Deconstructing Flemish Symbols
disguised symbolism = elements of a painting that are treated as an ordinary part of the scene, but that carry symbolic meaning
 
Quentin Massys, Money Changer and His Wife Exchanging Money, 1514.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

altarpieces

Altarpieces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (open), completed 1432.

 

The Ghent Altarpiece in one hundred billion pixels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan van Eyck, Adam and Eve details of the Ghent Altarpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife, Giovanna Cenami, 1434.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife, Giovanna Cenami (detail), 1434.

 

 

glaze = a thin layer of translucent oil paint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.