Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Renaissance

Lorenzo Ghiberti, Sacrifice of Abraham, Competition Panel, Italian Renaissance

Filippo Brunelleschi, Sacrifice of Abraham, Competition Panel, Italian Renaissance

Florence Cathedral, dome designed and built by Filippo Brunelleschi, Italian Renaissance

Filippo Brunelleschi, The Pazzi Chapel, Florence, The Italian Renaissance

Linear Perspective; print by Vredeman de Vries

Linear Perspective: Masaccio, The Trinity, Italian Renaissance

Masaccio, The Tribute Money from the Brancacci Chapel, Italian Renaissance

Lorenzo Ghiberti, Second set of doors for the Florence Baptistery, "The Gates of Paradise," Italian Renaissance

Donatello, St. George, Italian Renaissance

Donatello, David, the first free-standing nude sculpture since ancient times, Italian Renaissance.

Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Betrothal, Flemish Renaissance, an oil painting.

Rogier Van Der Weyden, Descent from the Cross, Flemish Renaissance, oil painting

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, Italian Renaissance


Lorenzo Ghiberti
--competition panels
Filippo Brunelleschi
--Dome of the Cathedral of Florence
--linear perspective
-----vanishing point
International Gothic
egg tempera painting
--Brancacci Chapel
Flemish Painting
--oil painting
--Jan Van Eyck
----symbolic realism
--Rogier Van Der Weyden

read Chapter 15

Easter in Florence

The Scoppio del Carro del Fuocco, "Explosion of the Cart of Fire."
Every Easter, the Florentines drag out an enormous 4 story high cart called the Brindellone ("The Big Old Wreck"), hitch it up to a team of 4 white oxen and parade it through the streets of the city stopping in front of the Cathedral in time for Easter Mass. After the choir sings the Gloria of the Mass, a deacon takes a candle and lights it from the Paschal candle, and then ... well, watch what happens.

From the 2013 Scoppio del Carro,

The Florentines have been doing this ceremony in its present form complete with fireworks in church for almost 600 years. They've been doing some form of this Easter ritual for almost a thousand years. Remarkably, they have not yet burned down the Cathedral.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Proto Renaissance

Giotto, The Arrest of Christ, fresco painting from the Arena Chapel, Padua, Italy

Giotto, The Pieta, fresco painting from the Arena Chapel, Padua, Italy

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, The Effects of Good Government, fresco painting from the city council chamber of the City of Siena, Italy

Orcagna, Strozzi Altarpiece, in the Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy


Saint Francis of Assisi
--Arena Chapel
--Enrico Scrovegni
The Black Death

Read Chapter 14

The Palio in Siena

The Palio is a pageant and horse race held twice a year in the city of Siena in Italy, first on July 2nd and then again every August 15th. The Palio goes back over 700 years. It began as a dedication to the Virgin Mary. The race is one of the fastest and most violent horse races in the world. Ten horses and riders run three laps around the main square of the city, a space built on a hillside that is not level and paved with cobblestones. Riders and horses are almost always injured in the race, and there have been deaths in past years.

But, it is much more than a race. Siena is divided into 17 districts or contrade. Each contrada races a horse, and its honor and prestige ride with the horse. People become very emotionally involved in the race, and rivalries between contrade can run very high for weeks. Teenagers chase each other with water balloons, try to out sing each other, and sometimes fist fights break out.

The Palio begins with each race horse blessed by the parish priest in the morning. The contrada flags are all blessed in the Cathedral. The flags are carried, waved, and juggled by s'bandieri, who train for the Palio for weeks. They march and perform in the pageant that begins the Palio with costumes that harken back to the time when Siena was an independent city state.
The seven contrade that were excluded from the race the previous year are automatically enrolled for the following year. A lottery held at the last minute before the race determines the final three who will make up the ten for the race.

I was there at the July 1988 Palio. I lived in Siena at the time, and naturally, I cheered for my district, the Contrada del Istrice (The Porcupine Contrada). I remember all the tension that filled the city for weeks before the race. The city staged some small public concerts to try to calm all the rivalries and strong feelings. I stood with the locals in the center of the square. I could barely see the race. I remember that when the race was over, and my contrada was among the losers, people all around me burst into tears and began sobbing uncontrollably.

The passions of the old medieval city states still run high in Italy.

 The excitement and tension in the days before the race.  Men of various contrade march around the town singing.  Encounters with rival contrade can end in fist fights.

 Blessing a horse on the morning of the race.  The priest ends the blessing by saying to the horse "Va e torna vincitore!" (Go! and come back a winner!).

 The Corteo Storico, the pageant that begins the Palio.  Locals wear costumes from Siena's reign as a leading city state in Italy, the 14th and 15th centuries.

 The race itself; this is the race that I saw (or tried to see from where I was) in 1988.  I am somewhere in that crowd packed into the center of the piazza.

Below are some pictures I took of the Corteo Storico in the piazza from that same Palio in 1988.

Banner of the Contrada del' Istrice

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gothic Art

Monastery Church of Saint Denis, west front, Paris

Monastery Church of Saint Denis, ambulatory, Paris

Chartres Cathedral, France

Jamb statues from the west front of Chartres Cathedral

Christ of the Apocalypse, tympanum sculpture from the west front of Chartres Cathedral

Martyr Saints, jamb statues from the south portal of Chartres Cathedral

Interior of Chartres Cathedral

North Rose Window in Chartres Cathedral

Reims Cathedral, exterior

Reims Cathedral, interior

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral, interior

Beauvais Cathedral

Beauvais Cathedral, interior


Monastery of Saint Denis
Abbott Suger
ribbed vault
rose window
Chartres Cathedral
--jamb statue
--flying buttress
other cathedrals

Read Chapter 13

The Bells of Chartres Cathedral


The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Interior of the Great Mosque of Cordoba, Spain

Domed ceiling in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain


The Mosque

Chapter 11

The Adnan, or the call to prayer in Istanbul. What you are hearing is a call and response between two of the six minarets of the Ahmediye or "Blue Mosque".  You get a glimpse of Haghia Sophia at the end of the clip.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Byzantine Art

The Church of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Byzantine

Interior of Hagia Sophia

Christ in Heaven with Saint Vitalis, mosaic in San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

The Emperor Justinian and His Court, mosaic in San Vitale


Byzantine Empire
Emperor Justinian
symbolic form

Early Christian Art

Dura Europos Synagogue, Jewish art

Ceiling paintings in the Catacomb of Marcellinus, Rome

The Good Shepherd, catacomb painting, Rome

A Basilican Church, Santa Sabina, Rome

A circular martyrium church, Santa Costanza, Rome


Jewish art
Emperor Constantine
basilican church
martyrium church

Read Chapter 10