Baroque Transition from the Cathedral Through Patronage to the Living Room and Museum

I have struggled finding a way to proceed with a humanities presentation of Bible art after the Baroque period largely because, although there was still art made for the Chapel and the Cathedral, through patronage, and then through developing marketing and services, public art, particularly the religious art, its production diminished in the Baroque to a more decorative function rather than incorporation into public buildings and structures. Frankly, no one, certainly not I, can say it more articulately, with more depth, or with greater graphic skills than  Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Stephen Zucker in their video discussions on Smarthistory.

They provide a video discussion of the contrasting art styles and religious settings of two Baroque painters in the area of the Netherlands which is dramatic and expressive;  they also address this transition from the cathedral, through patronage , to movable art to be hung in patrons’ homes or even in a church, but not integrated into the structure and design of the church.  Finally, they discuss the Catholic orientation of Peter Paul Rubens’ painting of Elevation of the Cross  compared to the Protestant orientation of Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp .  That is accessible at http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/1600-1700-the-Baroque.html.

You will also see that the Smarthistory web page at http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/  is organized by stylistic period, time, style, artist, and  themes.  They have, as we have seen, some wonderful resources on materials that we have already discussed.  I very much appreciate that in this profit-oriented society people such as  Sal Khan, Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Stephen Zucker, and others associated with Khan Academy and Smarthistory, are so willing to share there knowledge and their passion with any in the public who have the desire to learn and and experience it.

 

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

We will see where this goes from here. If there are any suggestions out there, feel free to share them.

St. Thomas Church, Leipzig: Luther, Bach and Mendelssohn

See http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/54/Vxla-thomaskirsche-exerior.jpg for the source of the above photograph of St. Thomas.

Several church structures have stood at the site of St. Thomas Church, or Thomaskirche, as it is known in German.  In the early 13th century, an Augustinian order was established there, known as St. Thomas Monastery. It was at this present structure that Martin Luther preached on Pentecost Sunday, 1539. Upon Reformation, the structure became a Lutheran church. Less than 200 years later Johan Sebastian Bach served as its cantor, its choir director and its organist.  His service there is honored by a statue of him on the premises, and his remains are located there.

In 1212, a choir was established at the church. It’s boys choir is one of the most famous in Germany. The structure is served by two organs, one a creation of the Romantic era, and another created and installed in about 2000, which is a model of that which Bach, himself, played.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vxla-jsbach-at-thomaskirsche.jpg  for the source of the above photograph of the statue honoring JS Bach.

In St. Thomas, April 11, 1727, Bach first presented his St. Matthew Passion on Good Friday; here Mozart played the organ in May 12, 1789; Napoleon used it as a munitions dump in 1806; it was used as a military hospital in the battle where Napoleon was defeated (“met his Waterloo”). It was here that the composer, Richard Wagner, was baptized and later studied piano and composition with its cantor.

During his lifetime, Johann Sebastian Bach was not known as an innovator, but a master of the old polyphonic style. If you are to compare his contemporaries, particularly in their instrumental compositions, while they retain much of the Baroque rhythmic vitality, ornamentation, cycle of fifths and yet prevailing Doctrine of Affections, the melodic lines have less individual character apart from other lines and are becoming more representative of the coming homophonic style. The polyphonic church music of the Renaissance had little harmonic direction to which the Baroque era gave harmony chordal direction, most notably in the cycle of fifths which provided a progressive variety of harmonic foci with a psychological effect of increased interest as it explored attention on scale degrees other than the tonic (the first note of the dominant key), and release upon return to the dominant key.  Bach was not ready to leave the riches of polyphony; he brings all the richness of polyphony (true individuality of each of the melodic lines) which yet combine in a resultant harmonic progression.  Although uniquely creative, he was not an innovator of style, but a perfector of it. Not so unusual at the time, numerology was important Bach and some music theoreticians, whether intended by Bach or not, are able to see importance at certain mathematical units of the music that he wrote, oftentimes, even, asserting something unique in the center.  Although he was very much respected for his craft both as a composer and as an organist, his music was not as well appreciated during his time later became.

Felix Mendelssohn rediscovered Bach in the mid-19th-century.  He is largely responsible for preserving Bach’s prodigious output in every medium of composition. Sometimes, it takes a genius to recognize the genius in another. Mendelssohn, as well as Mozart, were geniuses; but I know of no composer so prodigious and so ingenius in so broad an area, both choral and instrumental, as was Bach. Not only was Bach well known in his time as an organist, but his organ works are among the most demanding as well as the most familiar and popular yet today; for a number of years, as I understand it, he wrote a cantata every week for  performance at St. Thomas; not only did he write sacred cantatas, but also secular cantata’s, such as the Coffee Cantata; his instrumental works range from solo, unaccompanied violin and unaccompanied cello works to the Brandenburg concertos, from single instrument concertos to two or more solo harpsichord concertos (precursors of the piano in that the strings are plucked by a plectrum rather than struck with a felt-covered hammer, first known as a pianoforte because of its capacity for a wide range of volumes as compared to single levels of volume possible in the harpsichord); from The Well Tempered Clavier which included Two Part Inventions, which were polyphonic pieces for harpsichord, one for each of the keys to demonstrate how “well tempering” (which is slightly out of pure, mathematical tuning for anyone key, so that each of the keys will sound good as opposed to some keys sounding good but others sounding bad, a Baroque contribution that fit well with its circle of fifths which, if progressed to its ultimate limit will yield a key on every half-step of a chromatic octave.  Parenthetically, this is why piano tuners that do not rely upon an audio instrument to tell them when the pitches of various strings are in tune, but rather rely upon their ears, play two pitches at the same time and listen for a certain number of “beats” per interval of time, such beats resulting from some degree of conflict (out-of-tuneness or “Well Tempering”) so that the scale based upon each half-step of the octave will sound equally good (or, if you will, “equally bad”) to the Preludes and Fugues with more than two melodic parts, also demonstrating the unique qualities of the tempered tuning; from teaching pieces for his children and students, such as the various minuets to organ pieces for the most accomplished organists and harpsichord suites for the most accomplished harpsichordist, including every dance to be seen at a court social gathering. Some of my favorites are the unaccompanied violin and cello sonatas: whereas we expect to have on a harpsichord or a piano several strings can be struck at one time to constitute chords, we typically do not expect solo instruments to be capable of suggesting similar chords and chord progressions. If one listens carefully to them, not only can one hear double stops, as when the bow draws across two strings at the same time, but also triple stops which, together, will constitute a cord, but also, Bach combines within melodic structures harmonic progressions. I particularly enjoyed listening to Bach because, to me, it is like listening to a fine conversation among articulate, well-educated friends. You will find similar features with Handel’s and Telemann’s choral works, such as Messiah, but hints of it as one might see a magnificent structure receding into the rearview mirror.  The one problem with that analogy is that in fact, Handel, Telemann, and especially Vivaldi, were moving far ahead of Bach as he tarried to organize, sharpen and polish the ancient arts perhaps most exquisitely so in The Musical Offering. 

Why was Bach content refining the old arts? Although most composers of the Baroque era wrote for religious settings and purposes, many of them, perhaps most, were patronized by some rich member of the aristocracy, as heads of political units somewhat akin to Italian city states. Bach did seek such patronage, the solicitation of which resulted for our benefit (though not to that of Bach) in the Brandenburg Concertos.  The St. Matthew Passion, likewise, although performed in his church, may also have been written originally with a view to attracting patronage.  Although a brilliantly masterful piece, it is exceptionally long for a typical church service even of that day. Although it is clear that Bach would have liked a patronage, it did not restrict his output, which included a huge amount of secular music, at least music not specifically intended for a church atmosphere. Nonetheless, he is known for his habit of inscribing upon his music manuscripts, SDG–Soli Deo Gloria, loosely translated as” to the glory of God.”  A similar phrase which is attributed to him, is, in plain English, “to the glory of God and the edification of the soul.”  Whereas he sought comforts with the politically powerful, elite aristocracy, which could also provide some support and comfort to his prodigious offspring, it is clear that he loved the art of musical performance and composition and sought to elevate it to a level that had not before been attained.

Today, we do not recognize the passé view of Bach’s compositions, as both his compositions and that developed through the Rcoco to the Classical and later yet in the Romantic periods are all pretty much equally relegated to antiquated status or to the romanticized past. Today, it is perhaps easier to recognize the genius of Bach than it was for his contemporaries and even the young composers of his day, including his popular sons, are now hardly recognized.

For video of the church and the organ see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMGw1d1FWtw ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGNUsIxVKbE

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

The Rennaisance: Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel (1508 to 1512)

We have previously discussed the scientific, mathematical, architectural, artistic and political achievements of medieval Islamic culture during what has been called the Dark Ages of Western culture. We also have discussed how, in the decline of Spanish Islamic political power and of its former cultural bloom, Christian cultures picked up the gauntlet, filled the vacuum, and carried each of those Islam fields of achievement to yet greater heights. We have previously discussed the development of artistic skills from medieval scholastic authority to Renaissance naturalistic skills and visual representations on a two-dimensional plane suggesting a three-dimensional view during the Renaissance. Da Vinci certainly made his contributions to mathematics, science, art, and even to the arts of war. However, in terms of art in service to religion and sculpture, generally, no one exceeds Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

For an excellent, intelligent but quite accessible article addressing Renaissance humanism as expressed both in the arts and the sciences, see

http://www.all-about-renaissance-faires.com/renaissance_info/renaissance_art_and_science.htm

An Aerial view of the present exterior of the Chapel

  For the source of the above photograph, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel_ceiling

I suppose that everyone gets  e-mails forwarding an interesting site.  One such e-mails from a friend to me is a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel,the mosaic art of its floor,  the architecture of its interior structure and within that structure  and upon its walls the art of Michelangelo.  The site is shown below.  You may navigate through this virtual tour with your direction arrows  – oh, and if you want a close-up of any of the art, use the “+” sign to zoom and , or if you want zoom out, use the “-” sign.   This interactive, virtual tour of the Chapel interior and its art  demonstrates  both the variety among its various parts  as well as their unity as a whole.  To complete the experience, it is accompanied by an a cappella choir singing polyphonic music of the Renaissance, likely some part of the mass, and possibly incorporates recognized chant melodic material. Parenthetically, it may be worth noting that we commonly  think of a cappella music as that which is not accompanied with instruments. That is true, but it’s actual origin and meaning refers to music in “the Chapel,” as in the Sistine Chapel.  that is the reason that it is unaccompanied, because the Catholic Church frowned upon the use of instruments in worship. Here is your virtual tour:

ttp://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html

For excellent discussions of the details of Michelangelo’s art, see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel_ceiling.

For excellent educational materials on essential qualities of Rennaisance art, see http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/74/07645868/0764586874.pdf .

For more virtual 360 degree virtual tours of the Vatican grounds see http://www.panoramicearth.com/tag/vatican and for those of many sites around the world, see http://www.panoramicearth.com/.  These are marvelous resources.  I have never left North America, likely never will under the circumstances, but I do expect to venture there virtually with resources of this site.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Hieronymus Bosch (1450- 1516): Pessimist, Strict Moralist, and Visionary of Surrealistic Symbolism

Before I have left Dante and his Divine Comedy too far behind, I want to explore what seems to me it’s influence not only upon popular church conceptions of the Judgment, Purgatory and Hell, but of its possible influence upon Hieronymus Bosch who painted approximately two centuries later.  I am unable to determine whether there exists any authority for such a position.   And yet, whether intentional or not, Dantes’ representation of The Last Judgment, Purgatory and Hell, bears bizarre similarity, even connection, to Bosch’s artistic representations of the same subject.  For all of the unconventional subjects of his painting, some commentators have noted that Bosch’s theology was conventional.

Hieronymus Bosch was born, lived, and worked in what is now the Netherlands. His style of painting seems to bear no resemblance to the prevalent style of painting of his day, and his symbolism is both rich and, it seems, anticipatorily Freudian. He was roughly contemporary with Michelangelo, although they were located geographically, theologically, morally and judgmentally “miles” apart.

We first were introduced to his art in our presentation of the creation through artists’ eyes in his triptych entitled, Garden of Earthly Delights. That painting seems strangely otherworldly and less than innocent, but his depiction of temptation and the Last Judgment is ritually bizarre, and, for such a moralist as he was, frankly, delightful in its depiction of human depravity.

Hieronymus Bosch’s “The temptations of St. Anthony”

See http://iampetjack.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/10/ for the source of the above photograph of the trip take and four one observer’s description and interpretation of the painting and its place in art history.

The last Judgment by Bosch

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Last_judgement_Bosch.jpg  for the source of the above photograph of Bosch’s triptych. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Judgment_(Bosch_triptych) for an excellent article concerning the piece.

For a different take on the subject, see, also, http://thinkingmakesitso.wordpress.com/tag/hieronymus-bosch/.

Compare a few paintings of the Twentieth Century Surrealistic painter, Salvador Dali:

the persistence of memory

The Persistence of Memory

Metamorphosis of Narcissus 1937 by Salvador Dalí 1904-1989

Metamorphosis of Narcissus

The_Hallucinogenic_Toreador

The Hallucinogenic Toreador

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Winchester Cathedral – 500 Years in the Making

Winchester Cathedral: Built 1079 – 1532

Winchester Cathedral is unique for several reasons.  The official website of of the cathedral, http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/, describes it its unique history:

A royal Anglo-Saxon church

Today’s Cathedral has its roots in the seventh century, when England’s pagan monarchy first became Christians.

In 635, Cynegils, king of the West Saxons, was baptised. Just over a decade later, his son Cenwalh built the first Christian church in Winchester, the heart of Anglo-Saxon Wessex.

This small, cross-shaped church became known as Old Minster. You can still see where it stood, its outline traced in red brick, just north of the present building.

Soon, Old Minster became a cathedral, housing the throne (cathedra) of a bishop who held sway over a huge diocese that stretched from the English Channel to the river Thames.

This was now the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England. It was the burial place for some of the earliest kings of Wessex, including  King King Alfred the Great.

See the official site’s introductory film of a brief tour of the cathedral at http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/visit-us/short-introductory-film/.  See http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/ for other short films  on the following topics: Winchester:  Chronicle of Lights;  Listen to the Cathedral Choir; Discover the Winchester Bible.

One of the unique characteristics of this cathedral is its long evolution over 1500 years to its present form , including a 20th century sculpture in a most unusual setting.

Sound II from a distance, between the massive vaults and their reflections.

Photo by John Crook

See http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/gallery/?album=1&gallery=15  for a series of photos of the sculpture and its setting.  The discription of the sculpture on the site describes another unique feature of Winchester cathedral, as follows:

Antony Gormley Sound II

This mysterious life-size statue of a man contemplating the water held in his cupped hands is the work of the celebrated British sculptor Antony Gormley. You can find Sound II, fashioned from lead out of a plaster cast of the artist’s own body, in the Cathedral crypt, which floods during rainy months.

One of Winchester’s treasurers is the Winchester Bible.   Again, the official site has the following description of the Bible at http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/gallery/?album=1&gallery=11:

The Winchester Bible

The Winchester Bible, housed in the Cathedral Library, is the largest and perhaps finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles. A single scribe wrote out its entire text in Latin, while artists worked its exquisitely illuminated capital letters. Their glowing colours, including gold and lapis lazuli, are as intense today as 800 years ago.”

See http://winchester-cathedral.org.uk/gallery/?album=1&gallery=11 for a gallery of illuminations in the Bible, including the following examples:

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

Dante

Dante-alighieri

See http://heidenkind.blogspot.com/2009/05/short-history-of-dante-alighieri-and.html  for the source of the above painting of Giotto.

Dante’s engagement with philosophy cannot be studied apart from his vocation as a writer, in which he sought to raise the level of public discourse by educating his countrymen and inspiring them to pursue happiness in the contemplative life. He was one of the most learned Italian laymen of his day, intimately familiar with Aristotelian logic and natural philosophy, theology (he had a special affinity for the thought of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas), and classical literature. His writings reflect this in its mingling of philosophical and theological language, invoking Aristotle and the neo-Platonists side by side with the poet of the psalms. Like Aquinas, Dante wished to summon his audience to the practice of philosophical wisdom, though by means of truths embedded in his own poetry, rather than mysteriously embodied in scripture.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dante/.  See the aforementioned site for an excellent review of his contributions to the arts, learning, and critique of his works.

Giotto di Bondone, The Last Judgment, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

See http://heidenkind.blogspot.com/2009/05/short-history-of-dante-alighieri-and.html for the source of the picture of the above fresco and other photos and information.

Giotto di Bondone, The Last Judgment (detail), Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua.

See  http://heidenkind.blogspot.com/2009/05/short-history-of-dante-alighieri-and.html for the source of the picture of the above fresco and other photos and information.

For an excellent interactive site that explores not only Dante and his Divine Comedy,  but also its significance and the arts of that time as influenced by him, see http://www.worldofdante.org/ , which is self-described as a research tool in the study of Dante.

For an excellent article on Dante, his Divine Comedy, and artistic responses to him and his work from his time to the present, see http://heidenkind.blogspot.com/2009/05/short-history-of-dante-alighieri-and.html.

See http://ericmacknight.com/ibalit/2011/12/reflection-interactive-oral-inferno/  for an excellent source of one writer’s research into the influence of Greek thought and philosophy upon Dante’s  Divine Comedy.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, France: Constructed 1163 – 1285

We must remind ourselves that these monumental structures, although they remain intensely alive, are merely the skeleton’s of the cathedrals of medieval times. Compared with what it was when first created, the cathedral, as we see it now, is like a venerable old lady whose noble carriage barely suggests the striking belle she must have been in her youth. We should not only recall the past splendor of the cathedral, most of whose external adornment is now lost, but also attempt to understand what the cathedral was during the progress of its own creation; the role it played at the heart of the city that saw its birth among the people whose stubborn or enthusiastic will alone caused it skyward thrust.

For a video of the cathedral see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O61ng_QqC4I ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8QRG-Xc6oU

—Zoe Oldenbourg, ‘With Stone and Faith’   http://www.elore.com/el04ho01.html

Nineteenth Century Engraving of Notre Dame from Southeast

See http://www.elore.com/el04ho01.html  I have selected this particular view of Notre Dame because it demonstrates so well the flying buttresses which allowed for the Gothic height in the cathedral. You will note that they do not give the structure and appearance of additional weight, but, as the name suggests, they give the external structure a sense of flight.

See the above site, also, for the cathedral’s place in history,  its physical surroundings, various views of the cathedral and views from it and writrings of it’s building and use.

Gothic architecture had a magnificent opportunity of development in the construction of the great cathedrals, which, in France, were all built at the end of the Twelfth and beginning of the Thirteenth centuries.

These were civil as well as ecclesiastical buildings; in fact, the distinction between the two provinces was a thing unknown at the time, and is wholly a modern idea, which we never probably would have had except for the differences in religious belief each arose among us at the Reformation. The state is merely the community acting in combination for those purposes in which combined action is more convenient than individual. . . But when religious belief was uniform, as in the Middle Ages, state action included religion. The bishops and abbots were feudal barons, with civil jurisdiction; and, on the other hand, all state action had some religious character and sanction. . . .

—John J. Stevenson, Gothic Architecture; Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1876, at http://www.elore.com/el04ho01.html.
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1876

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

Home Page https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/