Sunday, July 2, 2017

Paintings for European Churches 1435-1659

Filippo Lippi
ca. 1435-40
oil on panel
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

Giovanni Bellini
Imago Pietatis
ca. 1460-70
oil on panel
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan


Colors are like words: once the eyes see them they sink into the mind just as do words heard by the ears.  Correspondingly, making an initial sketch of a subject to be painted is like formulating the preliminary thoughts and arguments in a speech.  This explains why the common, uneducated multitude can comprehend the language and discourse of painting.  It has just as much influence among wise men, too.  As Gregory of Nyssa rightly put it, painting speaks silently, and with its aid the walls of a church become blooming meadows.  Just as an orator performs his duty best if he speaks with the passion and energy needed to move people's minds, so too it is the great charge of painting  assuming that the colors and designs are right  to implant in the mind feelings of reverence, fear, and sadness whenever demanded by the subject.  . . .  In order to stir up their own passions, the ancient poets used to wander through groves, valleys, mountains, and seashores while hunting for those psychological impulses. They even went right into caves and dark caverns, as the tragedian Euripides was said to have done. Thinking that any other dwelling would be too cheerful for him, he hid himself in a cave so that he might amass for himself collected feelings of melancholy, assorted kinds of fears, disquieting visions, and frightful misfortunes.  Famous sculptors mentally prepared themselves by fasting and living in poverty so they could get themselves into the right state of mind. I have no doubt that the three artists who sculpted the celebrated Laocoön  a work so expressive of his sorrows  were like tragic poets sustained by a diet consisting solely of lupine seeds. Pliny reports that this hardy nourishment had been instrumental in the creation of great works of art."

 from Sacred Painting, a treatise composed in Latin by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1624, translated by Kenneth S. Rothwell, Jr. in 2010 for I Tatti Renaissance Library and published by Harvard University Press

Bernardino Luini
Lamentation over the dead Christ
ca. 1509-23
oil on panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Jan van Scorel
Lamentation with Donor
ca. 1535
oil on panel
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Hans Baldung
The Trinity and Mystic Pietà
before 1545
oil on panel
National Gallery, London

Agnolo Bronzino
Lamentation Altarpiece for Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo
oil on panel
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Antonis Mor
oil on canvas
National Sculpture Museum, Valladolid

Paolo Veronese
Dead Christ supported by Angel and adored by a Franciscan
ca. 1584-89
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Lambert Sustris
Pietà with Angels
before 1591
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Pietà with St John the Evangelist and the Magdalene
ca. 1599-1600
oil on panel
Fondazione Musei Senesi

Annibale Carracci
before 1605
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Giulio Cesare Procaccini
Descent from the Cross with Mary Magdalene, St Augustine, and St Jerome
ca. 1618
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Giovanni Andrea Ansaldo
ca. 1630
oil on canvas
Accademia ligustica di Belle Arti, Genoa

Luca Giordano
Descent from the Cross
ca. 1659
oil on canvas
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain