Deconstructing 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

altarpieces

Altars and Altarpieces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

associated with the Virgin

 
No flame =

God has become human, “the Word was made flesh”

Lilies =

Mary's virginity

Radiance of the Lord’s presence has overcome material light

Roses =
Virgin’s charity
Boxlike objects on workbench and window ledge =

mousetraps;

Violets =
Virgin’s humility

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”

Basin & towel =

Mary as the “vessel most clean”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.