Saturday, September 17, 2016

10 Paintings from the Bible by The Old Masters, with footnotes 25

Jaume Serra, 1358-1389 / 1405
Altarpiece of the Virgin, c. 1367-1381
Temple, gilded with gold foil on table
346.3 x 321 x 26 cm
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Jaume Serra (died after 1405) was a Catalonian painter. Serra was influenced heavily by a Sienese style introduced by Ferrer Bassa. He was a member of a family of artists active in Catalonia in the fourteenth century. His brothers Pere, Francesc and Joan were also painters of italogótico style. The Serra brothers are characterized by the painting of tiny, stylized, slanted eyes and small mouth figures. Jaime painted Madonna of Humility. He also collaborated with his brothers in the realization of the altarpiece of the Monastery of Santa María de Sigena, now in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Two additional altarpieces are preserved in the Museum of Zaragoza. The Virgin from the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre (Zaragoza) and Martin de Alpartil or the Resurrection (with the portrait of the friar as a donor). The third altarpiece is from the Shrine of Our Lady of Tobed, in Zaragoza, whose execution is documented between 1356 and 1359. It is formed by a central table, the Virgin of Tobed, which are represented the nursing Virgin and Child with the future king of Castile Henry II of Castile as a donor, and its two doors, painted in tempera and altarpieces independent dedicated to Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist, whose stories are told in three successive records on the bench with various saints. The set was kept divided between the Museo del Prado in Madrid, which had since 1965 the two side tables, and Várez Fisa collection, until in 2013 the collection has been donated to the Madrid museum main table, so that the altar could be made whole again. Jaime's altarpiece The Holy Spirit can be found in the Manresa cathedral. More

Rembrandt, (1606–1669) 
Simeon’s song of praise, c. 1631
Oil on oak panel
Height: 60.9 cm (24 in). Width: 47.9 cm (18.9 in).
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, Netherlands

Simeon’s song of praise. As chronicled in the Gospel of Luke, the elderly Simeon was promised that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. Rembrandt depicts a divinely illuminated Simeon acknowledging the child in his arms. Mary and Joseph sink in astonishment while the prophetess Anna appears before the group to offer a blessing. More

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art and the most important in Dutch history. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch Golden Age painting, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres in painting.

Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters. Rembrandt's greatest creative triumphs are exemplified most notably in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam's Jewish population. Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of civilization. More

Aert de Gelder, (1645–1727)
Simeon’s song of praise, circa 1700-1710
Oil on canvas
Height: 94.5 cm (37.2 in). Width: 107.5 cm (42.3 in).
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, Netherlands

Simeon’s song of praise, see above

Aert de Gelder (or Arent; October 26, 1645 – August 27, 1727), see below

School of Rembrandt, (1606–1669)
Judah and Tamar, circa 1650-1660
Oil on panel
Height: 108.5 cm (42.7 in). Width: 130 cm (51.2 in).
Residenzgalerie, Salzburg, Austria

By itself, the story of Judah and Tamar, has no obvious moral to teach[ and, due to cultural differences, is difficult to understand without what some scholars call “literary competence.” Moreover, some teachers and students may be uncomfortable with the sexual elements central to the plot. Readers may also wonder why it is inserted, seemingly at random, between Joseph being sold into Egypt and his rise to prominence in Egypt. More

In the Book of Genesis, Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, as well as the mother of two of his children: the twins Perez and Zerah. Tamar is first described as marrying Judah's eldest son, Er. Because of his wickedness, Er was killed by God. By way of a Levirate union, Judah asked his second son, Onan, to seep with your brother’s wife and fulfill his duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for Er.

Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his seed on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 

Onan's actions were deemed wicked by God and so, like his older brother, he died prematurely. At this point, Judah is portrayed as viewing Tamar to be cursed and therefore as being reluctant to give her his remaining and youngest son Shelah. Rather, he tells Tamar to wait for Shelah. However, even after Shelah has grown up, Judah still does not give Tamar to him in marriage.

Tintoretto (1518–1594)
The Meeting of Tamar and Judah, c. 1555 and 1558
Oil on canvas
Height: 150 cm (59.1 in). Width: 155 cm (61 in).
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum,  Madrid, Spain

Tintoretto (October, 1518 – May 31, 1594) was an Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures, and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style, while maintaining color and light typical of the Venetian School. More

Judah became a widower. After Judah mourned the death of his wife, he planned on going to Timnah to shear his sheep. Upon hearing this news, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and immediately went to Enaim which was en route to Judah's destination. Upon arriving at Enaim, Judah saw the woman but did not recognize her as Tamar because of the veil she wore over her face. Thinking she was a prostitute, he requested her services. Tamar's plan was to become pregnant by this ruse in order to bear a child in Judah's line, because Judah had not given her to his son Shelah. So she played the part of a prostitute and struck a deal with Judah for a goat with a security deposit of his staff, seal, and cord. When Judah was able to have a goat sent to Enaim, in order to collect his staff and seal, the woman was nowhere to be found and no one knew of any prostitute in Enaim. 

Francesco Hayez (1791 – 1882) 
Tamar of Judah, c. 1847
Oil on canvas
112x84.5 cm.
Castello di Masnago, Varese, Italy

Francesco Hayez (10 February 1791 – 21 December 1882) was an Italian painter, the leading artist of Romanticism in mid-19th-century Milan, renowned for his grand historical paintings, political allegories and exceptionally fine portraits More

In this work Hayez has favored the isolated figure of Tamar, appearing absorbed and reflects a characteristic romantic existential malaise. He has chosen to focus on the application of color entirely played on light and dark tones, light and shadows of the naked body, captured by the wide drapery which happens to be almost a theatrical backdrop. Marta Mirra

Three months later, Tamar was accused of prostitution on account of her pregnancy. Upon hearing this news, Judah ordered that she be burned to death. Tamar sent the staff, seal, and cord to Judah with a message declaring that the owner of these items was the man who had made her pregnant. Upon recognizing his security deposit, Judah released Tamar from her sentence. Tamar's place in the family and Judah's posterity secured, she gives birth to twins, Perez and Zerah. More

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669), see above

Aert de Gelder (1645–1727)
Tamar and Judah (Genesis 38:16), c.1667
Oil on canvas
64 × 88 cm
Private collection

Aert de Gelder (or Arent; October 26, 1645 – August 27, 1727) was a Dutch painter. De Gelder was born and died in Dordrecht. He was one of Rembrandt’s last pupils while in Amsterdam, studying in his studio from 1661 to 1663. He was not only one of the most talented of Rembrandt’s pupils, but also one of his most devoted followers, for he was the only Dutch artist to paint in the tradition of Rembrandt's late style into the 18th century. Following Rembrandts lead, De Gelder would paint such artworks as "The Baptism of Christ" and ".Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David". Story telling and with transparent emotionalism, and an emphasizing the human element to biblical characters is one of the distinguishing elements of this style, as opposed to the courtly and distant emotions and imagery of other artists, even in the Renaissance period. More

After Lucas Cranach (German School 17th-18th Century) 
Gnadenbild Mariahilf 
Oil on canvas 
23 x 15-3/4 in (58.4 x 40 cm)
Private Collection

Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472 – 16 October 1553) was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known for his portraits, both of German princes and those of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, whose cause he embraced with enthusiasm, becoming a close friend of Martin Luther. He also painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and later trying to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns in art. He continued throughout his career to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. He had a large workshop and many works exist in different versions; his son Lucas Cranach the Younger, and others, continued to create versions of his father's works for decades after his death. Lucas Cranach the Elder has been considered the most successful German artist of his time. More

Cornelis Engebrechtsz, 1460/65 - 1527
Oil on panel
10 1/8 by 7 1/2 in.; 25.7 by 19 cm
Private Collection

The turbulent energy and exaggerated emotionalism of this composition, populated with small slender figures in contrapposto poses, dressed in elegant clothing, and painted in a colorful palette, became hallmark traits of the mature, Mannerist style of Cornelis Engebrechtsz.   As demonstrated in this panel he favored warm colors and enameled glazes applied in many layers to create glistening surfaces. Costumes are fanciful and Engebrechtsz. enjoyed painting exaggerated draperies as a means to illustrate his refined technical skills. More

Cornelis Engebrechtsz, 1460/65 - 1527 was one of the leading painters of sixteenth-century Leiden and the teacher and collaborator of Lucas van Leyden, Engebrechtsz. adapted some of the dramatic power of the Antwerp Mannerists to develop a uniquely expressive character in his work. 

Cornelis Engebrechtsz. (1460/1465-1527)
Christ taking leave of his Mother, Circa 1515–1520
Oil on oak panel
Height: 54.7 cm (21.5 in). Width: 44 cm (17.3 in).
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Description: Christ taking leave of his mother, Mary. To the left women are mourning. In the background a number of Christ's disciples are waiting. To the right along with his disciples Christ leaves while looking back one last time. Bottom right a dog. In the distance a bridge leading to a city (Jerusalem?).

Little is known of Engebrechtsz.'s training, and few of his early works survive. As Leiden's preeminent painter, Engebrechtsz. earned commissions from the town council and other important institutions, though he painted mainly biblical subjects.  His large, prolific workshop trained many leading painters, and Engebrechtsz.'s acclaim seems to have attracted students from outside Leiden. When these students brought to Leiden the Mannerist style then popular in Antwerp, Engebrechtsz. incorporated selected elements into his own art.

Acknowledgement: BonhamsWeschler's

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