Art of old can speak to me, just as strongly as the works of today. And a grand example is the works of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. They speak of ideals that have fallen away in our quests of personal freedoms. Things such as chivalry, nobility and faith. And I love to look back upon an age when those things where valued. In an age before the camera, people wanted their images immortalized. The wealthy would commission works of art, often binding them to their wealthy patrons. As I love the figure, being able to look at a face or a body to learn more of the sitter is truly magicial... I suspect part of the appeal for religious works comes from my background. Nearly 10 years of catechism has to have some effect. *grin* I find that the symbolism of Christianity can possess a certain beauty and serenity. Also, the biblical figures and saints are imbued with deep symbolism and an intensity that was clear to the people of the time.
~ The Artist That Speak to Me Most of the Era ~
Medieval and Renaissance
Many viewers are perplexed by Bosch's works as they are so complex and full of arcane symbols. The Garden of Earthly Delights is probably the best know work by him. It is so complex that it is difficult to take it all in sometimes, but the figures appeal to even a modern eye. The left panel of the triptych represents Hell and all its horrors. Looking upon it, I can't help wondering if the surrealist took some ideas from Bosch (though out of their original context).
Bronzino did a great deal of portrait work for the Medici family. His works are highly stylized. Skin like marble on some, figures elongated to heighten their beauty. One of my favorite works by him is Cosmo de Medici as Orpheus at the Philly Museum of Art. Also his exquisite attention to detail in the garments makes his works ideal if you are looking to create that perfect dress such as good old 'Eleanora di Toledo with her son Giovanni de' Medici'! bronzino_eleanora.jpg
Durer's works are serene and crisp, so different than some of the other works of this era that I love. There is a clarity to them that makes the heart soar. Their clarity makes it easy for the viewer to grapple with faith, bringing to life all that the path of religion could at one time. Probably some of his finest and best know works are Knight, Death and Devil (left), St. Jerome in his Study (center) and Melancoly I (right).
The works of Jan van Eyck are best seen. Until I saw them up-close and in the flesh, I will admit, I didn't think much of them. Now, his piece at the Met (which was done with his brother) is a favorite.
His works are so expressive that it is difficult not to feel the emotions of figures within the piece. This is later in the era, at a time when artists sometimes exaggerated features (part of the Mannerist). His Christ figures are imbued with passion with the wounds demonstrating the suffering of man such as in ?????.
His portraits show a person, rather than an exterior. Looking into the eyes, you see a clarity and a purpose unique to each person. They are stylized, but not to flatter, but rather to show his painterly ways. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a few excellent pieces by him.
Books of Hours were created throughout the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, many of the artists are completely unknown to us today. Yet, these miniatures glow with a life that is truly spectacular.
One of the most stunning examples of this is 'Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry'. The pages shine with such brilliance.
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