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Posts tagged ‘Northern Renaissance’

A Heavenly Van Eyck

You know the cliché about the incredible man or woman who turns heads as they enter the room?  Somehow they have a power, beauty or shear presence that cannot be ignored.  That’s essentially my experience seeing Jan van Eyck’s The Madonna and Child with Canon van der Paele at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges.  As many times as I left the gallery and walked back in, I couldn’t escape it.  The painting glowed with a brilliant depth of color and mesmerizing realism.  It was a window into some heavenly scene surrounded by dull and simple paintings – which is particularly impressive considering the gallery was filled with works by Hans Memling and even a few small van Eyck’s!  This painting is simply a masterpiece.

Jan van Eyck - The Madonna and Child with Canon van der Paele

Jan van Eyck – “The Madonna and Child with Canon van der Paele”

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ArtSmart Roundtable – Images of Mary Magdalene

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art history-focused travel blogs with a post on a common theme.  For February we are discussing the iconography of a few historical, religious or mythical figures to help you “read” some of the images you may encounter on the road.  I’ve always thought that understanding the context and source material for imagery really deepens your appreciation for art.  You can find links below to all the group’s articles this month.

Flanders Book of Hours Illuminated Manuscript - St Lawrence

The martyr St. Lawrence was “grilled” to death and is usually seen with a metal cooking rack. Book of Hours, 1510, Flanders, Syracuse University Special Collections.

I love seeing Saints in European art because it is so easy to tell who everyone is.  There is a characteristic object or dress to each figure that helps you decipher his or her identity.  I’ve always been partial to John the Baptist with his wild man appearance and camel hair attire.  But what about the saints with less straight-forward stories?  Theological and historical confusion has long shrouded St. Mary Magdalene; consequently, she has a complex visual iconography.

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The Isenheim Altarpiece – Art for the Ill

I enjoyed last week’s virtual visit to the incredible Ghent Altarpiece but it got me thinking about other major church pieces I would like to see in person.  While this may not be the most intuitive work of art to bring up, I have always been impressed by the suffering, twisted and tortured Cruxification of the Isenheim Altarpiece now in the Alsatian city of Colmer, France.

Matthias Grunewald, Isenheim altarpiece in situ, Colmar, France

Isenheim altarpiece in situ at the Musee d’Unterlinden, Colmar, France

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