Tag Archives: colour

Muzzle of a Bull.

22 Jul
Muzzle of a Bull, watercolor 1523

Muzzle of a Bull, watercolor 1523

From renaissance onwards a new mentality arises in the field of observation. Drawings become more realistic, perspective and mathematics gain in importance. Albrecht Dürer is considered one of the first landscape artists. His series of observations, true to nature with the sharpest details, were never intended as artwork but rather as mere studies of nature. Self-conscious as Dürer was, taking into account his large collection of self portraits, he signed all of his works with his remarkable signature. As a painter, printmaker, theoretician and would-be reformer of the arts, his inexhaustible collection of works make him one of history’s greatest European visual artists.

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Portrait of a Young Woman.

15 Jul
Portrait of a Young Woman, ca. 1470, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Portrait of a Young Woman, ca. 1470, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

This ‘Portrait of a Young Woman’ by Petrus Christus, who is considered as a successor to Jan van Eyck, belongs among the masterworks of Flemish painting in Renaissance time. For the first time a portrait does not show the sitter in front of a neutral background, but in a concrete space, here defined by the wall panels. The unknown woman, whose rich velvet clothing suggests that she might come from France, radiates an aura of discretion and of nobility. The identity of the woman stays however, an object of speculation and mystery.

The Flemish Primitives: Closer to Van Eyck.

28 Mar
The Ghent Altarpiece, detail of Eve by Jan Van Eyck.

The Ghent Altarpiece, detail of Eve by Jan Van Eyck.

The Flemish Primitives refer to the work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th and 16th century Northern Renaissance, especially in the flourishing Burgundian cities of Tournai, Bruges, Ghent and Brussels. Jan van Eyck brings on a revolution in the history of painting between 1420 and 1441. His work makes end to the refined ‘international style’ that dominates the art at the time. His precise observation and naturalistic rendering of reality, his brilliant colouring and the oil technique that he perfectly masters gives him the look of a virtuosity. As a court painter of the Burgundian dukes, he moves within the highest circles. The Ghent Altarpiece, was initiated by his brother. However in 1432, after the death of his brother, Van Eyck finishes the work. The urgent conservation treatment of the Ghent Altarpiece in the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent was finalised in October 2010. It provided a unique opportunity to thoroughly document Van Eyck’s use of materials and his painting technique, and to record the state of conservation. The results are made available to the public through the website ‘Closer to Van Eyck’.

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

18 Mar

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The Limbourg brothers: Herman, Paul, and Johan (1385 – 1416), were famous Dutch miniature painters from the city of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Active in the early 15th century in France and Burgundy, they worked in the style known as International Gothic. They created what is certainly the best known late medieval illuminated manuscript, a book of hours, called “Les Très Riches Heures – The Very Rich Hours”. It was made on demand for Jean, the Duke of Berry. The man was a rich, luxury loving bon vivant who prized and collected expensive art objects. The book of hours was the first type of book made outside the monastery by secular craftsmen for a secular market. It was a personal prayer-book, used as an object of piety and of consumption. The twelve calendar illustrations of Les Très Riches Heures are the most famous pages of this masterpiece. Click twice on the image to see every miniature detail for each month!

Gothic Naturalism by Claus Sluter.

14 Mar

Detail of Angel Claus Sluter

Claus Sluter was the most famous sculptor of his days (1340-1405) and a key figure in the school of Gothic Art. Sluter’s sculptures are naturalistic and expressive, and more earthly bound than idealistic. He restored the monumental scale and naturalism of the classical era. His later work is highly emotional, using facial expressions, figural stance, and drapery. This can be particularly seen in the heavy folds of cloth that so many later imitators draped around their figures. His style of naturalism went on to influence a generation of realist Renaissance painters like Jan van Eyck, Roger Van der Weyden, Matthias Grunewald and Albrecht Durer. Sluter’s most famous surviving work is the Well of Moses to be visited in Dijon, France. It shows strongly individualized figures of Moses, David, and the Prophets. A masterpiece of dignity and power.

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Rose Window.

13 Mar

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The abbey church of Saint-Denis near Paris is considered the first Gothic, or French Style, building. Its characteristics include the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress. It emphasizes verticality and light. Abbot Suger, the commissioner of the abbey, underscore how deep an emotional and spiritual chord is struck by the play of light that passes through glass. By the time Saint-Denis was completed, stained glass had been in use for over a hundred years in relatively small windows of certain churches. Many contemporary authors see the rose window as a mandala as it operates on spiritual, meditative and emotional level. The instructional aspect is visible by the subjects chosen: God at the centre, the six days of Creation, the Zodiac with the order of the heavens, the labours representing the order of the earth, Adam and Eve eating the fruit and being expelled from Eden.

Book of Kells.

7 Mar

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The Book of Kells is a manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. It symbolizes the power of learning, the impact of Christianity on the life of the country, and the spirit of artistic imagination. The decoration combines traditional Christian iconography with the swirling motifs typical for insular art, the art of the islands. Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colours, enliven the pages. As many as ten different colors were used in the illuminations. Today, the manuscript, made with high-quality calfskin, comprises 680 individual pages and, since 1953, has been bound in four volumes and is kept in Dublin.

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