Saturday, October 8, 2016

03 Paintings, scenes from the Bible, by The Old Masters, DÜRER, Albrecht and the Paumgartner Altar. 29

DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Oil on lime panel
155 x 126 cm (central), 151 x 61 cm (each wing)
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

The altar has the traditional shape of a winged altarpiece. The outside, the weekday side, displays a workshop production of an Annunciation and the former standing figures of saints Catherine and Barbara. When opened, the colours of the Nativity are visible, framed by saints George and Eustace.


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Center Panel

This triptych was commissioned by the brothers Stephan and Lukas Paumgartner for St Catherine's Church in Nuremberg. It may well have been ordered after Stephan's safe return from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1498. The main panel depicts the Nativity, set in an architectural ruin. The left wing shows St George with a fearsome dragon and the right wing St Eustace, with both saints dressed as knights and holding identifying banners. A seventeenth-century manuscript records that the side panels were painted in 1498 and that the two saints were given the features of the Paumgartner brothers (with Stephan on the left and Lukas on the right). This is the earliest occasion on which a artist is known to have used the facial features of a donor in depicting a saint. 


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Exteriors of the wing panels

The exteriors of the wing panels were of the Annunciation, although only the figure of the Virgin on the left panel has survived (above)


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
The left wing shows St George with a dragon

DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
The right wing, St Eustace

On stylistic grounds, the Nativity was painted a few years later than the wings, probably in 1502 or soon afterwards.


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Center Panel, center,  The tiny body of Christ

The tiny body of Christ is almost lost in the composition, surrounded by a swarm of little angels. Peering out from behind the Romanesque columns on the right are the ox and the ass, while opposite them on the left side are the faces of two shepherds.


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Center Panel, center,  left side, he faces of two shepherds.

The composition, formed by the ruins of a palatial building, draws the eye towards the archway. 


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Center Panel, center, two shepherds

Two other shepherds step up into the courtyard, the red and blue of their clothes echoing the colours of Joseph and the Virgin Mary. In the sky, an angel descends to reveal news of Christ's birth to another pair of shepherds tending their flock on the distant hillside. Although traditionally a night-time scene, it is brightly illuminated by a ball of light in the sky.

The small figures at the bottom corners of the central panel are the Paumgartner family with their coats of arms. They were painted over in the seventeenth century, when donor portraits went out of favour, and were only uncovered during restoration in 1903.


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Center Panel, left, the Paumgartner family

On the left behind Joseph are the male members of the family, Martin Paumgartner, followed by his two sons Lukas and Stephan and an elderly bearded figure who may be Hans Schönbach, second husband of Barbara Paumgartner. On the far right is Barbara Paumgartner (née Volckamer), with her daughters Maria and Barbara.


DÜRER, Albrecht, (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Paumgartner Altar, c. 1503
Center Panel, Lower right, Barbara Paumgartner (née Volckamer), with her daughters Maria and Barbara


In 1988 this painting was seriously damaged by a vandal, along with the Lamentation for Christ and the central panel of The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin depicting the grieving Mary. Restoration of the Paumgartner Altarpiece and the Lamentation for Christ was completed in 1998 and work then began on the panel of the Virgin. More

Saint Eustace, also known as Eustachius or Eustathius in Latin, is revered as a Christian martyr and soldier saint. Legend places him in the 2nd century AD. A martyr of that name is venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church. He is commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church on September.

According to legend, prior to his conversion to Christianity, Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor Trajan. While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of a crucifix lodged between the stag's antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace.

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea-voyage, the ship's captain kidnapped Eustace's wife Theopista; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons Agapius and Theopistus, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith.

He was then quickly restored to his former prestige and reunited with his family. There is a tradition that when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor Hadrian condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull in the year AD 118. However, the Catholic Church rejects this story as "completely false". More

St. George and St. Eustace, circa 950
Detail of the Harbaville Triptych
Top panel of the right leaf
Ivory, traces of polychromy
Height: 24.2 cm (9.5 in). Width: 28.2 cm (11.1 in). Depth: 1.2 cm (0.5 in).
Louvre Museum

Saint George (circa 275/281 – 23 April 303 AD) was a soldier in the Roman army who later became venerated as a Christian martyr. His parents were Christians of Greek background; his father Gerontius was a Roman army official from Cappadocia and his mother Polychronia was from Lydda, Syria Palaestina. Saint George became an officer in the Roman army in the Guard of Diocletian, who ordered his death for failing to recant his Christian faith.


In the fully developed Western version of the Saint George Legend, a dragon, or crocodile, makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene" (perhaps modern Cyrene in Libya or the city of Lydda in Palistine, depending on the source). Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden is the best substitute for one. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but then Saint George appears on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the Cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess. The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity. Mor

Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528) was a painter, printmaker and theorist of the German Renaissance. Born in Nuremberg, Dürer established his reputation and influence across Europe when he was still in his twenties, due to his high-quality woodcut prints. He was in communication with the major Italian artists of his time, including Raphael, Giovanni Bellini and Leonardo da Vinci, and from 1512 he was patronized by emperor Maximilian I.

His vast body of work includes engravings, his preferred technique in his later prints, altarpieces, portraits and self-portraits, watercolours and books. The woodcuts, such as the Apocalypse series (1498), retain a more Gothic flavour than the rest of his work. His well-known engravings include the Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513), Saint Jerome in his Study (1514) and Melencolia I (1514), which has been the subject of extensive analysis and interpretation. His watercolours also mark him as one of the first European landscape artists, while his ambitious woodcuts revolutionized the potential of that medium.


Dürer's introduction of classical motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, has secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions. More



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