Thursday, February 23, 2017

Franciscus Junius on Sensation and Imagination

Henri Matisse
Music
1910
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

"For the inward Imaginations that doe continually stirre and play in our minds, cannot be conceived and fashioned therein, unlesse our eyes some manner of way are made acquainted with the true shape of the things imagined, or at least that we have felt them with some of our senses. "Our mind," sayth Strabo, "maketh up the conceivable or intelligible things out of the sensible: for as our senses doe certifie us of the figure, colour, bignesse, smell, softnesse, and taste of an apple; so doth our mind out of these things bring together the true apprehension of an apple; so falleth it likewise out with great figures, that our sense seeth the parts of them, but our mind putteth the whole figure out of those visible parts together." Themistius doth wonderfull well expresse all this: "the phantasie," sayth he, "is like a print or footstep of sense: for as a leaver mooved by the hand mooveth a stone, and as the sea stirred by the winde stirreth a ship, so is it no wonder at all that our sense should be subject to the same: for our sense being stirred by outward sensible things, and receiving the shape of such things as doe stirre it, stirreth also in perfect creatures another power of the soule, commonly called phantasie: whose nature is to lay up the prints delivered her by sense, and to seale them up after so sure a manner, as to keepe still the footsteps the same, after that now the visible things are gone out of our sight."

 from The Painting of the Ancients (1638) by Franciscus Junius, an English translation by the author of his Latin treatise De pictura veterum (1637) written at the request of his art-collecting English patron Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1586-1646)

We do not arrive in the world ready-equipped to see, say, a sphere.  By experience and by comparison between senses we learn to associate specific passions of a sense with specific qualities of substance.  Thus we learn empirically to associate, for example, the sensation caused by a touched sphere with the sensation caused by a seen sphere and, reflectively combining these sensations, we develop the idea of a sphere. When we have done this, we are in a position to have knowledge of a sphere.

 Michael Baxandall paraphrasing John Locke in Patterns of Intention: on the Historical Explanation of Pictures (Yale University Press, 1985)

François Boucher
Allegory of Painting
1760s
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Jean-Auguste Barre
Taglione as Sylph
1837
bronze statuette
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Antonio Bellucci
St Sebastian and St Irene
before 1726
canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Ludwig Meidner
The Corner House (Villa Kochmann, Dresden)
1913
oil on canvas
Museo Thysssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Orazio Marinali
Jupiter and Antiope
1690s
marble
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Oswald Achenbach
Festival in Naples
1875
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Edgar Degas
Dancer
ca. 1874
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Edgar Degas
Dancers' heads
ca. 1895
pastel
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
 
Edgar Degas
Dancer adjusting shoes
ca. 1875-76
drawing
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Chariot fragment
3rd century BC
Greece
bronze
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Gerard de Lairesse
Hagar in the Wilderness
ca. 1675-80
canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Wassily Kandinsky
Winter Landscape
1909
oil on cardboard
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Wassily Kandinsky
View of Murnau
1908
oil on cardboard
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

"All of us naturally are too much in love with our owne workes, and selfe-love maketh that seeme gorgeous unto us wherein we our selves be Actors. "I know not how every man maketh very much of his own doings. So it is: you love your owne, and I love mine," sayth Tullie. "Wee looke upon domesticke things after a familiar manner," sayth Seneca, "and favour doth then most of all hinder our judgment: neither may you think otherwise, but that wee are sooner overthrowne by our owne flattery, then by the flattery of others." 

 Franciscus Junius (1591-1677)

Wenceslaus Hollar after Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Franciscus Junius
1640s
etching
Teylers Museum, Haarlem