Saturday, August 28, 2010
A Claude glass (or Black Mirror) is a small mirror, slightly convex in shape, with its surface painted in a dark color.
Bound up like a pocket-book or in a transport case, black mirrors were used by artists, travellers and connoisseurs of landscape painting.
Black Mirrors have the effect of abstracting the subject reflected in it from its surroundings, reducing and simplifying the color and tonal range of scenes and scenery to give them a painterly quality.
They were famously used by artists in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a frame for drawing sketches of picturesque landscapes.
The user would turn his back on the scene to observe the framed view through the painted mirror—in a sort of pre-photographic lens—which added the aesthetic of a subtle gradation of tones.
A Thomas west in his A Guide to the Lakes (1778) explained "The person using it ought always to turn his back to the object that he views. It should be suspended by the upper part of the case…holding it a little to the right or the left and the face screened from the sun."
The Claude glass is named for, a 17th-century landscape painter, whose name in the late 18th century became identical with the picturesque visual.
The Claude glass was supposed to help artists produce works of art similar to those of Claude. Reverend, the inventor of the picturesque ideal, advocated the use of a Claude glass saying, "they give the object of nature a soft, mellow shade like the coloring of that Master".
Black Mirrors were widely used by tourists and amateur artists, who quickly became the targets of satire.
The Davis observed their facing away from the object they wished to paint, commenting: "It is very typical of their attitude to Nature that such a position should be desirable".
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
In 1442 Alfonso V of Argon became ruler of Naples, bringing with him a collection of Flemish paintings and setting up a Humanist Academy.
The painter Antonella DA Messina seems to have had access to the King's collection, which may have included the works of Jan van Yuck.
He seems to have been exposed to Flemish painting at a date earlier than the Florentine, to have quickly seen the potential of oils as a medium and then painted in nothing else.
He carried the technique north to Venice with him, where it was soon adopted by Giovanni Bellini’s and became the favored medium of the maritime republic where the art of fresco had never been a great success.
Antonella DA Messina painted mostly small meticulous portraits in glowing colors. But one of his most famous works also demonstrates his superior ability at handling linear perspective and light.
This is the small painting of St. Jerome in His Study, in which the composition is framed by a late Gothic arch, through which is viewed an internal, domestic on one side and minister on the other, in the centre of which the saint sits in a wooden corral surrounded by his possessions while his lion prowls in the shadows on the covered floor.
The way that the light streams in through every door and window casting both natural light and reflected light across the architecture and all the objects would have excited Piero Della Francesca.
His work influenced both Gentile Bellini’s, who did a series of paintings of Miracles of Venice for the Scuola di Santa Croce, and his more famous brother, Giovanni, one of the most significant painters of the High Renaissance in Northern
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
It can be seen to an extent in the work of Puerto and Ambrogio Lorenzetti which is marked by a formalized cuteness and grace in the figures, and Late Gothic flexibility in the draperies.
The style is fully developed in the works of Simone Martini and Gentile da Fabriano which have elegance and a richness of detail, and an idealized quality not compatible with the starker realities of Giotto's paintings.
In the early 15th century, bridging the gap between International Gothic and the Renaissance are the paintings of Fra Angelica, many of which, being altarpieces in tempera, show the Gothic love of amplification, gold leaf and brilliant color.
It is in his frescoes at his convent of Santa Marco that Fra Angelica shows himself the artistic disciple of Giotto.
These devotional paintings, which adorn the cells and corridors inhabited by the friars, represent episodes from the life of Jesus, many of them being scenes of the Crucifixion.
They are starkly simple, restrained in color and intense in mood as the artist sought to make spiritual revelations a visual reality.