Renaissance Art: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)

Renaissance Art: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)

Tom Nichols

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 1851687246

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The 15th century saw the evolution of a distinct and powerfully influential European culture. But what does the familiar phrase “Renaissance Art” actually describe? Through engaging discussion of timeless works by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo, Nichols produces a masterpiece of his own as he explores the truly original and diverse character of the artistic Renaissance. Tom Nichols is a lecturer in Renaissance Art History at the University of Aberdeen, UK.

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Brant woodcut, though it is also clear that Lucas knew of Bosch’s interest in roguish beggars (figure 9). In a number of paintings and drawings, Bosch had shown beggars as owls, using the association to show them as creatures of darkness, or as ‘fly-by-nights’. In Lucas’s print the sinister boy who appears to lead the group forward has an owl perched on his left shoulder. Lucas’s Beggars can be taken as an early example of Bosch’s widespread influence on artists working in the Low Countries in

German towns, and provided a preface to a new edition of the Liber vagatorum (‘Book of Vagrants’), a particularly merciless anti-beggar text exposing thirty-three different types of false poor and their tricks. Luther and his followers were very careful to distinguish false roving beggars from the local and ‘true’ parish poor, who should always be helped. The Reformers’ particular hatred for wandering or ‘outside’ beggars had to do with the perceived connection of such tricksters with the whole

to a new kind of sitter, with new demands. The comparative realism of the Thomas More portrait may have suited his humanist sitter, who was shortly to pay the ultimate price for his refusal to embrace Henry’s break from the Roman church. But by the mid-1530s, something different was needed. For a portrait of the king himself, now supremely powerful, an image was required that expressed both his immediate presence and his difference from ordinary men. In one sense, Holbein’s painting promotes

viewer could recognise without reference to the past or to books. Bruegel’s realism suggests that his paintings show something ‘normal’ or actual, often experienced by the viewer in the ordinary course of life. Even when Bruegel painted a scene from classical mythology (such as the Fall of Icarus) or the Bible (such as the Procession to Calvary), he made sure to give it a flavour of the ‘here and now’. This kind of realism was clearly much appreciated by his circle of supporters: his friend, the

consecrated host at the Mass. The angelic look of the youthful figures who carry Christ’s body indicates again that Pontormo was at pains to focus his altarpiece very directly on the immediacy of the Eucharistic Mass and the emotional experience that went with it. He deliberately abstracted his scene from the more usual flow of history or narrative so as to concentrate on the core articles of the faith. Thus we do not see Christ being taken down from the cross or lowered into the tomb (‘The

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