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Gothic Italy & Early Renaissance Northern Europe. Gothic Art in Italy. Time Period 1250-1400 Key Ideas Late Gothic art in Italy forms a bridge between Medieval and Renaissance art The artist becomes an important historical personality whose life story can be traced and recorded
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Gothic Art in Italy • Time Period 1250-1400 • Key Ideas • Late Gothic art in Italy forms a bridge between Medieval and Renaissance art • The artist becomes an important historical personality whose life story can be traced and recorded • Aspects of ancient sculpture are revitalized under the artistic leadership of the Pisani family • Sienese and Florentine schools of painting dominant trecento art
Historical Background • The art movement that we today call the Renaissance began in the city—states of Italy in the late Gothic period at the very end of the Middle Ages. Art was only one component of an ever—evolving world in which the urge to explore, to investigate, and to discover motivated people as never before. • Economic changes throughout Europe, centering on banking and commercial interests in Italy, began to emerge as powerful forces in the shipment and circulation of goods throughout the region. The European tastes for exploring new markets and reaching beyond the continent for the exotic eventually led ships to sail fist around Africa, and then to the New World. • The exploration of the globe was one facet of the universal urge to uncover and survey seemingly everything. Humanists began investigating the classical past as them to a modern audience.
Historical Background • The modern approach to art, as a business run by professionals, has its origins in the late gothic period. Contracts between artists and patrons were drawn up, bookkeeping records of transactions between the two were maintained, and artists self-consciously and confidently began signing works more regularly. With Cimabue and Nicola Pisano, the first traceable and coherent artistic careers begin to emerge. Artists’ signatures indicate their rising status—a radical break from the general anonymity in which earlier artists had toiled—and a need to imprint their accomplishments on works they felt particularly proud of.
Patronage and Artistic Life • Medieval artists worked within an elaborate network called the guild system, in which artwork was regulated as an industry like any other. Guilds were artist associations that determined, among other things, how long apprenticeships should take, how many apprentices artists could have, and what the proper route would be for artists trying to establish themselves on their own. Female artists were rare because apprentices lived with their teacher, creating a situation unthinkable for females. • After a successful internship, former apprentices entered the guild as mature artists and full members. The guild helped to regulate commissions as well as ensure that not too many people entered the field, which would drive down the prices. The guild system remained in effect until replaced by the free-marked approach that took hold in the eighteenth century.
Patronage and Artistic Life Artistic patronage was particularly strong among preaching orders of friars, such as the Franciscans, the devoted followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the Dominicans, the faithful followers of Saint Dominic de Guzman. These religious men abstained from worldly concerns and committed themselves to helping the poor and the sick. Since the Dominicans stressed teaching, they were instrumental in commissioning narrative pulpits and altarpieces from their churches. The Franciscan mother church in Assisi has a great program of frescoes unequalled in trecento art.
Characteristics of Italian Gothic Architecture • Unlike Northern Gothic buildings, Italian buildings stress width as well as height. Even though most Italian churches are as tall as their French counterparts, the horizontal emphasis is so strong that the height seems restrained. Interiors feature one story of arches and second of windows. Intermediary stories, so prominent in Early naves focus attention on apses backlit by tall windows. Clearly articulated rib vaults open up the clerestory to admit volumes of light filtered by thin masses of pastel—colored glass windows.
Florence Cathedral • Arnolfo di Cambio and others, Florence Cathedral, begun 1296, Florence, Italy; Giotto designed the campanile, perhaps altered his death • Wide, open, expansive interior • Broad, heavy piers allow side aisle spaces to flow into nave; very widely spaced arches • Dark interiors of French Gothic are replaced by a lighter interior • Campanile: crisply divided horizontal sections stack floors one above the other; variously colored marbles inspired by Italian Romanesque buildings; patterns of rectangular blocks of marble cover the surface • Façade finished in the nineteenth century
Characteristics of Florentine Painting • The trend in Gothic sculpture is to liberate works from the wall, allowing them to occupy space independent of their architectural framework. Concurrently, Italian painting of the late Gothic period is characterized by large panels that stand on their own. • Wall paintings in the Middle Ages, including frescoes and mosaics, emphasized the flatness of the wall surface, encouraging artists to produce compositions that were frontal and linear. Late Gothic artists preferred fresco and tempera, techniques that enable them to shade figures convincingly and reach for a three—dimensional reality.
Characteristics of Florentine Painting At first, artists like Cimabue accepted Byzantine formulas for pictorial representation, commonly referred to as the manieragreca. Subsequent Florentine painters, however, particularly under the guidance of Giotto and his followers, began to move away from this tradition and toward a different concept of reality that substantiated masses and anchored figures to ground lines. Thought expressive faces and meaningful gestures, emotions become more palpable and dynamic. Florentine painting dares to experiment with compositional arrangements, moving the focus away from the center of the painting.
Madonna Enthroned • Cimabue, Madonna Enthroned, 1280—1290, tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence • Manieragreca; figures rise in a hieratic Byzantine manner • Emphasis on flatness of forms; angels hover around throne • Long, thin elegant figures; strong verticality • Flecks of gold define drapery folds • Virgin as the Throne of Wisdom points to Christ as the way to salvation • Mary with Byzantine—shaped face and stylized features • Not Byzantine in size; Byzantine icons are portable
Lamentation from the Arena Chapel • Giotto, Lamentation from the Arena Chapel, 1305—1306, fresco, Padua, Italy • Arena Chapel built by Enrico Scorovegni to expiate the sin of usury through which his father had amassed a fortune; some narrative scenes chosen for the chapel illustrate Biblical episodes of ill—gotten gains • Lamentation • Shallow stage, figures occupy a palpable space pushed forward toward the picture plane • Diagonal cliff formation points to main action daringly placed in lower left—hand corner • Modeling indicates direction of light, light falls from above right • Range of emotions: heavy sadness, quiet resignation, flaming outbursts, despair • Figures seen from the black seem to isolate the main action • Sadness of scene emphasized by grieving angels, barrenness of tree
Characteristics of Sienese Painting • Unlike their Florentine contemporaries, Sienese painters opted for a decorative style of painting, more reminiscent of Northern European art. Figures are thinner, elegant, and courtly. Colors are richly decorative. Drapery in Sienese art is less defined by mass than by the thin fluttering of draperies and the zigzagging of complex linear patterns. Instead of falling straight to the ground, drapery is more likely to curve artistically in a flouncing series of ripples. Sienses painters like to imitate marble patterning on thrones or pavements. Even though hierarchy of scale remains, figures are move likely than in Northern European art to be in proportion to one another, although as in Florentine painting, they still dominate architectural settings. Italian altarpieces reflect the construction of the Gothic churches which embrace them, as explained in Figure.
Characteristics of Sienese Painting • Like Florentines, Sienese artists explore three-dimensionality, although they reached more deeply into the picture plane by carving out interiors. A favorite Sienese motif is the opening of a door from or a room wall, revealing what lies beyond, recalling the effect of a set on a theatrical stage. Attempts are made, as in Pietro Lorenzetti’s Birth of the Virgin to include two continuous scenes in one unified view. • Sienese artists such as Simone Martini began the International Gothic style of painting. Because of Martini’s residence late in life in France and the aristocratic tenor of these works, which found favor among elite patrons, the style spread quickly to the rest of Europe.
Maesta • Duccio, Maesta, main panel: 1308—1311, tempera on panel, Museum of the Works of the Cathedral, Siena • For the main altar of Siena Cathedral, the centerpiece of a cluster of Marian works • Only signed and documented work of Duccio to have survived • Richest and most complex altarpiece of its time • Hieratic arrangement of figures in three horizontal registers, with Mary and Jesus in the center, saints kneeling below and standing on either side, and angels looming between saints’ halos in top row • Fluttering, light drapery lines fall in zigzag patterns • Decoratively patterned throne folds outwar to reveal Mary and Jesus enthroned
Annunciation • Simone Martini, Annunciation, 1333, tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence • Grain of marble floor retreats in perspective • Elegant figures, drapery, ornament • Use of gold abounds • Angel: white brocade with floating plaid—lined mantel; beautifully and subtly modeled • Mary: shrinks back in modesty, the figure of a courtly medieval woman • Vase of white lilies symbolizes Mary’s purity • Traditional gold wall background in effect becomes the rear wall • Gestures are courtly and aristocratic • International Gothic style of painting
Birth of the Virgin • Pietro Lorenzetti, Birth of the Virgin, 1342, tempera on panel, Museum of the Works of the Cathedral, Siena • Part of the Marian cycle of paintings in Siena Cathedral • Pioneering attempt at building and interior spaces, with the three parts of the triptych suggesting a single common viewpoint • St. Anne reclining, as women wash Mary in a basin • St. Joachim, Mary’s father, is in a antechamber hearing the news of the birth of this daughter • Windows open up to reveal further arches and walled spaces beyond, expressing depth; innovation use of pier that establishes picture plane and does not separate the space of the center and right—hand panels
Good Government in the City and the Country • Ambrogio, Good Government in the City and the Country, 1338—1340, fresco, Public Palace, Siena • Located in the public Palace in Siena where judges met to adjudicate issues of Sienese law • Highly literate society for its time; inscriptions on the paintings are in Latin and Italian; Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s signature prominently displayed • City: cityscape scene from a high viewpoint, perhaps a tower, overlooking a prosperous town run by efficient laws; dancing in the street (technically illegal in Siena) symbolizes the success of good government and the peacefulness and joy it brings; crafts and trades flourish; schools are open; new buildings under construction; emphasis placed on food being brought into the city
Good Government in the City and the Country Country: peaceful villas set in landscape again surveyed from above, filled with vineyards, orchards, and bountiful harvests; distant port in the background for the shipment of goods; figure of Security holding a gallows insures fair justice for all; aristocrats leave town to go falconing; farmers bring livestock on grain t o market Broadly lit painting signifying daytime, with an incongruous blue—black sky to offset the colors
Characteristics of Italian Gothic Sculpture • Italian Gothic sculpture was more influenced by classical models than was the case for Northern contemporaries. Although the classic never passed from Italian art, Nicola Pisano strengthened the attachment to Roman forms by buildings figures of solid mass and firm, realistically arranged drapery. There was still a tendency , however, to create compositions that were crowded, with various episodes represented in in horror vacui, stacked one above. The principle scene dominated by its size, but subsidiary scenes compete for attentions in available blank spaces.
The Pisa Pulpit Nicola Pisano, The Pisa Pulpit, 1259—1260, Pisa Baptistery, Pisa, Italy Pulpit: five panels circle around the elevated pulpit; Gothic Corinthian capitals closer in design to ancient capitals than to contemporary French; round arches cusp in French Gothic style; antique lions at the base; nude heroic figure of Hercules symbolizing Christian bravery and strength Annunciation and Nativity: very crowded compostion of figures layere atop one another; massive drapery that forms logically around bodies that are stocky and solidly conceived; as in Italian painting, facial expressions and gestures enliven figures that communicate with one another
The Pisa Pulpit Giovanni Pisano, Pisa Pulpit, 1302—1310, marble, Pisa Cathedral Figures are widely spaced and scenes separated Dynamic movement of figures, they are not as static as Nicola Pisano’s Deeply cut sculpture creating shadows inspired by French Gothic models more than classical Roman Ones
Early Renaissance in Northern Europe 15th Century The early Renaissance in Northern Europe takes place in the mercantile centers of Flanders (Belgium), Holland, Germany and France
Key Ideas An active and prosperous capitalist society inspired a cultural ferment in fifteenth—century Flanders and Holland Important secular works of fifteenth—century architecture are influenced by Gothic church architecture International Gothic style dominates Northern European painting in the early fifteenth century Flemish painting is characterized by symbolically rich layers of meaning applied to crowded compositions with high horizon lines. Secular art becomes increasingly important. The introduction of printmaking, the first mass—produced art form, radically transforms art history
Historical Background The prosperous commercial and mercantile interests in the affluent trading towns of Flanders stimulated interest in the arts. Emerging capitalism was visible everywhere, from the first stock exchange established in Antwerp in 1460 to the marketing and trading of works of art. Cities vied with one another for the most sumptuously designed cathedrals, town halls, and altarpiece—in short, the best Europe had to offer
Characteristics of Early Northern Renaissance Architecture The popularity of the flamboyant Gothic style extended beyond church architecture into the secular realm by the fifteenth century. Elements of Gothic church architecture were grafted onto secular buildings, turning them into monastically inspired buildings for the rich and famous.
House of Jacques Coeur House of Jacques Coeur, 1443—1451, Bourges, France First floor houses business section of the house: storage areas, servant quarters, shops Upper floors for family and entertaining Many Gothic details in window frames, tracery, arches House surrounds an open interior courtyard Uneven, irregular plan Expression of new spirit of capitalism and development
Innovations in Northern Renaissance Painting One of the most important inventions in the last thousand years, if not history, is the development of movable type by Johann Gutenberg. The impact was enormous. This device could mass produce books, make them available to almost anyone, and have them circulated on a wide scale.
Painting Innovations But mechanically printed books looked cheap and artificial to those who were used to having their books handmade over the course of years, as the Limbourg Brothers did for the super—wealthy patrons who could afford such extravagances. The first editions of Gutenberg’s first book, The Bible, were printed mechanically, but the decorative flourishes—mostly initial letters before each chapter—were hand painted by calligraphers. It was a short step to having books illustrated using the same mechanical process. Thus, the print was born, first as a woodcut, then as an engraving and an etching. Prints were mass produced and relatively inexpensive, since the artist made a prototype that was reprinted many times. Although individually cheaper than a painting, the artist made his profit on the number of reproductions. Indeed, fame could spread more quickly with prints, because these products went everywhere, whereas paintings were in the hands of single owners.
Painting Innovations The second important development in the fifteenth century was the widespread use of oil paint. Prior to this, wall paintings were done in fresco and panel paintings in tempera. Oil paint was developed as an alternative to these methods in a part of Europe in which fresco never really took hold.
Painting Innovations Oil paint producers exceptionally rich colors, having the notable ability to accurately imitate natural hues and tones. It can generate enamel—like surfaces and sharp details. It also preserves well in wet climates, retaining its luster for a long time. Unlike tempera and fresco, oil paint is not quick drying and requires time to set properly, thereby allowing artist to make changes to what they previously painted. With all these advantages, oil paint has emerged as the medium of choice for a majority of artists since its development in Flanders in the early Renaissance.
Characteristics of Northern Renaissance Painting and Sculpture The great painted altarpieces of medieval art were the pride of accomplished painters whose work was on public view in the most conspicuous locations. Italian altarpieces from the age of Giotto tend to be flat paintings that stand directly behind an altar, often with gabled tops, as in Cimbue’s Madonna Enthroned. Sometimes Italian altarpieces had reverse sides that were illustrated with stories from the New Testament, as does Duccio’sMaesta. Those scenes, however, appeared behind an altar and were accessible to few; the principle viewpoint was the main image, large enough so that it could be appreciated at a distance.
Characteristics of Northern Renaissance Painting and Sculpture Northern European altarpieces were cupboards rather than screens, with wings that opened and closed folding neatly into one another. The large central screen was the most important, sometimes carved rather than painted; sculpture was considered a higher art form. Small paintings such as The Merode Altarpiece of 1425—1428 were designed for portability. Larger works such as the Garden of Earthly Delights of 1505—1510 or The Ghent Altarpiece of 1432 were meant to be housed in an elaborate Gothic frame that enclosed the main scenes. Sometime the frame drew allusions to the architecture of the building in which the painting resided.
Characteristics of Northern Renaissance Painting and Sculpture Altarpieces usually have a scene painted on the outside, visible during the week. On Sundays, during key services, the interior of the altarpiece was exposed to view. Particularly elaborate altarpieces may have had a third view that was opened on holidays.
Characteristics of Northern Renaissance Painting and Sculpture International Gothic Painting was a courtly elegant art form, begun by Italian artists such a Simone Martini a century earlier, and continued until around 1450. This style of painting featured thin, graceful figures that usually had an S-shaped curve as does Late Gothic sculpture. Natural details abound in small bits of reality that were carefully rendered. Costumes were splendidly appointed with the latest fashions and most stylish fabrics. Gold was used in abundance to indicate the wealth of the figures and patrons who sponsored these works. Architecture was carefully rendered, frequently with the walls of buildings opened up so that the viewer can look into the interior. International Gothic paintings often have elaborate frames that match the sumptuous painting style.
Characteristics of Northern Renaissance Painting and Sculpture Regardless of whether artists worked in the International Gothic tradition, Northern European painters generally continued the practice of opening up wall spaces to see into rooms as in The Merode Altarpiece. Typically, figures were encased in the rooms they occupy, rather than being proportional to their surroundings. Ground line tilt up dramatically, as do table tops and virtually any flat surface. High horizons are the norm, as in The Garden of Earthly Delights, and the Portinari Altarpiece. Although symbolism could be seen in virtually any work of art in any art historical period, it seems to be particularly a part of the fabric of Northern European painting. Items that appear casually placed as a bit of naturalism can be construed as part of a symbolic network of interpretations that exist on several important levels. Scholars have spilled a great deal of ink in decoding possible readings of important works.
October from The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry Limbourg Brothers, October from The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry, 1413—1416, ink on vellum, MuseeConde, Chantilly International Gothic Each manuscript page is an illustration of the months of the year for a Book of Hours Top: astrological signs associated each month, Apollo riding a chariot brings up the dawn Main scenes: labors of the month: i.e., February is warming oneself by a cozy fire with the snow covering the landscape; July is peasants harvesting wheat and shearing sheep; October is planting winter wheat Naturalism of details; meticulously rendered castles Separation of the classes strictly emphasized by placement of serfs and nobility in different areas of the painting
Merode Altarpiece • Robert Campin, Merode Altarpiece, 1425—1428, oil on wood, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York • Left panel: donors, middle—class people kneeling before the holy scene • Center panel: Annunciation taking place in an everyday Flemish interior • Symbolism • Towels and water are Mary’s purity; water is a baptism symbol • Flowers have three buds symbolizing the Trinity; the unopened bud is the unborn Jesus • Mary seated on the floor symbolizing her humility • Mary blocks the fireplace, or the entrance to hell • Candlestick: Mary holds Christ in the womb • Angle with a cross comes in through the window, the divine birth • Humanization of traditional themes: no halos, domestic interiors, view into a Flemish cityscape
Merode Altarpiece Meticulous handling of paint; intricate details Steeply rising ground line; figures too large for the architecture they sit in
Ghent Altarpiece Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece, 1432, oil on wood, St Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium Polyptych placed on an altar of St. Bavo Great detail and extreme realism Interior top: God the Father in center sits in majesty wearing the pope’s crown surrounded by Mary and John the Baptist; choirs of angels flank them; Adam and Eve appears in the corners Interior bottom: The Lamb of God in the center with a continuous landscape containing medieval knights and clergy Exterior top: Annunciation; prophets who foretell Christ’s coming Exterior bottom: two figures painting in grisaille in center; two donors kneeling in outside niches
Arnolfini Wedding Jan van Eyck, Arnolfini Wedding, 1434, oil on wood, National Gallery, London Traditionally assumed to be the wedding portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami Symbols of weddings abound: custom of burning candle on the first night of a wedding; shoes cast off to indicate standing on holy ground; prayerful promising pose of groom Dog symbolizes fidelity or carnality Two witness in the convex mirror, perhaps Jan van Eyck himself, since the inscription reads “Jan van Eyck was here 1434”
Arnolfini Wedding Wife pulls up dress to symbolize childbirth, although she is not pregnant Meticulous handling of paint; great concentration of minute details
Deposition Rogier van der Weyden, Deposition, 1435, oil on wood, Prado, Madrid Shallow stage for figures jambed into a confining space Great attention to details Strong emotional impact of the scene Patrons of the archers’ guild symbolized by the crossbows in the spandrels Figures in mirrored compositions: Christ and Mary; two end figures have similar poses; poses similar for Nicodemus and the figure holding Mary
Portinari Altarpiece Hugo van der Goes, central panel of the Portinari Altarpiece, 1476, tempera and oil on wood, Uffizi, Florence Placed in the family chapel of Sant’ Egidio in Florence, functioned as the chapel for Florence’s largest hospital Placement in a maternity hospital chapel influences imagery
Portinari Altarpiece Mary, as the mother of Christ, is central; St. Margaret, patron saint of childbirth, is in the right wing; Christ’s thin appearance simulates a newborn Christ places a sheaf of wheat that symbolizes the sacredness of the Eucharist Plants in foreground have medicinal value and symbolic associations Continuous landscape throughout the three panels Figures at different scales, some very large, some much smaller
Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights, 1505—1510, oil on wood, Prado, Madrid Left panel: Garden of Eden; the state of humans in an ideal world; however, even here there are signs of the evils to come—animals are violent, eating one another; Adam and Eve are thin, insubstantial nudes who lack backbone and resolve and act only on impulses