Friday, March 7, 2014

Building Interpretations Of Two 16th Century Paintings



Antwerp Mannerists 16th Century Art

Visions of the Old Testament in Medieval Settings

Pampered doggy lying on a hand painted floor cloth
playing with a gilded cord.
Floor cloths were popular through the Victorian times, and there are
many people with historic houses that still have them in use!
Dig the dog's jewel encrusted Collar.

Both paintings as they sit side by side in the Chicago Art Institute

This is the David picture,
it is opposite from the directive given by the sign.
Notice the beautiful setting. It must be David's palace. He lived in opulence, apparently. There is the cherub topped column in the back. Is that a Devil or a Saint there in front? Most probably silk or velvet drapery with tassels and a painted silk screen behind David. His sits on a throne slightly elevated off of the checkered marble floor to show that he is literally and figuratively above the others. The throne has a marble column where he rests his hand, perhaps this shows the Aristotelian influence that was becoming prevalent in the 16th and 17th centuries. The monkeys in the foreground are definitely exotic, but could they mean more? 

Solomon is trying to recruit Sheba, who is bowing down to him with a gift, or at least lowering herself. Again, here is another indication of a higher status man, this time over a woman, even if this woman is a queen herself.  This palace has a rounded marble column in the background with carvings and a Roman or Grecian statue atop. Here, I think the Medieval style is a little more prevalent in the architecture as you can see the arched and decorated pediment behind Solomon. Above the doorway, there is a Classical circular fresco. As mentioned above, the dog is on the floor cloth with the cord. Is the cord attached to Queen Sheba? Or, is this a gift from the queen to the king?  Either way, this is another sign of misogynism because the lower status of the dog holding the queen at bay; or  the lowered status of the queen is behind the higher of the dog because he is in the foreground, and both are on the ground lower than Solomon.

Close up of the monkeys. One is held by a chain while she is petting... I don't know, is that another monkey or something else? These are a sign of orientalism that was very expensive, and thus, a sign of status. Also, here you can see the great detail of the floor tiles. The painter did a fantastic job with this, don't you think?

Look at the metal iron work underneath
and on the leg of the chair.

Close up of David's Palace and the column. A composite order capital atop a squared column. The cherubs are holding the tail-end of the swag that goes to the top of the arch. Also, notice the painting of the walls. There is something painted above the angels, is it a lamp? If so, this could certainly indicate the light of David leading others to God. Green paint surrounds the archway, and there is something inside the arch that I cannot make out. I also love the buildings in the background.
They seem to be oriental inspired as well.
And, still, who is that statue supposed to be?!
Here is Solomon's Palace. There is obvious ties to the above
(or next to on the wall in the museum,) The beautiful red marble column with a goat head capital. This could reference the scapegoat. Debra Higgs said in Saracens, Demons, & Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art said "in medieval bestiaries, the goat (hircus) is described as a lascivious animal, so full of lust that his eyes look sideways." (78)  Also, she said "demons were frequently involved in the seduction or impregnation of women." And so, the goat here can represent Solomon's rape (some say seduction) of Sheba and the resulting pregnancy. There is a gilded statue of a woman on top of a globe with two whales holding a scepter.
Is this Sheba?

You can see the decorations above the archway better here. It is a winged couple inside the circle with scrollwork around that arch, and fluting around the other two. The Medieval truss is plastered and decorated in the near background also. Just as in the other painting, there is an oriental castle through the open air arch.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Great T-Shirts and More!

See other gifts available on Zazzle.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...