Saturday, February 24, 2018

Drawings and Prints from the Seventeenth Century

Joseph Heintz the Younger
Holy House of Loreto removed by Angels from the Holy Land
ca. 1650
British Museum


First all belief is paradise. So pliable a medium. A time not very long. A transparency caused. A conveyance of rupture. A subtle transport. Scant and rare. Deep in the opulent morning, blissful regions, hard and slender. Scarce and scant. Quotidian and temperate. Begin afresh in the realms of the atmosphere, that encompass the solid earth, the terraqueous globe that soars and sings, elevated and flimsy. Bright and hot. Flesh and hue. Our skies are inventions, durations, discoveries, quotas, forgeries, fine and grand. Fine and grand. Fresh and bright. Heavenly and bright. The day pours out space, a light red roominess, bright and fresh. Bright and oft. Bright and fresh. Sparkling and wet. Clamour and tint. We range the spacious fields, a battlement trick and fast. Bright and silver. Ribbons and failings. To and fro. Fine and grand. The sky is complicated and flawed and we're up there in it, floating near the apricot frill, the bias swoop, near the sullen bloated part that dissolves to silver the next instant bronze but nothing that meaningful, a breach of greeny-blue, a syllable, we're all across the swathe of fleece laid out, the fraying rope, the copper beech behind the aluminum catalpa that has saved the entire spring for this flight, the tops of these a part of the sky, the light wind flipping up the white undersides of leaves, heaven afresh, the brushed part behind, the tumbling. So to the heavenly rustling. Just stiff with ambition we range the spacious trees in earnest desire sure and dear. Brisk and west. Streaky and massed. Changing and appearing. First and last. This was made from Europe, formed from Europe, rant and roar. Fine and grand. Fresh and bright. Crested and turbid. Silver and bright. This was spoken as it came to us, to celebrate and tint, distinct and designed. Sure and dear. Fully designed. Dear afresh. So free to the showing. What we praise we believe, we fully believe. Very fine. Belief thin and pure and clear to the title. Very beautiful. Belief lovely and elegant and fair for the footing. Very brisk. Belief lively and quick and strong by the bursting. Very bright. Belief clear and witty and famous in impulse. Very stormy. Belief violent and open and raging from privation. Very fine. Belief intransigent after pursuit. Very hot. Belief lustful and eager and curious before beauty. Very bright. Belief intending afresh. So calmly and clearly. Just stiff with leaf sure and dear and appearing and last. With lust clear and scarce and appearing and last and afresh.

– Lisa Robertson (2001)

Anonymous French printmaker
Grotto at Versailles with statue groups
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Monogrammist HT
Tailpiece from printed book, De Privilegio Rusticorum, Paris
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Martin Fréminet
A King of Judah and Israel (design for Fontainebleau ceiling)
ca. 1605
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Palma Giovane
Samson and Delilah
ca. 1611
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Palma Giovane
Tutelary Goddess of the City of Rome
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Luca Ciamberlano after Agostino Carracci
Drawing Book Pattern Print - after Raphael Self Portrait
ca. 1600-1630
British Museum

from An Essay on Criticism

But see! each Muse, in Leo's golden days,
Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays!
Rome's ancient genius, o'er its ruins spread,
Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend head!
Then sculpture and her sister-arts revive;
Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live;
With sweeter notes each rising temple rung;
A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung.

– Alexander Pope (1711)

Anthony van Dyck
Studies of Portrait Medals
before 1641
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of artist Justus Sustermans
plate cut 1630-32, printed 1645-46
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of artist Jan Brueghel the Elder
plate cut 1630-32, printed 1645-46
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Adriaen van de Velde
Youth seated on the ground
ca. 1646-72
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Adriaen van de Velde
Standing youth in armor
ca. 1646-72
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Adriaen van de Velde
Two studies of a shepherd resting
ca. 1666-71
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Gesina ter Borch
Fashionable young woman standing with Death at open grave in St Michael's Church
ca. 1671
drawing with watercolor
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


          Death is a funny thing. Most people are afraid of it, and yet
they don't even know what it is.

          Perhaps we can clear this up.

          What is death?

          Death is it. That's it. Finished. "Finito." Over and out. No

          Death is many different things to many different people. I
think it is safe to say, however, that most people don't like it.


          Because they are afraid of it.

          Why are they afraid of it?

          Because they don't understand it.

          I think the best way to try to understand death is to
think about it a lot. Try to come to terms with it. Try to really
understand it. Give it a chance!

          Sometimes it helps if we try to visualize things.

          Try to visualize, for example, someone sneaking up behind
your back and hitting you over the head with a giant hammer.

           Some people prefer to think of death as a more spiritual
thing. Where the soul somehow separates itself from the mess
and goes on living forever somewhere else. Heaven and hell being
the most traditional choices.

          Death has a very black reputation but, actually, to die is a
perfectly normal thing to do.

          And it's so wholesome: being a very important part of
nature's big picture. Trees die, don't they? And flowers?

          I think it's always nice to know that you are not alone. Even
in death.

          Let's think about ants for a minute. Millions of ants die
every day, and do we care? No. And I'm sure that ants feel the
same way about us.

          But suppose – just suppose – that we didn't have to die.
That wouldn't be so great either. If a 90-year-old man can hardly
stand up, can you imagine what it would be like to be 500 years

          Another comforting thought about death is that 80 years or
so after you die nobody who knew you will still be alive to miss

          And after you're dead, you won't even know it.

– Joe Brainard (died in 1994)

Poems from the archives of Poetry (Chicago)