Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, (1824–1898)
The Beheading of St John the Baptist, circa 1869
Oil on canvas
Height: 240 cm (94.5 in). Width: 316 cm (124.4 in).
John the Baptist (sometimes called John in the Wilderness; also referred to as the Angel of the Desert). The story of John the Baptist is told in the Gospels. John was the cousin of Jesus, and his calling was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, “his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” He baptised Jesus in the Jordan.
According to the Bible, King Herod’s daughter Salome requested Saint John the Baptist’s beheading. She was prompted by her mother, Herodias, who sought revenge, because the prophet had condemned her incestuous marriage to Herod. More John the Baptist
Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (14 December 1824 – 24 October 1898) was a French painter best known for his mural painting, who came to be known as ‘the painter for France’. He became the co-founder and president of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and his work influenced many other artists, notably Robert Genin. Puvis de Chavannes was a prominent painter in the early Third Republic. Émile Zola described his work as “an art made of reason, passion, and will” More on Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
After Jacopo Tintoretto
ST ROCH IN PRISON VISITED BY AN ANGEL
Oil on canvas
68.5 x 164.5cm
Saint Roch or Rocco (lived c. 1348 – 15/16 August 1376/79 (traditionally c. 1295 – 16 August 1327)) was a Catholic saint, a confessor whose death is commemorated on 16 August; he is specially invoked against the plague. He may also be called Rock in English, and has the designation of St Rollox in Glasgow, Scotland. He is a patron saint of dogs, falsely accused people, bachelors, and several other things.
Sources say he was born at Montpellier, France, son of the governor. He went on pilgrimage to Rome and devoted himself to caring for the victims of a plague that was ravaging Italy. He became a victim himself at Piacenza but recovered and was reputed to have performed many miracles of healing.
On his return to Montpellier, he was imprisoned for five years as a spy in pilgrim’s disguise when his uncle, who was governor, ordered him imprisoned (His uncle failed to recognize him, and Roch failed to identify himself.) Roch died in prison and was only then identified as the former governor’s son by a birthmark in the form of a cross on his chest. Another biographer says that he was arrested as a spy at Angers, Lombardi, and died in prison there.
When miracles were reported at his intercession after his death, a popular cult developed and he is invoked against pestilence and plague. He is also the patron of invalids. More on Saint Roch
Tintoretto; born Jacopo Comin, (October, 1518 – May 31, 1594) was an Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures, and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style, while maintaining color and light typical of the Venetian School.
In his youth, Tintoretto was also known as Jacopo Robusti as his father had defended the gates of Padua in a way that others called robust, against the imperial troops during the War of the League of Cambrai (1509–1516). His real name “Comin” has only recently been discovered by Miguel Falomir, the curator of the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and was made public on the occasion of the retrospective of Tintoretto at the Prado in 2007. More on Tintoretto
Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian, and workshop
PIEVE DI CADORE CIRCA 1485/90 – 1576 VENICE
78 by 66 in.; 198 by 167.5 cm.
Margaret is celebrated as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches on July 20 and on July 17 in the Orthodox Church. Her historical existence has been questioned. She was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades. She was reputed to have promised very powerful indulgences to those who wrote or read her life, or invoked her intercessions; these no doubt helped the spread of her cultus.
She was a native of “Antioch” and the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. Her mother having died soon after her birth, Margaret was nursed by a Christian woman five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, Margaret was disowned by her father, adopted by her nurse, and lived in the country keeping sheep with her foster mother (in what is now Turkey). Olybrius, Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her, but with the demand that she renounce Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s innards. The Golden Legend, in an atypical passage of skepticism, describes this last incident as “apocryphal and not to be taken seriously”. She was put to death in AD 304.
As Saint Marina, she is associated with the sea, which “may in turn point to an older goddess tradition,” reflecting the pagan divinity, Aphrodite. More on Margaret
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian (1488/1490 – 27 August 1576), was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school.
Recognized by his contemporaries as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars”, Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art.
During the course of his long life, Titian’s artistic manner changed drastically but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of tone are without precedent in the history of Western painting. More Titian
The Master of the Female Half-lengths
THE MAGDALENE, HALF-LENGTH, HOLDING A JAR OF UNGUENT
62 x 47.2 cm.; 24 1/2 x 18 5/8 in.
Here the figure lifts the lid of an unguent jar that identifies her as Mary Magdalene, the most prominent of Christ’s female followers. Her magnificent, richly ornamented clothing and headdress are typical of sixteenth-century courtly dress. The pristine condition of the paint surface preserves each of the finest details, every strand of hair and thread of gold, of this mysterious Mary Magdalene. More on this painting
Mary Magdalene was a Jewish woman who, according to texts included in the New Testament, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Based on texts of the early Christian era in the third century, it seems that her status as an “apostle” rivals even Peter’s.
She is most prominent in the narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus, at which she was present. She was also present two days later, either alone or as a member of a group of women, the first to testify to the resurrection of Jesus.
Ideas that go beyond the gospel presentation of Mary Magdalene as a prominent representative of the women who followed Jesus have been put forward over the centuries.
During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was regarded in Western Christianity as a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman, claims not found in any of the four canonical gospels. More Mary Magdalene
The Master of the Female Half-Lengths was a painter, or likely a group of painters of a workshop, active in the sixteenth century. The name was given in the 19th century to identify the maker or makers of a body of work consisting of 67 paintings to which since 40 more have been added.
The works were apparently the product of a large workshop that specialized in small-scale panels depicting aristocratic young ladies at half-length. The ladies are engaging in various activities such as reading, writing, or playing musical instruments and are typically placed in a wood-panelled interior or against a neutral background. Some of the women are represented with an ointment jar, the attribute of Mary Magdalene. To the Master are also attributed a few paintings of mythological subjects and copies of standardized compositions such as the Crucifixion, the Deposition, the Virgin of Sorrows, St Jerome and Lucretia.
There is no agreement on the Master’s identity and the place and period of his activity. Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Mechelen and the French court have been proposed for the location of his workshop. Estimates for his period of activity vary from the early to the late 16th century. More on The Master of the Female Half-Lengths
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