Friday, February 24, 2017

Franciscus Junius - Five Principal Points

Luca Giordano
Battle between Lapiths and Centaurs
ca. 1685-90
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

"The ancients observed in Picture these five principal points.  Invention, or Historical argument.  Proportion, or Symmetrie.  Colour, and therein Light and Shadow, as also Brightnesse and Darknesse.  Motion or Life, and therein Action and Passion.  Disposition, or an Oeconomical placing and ordering of the whole worke.  The foure first were carefully observed in all sorts of Pictures, whether they did consist of one figure, or of many.  Disposition alone was observed in Pictures that had many figures: seeing a piece wherein there doe meete many and several figures shall be nothing else but a kind of mingle-mangle or a darksome and dead confusion of disagreeing things, unlesse they receive light and life by a convenient and orderly disposition."

 from the Argument to Book Three of The Painting of the Ancients by Franciscus Junius, first published in English in 1638  edited by Keith Aldrich, Philipp Fehl and Raina Fel for University of California Press, 1991

The paintings grouped below are all held in the 17th-century European collections at the Hermitage. Their purpose here is to demonstrate the virtues of Disposition for groups of figures as practiced by painters contemporary with Junius, and to display the practical avoidance of mingle-mangle.

Valentin de Boulogne
Expulsion of the Money-changers
ca. 1620-25
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Pierre Mignard
Magnanimity of Alexander the Great
1670
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Nicolas de Largillière
Provost and Municipal Magistrates of Paris
discussing the celebration dinner at the Hôtel de Ville
for Louis XIV upon his recovery from illness in 1687
1689
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

François Perrier
Hercules among the Gods of Olympus
before 1649
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Bartolomeo Schedoni
Diana and Actaeon
before 1615
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Georges Lallemand
Adoration of the Magi
before 1624
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Lucio Massari
Mystic marriage of St Catherine
before 1633
canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Jan Gerritsz van Bronckhorst
Musical Party with Violinist
1640
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Giulio Cesare Procaccini
Holy Family, St John the Baptist and Angel
ca. 1620-25
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Joachim Wtewael
Christ with Children
1621
oil on panel
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Jacob van Oost
Adoration of the Shepherds
1630s
oil on panel
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Francesco Solimena
Allegory of Rule
1690
canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Laurent de La Hyre
Mercury takes the infant Bacchus to be raised by Nymphs
1638
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Semele's unsuspecting mind was already persuaded
by Juno's suggestion.  She then asked Jupiter, 'Please will you give me
whatever I ask for?'  'Choose!' he replied. 'I'll refuse you nothing.
To back my promise, I call on the power of the River Styx,
the god whom all the other gods fear, to witness my oath!'
Joyful in ruin, with too much power for her good, and destined
to die because of her lover's devotion, Semele said to him,
'Come to my bed as you come to your wife, when Juno embraces
your body in the pact of Venus!'  Jupiter wanted
to gag her lips, but the fatal words had already been uttered.
Neither her wish nor his solemn oath could now be retracted.
And so, with a heavy sigh and a heavier heart, he ascended
the heights of the sky. As his face grew dark, the mists closed round him;
he gathered his threatening clouds, the gales with the flashing lightning,
the rumbling thunder and fearful bolts that none can escape.
But he did whatever he could to lessen his violent impact.
The flaming bolt with which he had hurtled the hundred-headed
Typhon to earth was left on the shelf, too deadly to use.
Instead he seized a less heavy weapon ('his everyday missile',
they call it in heaven), forged by the Cyclopes, giant smiths,
to be less fiery and fierce, less charged with the power of his anger.
Armed with this he entered the palace of Cadmus; but Semele's
mortal frame was unable to take the celestial onslaught. 
His bridal gift was to set her ablaze. The baby, still 
in the foetal stage, was ripped from her womb, and, strange as it seems,
survived to complete his mother's term stitched up in his father's
thigh. At first the child was secretly reared by Semele's
sister Ino. She handed him on to the nymphs of Nysa,
who hid him away in their private cave and fed him on milk. 

 from Book 3 of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, translated by David Raeburn