Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Classical Myths as Chiaroscuro Woodcuts

Ugo da Carpi after Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi
Hercules driving Avarice from the Temple of the Muses
ca. 1510-30
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Ugo da Carpi after Raphael
Hercules and Antaeus
ca. 1510-30
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Hendrik Goltzius
Hercules and Cacus
1588
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Niccolò Vicentino after Raphael
Hercules strangling the Nemean Lion
ca, 1540-50
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

"Indeed it is not easy to decide what gives the screaming of Electra its power.  Sophocles has invented for her a language of lament that is like listening to an X-ray.  Electra's cries are just bones of sound.  I itemize the cries of Electra as follows:

 1.  O
 2.  IO
 3.  PHEU
 4.  AIAI
 5.  TALAINA
 6.  OIMOI MOI
 7.  IO MOI MOI 
 8.  EE IO
 9.  EE AIAI
10. IO GONAI  
11.  OIMOI TALAINA
12.  OI 'GO TALAINA
13.  OTOTOTOI TO TOI
14.  OI MOI MOI DYSTENOS

In range and diversity of aural construction Electra surpasses all other screamers in Sophocles, including Philoctetes who suffers from gangrene in the foot and Heracles who gets burned alive at the end of his play.  Let us consider how Electra constructs her screams.  It should be noted at the outset that none of them occurs extra metrum; they scan, and are to be taken as integral to the rhythmic and musical economy of her utterance.  As units of sound they employ the usual features of ritual lament (assonance, alliteration, internal rhyme, balance, symmetry, repetition) in unusual ways.  She creates, for example, certain unpronounceable concatenations of hiatus like EE AIAI or EE IO which hold the voice and the mouth open for the whole length of a measure of verse and are as painful to listen to as they are to say."  

 Anne Carson, from the foreword to her translation of the Electra of Sophocles (Oxford University Press, 2001)

Anonymous printmaker after Parmigianino
Circe
ca. 1525-1600
chiaroscuro woodcut
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Nicolas Le Sueur after Sebastiano Conca
 Diana and Endymion
before 1764
chiaroscuro woodcut
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

John Baptist Jackson after Parmigianino
Ulysses and Polyphemus
before 1780
chiaroscuro woodcut
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

John Baptist Jackson after Francesco Primaticcio
Ulysses and Polyphemus
before 1780
chiaroscuro woodcut
National Gallery of Art. Washington DC

Anonymous printmaker after Marco Pino
Perseus beheading Medusa
ca. 1550-1600
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York

Giovanni Gallo after Marco Pino
Perseus beheading Medusa
ca. 1550-1600
chiaroscuro woodcut
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Ludwig Büsinck after Georges Lallemand
Aeneas saving his Father from burning Troy
before 1669
chiaroscuro woodcut
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Giuseppe di Cosimo Bianchino
Sea Monster with Putti
ca. 1550-70-
chiaroscuro woodcut
British Museum

Hendrik Goltzius
Oceanus
ca. 1589-90
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Antonio da Trento after Parmigianino
Narcissus
ca. 1527-30
chiaroscuro woodcut
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York