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Archive for the ‘Renaissance art’ Category

During some recent research on the background of Doménikos Theotokópoulos, called El Greco in his most productive years, I came across a rather startling similarity in Pontormo’s Visitation and that of El Greco.

Take a look:

the-visitation

El Greco 1610 – Dumbarton Oaks

pontormo3

Pontormo 1529- San Michele in Carmignano

Note the position of Elizabeth’s left foot, the figure on the right in both paintings, as well as the positions of the left and right hands in greeting. Given that El Greco’s work post dates that of Pontormo by some eight-one years, I believe that El Greco was significantly inspired by the earlier master.

In a blog about the “Mask of Pontormo” , published some time ago, I discussed a curious visual style to the scarf that en wraps Mary’s head. I still believe Pontormo’s eyes saw more than any other of us might see in his work.

Perhaps that is also true of El Greco, particularly in another of his works about which I will write another blog, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

Stay tuned.

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Michelangelo. (1475 – 1564)

His is a name iconic, one that defines the creative genius of the Renaissance. While David, the “Prisoners”, the glory of the Sistine Chapel and innumerable other works have come to define this man’s tactile artistic contributions to western culture, he was also a remarkable poet.

Michelangelo Aged

Michelangelo Etching, English, 1874

In the course of his eighty-nine year life, he composed over 300 sonnets and madrigals. The structure of his poetry was centered upon three ideals: the love of Christ, love of Florence and love of beauty. (See Sonnets of Michelangelo,Symonds, 1878, page xix.)

For decades there has been a great deal of discussion within academic circles about the homoerotic nature of Michelangelo’s writing.

Some background:

In 1623, the artist’s grandnephew, Michelangelo the Younger, published the first edition of the sonnets. Much of the controversy that swirls around that earlier edition is based upon changes discovered in the course of John Addington Symond’s 1878 translations: the “Younger” changed the gender of the maestro’s passions from male to female. Times being what they were in the early 17th century, those changes can perhaps be more clearly understood.

In his introduction to the 1878 rhymed translation of the sonnets, Symonds addresses those changes and the perspective of the artist:

“Nothing is more clear than that Michael Angelo (sic) worshiped Beauty in the Platonic spirit, passing beyond its personal and specific manifestations to the universal and impersonal. This thought is repeated over and over again in his poetry; and if we bear in mind that he habitually regarded the loveliness of man or woman as a sign and symbol of eternal and immutable beauty, we shall feel it of less importance to discover who it was that prompted him to this or that poetic utterance.” (See Symonds, Introduction, Page xviii).

The earlier sonnets address topics as diverse as Dante, life, love, religion, art, Pope Julius II, the people of Prato and other matters of interest. The variety of his observations are uniquely intriguing, particularly as insights into other contemporary artists or those who commissioned Buonarotti’s work.

Those observations changed over time.

Nicodemus Pieta

Nicodemus Pieta, Michelangelo, 1547 – 1555

In the latter years of his life, Michelangelo’s words turn introspective. He reflects on the span of his life and the journey that brought him to older age. In deference to Michelangelo’s Nicodemus Pieta in the Museum of the Works of the Duomo in Florence, this sonnet (below) is printed in gold on the walls which face the Pieta in the newly restored museum.
On the Brink of Death
To Giorgio Vasari
Sonnet LXV

The course of my life has brought me now
Through a stormy sea, in a frail ship,
To the common port where, landing
We account for every deed, wretched or holy.

So that finally I see
How wrong the fond illusion was
That made art my idol and my King,
Leading me to want what harmed me.

My amorous fancies, once foolish and happy
What sense have they now that I approach two deaths
The first of which I know is sure, the second threatening.

Let neither painting nor carving any longer calm
My soul turned to that divine Love
Who to embrace us opened His arms upon the cross.

 

Though he worked on one other pieta in his later years, the Rondanini Pieta in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, the Nicodemus Pieta is a physical representation of Michelangelo’s melancholy musings on life and death.
When you visit the Museum of the Works of the Duomo in Florence, please take some time to sit in the chamber reserved solely for the display of the Nicodemus Pieta, and give thought to yet another surprising facet of Michelangelo’s gifts.
Details:
Symond’s rhymed translation, in full, can be read at this link, The Sonnets of Michel Angelo Buonarotti

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 9, 50122 Firenze, Italy

Hours: 9:00AM – 7:30PM  Daily

Entrance: Euro 15.00 pp (Adult)

Pre Purchase tickets on line: Cumulative Entrance Ticket (Duomo, Museum, Campanile, Baptistery, Crypt and Dome)

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Marco Caretlli in Studio Siena

Marco Caratelli in his studio

One a blustery March day, I was walking behind the Duomo of Siena. A small table with a gorgeous Renaissance style icon, presenting the location of an artisan’s studio, drew my attention.

Upon entering the workshop, the young gentleman introduced himself as Marco Caratelli. A small dog was curled up on a pillow in the corner. Heat created a welcomed respite from the fresh late winter weather.

The shelves of the small workshop were lined with extraordinarily beautiful icons; wings of angels, faces as if freshly taken from a Duccio di Buoninsegna work of the early Renaissance.

Marco graduated with an art degree from the University of Siena’s School of Art in 1998 and began his exploration of ancient techniques, now refined under his well experienced hand.

Marco Caretlli Icon Foil

Gold Foil after application

His dedication to keeping the art form alive is reflected in his commitment to using techniques outlined in Cennino Cennini’s Il Libro del Arte, early 14th Century studies of artists and the materials used to create early Renaissance panels and frescoes. Most of the wood types he uses, aged at least thirty years and specially selected for his purpose, are walnut, poplar or chestnut. Gesso or plaster is then applied to the wood. Twenty-four carat gold leaf follows on top of a layer of “bolo armenico”, a mixture of red clay and water.

Special tools, called punzoni or bulini, are used to create the incised patters which form the halos or other ornamentation on the icon.

Marco Caratelli Icon One

A completed work

When the time comes to paint, Marco uses only natural pigments and colors, following the traditions of the Renaissance iconists.

The texture of Italian culture is formed of many sources; food, wine, landscape, history, architecture, and art. When Marco’s hands touch aged wood, apply gesso, gold and paint inspired by centuries of artistic heritage he brings the past alive. At a time when we are driven by an unfounded need to have everything ‘now’, artists like Marco, their work and their passionate commitment to cultural memory are reminders of how we arrived to today and how we must keep the past alive.

NEW YORK OPENING

In early April 2016, Marco travels to New  York City for an opening of his work titled, “Details”. This exhibit will be presented at the Ward-Nasse Gallery, 178 Prince Street, NY, NY 10012.

You can contact the gallery on +1.212.925.6951.

APRIL 8 – 17, 2016

DETAILS

THE ART OF MARCO CARATELLI

The opening reception, April 9, 2016 from 4:00PM to 7:00PM offers the opportunity to meet Marco and view his historically important work.

If you cannot attend this exhibit, are next in Siena or wish to perhaps own one of his works, you can contact him on www.passatonelpresente.com.

You can find Marco, of a day when in Siena, at Via Monna Agnese 20. The street is located down the hill below the Baptistery entrance of the Siena Duomo.

For those who understand Italian, the link below is a recent interview with Marco from Siena TV.

Marco Caratelli-Siena TV

 

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