Prophet Jeremiah | Art for Proper 16C

Prophet Jeremiah
DONATELLO
b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze
Prophet Jeremiah
1423-26
Marble, height 191 cm
 Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence
Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Prophet Jeremiah, marble, 1423-26, Donatello, c.1386-1466

In the fifteenth century great changes were underway in Italy and Donatello (Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi) played a major role in developments that took place in sculpture.  Throughout the Romanesque and Gothic periods, sculpture tended to be an adjunct to architecture; it was stylized and sometimes column-like.  Often it was in the form of important saints and notable church figures lined in rows at the entrances of cathedrals or placed in niches built into interior or exterior walls.  Much of it was in relief and seemed incapable of escaping from a wall or column.  Even when it was free standing (not in relief) it was placed usually in a space that was surrounded closely and it was seldom created to be seen “in the round.”  While liberating sculpture from its subordinate role in architecture, Donatello became the most celebrated sculptor of the Early Renaissance and an influence on almost all sculpture that followed.

At age seventeen Donatello worked with Lorenzo Ghiberti during the time the first set of doors for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral was being conceived.  After a short time in the studio of Ghiberti, he went to Rome with Filippo Brunelleschi to “treasure hunt.” Their treasure was the information they gleaned from the pieces of sculpture and architecture found among the ruins of Roman buildings.  This visit to Rome affected the future work of both men.  Donatello departed from his early training in stylized late Gothic sculpture and Brunelleschi went on to discover linear perspective and to build the magnificent dome of Florence Cathedral (known as Il Duomo).

In Greek sculpture the gods and goddesses were given idealized proportions; their bodies and faces were not those of real people.  The Romans also made sculpture depicting their gods but they carved portraits of their leaders as well.  These portraits depicted the sitter’s individual characteristics and expressions.  When Donatello left Gothic stylistic elements, he did not follow the Greek model of ideal proportions.  Instead, like Roman portraits, he brought a sense of realism and naturalism into his work.  This naturalism is evidenced in two marble figures in adjacent niches carved for the BellTower (designed by Giotto) of Florence Cathedral.

The two prophets – Jeremiah and a bald figure dubbed “Zuccone” (pumpkin head) and believed to be Habakkuk – each stand with loose informal toga-like wraps hanging from their shoulders.  Both are beardless and, in their characteristics, are like Roman orators; not like Greek gods.  The Zuccone is in a relaxed stance but rather
undignified with parted lips and almost quizzical expression.  Jeremiah is in a similar stance but has a full head of hair and a face that carries a sense of strength.  His firm jaw and tight lips convey seriousness and inner thoughts.  Yet his large eyes seem to express sympathy, gentleness, and perhaps even sorrow.  Donatello portrays Jeremiah as a real person; a human with whom we can identify, not as an impersonal idealized figure or as a bearded old prophet of long ago.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant Containing the Tablets of the Law, Art for B Proper 16

1 Kings 8:[11] [And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.]

Transportation of the Ark
Ademollo, Luigi
(b. 1764, Milano, d. 1849, Firenze)

Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant Containing the Tablets of the Law
1816
Fresco
Room of the Ark, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Click image for more information.

Note: This depicts an earlier transport of the Arc to Jerusalem not today’s reading of bringing the Arc to Solomon’s Temple.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Previous post August 26, 2012

In the early eighteenth century baroque art gave way to a lighter, more delicate version called rococo (from the French: rocaille – shell-work, pebble-work). Rococo tended to be ornate, frivolous, florid, and was associated with court life in France; it also tended to reflect the gap between the working class and the wealthy elite. Social differences were among factors that led ultimately to the French Revolution at the latter part of the century.

At mid eighteenth century the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii brought renewed interest in the life of ancient Romans and elements of classicism began to reappear in art. While Napoleon Bonaparte was in the military, he admired and identified with Roman courage and after becoming Emperor of France in 1804, he placed artists in key positions to promote and portray traits such as moral strength, honor, and sacrifice for one’s country. Art became serious business; classicism returned and rococo came to an end. During the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, this latest manifestation of classicism – called “Neoclassicism” – spread throughout Europe and America. The style was not limited to subject matter with moral messages but also included portraiture and other interests.

One of the practitioners of neoclassicism in Italy was Luigi Ademollo. He was born in Milan and received his art training there but while in his mid-twenties, he set out for Rome and then settled in Florence. During, and following the Renaissance, wealthy bankers and commercial traders in Italy built palazzos for themselves and were like princes. Their palaces contained large surface areas and artists, who often were regarded as decorators, received commissions to fill the walls with paintings. Ademollo established a reputation as one of the foremost fresco artists of his time and received commissions for work throughout Italy. In the early nineteenth century he was asked to paint murals for the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant Containing the Tablets of the Law (detail shown above) was painted for its chapel. Ademollo’s mural in its entirety is an extensive painting that seems to have a “cast of thousands.” Some of the people are onlookers and others are part of a long trail that is following the Ark as it is being transported.

The Ark, which in Hebrew means box or chest, was made from acacia wood and covered with gold; it contained the stone tablets on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments. On top of it was the “mercy seat” made of pure gold and on it were two cherubim facing each other; their wings covered the top of the Ark entirely. [In depictions of the Ark by other artists, the cherubim often are sculpted in the round, not in relief as depicted here.] The Ark was not to be touched and, according to instructions, it was to be accompanied by priests and carried with gold covered poles on the shoulders of Levites. A billowing cloud is filling the scene as burning incense is being carried in a large censor while people following the Ark are caught up in the drama of the procession. To the right (not shown in this detail) are a group of men holding an ox that later will be sacrificed.

Note

In this mural the architecture and manner of dress is in keeping with neoclassicism but during the early nineteenth century there were romanticists who were fascinated with North Africa and the exotic Near East. Romanticists often sought drama and action in their subject matter. [The spirit of Romanticism is exemplified in the motion picture, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”] Although Ademollo is called a neoclassicist, “Transportation of the Ark” has elements of romanticism in its dramatic appeal.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Moses Tramples on Pharaoh’s Crown / Coat of arms of the Holy See | Art for A Proper 16

Exodus 1:8
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

Moses Tramples on Pharaoh's Crown
FISCHER, Josef Vinzenz
Moses Tramples on Pharaoh’s Crown
1760
Oil on canvas, 118 x 165 cm
Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna
Click image for more information.

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Coat of arms of the Holy See
Coat of arms of the Holy See
Wikipedia
Click image for more information.

B Proper 16, Art for August 26, 2012

ADEMOLLO, Luigi
(b. 1764, Milano, d. 1849, Firenze)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant Containing the Tablets of the Law
1816
Fresco
Room of the Ark, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Note: This depicts an earlier transport of the Arc to Jerusalem not today’s reading of bringing the Arc to Solomon’s Temple.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant Containing the Tablets of the Law, 1816, Fresco, Luigi Ademollo (1764-1849)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 16, Art for August 26, 2012

In the early eighteenth century baroque art gave way to a lighter, more delicate version called rococo (from the French: rocaille – shell-work, pebble-work). Rococo tended to be ornate, frivolous, florid, and was associated with court life in France; it also tended to reflect the gap between the working class and the wealthy elite. Social differences were among factors that led ultimately to the French Revolution at the latter part of the century.

At mid eighteenth century the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii brought renewed interest in the life of ancient Romans and elements of classicism began to reappear in art. While Napoleon Bonaparte was in the military, he admired and identified with Roman courage and after becoming Emperor of France in 1804, he placed artists in key positions to promote and portray traits such as moral strength, honor, and sacrifice for one’s country. Art became serious business; classicism returned and rococo came to an end. During the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, this latest manifestation of classicism – called “Neoclassicism” – spread throughout Europe and America. The style was not limited to subject matter with moral messages but also included portraiture and other interests.

One of the practitioners of neoclassicism in Italy was Luigi Ademollo. He was born in Milan and received his art training there but while in his mid-twenties, he set out for Rome and then settled in Florence. During, and following the Renaissance, wealthy bankers and commercial traders in Italy built palazzos for themselves and were like princes. Their palaces contained large surface areas and artists, who often were regarded as decorators, received commissions to fill the walls with paintings. Ademollo established a reputation as one of the foremost fresco artists of his time and received commissions for work throughout Italy. In the early nineteenth century he was asked to paint murals for the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant Containing the Tablets of the Law (detail shown above) was painted for its chapel. Ademollo’s mural in its entirety is an extensive painting that seems to have a “cast of thousands.” Some of the people are onlookers and others are part of a long trail that is following the Ark as it is being transported.

The Ark, which in Hebrew means box or chest, was made from acacia wood and covered with gold; it contained the stone tablets on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments. On top of it was the “mercy seat” made of pure gold and on it were two cherubim facing each other; their wings covered the top of the Ark entirely. [In depictions of the Ark by other artists, the cherubim often are sculpted in the round, not in relief as depicted here.] The Ark was not to be touched and, according to instructions, it was to be accompanied by priests and carried with gold covered poles on the shoulders of Levites. A billowing cloud is filling the scene as burning incense is being carried in a large censor while people following the Ark are caught up in the drama of the procession. To the right (not shown in this detail) are a group of men holding an ox that later will be sacrificed.

Note

In this mural the architecture and manner of dress is in keeping with neoclassicism but during the early nineteenth century there were romanticists who were fascinated with North Africa and the exotic Near East. Romanticists often sought drama and action in their subject matter. [The spirit of Romanticism is exemplified in the motion picture, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”] Although Ademollo is called a neoclassicist, “Transportation of the Ark” has elements of romanticism in its dramatic appeal.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian