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November 26th Lecture

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University of Toronto St. George
Giancarla Periti

November 26, 2012 Week 12: NORTHERN EUROPEAN ART IN THE 16 TH CENTURY Outline: • women became more known in history of European Art in the 17 Century BOSCH Background of artist: • born in the town of Hertogenbosch ca. 1450 • used last segment of town’s name to sign his paintings • last name was actually Van Aken • had lay association • confraternity dedicated to the Virgin Mary • when he died in 1516 the memebers of the confraternity took care of his arrangements • devout religious artist, although he had his own take on the religious doctrine of his time Hieronymus Bosch, Adoration of the Magi triptych, closed: Mass of St. Gregory, ca. 1510; Madrid, Prado • subject: mass of St. Gregory • vision that St. Gregory had of Christ as a man of sorrow during mass • moment in which St. Gregory was praying when he has a vision of Christ • “grisile” colours - mostly black and white • body of Christ, main figure of painting, painted between two opening parts of the triptych - hard to do • when triptych is opened, body will be divided into parts as a kind of metaphor of subject of host at moment of mass (?) • substantive theological message Adoration of the Magi - open • typical and standard subject for a triptych • St. Peter accompanies male donor on left flank • St. Agnes accompanies female donor on the right flank • “sinister details” - not as normal as it seems • Madonna and Child are located under a broken down house/cottage • no light within house • sinister figure in doorway - half-naked with strange horns, Anti-Christ? Devil? • Madonna dressed in black • Magi: each age of man is represented as well as; Asia, Africa, Europe represented by each of them • Black Magus has weird vessel - unusual gift - not standard • New Testament subject which is usually serene and hopeful for salvation - moment of recognition of Christ as the saviour by the Magi, but “sinister” details take away from those typical evocations • St. Joseph is also present, but set aside - role not important to whole of painting • unconventional elements How was this painting received? • “...Bosch never in his life painted anything unnatural, except in terms of Hell or Purgatory...He endeavored to find for his fantastic pictures the rarest objects, but they were always true to nature...” from Karel Van Mander’s Life of Bosch 1604 • this kind of subject matter was not often seen • keep passage in mind for other paintings Comparison to Triptych of the Annunciation by Workshop of Master of Flemalle • unity of 3 scenes - connected together by landscape in Magi • in Annunciation different scenes somewhat • Magi has bell shaped triptych opposed to rectangular shaped one Interpretations • coming of Christ intended as salvation and hope • here, coming of Christ does not bring these things • Anti-Christ present here, “forces of evil” never defeated by Christ • moral content Closed vs. Open • open: colourful • closed: not colourful, sinister elements Triptych of St. Anthony, closed: Arrest of Christ • technique used here is similar to previous triptych • limited colour palette • covers two biblical subjects which are very important • point where people did not recognize Christ as saviour and condemn him - dark, against idea of Christ as saviour Open • scenes from life of St. Anthony • spent much of his life (more than 20 years) fighting “demons” and his “temptations” • rendered with variety of creatures all over painting • narrative doesn’t quite follow from left to right • scenes of Anthony’s temptations cast in many different ways • message to be strong in “our” faith, as St. Anthony was Left panel: exhaustion of St. Anthony - the end • has been suggested that this St. Anthony on left is portrait of Bosch and that he was also exhausted - only speculation • landscape again filled with sinister figures • hybrid figure under bridge • egg with a bird on top Comparison to Demons Tormenting St. Anthony - Schongauer • also see demons and creatures surrounding St. Anthony • but Bosch increases amount of figures • in painted form, Bosch makes Anthony exhausted by his own life • opposed to Schongauer’s Anthony who looks serene and like he can withstand the evil forces surrounding him Central Panel • contrast between Anthony, inside innovative building in ruins, praying in front of altar • crucified Christ is in front of him • outside this is dark subject matter • Priest administering what may be identified as a mass • altar is not rectangular, but a round table • female figure administering this • monks and nuns surrounding, but almost with no body, no presence? also hybrid figures • scene has been interpreted by scholars as a “black” mass • characters within painting dealing with magic substances • fire in background - is this biblical fire? or fire alluding to life of St. Anthony? unclear • duality between central images of possible black mass against the St. enclosed within his own space while chaos ensues around him Right Panel • St. Anthony sitting • temptations surrounding him • women bathing in front of him, naked, trying to allure/distract him • St. looks toward audience to avoid temptation Comparison of Bosch’s two closed altarpieces • similar colour schemes • two triptychs by same artist Haywain Triptych, closed: the Peddler • thinking about how to innovate triptych as a genre of painting • peddler is representation of the typical person on the “trajectory of life” • life represented in subject matter with difficulties that come with it • Peddler is defending himself against a dog with a stick • bridge he’s on is small • cracked bridge, not a solid path for Peddler • in background • criminals that are hanged on trees • not positive subject matter • idea is that idea is difficult and full of bad things Open • left panel: • paradise, but not a happy one • Adam and Even contained within • moment in which Adam and Eve begin to sin, which is the source of our “difficult” lives • right wing: • depiction of Hell • damnation of those who enter Hell • central panel: • hay wagon heading towards Hell • people surrounding hay wagon are trying to reach onto hay wagon • displayed around hay wagon are major sins in life (incl. gluttony, lust, etc) • this life will lead us to Hell which is in the panel that follows • angel on top of wagon - praying for salvation • small detail that is not perceived immediately because of chaos surrounding • his role in peoples’ salvation is ineffective •
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