Thursday 24th May at 11 a.m.;
Friday 25th May at 11 a.m. & 7.30 p.m.
The Dawn of Flemish genius: the lives and works of Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin & Rogier van der Weyden.
Last month my art lovers group looked at the work of the three Florentine artists who would influence architecture, art and sculpture up to the present day. This month we will look at the paintings of the three painters who still cause people to weep because of their ability to capture the human condition. Van Eyck, Campin and van der Weyden were contemporaries of the Florentines, but their painting was different. van Eyck used multi point perspective, Campin portrayed the Gospel stories as part of everyday 15th century life, and Rogier van der Weyden described such intense emotion it that anyone seeing his work cannot fail to be moved.
Who were they? What was life like in northern Europe? Were they so different from their Italian counterparts and if so, why?
Here’s the link to my art history group website. http://www.ashteadartlovers.co.uk/this-month-s-talk
£10 including coffee/tea, cake & biscuits. Tel 01372 272235 or email email@example.com to book. Numbers limited.
You might be interested to read my article on the Blog page.
Brunelleschi, Donatello & Masaccio: The Florentine Masters of architecture, sculpture and painting.
Even a little knowledge of the work of these masters will help anyone to understand the leap of understanding of mathematics, perspective and portrayal religious scenes that happened in Florence in the early fifteenth century.
Donatello’s bronze David is the first bronze statue of the Italian Renaissance to be cast in a single pour.
His Mary Magdalen, carved in lime wood, has an emotional tension that is arresting when you first see it in the wood. These two pieces are intended to be viewed from the ground unlike his St Mark and St George, which are set above the crowd. Again, this requires an understanding of illusion that requires the use of single point perspective in order to create a figure that does not appear distorted and to the onlooker everything appears perfect.
March: Symbolism – an examination of how our perception of the content of paintings has changed over the centuries and how to decode a painting.
Before 1500 most art was devotional. The audiences then would have recognised many symbols that we look at and wonder why they have been included. Many manuscripts have jewelled margins, and each of the precious stones have meanings. Diamonds for constancy, rubies for sacrifice, emeralds – hope, sapphires – the colour of the Virgin’s robe. The use of these precious gems bestow status on the image, and also on the owner of any manuscript.
On this page we see St Luke, the patron saint of artists, writing his gospel, but if we look closer we see through the door that he is seated in his studio painting an image of the Virgin who stands before him surrounded by a golden light. The margin contains bejewelled treasures that appear in many of the margins created by this workshop, and also a predominance of pearls, which symbolise purity.
The margins often became a place where the artist could add a touch of humour, such as this harp playing monkey, or a mermaid playing the viol. My particular favourite is this little chap – who or what he is, I have no idea!
Often meanings have become changed over the centuries and some have even been attributed to having been used in medieval documents despite them coming from the New World. Since Señor Columbus did not cross the Atlantic until 1492, the sunflower was never a medieval symbol! This is the Burne-Jones window of St Frideswide in Christ Church College chapel, Oxford.
However, the humble European marigold was long known for its heliotropic properties and therefore because it followed the sun (i.e. the light) became associated with the divine. One of its local names is Mary’s Gold, and because of its properties was used in ointments and salves to soothe skin irritations.
Colours, gems, flowers, birds and beasts all had meanings. We will look at images and artefacts from medieval times to the 20th century to see how meanings have become changed, remained the same or even lost completely. Finally we will attempt to decode a painting as to the allegorical meaning it carried.