As of tomorrow, every Friday will now feature three images from a certain year, with the aim of allowing you to see examples of different styles and movements which were simultaneously in action. I hope you find it interesting, feedback would be much appreciated! There will be a new ART TIMELINE link on my links toolbar that will incorporate each year posted.
The term ‘renaissance’ refers to a ‘rebirth’ or ‘revival’ of ideas, beliefs, standards and interests, a concept found profusely throughout Europe from the 14th to the 16th century. The Renaissance is most associated with the development and prominence of Italian art, especially in the Northern cities of Florence and Venice, (the Northern Renaissance refers primarily to the art from Germany, the Netherlands, France and England). This was a time where concerns and passions changed dramatically; people began to seek pleasure in the arts as a form of collection, extroversion and national pride.
The period begins roughly at the start of the 14th century, with painters such as Giotto and Masaccio. The sculptors Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti, the architects Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo, and the painters Botticelli and Benozzo Gozzoli characterise the middle stage of the Renaissance, with the ruling Medici family patronage. Prominent artists of the Northern Renaissance include Albrecht Durer, Hans Holbein, Hieronymous Bosch, Jan van Eyck and the Brueghel dynasty. The High Renaissance is defined by the masters of anatomical depiction; artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Titian were responsible for directly linking the arts to the sciences. These ideas of new forms of education were also found across the studies of the Renaissance humanists, (other concepts include the teachings of rhetoric, grammar, poetry, mathematics and ancient philosophy). It was a time where the importance and interest in classical antiquity shone through in the arts and in people’s everyday lives.
There are some excellent books available on the Renaissance, but I would suggest checking out Giorgio Vasari’s Renaissance biographies ‘Lives of the Artists’ (posted here a few months ago) and the philosophical work of Nicolo Machiavelli (you can read his infamous piece ‘The Prince’ online here).
The Birth of Venus by Alessandro Botticelli, c.1486
Nicolas Poussin was a French Baroque painter whose classicist work went on to become a major inspiration for eighteenth and nineteenth century artists, (after studying eighteenth century art for the past ten weeks, this has become quite apparent!) He worked primarily in Paris, though travelled to Rome as many classically-inspired artists did at this time. His self portrait below sees his surrounded by some of his own paintings, with the text to the right stating his profession as a portrait painter, his age and the current date in Latin.
Self Portrait 1650
Et in Arcadia Ego is probably Poussin’s most famous piece (though he has two pieces with this title). It epitomises Poussin’s interest in classical antiquity: notice the dress and poses of the shepherds. The title and inscription on the tomb loosely translates as ‘Even in Arcadia, I am there’, with ‘I’ representing death. This acts as a reminder of death’s existence, even in an area of rural paradise, (Arcadia was a mountainous land in the Peloponnese peninsula at the south of Greece.) This can be interpreted as a memento mori, or a reminder of mortality.
As well as all of the ancient and classical collections, the Vatican Museums also has an exhibition, albeit a small one, of modern painting and sculpture. It’s proving impossible to find most of these for you online, but here are a few examples of what is currently on display. There was a real mix of style, from expressionist to abstraction. Some artists to research if you’re interested are Ben Shahn, Franco Gentilini, Bernard Buffet and those featured below.
Crucifixion by Graham Sutherland, 1946
Abbraccio di Papa Giovanni Paulo II con il Cardinal Wyszynski by Pedro Cano, 1980
The bamboo plants in The Painter’s Mother by Lucian Freud in 1984; he used to paint landscapes and still lifes when he felt he couldnt paint people because it became too stressful. He found it quite relaxing. He also hated his mother so there is a link here which may show his prevailing anger or a metaphor for the relaxed state she is in.
Oh wow, thank you for that, how interesting! I watched a documentary on Freud the other day and I swear they never bothered to mention this. Thanks for helping me out :)
After one full week of long busy days, (up to fifteen hours non-stop!), delicious but heavy food, and having a near breakdown when my purse and passport were stolen four hours before my return home, I can quite easily say I am now absolutely exhausted. However my time in Rome has been unforgettable and I took over 900 photos of the numerous places we visited, my highlights being Bramante’s Tempietto at the church of San Pietro in Montorio and Mussolini’s sports complex the Fora Italico. We visited countless churches, but if you are traveling to Rome and wish to be selective then I would recommend the Basilica of St. John Lateran, (for proof of the competition between Rome and the Vatican), Santa Maria deli Angeli, (for something a bit different with lots of informative boards) and Chiesa Gesu (for some seriously over-the-top Baroque). Here are a few of my favourite images, (please ask if you wish to use them!!)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir is easily one of my favourite all time artists … ever. Possibly even number one! Born and raised in France, (though he spent time in Italy, Spain and Algeria), Renoir was one of the leading members of the Impressionist movement, along with his close friends Claude Monet, Frederic Bazille and Alfred Sisley. For me, Renoir is at his very best when a woman is present in the image, such as in The Theatre Box (or La Loge) … take that as you will!
The Theatre Box 1874
I absolutely adore the composition of this piece: the triangular shape of the woman and the glowing whiteness of her skin and dress ensure that she is the centre of attention. Though the gentlemen behind her is clearly interested in searching the audience for other women, her gaze at the viewer filled with subtle sad notes is entrancing … I can’t take my eyes off her!
La Grenouillere was a social meeting place on the side of the River Seine, where eating, bathing and relaxing would take place during the hot months of summer. Renoir visited here often with Monet, and they both completed many studies of the recreational setting. It was the perfect place for an Impressionist; open spaces of glistening water, luscious vegetation and lots and lots of women …