Friday, May 25, 2018

European Drawings from the Seventeenth Century

Carlo Bononi
Drapery study
ca. 1605-1612
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Paul Bril
Distant view of a town, with trees in foreground
ca. 1603-1604
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Jan Asselijn
ca. 1630-52
 Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Abraham Bloemaert
Chariclea crowning Theagenes
ca. 1624-26
National Galleries of Scotland

The Story of Theagenes and Chariclea, also called An Ethiopian Story, or the Ethiopica, was written in Greek by Heliodorus around A.D. 350 and has come to be generally regarded as the latest surviving important work composed in Classical Greek.  It is a long and intricately plotted prose novel, widely imitated by writers of the European Renaissance and on into the eighteenth century, following its western rediscovery in 1526.  Chariclea, the daughter of King Hydaspes and Queen Porsine of Ethiopia, was born white because her mother gazed upon a marble statue while pregnant.  Fearing an accusation of adultery, Porsine gave her baby daughter into the care of Sisimathras, a gymnosophist, who carried her to Egypt and placed her in charge of Charicles, a Pythian priest.  She was then taken to Delphi, and made a priestess of Apollo.  Theagenes, a noble Thessalian, comes to Delphi, and the two fall in love.  He carries off Chariclea with the help of Calasiris, an Egyptian employed by Porsine to seek for her daughter.  Then follow many perils from pirates, bandits, and others, but the chief personages ultimately converge in Ethiopia at the very moment when Chariclea is about to be sacrificed to the gods by her own father.  Her birth is made known, and the lovers are happily married.

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of artist Lucas Vorsterman
before 1641
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Anonymous artist
Interior of a farmhouse
ca. 1600-1700
National Galleries of Scotland

Guido Reni
Design for an Altar with the Annunciation
before 1642
National Galleries of Scotland

from Autumn Shade

In nameless warmth, sun light in every corner,
Bending my body over my glowing book,
I share the room. Is it with a voice or touch
Or look, as of an absence, learned by love,
Now, merely mine? Annunciation, specter
Of the worn out, lost, or broken, telling what future.
What vivid loss to come, you change the room
And him who reads here. Restless, he will stir,
Look round, and see the room renewed and line,
Color, and shape as, in desire, they are,
Not shadows but substantial light, explicit,
Bright as glass, inexhaustible, and true.

– Edgar Bowers (1965)

attributed to Jan Both
Rocky landscape
before 1652
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

attributed to Jan Both
Mounted herdsman and cows, with city in the background
before 1652
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Barent Fabritius
Youth studying by candlelight
ca. 1650-55
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Willem Schellinks
British Museum

from Replica

And Vico says gods and goddesses are the self write large –
selves to make earthquakes, tornadoes, eclipses, selves to lift the sun –
and Vico says all things having been named for the namers, us,
we give a chair arms, legs, a seat and a back, a cup has its lip
and a bottle its neck, and ever after rivers flow from their headwaters
and a well-oiled engine purrs at the center of good feeling.
So take your misery down a notch in aches and pains and little diseases,
in years of photo albums, in journals of dreams interrupted by mornings,
in furniture you built yourself, in copies and imitations,
in scale-model wars and families and the age of fancy automobiles.
And when once in your life you make the big trip to the original,
chances are you'll mainly see your own face in the glass that protects
everything of which there's one only in the form of its only maker.

– Marvin Bell (from Nightworks, 2000)

Philips Wouwerman
Seated Man
before 1668
National Galleries of Scotland

Leonaert Bramer
The Circumcision
before 1674
drawing with watercolor
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Herman Saftleven
Figure seated by a group of trees
before 1685
National Galleries of Scotland

Thomas Wijck
Weaver at his loom
before 1677
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam