(Via The Finch Wench)
Saint Francis and the Birds (1935) by Stanley Spencer
My apologies for the delay in posting the third painting. I have to also apologize to Ben for posting a third religious painting in a row. I said I wouldn't but this one is so damn charming I had no choice. I did however break my rule of posting them in the same order as the book.
Here is the story of St. Francis and the birds.
The painting is a somewhat modern take on this story. Apparently when this painting was displayed in was quite controversial to take on of the most popular saints and stick him in these modern times. The setting is actually the back yard of the painter's parent's house.
This controversy is rather ridiculous in my view because of how often middle age and renaissance painters moved their religious imagery into their times. Apparently Spencer meant no disrespect towards St Francis or god or the church. He was a reader of St Francis' writings.
Spencer at the time this painting was created Spencer was in the midst of a love triangle of sorts and it is thought that the woman in the picture is the 'new' woman but echoes a drawing he did of his first wife. Peculiar.
I like this painting a lot. It is a somewhat comical depiction of a fable like story. St. Francis has bedroom slippers on and any time religious figures are depicted with bedroom footwear it has my approval!
In my previous blog it was suggested that I draw a picture of Baby Jesus battling a Minoan Octopus. So I did, and here are the results:
And now for Painting #2
The Lamentation (1305 CE) by Giotto
Not surprisingly this is another Jesus related painting. This time we have jumped to Jesus post crucifixion. I think I like this painting more than numero uno. Obviously there is much more going on and there are a ton of halos which means we have some important people depicted.
Here is the quick rundown:
1. Jesus - You can probably guess which one he is (think deceased)
2. Mary - Holding his upper torso
3. Mary Magdalene - Holding his feet, harking back to when she once anointed his feet with perfumes (maybe Jesus' wife?)
4. John the Evangelist - his arms thrown back.
5. Joseph of Arimathea - On right with big beard and likely carrying Christ's shroud. Joesph was a rich Jew who provided his own tomb to bury Christ (maybe he knew it wouldn't be occupied for long). You can allegedly see the tomb's entrance next to John's rear end.
6. Nicodemus - Far right, according to John (19.39) provided the spices for anointing Christ's body
Aside from the angels above there remains two figures with halos unidentified (the lady standing with a hand up to the left of Christ's head and one of the mourners holding Christ's left hand) Who could they be?
Also of note, Jesus' body is not allowed to touch the ground. The angels above seem to melt back into clouds and are painted at various and perspectives (daring for it's time). Also the lone tree which seems to be near death is actually sprouting some growth perhaps symbolic of the resurrection.
I like the fact that there are two figures in the painting with their backs towards us. I wonder if the reason they have no halos is not because of there lack of significance but rather because a halo could not be painted without obscuring other details.
I am also interested in the fact that there are only three lamenting males in the painting (aside from the angels) and fifteen women. I also found it interesting that there is no description of the communal lamentation depicted in the Bible. There are obvious reasons and implications for filling in parts of the story at a later date (like the notion of what hell is like as a place) but I never before considered the role art may have played in this development.
A Few months ago I started a project discussing highly esteemed works of art in a immature and amateur fashion. I am going to import the three I have done from my myspace blog and continue on with them on this blog. Hope you enjoy.
A New Project, Part 1
I have been largely absent in the recent weeks and it has been a pretty long time since I have posted anything blog-wise. I guess there hasn't been much to say recently. I have decided to start a new project, of sorts. I have a book called The Folio Society Book of the 100 Greatest Paintings. I haven't read it yet, but I have looked at some of the paintings. I plan on looking at a few of the paintings each week and reporting back on them here. I am completely unqualified to discuss art critically so don't expect anything profound.
I figure it is just a way for me to learn something and possibly share that with someone. I am not too concerned as to whether painting A doesn't belong on the list or not. Someone named Martin Bailey edited this book so I assume it is his expertise and opinion that they are the best.
I skipped the introduction as I am so apt to do. Perhaps I will go back and read it at a later time. It appears that the paintings are listed in chronological order and don't take into account anything painted pre 1200 CE (AD). So that means no Minoan Octopus Stirrup Jars, bummer.
Without further ado, here is the first painting:
The Rucellai Madonna by Duccio (painted 1285)
Obviously this book is going to have a good deal of religious art and in my opinion it is one of the only good things religion has given us (aside from the reproduction of ancient manuscripts).
This painting looks to me that it could have come straight out of an illuminated manuscript but it is actually from the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence and currently resides in the Galleria degli Uffizi, also in Florence.
The painting is Tempura on Panel. This is obviously in no way battered and deep fried as you would expect from tempura. In fact this book, after browsing the table of contents is decidedly Western in nature. Shouldn't this then be titled the 100 Greatest Western Paintings post 1200 CE?
The Central figure, as I am sure you guessed is Mary holding the little baby Jesus. It seems to me as though Duccio did not quite have the hang of painting children in proportion. Something just looks a little off about the J-man the Greeks also struggled with portraying children and babies. usually they just look like tiny men and I sort of see that here.
Jesus also appears to be all halo-ed up and blessing things already, interesting. I think the painter does a good job using all three dimensions with Mary's knee sticking out and the perspective on the throne/chair she sits upon.
I guess the frame painted with saints and apostles that surround the pentagon shaped painting remind me of illuminated manuscripts, well that and all of the gold.
So I guess that finishes painting one. I don't know if I will have anything to say about the others. I may be a one trick pony, or I may start being a sarcastic jerk about the images, who knows? This project of mine will either last 100 paintings or just a few. It depends on my interest and on my ability to talk about each one.