Pastoral Concert

Giorgine, Pastoral Concert, 1510

In this piece Giorgione makes the viewer feel as though they are sitting on top of the hill listening to the fluid music of the lute being played by the man in red. Pastoral Concert seems to be more of a story than a single moment in time. The well-groomed man on the left is nicely dressed in the color red and seems to be playing the lute for the man on the right. 

He is wearing a dull brown jacket with crazy hair and bare foot. The relationship seems to be of lovers rather than two colleagues. The intimacy and connection between them is outstanding. The two naked women in front of them are not actually there but created in the men’s imagination. The women are acting out song that is being played by the man on the right. This piece is outstanding and evokes a lot of emotion.  
  • 7:00 AM

The Peasant Wedding

Pieter Bruegel. The Peasant Wedding, 1567

Parties and family gatherings have hardly changed since the 1500s. People crowd onto tables and hands pass platters of food up and down the rows. The house starts out clean, but there is no hope of keeping it that way, and meager decorations hang on the walls. Loud chatter fills the room and even the seated bodies move with expressive gestures. Stories are retold and passed down the table with laughter following close behind. Children clean their plates and lick their sticky hands while an adult refills his glass even if he should not. The food keeps coming out of the kitchen like a parade. Someone brings out the dessert and everyone is eager for a bite.
Bruegel's figures are proportional and busy with movement. No person stands stiffly against a wall and the movement gives the sense of a lively celebration. He uses earthy tones like browns and greens with splashes of red to add contrast. The red draws the eye to the musician, the people carrying the tray of bowls, and the child's hat in the bottom left corner.

Bruegel showed a commoner's wedding in 1567, but many people today do things during parties that were done back then. When celebrating, humans gather with loved ones, eat an abundance of food, and listen to music or stories. Bruegel displays peasants having a good time and filling the house. The tables are full, but there is a crowd lined up out the door, which shows a plethora of good company. These peasants are not rich, but they have a fulfilling celebration with what they have.

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Venus of Urbino

Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1538

Titian and Giorgione. Giorgione and Titian. Despite what some may say you cannot know one without the other. For the influence each had on the other defined both careers. Call it bromance or just a stellar friendship, but Titian and Giorgione built each other up. 

As much as we often think of the art world as one of isolation where artists lock themselves in undisclosed chambers until they create the perfect masterpiece. That’s not the case with Titian and many other Renaissance artists. Titian relied on Giorgione to call him out on his perspective and color. Unfortunately Giorgione's young death in 1510 left Titian without his right hand man. A bittersweet moment in Giorgione’s death, Titian no longer faced any prominent rivals in Venice. 

Interestingly enough Titian could've forgotten Giorgione yet as documented in Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Giorgione left a lasting impact on Titian. 

Titian’s Venus of Urbino references Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus. Both painted in the signature style of a woman relaxed but incredibly powerful. Goya and Manet will later imitate this pose in Maja Desnuda and Olympia

Although structured off Sleeping Venus, Titian brings his own flare into his rendition. Immediately one will recognize the color, probably Titian’s most famous legacy, but once you can see past the wispy fleshy tones juxtaposed beautifully with the stark dark background, a story unfolds. 

A story of a woman with a life ahead of year. The Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo II Della Rovere commissioned this piece as wedding present to his wife. Masked beneath Titian’s beautiful pigments one sees our Venus’s life of obligation, motherhood, and complete devotion to her husband. In the undertones of our Venus’s new life it makes sense why critics of the period regarded our Venus as “less a goddess than a woman.” 

Unlike the goddess Venus, Titian hints at Venus of Urbino’s humanity with the dog, a depiction of her fertility, the servant duo in the background which immolates a mother-daughter pair, and her promiscuous posture. 

Titian paints her not as Venus, but a woman subject to all that society demands from her. Her duty to fulfill her obligations. Despite the romanticism of Titian’s talent, our Venus of Urbino is just another pawn in the 16th century game. 

Although take one look into her inviting eyes and you will realize she is more than her obligations. She is in her own right a Renaissance woman. 

Titian could do that, capture the essence of a person.
  • 7:00 AM

Agony in the Garden

Giovanni Bellini, Agony in the Garden, 1459-1465

Giovanni Bellini grew up along side his fair share of competition. His father, brother and brother-in-law were all accomplish artists. Although each pushed the other to achieve their highest potential, the competition was always friendly. One factor set Giovanni apart from his relatives, which has made an exceptional impact on his legacy as well. Giovanni was constantly finding new ways to experiment with the medium and to evolve his techniques under the instruction of many influential artists, such as his brother in law Mantegna. Perhaps Giovanni just had ADHD, since he was known to be quite the procrastinator, but regardless his consistent desire to evolve as an artist never disappeared. 

Far ahead of Salvador Dahli, Agony in the Garden greatly resembles his iconic style. It's done in a much more surrealist style than the typically traditional paintings of Giovanni. Giovanni's ability to alter his style with the same level of skill is unique. Giovanni provided inspirations for decades to come, paving the way for the many changes art would endure in the coming years. 
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Self Portrait at the Easel

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self Portrait at the Easel, 1556

Sofonisba Anguissola is one of the first female painters. In her youth she learned from the masters, Michelangelo and da Vinci. Since she did not have other women as influences, she drew influence from Campi, Correggio, and Gatti. Eventually, she became the influence.

Since the field was limited for women, Anguissola specialized in portraiture. Her father encouraged her and her sisters to paint. Her father was not an artist, but he sought out the best artists at the time to teach her. She mastered her craft, because she didn't have to worry about creating academic works.

Many of her surviving works are of the Sofonisba family, her sister, or herself. Still,  there are portraits surviving from the time Anguissola spent in Madrid with Philip II. Not only did she serve this royal family, but her growing reputation attracted noble patrons, such as Juana of Austria and Diane d'Andoins.

Anguissola pay have been a portrait painter, but her specialty was self portraits. There are around 12 existing self portraits of Anguissola. Whether or not she painted herself to practice her craft because her options were limited or just because she enjoyed it, we will never know. We do know that her mastery of painting herself helped her paint other people. Her self portraits help us prepare a timeline of her life, highlighting her age and improving technique.

Anguissola painted Self Portrait at the Easel around the age of 24. This is my favorite of her self portraits. This painting is based on the legend of St. Luke the Evangelist, who is said to have been the first person to have painted a portrait of the Virgin. Here, Anguissola takes the role of St. Luke as she paints the Virign. In this strong statement Anguissola proves that she is the best portrait painter and the first female artist.

Anguissola is not known around the world like Titian, Giorgione, or Michelangelo. Still, you can she her influence in portraiture throughout time. She was a trailblazer for women in the field of art. Even Van Dyck went to study under Anguissola for a short period of time. Without Sofonisba Anguissola, we would  not have Mary Cassat or Angelica Kauffman. Not only did she prove that women can paint, but she showed that it is possible for them to paint better than men.
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Cosimo de' Medici

Angelo Bronzino 036.jpg
BronzinoCosimo de' Medici, 1545

Bronzino painted many portraits for the Medici family and worked as the court painter. The Medici family was rich and powerful in Florence, Italy at the time. Bronzino painted portraits with fine detail and extravagant clothing. The majority of his works are portraits of the Medici family and other members of the rich, ruling class. Bronzino only has a handful of mythological or religious paintings to his name.

This portrait is of Cosimo de' Medici, the head of the family.  Medici wanted a painting that showed not only his physical strength, but the strength of his rule. The light reflecting in the armor gives the metal a sense of reality and hardiness. The portrait is of Cosimo de' Medici as a young man to enhance the assertive image. The Medici family had just regained power in Florence after they had gotten rid of a Spanish garrison who had taken control. This painting was a message to anyone who doubted the power and fortitude of the Medici family.

Bronzino's figures are described as elegant yet stagnant.  No matter the content, the people in Bronzino's paintings show little emotion.  Instead, he focused most of his energy on the details of the clothing and other objects to bring them to life.  Bronzino's static style of painting was admired by the elite, and so they gave him many commissions.  His works influenced European portrait painting for many years.
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Teatro Olimpico

Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza Italy, 1580-1585

Andrea Palladio was an Italian architect who developed the style behind many modern day governmental buildings, including the Capital Building and British Central Bank. He fused together classical Greco-Roman styles with the mathematical usage of shapes, domes, and columns to birth what is known today as Palladian architecture. His influence spread to all corners of the western world. Palladio is most famous for his extensive work on upper class villas such as the Villa Rotonda and facades for large churches worth millions today. However, one of his most under-appreciated marvels lies in an old, abandoned fortress. 

The Teatro Olimpico incorporates more classical elements in comparison to Palladio's other works. The colosseum-style theatre compliments the modernization of theatre and arts with rustic, classic architecture. The theatre was designed at the end of Palladio's life and carried through by his apprentice Scamozzi. Ironically, one of Palladio's final masterpieces brings his style back to his roots. When he was young, he explored the vast beauty of Rome's architecture before arriving in Vicenza where he would begin his own work, developing the Palladian standard for geometry and Greco-Roman designs. However, the Teatro Olimpico brings it back to ancient Rome, a time where architecture flourished and developed its own artistic identity. 

The theatre incorporates one of Palladio's signature components, pillars. Each pillar, comprised of various materials to recreate a marble finish, supports smaller, poised statues. The palace style walls have various windows with triangles and arches harboring more statues and designs. The entire layout is symmetrical, including the panels in the ceiling. The audience sits under a blue sky on stone benches surrounded by a semicircle of pillars with statues, placed in a seemingly Roman coliseum. The illusionary city hallway adds depth to the set, making the audience see more than is truly there. Though Palladio did not live to see the grand opening, his Teatro Olimpico is true site to experience, embodying his roots of classical Greco-Roman architecture. 
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Last supper

Last Supper, Tintoretto, 1592–94

The roughness of the brush strokes and his dark color choices always gives me the chill whenever I look at his work. Tintoretto was his name and he was one of many painters that have influenced the world of art by sharing new ideas and techniques. Tintoretto has always been competitive and eager to become the best artist out of everyone.

Last Supper, which was the painting that was completed a few years before his death, became incredibly well known out of his other Last Supper series. With complex but flowing compositions and dim color choices, it feels as if each individuals are constantly moving.

Tintoretto experimented compositions and focused on individualization. People in his painting were dramatic and full of emotions just as if it was happening at the moment, just like Last Supper which feels crowded but at the same time pleasing to the eye. However, as time passed by Tintoretto's style takes a huge turn, mainly in color choices. His paintings began bright and silky but as he's eyesight slowly faded away, the colors became dark and dull. Although his colors have dimmed, the expressions and its intriguing composition never failed to impress people.  
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Diana and Actaeon

Parmigianino, Diana and Actaeon, 1523


Parmigianino, the Mannerist painter from Parma, Italy, got his start doing small commissions in his hometown for churches and in homes. This mural in the Castle of Fontanellato of Diana and Actaeon from Ovid's Metamorphoses is a prime example of the soon-to-be classic's early work. The painting covers the entire upper-half of the room, including the ceiling. It depicts the goddess Diana discovering Actaeon watching her bathe, and then turning him into a stag as consequence. Ironically, the story goes that Actaeon was next attacked by his own hunting dogs, who did not recognize their master. (Moral of the story: don't walk around in the woods or you may find a naked goddess, leading to your death?)

While the bodies and painting itself is not done with the upmost detail or precision, Parmigianino is crafting his own style that would later become "Mannerism." Later in the same year that he completed Diana and Actaeon, Parmigianino traveled to Rome to seek fame, which he did.

However, Parmigianino's short career was challenged by his inability to finish a commission after starting it. Instead of working on the canvas itself, he would sketch dozens of drawings in his notebook. Unsatisfied by his progress or the finished product, Parmigianino would rework and resketch the paintings until content with his art. Often this process took years, causing many patrons to find work elsewhere and give the commissions to another artist.

In one instance, Parmigianino was hired by a nobleman to paint his vault. Though, in classic Parmigianino fashion, he took his time and could not make any substantial progress whatsoever. As months went by, the patron grew frustrated by the painter's snail pace. Eventually, the aristocrat's patience expired, and he had Parmigianino arrested for taking too long.

A year after being jailed and then bailed out by a loyal patron and an architect, Parmigianino died in Casalmaggiore, Italy in recluse at the age of 37n. Today, few of his paintings of his survive because of their untraceability and the fact that Parmigianino completed but a handful works. Despite the small quantity of existing paintings, his style influenced other painters who would build off of what he started: Mannerism.

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Seated Scribe

Gentile Bellini, Seated Scribe, 1480


In 1479, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II requested an artist to paint portraits of him and his court. The Venetian government sent Gentile Bellini to Constantinople to fulfill the request. Gentile Bellini painted countless portraits of the Sultan during his year in Constantinople. He brought Orientalist tradition to Western painting and became well known throughout Europe. His painting Seated Scribe is characteristic of his meticulous attention to detail, and typically dry portraiture.

In Seated Scribe Bellini paints a young member of the Ottoman court while he bends over a writing pad. His caftan, traditional cultural robe, is embellished with gold, and red velvet decorates his arms and neck. His turban beautifully wraps around his head, and holds in place with use of a red taj, a conical cap worn by the Sultan's court.

The painting above does not show purely original work done by Bellini, but has required several restorations over centuries. The painting dimensions have been trimmed and the framing and mounting has been restored to better conserve and historicize the work. A crease near the youth's elbow suggests that prior to the recent mounting, Seated Scribe had been presented as a loose leaf. Giuseppe Molteni is supposed to have repainted the work to an extent which may have even minorly altered the original composition of the painting. Repainting has become increasingly discredited among art historians, for being a practice which changes the pigments and materials employed by the artist. Unlike repainting, mounting practices conservation, modernly a more promoted method than restoration.

Many of Gentile Bellini's works of art have deteriorated, become unidentifiable, or been lost completely. In the late 15th century, Bellini received his most significant commission, the redecoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio of the Doge's palace. He replaced deteriorated frescos with 22 oil paintings on canvas, but all 22 paintings were lost in a fire in 1577. Additionally, few paintings from his time in Constantinople have been properly identified. One noteworthy painting of the Sultan remains but immense retouching makes it look like a copy. The lack of evidence from Bellini's career makes it nearly impossible to map his life or construct his development as an artist. 

  • 7:00 AM


Jacopo Sansovino, Laocoon, 1507 

Italian architect and sculptor, Jacopo Sansovino (1486 - 1570) paved his own way producing works that rivaled Michelangelo and Palladio. Some of his most famous pieces include the three main building of the Palazzo San Marco (the public mint, the library, and basilica). Young Jacopo with the encouragement of his mother soon became apprentice for Andrea Sansovino. As a result of Andrea's great influence upon on Jacopo, he adopts his last name. 

Sansovino, encouraged by his teacher, enrolls in a contest in Rome was organized by Bramante and featured Raphael as a judge. The contest was to create the best reproduction of the Greek myth, Laocoon. The story of Laocoon references when the seer in the court of Apollo, Laocoon, offends Apollo by conceiving two sons within his sanctuary. The story ends by Poseidon conjuring serpents to kill Laocoon's sons. The winning representation would be presented to Cardinal Domenico Grimani as a gift. Sansovino proceeds to win the competition for his reimagined bronze representation of this classic story. He drapes the the snake in front of the sculpture to frame the piece unlike the original. This work jumpstarts Sansovino entree into the world of sculpture and the Mannerist period.
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Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa

 Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa, 1545-1553

Renowned goldsmith, sculptor, and writer, Benvenuto Cellini led an interesting life. Continually getting thrown in prison, fighting continually with his family and rivals, and confessing to three murders drove Cellini to create detailed works such as Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa. His short temper and compulsive urges got him evicted from Italy and banishment to Rome on several occasions. Cellini also had an interest in Greek mythology, and the majority of his works were myth-based. This sculpture is derived from the story of Perseus and Andromeda - a story containing deep wisdom on the interactions of male and female energy. 

When this bronze sculpture was placed in the Pallazo Vecchio, Cosimo I, a patron of Cellini, was worried about how the public would react to this piece. However, when it was installed, the public took this piece well. During the time that this work had been created, bronze had not been used as a form of art for at least a century. By choosing to make this statue out of bronze, Cellini took a risk. But his risk payed off. His thoughts when he first started to make this statue was that by using bronze, he would literally pour molten hot life into his work. He not only proved himself to Cosimo I, but he also proved himself to Florence. 
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The Altarpiece of Saint Liberata

Hieronymus Bosch, The Altarpiece of Saint Liberata, c. 1500


At first glance, this painting raises a lot of questions. Primarily, why is Jesus in a dress and where can I get that dress? It's adorable. Well, reader, you're definitely on the right track. But this crucifix, unlike almost every other crucifix I've ever seen, does not actually feature Jesus Christ himself. There's no Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene, just an amazing, bearded, folk-princess turned saint with one of the most interesting stories in the Catholic tradition.

It was originally believed that this painting depicted Saint Julia, another female crucified saint, but upon further research and examination of the painting, art historians now mostly agree that this particular Bosch altarpiece is centered around Saint Liberata. Also known as Wilgefortis, Kummernis,  Uncumber, or Livrade, we can be fairly sure that Liberata's story originates as a popular folk tale. Legend says she was one of nine daughters of a Portuguese King who also happened to be pagan. Liberata was Christian and had vowed a life of chastity to further her faith. However, ignoring her wishes, her father made a deal with the pagan King of Sicily to have her hand in marriage. Distraught by the idea of breaking her vows and being wed to someone she perceived to be a heathen, Liberata prayed that she might find a way out of the marriage. So God delivered her full, bushy facial hair. And it worked. The King of Sicily was so appalled he immediately called off the wedding. Although Liberata had won for the time being, she did not have long to celebrate. Her father was so infuriated by the end of his daughter's engagement that he had her crucified.

It's fairly easy to pick out this painting as a Bosch. Though it lacks his signature unfocused landscape of fantastical and horrifying creatures, his trademarks are still there in the figures, composition, and background. For one, the painting split in thirds is true to his style. Not unlike The Garden of Earthly Delights, one third is quite hellish, one more earthly, and one more indicative of heaven. Starting on the left, the panel of hell, we see cloaked Saint Anthony deep in meditation, surrounded by all manor of curious monsters, including a dwarf man wielding a sword. The city before him is aflame, blazing with the frightening realism with which Bosch typically paints fire. It is dark and covered in browns and reds. It's all destruction. On the far right, we see a monk leading a soldier or an executioner. On the beach below them a man hunts a small animal, unaware of another armed man attempting to take his life from behind. Further still, a group of people drag a whale to shore. The twisty ship and lumpy buildings show Bosh's more typical whimsy. This confusing duality, the mix between good, evil, and nature, suggests to me that this is the earth panel. This leaves the center panel to be the heavenly one. After all, what is more heavenly in the Catholic church than a martyr?

By far the most vibrant part of this scene, the central panel subs earthy pastels for bright pinkish-reds and creams overlaying a vibrant blue background. Liberata on the crucifix splits the crowd. On the right are her opposition, including her father front and center, clearly without regret, gesturing to the cross as if to make a point about his dominance. To the left are her supporters, all reeling in various stages of horror and grief. Personally, I love this painting for the subversion of gender roles here. The female saint is martyred, looking up to heaven. In place of a stoic or grieving Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene, her former fiancé has passed out cold at the sight of her, unable to handle his shock. Even while crucified, Liberata's body language suggests she is more welcoming of God's love than ever. While the men around her, the symbolic human beings are overcome by stubbornness, grief, and pride, she remains strong, open, and thoroughly holy. Beyond being an cool painting of a strong woman, it certainly makes a point about the foolishness of humanity.

Let's face it, Bosch is weird. But when you put away the initial impulse to reel back and instead lean into his work, you'll find that there's something beautiful and familiar in his depiction of the world. It may not be realistic in a traditional sense, but it shows the world more accurately in the way we feel it and imagine it to be. We've all had days where it seems like little monsters are running around prodding us at every turn, where very little makes sense, where the world appears so wild and unreal. The human psyche is a little crazy and Bosh of all people knows that. In this way, he was surrealist long before the beginning of that movement. He brings out the world of our dreams in a way we can relate to, so that we find that laughable humanity even in a religious crucifix.  Hieronymus Bosch may be a thoroughly freaky Dutchman, but I have to say, he was also a genius.
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Ascent of the Blessed rte

Hieronymus Bosch, Ascent of the Blessed, 1500-1504

Hieronymus Bosch was known for his wild, imaginative paintings such as Garden of the Earthly Delights. However, he also produced numerous works seemingly more modest compared to his crazy creations. His primary subject matter is religious works, especially depictions of the afterlife. Ascent of the Blessed, completed between 1500 to 1504 was one of his later works towards the end of his life. This painting is simplistic in structure but complex in technique. Ascent of the Blessed is one of four panels that add up to create Visions of the Hereafter. It's clear his motives are depicting the post-death voyage into hell or heaven. Here, he portrays the afterlife journey from the mortal world into heaven or to God. Each dead body is gracefully escorted by a pair of angels through the clouds . Bosch has given his dead subjects life, gesturing as if they're thankful or excited.

The gloomy, dark colors represent the death surrounding them; however, this is contrasted by the tunnel of beaming light. Bosch depicts the passage to heaven as a solid structure. His off-centering of the passage balances the painting and heightens the allusion of depth. The fading light grey at the base of the composition shows the light casted from heaven. By varying the size of his subjects, the inward flow of the painting is easily identifiable and well executed. From Bosch one would expect his angels to be distorted flying mutant pigs or something along those lines, but the only untraditional feature on them is their varying wings. The somber greens, browns, and blues of the angels allow the nude figures to radiate, making them more celestial. Though not typical Bosch level insane, Ascent of the Blessed is a gorgeous breath of fresh air. 
  • 7:00 AM

The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel, 1563, Pieter Bruegel

Language is and always will be an essential part of human existence. Your first words are your entry fee to the world and with them you begin to build your life.

Genesis 11.1-9, the inspiration behind Bruegel's painting The Tower of Babel, recounts the origin of the diverse and numerous languages spoken around the world. The story goes something like this: after the great flood there was a group of people left who all spoke one language. All other languages were whiped out. This group decided to migrated eastward and build a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. Although God wasn't huge on this idea and to punish them he changed each of their known languages.

The technical aspects of the painting are just as interesting as the story itself. The movement of the building which spirals upwards only adds to the chaos of the scene. Bruegel had to have known a thing or two about architecture, for his work on the building is far too complex for him not to have.

As I was writing this, I sat by a man at a coffee shop reading the Bible. It made me wonder, if God is capable of such destruction why do people put such extreme amounts of faith in him? I have never been a particularly religious person, but I've always been intrigued by religion. I'm not sure the people of Babel meant to aggravate him by building the tower, it's entirely possible they just wanted to be closer to the man they admired. Although if God is capable of such destruction, he is also capable of the most amazing creations. Analyzing this painting only strengthened my confidence in my life philosophy; that everything works itself out at some point or another. In this story, God's destructive actions led to the creation of the vibrant cultures we see around the world today.
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Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap

Pieter Bruegel, Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap, 1565

Bruegel brings to life winter in Netherland in Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap. This large-scale view of daily life in the world of the Northern Renaissance help us viewers better understand the cultures and influence of painters at the time. Through Bruegel's works we gain more knowledge about cultural influences, as well as social and economic status and religious influence for Bruegel and for the Northern Renaissance.

Bruegel often depicted peasants, humanizing them to the public eye and representing a group with less influence at the time. His most famous works show peasants working in fields, celebrating weddings, and daily living. This scene is no different. This painting, similar to Hunters in the Snow, shows activities in peasant villages during the winter. In the two winter scenes, Bruegel also shows the beautiful landscape, which grows more beautiful with the snow. Especially in Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap, the focus is on the landscape and architecture, rather than the people.

Pieter Bruegel, Hunters in the Snow, 1565
Bruegel rarely focuses on one subject. His paintings show many people doing many things. These scenes are sometime chaotic, but Bruegel's intense detail allows in depth analysis of these works. Once broken down, viewers have a better sense of Bruegel's influences and peasant life. Unlike some of the works that are chaotic, the two winter scenes are calm. Maybe it is the weather or the cool colors that create this calmness. In paintings such as Children's Games and Netherlandish Proverbs, the high density of people and warm colors create movement and tension within the frame. The two winter scenes have less people and less chaotic activities, allowing the viewers the breathe.

My favorite parts of Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap are the trees and roofs covered in snow. I also like how the skaters follow down the winding, iced-over river and the almost mystical fog in the background. Even though Bruegel is more famous for his chaotic scenes with Bosch's influence, I am drawn to the serenity and coolness in Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap. 
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Parable of the Blind

Pieter Bruegel, Parable of the Blind, 1568

Composition-wise,  Parable of the Blind is a clear example of Bruegel stylistic tones and subject choices. His earthy color choices and painting techniques give a humanistic realism to the scene. He painted so that his people seem to be stepping lightly and that the entire painting is slightly translucent and light. Bruegel's composition has the line of blind men cutting diagonally across painting in the foreground. Bruegel places the Sint-Anna Church in the background and, true to Bruegel's previous compositions, has a faded horizon deep into the painting. 

Despite the religious influences of the painting, Bruegel still maintains the human empathy and feeling he is known for. Bruegel emphasizes the people, rather than the religious aspects of the painting by placing the church in the background. The painting features a scene taken from the Bible, from the Gospel of Matthew 15:14. Jesus explains, "Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."  He uses accurate depictions of the blind in his artwork, through use of different afflictions for the figures, their use of poles, and their body language. Each of the figures has a different eye problem, including removed eyes, atrophy of globe, and corneal leukoma. Their faces are tilted upward, to make better use of their other senses, like smell. Bruegel brings to life the chosen passage from the Bible with his color choices, composition, and realistic aspects of the passage.
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Bruegel, The Dark Day, 1505

I must say that this has to be the first Renaissance painting I have studied that shows an artist's ability to consistently persist with heavy dark tones throughout the entirety of their piece. The lighter parts of this painting hardly stand out partially because they are engulfed in such darkness, and also because they merely minor details rather than larger subjects. The clouds and the people chopping fire wood warn us that there will soon be a storm impending. 

The murky uneasy waters inform us that sail if you must, but you are very susceptible to crashing. I also really like how Bruegel exhibits perspective in this painting. The things that are closer to us are more defined and clear whereas the closer we get towards the mountains the houses within the village becomes a blur. The overall dark tones in this painting paired with hints a lighter colors give a moods of gloom along with a future. This painting gives the impression that yes something unpleasant is going to happen soon, but it is something that you shall overcome and surpass.
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Pieter Brueghel, Justice, 1556-1560

Previously I only knew of Brueghel through his paintings of peasant life, winter wonderlands, and golden fields. Although now I realize Brueghel was much more than a peasant painter. He captured not only his moments in history, but also the human condition. Yes, the human condition is not anything new or revolutionary, but the way in which Brueghel tackles it, particularly through his adaptations of proverbs is something quite remarkable. 

For example take his etching of Justice which acts as a part of his Vices and Virtues series painted between 1556-1560. First you might notice a lack of the evenly balanced scale that promotes fairness and equality, a typical tell all for a justice scene. Instead you see elaborate torture devices, the image in the bottom left corner looks like water-boarding right out of Guantanamo Bay. In the background Brueghel replaces images of hope with hangings scenes, floggings and brutal battles. 

Overall print gives off a vibe of distrust, a lack of faith in the systems that supposedly protect us, a fear that has outlasted the wooden spoons kept in 16th century hats. In addition one can separate the image vertically with the woman holding the saber as the splitting point. To her right, one will see buildings that presumably house those responsible for instilling justice. Although by the emphasis of figures with turned backs it may appear that those involved in justice in fact are disinterested in upholding it. As to the left, Brueghel references the madness of justice. The mobs, that pry upon those deemed unfit. He sketches the acts of war and the torture methods used to obtain information. With his shift strokes he captures how the desire of “justice” can in fact cause the opposite in blind destruction. 

Instead of attributing the idea of justice with the high regard it often receives, Brueghel associates it with violence. A thought that certainly rings true today and has throughout history. As we know police brutality and injustice are not new themes. 

Today it is easy to reduce Brueghel to a great painter of everyday life, but we must not forget that with his etchings, paintings, and other works he provided a necessary commentary on his time period. Even in the 16th century, justice served as a sensitive subject, leaving many vulnerable to prejudice and unnecessary violence. 

Justice may not be one of Brueghel's quintessential peasant weddings or winter wonderlands, but it resonates today nonetheless. It makes you think. Here you cannot find comfort in the earthy tones or eccentric characters. You must take note of the circumstances. Begging the question what does justice mean and what does a woman holding a saber have to do with it?
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Garden of Earthly Delights

Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (open), 1504

Bosch is most famous for his sinister and twisted works. His creativity amazes me, and I am in awe by the many intricate details. Many historians think that inside of Bosch’s paintings there are puns and little jokes referencing wife tales and religious stories. Bosch’s painting style in the 15th century was quite different than other painters in his time. He painted with heavier layers of oil paint and had more texture than the normal Flemish style which was smooth and soft.

He painted this painting during his middle and last period. In this piece Bosch has painted three panels. In the first panel it seems as though they are in the Garden of Eden and God is giving Adam Eve. The landscape is more like Dr. Seuss, with the vibrant flowing mountains that almost looks like the ocean. There are many animals and vegetation available, it seems fruitful. In the middle panel all of the people are naked and inside giant food. Their faces are emotionless and flat, but every person seems to have a purpose. The last panel is dark and hell like. The people are still naked but there are different giant items, they are less organic and more material items. There seems to be more emotion in the people's faces less flat but not completely human.
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The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthy Delights (closed), 1503

The outer panels of perhaps Bosch's most famous painting depicts a scene utterly different from the contents inside. This monochromatic green-gray scale directly contrasts the vibrant green, blue, and pink innards as does the lack of humans and creatures. The only figure seen is God on the upper left corner next to the quotation “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33.9).

Leading theories suggest that these outside panels are a view of the third day of Earth when land, plants, and foliage were created. This argument makes a lot of sense chronologically (according to the Bible) as the inside illustrations follow the linear story of the creation of man in the Garden of Eden, man's temptation to evil, and then finally Hell itself. Additionally, there is no evidence of the Sun, moon, or stars, which were created on the Fourth day. The title The Garden of Earthly Delights complements this suggestion in a witty fashion; the "Garden" being the previously mentioned Eden or perhaps the land that God created, and "Delights" being man's ecstasy from lust and greed.

I chose the exterior of this chef d'oeuvre because of how Bosch applied his style to such an uncharacteristic subject. Also, by how drastically different it is compared to any of his other works: there is not a single creature or ungodly monstrosity, nor any vibrant color pops.

Bosch teases to the interior of this painting and past works of his through the surreal plants and landmarks on the Earth. In a way, Bosch plays God my making his own semi-disturbing version of the Bible story and by creating his own planet. Bosch does not hold back in this painting. It is so technically beautiful and skillful and yet also so thought provoking and open to interpretation, which makes this piece so prolific and admired. By making the outer panels so simplistic, he ingeniously compliments his own work and creates a welcoming image that unfolds into this delightful/nightmarish world.
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