The Vision of St. Bernard and Baxandall

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Filippino Lippi, The Vision of St. Bernard, 1480

Filippino Lippi's The Vision of St. Bernard portrays the St. Bernard in an outdoor with a desk made from stone and branch. This is different than setting the usual setting where the St. would be in the church. He receives a vision of the Virgin. Above him, two monks look towards the heavens and further above a sick man is being carried down the hills towards the building.

Using Baxandall's knowledge of composition, we know that pictures are composed of bodies, which are composed of parts, which are composed of plane surfaces. The rocks, angels, and the Virgin help create a pyramid with St. Bernard as the subject.

Naturally, the eye is drawn to Mary's beautiful robes that contrast in color and texture to the value of colors of the other figures in the painting. The vibrant colors add visual excitement to this piece. Baxandall writes, "There were expensive colors, blues made from lapis lazuli or reds made from silver and sulphur, and there were cheap earth colors like ochre and umber. The eye was caught by the former before the latter." Indeed.

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