ARTH 375 Lecture Notes - Jan Van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Saint Eligius

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
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Course
February 12, 2013
Petrus Christus (Bruges) and Dirk Bouts (Louvain)
-Europe is changing rapidly at this time (14th and 15th c)
-from rural to more urban society
-trade developing quickly, more wealth, and wealth is more spread
>a new class developed (burghers> merchants)
>emphasize new status with luxury products
-open art market developing fast ( created without a commission,
paint on ‘speck’ (speculation); very very large market
-14th c key centre of commerce, 46 000 inhabitants!
-one of most important cities
-main trade and banking centre
-biggest trade centre for north western Europe
>Paris other big one
-imp for trade because of waterways> English products; English wool
-home to very first trade exchange
-textile industry big motor of wealth at the time
-also major crises, 1437-1440 revolted against Philip the Good
>siege, plague, famine (some say punished for this)
-final ‘golden age’ in 1440-1500 with fast economic expansion
-favorable climate production and consumption of luxury goods
-main Borgundian court was located in Bruges> brigns lots of people,
including artists
-artists came from outside of Bruges; art moves away from it and to
Antwerp later
-downturn of Bruges started with death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482,
but very slow and gradual
-also silting of the Zwine (river?)
-Antwerp, favoured by the Habsburg dynasty, became new economica
centre in 16th c
Map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards, 1562
Petrus Christus
-died in Burges (1475/6)
-had to become a citizen to become master> need to buy citizenship
-guild did this to prevent outsiders/competition ; artists still paid
-influences in Jan van Eyck AND Rogier van der Weyden
>we don’t know where he trained
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-aquired citizenship 1444
-first artist to use single point perspective in Northern Art
>suggests he may have travelled to Italy
PC, Portrait of a Carthusian, 1446
-carthusians very active in commissioning art
-small oak panel, dated 1446
-first time in a portrait in the north that a figure is place in the
corner of a room> creates actual depth; architecture being
used
-fly at the bottom: tromp l’oieu
-artist signed and dated the frame
> first three letters of Christ are included ‘XPI’ in greek (with line
above it which means abbreviation; the monogram of Christ Chi Rho )
>also seen with Jan van Eyck
>typical
-Anno 1446 was added at a later date
-before 1992 restoration: Halo (not original, added 18th or 19th c)
-should one remove it? Additions sometimes add a lot to this history of
the painting.
-why add halo? Maybe monk became a saint. Maybe the market was
more favorable to saints than monks.
PC, Saint Eligius, 1449
-saint in red. He was a gold smith.
-we know little about the meaning of the panel
-we don’t know who the couple is or why they’re there
-we do know that it’s signed and dated like seen in other
-Saint is weighing a ring, meaning or attribute to his gold smith?
Another example of disguised symbolism? Is it wedding portrait or
bethrothal? Idealized painting? Or vocational painting?
-The Bruges chapel of guild gold and silver smiths was consencrted in
1449
>don’t know if related or not
-Also a halo which was also removed in restoration
>but this actually a saint! These kinds of decisions are tricky
-Vocational portraits> trade, goldsmith, guilds?
-very large, maybe it had a public or semi public function? Altarpiece?
-According to Ainsworth, PC did not have a workshop but worked alone
-but there are very differences in quality
PC, St John the Baptist in Landscape
-doll-like figures; eye placed low, high foreheads, slightly naïve
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Document Summary

Europe is changing rapidly at this time (14th and 15th c) Trade developing quickly, more wealth, and wealth is more spread. Open art market developing fast ( created without a commission, paint on speck" (speculation); very very large market. 14th c key centre of commerce, 46 000 inhabitants! Imp for trade because of waterways> english products; english wool. Textile industry big motor of wealth at the time. Also major crises, 1437-1440 revolted against philip the good. >siege, plague, famine (some say punished for this) Final golden age" in 1440-1500 with fast economic expansion. Favorable climate production and consumption of luxury goods. Main borgundian court was located in bruges> brigns lots of people, including artists. Artists came from outside of bruges; art moves away from it and to. Downturn of bruges started with death of mary of burgundy in 1482, but very slow and gradual. Antwerp, favoured by the habsburg dynasty, became new economica centre in 16th c.

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