Friday, March 27, 2020

Linear Perspective

19th C Technology and Architecture

Paris: When it Sizzles! Impressionism and Baron Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.
Gustave Caillebotte 1848-94
Paris, A Rainy Day,1876-77 oil on canvas
o/c  Chicago,A.I. approximately 7'x5'
Form: Semi-Impressionistic painting done using multiple vanishing points, atmospheric perspective, and subtle non-local colors. This painting is a very impressive combination of almost all the formal qualities we have looked at so far this semester.In terms of Caillebotte's use of perspective, he uses multiple points of perspective although on first glance it appears to be just two points.  The lamp post, which is slightly off center is placed just in front of one of the vanishing points.  Caillebotte uses the lamp post to divide the picture plane but also to divide the foreground (on the right) from the far background (on the left.)  Caillebotte also uses atmospheric perspective to dull the intensity and cool the colors of the sky and buildings as they recede into the background.   He also changes the value structure and restricts in the background.
Caillebotte also manipulates the color in an impressionistic manner.  If you look closely at the color of the sky, you will see it is not the typical blue that one may think of as being a sky color.  In fact the sky almost has yellows and greens in it.  The same is true of the colors of the cobblestones.  If you look closely at them you may not that the hue or color of the cobblestones are not the browns and grays one might expect.  Even in the flesh tones of the figures you may notice that there are blues and grays in addition to the warm brown we can anticipate.  (Remember Vermeer did this too.)   This is called using "non-local colors."  This use of "non-local colors" is one of the main tricks of the impressionists.
Iconography:  This painting symbolizes many things.  It represents the destruction of the old Paris and the reconstruction of the newer one by Baron Haussmann.  It also represents the rise in the newer bourgoisie and their access to new found wealth.  This new upper middle class had money thanks to industrialization.  This new class of people were able to spend money and enjoy the wide diagonal vistas created by the renovation of Paris.  The clothing these people wear and the accessories they carry (the top hats and umbrellas) represent the mass creation of these luxury goods.  The bottom of the buildings they walk by are shops that contain wide open picture windows that invite these individuals to spend there newly acquired wealth.
Context: According to the Brittanica,

French painter, art collector, and impresario who combined aspects of the academic and Impressionist styles in a unique synthesis.Born into a wealthy family, Caillebotte trained to be an engineer but became interested in painting and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet in 1874 and showed his works at the Impressionist exhibition of 1876 and its successors. Caillebotte became the chief organizer, promoter, and financial backer of the Impressionist exhibitions for the next six years, and he used his wealth to purchase works by Monet, Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley, and Berthe Morisot.
Caillebotte was an artist of remarkable abilities, but his posthumous reputation languished because most of his paintings remained in the hands of his family and were neither exhibited nor reproduced until the second half of the 20th century. His early paintings feature the broad new boulevards and modern apartment blocks created by Baron Haussmann for Paris in the 1850s and '60s. The iron bridge depicted in "Le Pont de l'Europe" typifies this interest in the modern urban environment, while "Floor-Scrapers" (1875) is a realistic scene of urban craftsmen busily at work. Caillebotte's masterpiece, "Paris Street; Rainy Day" (1877; Art Institute of Chicago), uses bold perspective to create a monumental portrait of a Paris intersection on a rainy day. Caillebotte also painted portraits and figure studies, boating scenes and rural landscapes, and decorative studies of flowers. He tended to use brighter colours and heavier brushwork in his later works.
Caillebotte's originality lay in his attempt to combine the careful drawing and modeling and exact tonal values advocated by the academy with the vivid colours, bold perspectives, keen sense of natural light, and unpretentious subject matter of the Impressionists. Caillebotte's posthumous bequest of his art collection to the French government was accepted only reluctantly by the state. When the Caillebotte Room opened at the Luxembourg Palace in 1897, it was the first exhibition of Impressionist paintings ever to be displayed in a French museum. 
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

PARIS. Opera Area. c.1876. 
Demolition for Avenue de l'Opera. (Marville, Charles, photographer). 

RePlan of Paris, 1853,
Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann (1809-1891) and Napoleon III
Form:  Paris is now laid out in a series of broad several lane vistas as wide as some of our 4 lane highways.  The streets are also laid out in diagonals that terminate in views of important or beautiful buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Opera house or the Arche de Triomphe. The streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings that spring up from these streets are fairly uniform in size, shape and ornament because they were all constructed fairly quickly and out of similar materials.

"Distinguished for his bold alterations in the layout of Paris under Napoleon III, he is largely responsible for the city's present appearance. To create adequate traffic circulation, old streets were widened and new ones cut, while the great railway stations were placed in a circle outside the old city and provided with broad approaches. For the enhancement of monuments, open spaces and vistas were contrived, including the Place de l’Opéra, the Étoile, and the Place de la Nation, which became focusing points for radiating avenues. The Bois de Boulogne was laid out, as well as a number of smaller parks. The Boulevard Haussmann in Paris commemorates his name."
Iconography: The redesign incorporates many of the radiating patterns that Versaille's gardens have and many of the structures have the French style roof known as the Mansard style roof that the palace at Versailles exhibits.  This reference to Versailles is either a conscious or unconscious attempt to refer back to Paris and France's pre-Revolutionary and romantic days.Context: According to the Brittanica,

Napoleon III and Haussmann
Even by the mid-19th century, some areas of Paris had not been improved substantially for hundreds of years. Access from one centre to another and to the railway stations (which had become in effect the gateways of Paris) was difficult; moreover, overpopulation and rapid industrialization had brought squalor and misery, which account in part for the dominant role of Paris in the revolutions of both 1830 and 1848. Napoleon III, emperor from 1852 to 1870, enjoined his prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, to remedy these problems.Haussmann was the creator of modern Paris. A planner on the grand scale, he advocated straight arterial thoroughfares, symmetry, and advantageous vistas. He slashed the boulevards through the tangles of slums, began the modern sewer and water systems, gutted the Île de la Cité, rebuilt the ancient market of the Halles, and added four new Seine bridges and rebuilt three old ones. The brilliance and prosperity of Paris under Napoleon III were exemplified in the exhibitions held there in 1855 and 1867.

PARIS. Apt. house, 19th c. 
economic status by floor. Pinkney, pl. 3. 
Form:  The Parisian apartment houses were redesigned to be vertical in orientation and often rose four to five stories. Most buildings were uniform in size and shape and were built around airshafts or a central courtyard which allowed light and air to flow through the entire structure and provided windows for almost all of the inhabited rooms.
The roof was usually designed after the style of Mansard.  The buildings were made mainly from brick and concrete.  Window casements and glass were made from wood often manufactured in standard sizes and shapes.  The buildings were often surrounded by terraces with cast iron and sometimes wrought iron ornamentation. 
The buildings incorporated in door plumbing and gas lights and utilized the extensive Parisian sewer system to sanitize them.
Almost all of the building materials were created elsewhere and then brought to the site and built almost in a modular fashion.  Ins some ways these buildings are the ancestors to our own modularly constructed building developments and even trailer homes.
Iconography:  These redesign of Paris and the construction of such similar apartment blocks symbolized the technological innovations and advancements created by French civil engineers and architects.  The construction of such buildings represented the modernization and homogenization of Parisian culture.  It also demonstrated the new found wealth of the bourgeois (middle classes.)
Context:  The creation of such buildings fit in with the over all street designs of Haussmann and were thought to cut back on diseases caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation.  These buildings also combined commercial spaces with living spaces above and therefore made the downtown areas more commercially viable and convenient.
The bottom floor of the structure usually contained shops or a cafe.  The large glass display windows exhibited the goods inside.  The bottom and second floors were the apartments of the wealthier individuals and sometimes the landlords.  As  one moved up the structure, the stairs created and inconvenience since at that point no elevators existed.  The further one moved from the bottom floors the less expensive the apartments became due to the inconvenience.  Hence in the attic (garret) the artists lived as this diagram can attest.

Charles Garnier's, Opera 1860-1875

Form: Opera House built by Charles Garnier for Napoleon the III. It was to be part of the great revitalization of Paris.Iconography: "Although described by a contemporary critic as 'looking like an overloaded sideboard', it (the Paris Opera House) is now regarded as one of the masterpieces of the period. Here Garnier triumphed over a cramped and difficult site, handling the carriage-ramps and approach steps, the foyers and staircases, both in section and plan, with confidence and skill. The style is monumental, classically based and opulently expressed, as the times demanded, in an elaborate language of multicoloured marbles and lavish statuary. Throughout his life, Garnier was criticized for his excessive use of ornament, as Napoleon and Haussmann are still accused of being inspired by an out-of-date and imperialist showmanship expressed in a language already debased. Such critics forget that every city needs its occasional monuments and occasions of grandeur, and that, thanks largely to these three men, Paris remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world." 
  — John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. p214.
Context: "Charles Garnier was born of humble origins in Paris in 1825. He studied at the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin in the evenings until 1840 when he entered the atelier of Lebas. Later he worked as a draughtsman for Viollet-le-Duc. In 1842 Garnier entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he eventually won the Grand Prix de Rome. He studied for five years at the Academy in Rome where he became interested in the "pageantry of Roman society". He rounded out his architectural education with a visit to Greece and Turkey in 1852. Back in Paris, Garnier received few private commissions but accepted several municipal posts including that of architect of the fifth and sixth arrondissemnets. In 1861 Garnier entered and won the competition for the new Paris opera house. His design reflected the aspirations of the Second Empire with its rich coloring and decoration."
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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Early Christian Art Catacombs and Sarcophagi

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The Catacomb of St. Peters and Marcellinus -
200 CE Rome, Italy
Early Christian
(go here for more detail views)
Form:  The catacombs were a series of underground tunnels dug into the soft volcanic rock beneath Rome.  Some of the tunnels were connected as an overall network system.  The small spaces were most often used as tombs in which the bodies were kept in crypts and in niches carved directly into the rock.  The cells or rooms for these tombs were often decorated with frescoes although in terms of the illusionistic and over all quality of the frescoes were not as fine as those found in Pompeii.This particular fresco is on the ceiling of one of the chambers.  It is a symmetrical design that fits the contours of the ceiling.  The over all shape is a medallion (circular form) which contains another circle.  Radiating from the inner circle is a cruciform (cross like) design that terminates in lunettes (small half circles).  Each of the empty spaces contained by the design hold a scene or a figure.  The figures all stand the orant pose but those inside the half circles and the central circle contain slightly different scenes.
The central circle contains a naturalistically rendered image of a figure standing in contrapposto pose.  His over all pose follows the schema of the sculpture of the Moscophoros.   The surrounding lunettes show scenes from the story of Jonah and the Whale. 
Iconography:  The imagery is neither wholly Roman, Jewish or Christian but instead a kind of composite of the best qualities of each.  The contrapposto pose and nude figures done in the Roman style demonstrate that the the ideas of kalos and beauty from the Greek classic periods have not completely faded.  The image of the youth carrying the lamb, is a borrowing from the Moscophoros image dealing with a sacrificial lamb but also refers to the Jewish and Christian ideas concerning King David from the Old Testament as a foreshadowing of the images of Christ as the "Good Shepherd."  The use of Old Testament themes to illustrate New Testament stories is referred to by Stokstad as typological exegesis.  (Go to Stokstad page 293 for more on Jonah)
Context:  Stokstad has an excellent description of the context that these frescoes would have been found in on page 293.

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus c359 CE
4x8' marble, St. Peter's, Rome Italy
Early Christian Culture and Period
Form:  The overall form of the casket is almost like that of a symmetrical classical or Roman building.  There are Composite columns, arches, entablatures and pediments.  Each of the scenes is contained within its own architectural niche.  Each of the individual scenes is then also structured into a symmetrical or semi symmetrical composition.  The fairly high relief figures, although a bit more classical in their depiction of contrapposto and drapery are still proportioned very much like the figures on the Arch of Constantine. Iconography: The use of classical orders and Roman arches is a link with the culture of Rome and a way of making the new Christian iconography "classic."  The scenes chosen are a selection of the stories of both the Old and New Testaments.  The purpose of placing these scenes together  is a typological exegesis.  Each of the Old Testament scenes is designed to link refer to the newer ideas expressed in the New Testament.  (See Stokstad The Iconography of Jesus pg 307 and the text on page 308-9.)
This is a diagram of the scenes.
Abraham and IsaacPeter Arrested for Preaching after Jesus's DeathChrist EnthronedChrist before Pontius PilateChrist before Pontius Pilate
Misery of JobFall of Man
(Adam and Eve)
Christ's Entry into JerusalemDaniel in the Lion's DenSt. Paul Lead to His Martyrdom
Here's an example of one of these typologies from the Old Testament of the Jewish/Christian Bible that relates to a message or theme in the New Testament.   The story of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" is a story in which a Jew's faith was being challenged because he would not bow down to a Persian king.  He was thrown into a lion's den but because he put his faith in "god" he was not harmed.  His faith protected him and he was rewarded.  This is similar to how Jesus' faith was tested when he was before Pontius Pilate.
As in the frieze on the Arch of Constantine, these images are much more diagramatic and straightforward.  The viewer has all the iconography placed before them in one single unobstructed view. Jesus, in the center panel, is placed in the center of the symmetrically designed composition which puts him in the most important position.  Perhaps this new digramatic style is related to the second commandment and its law against images.  It has also been suggested that the larger heads and reduction of naturalistic elements relates to the new Christian ideal of deemphasizing the physical world and reemphasizing the spiritual and mental.
Context:  Junius Bassus was a city prefect (a minor official in the Roman government) who converted just before his death.  The practice of converting on one's death bed or shortly before one's death was a fairly common practice and a way of insuring that, just in case the Christian's were right, that the after life would be pleasant.
Some messy contextual notes on Catholicism/Christianity 300-1500 AD
  • Catholic: means “universal”
  • Monotheistic
  • Triad of Three cultures ideas: Roman, Greek, Jewish
  • Greeks and Romans gave it:
    • Plays for morality,
    • Symbols of dome and circle (iconography),
    • Saints, Bldgs.,
    • State religion w/ pope @ head, roads, technology, laws, language
  • Jews gave it:
    • monotheistic faith,
    • Bible (Old Testament),
    • rules,
    • 10 Commandments
  • Vulgate: common version of the Bible
  • Christ: means “annointed”, blessed one
  • Philosophical points: it’s all about love, be nice to one another, forgiveness, guilt
  • So popular b/c: afterlife is rewarding, Jesus and apostles from lower class so people relate, rulers are dictators, (antiwar, afterlife, forgiveness).
  • Edict of Milan: legalized Christianity
  • Nicene Creed: standard Catholic (universal) philosophy
    • Jesus was not a prophet but actually God on Earth
    • Holy Trinity is three beings all of same vehicle;
      1. God- creator,
      2. Jesus- incarnate flesh,
      3. Ghost- spirit
    • Heretics are people against church; “wrong believers”
  • Structure of Church’s Authority:
    • Jesus’s #1 Main Apostle- Peter (Petrus) (“rock”, 1st pope)
    • “On this rock I will build this church,” said Jesus.
    • Hierarchy:
      1. Pope
      2. Bishops
      3. Cardinals.
        1. Bishops become priests and cardinals are important bishops that elect pope.
  • Old Testament: prophetic book (typological exegesis) leads to life of Christ
    •   Psalms: songs
    •   Prophecy: coming of messiah
    •   Apocrypha: history added on, leads up to birth Christ, family tree
  • New Testament: Gospels (teachings & stories)
    •   Acts: apostles’ stories after life Christ
    •   Letters: lives of apostles
    •   Revelation: apocalypse
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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Early Christian into the Byzantine, San Vitale

Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style

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Form: This central plan structure has an octagonal shape and two levels.  The arches walls and floors are all covered with ornate and intricate Byzantine style mosaic and tile work.  Arches and some vaulting are used and the center even has a dome, which from the exterior looks like an octagons full of windows that flood the interior with light. Eight large piers alternate with columned niches to define precisely the central space and to create a many layered design.  Nevertheless, the technology used to construct San Vitale is not quite as advanced as Hagia Sophia although the walls were lightened by the use of hollow pots in its interior.Iconography:  San Vitale reflects Byzantine influence and technological creativity. St. Vitale is the major Justinian monument in the West. It was probably built as a testament to the power of Orthodoxy in the declining kingdom of the Ostrogoths. He tries to establish a place where there are severe Christian Churches (people were forced to convert to Christianity).
Context:  On the second level of the ambulatory, is a special gallery reserved for women. This was a typical custom of Jewish religious worship. The reason for this, was to segregate the males from the females in order for them to pray with greater devotion.
For more details of  San Vitale go here.

Emperor Justinian and his Attendants
mosaic on north wall of the apse
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Empress Theodora and Her Attendants.
mosaic on south wall of the apse
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Form:  The interior of St. Vitale, is similar to the Pantheon and Hagia Sophia.  The design includes an enormous amount of different colored marble and all the other surfaces are decorated with mosaic or tile.  The ornamentation in the church's interior looks Islamic or Arabic although it predates Islam. The figures are stylized in a typical Byzantine mode.  The heads are too large and the bodies are covered completely with drapery that does not reveal the anatomy beneath.   It also shares some elements from the Arch of Constantine, the heads are big and there's no Contrapposto (liberal movement in figures).  The facial anatomy is stylized.  The face is also elongated and the nose meets the bridge of the brows and the eyebrows actually go directly into the nose.  These are some of the elements that become standardized in Byzantine Manuscript.
Stokstad discusses the reverse perspective of the image which basically is a denial of the illusionistic systems of Roman art that are apparent in the mosaics and frescoes of Pompeii.
Iconography:  Both the empress's and emperor's mosaics face one another across the apse and each holds one component of the eucharist.  Justinian holds the tray and the wafer which symbolizes the body of Christ.  In his twelve companions, which are roughly the equivalent to Jesus' twelve apostles, the emperor also has two symbols of the power he holds: on the earth he has his army to support him at his right hand.  Notice they have the implied mandate of the power of Constantine because of the chi ro on their shield.  (Here's what a chi ro is)
Chi-Rho n, pl Chi-Rhos [chi + rho] (1868): a Christian monogram and symbol formed from the first two letters X and P of the Greek word for Christ--called also Christogram What is Chi Ro? Chi Ro, pronounced (KI ROW), is probably the oldest monogram used for the name of Christ. It was found written along the walls of the catacombs, which were the cemeteries of the early Christians and also a place where they held their secret meetings. The Chi and Ro are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ. Our CH was one letter in Greek and was shaped like our X. The Greek R had the shape of our P. By combining the RO or P to one arm of the Chi we get XP. As a pre- Christian symbol, the Chi Ro signified good fortune. The Chi Ro became an important Christian symbol when adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name Christ. According to Church Father Eusebius, on the eve of the Battle of Milvan Bridge, the Emperor saw the emblem in a dream, with the inscription "With this symbol, you shall conquer." According to the story, the battle was won. In return for the victory, Constantine erected Christian Churches. The symbol was the standard of the Emperor's army, prominently displayed on the Emperor's labarum, or battle standard. 
For his spiritual power he has the members of the clergy on his left.  Directly to his left is the archbishop Maximus whose face is almost as defined and unique as Justinian's. Theodora is surrounded by her ladies in waiting and the local clergy as well and Theodora holds the wine which symbolizes the blood of christ.  On her gown is an image of the three Magi carrying their gift to the newborn Jesus.  Both are wearing royal purple and both are placed at the center of the image.  The placement and the icons they carry and wear were meant to communicate to the viewer that the emperor and empress were the church and the only path to salvation.  This links theological and political power as a single theocratic unit.
Context:  (Stokstad gives a much more detailed discussion of the iconography in the Byzantine chapter.)
For more details of  San Vitale go here.

Capital, Church of San Vitale,
Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
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Form:  This capital at first appears to be an almost Tuscan or Doric capital but on closer inspection it is the correction of the original Greek and Roman orders.  Between the arch and the capital is an additional structure called an impost block.  The designs on the capital are much more ornate and less solid looking then its predecessors and combines carving, polychroming and mosaic.  The over all intricate organic patterning and weaving of the ornamentation is abstract and overly ornate. Iconography:  The organic vine like qualities refer to the symbol of Christianity as a vine that keeps spreading.   In the center of the column's capital and impost block are cruciform symbols.  Notice on the capital, the Greek cross formed of four circles that looks like the domed greek cross plan discussed on page 324 The Elements of Architecture, Multiple-Dome Church Plans.  The use of classical ornamentation and then the obvious changing of it is symbolic of the fusion of the Roman and Greek classic ideals wedded to the culture and decorative forms of the east as well as the iconography of Christianity.


Mosaic of Christ from the
Archepiscopal Palace in Ravenna
late 6th CenturyThis image of Christ from San Vitale demonstrates a shift
in Christian thought.  If you look at how Jesus is depicted
and how this passage relates to the Psalm at right you may
notice that Jesus is now a Christian soldier and defender.
This relates somewhat to the politics that govern the
interaction of Christianity with Islam in Byzantium almost
a century later.
PSALM 91,He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling --
even the Lord, who is my refuge --
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
(sometimes worded: 
You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, 
trample the lion and the dragon.)
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."