yourself.

BOSCH, Hieronymus. 
Death and the Miser c. 1490 
Oil on wood, 93 x 31 cm 
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Form and Iconography: The use of oil paint to create an incredible level of realism is quite evident in this image.  Here, the artist shows off again by showing how well he is able to paint the textures and surfaces but he is also demonstrating his ability to create space.In some ways, this scene is a genre scene.  It takes place in what looks to be a domestic setting and the central character is one that the viewer would be expected to identify with.
Bosch often worked with almost incomprehensible or bizarre iconography.  It seems, like the submerged symbolism of Robert Campin's  Merode Altarpiece c. 1425 he is inventing or using a now lost lexicon of iconography.
The interior of this composition is formed to look almost as if the scene is taking place within the nave of a vaulted cathedral.  This is probably done almost as a sarcastic reference to the Gothic style Church.  To the left of the doorway in which a skeleton is entering is a Romanesque or Gothic capital and column.
This image seems to be a sarcastic play on the iconography associated with annunciation scenes such as those by Robert Campin's  Merode Altarpiece c. 1425.  Almost as in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, in this scene, a miser is being visited on his death bed by a variety of fantastic creatures.  Death stands ready in the door to fling his last arrow and take the man to his fate while his soul is wrestled over.  God is represented by the apparition of the crucifixion in the window.  The light that shines through the window is represented similarly to the soul of Jesus being delivered to Mary in the Merode Altarpiece c. 1425.   Above the bed, on a canopy, a demon shines a fake sparking lamp to misguide him.
At the misers back is an angel.  Again the angel is similar to representations of Gabriel in annunciation scenes but the miser pays no attention and seems torn, even on his deathbed, between the glory of god and the vain gloria of his avarice represented by the evil frog like demon tempting him with the money bag.
Overall the composition is a vertical one and this plays into the iconography.  God is represented at the top of the image and as we descend through the image we can also see that the iconography descends into the common world of man.
Beneath the deathbed is a rather red nosed and almost drunken looking man who has a key and a rosary hanging from his robes.  According to the the National Gallery's website, "At the foot of the bed a younger man, possibly the miser at an earlier age, hypocritically throws coins into a chest with one hand as he fingers a rosary with the other."
I think they may have it wrong though, to me it looks like he is placing money into an alm's bowl held by a demon while another demon passes up what looks to be a letter or a papal indulgence.  Could this be St. Peter and the chest represent the holdings of the Catholic Church?  Perhaps then, the letter is an indulgence that is an attempt to pay his way into heaven.
Beneath the chest and at the very bottom of the picture plane lies a suit of discarded armor.  Perhaps a representation of the miser's discarded faith.  Notice that the sword is rusted.  He is no longer the good Christian soldier depicted in Durer's print.
Here's another point of view but I'm not sure if it's correct:

Bosch's depiction of a dying miser lying in his high narrow bedchamber features a number of details pointing out the consequences of a life devoted to avarice. The figure of death stands in the doorway indicating that the miser's end is rapidly approaching. And while the miser's guardian angel vainly tries to draw his attention to the crucifix in the window at the upper left, the demonic influence is overpowering.Many commentators have noted that Bosch's work here seems to be of a type which may have been influenced by the Fifteen Century devotional work Ars Moriendi (Craft of Dying) which describes how a dying man is exposed to a series of temptations by demons surrounding his deathbed. At each temptation an angel comforts him and strengthens him and in the end the angel is successful, the soul is carried to heaven and the devil's howl in despair. Here, however, the outcome is much less certain.
The fact that the miser's path was established long before his death is apparent with the inclusion of an image of his younger self placing a coin into a bag held by a demon. Underneath the chest other demons await. in the forefront a winged demon handles the red robes which indicate the miser's earthly rank. While at bedside another creature offers a bag of gold which provides a final distraction to the dying man. The message appears to be that despite God's willingness to provide salvation most people will persist in their sins until the point of death.
http://www.artdamage.com/bosch/miser.htm
Here's the National Gallery of Art, Washington point of view:

Of all fifteenth-century artists, Hieronymus Bosch is the most mysterious. His puzzling, sometimes bizarre imagery has prompted a number of false assertions that he was, for example, the member of a heretical sect, a sexual libertine, or a forerunner of the surrealists. What can be said is that he was a moralist, profoundly pessimistic about man's inevitable descent into sin and damnation.In this slender panel, probably a wing from a larger altarpiece, a dying man seems torn between salvation and his own avarice. At the foot of the bed a younger man, possibly the miser at an earlier age, hypocritically throws coins into a chest with one hand as he fingers a rosary with the other. In his last hour, with death literally at the door, the miser still hesitates; will he reach for the demon's bag of gold or will he follow the angel's gesture and direct his final thoughts to the crucifix in the window?
Avarice was one of the seven deadly sins and among the final temptations described in the Ars moriendi (Art of Dying), a religious treatise probably written about 1400 and later popularized in printed books. Bosch's painting is similar to illustrations in these books, but his introduction of ambiguity and suspense is unique.
This panel is thinly painted. In several areas it is possible to see in the underdrawing where Bosch changed his mind about the composition. His thin paint and unblended brushstrokes differ markedly from the enamellike polish of other works in this gallery.
also see 
http://www.thebeckoning.com/art/bosch/bosch-miser.html

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.


BRUEGEL, or  Pieter Brueghel the Elder.


Pieter Brueghel the Elder 
Netherlandish Proverbs 
1559 Oil on oak panel, 117 x 163 
cm Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Form:  This is a realistic yet cartoonish rendering.  In general the rules of perspective are adhered to and there is some chiaroscuro.  Each object and individual are clearly rendered using the glazing techniques that Van Eyck perfected nearly a century before, however, the carefully glazed rendering of the surfaces and objects are secondary to the message.Iconography and Context:  The iconography relates to the Northern habit of creating and using parables.  A parable is a kind of adage which Webster's dictionary describes as a "saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation."
This painting contains nearly more than twenty proverbs and each is designed to provide some sort of moral direction in visual form.  This painting probably served two purposes.  The visual depiction of proverbs as symbols was probably created both as a form of instruction but also as a clever conversation piece.
Below is a diagram that identifies some of the proverbs in the painting.


1. Daar zijn de daken met vladen gedekt.
There the roofs are tiled with tarts!
The image is one connoting a plentitude or a state of wealth.2. Daar steekt de bezem uit.
There the broom sticks out.
This signifies that the head of the household is not at home which in turn indicates that a party is in progress or soon will be.
3. Onder het mes zitten.
Sitting under the knife.
A severe testing under great pressure.
4. 't is naar het vallen van de kaart.
It depends on the fall of the cards.
So much of life is a matter of luck.
5. Een pilaarbijter.
A pillar biter.
A religious hypocrite.
6. Zij draagt water in de eene, en vuur in de andere hand.
She carries water in one hand and fire in the other.
Someone who is two-faced.
7. Men kan met het hoofd niet door den muur loopen.
One cannot walk headfirst through a wall.
A man foolishly trying to ignore the hard realities of the natural world.
8. De een scheert de schapen, de ander de varkens.
The one shears the sheep, the other the pigs.
In life some individuals have opportunities for material success while others do not.



Printmaking and the Reformation 


 
Engraving Depicting a Renaissance Printmaking Shop
Context:  One of the major innovations of the Renaissance, much like our own information revolution concerning the internet, was the invention of the movable type printing press.  Two majors forms had been around for several hundred years already.  Engraving and woodblock printing but this innovation was something new.The movable type printing press, perfected most likely by Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468),  created an information revolution.  What made the movable type printing press so significant was the fact that it used reusable interchangable parts to create pages of texts.  In the large illustration on the left is a man putting precarved blocks (made out of medal or wood) in to small compartments in a larger tray.  Above the tray is the original manuscript which he is "typesetting."  The page once it had been set would be run through a printing press for a series of images and then once enough copies had been made, the block would be dumped out, sorted and then reused in another page.
The major benefit to this process is speed and economy.  Since the individual pages didn't need to be carved from scratch, half the time was needed to print off a series of pages.  It was also cheaper because less labor and materials were needed.
In the past, books and especially the Bible, were often hand made.  Monks or scribes would hand copy and decorate each page individually and the major producer or publisher of such manuscripts was the Catholic Church.  With this new technology, wealthy individuals could now afford to print off multiple sets of books and flyers with their ideas.  The text of the Bible, whose cost was prohibitively expensive and also outlawed to anyone but the Cathloic clergy, could now be printed up at much less cost.  The equivalenyt of these events would be our ability to send off a mass e-mail, print out multiple copies of a flyer at a copy shop and or post documents to the web.  This is called "self-publishing."
New books were now being published and copies of Gutenberg's famous Bible were being mass produced and this lead to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in the North of Europe and the writings of Martin Luther who used this movable type press to circulate his ideas.  This lead to the "Reformation"
Martin Luther was the leader of the religious movement known as the Reformation.  After reading a passage in the Book of Romans, he had a greater understanding about the judgment of God—basically that anyone could go straight to God and ask for forgiveness for their sins.  This, of course, went against what Catholicism taught which was that people could only speak to God through an intermediary (usually a priest) and that the only way to get a speedy ticket out of Purgatory was to buy one’s way out.  This led Luther to write the "95 Theses."
There was a great outcry against Luther by the Pope about the "95 Theses."  This led Luther to write three manifestos – the first of which was an open letter to the Christian Nobility.  This letter appealed to the noblemen of Germany to hear his beliefs and try to persuade the people who still followed the “Romanists” (Catholics).
In this manifesto, Luther uses a metaphor of three walls to describe what is seemingly a catch-22 situation.  The Pope was all-powerful and was the only one who could translate the Bible. If a person wished to challenge this, they would have to call a council – and the only person who could call council was the Pope!  Luther dispels this belief with his teachings. 
According to the Britannica Encyclopedia:
The role of Luther Luther said that what differentiated him from previous reformers was that they attacked the life, he the doctrine of the church. Whereas they denounced the sins of churchmen, he was disillusioned by the whole scholastic scheme of redemption. The assumption was that man could erase his sins one by one through confession and absolution in the sacrament of penance. Luther discovered that he could not remember or even recognize all of his sins, and the attempt to dispose of them one by one was like trying to cure smallpox by picking off the scabs. Indeed, he believed that the whole man was sick. The church, however, held that the individual was not too sick to make up for bad deeds by some good deeds. God gave to all a measure of grace. If human beings lay hold of it and did the best they could, God would reward them with a further gift of grace with which they could perform deeds of genuine merit, which would give them credit before God. Human beings might even die with more than enough credits for salvation. These extra credits constituted a treasury of the merits of the saints, from which the pope could make transfers to those whose accounts were in arrears. The transfer was called an indulgence and for this, in Luther's day, the grateful recipient made a contribution to the church.
 "The continental Reformation- Germany, Switzerland, and France."
Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   November 12, 2002.

The text of the  "An Open Letter to The Christian Nobility" is a good summary of the main ideas published in Martin Luther's "Ninety-five Theses."  However, here are his "Ninety-five Theses" for those of you who would like to read the whole thing.
Please readMencher, Liaisons  125-136 Martin Luther (1483-1546) "An Open Letter to The Christian Nobility" 1520.
A lot of the primary texts concerning the Reformation can be found here.



Lucas Cranach the Elder.
"Passional Christi und Antichristi."
Woodcut. 1521.
Northern Renaissance, Germany


Matthew Chapter 21


12  Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those 


engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables 


of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 


13 And he said to them, "It is written: 'My house shall be a house of
prayer,' but you are making it a den of thieves." 


Form:  These are two prints presented in the form of a diptych (two images side by side).  The two images by Lucas Cranach demonstrate a large amount of fine detail even though this is hard to do with woodcut printmaking.


The images also demonstrate that by this time linear perspective and anatomical accuracy were common place expectations for almost all art.


Iconography: The image on the left depicts Jesus in the manner to which the audiences of the Renaissance would have come to expect him and his disciples to look like.  He is a young bearded man in a robe; however, the people he thrashes are all wearing clothing contemporary to Germany in the 1500's.  The temples architecture is also familiar and typical for a church from the 16th century.  This is designed to draw the audience in and make them identify with the sinners in the image.  This device is referred to as a genre element.  Art historians use the term genre to describe images that depict people and events from everyday life.


The right hand image shows a scene similarly useing genre elements in which the Pope (who wears the Papal tiara or crown) is seated on a comfortable cushion while he is surrounded by his bishops (note the hats).


In this picture from a Lutheran devotional (and propagandist) booklet, Christ (on the left) is driving the moneychangers out of the temple, in contrast to the Pope, who is shown as a hawker of indulgences. The picture originated as a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder the court painter for the Elector of Saxony and a close friend of Luther's.


Context:  The image at left is a representation of this Bible passage from the book of Matthew.  Cranach and Luther got together on this one to illustrate the text from the Bible but also to update it.  This image would have been distributed as a piece of propaganda against the Catholic Church and used to illustrate Luther's new and radical ideas.

This following lifted directly from this page


http://www.thelutheran.org/9610/page26.html


It seems amazingly relevant! 

Had television existed in the 16th century, the daily dose of political attack ads might have shown spots of Martin Luther as saint and the pope as sinner!People who use the phrase "politics as usual" when they are disgusted by the mudslinging and outrageous claims of political commercials probably don't realize just how "usual" that really is. The modern mass media campaign of charge and countercharge originated not in the smoke-filled rooms of political parties but in the Protestant-Roman Catholic struggle of the Reformation.
The printing press was barely 70 year s old when Martin Luther and his supporters turned it into an awesome tool--and weapon--for the spread of the Lutheran understanding of the gospel. They used every trick in today's campaign adviser's book to advance their cause, and their Catholic opponents responded in kind.


A commercial this summer framed an upbeat President Clinton against a bright blue sky, while Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich were shown in black-and-white with frowns on their faces. In similar fashion, 16th century folk were treated to woodcuts of Luther, Bible in hand, surrounded by a halo of sanctity and overshadowed by the hovering dove of the Spirit. His "opponent," the pope, was cast as a servant of the devil, enthroned in hell.


One of the most famous attack ad woodcuts commissioned by Luther pairs the scene of Christ driving the money-changers from the temple with a view of the pope receiving indulgence money. Sound familiar? It's not unlike a recent commercial depicting Clinton wanting more and more tax money, while Dole drives the wicked "taxers and spenders" away.In his contributions to this media melee, Luther didn't hesitate to depict his opponents in the worst possible light or to put a highly favorable "spin" on the efforts and beliefs of his side.
Yet, in even his angriest publications, Luther always offered profound teachings about the gospel. He could never just attack. He had to preach and teach as well.
Would that the modern media campaigns imitate less Luther's trashing of opponents and more his presentation of issues that really matter.

Albrecht DÜRER, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. 1498 Woodcut, 39 x 28 cm
(Revelation 6:1-8:) Conquest, War, Plague and Famine, Death
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.

Albrecht DÜRER,
The Knight, Death and The Devil
1513-14 Copper engraving, 25 x 19 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.
For more info on printmaking go here;
http://faculty.indy.cc.ks.us/jnull/valueprintintaglio2.htm


Albrecht DÜRER,
The Knight, Death and The Devil
1513-14 Copper engraving, 25 x 19 cm
Iconography:
"Though the imagery of his Knight, Death and the Devil is influenced by his travels to Italy, the rich iconography is an element of his Northern upbringing. The knight represents the "good Christian soldier", who is traveling through the "forest of darkness" to arrive at the "kingdom of light". On his way, he encounters Death (the old man with serpents for hair) and the Devil (the single-horned goat), but he does not even give them a moment's glance. He is steadfast in his aim, accompanied by his faithful dog (representing loyalty). There is a small lizard below the hind legs of his horse going the opposite direction. Anything reptilian generally connotes evil in Christian iconography, and also serves to emphasize that his is going the right direction. In the left corner is a skull, symbolic of the fate of all mankind, just above Albrecht Durer's signature, "A.D."
http://www.urtonart.com/history/Renaissance/northrenaiss.htm
See how it relates to this hymn. 
Go here for the melody http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/n/onwardcs.htm
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Refrain
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Refrain
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Refrain
What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believ'd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Refrain
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Refrain
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.
Refrain