Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 
 

CHAPTER THREE
 

GOTHIC ART
 

ARCHITECTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCULPTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

STAINED GLASS - Part 1, 2

PAINTING - Part 1, 2

 
 


PAINTING
 


North of the Alps



ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS. PUCELLE.


see also collection: Illuminated Manuscripts



We are now in a position to turn once more to Gothic painting north of the Alps. What happened there during the latter half of the fourteenth century was determined in large measure by the influence of the great Italians. Some examples of this influence can be found even earlier, such as the Annunciation (fig. 532) from the private prayer bookcalled a "book of hours'illuminated by Jean Pucelle in Paris about 1325-28 for Jeanne d'Evreux, queen of France. The style of the figures still recalls Master Honore (see fig. 514) but the architectural interior clearly derives from Duccio (fig. 517). It had taken less than 20 years for the fame of the Maesta to spread from Tuscany to the Ile-de-France.

In taking over the new picture space, however, Jean Pucelle had to adapt it to the special character of a manuscript page, which lends itself far less readily than a panel to being treated as a window. The Virgin's chamber no longer fills the entire picture surface. It has become an ethereal cage that floats on the blank parchment background (note the supporting angel on the right) like the rest of the ornamental framework, so that the entire page forms a harmonious unit. As we explore the details of this framework, we realize that most of them have nothing to do with the religious purpose of the manuscript: the kneeling queen inside the initial D is surely meant to be Jeanne d'Evreux at her devotions, but who could be the man with the staff next to her? He seems to be listening to the lute player perched on the tendril above him. The page is filled with other enchanting vignettes. The four figures at the bottom of the page are playing a game of tag outdoors; a rabbit peers from its burrow beneath the girl on the left; and among the foliage leading up to the initial we find a monkey and a squirrel.
 


532. JEAN PUCELLE. Betrayal of Christ and Annunciation, from the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux.
1325-28.
Tempera and gold leaf on parchment, each page,
(8,9 x 6.2 cm).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Cloisters Collection, Purchase,
1954




DROLERIE.

These fanciful marginal designsor droleries are a characteristic feature of Northern Gothic manuscripts. They had originated more than a century before Jean Pucelle in the regions along the English Channel, whence they spread to Paris and all the other centers of Gothic art. Their subjects encompass a wide range of motifs: fantasy, fable, and grotesque humor, as well as acutely observed scenes of everyday life, appear side by side with religious themes. The essence of drolerie is its playfulness, which marks it as a special domain where the artist enjoys almost unlimited freedom. It is this freedom, comparable to the license traditionally claimed by the court jester, that accounts for the wide appeal of drolerie during the later Middle Ages.




FRESCOES AND PANEL PAINTINGS.

As we approach the middle years of the fourteenth century, Italian influence becomes ever more important in Northern Gothic painting. Sometimes this influence was transmitted by Italian artists working on Northern soil, for example Simone Martini. The delightful frescoes with scenes of country life in the Palace of the Popes at Avignon (fig. 533) were done by one of his Italian followers, who must have been thoroughly familiar with the pioneer explorers of landscape and deep space in Sienese painting. His work shows many of the qualities we recall from the Good Government fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (see fig. 528).



533.
Italian follower of SIMONE MARTINI (MATTEO GIOVANNETTI?).
Scenes of Country Life
(detail),
. 1345. Fresco. Palace of the Popes, Avignon

 

Another gateway of Italian influence was the city of Prague, which in 1347 became the residence of Emperor Charles IV and rapidly developed into an international cultural center second only to Paris. The Death of the Virgin (fig. 534), made by an unknown Bohemian painter about 1360, again brings to mind the achievements of the great Sienese masters, although these were known to our artist only at second or third hand.

Its glowing richness of color recalls Simone Martini (compare fig. 524), and the carefully articulated architectural interior betrays its descent from such works as Pietro Lorenzetti's Birth of the Virgin (fig. 525), but it lacks the spaciousness of its Italian models. Italian, too, is the vigorous modeling of the heads and the overlapping of the figures, which reinforces the three-dimensional quality of the design but raises the awkward question of what to do with the halos. (Giotto, we will remember, had faced the same problem in his Madonna Enthroned; compare fig. 523). Still, the Bohemian master's picture is not just an echo of Italian painting. The gestures and facial expressions convey an intensity of emotion that represents the finest heritage of Northern Gothic art. In this respect, our panel is far more akin to the Death of the Virgin at Strasbourg Cathedral (fig. 488) than to any Italian work.
 


534. BOHEMIAN MASTER. Death of the Virgin. 1350-60.
Tempera on panel,
39 3/8 x 28" (100 x 71
cm).

Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
William Francis Warden Fund; Seth K. Sweetser Fund,
The Henry C. and Martha B. Angell Collection,
Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection, Gift of Martin Brimmer,
and Mrs. Frederick Frothingham; by exchange



 

The International Style



BROEDERLAM.

Toward the year 1400, the merging of Northern and Italian traditions gave rise to a single dominant style throughout western Europe. This International Style was not confined to paintingwe have used the same term for the sculpture of the periodbut painters clearly played the main role in its development. Among the most important was Melchior Broederlam (flourished . 1387-1409), a Fleming who worked for the court of the duke of Burgundy in Dijon. Figure 535 shows the panels of a pair of shutters for an altar shrine that he did between 1394 and 1399. Each wing is really two pictures within one frame. Landscape and architecture stand abruptly side by side, even though the artist has tried to suggest that the scene extends around the building. Compared to paintings by Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Broederlam's picture space still strikes us as naive in many ways. The architecture looks like a doll's house, and the details of the landscape are quite out of scale with the figures. Yet the panels convey a far
stronger feeling of depth than we have found in any previous Northern work. The reason for this is the subtlety of the modeling. The softly rounded shapes and the dark, velvety shadows create a sense of light and air that more than makes up for any shortcomings of scale or perspective. This soft, pictorial quality is a hallmark of the International Style. It appears as well in the ample, loosely draped garments with their fluid curvilinear patterns of folds, which remind us of Sluter and Ghiberti (see figs. 499 and 508).

Our panels also exemplify another characteristic of the International Style: its "realism of particulars." It is the same kind of realism we encountered first in Gothic sculpture (see fig. 492) and somewhat later among the marginal droleries of manuscripts. We find it in the carefully rendered foliage and flowers, in the delightful donkey (obviously drawn from life), and in the rustic figure of St. Joseph, who looks and behaves like a simple peasant and thus helps to emphasize the delicate, aristocratic beauty of the Virgin. This painstaking concentration on detail gives Broederlam's work the flavor of an enlarged miniature rather than of a large-scale painting, even though the panels are more than five feet tall.


535. MELCHIOR BROEDERLAM. Annunciation and Visitation; Presentation in the Temple; and Flight into Egypt. 1394-99.
Tempera on panel, eaeh 65 x 49 1/4" (167 x 125 cm). Musee de la Ville, Dijon





THE LIMBOURG BROTHERS.

Book illumination remained the leading form of painting in Northern Europe at the time of the International Style, despite the growing importance of panel painting. Thus the International Style reached its most advanced phase in the luxurious book of hours known as Les Tres Riches Heures du Due de Berry, produced for the brother of the king of France, a man of far from admirable character but the most lavish art patron of his day. The artists were Pol de Limbourg and his two brothers, a group of Flemings who, like Sluter and Broederlam, had settled in France early in the fifteenth century. They must have visited Italy as well, for their work includes numerous motifs and whole compositions borrowed from the great masters of Tuscany.

The most remarkable pages of Les Tres Riches Heures ar those of the calendar, with their elaborate depiction of the life of humanity and nature throughout the months of the year. Such cycles, originally consisting of 12 single figures each performing an appropriate seasonal activity, had long been an established tradition in medieval art (compare fig. 492). Jean Pucelle had enriched the margins of the calendar pages of his books of hours by emphasizing the changing aspects of nature in addition to the labors of the months. The Limbourg brothers, however, integrated all these elements into a series of panoramas of human life in nature. Thus the February miniature (fig. 536), the earliest snow landscape in the history of Western art, gives an enchantingly lyrical account of village life in the dead of winter. We see the sheep huddled together in their fold, birds hungrily scratching in the barnyard, and a maid blowing on her frostbitten hands as she hurries to join her companions in the warm cottage. (The front wall has been omitted for our benefit.) In the middle distance is a villager cutting trees for firewood and another driving his laden donkey toward the houses among the hills. Here the promise of the Broederlam panels has been fulfilled, as it were: landscape, architectural interiors, and exteriors are harmoniously united in deep, atmospheric space. Even such intangible things as the frozen breath of the maid, the smoke curling from the chimney, and the clouds in the sky have become paintable.

The illustration for the month of October (fig. 537) shows the sowing of winter grain. It is a bright, sunny day, and the figuresfor the first time since classical antiquitycast visible shadows on the ground. We marvel at the wealth of realistic detail, such as the scarecrow in the middle distance or the footprints of the sower in the soil of the freshly plowed field. The sower is memorable in other ways as well. His tattered clothing, his unhappy air, go beyond mere description. He is meant to be a pathetic figure, to arouse our awareness of the miserable lot of the peasantry in contrast to the life of the aristocracy, as symbolized by the splendid castle on the far bank of the river.

Several of the calendar pages are devoted to the life of the nobility. The most interesting perhaps is the January picture, the only interior scene of the group, which shows the duke of Berry at a banquet (fig. 538). He is seated next to a huge fireplace, with a screen to protect him and, incidentally, to act as a kind of secular halo that sets him off against the multitude of courtiers and attendants. His features, known to us also from other works of the period, have all the distinctive qualities of a fine portrait, but except for the youth and the cleric on the duke's right, the rest of the crowd displays an odd lack of individuality.

They are all of the same type, in face as well as stature: aristocratic mannequins whose superhuman slenderness brings to mind their counterparts in the mosaic of Justinian and his court (see fig.
323). They are differentiated only by the luxuriance and variety of their clothing. Surely the gulf between them and the melancholy peasant of the October miniature could not have been greater in real life than it appears in these pictures!
 


536. THE LIMBOURG BROTHERS. February, from Les Tres Riches Heures du Due de Berry. 1413-16. Musee Conde, Chantilly, France
537. THE LIMBOURG BROTHERS. October, from Les Tres Riches Heures du Due de Berry. 1413-16. Musee Conde, Chantilly, France
538. THE LIMBOURG BROTHERS. January, from Les Tres Riches Heures du Due de Berry. 1413-16. Musee Conde, Chantilly, France




GENTILE DA FABRIANO.


See also COLLECTION:  Gentile da Fabriano


From the courtly throng of the January page it is but a step to the altarpiece with the three Magi and their train by Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1370-1427), the greatest Italian painter of the International Style (fig. 539). The costumes here are as colorful, the draperies as ample and softly rounded, as in Northern painting. The Holy Family on the left almost seems in danger of being overwhelmed by the festive pageant pouring down upon it from the hills in the far distance. The foreground includes more than a dozen marvelously well-observed animals, not only the familiar ones but hunting leopards, camels, and monkeys. (Such creatures were eagerly collected by the princes of the period, many of whom kept private zoos.) The Oriental background of the Magi is further emphasized by the Mongolian facial cast of some of their companions. It is not these exotic touches, however, that mark our picture as the work of an Italian master but something else, a greater sense of weight, of physical substance, than we could hope to find among the Northern representatives of the International Style.


539. GENTILE DA FABRIANO. The Adoration of the Magi. 1423.
Oil on panel, 9'10 1/8" x 9'3"
(3 x 2.8
m). Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Despite his love of fine detail, Gentile da Fabriano is obviously a painter used to working on a monumental scale, rather than a manuscript illuminator at heart. Yet he, too, had command of the delicate pictorial effects of a miniaturist, as we see on turning to the small panels decorating the base, or predella, of his altarpiece. In The Nativity (fig.
540), the entire picture is dominated by the new awareness of light as an independent factor, separate from form and color, that we first observed in the October page of Les Tres Riches Heures. Even though the main sources of illumination are the divine radiance of the newborn Child ("the light of the world") and of the angel bringing the glad tidings to the shepherds in the fields, their effect is as natural as if the Virgin were kneeling by a campfire. (Note the strong cast shadows.) The poetic intimacy of this night scene opens up a whole new world of artistic possibilities that were not to be fully explored, however, until two centuries lat



540. GENTILE DA FABRIANO. The Nativity, from the predellaof the Adoration of the Magi. 1423.
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

 
 

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