18 June 2015

Some medieval and Italian paintings in the Gemaldegalerie

One of the rooms with medieval paintings (via)
Spot the difference
An all-too-quick hour in this museum, at the end of the day, spent mainly in the medieval rooms - we'll try to return to see Dutch masters, Rembrandts, English ....

Currently the medieval galleries are interjected with contemporary work by Hanns Kunitzberger, three canvases in response to specific paintings, such as these, early Italian art from 1270 and 1325 -
As the leaflet says: "they have one things in common: they are all gold-ground panels containing richly polychrome figures. Hanns Kunitzberger has transformed the visual impressions gained in viewing these historical works into modern compositions that resemble the older paintings in terms of format, but which represent a radical departure from them in terms of form. The result is a set of non-representational abstract works, whose gradations of colour and colour fields nevertheless provide a visual echo of the panels that inspired them. The startling juxtaposition demonstrates the continued impact of Old Masters on contemporary artists today, and also show that, while modern painters may be influenced by tradition, their works are nevertheless resolutely independent artworks."

Painted in Westphalia after 1320
Apologies for the bad photo - the wonderful gold plays havoc with the light. The lions, with their ribbons of text, are delightful and individual -
There was no hesitation in getting out the notebook to "capture" one of them - and indeed to get details from other paintings, however quickly done (and sometimes totally inaccurate - "Amor", held by Venus in Piero di Cosimo's painting, suffers particularly from my pen) -

Venus, Mars, and Amor, by Piero di Cosimo (via)
Panels from the Wurzacher Altar,  Hans Multscher, 1437
 In this scene, some of the apostles have seen the dove, others not -
A scene from the life of Mary
The hands, also, caught my eye...

Simple and golden - and a carefully pleated "turkish" headdress -
The Queen of Sheba with King Solomon, by Konrad Witz, 1435/7
Medieval paintings are rich in "little" details. The bishop's gloves, richly be-ringed, in my sketches come from the bottom left of this "Virgin enthroned" by an unknown painter, Bohemia, 1340s -
Moving along to Italian works, we loved these small panels (behind glass, sorry about the reflection) of scenes of the life of St Humilitas, on the right her "Eiswunder" miracle -
By Pietro Lorinzetti, 1330/5
Here's St Jerome (without his lion) appearing to St Augustine, in his messy study, with interesting perspective -
By Giovanni di Paolo, c.1456
My final detail-drawing came from Masaccio's roundel (which has a lovely boy playing with a dog on the back) - the nurse holding the swaddled baby -
The Childbed of a Noble Florentine Woman (via)
Looking at this at leisure, the pizza delivery on the left would have been another good detail to draw!

20 minutes before museum closing, the announcements started - very loud, very scratchy and tinny, in three languages, and with snatches of Beethoven's Fifth (also scratchy and tinny) interspersed. The announcements did their job, they cleared the gallery - you wouldn't want to hear them more than once.

The collection was acquired by the Prussian government, starting in 1815. It was opened to the public in 1830, with a collection of 1200 paintings. Purchase accelerated after 1871, and most of the collection survived WW2 in shelters across Germany. The current building (1998) houses some 1250 works, with others in other national museums.

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