Praying Saviour | Art for Proper 12C

Praying Saviour
CSONTVÁRY KOSZTKA, Tivadar
Praying Saviour
1903
Oil on canvas, 100 x 82 cm
 Janus Pannonius Múzeum, Pécs
Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Praying Saviour, oil on canvas, 1903, Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka, 1853-1919

During the lifetime of Hungarian artist, Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka, great changes were taking place in European art. During the first two-thirds of his life – a time when he was not painting at all – the Impressionists and Post-impressionists in France already had changed conventional thinking about art and were opening the way for developments that would take place during the twentieth century. Csontváry, as he was known in Hungary, was forty-one years old at the time he began studying art and his major works were not painted until after the turn of the century. By this time, Les Fauves (“The Wild Beasts”) in Paris were revolutionizing the way color was being used and shortly after that the Cubists would be challenging the concept of pictorial space. Instead of following areas being explored by the avant-garde however, Csontváry, after a brief time in Paris, chose to follow his personal vision. The result is an art that does not fit easily into a specific category; it tends to be an “outsider art” with elements of fantasy.

It is difficult to discern the full meaning of paintings that are based on personal visions. An interpretation is often speculative and even when artists offer explanations their paintings may not support what they say. In the “Praying Saviour,” Csontváry places an elongated Christ with lengthy hands and upraised arms close to the center of the painting; his white robe stands out against the dark foreground. To the upper far left and on a higher level is Moses with stone tablets and to his right the city of Jerusalem is glowing in the distance. In the bottom foreground are mask-like faces; they have been interpreted as disciples, yet we cannot be sure. Their expressions seem to indicate something foreboding is near. They appear to be alarmed. Perhaps they have just learned that Christ will be put to death.

Painters often utilize well known symbols but artists also are known to employ personal signs. Among Christian symbols, a cedar of Lebanon represents Christ and Csontváry visited Lebanon to make paintings of them. In “Praying Saviour,” a tall cedar tree is included with two figures clad in dark clothes at its base kneeling over a slab on top of a tomb-like rectangular stone. It would be reasonable to assume the tree represents Christ and the stone represents Christ’s tomb. Csontváry, however, sometimes used a tree as his own personal symbol; the tree may have been his way of placing himself symbolically in the painting. [It is of course also possible this tree is only meant to be a tree representing nothing more than itself.] At an upper level behind the tree is a modern day church with its lights on and the sky glowing as it would at dawn. The church lights seem to be a beacon and people are being drawn toward it. Taken together, these images may be interpreted as representing the journey of Christianity. Moses with the tablets represents the Old Testament, Christ represents the New Testament, and the light from the church and sky represents the dawning of hope and enlightenment that was brought by Christ’s word.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

Bathsheba Goes to King David | Art for B Proper 12

2 Samuel 11:4 So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him…

Bathsheba Goes to King David
Cecchino del Salvatti
(b. 1510, Firenze, d. 1563, Roma)
Bathsheba Goes to King David
1552-54
Fresco
Palazzo Sacchetti, Rome
Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
Previous post 29, 2012

As a young man, Francisco de’Rossi (before taking the name Cecchino del Salviati), studied with several artists in Florence, the city of his birth. Among his teachers was Andrea del Sarto, whose skills were so highly regarded he was called, “the faultless painter.” After two years in del Sarto’s studio, de’Rossi left to work on an unfinished fresco at the palace of Cardinal Giovanni Salviati in Rome and through his connections, further commissions were received. While there, he also determined it would be a good career move to take his patron’s surname as his own. Now, in addition to the name, Cecchino del Salviati, he continues to be known by his given name, Francisco de’Rossi, as well as Francisco Salviati and Il Salviati.

As the classicism of the Renaissance waned, Mannerist characteristics increased. In painting, sculpture, and architecture of this period there was frequently novelty, artificiality, discrepancy in scale, and linear movement (Vasari referred to this as a “serpentine line”). Also, in many Mannerist works there was a manipulation of pictorial space. Instead of staying with the exactness of Renaissance perspective, they modified space and often made it ambiguous; at times, a viewer is unable to determine what the artist was intending. In his paintings, Salviati used many of these Mannerist devices; note particularly the background, curvilinear staircase, and Bathsheba’s melodramatic pose in Bathsheba Goes to King David

This painting of Bathsheba is one of the frescos based on the life of King David painted by Salviati at the Palazzo Sacchetti in Rome. The presentation of this story, however, differs from the usual paintings of Bathsheba. In a typical painting, Bathsheba is bathing while King David is ogling her from the rooftop of his palace. Often, the primary focus is on a voluptuous Bathsheba at her bath. Salviati moves this story forward to the time she has come to the palace to see David. It is a rather unusual painting in that Salviati presents us with a look at Bathsheba from both back and front as she pauses before ascending the stairs. In the lower right corner of this painting we see her from the back; her fingers are lifting a portion of her dress coquettishly. Her left hand is holding her outer garment and she is turning her head to the left. Next we see her again at the foot of a spiral staircase. Bathsheba is now in the same pose but we see her from an opposite point of view; from the front we are shown she is wearing a diaphanous dress. At the top of the stairs King David is in a toga and finally the sequence ends in the shadow of David’s chamber where we are given a glimpse of the couple embracing.

Note

Venus, Bathsheba and Odalisque: In art, the portrayal of Venus was not to be seen in medieval art; Mary was the image venerated during those years. During the Renaissance, Mary continued to be honored but Venus made a comeback. Not only did artists paint scenes of the dalliances of Venus and other goddesses but the Bible also became a source of titillating subjects such as Bathsheba. Later, in the nineteenth century, the romanticists were enamored with the exotic Near East and in art the odalisque (harem woman) replaced Venus as one of the favorite subjects.

Color: When black pigment is added to a color it is called a “shade.” When white pigment is added it becomes a “tint.” When water based paints are absorbed into wet plaster (as when painting a fresco) the white of the plaster combines with the pigment and this makes its color a little lighter; it becomes, in effect, a “tint.” Also it decreases the saturation (intensity) of the colors, thus frescos tend to be soft in tone.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Rachel and Leah (Track 1 ) & Solomon (Track 2 )| Art for A Proper 12

RCL Track 1
Genesis 29:25 When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”

Rachel and Leah
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
Rachel and Leah
1545
Marble
San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
Click image for more information.
Click for artist bio.

RCL Track 2
1 Kings 3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night

Solomon by Duccio
Solomon 1308-11 Tempera on wood, 42,5 x 16 cm Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena

Additional commentary by Hovak Najarian 8/15/2012

B Proper 12, Art for July 29, 2012

SALVIATI, Cecchino del
(b. 1510, Firenze, d. 1563, Roma)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Bathsheba Goes to King David
1552-54
Fresco
Palazzo Sacchetti, RomeClick to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Bathsheba Goes to King David, 1552-1554, Fresco, Cecchino del Salviati (1510-1563)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 12, Art for July 29, 2012

As a young man, Francisco de’Rossi (before taking the name Cecchino del Salviati), studied with several artists in Florence, the city of his birth. Among his teachers was Andrea del Sarto, whose skills were so highly regarded he was called, “the faultless painter.” After two years in del Sarto’s studio, de’Rossi’s left to work on an unfinished fresco at the palace of Cardinal Giovanni Salviati in Rome and through his connections, further commissions were received. While there, he also determined it would be a good career move to take his patron’s surname as his own. Now, in addition to the name, Cecchino del Salviati, he continues to be known by his given name, Francisco de’Rossi, as well as Francisco Salviati and Il Salviati.

As the classicism of the Renaissance waned, Mannerist characteristics increased. In painting, sculpture, and architecture of this period there was frequently novelty, artificiality, discrepancy in scale, and linear movement (Vasari referred to this as a “serpentine line”). Also, in many Mannerist works there was a manipulation of pictorial space. Instead of staying with the exactness of Renaissance perspective, they modified space and often made it ambiguous; at times, a viewer is unable to determine what the artist was intending. In his paintings, Salviati used many of these Mannerist devices; note particularly the background, curvilinear staircase, and Bathsheba’s melodramatic pose in Bathsheba Goes to King David

This painting of Bathsheba is one of the frescos based on the life of King David painted by Salviati at the Palazzo Sacchetti in Rome. The presentation of this story, however, differs from the usual paintings of Bathsheba. In a typical painting, Bathsheba is bathing while King David is ogling her from the rooftop of his palace. Often, the primary focus is on a voluptuous Bathsheba at her bath. Salviati moves this story forward to the time she has come to the palace to see David. It is a rather unusual painting in that Salviati presents us with a look at Bathsheba from both back and front as she pauses before ascending the stairs. In the lower right corner of this painting we see her from the back; her fingers are lifting a portion of her dress coquettishly. Her left hand is holding her outer garment and she is turning her head to the left. Next we see her again at the foot of a spiral staircase. Bathsheba is now in the same pose but we see her from an opposite point of view; from the front we are shown she is wearing a diaphanous dress. At the top of the stairs King David is in a toga and finally the sequence ends in the shadow of David’s chamber where we are given a glimpse of the couple embracing.

Note

Venus, Bathsheba and Odalisque: In art, the portrayal of Venus was not to be seen in medieval art; Mary was the image venerated during those years. During the Renaissance, Mary continued to be honored but Venus made a comeback. Not only did artists paint scenes of the dalliances of Venus and other goddesses but the Bible also became a source of titillating subjects such as Bathsheba. Later, in the nineteenth century, the romanticists were enamored with the exotic Near East and in art the odalisque (harem woman) replaced Venus as one of the favorite subjects.

Color: When black pigment is added to a color it is called a “shade.” When white pigment is added it becomes a “tint.” When water based paints are absorbed into wet plaster (as when painting a fresco) the white of the plaster combines with the pigment and this makes its color a little lighter; it becomes, in effect, a “tint.” Also it decreases the saturation (intensity) of the colors, thus frescos tend to be soft in tone.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian