Posts Tagged ‘Lucas Cranach’

Blackpaint 225

November 30, 2010

Hans Holbein

I’m intrigued at the difference between the realism or naturalism of the famous portraits and the highly stylised portrayal of characters in his religious/historical paintings; they look as if they were done by different artists.  The staggering portraits – Thomas Cromwell, Ellyot, More and that lady with the squirrel – could have been done yesterday, except maybe that no-one nowadays would do those beautiful coloured backgrounds (that green-blue in the lady).  But look at “Noli me Tangere” for example; the drama of the poses and the portrayal  of Christ with his big head and long face (like Wirtz, “The Miraculous Draught  of fishes”) in that karate master posture – you would never think  that was a Holbein, surely. 

Albrecht Durer

It seems to me that there is no such dichotomy with Durer, except for one portrait:  that of his father, aged 70.  In  this portrait alone, he approaches Holbein’s naturalism and the painting could be taken for one  by the younger artist.  Check them out on Google.

The painting which caught my attention today, however, was Durer’s “Christ as the Man of Sorrows” of 1493.  There is the usual display of torture instruments: the crown of thorns, a whip and a bundle of birch twigs.  Christ bleeds from numerous wounds.  What is strange is his pose and his expression – he rests one cheek on his hand, the other hand lies open on a bench at the fromt of the picture and he has on knee raised as if on a box.  The pose is casual.  His face displays boredom, not agony or exaltation – I can see him as  Tony Hancock in that famous radio sketch about a boring Sunday afternoon in 50’s Britain.

The Man of Sorrows theme has produced other oddities – see Fra Angelico’s  version, for example, with  a disembodied head spitting into Christ’s face.

Last Suppers

 Saw Andrew Graham Dixon’s programme on German art last night and there was yet another “round table” Last Supper; this one by Lucas Cranach the Elder, in Wittenberg Cathedral, I think. 

The Gospel according to Saint Matthew

By Pasolini, of course; wonderful film, fantastic music, Blind Willie Johnson, Bach, Mozart, Missa Luba…  And  those faces: Peter, Thomas the doubter, Judas, the soldier with the spear and sponge.  All the way through, I had this nagging feeling I’d seen Jesus’ face before (the Jesus in the film, that is – haven’t just had a conversion) and then I realised what it was – Richard Hamilton’s picture of “The Citizen”, wrapped in a blanket in the H Blocks, his own shit smeared all  over the walls of the cell.  I looked it up on Wikipedia where it said the portrait was of Hugh Rooney, one of the hunger strikers; another source said it was modelled by Hamilton’s son.  Whichever source is right, he is the image of Pasolini’s Christ (a 19 year old Spanish student, in fact – P. used non actors).

Bridget Riley

I’d remembered Riley’s spot picture as a disc; I was wrong – its a square, set on a point like a diamond.  And I was wrong about “Escape 3”; it DOES divide in the centre, so that the bottom half appears to fold out – or in.