AP Monthly Competition – October 2013

The theme this month was ‘The Old and the New’ and since it has been a busy month there are only two possibilities and both are from the archive.

I’m going to go with the architectural shot as there is more of a contrast between the new sculpture and the old bridge in the background.

Gallery visits

I was in Edinburgh today and took the opportunity to visit a couple of galleries, one was specifically to view a painting that had been discussed at the tutorial previously. This was Allegory of Melancholy 1528, by Cranach the Elder.

The first exhibition was at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art and was called Witches and Wicked Bodies, a depiction of woman as other, temptress, seductors, fornicators and consorts of the devil. Still playing on the depiction of women as the loss of innocence and of temptation away from the path of righteousness.

This was all done without a critical deconstruction of the power imbalance inherent in the propagation of images throughout the time period looked at in the exhibition. This imbalance excluded women from developing their own narrative and constantly reinforced the mainstream narrative.

This aside, the hanging was well conceived and had a flow, though at times the sectioning of the works seemed a tad forced and unneccesary.

There were some works that I found in the exhibition apart from the Cranach that could be of interest to the course and the possible EMA question.

The Witches Rout [The Carcass] c.1520, Augustino Veneziano (c.1490 – c.1540), an engraving which is usually found in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

The Temptation of St. Anthony c.1500-20, Jost de Negker (c.1485 – c.1544), a woodcut which is usually found in the British Museum, London

The Four Witches 1497, Albrecht Durer (1471 – 1528), an engraving which is usually found in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

Witch Riding Backwards on a Goat 1500, Albrecht Durer (1471 – 1528), an engraving which is usually found in the British Museum, London

Witches’ Sabbath 1510, Hans Baldrung Grien (1484 – 1545), colour woodcut from two blocks, tone block orange-brown which is usually kept in the British Museum, London

Allegory of Melancholy 1528, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553), oil (and tempera) on panel which is usually found in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.

Melancholy is depicted as a sumptuous angel, whittling away as the world happens around her. ‘Melancholy is distractedly whittling away‘. Nude flying witches and beasts, flying toward what is possibly Venusberg, the mountain on the right, from German mythology.
‘all sadness, plagues and dejection come from Satan’ – Martin Luther
Beasts: Stags, goats, cattle, boar, strange beasts on a horse, cats, chickens – one of the beasts was flying backwards
Objects: Chisel, protractors, awl, perfection of the spheres, glass of wine (1 empty)
boats on lake/sea, very detailed backgrounds
Toads and bees/flies on the upper banner

Gib Frid (Let Me Go) early 1500s, etching which is usually found in the British Museum, London

The Three Fates 1513, woodcut which is usually found in the British Museum, London

First tutorial in Leeds

Attended the first tutorial in Leeds, was a small group. Will just get down some of the notes I took and probably leave them in note form.

  • write the TMA out as a bookmark on a 6×4 card to keep it handy in all the material I’m reading
  • look at Cranach in Edinburgh (Melancholy)
  • look at altarpieces in Bowes museum, with possible links to works in Brussels
  • Boccaccio exhibition in Manchester?

This course has several attributes that distinguishes it from a purely art historical course

  • getting away from ideas of connoisseurship, looking at material culture, socio-anthopological
  • broad range of materials considered through the course
  • reconsidered interactions between Northern Europe and the Italian peninsula during the Renaissance period
  • looking at workshop practices rather than just at individuals, anon. school of, master of, circle of, etc
  • looking further afield than the Italian Renaissance, from Northern Europe to Crete and looking at the developments there

All books build on each other for the TMAs. So Book 1 only for TMA01, Books 1 and 2 for TMA02 and Books 1, 2 and 3 for TMA04.

The Art of Melancholy, 1528, oil on wood, Cranach the Elder
The Art of Melancholy, 1528, oil on wood, Cranach the Elder
We then chose a postcard from an upside down pile that the tutor had, I luckily chose one I could recognise – The Art of Melancholy 1528, oil (and tempera) on wood, Cranach the Elder.

Some points

  • using oil and tempera on the same panel was mixing the older (Italian) technique with the newer (Northern) technique of oil painting.
  • wood rather than panel, canvas, paper, etc
  • Melancholy, one of the four temperaments – also famously explored by Dürer and Melancholia I
  • good size, large, 133cm x 74cm
  • no direct information on who it was produced for, but it is a secular subject, so would not necessarily have been for a religious building, the subject of Melancholy was part of the classic revival of the time with humanists referring back to the classical period of the Romans and Greeks
  • using an idealised landscape to frame the symbolic treatment of a Temperament, esp. it’s link to dreams and thoughts
  • the symbolism is similar to Dürer’s Melancholia I in that there are a lot of mathematical and architectural tools, hounds, sleeping dog, heady fruits
  • the face of the woman is similar to that used by Cranach the Elder in a lot of his paintings, this had helped me recognise the artist when I initially received the card – this could point to the use of templates and assistants

Sort out SCONUL access to Durham University library.