Deconstructing Symbols
disguised symbolism = elements of a painting that are treated as an ordinary part of the scene, but that carry symbolic meaning
Writing Art History Activity due on Canvas Monday, September 20

First Project due on Canvas
Monday, September 27

Quentin Massys, Money Changer and His Wife Exchanging Money, 1514.











Petrus Christus, A Goldsmith (Saint Eligius?) in His Shop, 1449.
Perugino, Christ Delivering the Keys to Saint Peter,
c. 1481 - 1482.
Differences between Early Renaissance in the North and in Italy
      • Humanism does not have as great an impact north of the Alps until the 15th century
      • Northern artists did not entirely reject the preceding Gothic style
      • Northern artists were more concerned with Christianity than with Classical mythology
      • New style evident mostly in painting in the North











In Middle Ages, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries and metalwork were the most highly valued art forms. By the 15th century, panel painting quickly became the most prized.
St. John the Evangelist from the Gospel Book of Abbot Wedcricus, 1147.
Rogier van der Weyden, Saint John Altarpiece, 1455 - 1460.











tempera  = a fast drying, water-based paint that
uses egg yolk as a binder
oil paint = a slow drying paint that
uses lindseed oil as a binder

Birth of Venus

Arnolfini Marriage

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, c. 1484 - 1486.
Tempera on canvas.
Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini (?) and His Wife, Giovanna Cenami, 1434. Oil on panel.










Three Netherlandish artists recognized as most remarkable innovators:

      Robert Campin

      Jan van Eyck

      Rogier van der Weyden











Robert Campin, Merode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation), c. 1425 - 1428. Oil on oak panel.





















Annunciation scene = the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel
to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus


Robert Campin, Merode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation) detail, c. 1425 - 1428.











Robert Campin, Merode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation), c. 1425 - 1428.
  • basin & towel = Mary as "vessel most clean"
  • lilies = Easter; Mary's virginity; renewal
  • roses = Virgin's charity
  • violets = Virgin's humility
  • no flame = radiance of the Lord's presence has overcome material light; God has become human, "the Word was made flesh"
  • objects on workbench = mousetraps; according to St. Augustine, God had to appear on earth in human form to fool Satan, "the cross of the Lord was the devil's mousetrap"










Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (open), completed 1432.











The Ghent Altarpiece in one hundred billion pixels











Idealization = a process in art through which artists strive to make their forms and figures attain perfection, based on pervading cultural values and/ or their own mental image of beauty


Rogier van der Weyden, Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460.











Als ich chan = "The best that I am capable of doing"
Jan van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433.











Arnolfini Marriage
Cimabue, Madonna Enthroned,
c. 1280 - 1290. Tempera on panel.
Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini (?) and His Wife, Giovanna Cenami (?), 1434. Oil on panel.