Saturday, June 24, 2017

Scenes of Drama from the 1630s

Rembrandt
Abduction of Proserpine
ca. 1631
oil on panel
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Peter Paul Rubens
Feast of Venus
ca. 1632-35
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Giovanni Andrea Ansaldo
Herodias presented with the Head of the Baptist by Salome
ca. 1630
canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Bernardo Strozzi
Angel releasing St Peter from prison
ca. 1635
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Guido Reni
St James the Great
ca. 1636-38
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

"Mortal man, you have been a citizen of this great City; what does it matter to you whether for five or fifty years?  For what is according to its laws is equal for every man.  Why is it hard, then, if Nature who brought you in, and no despot nor unjust judge, sends you out of the City  as though the master of the show, who engaged an actor, were to dismiss him from the stage?  'But I have not spoken my five acts, only three.'  'What you say is true, but in life three acts are the whole play.'  For He determines the perfect whole, the cause yesterday of your composition, today of your dissolution; you are the cause of neither.  Leave the stage, therefore, and be reconciled, for He also who lets his servant depart is reconciled."

 from Book XII of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated by A.S.L. Farquharson (1944)

Sassoferrato
St Cecilia
ca. 1635
oil on canvas
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan

Cornelis van Poelenburgh
Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas
1630
oil on panel
Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm

Anthonie Palamedes
A Merry Company
1633
oil on panel
Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm

The tyrant Queen of soft desires,
With the resistless aid of sprightly wine,
And wanton ease, conspires
To make my heart its peace resign,
And readmit Love's long rejected fires.
For beauteous Glycera I burn,
The flames so long repelled, with double force return;
Matchless her face appears and shines more bright
Than polished marble, when reflecting light;
Her very coyness warms,
And with a look of graceful sullenness she charms;
Each look darts forth a thousand rays,
Whose lustre an unwary sight betrays;
My eyeballs swim, and I grow giddy while I gaze.
She comes! she comes! she rushes in my veins;
At once all Venus enters, and as large she reigns;
Cyprus no more with her abode is blest:
I am her palace and her throne my breast.

 from New Love, an Ode of Horace, translated by William Congreve in 1725

Jan van Bijlert
Pulling the Pretzel
ca. 1630-40
oil on canvas
Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Pieter Neefs the Elder
Church Interior with Elegant Figures strolling and attending Mass
1630s
oil on panel
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Jusepe de  Ribera
Penitent Magdalene
1637
oil on canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Alonso Cano
Crucifixion
1636-38
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Salvator Rosa
Witches' Sabbath
ca. 1635-54
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Francisco de Zurbarán
The Virgin as Sleeping Child
ca. 1630-35
oil on canvas
Fundación Banco Santander, Madrid

Likenesses of Living Europeans from the 1630s

Judith Leyster
Boy playing the flute
ca. 1630-35
oil on canvas
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Judith Leyster
Self-portrait
ca. 1630
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Valentin de Boulogne
Portrait of Rafaello Menicucci
ca. 1630-32
oil on canvas
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Don't be too eager to ask
   What the gods have in mind for us,
What will become of you,
   What will become of me,
What you can read in the cards,
   Or spell out on the Ouija board.
It's better not to know.
   Either Jupiter says
This coming winter is not
   After all going to be
The last winter you have,
   Or else Jupiter says
This winter that's coming soon,
   Eating away the cliffs
Along the Tyrrhenian Sea,
   Is going to be the final
Winter of all.  Be mindful.
   Take good care of your household.
The time we have is short.

 from To Leuconoë, published in The Odes of Horace, a translation by David Ferry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Flemish painter Marten Ryckaert
ca. 1631
oil on panel
Prado, Madrid

Gerrit Dou
Self-portrait
ca. 1631
oil on panel
Brooklyn Museum

Luca Ferrari and Tiberio Tinelli
Portrait of a lady
1630s
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Peter Paul Rubens
Portrait of Helena Fourment in a fur robe
ca. 1636-38
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Frans Hals
Portrait of an elderly lady
1633
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Rembrandt
Scholar seated with books
1634
oil on canvas
Národní Galerie, Prague

Paulus Moreelse
Portrait of a man
1630
oil on panel
Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm

Thomas de Keyser
Portrait of a lady
1632
oil on panel
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Hendrick Pot
Portrait of Charles I 
ca. 1632
drawing, colored chalks
Royal Collection, Windsor

Gianlorenzo Bernini
Portrait of a man
ca. 1630
drawing, colored chalks
Royal Collection, Windsor

Anonymous Neapolitan painter
The Locksmith
ca. 1630
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

TO MERCURY

O fluent Mercury, grandchild of Atlas, you
Who gave the means of order to the ways
Of early men by giving speech to them
And laying down the rules of the wrestling-floor,

Where grace is learned in the intricacy of play,
It is your praise I sing, O messenger
Of Jupiter and of the other gods,
Clever deviser of the curvèd lyre,

Hider-away of anything you please
It pleases you to hide. The day you were born
You stole Apollo's cattle away from him;
Apollo had to laugh when he found out

That while he stormed and threatened you'd stolen away
His quiver and arrows too.  You stole away
Priam of Troy from Troy, bearing possessions,
Guiding him past the light of Thessalian watchfires,

Past the enemy camp of the arrogant Greeks.
You guide the pious dead to their place of bliss;
With your golden wand you shepherd the ghostly flock.
You please both gods above and those below.

 from The Odes of Horace, a translation by David Ferry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Redon's Mystery, along with other contemporary Mysteries

Odilon Redon
Mystery
ca. 1910
oil on canvas
Phillips Collection, Washington DC

WHAT WOULD I DO

What would I do without this world faceless incurious
where to be lasts but an instant where every instant
spills in the void the ignorance of having been
without this wave where in the end
body and shadow together are engulfed
what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die
the pantings the frenzies towards succour towards love
without this sky that soars
above its ballast dust

what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before
peering out of my deadlight looking for another
wandering like me eddying far from all the living
in a convulsive space
among the voices voiceless
that throng my hiddenness

 Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

Egon Schiele
Composition with three nudes
1910
drawing
Leopold Museum, Vienna

Ferdinand Hodler
Woodcutter
1910
oil on canvas
Ohara Museum of Art Kurashiki, Japan

Gustav Klimt
Death and Life
ca. 1910-15
oil on canvas
Leopold Museum, Vienna

Henri Rousseau
Meadowland
1910
oil on canvas
Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo

Otto Müller
Three Nudes
1910
drawing, colored chalks
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Giovanni Giacometti
Young Mother
1910
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Albin Egger-Lienz
Lunch (The Soup, version II)
1910
oil on canvas
Leopold Museum, Vienna

Franz von Stuck
The Dance
ca. 1910
oil and tempera on cardboard
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

LATE MINOAN I
(EWERS OF HAGIA TRIADA)

Dolphins, octopi, fish
cool of linen, of reeds, of olive trees
trembling of the day in a color
joy of a line that still moves
and I dream of this hand among billions
of hands, astonished, happy 
and I don't know what, a pigment
that causes the soul to breathe,
that life sees, these things that
come to my fingers
and will die one more time

 Lorand Gaspar (translated by Ronnie Scharfman)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Seated Girl (Fränzi Fehrmann)
ca. 1910-20
oil on canvas
Minneapolis Institute of Art

Roger Fry
Still-life with jug and eggs
1911
oil on panel
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Franz Marc
Nudes under Trees
1911
oil on canvas
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Léon Bakst
Preliminary study for the décor of the ballet Le Dieu bleu
1911
watercolor and gouache
Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University

Carl Fredrik Hill
Landscape with Lion
before 1911
crayon on paper
Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden

Early 20th-century Paintings by Five Artists

Alexei von Jawlensky
Woman's face
ca. 1911
oil on cardboard
Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Alexei von Jawlensky
Portrait of a woman
1912
oil on cardboard
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Alexei von Jawlensky
Head of a woman
1911
oil on panel
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

"The room that Celia had found was in Brewery Road between Pentonville Prison and the Metropolitan Cattle Market.  West Brompton knew them no more.  The room was large and the few articles of furniture it contained were large.  The bed, the gas cooker, the table and the solitary tallboy, all were very large indeed.  Two massive upright unupholstered armchairs, similar to those killed under him by Balzac, made it just possible for them to take their meals seated.  Murphy's rocking-chair trembled by the hearth, facing the window.  The vast floor was covered all over by a linoleum of exquisite design, a dim geometry of blue, grey and brown that delighted Murphy because it called Braque to his mind, and Celia because it delighted Murphy.  Murphy was one of the elect, who require everything to remind them of something else.  The walls were distempered a vivid lemon, Murphy's lucky colour.  This was so far in excess of the squeeze prescribed by Suk that he could not feel quite easy in his mind about it.  The ceiling was lost in the shadows, yes, really lost in the shadows." 

George Bellows
Rock Reef, Maine
1913
oil on panel
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

George Bellows
The Grove, Monhegan
1913
oil on cardboard
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

George Bellows
Pennsylvania Station Excavation
ca. 1907-08
oil on canvas
Brooklyn Museum

"Most of the time that he was out she spent sitting in the rocking-chair with her face to the light.  There was not much light, the room devoured it, but she kept her face turned to what there was.  The small single window condensed its changes, as half-closed eyes see the finer values of tones, so that it was never quiet in the room, but brightening and darkening in a slow ample flicker that went on all day, brightening against the darkening that was its end.  A peristalsis of light, worming its way into the dark."

Vodkin Kuzma Petrov
The Worker
1912
oil on canvas
Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden

Egon Schiele
Devotion
1913
gouache
Leopold Museum, Vienna

Egon Schiele
Edith with striped dress, sitting
1915
gouache
Leopold Museum, Vienna

Egon Schiele
Portrait of Edith (the artist's wife)
1915
oil on canvas
Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

"The sheep were a miserable-looking lot, dingy, close-cropped, undersized and misshapen.  They were not cropping, they were not ruminating, they did not even seem to be taking their ease.  They simply stood, in an attitude of profound dejection, their heads bowed, swaying slightly as though dazed.  Murphy had never seen stranger sheep, they seemed one and all on the point of collapse.  They made the exposition of Wordsworth's lovely "fields of sleep" as a compositor's error for "fields of sheep" seem no longer a jibe at that most excellent man.  They had not the strength to back away from Miss Dew approaching with the lettuce."  

George Bellows
The Sand Cart
1917
oil on canvas
Brooklyn Museum

George Bellows
The Barricade
1918
oil on canvas
(World War I anti-German propaganda painting)
Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama

George Bellows
Nude with Fan
1920
oil on canvas
North Carolina Museum of Art

Julio Romero de Torres
Panel
1912
oil on canvas
Fundación Banco Santander, Madrid

"Mr. Endon was a schizophrenic of the most amiable variety, at least for the purposes of such a humble and envious outsider as Murphy.  The languor in which he passed his days, while deepening every now and then to the extent of some charming suspension of gesture, was never so profound as to inhibit all movement.  His inner voice did not harangue him, it was unobtrusive and melodious, a gentle continuo in the whole consort of his hallucinations.  The bizarrerie of his attitudes never exceeded a stress laid on their grace.  In short, a psychosis so limpid and imperturbable that Murphy felt drawn to it as Narcissus to his fountain."  

 quoted passages from Murphy (1938) by Samuel Beckett