sixteenth century art

Giulio Romano, Fall of the Giants (fresco in the Sala dei Giganti in the Palazzo del Tè, Mantua, Italy), 1530-32

Romano continued his witty play on the classics in the decoration of rooms in the Palazzo del Te. One depicts the loves of the gods, depicted in the marriage of Cupid and Psyche. he other room, Sala dei Giganti, is a remarkable feat of trompe l'oeil painting in which the entire room seems to be collapsing about the viewer as the gods defeat giants. Romano accepts the challenge Mantegna laid down in the Camera Picta of the Gongoza palace. Fall of the Giants displays distraction, amusement and enchantment to the viewer (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 680).

Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is a leaf from the Alumgavar Hours, a rich and lavishly detailed manuscript in the collection of the Walters Museum. Quite a contrast to the books we’ve looked at lately!

Image source: Walters Museum MS W. 420. Creative Commons licensed via Flickr.

Andrea Palladio, Church of San Giorgio Maggiore (Venice, Italy), plan 1565; construction 1565-80; facade, 1597-1610; campanile 1791; finished by Vincenzo Scamozzi following Palladio’s design

anonymous asked:

Hi! I'm curious about what exactly you studied in your university years. (But you don't have to answer if you don't want to) Have a good day!

Hello! Thank you, I hope you’re having a good day too! :)

Boy, I know I answered that before but I tagged it wrong and now I can’t find it (stuff about myself should be tagged ‘meanwhile irl’, if you’re curious, but apparently I’m not as systematic about this as I thought), so, here goes - I mostly studied everything, because I’ve been in university forever and will probably go back as soon as I finish this degree. Like, I’m generally happy with my life, but this is one of those things where I know I was extraordinarily lucky - I always had outstanding, kind teachers, I live in a country where university costs zero, and I’ve seen people in my own family who studied several subjects just for fun, so I grew up with the idea this is something completely normal. I started off with Political Sciences, got very disappointed, very fast, switched to Humanities, took lessons in everything I could get my hands on - archaeology, linguistics, folklore, Old English, American literature, cinema, sixteenth century art - then went to university again and tried to work only on what I really loved (ancient Greek mythology), and then realized that, of course, nobody will give you a job just because you can name all the sailors on the Argo so I went and did another degree in translation and conference interpreting, which was the best of all things. Now I’m hoping to do something related to Eastern Europe and the Balkans - I studied some Russian like, a billion years ago and would like to pick it up again, and to discover something about everything else as well - but I also want to take some time off to finish my novel and see if anyone’s interested, so it might be a bad idea to start a new Master - we’ll see. I any case, if the world doesn’t explode and collapse upon itself I’ve got plenty of time: the best student in my ancient Greek class back in the day was a seventy-year old woman, and that gave me plenty of ideas for my retirement.


April 6th 1520: Raphael dies

On this day in 1520, famous Renaissance artist Raphael Sanzio da Urbino died in Rome aged 37. Born in 1483 in the cultural hub of Urbino to an artistic family, he was orphaned by age eleven. Soon after this, the budding artist became an apprentice in Perugia, where his work quickly gained recognition, independent of his notable master. Raphael’s first major work was his 1504 The Marriage of the Virgin. Inspired by the renown of the art in the city, Raphael moved to Florence in the early sixteenth century and studied Renaissance art under Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; he is now considered on par with his two illustrious masters. Raphael soon moved to Rome at the behest of the Pope, where he became greatly popular and gained the title ‘prince of painters’. His fame earned Raphael commissions painting frescoes for the Vatican. The artist died on his 37th birthday, though left behind a great legacy in his art, and his funeral was held in the Vatican, where much of his work still hangs.

Chapel by Filippo Brunelleschi for the Barbadori family, 1419-23; acquired by the Capponi family, who ordered paintings by Pontormo, 1535-28, Capponi Chapel (Church of Santa Felicita, Florence, Italy)


Robert Smythson, High Great Chamber (Hardwick Hall, Shrewsbery, England), 1591-97

At Hardwick Hall, a sequence of rooms leads to a grand staircase up to the Long Gallery and High Great Chamber on the second floor. This room, where the countess received guests, entertained and sometimes dines, was designed to display a set of Brussels tapestries with the story of Ulysses. The room had enormous windows, ornate fireplaces, and richly carved and painted plaster frieze around the room. The frieze, by the master Abraham Smith, depict Diana and her maiden hunter in a forest where the pursue stags and boars. Near the window bay, the frieze depicts an allegory on the seasons: Venus and Cupid represent spring, Ceres represents the summer. (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 724).

Jane Seymour - Bound to Obey and Serve

Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour has often been overlooked by history and generally thought of as an ordinary little English woman who did as she was told- hence her personal motto of “Bound to Obey and Serve”- and bore the King his son and heir.It is true that Jane was from a background typical of many young women at court. She grew up in the countryside of Wiltshire and led a quiet domestic life before she came to court as a lady-in-waiting.Jane was not exceptionally educated like the two queens who came before her, but that does not mean she was any less devoted to the causes dear to her or that she was not capable of ambition.

What struck many people about Queen Jane was the fact that in both appearance and personality she was the polar opposite of Anne Boleyn. Jane was delicately fair-skinned and blonde where Anne was olive skinned with dark hair. Jane was a buxom country girl where Anne was slender and elegant. Anne had been an avid reformer while Jane was a conservative Catholic who was intent on saving the old monasteries and relics. 

The thing that most needs to be acknowledged about Jane Seymour is not tied to her appearance,but to her character. While she was meek and demure by nature, Jane possessed a strong will and deep convictions. Almost immediately after she became Queen, Jane began working to restore Princess Mary to Henry’s favor. She was so fiercely loyal to Mary and her late mother Katherine of Aragon that she risked being accused of treason in order to reunite the King and his daughter. As a staunch Catholic, Jane pleaded on behalf of the religious institutions affected by the Restoration, a brave move to make with a man like Henry VIII and with the eyes of rival factions upon her. She even begged Henry to be merciful to the leaders of the Catholic uprising in York. Henry had married Jane because her modesty, piety, and demureness had attracted him to her. But Henry would have been wrong if he had expected a doormat. If Jane had not died of childbed fever after the birth of her son Edward she may have gone on to be remembered as one of the most industrious and devoted of Henry’s queens.

Donato Bramante, Tempietto (Church of San Pietro, Montorio, Rome, Italy), 1502-10; dome and lantern restored in 17th century

From Art History, Volume II by M. Stokstad:
Work came slowly for Bramante in Rome and he was nearing sixty when the Spanish rulers Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand commissioned a small shrine over the spot in Rome where the apostle Peter was believed to have been crucified. Known as the Tempietto (Little Temple), Bramante combined his interpretation with the principles of Vitruvius and the fifteenth-century architect, Leon Battista Alberti: the stepped base, Doric columns, frieze (Vitruvius advised the the Doric order be used for temples to gods of forceful character) and balustrade. The centralized plan and tall drum (circular wall supporting the dome) recall earth Christain shrines. Especially noted is the sculptural effect of the exterior, with deep niches, light contrasts and Dorice frieze of papal emblems. 

Bernardo Buontalenti, The Great Grotto (Boboli Gardens, Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy) with sculpture by Michelangelo, 1583-93

The Great Grotto consists of four marble captives (originally conceived in the tomb of Pope Julius II) carved by Michelangelo. In its inner cave, there is a 1592 copy of Astronomy (or Venus Urania by Giovanno da Bologna). Water operated fountains and other hydraulics filled the grotto with noise and music. Water jets were concealed in the rock-work and could be turned on by the owner. Grottos were enchanting Renaissance features and were typically defined as stone recesses of irregular materials. Sculptures might support its earth and was often laden with other symbolism such as depictions of Muses and nymphs (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 677).

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling (Vatican, Vatican City, Rome, Italy), 1508-12

Top to bottom: Expulsion of Adam and Eve (center), Creation of Eve with Ezekiel, Cumaean Sibyl, Creation of Adam (center), God Gathering the Waters (center), Persian Sibyl, Daniel, God Creating the Sun, Moon, and Planets (center). The spandrels and lunettes depict the ancestors of Jesus. Michelangelo’s ceiling established a new style in Renaissance painting. It is said that Michelangelo objected to the limitations of Julius’s initial order for the ceiling and that the pope told the artist to paint what he liked. This Michelangelo probably did but the commission probably involved an adviser and the pope’s approval, and a team of assistants. In the final composition, illusionistic marble architecture established a framework for figures in the vault; short pilasters are decorated with gold putti. Set within the frames are sibyls (female prophets) and figures of the Old Testament. In cornices are heroic nude male figures, ignudi, holding sashes with gold medallions. Fictive stone bands divide the center ceiling into compartments inside of which are painted scenes of the Creation, Fall, and Flood. God’s earliest actions are closest to the altar, the Creation of Eve in the center, followed by imperfect actions of humanity: Temptation, Expulsion, God’s destruction if all people except Noah and his family by the Flood (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 671).


Giulio Romano, Facade and Courtyard Facade of the Palazzo del Tè (Mantua, Italy), 1527-54

Rome ranked as Italy’s preeminent arts center as the beginning of the sixteenth century and wealthy and powerful families patronized the arts. Architects created fanciful structures to appeal to the tastes of the elite in Mantua, Parma and Venice. Frederico Gongoza lured Giulio Romano to build a pleasure palace. Palazzo del Te is not “serious” architecture and was never meant to be. Romano devoted more time to the gardens, stables, pools than he did to the living rooms and architecture - the building is a travesty of the classical ideas and columns; Gongoza would've known the classical orders and proportions so well that this would have been a humorous sight (Marilyn Stokstad, Art History, Volume Two. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008, 680).


Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo, Palazzo Farnese (Rome, Italy), 1517-50

Sangallo died in 1546; Michelangelo added the third floor and cornice. Sixteenth century Rome was a time in which wealthy families commissioned architects to design residences to enhance their prestige. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (who became Pope Paul III in 1534) set Antonio da Sangallo the Younger to rebuilt the Palazzo Farnese in the largest palace in Rome. The main facade of the building faces a public square. The central door is emphasized by rusticated stonework - the building’s shaped stones are known as quoins. The balcony is suited for ceremonial purposes over which hangs a decorative plaque with the Farnese coat of arms. The three stories are clearly defined by horizontal bands of stonework. Windows are treated differently on each story: on the ground floor, twelve windows sit on supporting brackets; the piano nobile floor (first floor) contains large rooms and alternating triangle and arched pediment windows and half columns in the Corinthian order. The second floor has windows with triangular pediments with Ionic half columns.