Western Art No.1
Towards a‘Flight of Icarus’
The Detroit St. Jerome
in His Study Reconsidered
On the basis of Hall's recently reinforced interpretation
of the Detroit St. Jerome in His Study, the author attempts to
shed light on the mental/cultural-historic background, or the cult of
the saint nourished among the 14th and 15th century humanists which
induced Jan van Eyck to depict Cardinal Albergati under the guise of
the saint. It likely enabled those participants in the protocol gift-offering
scene of the panel from Philip the Good to the cardinal at the 1435
Congress of Arras to recognize the donor's intent. A specified history
of the panel's making, changing possession and reception is not also
reaffirmed merely by biographical sources about the Italian prelate
and the Medici 1456, 1465 and 1492 inventories（those of Piero and Lorenzo
the Magnificent）, but also by some Florentine works of art drawing inspiration
from the panel. In particular, somewhat private pictorial/inscriptional
messages of the work might well be closely related to the original mode
of protecting the small panel in a 'guaina' （probably a leather case）,
most likely even after inserted in a frame fitted with a protective
sliding or spring-loaded shutter.
The Vase of Rea Silvia and the Shield
The long-mouthed vase placed on the bottom frame of the upper section of the December panel of the frescoes of the Schifanoia Palace, which is based on Servius's commentaries on Aeneid and Ovid's Fasti, can allude to Rea Silvia's conception of Romulus. The Latin translation of Plutarch's Parallel Lives（published in 1470）says that Rea Silvia conceived Romulus in December and Romulus was born in September. The data correspond to the fact that in the frescoes the vase which can allude to the conception of Romulus is represented in the December panel and the shield of Aeneas with the wolf fostering infant Romulus appears in the September panel. The frescoes of Schifanoia Palace were projected to celebrate Borso d'Este's investiture as Duke of Ferrara. So it is possible to think that the vase of December and the shield of September were inserted in the frescoes in order to compare Borso d'Este, the first duke of Ferrara with Romulus, the founding father of Rome.
A Study of The Horrors of War
In The Horrors of War by Rubens, we see Mars leave Venus, though she strives to restrain him with embraces, and advance with his bloodstained sword into the battlefield. Since ancient times, their tie has been regarded as a guarantee for peace. Rubens only inverted the image of their tie into that of parting, and thus succeeded in the creation of a 'live allegory'. But in the iconographic tradition, their relation was usually shown in a very erotic way. Therefore by showing Venus and her lover Mars together, it was not easy to create a respectable image which is suitable for transmitting an important political message. Amusing episodes centered on their secret meeting are told in Homer's and Ovid's texts. Referring to these texts, some painters represented Mars and Venus in a bedroom. On the other hand, a representation of sleeping Mars as an allegory of peace was also disseminated. It was only after several, unsatisfactory trials that Rubens found a marvellous solution for representing the relation between the God of War and the Goddess of Love in a persuasive way. He showed Mars's departure from Venus instead of their meeting, i.e., war instead of peace.
Giovan Pietro Bellori's Description of Paintings
Giovan Pietro Bellori（1613-96）made an
important contribution to early archaeology, numismatics, and art
history. His most famous publication in the art history sphere is
the Lives of the Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects（Vite
de'pittori, scultori, architetti moderni）. In his description
of paintings he presented himself as a 'semplice traduttore'（simple
translator）. This meant, however, not to renounce the interpretation
of paintings, but to translate the elements of paintings into a sequence
of meanings, for example, 'allegoria'（allegory）. His rhetoric
of silence was not a simple rhetorical stance, but indicated the fundamental
superiority of arts to eloquence. Regarding the question of differences
between poetry and painting, which occurred in dialogues with Nicolas
Poussin, Bellori came to the conclusion that while the former tells
a story sequentially, the latter shows it simultaneously. Unlike the
French theorists, who, through the analysis of masterpieces, sought
to discover the principles of the painting, Bellori's description
aimed to pass onto posterity the knowledge of masterpieces, which
would be destroyed through time.
A Lost Painting and a Criticism of the Salon
A Toast!−Homage to the Truth by Fantin-Latour, exhibited in the Salon of 1865 and later cut up by the painter himself, has not been sufficiently studied. In this article, I analyze this lost painting from several different points of view. Through exhaustive research of its preparatory drawings and the Salon reviews of 1865 which mention it, I attempt to reconstruct the original work. As a result one realizes that the nude symbolizing "Truth" in A Toast! represents an ambiguous mixture of allegory and reality, similar to the feminine figures of Manet and Whistler. This painting must therefore be understood within the context of the new Realist painting of the 1860s, when Manet and Fantin-Latour were called not only "realiste", but also "excentrique", both in subject and style. A Toast!-Homage to the Truth is an original group portrait that serves as a manifesto of the modern artists who developed a sphere of activity outside of the academic institutions of nineteenth-century French painting.
Vanishing 'Crows' and 'Wheatfields'
In verbal and visual narratives on Van
Gogh（biographies, novels, 'bio-pics', exhibitions, monographs and
so on）the Wheatfield with Crows（1890）has very often played
the role of the 'last work', though it has never been established
that the painting was Van Gogh's last work. In this article I wish
to show first how the role of the 'last work' came to be assigned
to the painting through various media and how it came to function
as narrative closure in Van Gogh narratives.
Image and Text
How does a narrative painting 'narrate' a story in comparison with verbal storytelling by words? And, how can a professional interpreter of art approach properly pictorial narration? Narratology, the 'science' of stories, has made clear the functional roles of basic structural elements of narrative discourse. And reading act theory, which compensates narratology with its pragmatic perspectives, emphasizes that the story itself is located not in the text made by an author but in the image concretized in the interaction between text and reader. On the other hand, according to the reception aesthetics of painting, which grew out of findings in reception aesthetics in literary criticism, a pictorial image is considered as a 'text' in its interrelation to the historical, cultural, or mythological context. Consequently, when we try to get access to the descriptions or depictions of a story in a narrative painting, a new interpretational strategy, which avoids the traditional idea that image and text must be treated separately in sharp contrast, will be necessary.
Pro lectione pictura est? : Pope Gregory I, Image, Text
Image in Text, or a Bibliographical Study on Ekphrasis
M. Schapiro "Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language"
Lorenzo Lotto in Bergamo
Kunstmuseum Basel "Duerer-Holbein-Gruenewald.
Meisterzeichnungen der deutschen Renaissance aus Berlin und Basel"
The Jackson Pollock Exhibition in New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1998
New Gemaeldegalerie Berlin