Only $2.99/month

Intro To Humanities Final Review

Key Concepts:

Terms in this set (91)

- 510 BC
- The rape of Lucretia, according to Livy, was the fundamental "last straw" in the overthrow of the Etruscan King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. The transition from the Etruscan monarchy to republic (510-509 BC) was not, however, a simple institutional change. In place of the King, the newly founded Republic relied upon its Senate, or patrician class families, to oversee the government and the election of various officials, including 2 shared power Consuls. This transformation from monarchy to representative style government, headed by the elite social class, would prove to have troubles of its own. After the overthrow of the Tarquin dynasty, led by Junius Brutus, the ancient Romans avoided a true monarchal government for the remainder of their storied history (Even the later imperial government maintained forms of the republican system. While in practice it could be a system of absolute power for the Emperor, it was theoretically still checked by the Senate and other representative ideals.) This same Junius Brutus was later claimed as an ancestor by the Republican loyalist Marcus Brutus who was among the conspirators in the assassination of Julius Caesar, and shows the deeply rooted Roman aversion to Kings. It was the era of the Republic in which the great expansion of Roman civilization, power and structure set the path for European dominance. In these formative and expansive years, Rome was ruled by its Senate and its people's assemblies. The offices of power were divided among various elected officials to avoid the conglomeration of power and the re-institution of the monarchy. These magistracies were in essence, a division of previous monarchal powers. The Romans instituted a constitution which would dictate the traditions and institutions of government for the Roman people. This constitution, however, was not a formal or even written document, but rather a series of unwritten traditions and laws. Deeply rooted in pre-Republican tradition, it essentially maintained all the same monarchal powers and divided them amongst a series of people, rather than in one supreme ruler. Patricians and Plebeians Discontent and political upheaval lay ahead for the fledgling Republic, since the new constitution was flawed and exclusive in nature for the general population (plebeians). Rome was surrounded by powerful external enemies, including its former Etruscan rulers, and Patrician (the hereditary aristocratic families) in-fighting with each other and the plebeian (common people) class was an immediate source of difficulty. The Romans developed a complex client system, where aristocratic families pledged allegiance and voting support to other powerful families. In exchange for political appointments and advocating of various agendas, some power groups were able to subvert the state and the will of the masses for personal gain. The words Patrician and Plebeian have taken on different connotations of wealthy and poor in modern English, but no such distinction existed in Roman times. The two classes were simply ancestral or inherited. A citizen's class was fixed by birth rather than by wealth. Patricians monopolized all of the political offices and probably most of the wealth in the early Republic, but there were many wealthy plebeians, and conversly many patrician families had little claim to wealth or prestige other than their family heritage. The relationship between the plebeians and the patricians sometimes came under intense strain, as a result of this exclusion from political influence. In repsonse, the plebeians on several occasions, abandoned the city leaving the patricians without a working class to support their political whims.
- 15 BC
- The Augustus of Prima Porta, believed to have been commissioned in 15 A.D. by Augustus' adopted son Tiberius, is a majestic example of Imperial Roman statuary. It is currently under restoration, generously financed by the patrons of the Florida chapter. It was discovered at Prima Porta nine miles outside of Rome in the villa belonging to Augustus' wife Livia. Although it may be a copy of a bronze original, dated 20 B.C., Tiberius made a significant addition to his marble copy: on the chest plate, he added scenes depicting the Roman victory over the Parthians. These scenes were used by Tiberius as a form of propaganda so that the viewer would recall the important role his father played in securing the Roman empire. The Augustus of Prima Porta is based on the Doryphorus, a famous antique statue by Polykleitos portraying the ideal human proportions of an Athenian athlete. The depiction of Augustus portrays him as a victorious general making a speech. He is posed in the traditional controposto manner: his right leg is placed firmly forward while his left leg is bent and the heel slightly-raised. Augustus' right arm is stretched out in a noble and controlled Roman gesture and is counter-balanced by the slightly-bent left leg. Combined with these idealized features of strength and beauty, there are also personal features of Augustus: a broad cranium, deep-set eyes, sharp ridges in his brow, a well-formed mouth and a small chin. Furthermore, his face depicted in the manner of Apollo was meant to associate Augustus' abilities with those of the powerful god. Thus, Augustus wanted to portray himself as a perfect leader with flawless features, personifying the power and authority of the emperor who had the capacity to stabilize a society and an empire.
- 13 BC
- The Ara Pacis Augustae or Altar of the Augustan Peace in Rome was built to celebrate the return of Augustus in 13 BCE from his campaigns in Spain and Gaul. The marble structure, which once stood on the Campus Martius, is a masterpiece of Roman sculpture and, in particular, of portraiture. Senators, officials and the Imperial family are depicted on the wall reliefs of the monument in an animated procession, perhaps, the very procession which consecrated the altar site on 4th July 13 BCE or the celebratory procession to welcome the emperor's return. Voted for by the Senate in 13 BCE the monument was completed within four years using Italian Luna marble and dedicated on 30th January 9 BCE. The structure has a central altar set on a podium surrounded by high walls (11.6 x 10.6 m) composed of large rectangular slabs. There are two entrances, one on the east and the other on the west (back) side, the latter having a short flight of steps due to the lower ground elevation on that side in its original position. The 3 m tall altar itself stands on a 6 x 7 m podium and has relief scenes depicting Vestal Virgins, priests and sacrificial animals. The interior sculpture of the surrounding walls depicts fruit and flower garlands hanging from ox heads (bucrania) above fluting. The lower portion of the exterior walls has richly sculpted acanthus scrolls whilst the upper portions carry relief figures. The cornice of the surrounding wall is a modern addition and is, therefore, plain whereas the original cornice would have been highly decorative with palmettes at each corner. The whole structure, including the reliefs, would have been richly painted and have had touches of gilding. On the east and west sides of the exterior walls are panels with mythological scenes including a version of the she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, Roma seated on a pile of armour flanked by Honos and Virtus, Aeneas sacrificing to the Penates and a female figure with two children who may be Pax, Venus Genetrix or Tellus (Mother Earth). The relief figures on the north and south exterior walls are arranged in two groups. On the south side are Augustus and the Imperial family. On the north side are officials such as magistrates, senators, priests and their families. All are captured in a single moment as they participate in a procession. Some figures are speaking to each other, one figure (possibly Augustus' sister) holds a finger to her lips and calls for silence whilst elsewhere some children look decidedly bored with one small child pulling the toga of an adult in order to be picked up. The animation and individuality of the figures is a high point of Roman sculpture and the relief is also graded to give the scene depth and a further reality. Interestingly, although Augustus is present in the scene, the emperor is actually not so easy to pick out, which is in great contrast to later Imperial sculpture where the emperor of the time is very much the focal point of the monument. As Charles Wheeler stated, 'If we would understand the Augustan period - its quiet good manners and its undemonstrative confidence - in a single document, that document is the Ara Pacis Augustae.' The altar came to represent Pax (Peace), a concept particularly forwarded during the reign of Augustus and it was probably for this reason that the Ara Pacis appeared on the coins of Nero between 64 and 67 CE. Various pieces of the altar were re-discovered in c. 1568, 1859 and 1903 CE and a more concerted excavation of the site was carried out between 1937 and 1938 CE. The hundreds of altar fragments, which had been dispersed across several European museums, were collected together and the altar reassembled. Largely complete, the altar now stands in the purpose built Museo dell'Ara Pacis, an elegant glass and stone structure next to the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome.
- 29 BC
- After Augustus' triumph over Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 bce, Virgil retired to Naples, where he began work on an epic poem designed to rival Homer's Iliad and to provide the Roman state—and Augustus in particular—with a suitably grand founding myth. Previously he had been engaged with two series of pastoral idylls, the Eclogues (or Bucolics) and the Georgics. The latter poems (Reading 3.2) are modeled on Hesiod's Works and Days (see Chapter 2). They extol the importance of hard work, the necessity of forging order in the face of a hostile natural world, and, perhaps above all, the virtues of agrarian life. The political point of the Georgics was to celebrate Augustus' gift of farmlands to veterans of the civil wars, but in its exaltation of the myths and traditions of Italy, it served as a precursor to the Aeneid. It was written in dactylic hexameter, the verse form that Homer had used in the Iliad and Odyssey. (The metrical form of the translation above, however, is iambic pentameter—five rhythmic units, each short long, as in dee-dum—a meter much more natural to English than the Latin dactylic hexameter.) In dactylic hexameter each line consists of six rhythmic units, or feet, and each foot is either a dactyl (long, short, short, as in dum-diddy) or a spondee (long, long, as in dum-dum). Virgil reportedly wrote the Georgics at a pace of less than one line a day, perfecting his understanding of the metrical scheme in preparation for the longer poem. The Aeneid opens in Carthage, where, after the Trojan War, Aeneas and his men have been driven by a storm, and where they are hosted by the Phoenician queen Dido. During a rainstorm Aeneas and Dido take refuge in a cave, where the queen, having fallen in love with the Trojan hero, gives herself willingly to him. She now assumes that she is married, but Aeneas, reminded by his father's ghost of his duty to accomplish what the gods have predetermined—a classic instance of pietas— knows he must resume his destined journey. An angry and accusing Dido begs him to stay. When Aeneas rejects her pleas, Dido vows to haunt him after her death and to bring enmity between Carthage and his descendants forever (a direct reference on Virgil's part to the Punic Wars). As his boat sails away, she commits suicide by climbing a funeral pyre and falling upon a sword. The goddesses of the underworld are surprised to see her. Her death, in their eyes, is neither deserved nor destined, but simply tragic. Virgil's point is almost coldly hard-hearted: All personal feelings and desires must be sacrificed to one's responsibilities to the state. Civic duty takes precedence over private life. The poem is, on one level, an account of Rome's founding by Aeneas, but it is also a profoundly moving essay on human destiny and the great cost involved in achieving and sustaining the values and principles upon which culture—Roman culture in particular, but all cultures by extension—must be based. Augustus, as Virgil well knew, claimed direct descent from Aeneas, and it is particularly important that the poem presents war, at which Augustus excelled, as a moral tragedy, however necessary. In Book 7, Venus gives Aeneas a shield made by the god Vulcan. The shield displays the important events in the future history of Rome, including Augustus at the Battle of Actium. Aeneas is, Virgil writes, "without understanding . . . proud and happy . . . [at] the fame and glory of his children's children." But in the senseless slaughter that ends the poem, as Aeneas and the Trojans battle Turnus and the Italians, Virgil demonstrates that the only thing worse than not avenging the death of one's friends and family is, perhaps, avenging them. In this sense the poem is a profound plea for peace, a peace that Augustus would dedicate himself to pursuing.
- 81 BC
- During Vespasian's reign, his son Titus defeated the Jews in Palestine, who were rebelling against Roman interference with their religious practices. Titus' army sacked the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 ce. To honor this victory and the death of Titus 11 years later, a memorial arch was constructed in Rome. Originally, the Arch of Titus was topped by a statue of a four-horse chariot and driver. Such arches, known as triumphal arches because triumphant armies marched through them, were composed of a simple barrel vault enclosed within a rectangle, and enlivened with sculpture and decorative engaged columns (Fig. 3.14). They would deeply influence later architecture, especially the facades of Renaissance cathedrals. Hundreds of arches of similar form were built throughout the Roman Empire. Most were not technically triumphal, but, like all Roman monumental architecture, they were intended to symbolize Rome's political power and military might. The Arch of Titus was constructed of concrete and faced with marble, its inside walls decorated with narrative reliefs. One of them shows Titus' soldiers marching with the treasures of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Fig. 3.15). In the foreground, the soldiers carry what some speculate might be the golden Ark of the Covenant, and behind that a menorah, the sacred Jewish candelabrum, also made of gold. They bend under the weight of the gold and stride forward convincingly. The carving is extremely deep, with nearer figures and elements rendered with undercutting and in higher relief than more distant ones. This creates a sense of real space and, when light and shadow play over the sculptural relief, even a sense of movement.
- 72 BC
- The interior corridors of the Colosseum in Rome make use of both barrel and groin vaulting. This huge arena (Fig. 3.11) was built by Vespasian (r. 69-79 ce), the former commander in Palestine, who succeeded Nero when the latter's lavish lifestyle led to his ouster and subsequent suicide. Vespasian built the Colosseum across from Nero's ostentatious palace, known as the Golden House. He named it after the Colossus, a 120-foot-high statue of Nero as sun god that stood in front of it. The Colosseum formed a giant oval, 615 feet long, 510 feet wide, and 159 feet high, and audiences, estimated at 50,000, entered and exited through its 76 vaulted arcades in a matter of a few minutes. These vaults were made possible by the use of concrete, which, like the arch itself, was known to the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks, but perfected by the Romans, who evidently learned its principles from the Etruscans. Mixed with volcanic aggregate from nearby Naples and Pompeii, it set more quickly and was stronger than any building material yet known. The Colosseum's wooden floor, the arena (Latin for "sand," which covered the floor), lay over a maze of rooms and tunnels that housed the gladiators, athletes, and wild animals that entertained the masses. The top story of the building housed an awning system that could be extended on an array of pulleys and ropes to shield part of the audience from the hot Roman sun. Each level employed a different architectural order: the Tuscan order on the ground floor, the Ionic on the second, and the Corinthian, the Romans' favorite, on the third. All the columns are engaged and purely decorative, serving no structural purpose. The facade thus moves from the heaviest and sturdiest elements at the base to the lightest, most decorative at the top, a logic that is both structurally and visually satisfying. The Colosseum stands at the eastern end of the Forum Romanum, or Roman Forum (see Closer Look). This vast building project was among the most ambitious undertaken in Rome by the Five Good Emperors, under whose rule Rome thrived: Nerva (r. 96-98 ce), Trajan (r. 98-117 ce), Hadrian (r. 117-38 ce), Antoninus Pius (r. 138-61 ce), and Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 ce).
- 118 BC
- The Pantheon (from the Greek pan, "all," and theoi, "gods") is a temple to "all the gods," and sculptures representing all the Roman gods were set in recesses around its interior. The facade is a Roman temple, originally set on a high podium, with its eight massive Corinthian columns and deep portico, behind which are massive bronze doors. Photography presents little evidence of its monumental presence, elevated above its long forecourt. Today, both the forecourt and the elevation have disappeared beneath the streets of modern Rome. Figure 3.18 shows the Pantheon as it looks today. The facade gives no hint of what lies beyond the doors. The interior of the Pantheon consists of a cylindrical space topped by a dome, the largest built in Europe before the twentieth century. The whole is a perfect hemisphere— the diameter of the rotunda is 144 feet, as is the height from floor to ceiling. The weight of the dome rests on eight massive supports, each more than 20 feet thick. The dome itself is 20 feet thick at the bottom but narrows to only 6 feet thick at the oculus, the circular opening at the top. The oculus is 30 feet in diameter. Recessed panels, called coffers, further lighten the weight of the roof. The oculus, or "eye," admits light, which forms a round spotlight that moves around the building during the course of a day (it admits rain, as well, which is drained out through small openings in the floor). For the Romans, this light may well have symbolized Jupiter's ever-watchful eye cast over the affairs of state, illuminating the way. In the vast openness of its interior, the Pantheon mirrors the cosmos, the vault of the heavens. Mesopotamian and Egyptian architecture had created monuments with exterior mass. Greek architecture was a kind of sculptural event, built up of parts that harmonized. But the Romans concentrated on sheer size, including the vastness of interior space. Like the Basilica Ulpia (see Fig. 3.13) in the Forum of Trajan, the Pantheon is concerned primarily with realizing a single, whole, uninterrupted interior space. In this sense, the Pantheon mirrors the Empire. It too was a single, uninterrupted space, stretching from Hadrian's Wall in the north of England to the Rock of Gibraltar in the south, across North Africa and Asia Minor, and encompassing all of Europe except what is now northern Germany and Scandinavia (see Map 3.1). Like Roman architecture, the Empire was built up of parts that were meant to harmonize in a unified whole, governed by rules of proportion and order. And if the monuments the Empire built to celebrate itself were grand, the Empire was grander still.
- 312 BC
- In 305, Diocletian retired owing to bad health, ushering in a period of instability. Finally, Constantine I, known as "Constantine the Great" (r. 306-37), won a decisive battle at the Milvian Bridge, at the entrance to Rome, on October 28, 312, establishing himself as emperor. Two years earlier, as Constantine was advancing on Rome from Gaul, the story had circulated that he had seen a vision of the sun god Apollo accompanied by Victory (Nike) and the Roman numeral XXX symbolizing the 30 years he would reign. By the end of his life, he claimed to have seen, instead, above the sun, a single cross, by then an increasingly common symbol of Christ, together with the legend, "In this sign you shall conquer." At any rate, it seems certain that at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine ordered that his troops decorate their shields with crosses, and perhaps the Greek letters chi and rho as well. These letters stood for Christos, although chi and rho had long meant chrestos, "auspicious," and Constantine probably meant only this and not Jesus Christ. While Constantine himself reasserted his devotion to the Roman state religion, within a year, in 313, he issued the Edict of Milan, which granted religious freedom to all, ending religious persecution in the Empire. Constantine's architectural program in Rome would leave a lasting mark on subsequent Christian architecture, particularly his work on a basilica at the southern end of the line of Imperial Forums (see Fig. 3.12). Originally built by Maxentius, it was the last of the great imperial buildings erected in Rome (Fig. 3.36). Like all Roman basilicas, the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine (also known as the Basilica Nova) was a large rectangular building with a rounded extension, called an apse, at one or both ends and easy access in and out. It was, similarly, an administrative center—courthouse, council chamber, and meeting hall—and its high vaulted ceilings were purposefully constructed on the model of large Roman baths. Its nave, the large central area, rose to an elevation of 114 feet. One entered through a triple portico at the southeast end and looked down the nave some 300 feet to the original apse at the other end of the building, which acted as a focal point. The basilica plan, with the apse as its focal point, would exert considerable influence on later Christian churches. These later churches would transform the massive interiors from administrative spaces to religious sanctuaries, whose vast interior spaces elicited religious awe.
- 476 BC
- The invading army reached the outskirts of Rome, which had been left totally undefended. In 410 C.E., the Visigoths, led by Alaric, breached the walls of Rome and sacked the capital of the Roman Empire. The Visigoths looted, burned, and pillaged their way through the city, leaving a wake of destruction wherever they went. The plundering continued for three days. For the first time in nearly a millennium, the city of Rome was in the hands of someone other than the Romans. This was the first time that the city of Rome was sacked, but by no means the last. One of the many factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of a new religion, Christianity. The Christian religion, which was monotheistic ran counter to the traditional Roman religion, which was polytheistic (many gods). At different times, the Romans persecuted the Christians because of their beliefs, which were popular among the poor. 16th-century medallion of Attila the Hun This 16th-century medallion depicts Attila the Hun, one of the most vicious invaders of all time. In 313 C.E., Roman emperor Constantine the Great ended all persecution and declared toleration for Christianity. Later that century, Christianity became the official state religion of the Empire. This drastic change in policy spread this relatively new religion to every corner of the Empire. By approving Christianity, the Roman state directly undermined its religious traditions. Finally, by this time, Romans considered their emperor a god. But the Christian belief in one god — who was not the emperor — weakened the authority and credibility of the emperor. Constantine enacted another change that helped accelerate the fall of the Roman Empire. In 330 C.E., he split the empire into two parts: the western half centered in Rome and the eastern half centered in Constantinople, a city he named after himself. The western Empire spoke Latin and was Roman Catholic. The eastern Empire spoke Greek and worshipped under the Eastern Orthodox branch of the Christian church. Over time, the east thrived, while the west declined. In fact, after the western part of the Roman Empire fell, the eastern half continued to exist as the Byzantine Empire for hundreds of years. Therefore, the "fall of Rome" really refers only to the fall of the western half of the Empire. Other fundamental problems contributed to the fall. In the economically ailing west, a decrease in agricultural production led to higher food prices. The western half of the empire had a large trade deficit with the eastern half. The west purchased luxury goods from the east but had nothing to offer in exchange. To make up for the lack of money, the government began producing more coins with less silver content. This led to inflation. Finally, piracy and attacks from Germanic tribes disrupted the flow of trade, especially in the west. There were political and military difficulties, as well. It didn't help matters that political amateurs were in control of Rome in the years leading up to its fall. Army generals dominated the emperorship, and corruption was rampant. Over time, the military was transformed into a mercenary army with no real loyalty to Rome. As money grew tight, the government hired the cheaper and less reliable Germanic soldiers to fight in Roman armies. By the end, these armies were defending Rome against their fellow Germanic tribesmen. Under these circumstances, the sack of Rome came as no surprise. Goth Rockers Wave after wave of Germanic barbarian tribes swept through the Roman Empire. Groups such as the Visigoths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Franks, Ostrogoths, and Lombards took turns ravaging the Empire, eventually carving out areas in which to settle down. The Angles and Saxons populated the British Isles, and the Franks ended up in France. In 476 C.E. Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the west, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. The order that the Roman Empire had brought to western Europe for 1000 years was no more.
- 700
- This rigidly hierarchical nature of feudal society is probably nowhere better demonstrated than in the oldest English epic poem, Beowulf. In the poem, a young hero, Beowulf, comes from afar to rid a community of monsters, headed by the horrific Grendel, who have been ravaging it. He returns home to his native Sweden and rules well for 50 years, until he meets a dragon who is menacing his people. Beowulf demonstrates his fierce courage and true loyalty to his vassals by taking the dragon on, but it kills him. The lesson drawn from his fate is a simple one: "So every man must yield/ the leasehold of his days." Beowulf concludes with the hero's warriors burning his body along with his treasures on a funeral pyre, thus rounding out a story that opens with a burial as well. The findings at Sutton Hoo, as well as the ship discovered at Oseberg (see Fig. 5.1), suggest that Beowulf accurately reflects many aspects of life in the northern climates of Europe in the Middle Ages. The poem was composed in Anglo-Saxon, or Old English, sometime between 700 and 1000 ce, handed down first as an oral narrative and later transcribed. Its 3,000 lines represent a language that predates the merging of French and English tongues after 1066, when William the Conqueror, a Norman duke, invaded England. The poem survived in a unique tenth-century manuscript, copied from an earlier manuscript and itself badly damaged by fire in the eighteenth century. It owes its current reputation largely to J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, who in the 1930s argued for the poem's literary value. The source of Tolkien's attraction to the poem will be obvious to anyone who knows his own great trilogy. Beowulf is an English poem, but the events it describes take place in Scandinavia. One of its most notable literary features, common to Old English literature, is its reliance on compound phrases, or kennings, substituted for the usual name of a person or thing. Consider, for instance, the following line: Hwœt we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by Instead of saying "the past," the poem says gear-dagum, which literally means "year-days." Instead of "the Danes," it says Spear-Danes, implying their warrior attributes. The poet calls the sea the fifelstréam, literally the "sea-monster stream," or "whale-path," and the king, the "ring-giver." A particularly poetic example is beado-leoma, "battle-light," referring to a flashing sword. In a sense, then, these compound phrases are metaphoric riddles that context helps to explain. Beowulf contains many such compounds that occur only once in all Anglo-Saxon literature—hapax legomena, as they are called, literally "said or counted once"—and context is our only clue to their meaning. Some have interpreted phrases such as Shild Sheafson's crossing "over into the Lord's keeping" as evidence that the poem is a Christian allegory. But although Beowulf does indeed give "thanks to Almighty God," and admit that his victory over the monster Grendel would not have been possible "if God had not protected me," there is nothing in the poem to suggest that this is the Christian God. There are no overtly Christian references in the work. The poem teaches its audience that power, strength, fame, and life itself are fleeting—a theme consonant with Christian values, but by no means necessarily Christian. And although Beowulf, in his arguably foolhardy courage at the end of the poem, displays a Christlike willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good, the honor and courage he exhibits are fully in keeping with the values of feudal warrior culture.
- 768 BC
- Charlemagne (c.742-814), also known as Karl and Charles the Great, was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814. In 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany. He embarked on a mission to unite all Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity. A skilled military strategist, he spent much of his reign engaged in warfare in order to accomplish his goals. In 800, Pope Leo III (750-816) crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans. In this role, he encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, a cultural and intellectual revival in Europe. When he died in 814, Charlemagne's empire encompassed much of Western Europe, and he had also ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. Today, Charlemagne is referred to by some as the father of Europe. After Pepin's death in 768, the Frankish kingdom was divided between Charlemagne and his younger brother Carloman (751-771). The brothers had a strained relationship; however, with Carloman's death in 771, Charlemagne became the sole ruler of the Franconians. Once in power, Charlemagne sought to unite all the Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity. In order to carry out this mission, he spent the majority of his reign engaged in military campaigns. Soon after becoming king, he conquered the Lombards (in present-day northern Italy), the Avars (in modern-day Austria and Hungary) and Bavaria, among others. Charlemagne waged a bloody, three-decades-long series of battles against the Saxons, a Germanic tribe of pagan worshippers, and earned a reputation for ruthlessness. In 782 at the Massacre of Verden, Charlemagne reportedly ordered the slaughter of some 4,500 Saxons. He eventually forced the Saxons to convert to Christianity, and declared that anyone who didn't get baptized or follow other Christian traditions be put to death. In his role as a zealous defender of Christianity, Charlemagne gave money and land to the Christian church and protected the popes. As a way to acknowledge Charlemagne's power and reinforce his relationship with the church, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans on December 25, 800, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. As emperor, Charlemagne proved to be a talented diplomat and able administrator of the vast area he controlled. He promoted education and encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of renewed emphasis on scholarship and culture. He instituted economic and religious reforms, and was a driving force behind the Carolingian miniscule, a standardized form of writing that later became a basis for modern European printed alphabets. Charlemagne ruled from a number of cities and palaces, but spent significant time in Aachen. His palace there included a school, for which he recruited the best teachers in the land. In addition to learning, Charlemagne was interested in athletic pursuits. Known to be highly energetic, he enjoyed hunting, horseback riding and swimming. Aachen held particular appeal for him due to its therapeutic warm springs. According to Einhard, Charlemagne was in good health until the final four years of his life, when he often suffered from fevers and acquired a limp. However, as the biographer notes, "Even at this time...he followed his own counsel rather than the advice of the doctors, whom he very nearly hated, because they advised him to give up roasted meat, which he loved, and to restrict himself to boiled meat instead." In 813, Charlemagne crowned his son Louis the Pious (778-840), king of Aquitaine, as co-emperor. Louis became sole emperor when Charlemagne died in January 814, ending his reign of more than four decades. At the time of his death, his empire encompassed much of Western Europe. Charlemagne was buried at the cathedral in Aachen. In the ensuing decades, his empire was divided up among his heirs, and by the late 800s, it had dissolved. Nevertheless, Charlemagne became a legendary figure endowed with mythical qualities. In 1165, under Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190), Charlemagne was canonized for political reasons; however, the church today does not recognize his sainthood.
- 711
- The iconoclastic controversy that swept the Byzantine Empire in the seventh and eighth centuries was a direct result of the increasing influence of Islam on the Mediterranean world. Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, is located about 50 miles inland from the Red Sea on the Arabian peninsula in present-day Saudi Arabia (see Map 4.2). There, in about 570, the prophet Muhammad was born to a prominent family that traced its ancestry back to Ishmael, son of Abraham. Orphaned at age six, Muhammad received little formal education. He worked in the desert caravan trade, first as a camel driver for his uncle, and then, after marrying a wealthy widow 15 years his senior, as head of his wife's flourishing caravan firm. At the age of 40, in 610, he heard a voice in Arabic—the Archangel Gabriel's, as the story goes—urging him, "Recite!" He responded, "What shall I recite?" And for the next 22 years, he claimed to receive messages, or "recitations," from God through the agency of Gabriel. These he memorized and dictated to scribes, who collected them to form the scriptures of Islam, the Qur'an (or Koran), which means "recitations." Muhammad also claimed that Gabriel commanded him to declare himself the "Seal of the Prophets," that is, the messenger of the one and only Allah (the Arab word for God) and the final prophet in a series of prophets extending from Abraham and Moses to Jesus. At the core of Muhammad's revelations is the concept of submission to God—the word Islam, in fact, means "submission" or "surrender." God, or Allah, is all—all-powerful, all-seeing, all-merciful. Because the universe is his creation, it is necessarily good and beautiful, and the natural world reflects Allah's own goodness and beauty. To immerse oneself in nature is thus to be at one with God. But the most beautiful creation of Allah is humankind, which God made in his own image. In common with Christians, Muslims believe that human beings possess immortal souls and that they can live eternally in heaven if they surrender to Allah and accept him as the one and only God. Muslims, or practitioners of Islam, dedicate themselves to the "five pillars" of the religion: Shahadah: The repetition of the shahadah, or "creed," which consists of a single sentence: "There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." Prayer: The practice of daily prayer, recited facing Mecca, five times each day, at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall, and the additional requirement for all men to gather for a noon prayer and sermon on Fridays. Alms: The habit of giving alms to the poor and needy, consisting of at least one-fortieth of a Muslim's assets and income. Fasting: During the lunar month of Ramadan (which, over a 33-year period, will occur in every season of the year), the ritual obligation to fast by abstaining from food, drink, medicine, tobacco, and sexual intercourse from sunrise to sundown each day. Hajj: At least once in every Muslim's life, in the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar, the undertaking of a pilgrimage (called the hajj) to Mecca. The five pillars are supported by the teachings of the Qur'an, which, slightly shorter than the Christian New Testament, consists of 114 surahs, or chapters, each numbered but more commonly referred to by its title. Each begins, as do most Muslim texts, with the bismillah, the first word of a sacred invocation, bismillah al-rahman al-rahim, which can be translated "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, Ever-Merciful" (see Closer Look). When, after Muhammad's death in 632, the Qur'an's text was established in its definitive form, the 114 surahs were arranged from the longest to the shortest. Thus, the first surah contains 287 ayas, or verses, while the last consists of only 3. The mandatory ritual prayer (salat) that is performed five times a day consists of verses from Surahs 2, 4, and 17. Library of Cordoba: In the eighth century a new and independent Muslim kingdom was established by the Umayyads in Spain. Its capital city, Cordoba, became a center of learning and intellectual life and was widely known as a city of bibliophiles (people who love books). The most celebrated library in Cordoba was run by Caliph Al-Hakam II al-Mustansir (A.D. 961-976). Al-Hakam, who was an accomplished scholar, sent book buyers all over the Muslim Empire to find books for his library. Library clerks, many of them women, carefully hand-copied the books while calligraphers and bookbinders created beautiful text and cover designs. Al-Hakaru's library was said to have contained more than 400,000 books, whose titles filled a 44-volume catalog. The people of Cordoba also collected books for their homes. Those who owned large, personal libraries were regarded as important figures in Cordovan society.
- 1066
- Norman Conquest, the military conquest of England by William, duke of Normandy, primarily effected by his decisive victory at the Battle of Hastings (Oct. 14, 1066) and resulting ultimately in profound political, administrative, and social changes in the British Isles. The conquest was the final act of a complicated drama that had begun years earlier, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, last king of the Anglo-Saxon royal line. Edward, who had almost certainly designated William as his successor in 1051, was involved in a childless marriage and used his lack of an heir as a diplomatic tool, promising the throne to different parties throughout his reign, including Harold Godwineson, later Harold II, the powerful earl of Wessex. The exiled Tostig, who was Harold's brother, and Harald III Hardraade, king of Norway, also had designs on the throne and threatened invasion. Amid this welter of conflicting claims, Edward from his deathbed named Harold his successor on Jan. 5, 1066, and Harold was crowned king the following day. However, Harold's position was compromised, according to the Bayeux Tapestry and other Norman sources, because in 1064 he had sworn an oath, in William's presence, to defend William's right to the throne. READ MORE United Kingdom: The reign of Edward the Confessor and the Norman Conquest From almost the beginning of his reign, Harold faced challenges to his authority. Tostig began raiding the southern and eastern coasts of England in May, eventually joining forces with Harald III. Harold was able to keep his militia on guard throughout the summer but dismissed it early in September, when he ran out of supplies and his peasant soldiers needed to return to their fields for the harvest. This left the south without defenses, exposing it to invasion by William. Before William arrived, however, Harald III and Tostig invaded in the north; Harold hastened to Yorkshire, where at Stamford Bridge (September 25) he won a smashing victory in which both Harald III and Tostig perished. SIMILAR TOPICS World War II Syrian Civil War World War I American Civil War Vietnam War Korean War American Revolution Crimean War Persian Gulf War War of 1812 Meanwhile, on the Continent, William had secured support for his invasion from both the Norman aristocracy and the papacy. By August 1066 he had assembled a force of 4,000-7,000 knights and foot soldiers, but unfavourable winds detained his transports for eight weeks. Finally, on September 27, while Harold was occupied in the north, the winds changed, and William crossed the Channel immediately. Landing in Pevensey on September 28, he moved directly to Hastings. Harold, hurrying southward with about 7,000 men, approached Hastings on October 13. Surprised by William at dawn on October 14, Harold drew up his army on a ridge 10 miles (16 km) to the northwest. Harold's wall of highly trained infantry held firm in the face of William's mounted assault; failing to breach the English lines and panicked by the rumour of William's death, the Norman cavalry fled in disorder. But William, removing his helmet to show he was alive, rallied his troops, who turned and killed many English soldiers. As the battle continued, the English were gradually worn down; late in the afternoon, Harold was killed (by an arrow in the eye, according to the Bayeux Tapestry), and by nightfall the remaining English had scattered and fled. William then made a sweeping advance to isolate London, and at Berkhamstead the major English leaders submitted to him. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066. Sporadic indigenous revolts continued until 1071; the most serious, in Northumbria (1069-70), was suppressed by William himself, who then devastated vast tracts of the north. The subjection of the country was completed by the rapid building of a great number of castles. The extent and desirability of the changes brought about by the conquest have long been disputed by historians. Certainly, in political terms, William's victory destroyed England's links with Scandinavia, bringing the country instead into close contact with the Continent, especially France. Inside England the most radical change was the introduction of land tenure and military service. While tenure of land in return for services had existed in England before the conquest, William revolutionized the upper ranks of English society by dividing the country among about 180 Norman tenants-in-chief and innumerable mesne (intermediate) tenants, all holding their fiefs by knight service. The result, the almost total replacement of the English aristocracy with a Norman one, was paralleled by similar changes of personnel among the upper clergy and administrative officers. BRITANNICA STORIES IN THE NEWS / HISTORY Thai King Dies King Bhumibol Adulyadej acknowledges the crowd in Bangkok during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Thailand's Royal Palace said on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, that Thailand's King Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning DEMYSTIFIED / SCIENCE Is Zero an Even or an Odd Number? number zero, 0 balloon SPOTLIGHT / ARTS & CULTURE Neo-Impressionism: What Was the Point? 'Seascape at Port-en-Bessin, Normandy' Georges Seurat, ca. 1888, oil on canvas, 65.1 x 80.9 cm IN THE NEWS / ARTS & CULTURE Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature Bob Dylan performs at the White House in 2010. See All Stories Anglo-Saxon England had developed a highly organized central and local government and an effective judicial system (see Anglo-Saxon law). All these were retained and utilized by William, whose coronation oath showed his intention of continuing in the English royal tradition. The old administrative divisions were not superseded by the new fiefs, nor did feudal justice normally usurp the customary jurisdiction of shire and hundred courts. In them and in the king's court, the common law of England continued to be administered. Innovations included the new but restricted body of "forest law" and the introduction in criminal cases of the Norman trial by combat alongside the old Saxon ordeals. Increasing use was made of the inquest procedure—the sworn testimony of neighbours, both for administrative purposes and in judicial cases. A major change was William's removal of ecclesiastical cases from the secular courts, which allowed the subsequent introduction into England of the then rapidly growing canon law. William also transformed the structure and character of the church in England. He replaced all the Anglo-Saxon bishops, except Wulfstan of Dorchester, with Norman bishops. Most notably, he secured the deposition of Stigand, the archbishop of Canterbury—who held his see irregularly and had probably been excommunicated by Pope Leo IX—and appointed in his place Lanfranc of Bec, a respected scholar and one of William's close advisers. Seeking to impose a more orderly structure on the English episcopacy, the king supported Lanfranc's claims for the primacy of Canterbury in the English church. William also presided over a number of church councils, which were held far more frequently than under his predecessors, and introduced legislation against simony (the selling of clerical offices) and clerical marriage. A supporter of monastic reform while duke of Normandy, William introduced the latest reforming trends to England by replacing Anglo-Saxon abbots with Norman ones and by importing numerous monks. Although he founded only a small number of monasteries, including Battle Abbey (in honour of his victory at Hastings), William's other measures contributed to the quickening of monastic life in England. CONNECT WITH BRITANNICA Probably the most regrettable effect of the conquest was the total eclipse of the English vernacular as the language of literature, law, and administration. Superseded in official documents and other records by Latin and then increasingly in all areas by Anglo-Norman, written English hardly reappeared until the 13th century. Bayeux Tapestry: The tapestry is a band of linen 231 feet (70 metres) long and 19.5 inches (49.5 cm) wide, now light brown with age, on which are embroidered, in worsteds of eight colours, more than 70 scenes representing the Norman Conquest. The story begins with a prelude to Harold's visit to Bosham on his way to Normandy (1064?) and ends with the flight of Harold's English forces from Hastings (October 1066); originally, the story may have been taken further, but the end of the strip has perished. Along the top and the bottom run decorative borders with figures of animals, scenes from the fables of Aesop and Phaedrus, scenes from husbandry and the chase, and occasionally scenes related to the main pictorial narrative. It has been restored more than once, and in some details the restorations are of doubtful authority. When first referred to (1476), the tapestry was used once a year to decorate the nave of the cathedral in Bayeux, France. There it was "discovered" by the French antiquarian and scholar Bernard de Montfaucon, who published the earliest complete reproduction of it in 1730. Having twice narrowly escaped destruction during the French Revolution, it was exhibited in Paris at Napoleon's wish in 1803-04 and thereafter was in civil custody at Bayeux, except in 1871 (during the Franco-German War) and from September 1939 to March 1945 (during World War II). See All Stories Montfaucon found at Bayeux a tradition, possibly not more than a century old, that assigned the tapestry to Matilda, wife of William I (the Conqueror), but there is nothing else to connect the work with her. It may have been commissioned by William's half brother Odo, bishop of Bayeux; Odo is prominent in the later scenes, and three of the very few named figures on the tapestry have names borne by obscure men known to have been associated with him. This conjecture would date the work not later than about 1092, an approximate time now generally accepted. The tapestry has affinities with other English works of the 11th century, and, though its origin in England is not proved, there is a circumstantial case for such an origin. The tapestry is of greater interest as a work of art. It is also important evidence for the history of the Norman Conquest, especially for Harold's relation to William before 1066; its story of events seems straightforward and convincing, despite some obscurities. The decorative borders have value for the study of medieval fables. The tapestry's contribution to knowledge of everyday life about 1100 is of little importance, except for military equipment and tactics.
- 1098
- One of the foremost women of the age was Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), who ran the monastery at Bingen, near Frankfurt, Germany. She entered the convent at the age of eight and eventually became its abbess. Extraordinarily accomplished—she wrote tracts on natural science, medicine, and the treatment of disease, an allegorical dialogue between the vices and virtues, as well as a significant body of devotional songs (see the next section on monastic music)—she is best known as the first in a long line of female Christian visionaries and mystics, a role anticipated in Western culture by the Delphic priestesses (see Chapter 2). Her visions are recorded in the Scivias, a work whose title derives from the Latin Scite vias domini, "Know the ways of the Lord" (Reading 5.3). The Scivias was officially designated by the pope as divinely inspired. A zealous advocate for Church reform, Hildegard understood that this recognition lent her the authority to criticize her secular and Church superiors, including the pope himself, and she did not hesitate to do so. Later in the Scivias, Hildegard has a vision of the devil embodied as a monstrous worm who oversees a marketplace full of material goods. After describing her vision, she interprets some of the key images. Hildegard's impulse to interpret her own words is typical of religious literature in the Middle Ages: Its primary purpose was to teach and instruct. But, more than that, Hildegard's Scivias shares with other visionary and mystical writing of the period an impulse to make the unknowable vividly present in the mind's eye of her audience. Like the Delphic priestess, she directly encounters the divine through revelation and vision.
- 1170
- One of the most popular works of the day, Chrétien de Troyes' Lancelot, appeared around 1170. Centered on the adventures of Lancelot, a knight in the court of the legendary King Arthur of Britain, and focusing particularly on his courtly-love-inspired relationship with Guinevere, Arthur's wife, the poem is an example of the medieval romance. The term "romance" derives from the Old French term romans, which referred to the vernacular, everyday language of the people, as opposed to Latin. The medieval romance was designed to entertain a broad audience with stories of adventure and love, while it pretended to be an actual historical account of Charlemagne, King Arthur, or Roman legend. Lancelot, subtitled The Knight of the Cart, opens with a challenge offered to King Arthur and his court on Ascension Day by a knight named Sir Meleagant of Gorre. Sir Meleagant claims to hold many of Arthur's knights in prison, but offers to free them if any knight dares to escort the beautiful Queen Guinevere into the forest and defend her against him. Arthur's brother Kay asks to take on the mission, and Arthur agrees. Knowing Kay to be a poor knight, Sir Gawain and the other knights of the Round Table quickly chase after him into the forest. Too late, they come upon Kay's riderless horse, all that remains of a scene of recent combat. Lancelot takes one of Gawain's horses and charges off after Meleagant, who has abducted Guinevere. Gawain catches up with Lancelot, finds the horse he has lent him dead, the victim of a fierce battle, and then discovers Lancelot on foot, having overtaken a cart of the kind used to take criminals to their execution. The cart is driven by a dwarf, who has told Lancelot that if he boards the cart, he will soon know Guinevere's fate. To board such a cart is a great dishonor, but Lancelot reluctantly agrees, and the next day, Lancelot and Gawain learn the way to Meleagant's kingdom of Gorre from a damsel standing at a fork in the road. Both forks lead to Gorre, one by way of the perilous Underwater Bridge, the other by the even more perilous Sword Bridge. Gawain takes the first, Lancelot the second. Lancelot faces many challenges and temptations but finally arrives at the Sword Bridge, which he crosses by virtue of his love for Guinevere (Fig. 5.22). He subsequently defeats Meleagant but spares his life at Guinevere's behest. Guinevere, to his dismay, behaves coldly toward him, offended at his earlier hesitation to enter the cart. He should not have put his own honor before love, she explains. After reuniting with Gawain, who was preparing to take on Meleagant himself in Lancelot's absence, Lancelot overcomes Meleagant once and for all, and he and Guinevere are reconciled. Guinevere agrees to meet Lancelot in Meleagant's castle secretly at night. There he kneels before her, "holding her more dear than the relic of any saint," a scene in which the "religion of love"—so marvelous in its physical joy that the narrator cannot tell of it, "for in a story it has no place"—is confounded with spiritual ecstasy. This feature is surely indebted to Islamic notions of physical love as a metaphor for the love of God and in the love songs popular in the Islamic Spanish courts, where the bilingual minstrels who inaugurated the troubadour tradition first flourished. The love of woman celebrated in medieval romance and troubadour poetry was equated in the Christian mind with love for the Virgin Mary. As Mother of Heaven and of Christ, as the all-compassionate mediator between the Judgment seat and the horrors of hell, Mary was increasingly recognized as the spiritual equivalent of the lady of chivalry, crowned the Queen of Heaven, overseeing her heavenly court. Songs were sung to her, cathedrals built in her honor (all cathedrals named Notre Dame, "Our Lady," are dedicated to her), and a Cult of the Virgin developed around her. Lancelot was written at the request of Eleanor of Aquitaine's daughter Marie—herself named after the Virgin—as its laudatory prologue, a standard feature of the form. Chrétien presents himself as the servant of Marie who devotes his writer's skill to doing her bidding, just as the knight Lancelot serves Queen Guinevere with his knightly skill, and as the Christian serves the Virgin Mary. Similarly, Chrétien's story transforms the heroism of the Song of Roland, which is motivated by feudal loyalty to king and country, to a form of chivalry based on the allegiance of the knight to his lady. In a medieval romance, the knight is driven to heroic action not so much by the lure of greater glory as by his own desire for his lady. To the knight, the lady is a prize to be won, an object to be possessed. Beyond the drama of his exploits and his lady's distress, the conflict between the sexual desires of both knight and lady and the hypothetical purity of their "spiritual" love gives the story its narrative power. In a medieval romance, as well as in the troubadour poem, perhaps the greatest test the lovers face is their own sexuality—an almost sure-fire guarantor of the form's popularity.
- 1181
- The "Canticle of Creation" is a song of praise written by Francis of Assisi as he approached death midst illness and disability. As the Franciscan poet Murray Bodo has written, as Francis' turning to God unfolded and he was gripped by the fact of the Incarnation, nature became holy for him. He was enthralled by God's presence in the created order. Francis calls out to all of creation as brother and sister, revealing the core of the Franciscan worldview: that God is the source of all being; that the Creator God is the Parent; that all creatures therefore are brother and sister to one another; that everything deserves love and respect. Francis saw God in everything and so do we. We look upon the earth with humility and with an open and grateful heart, aware of the divine goodness in all things. CANTICLE OF CREATION Be praised Good Lord for Brother Sun who brings us each new day. Be praised for Sister Moon: white beauty bright and fair, with wandering stars she moves through the night. Be praised my Lord for Brother Wind, for air and clouds and the skies of every season. Be praised for Sister Water: humble, helpful, precious, pure; she cleanses us in rivers and renews us in rain. Be praised my Lord for Brother fire: he purifies and enlightens us. Be praised my Lord for Mother Earth: abundant source, all life sustaining; she feeds us bread and fruit and gives us flowers. Be praised my Lord for the gift of life; for changing dusk and dawn; for touch and scent and song. Be praised my Lord for those who pardon one another for love of thee, and endure sickness and tribulation. Blessed are they who shall endure it in peace, for they shall be crowned by Thee. Be praised Good Lord for sister Death who welcomes us in loving embrace. Be praised my Lord for all your creation serving you joyfully.
- 1225
- In 1245, Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), a 20-year-old Dominican monk from Italy, arrived at the University of Paris to study theology, walking into a theological debate that had been raging for 100 years, ever since the conflict between Abelard and Bernard: How does the believer come to know God? With the heart? With the mind? Or with both? Do we come to know the truth intuitively or rationally? Aquinas took on these questions directly and soon became the most distinguished student and lecturer at the university. Aquinas was accompanied to Paris by another Dominican, his teacher Albertus Magnus (ca. 1200-80), a German who taught at both Paris and Cologne and who later produced a biological classification of plants based on Aristotle. The Dominicans had been founded in 1216 by the Spanish priest Dominic (ca. 1170-1221) as an order dedicated to the study of theology. Aquinas and Magnus, and others like them, increasingly trained by Dominicans, were soon labeled scholastics. Their brand of theological inquiry, which was based on Abelard's dialectical method, was called Scholasticism. Most theologians understood that there was a seeming conflict between faith and reason, but, they argued, since both proceeded from God, this conflict must, by definition, be a misapprehension. In the universities, rational inquiry and Aristotle's objective descriptions of physical reality were all the rage (see Chapter 2), so much so that theologians worried that students were more enthralled with logical argumentation than right outcomes. Instead of studying heavenly truths and Scriptures, they were studying pagan philosophy, dating from the fourth century bce. Scholasticism sought to reconcile the two. One of the greatest efforts in this direction is Aquinas' Summa Theologica, begun in 1265 when he was 40 years old. At Albertus Magnus' request, Aquinas set out to write a theology based entirely on the work of ancient philosophers, demonstrating the compatibility of Classical philosophy and Christian religion. The Summa Theologica takes on virtually every theological issue of the age, from the place of women in society and the Church, to the cause of evil, the question of free choice, and whether it is lawful to sell a thing for more than it is worth. The medieval summa was an authoritative summary of all that was known on a traditional subject, and it was the ultimate aim of every highly educated man to produce one. In a famous passage, Aquinas takes on the largest issue of all—the summa of summas—attempting to prove the existence of God once and for all. Such a rational demonstration of the existence of God is, for Aquinas, what he called a "preamble of faith." What he calls the "articles of faith" necessarily follow upon and build on such rational demonstrations. So, although Christians cannot rationally know the essence of God, they can, through faith, know its divinity. Faith, in sum, begins with what Christians can know through what God has revealed to them in the Bible and through Christian tradition. Aquinas maintains, however, that some objects of faith, including the Incarnation, lie entirely beyond our capacity to understand them rationally in this life. Still, since we arrive at truth by means of both faith and reason—and, crucially, since all truths are equally valid—there should be no conflict between those arrived at through either faith or reason. Although conservative Christians never quite accepted Aquinas' writings, arguing, for instance, that reason can never know God directly, his influence on Christian theology was profound and lasting. In the scope of its argument and the intellectual heights to which it soars, the Summa Theologica is at one with the Gothic cathedral. Like the cathedral, it is an architecture, built of logic rather than of stone, dedicated to the Christian God.
- 1107
- In the center of the middle register a mandorla encloses the enthroned Christ. Compare Revelation 4:3, "there was a rainbow round about the throne." Two angels with candles stand guard at the base of the throne (see detail). On the left the elect process to the throne: the Virgin Mary first, followed by St. Peter, then Dadon, the hermit who established the first oratory in Conques, a few meters away from this tympanum. Next is an abbot, whose right hand holds the left hand of Charlemagne, who donated the land for the church and is accompanied by acolytes who carry his gifts to the church. (See detail.) Behind this group the procession continues with four saints (see detail). To the right of Christ four angels stand in a stylized sea. They hold, respectively, an open book that says SIGNATUR, a thurible, a lance, and a flaming sword (see detail). To the right of this group we see the demons tormenting the damned (see detail). Directly above the figure of Christ is a cross with symbols related to the crucifixion accounts in the gospels: a sun and moon above the left and right crossbeam represent the eclipse of that day; the supporting angels hold in their hands a nail and a spear; and the top piece bears the inscription [JESV]S REX IVDEORVM - i.e., "Jesus, King of the Jews," the inscription ordered by Pilate. To the left and right of this, two angels blow horns to announce the Last Day. (See detail.) Directly beneath the Christ figure St. Michael and a devil engage in the Psychostasy, the "weighing of souls." To the right, souls who did not pass the test are suffering the torments of the damned. (See detail.) At the farthest right, one of them is being roasted on a spit (see detail). Left of the Psychostasy is the Resurrection of the Body: angels open the graves of the dead for their final judgment (see detail). Left of the Resurrection of the Body is a triangular area devoted to St. Foy, who kneels before the hand of God (see detail). Behind her, empty shackles hang above an altar with a chalice (see detail). The shackles refer to prisoners freed at the intercession of St. Foy. The altar, columns, and arches represent St. Foy's church. The bottom register juxtaposes two visions of the afterlife. On the left Abraham embraces his sons amid the arches and towers of the New Jerusalem, with six crowned figures on his right (see detail) and four on his left (see detail). On the right an unhandsome Satan presides over the tortures of the damned (see detail). In the center of this register, an angel on the left greets the just at Heaven's gate while on the right devils push their victims one after the other into the mouth of Hell (see detail). THE INSCRIPTIONS The inscriptions on the tympanum remain for the most part clear and readable to this day. Secondary inscriptions are discussed in the detail images listed below. The main series of inscriptions comprises one long rhyming verse on the left and another on the right. Each verse begins along the border between the top and middle registers, then continues along the border between the middle and bottom registers, and concludes along the border that outlines the "roofs" of Heaven and Hell in the bottom register. Where necessary, the artist has used a cross to separate the two inscriptions from each other. Another separate statement (not shown here) is inscribed along the bottom border of the tympanum. The inscription on the left reads as follows (slash marks indicate where the text moves from one border to the next): SANCTORUM CETVS STAT XPISTO IUDICE LETUS / SIC DATUR ELECTIS AD CELI GAUDIA VINCTIS GLORIA PAX REQUIES PERPETUUSQVE DIES / CASTI PACIFICI MITES PIETATIS AMICI SIC STANT GAUDIENTES SECURI NIL METUENTES, "The company of saints stands happy before Christ the Judge. Thus joy is given in Heaven to the elect, to those who have conquered, [Together with] glory, peace, rest, and eternal day. Thus stand the chaste, the peaceful, the meek friends of piety, rejoicing, secure, fearing nothing. On the right the rhyming verse reads as follows: HOM[I]NES PERVERSI SIC SUNT IN TARTARA MERSI / PENIS INIUSTI CRUCIANTUR IN IGNIBUS USTI DEMONAS ATQUE TREMUNT PERPETUOQUE GEMUNT / FURES MENDACES FALSI CUPIDIQUE RAPACES SIC SUNT DAMPNATI CUNCTI SIMUL ET SCELERATI, "Perverse men are thus sent down to Hell. They are tortured, burned in flames. And they tremble at the demons and groan perpetually. Thieves, liars, deceivers, the greedy and rapacious, and criminals - all alike are damned in this way." The long band beneath the whole length of the relief reads as follows: O PECCATORES TRANSMVTETIS NISI MORES IVDICIVM DVRVM VOBIS SCITOTE FVTVRVM, "O Sinners, know that unless you change your ways there will be a hard judgment."
- 1308
- One of the greatest medieval Italian writers working in the vernacular was the poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). In about 1308, he began one of the greatest works of the literary imagination, the Divine Comedy. This poem records the travels of the Christian soul from Hell to Purgatory and finally to Salvation in three books—the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. It is by no means an easy journey. Dante, who is the leading character in his own poem, is led by the Roman poet Virgil, author of the Aeneid (see Chapter 3). (Virgil, too, visits the underworld in the sixth book of his poem.) Virgil cannot lead Dante into Heaven in the Paradiso, since he is a pagan who is barred from salvation. He is thus condemned to Limbo, the first level of Hell, a place of sorrow without torment, populated by virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptized children, and others unfit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Among those who inhabit the realm with Virgil are Caesar, Homer, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad. Virgil is, in fact, the model of human rationality, and in the Inferno, he and Dante study the varieties of human sin. Many of the characters who inhabit Dante's Hell are his contemporaries—the lovers Paolo and Francesca from Ravenna and Rimini, the usurer Reginaldo Scrovegni (patron of the chapel painted by Giotto; see Closer Look), and so on. Dante also makes much of the Guelph/Ghibelline rivalries in his native Florence. He was himself a Guelph, but so divided were the Guelphs among themselves—into factions called the Blacks and the Whites, papal versus imperial bankers—that his efforts to heal their schism as one of the Priori, one of the nine leaders of the Florentine commune, resulted in a two-year exile beginning in 1302. Embittered, he never returned to Florence. Dante's Inferno is composed of nine descending rings of sinners undergoing punishment, each more gruesome than the one before it. In the poem's first canto, the poet is lost in a Dark Wood of Error, where Virgil comes to his rescue, promising to lead him "forth to an eternal place." In Hell, the two first encounter sinners whose passion has condemned them to Hell—Paolo and Francesca, whose illicit love was motivated, they tell Dante, by reading Chrétien de Troyes' Lancelot. The lovers are forever condemned to unreconciled love, to touch each other but never consummate their feelings. In the next ring are the gluttonous, condemned to wallow like pigs in their own excrement. Sinners, in other words, are punished not for their sins but by their sins. Dante finds intellectual dishonesty more sinful than any sin of passion, and thus flatterers, hypocrites, and liars occupy the next lower rings of hell. The violent are further down, immersed for eternity in boiling blood. And finally, at the very bottom of the pit, imprisoned in ice "like straws in glass," are the traitors. Among the lowest of the low are Guelphs and Ghibellines from all over Tuscany who betrayed their cities' well-being. Finally, in Canto 34, Dante once again integrates the pagan and Christian worlds as Satan himself chews on the worst of all traitors—Judas (thought to have betrayed Jesus) and Brutus and Cassius (assassins of Julius Caesar). In the universe of the Divine Comedy, Virgil, as the embodiment of rationality, can take Dante no further than Hell and Purgatory, since in order to enter Paradise, faith must triumph over reason, something impossible for the pagan Roman. Dante's guide through Paradise is Beatrice, the love of his life. Beatrice was the daughter of the Florentine nobleman Folco Potinari, and Dante first saw her when she was nine years old and he was eight. He describes meeting her in his first major work, La Vita Nuova: "Love ruled my soul... and began to hold such sway over me... that it was necessary for me to do completely all his pleasure. He commanded me often that I should endeavor to see this youthful angel, and I saw her in such noble and praiseworthy deportment that truly of her might be said these words of the poet Homer— She appeared to be born not of mortal man but of God." Dante wrote these words in 1293. Ten years earlier, when she was 18, Beatrice had entered into a marriage, arranged when she was eight, with Simone di Bardi. It lasted only seven years, ending in her death at age 25. Dante's love for her was, then, the classic love of the courtier for his lady, marked by an unconsummated physical desire necessarily transformed into a spiritual longing that leads him, at the end of the Divine Comedy, to a comprehension of God's love as he contemplates "in a great flash of light" a vision so powerful that he can barely find words to express it.
- 1137
- Even as a pupil at the monastery school, Abbot Suger had dreamed of transforming the Abbey of Saint-Denis into the most beautiful church in France. The dream was partly inspired by his desire to lay claim to the larger territories surrounding the Île-de-France. Suger's design placed the royal domain at the center of French culture, defined by an architecture surpassing all others in beauty and grandeur. After careful planning, Suger began work on the Abbey in 1137, painting the walls, already almost 300 years old, with gold and precious colors. Then he added a new facade with twin towers and a triple portal. Around the back of the ambulatory he added a circular string of chapels, all lit with large stained-glass windows (Fig. 6.2), "by virtue of which," Suger wrote, "the whole would shine with the miraculous and uninterrupted light." This light proclaimed the new Gothic style. In preparing his plans, Suger had read what he believed to be the writings of the original Saint Denis. (We now know that he was reading the mystical tracts of a first-century Athenian follower of Saint Paul.) According to these writings, light is the physical and material manifestation of the Divine Spirit. Suger would later survey the accomplishments of his administration and explain his religious rationale for the beautification of Saint-Denis: Marvel not at the gold and the expense but at the craftsmanship of the work. Bright is the noble work; but being nobly bright, the work Should brighten the minds, so that they may travel, through the true lights, To the True Light where Christ is the true door. The church's beauty, therefore, was designed to elevate the soul to the realm of God. When Louis VII and Eleanor left France for the Second Crusade in 1147 (see Chapter 5), just three years after Suger's dedication of his choir, they also left the abbot without the funds necessary to finish his church. It was finally completed a century after he died in 1151. Much of its original sculptural and stained-glass decoration was destroyed in the late eighteenth century during the French Revolution. Although it was partially restored in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, only five of its original stained-glass windows remain, and we must turn to other churches modeled on its design to comprehend its full effect. Chief among these is the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Chartres, which, like the other Gothic cathedrals in both the Île-de-France and its surrounding territories, drew its inspiration from Paris.
- 1304
- Francesco Petrarca (1304-74), known as Petrarch (Fig. 6.24). Raised near Avignon, in France, where the papacy had established itself in 1309 and where it remained for most of Petrarch's life, Petrarch studied at Montpellier and Bologna and traveled throughout northern France, Germany, and Italy. He was always in search of manuscripts that preserved the priceless literary works of antiquity—copying those he could not pry loose from monastic libraries. It was Petrarch who rediscovered the forgotten works of the Roman orator and statesman Cicero, and his own private library consisted of over 200 Classical texts. He persuaded Boccaccio to bring the Greek scholar Leo Pilatus to Venice to teach them to read Greek. Boccaccio learned the language, but, put off by Pilatus' bad manners, Petrarch did not. Both, however, benefited from Pilatus' translation of Homer into Latin prose, as well as from his genealogy of the Greek gods. Perhaps Petrarch's greatest work was his book of over 300 poems, the Canzoniere (Songbook), inspired by his love for a woman named Laura, whom he first met in 1327 in Avignon, where he was working for an influential cardinal. She is generally believed to have been the 19-year-old wife of Hugues de Sade. Whether Petrarch ever revealed his love to Laura, or simply poured it into his verses, remains a matter of speculation. The majority of Petrarch's verses to Laura take the form of the Italian sonnet, known also as the Petrarchan sonnet because he perfected the form. The Petrarchan sonnet is composed of 14 lines divided into two parts: an octave of eight lines that presents a problem, and a sestet of six lines that either attempts to solve the problem or accepts it as unsolvable. The octave is further divided into two four-line quatrains. The first presents the problem and the second develops the idea. Many of Petrarch's verses to Laura were composed after her death from the bubonic plague in 1348, and it seems likely that her death motivated Petrarch to circulate them. His devastation is clear in these three lines from Sonnet 338: Earth, air, and sea should weep together, for the human lineage, once she's gone, becomes a meadow stripped of flowers, a gemless ring. More influential, however, were the pure love poems.
- 1400
- As the example of Eleanor of Aquitaine makes clear (see Chapter 5), women were beginning to play an increasingly active role in the courts of Europe. In 1404, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, commissioned Christine de Pizan (1364-ca. 1430) to write a biography of his deceased brother, titled The Book of the Deeds and Good Manners of the Wise King Charles V. Christine had been educated at the French court, apparently against her mother's wishes, by her father, a prominent Venetian physician, who had been appointed court astrologer to King Charles V. Her husband, secretary and notary to the king, further promoted her education. But when her father and husband died, she needed to support three children, a niece, and her mother. To do so she became the first female professional writer in European history. As she gradually established her reputation as a writer, she worked as a copyist and illustrator, and her first successes were books of poems and ballads. In 1402, she made her reputation by attacking as misogynistic and demeaning to women the popular thirteenth-century poem the Roman de la Rose (Romance of the Rose). Two years later, in her Book of the City of Ladies, she again attacked male misogyny by recounting the accomplishments of women throughout the ages in an allegorical debate between herself and Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude, and Lady Justice (Fig. 6.26). Her most immediate source was Boccaccio's Concerning Famous Women, but her treatment is completely different, treating only good women and freely mixing pagan and Christian examples. Her city's queen is the Virgin Mary herself, a figure whose importance confirms the centrality of women to Christianity. De Pizan then turns to God for guidance and is granted a dream vision in which the three allegorical ladies encourage her to build an Ideal City, peopled with a variety of women, from Sappho to her own name-saint, all of whom help her to redefine what it means to be female.
- 1285
- Florence, too, had its master painters of the Virgin. Even before Duccio became active in Siena, a painter known as Cimabue had produced a large-scale Virgin for the altarpiece of the Church of Santa Trinità in Florence (Fig. 6.21). Cimabue's Madonna Enthroned with Angels and Prophets solidified his position as the leading painter in Florence. Although its Byzantine roots are clear—following closely, for instance, a Byzantine hierarchy of figures, with the Madonna larger than the figures that surround her—the painting is remarkable on several fronts. First, it is enormous. Standing nearly 12 feet high, it seems to have begun a tradition of large-scale altarpieces, helping to affirm the altar as the focal point of the church. But most important are Cimabue's concern for spatial volume and his treatment of human figures with naturalistic expressions. The throne is especially interesting, creating as it does a spatial setting for the scene, and the angels seem to be standing on the architectural frame; the front two clearly are. If the Virgin and Child are stock Byzantine figures, the four prophets at the base of the throne are surprisingly individualized, suggesting the increasing prominence of the individual personality in the era, an especially important characteristic, as we will see later in the chapter, of the literature of the period. These remarkably individual likenesses also tell us that Italian artists were becoming more skillful in painting with tempera, which allowed them to portray the world in ever-increasing detail. Perhaps most interesting of all is the position of the Virgin's feet, the right one propped upon the throne in an almost casual position.
- 1436
- Brunelleschi's dome is the largest masonry dome ever built and it is the coverage of the Cathedral of Florence, Italy. Brunelleschi's dome, 45 meters wide, was originally a wooden dome built by Arnolfo di Cambio. To construct a dome over the presbytery mixed up many technical problems. Imagine the thriving city of Florence in the year 1296. Proud of their city, the Florentines began to build a glorious cathedral, designing it with space for a huge dome. But there was a problem: no one knew how to erect such a dome. They made a model which they kept in the half-built cathedral to show how the dome ought to be. If built, it would be the highest and widest vault raised - but how to make it remained a puzzle. brunelleschi's domeThe people of Florence had a touching faith that some day God would send a man who could solve the puzzle. Their faith was rewarded by a goldsmith and clockmaker called Filippo Brunelleschi who was born in 1377. The dome Brunelleschi designed and built still dominates Florence today, a miracle of design and engineering. Whether your stay in Florence is only a brief stop in the Piazzale Michelangelo to see the bronze copy of David and look across the river at the city, or whether you stay for years, the abiding memory will be the way the rhythm of the tiled rooftops culminates triumphantly in the great dome. The cathedral is seldom known by its name, Santa Maria del Fiore, but simply as the Duomo (the Dome) for locals or Brunelleschi's Dome worldwide. The difficulties faced by Brunelleschi in constructing the dome were enormous. The usual way to build an arch or dome was to support it with scaffolding called "centring" but the open space in the cathedral was 42m in width and the Florentines wanted a tall, soaring dome. All the timber in Tuscany would not have been sufficient to make the centring. Brunelleschi decided to build without scaffolding in such a way it supported itself as it progressed. Brunelleschi's solutions for the dome were ingenious, innovative and costly. But even today Brunelleschi's Dome is the tallest building in Florence, over 600 years after it was built. Brunelleschi's invention went everywhere. King tells how he set up a caffe high on the buildings so the workers would not have to return to the floor for lunch. Once up, the dome was recognized as a marvel of the age "vast enough to cover the entire Tuscan population with its shadow," as a younger contemporary of Brunelleschi's, Leon Battista Alberti noted.
- 1425
- Lorenzo Ghiberti's Renaissance Masterpiece provides an unprecedented opportunity to see three of the bronze doors' famous narrative reliefs of Old Testament subjects, as well as four additional sections from the doorframes, before they are permanently installed in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence. It also reveals important new findings made during their restoration, including insights into the fabrication process and the evolution of Ghiberti's imagery and techniques. Created in the mid-15th century and installed in the eastern portal of the Baptistery, the Gates of Paradise have been praised by generations of artists and art historians for their compelling portrayal of scenes from the Old Testament. Over time, the seventeen-foot-tall, three-ton bronze doors became an icon of Renaissance art and a touchstone of civic and religious life in Florence. This exhibition showcases three panels from the left door of the Gates of Paradise, which depict the stories of Adam and Eve, Jacob and Esau, and David and Goliath. The exhibition also includes figures and heads of prophets from the doorframe, and it explores the evolving nature of art in Florence and Siena during Ghiberti's career with works from the Art Institute's permanent collection. In 1425 Lorenzo Ghiberti was commissioned to design a second pair of bronze doors for Florence's Baptistery. He labored on the task for 27 years, fashioning a masterpiece that Michelangelo called "truly worthy to be the Gates of Paradise" for its remarkable beauty and grandeur. The panels offer viewers a coherent vision of Ghiberti's artistic genius and his innovative use of perspective. Originally the Gates of Paradise were to have 28 figural panels, as in the earlier sets of Baptistery doors, but this plan was scaled down to 10 panels, a decision probably influenced by Ghiberti's aesthetic judgment. The Adam and Eve Panel documents Ghiberti's earliest work on the doors and features a splendid depiction of nude figures in a landscape set off by angelic hosts. Ghiberti combined four major episodes from the story of Adam and Eve into this harmonious panel. The creation of Adam, illustrated in the foreground on the far left, shows Adam in a state of semiconsciousness, rising in response to God's life-giving touch. In the center, as angels look on, God forms Eve from one of Adam's ribs. The temptation of Adam and Eve by the serpent is shown in the background on the left, while the right side of the panel depicts the couple's expulsion from Eden. Subtle shifts in the scale of the figures reinforce discrete episodes in the story of the Creation. Ghiberti modulated the scale and degree of projection of the angels to visually separate the four scenes.
- 1440
- Perhaps Donatello's landmark work - and one of the greatest sculptural works of the early Renaissance - was his bronze statue of David. This work signals the return of the nude sculpture in the round figure, and because it was the first such work like this in over a thousand years, it is one of the most important works in the history of western art. The work was commissioned by Cosimo de'Medici for the Palazzo Medici, but we do not know when during the mid-fifteenth century Donatello cast it. It was originally placed on top of a pedestal in the center of the courtyard in the Palazzo Medici, so the viewer would be looking up at it from below (unlike the view we typically get of it in photographs). David is shown at a triumphal moment within the biblical storyline of his battle with the Philistine, Goliath. According to the account, after David struck Goliath with the stone from his slingshot, he cut off his head with Goliath's sword. Here, we see the aftermath of this event as David stands in a contemplative pose with one foot atop his enemy's severed head. David wears nothing but boots and a shepherd's hat with laurel leaves on top of it, which may allude to his victory or to his role as a poet and musician. Before Donatello's work, David was typically depicted as a king, given his status in the Old Testament. Here, however, we have a stark change in the way David is depicted. Not only is he shown in the nude, but he's also a youth. In Middle Ages, nudity was not used in art except in certain moral contexts, such as the depiction of Adam and Eve, or the sending of souls off to hell. In the classical world, nudity was often used in a different, majestic context, such as with figures who were gods, heroes, or athletes. Here, Donatello seems to be calling to mind the type of heroic nudity of antiquity, since David is depicted at triumphal point in the biblical narrative of his victory over Goliath. As for David's youthfulness, Donatello has gone back to the early life of the biblical David to depict him, rather than to his later life as a king. It seems that Donatello is trying to associate David's youth with an innocent and virtuous life. David looks young here - so young, in fact, that his muscles have barely developed enough to hold the large sword - that his victory over his foe is all the more improbable. Could David's victory have been gained without divine intervention? Donatello's work seems to imply that the answer is "no" - the victory was God's rather than man's. In any case, Donatello's David is a classic work of Renaissance sculpture, given its Judaeo-Christian subject matter modeled on a classical sculptural type. It was revolutionary for its day - so much so that it did not get copied right away. The idea of the life-sized nude sculpture-in-the-round evidently took some time to sink in and become an acceptable statue type.
- 1417
- Donatello's St. George Donatello, san giorgio 01.2 Donatello, St. George, c. 1410-1415, marble Donatello carved his statue of St. George for the guild of armorers and swordmakers in Florence. Like the statue of St. Mark, the statue of St. George was destined for the guild's niche in the building of Orsanmichele. Because the guild was of average size, it could only afford a statue of marble, rather than of bronze. St. George was the patron saint of the armorer's guild and was known as a military figure, one who was well-known in the Byzantine East, but who was also known by the Crusaders who battled Muslim forces in the Holy Land. A popular tale involving St. George defeating the dragon came to be known through the collection of stories called the Golden Legend (Legenda Aurea) in the late thirteenth century. In Donatello's work, St. George was carved with a confident posture. He stands tall with his shield in front of him that looks as if could rotate on its small base which touches the ground. This implies, at the very least, a sense of readiness on the part of the saint to quickly confront enemies coming from different directions. To enhance the look of the statue, the guild created special special adornments for it, which might have been put on display on special days of the year, such as the Feast of St. George. These adornments would have included a sword, held in his right hand, a helmet, and a belt. They would have given the statue a bold appearance of metal on marble, and the sword would have projected forward, out of the niche, creating a very visible statement to all walking down the street in front of Orsanmichele. Unlike the statue of St. Mark, the statue of St. George does not stand in contrapposto. Instead, both legs are clearly supporting the saint's weight, although the front of his left foot is not completely planted on the ground, but instead partially hangs off the front of the base. The purpose of the stance that Donatello gave to St. George was to suggest stability and immobility; he is not supposed to be interpreted as moving, but instead, as stable and unmoveable. This is a defensive posture. The reason for such a stance has been linked to political events surrounding Florence during the years leading up to the statue's creation. Although Florence was a free Republic during this time, it faced threats by other cities who were more powerful than itself. One of these cities was Milan, which had been led in 1402 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti to the doorstep of Florence. With the city surrounded and Florence on the verge of invasion, disease swept through the Milanese army, forcing it to withdraw. Around the year 1410, a different threat emerged from the south. An army from Naples, led by a tyrant, moved north and again Florence was in danger of being invaded. However, before the threat could turn into disaster for the Florentines, the Neapolitan tyrant was struck by a disease and died. Thus, Florence was spared again from being the conquest of a more powerful foe. Donatello's depiction of St. George seems to reflect the idea of standing tall against an approaching enemy. It was a spirit that must have been shared by Florentines of the day on account of contemporary events, and Donatello used it as the source for the disposition of his statue. The spirit of standing strong against one's enemies also seems to be reflected in the face of St. George. He turns his neck slightly to his left, his mouth is barely opened, and his pupils show a glance which is up and to his left, rather than directly in front of him. His expression is one of intense concentration, reflected in his wrinkled brow. This is a look of courage and resolve; this is a figure who will not back down. Thus, St. George's facial expression complements the posture of his body to create a memorable statement not only about this man in particular, but also about the Florentine spirit in general.
- 1400
- This Mary Magdalene was sculpted by Donatello. Artistically and materialistically, the sculpture departs from his smooth bronze and marble work. Mary stands over 6′ tall, made of wood and gesso. More than stone or marble, I believe the wood and gesso enabled Donatello to sculpt something staggering, unique and psychologically telling. The piece is a slight enigma to the art history world — we don't know exactly when it was made, for whom, and where it was originally placed. Mary's face is the most telling psychological part of the sculpture. Her lips are parted, as if she's caught in mid-action or sentence. Her hands aren't quite joined together, and she gazes outward with intensity. She seems to be completely, introspectively fixated on Christ; meditating with an awestruck expression at the things he did for her. It is evident from her facial features — her hallowed cheeks, missing teeth, sunken eyes, mangy hair — that her both her sinful life and her reformed life as an ascetic have each taken their toll on her soul, manifest through her physical appearance. This was a deliberate choice on Donatello's part. He could have easily created a seductress for his Magdalene, a strong and capable woman with long, flowing hair and unsurpassed beauty. But he didn't. Donatello sculpted Mary's appearance to tell a story of repentance and redemption. Her body bears witness to the physical deprivation she endured as an ascetic after her Lord ascended to heaven. She stands before the viewer as a penitent follower of Christ. Donatello, Mary Magdalene, 1430s? It is Mary's hair that tips the viewer off as to who exactly she is upon first viewing. Her hair, now tangled and ratty, covering her whole body, tips the viewer off: this Mary anointed Christ's feet with oil and tears, dried them with her hair, repented, and eventually became an ascetic. As told in the Gospels, Mary Magdalene once poured precious perfume on Christ's head and washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). (There is a dispute among scholars as to which of the many women Christ knew did this, but for our purposes, it is Mary Magdalene.) Mary Magdalene was, by tradition, a beautiful harlot who later became an ascetic. According to the Golden Legend, she left her sinful life to become an ascetic in the south of France because "Jesus wished to sustain her naught but with heavenly meats, allowing her no earthly satisfaction." Her past and present are wrapped up together in one image and her entire life is out in the open for the viewer to see. Donatello, Mary Magdalene, 1430s? In the moment that the viewer sees her, Mary appears to be caught up in a personal moment between her and Christ. She doesn't confront or invite the viewer directly with her gaze, but the openness of the form of the sculpture invites the viewer into her space. The viewer is taken into this moment of quiet and internal conversation, if not to pray with her, then to contemplate her story — and more importantly, perhaps, one's own spiritual life. Mary Magdalene is currently displayed in a circular enclosure that one can circumambulate. Whether or not that is how she was originally displayed, art historians don't know. However, this current display is important because the sculpture can be seen from every possible angle, and every angle of Mary's face yields new insight into her psyche and the psychological fervor of the moment . Her disheveled appearance and the tortured expression on her face are the result of not only the physical demands of her penance (life as an ascetic), but also the result of the memory she's reliving—the moment when Christ forgave her. She is caught in a moment of thankfulness, of receiving grace, and glimpsing hope. This moment is also expressed through her hair (which covers and clothes her whole body) because it serves as "a reminder of her former beauty and sensuality, an emblem of her honouring of Christ and of her repentance, and a symbol of her neglect of worldly things during her life as a hermit saint." - Bonnie A. Bennett
- 1482
- Botticelli's Primavera Sandro Botticelli, La Primavera, c. 1482, tempera on wood Sandro Botticelli, La Primavera, c. 1482, tempera on wood Sandro Botticelli was one of the most well-known of the Medici employees. He studied under Fra Filippo Lippi and had a technique which focused on line, and his forms were lightly shaded. While art historians consider Botticelli to have been an expert at using line, he was also adept at using color. The Primavera, the title of which means "Spring", is among the greatest works at the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The precise meaning of the painting is unknown, but it was probably created for the marriage of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco (a cousin of the powerful Lorenzo the Magnificent Medici) in May, 1482. The scene shows us a group of figures in an orange grove. One of the first things we should note is that little is used in terms of perspective; while some atmospheric perspective is visible through the trees to the right and to the left, we do not see the one-point linear perspective here which some of the early Renaissance masters had used so effectively in the fifteenth century. Also, note how most of the figures have limbs which are long and slender and appear rather elegant. Botticelli produced art at a time when there was a demand in the court of Florence for this type of work. While the exact meaning of the painting eludes us, we do know the identities of many of the figures who are shown in it. In the center is the Roman goddess, Venus. Her presence is a reflection of the humanist interest in the classical world which was popular in Florence at this time. She is depicted as an idealized woman, slightly off-center, with her head tilted and gesturing to her right. Above her is a blindfolded cupid (her son), and behind him the tree limbs form an arch which conveniently frame Venus and provide her with a privileged position in the painting. To the far left, Mercury, the god of the month of May, has a staff which he may be using to usher away the winter clouds. He is readily identifiable by his prominent winged sandals. To the right of Mercury is an important group called the Three Graces. These women, who appear to be involved in some type of dance, were modeled by Botticelli after an ancient depiction of the Three Graces. These figures are important because they represent the feminine virtues of Chastity, Beauty, Love, all of which point to romance and provide us with some context in terms of what is going on in the painting. The Roman writer Seneca refers to them as "pure and undefiled and holy in the eyes of all", and we can see the pearls on their heads which symbolize this type of purity. Their clothing is like lace, very light, and see-through, which demonstrates Botticelli's virtuosity in depicting such kinds of fabric. It is interesting to see that they are being targeted by Cupid's arrow, which reinforce the idea of marriage. On the right side, we see another group of figures which includes that of Zephyrus, the west wind, about to take a nymph named Chloris. After he succeeds in taking her for his own, they are married and Chloris transforms into Flora, the Spring goddess. Here, Flora is depicted throwing flowers that have been gathered in her dress. This is a means of symbolizing both springtime and fertility. Taking the scene as a whole, it is probably best understood in light of an allegorical meaning. The allusions to Spring and the month of May, the scene of a suitor's pursuit, the Three Graces - all of these point to the idea of a springtime marriage. The setting in an orange grove is also noteworthy, since the Medici had adopted the orange tree as its family symbol. The painting would have been placed in Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco's bedroom and his wife would have seen it for the first time after their wedding, so the idea of Cupid targeting the pure Three Graces with his arrow takes on a particular meaning in light of conjugal love. In any case, the painting is a testament to humanist interests in classical subject matter in the Renaissance, as well as the courtly desire for lavish themes and graceful figures.
- 1489
- By the time Botticelli painted the Annunciation, he had become a very accomplished and recognized painter of altarpieces. He may have been a more recognized painter of altarpieces than of his mythology works because the altarpieces were displayed in public places where a large number of people could view them. Annunciation was created for the funeral chapel in the church of Cestello in Florence. Bendedetto Guardi commissioned this work for the funeral chapel named after himself as part of the church renewal. The painting is telling the story of the angel Gabriel finding Mary and telling her that she will be the Virgin Mother of the Christ Child. Gabriel has clearly interrupted Mary reading form the book on the stand on the edge of the picture. Other than the book and stand, there are very few details in the picture that can be used for further interpretation. However, on the frame of the picture are inscriptions that can further enlighten the viewer. There are passages from the Bible where Gabriel is telling Mary about her situation and these tell the story that Botticelli wanted to portray. There is a planned lack of architectural detail in Boticelli's painting. This corresponds to the simplicity of the environment for the Cestello Church where the painting is to be displayed. A noteworthy feature in the Annunciation is the way that Botticelli used the space between Gabriel and Mary. The area between them on the floor and the area between their fingers that does not allow them to touch, is significant. That space is showing Gabriel and Mary not touching just as Mary conceived the Christ Child without any physical touch.
- 1503
- Mona Lisa, oil painting on a poplar wood panel by the Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer Leonardo da Vinci, probably the world's most-famous painting. It was painted sometime between 1503 and 1519, when Leonardo was living in Florence, and it now hangs in the Louvre, in Paris, where it remains an object of pilgrimage in the 21st century. The poplar panel shows evidence of warping and was stabilized in 1951 with the addition of an oak frame and in 1970 with four vertical braces. Dovetails also were added, to prevent the widening of a small crack visible near the centre of the upper edge of the painting. The sitter's mysterious smile and her unproven identity have made the painting a source of ongoing investigation and fascination. These signs of aging distract little from the painting's effect. In its exquisite synthesis of sitter and landscape, the Mona Lisa set the standard for all future portraits. The painting presents a woman in half-body portrait, which has as a backdrop a distant landscape. Yet this simple description of a seemingly standard composition gives little sense of Leonardo's achievement. The sensuous curves of the sitter's hair and clothing, created through sfumato (use of fine shading), are echoed in the shapes of the valleys and rivers behind her. The sense of overall harmony achieved in the painting—especially apparent in the sitter's faint smile—reflects Leonardo's idea of the cosmic link connecting humanity and nature, making this painting an enduring record of Leonardo's vision. BRITANNICA STORIES IN THE NEWS / GEOGRAPHY Largest Marine Reserve Created in Antarctica Emperor penguins in Antarctica. DEMYSTIFIED / SOCIETY How Does the Electoral College Work? United States Electoral Map SPOTLIGHT / SOCIETY Happy Halloween A scary old jack-o-lantern on black. Halloween pumpkin, trick or treat. Halloween holiday IN THE NEWS / HEALTH & MEDICINE Researchers Clear HIV "Patient Zero" Aids, HIV virus See All Stories There has been much speculation and debate regarding the identity of the portrait's sitter. Scholars and historians have posited numerous interpretations, including that she is Lisa del Giocondo (née Gherardini), the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo, hence the alternative title to the work, La Gioconda. That identity was first suggested in 1550 by artist biographer Giorgio Vasari. Another theory was that the model may have been Leonardo's mother, Caterina. That interpretation was put forth by, among others, Sigmund Freud, who seemed to think that the Mona Lisa's mysterious smile emerged from a—perhaps unconscious—memory of Caterina's smile. A third suggestion was that the painting was, in fact, Leonardo's self-portrait, given the resemblance between the sitter's and the artist's facial features. Some scholars suggested that disguising himself as a woman was the artist's riddle. The sitter's identity has not been conclusively proven. In an attempt to settle the debate, art and forensic experts in August 2013 opened the tomb of the Giocondo family in Florence in order to find Lisa del Giocondo's remains, test her DNA, and recreate an image of her face. Whatever the sitter's identity, the influence of the Mona Lisa on the Renaissance and later times has been enormous. The Mona Lisa revolutionized contemporary portrait painting. Leonardo's preliminary drawings encouraged other artists to make more and freer studies for their paintings and stimulated connoisseurs to collect those drawings. Through the drawings his Milanese works were made known to the Florentines. Also, his reputation and stature as an artist and thinker spread to his fellow artists and assured for them a freedom of action and thought similar to his own. One such painter was the young Raphael, who sketched Leonardo's work in progress and adopted the Mona Lisa format for his portraits; it served as a clear model for his Portrait of Maddalena Doni (c. 1506). The Mona Lisa demonstrates this aspect of his treatise perfectly in that La Giaconda is dressed in a coloured shift, loosely pleated at the neck, instead of the tight clothes that were then popular.
- 1495
- Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper is a Renaissance masterpiece, though it is one which has struggled to survive intact over the centuries. It was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza for the refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and in order to paint it Leonardo used an oil/tempera mix and applied it to a dry wall. He did this because he wanted to capture the look of an oil painting, but even within his lifetime it began to wear off. Further destruction was caused in the seventeenth century, when a door was cut into the bottom (obviously Leonardo's work was not esteemed at that time like it is today). In painting the Last Supper, Leonardo created the effect that the room in which Christ and the apostles are seen was an extension of the refectory. This is quite appropriate, since the Last Supper takes up the basic theme (eating) of the purpose of the refectory. The extension of space that we see here is similar to what we saw with Masaccio's Holy Trinity fresco, painted in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Leonardo is thus using some of the same pictorial devices used by his painter-predecessors earlier in the century. The scene shows us figures in a rectangular room with coffers on the ceiling and tapestries on either side of the room. The room terminates at three windows on end of wall and through the windows we can see into a beautiful landscape setting. We see how the landscape in the background terminates in a kind of misty, grayish horizon. This painterly device, in which the horizon's colors become more dull and colorless, is called aerial perspective and was used by Renaissance artists to create the illusion of depth in landscape scenes. As far as the composition is concerned, Christ is in center among the apostles, and his body forms a triangle-like shape which is not overlapped by any apostles. There are four sets of three apostles at the table beside Christ, and these numbers may have been important for Leonardo for symbolic reasons (for example, there are four Gospels in the Bible, and three is the number of the Trinity). We can easily see Leonardo's use of one-point linear perspective, in which the vanishing point is at Christ's head (the orthogonals can be seen by following the tops of the wall tapestries or the coffers to where they intersect at Christ), which his also framed by the pediment above and back-lit by the open window behind. Thus, Leonardo was keeping up with the innovative artistic techniques developed early in the Quattrocento. In addition to Christ being the center of the composition, he is also the center of psychology here. The scene we are viewing comes from the Gospel accounts on the night before Christ's Passion and Death when Christ and the apostles are together in a room for supper. More exactly, we are witnessing them at a point in the narrative after which Christ has made a great revelation to the apostles: one of them will betray Christ ("One of you is about to betray me", Matthew 26:21 ). He is, of course, referring to Judas, but at this point there is commotion as all the apostles question who the betrayer really is. Although the Last Supper had been depicted in art many times before, this particular moment in the story is one which had not been depicted. This dramatic moment opens a door for Leonardo to explore the psychological reactions of the figures involved. We can see this in the various apostles, who are linked by their hand movements. Emotions range from protest (Philip, #8) to sadness (John, next to Christ) to acceptance (Christ). Judas, however, is shadowed, so that we only see part of his face while he clutches the money bag containing silver pieces. Judas was normally arranged across the table from the other apostles in Last Supper depictions, but here he is depicted in the same grouping as John and Peter. All of these figures would go on to play prominent roles in the Passion of Christ (Judas in the betrayal, Peter with his denials, and John who remains with Christ at the cross). Leonardo's Last Supper is a type of painting which builds on the early Renaissance painting traditions in areas such as composition and perspective. Yet, it is innovative in terms of its study of emotional reactions and psychological states, all captured in a type of naturalism which was unknown in Italian painting in the previous century. It is thus with Leonardo that we see the beginning of the climactic years of the Renaissance when virtuosity was at its peak, when original ways of depicting figures or scenes came full force, and when the course of European art began to change as we know it. This was the beginning of the High Renaissance.
- 1498
- Michelangelo carved a number of works in Florence during his time with the Medici, but in the 1490s he left Florence and briefly went to Venice, Bologna, and then to Rome, where he lived from 1496-1501. In 1497, a cardinal named Jean de Billheres commissioned Michelangelo to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at Old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The resulting work - the Pieta - would be so successful that it helped launch Michelangelo's career unlike any previous work he had done. Michelangelo claimed that the block of Carrara marble he used to work on this was the most "perfect" block he ever used, and he would go on to polish and refine this work more than any other statue he created. The scene of the Pieta shows the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ after his crucifixion, death, and removal from the cross, but before he was placed in the tomb. This is one of the key events from the life of the Virgin, known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which were the subject of Catholic devotional prayers. The subject matter was one which would have probably been known by many people, but in the late fifteenth century it was depicted in artworks more commonly in France and Germany than in Italy. This was a special work of art even in the Renaissance because at the time, multi-figured sculptures were rare. These two figures are carved so as to appear in a unified composition which forms the shape of a pyramid, something that other Renaissance artists (e.g. Leonardo) also favored. An examination of each figure reveals that their proportions are not entirely natural in relation to the other. Although their heads are proportional, the Virgin's body is larger than Christ's body. She appears so large that if she stood up, she would likely tower over her son. The reason Michelangelo did this was probably because it was necessary so that the Virgin could support her son on her lap; had her body been smaller, it might have been very difficult or awkward for her to have held an adult male as gracefully as she does. To assist in this matter, Michelangelo has amassed the garments on her lap into a sea of folded drapery to make her look larger. While this drapery serves this practical purpose, it also allowed Michelangelo to display his virtuosity and superb technique when using a drill to cut deeply into the marble. After his work on the marble was complete, the marble looked less like stone and more like actual cloth because of its multiplicity of natural-looking folds, curves, and deep recesses. In her utter sadness and devastation, she seems resigned to what has happened, and becomes enveloped in graceful acceptance. Michelangelo's talent in carving drapery is matched by his handling of the human forms in the Christ and the Virgin, both of whom retain a sweet tenderness despite the very tragic nature of this scene. This is, of course, the moment when the Virgin is confronted with the reality of the death of her son. In her utter sadness and devastation, she seems resigned to what has happened, and becomes enveloped in graceful acceptance. Christ, too, is depicted almost as if he is in a peaceful slumber, and not one who has been bloodied and bruised after hours of torture and suffering. In supporting Christ, the Virgin's right hand does not come into direct contact with his flesh, but instead it is covered with a cloth which then touches Christ's side. This signifies the sacredness of Christ's body. Overall, these two figures are beautiful and idealized, despite their suffering. This reflects the High Renaissance belief in Neo-Platonic ideals in that beauty on earth reflected God's beauty, so these beautiful figures were echoing the beauty of the divine. Around the time the work was finished, there was a complaint against Michelangelo because of the way he depicted the Virgin. She appears rather young - so young, in fact, that she could scarcely be the mother of a thirty-three-year-old son. Michelangelo's answer to this criticism was simply that women who are chaste retain their beauty longer, which meant that the Virgin would not have aged like other women usually do. Another noteworthy incident after the carving was complete involves the inscription on the diagonal band running over the Virgin's torso. This was the only work of Michelangelo to which he signed his name. The Pieta became famous right after it was carved. Other artists started looking at it because of its greatness, and Michelangelo's fame spread. Since the artist lived another six decades after carving the Pieta, he witnessed the reception of the work by generations of artists and patrons through much of the sixteenth century. In more modern times, the Pieta has experienced some colorful events. In 1964, it was lent to the New York World's Fair; afterwards, Pope Paul VI said it wouldn't be lent out again and would remain at the Vatican. In 1972, a Hungarian-born man (later found to be mentally disturbed) rushed the statue with a hammer and started hitting it, including the left arm of the Virgin, which came off, and her head, breaking her nose and some of her left eye. Today, you can visit the statue in New St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
- 1501
- This astonishing Renaissance sculpture was created between 1501 and 1504. It is a 14.0 ft marble statue depicting the Biblical hero David, represented as a standing male nude. Originally commissioned by the Opera del Duomo for the Cathedral of Florence, it was meant to be one of a series of large statues to be positioned in the niches of the cathedral's tribunes, way up at about 80mt from the ground. Michelangelo was asked by the consuls of the Board to complete an unfinished project begun in 1464 by Agostino di Duccio and later carried on by Antonio Rossellino in 1475. Both sculptors had in the end rejected an enormous block of marble due to the presence of too many "taroli", or imperfections, which may have threatened the stability of such a huge statue. This block of marble of exceptional dimensions remained therefore neglected for 25 years, lying within the courtyard of the Opera del Duomo (Vestry Board). Michelangelo was only 26 years old in 1501, but he was already the most famous and best paid artist in his days. He accepted the challenge with enthusiasm to sculpt a large scale David and worked constantly for over two years to create one of his most breathtaking masterpieces of gleaming white marble. The Vestry Board had established the religious subject for the statue, but nobody expected such a revolutionary interpretation of the biblical hero. The account of the battle between David and Goliath is told in Book 1 Samuel. Saul and the Israelites are facing the Philistines near the Valley of Elah. Twice a day for 40 days, Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, comes out between the lines and challenges the Israelites to send out a champion of their own to decide the outcome in single combat. Only David, a young shepherd, accepts the challenge. Saul reluctantly agrees and offers his armor, which David declines since it is too large, taking only his sling and five stones from a brook. David and Goliath thus confront each other, Goliath with his armor and shield, David armed only with his rock, his sling, his faith in God and his courage. David hurls a stone from his sling with all his might and hits Goliath in the center of his forehead: Goliath falls on his face to the ground, and David then cuts off his head. Traditionally, David had been portrayed after his victory, triumphant over the slain Goliath. Florentine artists like Verrocchio, Ghiberti and Donatello all depicted their own version of David standing over Goliath's severed head. Michelangelo instead, for the first time ever, chooses to depict David before the battle. David is tense: Michelangelo catches him at the apex of his concentration. He stands relaxed, but alert, resting on a classical pose known as contrapposto. The figure stands with one leg holding its full weight and the other leg forward, causing the figure's hips and shoulders to rest at opposing angles, giving a slight s-curve to the entire torso. David is one of Michelangelo's most-recognizable works, and has become one of the most recognizable statues in the entire world of art. Standing 13'5″ tall, the double life-sized David is depicted patiently waiting for battle, prepped with slingshot in one hand and stone in the other. The twentysomething-Michelangelo carved the David after he had already carved the Pieta in Rome in the late 1490s and returned to Florence in 1501. Knowledge of his talent as a sculptor, therefore, was growing, and his career was accelerating when he was commissioned to carve the biblical David for the outside of the Florence Cathedral. Because the statue was intended to be placed in a high location on the church, it had to be large enough to be seen from below. Today, it resides not outside the cathedral, but inside the comfortable confines of the Accademia Museum in Florence. The marble block used by Michelangelo was originally excavated for a statue to be carved by another sculptor in 1464, but the block was not fully carved. When Michelangelo received his commission in 1501, he was presented with the challenge of using the block which had already been worked upon to some degree. He had to work with what he was given, and in this case it meant that the figure he carved would not project outward beyond the preset block of marble. The David we are presented with here is a nude man with a very muscular physique. His veins are visible in his arms and hands as he clutches the stones with one hand and the slingshot in the other. His hands and his head appear to be disproportionally large for his body, possibly because they were deemed more visually important for viewers who would see the statue high up on the exterior of the cathedral. Also, his left leg, which straddles the rocky base upon which he stands, appears a big too long for his body. It accentuates the line of this leg as it forms an essential component in David's contrapposto stance. Like the ancient Hellenistic and Roman sculptures who were masters at convincingly depicting the human anatomy, Michelangelo has depicted David so that his body responds to the stance he is in. David's weight has been placed on his right leg while his left leg is at rest. Because of this, his hips have shifted with one side being higher than the other. In turn, this has caused David's spine and midsection to curve slightly, and his right shoulder drops slightly below his left one.
- 1506
- The Laocoon statue was discovered in January 1506 buried in the ground of a Rome vineyard owned by Felice de' Fredis. One of the first experts to attend the excavation site was Michelangelo (1475-1564), the famous Renaissance sculptor. Pope Julius II, a lover of Greek art, ordered the work to be brought immediately to the Vatican, where it was installed in the Belvedere Court Garden. Not surprisingly, given Pliny's comment that it was "superior to all works in painting and bronze", the Laocoon statue had a significant impact on Italian Renaissance art in general and Renaissance sculptors, in particular. In fact, the Laocoon rapidly became one of the most studied, revered and copied works of ancient art ever put on display. Other famous treasures in the Vatican Museums, like Leochares's Belvedere Apollo (c.330 BCE) and Apollonius's heroic Belvedere Torso (1st/2nd Century BCE) were outshone by comparison. Since its discovery in 1506, many copies have been made of the Laocoon, including a bronze version by Baccio Bandinelli (1493-1560), now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and a bronze casting, made by Francesco Primaticcio (1504-1570) for the French King Francis I, now at the Louvre in Paris. Other copies can be seen in the Grand Palace of the Knights of Saint John in Rhodes, and at the Archeological Museum of Odessa. As a result of its enduring fame, the Laocoon statue was removed from the Vatican by Napoleon, in 1799, taken to Paris where it was installed in the Louvre as an exemplar of Neoclassical art. It was returned to the Vatican in 1816, by the British authorities in Paris, following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. In 1957, sculptural fragments belonging to four marble groups portraying scenes from Homer's epic poem the Odyssey (8th/9th century BCE) were unearthed at Sperlonga, Naples. The site of the discovery was an ancient banquet hall formerly used by the Roman Emperor Tiberius (ruled 14-37 CE). One of the fragments, a bust of Odysseus, is stylistically very similar to Laocoon and His Sons, while the names Hagesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus were inscribed on another fragment. In 1906, Laocoon's right arm (missing from the original find in 1506) had been discovered by chance in a builder's yard in Rome by the archeologist Ludwig Pollak, director of the Museo Barracco. Believing it might be the lost arm in question, Pollak donated it to the Vatican Museum, where it remained for over fifty years. Then in 1960 museum experts verified that the arm belonged to the Laocoon. Accordingly, the statue was reassembled with the new arm attached.
- 1508
- The most famous section of the Sistine Chapel ceiling is Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. This scene is located next to the Creation of Eve, which is the panel at the center of the room, and the Congregation of the Waters, which is closer to the altar. The Creation of Adam differs from typical Creation scenes painted up until that time. Here, two figures dominate the scene: God on the right, and Adam on the left. God is shown inside a floating nebulous form made up of drapery and other figures. The form is supported on angels who fly without wings, but whose flight is made clear by the drapery which whips out from underneath them. God is depicted as an elderly, yet muscular, man with grey hair and a long beard which react to the forward movement of flight. This is a far cry from imperial images of God that had otherwise been created in the West dating back to the time of late antiquity. Rather than wearing royal garments and depicted as an all-powerful ruler, he wears only a light tunic which leaves much of his arms and legs exposed. One might say this is a much more intimate portrait of God because he is shown in a state that is not untouchable and remote from Man, but one which is accessible to him. Unlike the figure of God, who is outstretched and aloft, Adam is depicted as a lounging figure who rather lackadaisically responds to God's imminent touch. This touch will not only give life to Adam, but will give life to all mankind. It is, therefore, the birth of the human race. Adam's body forms a concave shape which echoes the form of God's body, which is in a convex posture inside the nebulous, floating form. This correspondence of one form to the other seems to underscore the larger idea of Man corresponding to God; that is, it seems to reflect the idea that Man has been created in the image and likeness of God - an idea with which Michelangelo had to have been familiar. One of the questions that has been raised about this scene is the identity of the figures next to God. Given her privileged placement under the arm of God, the female figure is presumably an important one. Traditionally, she has been thought to be Eve, the future wife of Adam, who waits to the side until she is created out of Adam's rib. More recently, however, a theory has been floated that this is actually the Virgin Mary, who takes this place of honor next to God and the child next to her, who would therefore be the Christ Child. This view is supported by the placement of God's fingers on the child - the same fingers that the priest would use to raise the Eucharist during the Mass. Since Catholic theology holds that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, this theological understanding would be embodied in this painting. If this latter interpretation is correct, the Creation of Adam would be intrinsically linked to the future coming of Christ, who comes to reconcile man after the sin of Adam. In all, the painting shows several hallmarks of Michelangelo's painting style: the lounging position of both Adam and God, the use of bodies which are both muscular and twisting, and the painting of figures who come across as works of sculpture. It is good to remember that Michelangelo was, after all, a sculptor. Painting was not his primary area. The Creation of Adam is one of the great jewels of Western art, though it and the rest of the Sistine Chapel ceiling suffered the ill effects of centuries of smoke that had caused the ceiling to darken considerably. It was not until 1977 that the cleaning of the ceiling was begun. The result of the cleaning was astonishing after its completion in 1989; what was once dark and drab became vivid. The change from pre-cleaning to post-cleaning was so great that some initially refused to believe that this is the way Michelangelo actually painted. Today, we have a much better understanding of Michelangelo's palette and the world he painted, beautifully captured across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
- 1541
- The Last Judgement by Michelangelo covers the wall behind the alter in the Sistine Chapel. The work depicts the second coming of Christ and, although the artist is clearly inspired by the Bible, it is his own imaginative vision that prevails in this painting. The picture radiates out from the center figure of Christ, and Michelangelo has chosen to depict the various saints included in the work holding the instruments of their martyrdom rather than the actual scenes of torture. When executing his "Last Judgement" it would seem that Michelangelo had been given artistic licence to paint scenes, not only from the Bible, but also from mythology. This shows great faith in the artist by his patron, Pope Paul III. Unfortunately it was decided that works of art in sacred places had to be modest and a pupil of Michelangelo, Daniele da Volterra, was commissioned to cover the figures nakedness with loincloths and veils. Originally all the figures were naked but da Volterra's intervention earned him the nickname of the maker of breeches. Other over painting was added in the next two centuries and for the same reason. The Last Judgement is perhaps Michelangelo's most complex work of art. It lies on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel and took Michelangelo over four years to complete. The well-known ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo in his younger years, between 1508 and 1512. The last judgement was done at a much later date: work started in 1536 and finished in 1541. On May 18, 1536, Michelangelo Buonarroti began purchasing the paint he needed for his evocation of The Last Judgment. In the sense that it represents the final seconds of all earthly existence, The Last Judgment could be said to be the weightiest of all subjects in art. It is certainly not a subject to be attempted by novices. The assembled cast must represent everybody who has ever lived, the good, the bad, the famous and the obscure; the decision being taken by God must clearly be the most momentous of all decisions ever taken; the painter must convincingly imagine hell for those who receive the thumbs-down on God's final judgment; at the same time he must convincingly imagine heaven for those who are saved; then he must combine both in one composition; the sky must be filled with angels, some of whom are blowing trumpets to awaken the dead; the dead themselves must, of course, look alive, for they have been brought back to hear the final verdict; two large sections of crowd must be differentiated and orchestrated, those to be damned and those to be saved; with this much flying, pulling, struggling upwards, gazing downwards, to be painted, the foreshortening problems alone are momentous. Thus you have the busiest crowd painting imaginable representing the simplest of decisions: yes or no. Small wonder that so few have succeeded in turning this recipe for painterly chaos into a convincing and coherent work of art. Of course, painting the Sistine chapel was arduous, time-consuming and problematic. But it was also obviously engrossing, endlessly opportune and, sometimes, sheer fun. Among the colours Michelangelo began purchasing in the spring of 1536 was one which was only found in Afghanistan, ultramarine, a precious blue made of crushed lapis lazuli, the most expensive of all the Renaissance colours, more expensive than gold, usually reserved for the Virgin's cloak, or flashes of heavenly sky in paintings by Titian. As the restoration of The Last Judgment reveals, Michelangelo was probably the only painter ever to use ultramarine with true promiscuity and abandon; the Pope was paying. What we now see at the east wall of the Sistine chapel is an artist taking a precious material and splashing it about as if it were house paint. The result is an impressive acreage of blue sky that glows thrillingly, and effortlessly effects the difficult transition from real to divine space.
- 1535
- Madonna with the Long Neck is typical of Parmigianino's later work, which was defined by unusual spatial compositions and elongated figures. The painting is also known as Madonna and Child with Angels and St Jerome but earned the name Madonna with the Long Neck because of the curious length of the Madonna's swan-like neck. This painting is one of Parmigianino's more controversial works and has been analyzed by many critics. It shows the Madonna, seated on a high pedestal and clothed in beautiful robes, holding the baby Jesus on her lap. To the left of the picture are four angels crowded around the Madonna, looking admiringly on Christ. On the right are a row of marble columns and the disproportionally small figure of St. Jerome. It was necessary for the painting to include the image of St Jerome because of the saint's connections with the worship of the Virgin Mary. The subject of this piece is derived from medieval hymns which compared the Virgin's neck to a great ivory tower or column. Therefore the exaggerated length of the Virgin's limbs and those of her son and the presence of columns in the background of the painting, are symbolic of the painting's religious value. The commission: Originally, this painting was commissioned by the noblewoman Elena Baiardi for her family chapel in the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Parma. This was the principle work of Parmigianino's last period and he worked on it for six years but it was never completed because of the artist's death in 1540. Madonna with the Long Neck Analysis Madonna with the Long Neck Madonna with the Long Neck Parmigianino Madonna with the Long Neck Madonna with the Long Neck Parmigianino Madonna with the Long Neck Madonna with the Long Neck Parmigianino Composition: Unlike the calm and peaceful Madonnas that Raphael painted, Parmigianino's painting gives more of a sense of abandon and movement. The Madonna's posture is relaxed, open and perhaps just a little carefree. Parmigianino studied and admired the grace and poise in Raphael's art, but he has remodeled the figures from the old master's work and turned them into almost unearthly creatures: their limbs, ivory marble skin, blithe attitude, all portray a different idea of ideal beauty. The Madonna and Angels: The Madonna does not have normal human proportions; her neck, shoulders and fingers have all been elongated to make her appear more elegant and graceful. Her hair is also elaborately curled and decorated with pearls to frame her beautiful face and complexion. The robes she is wearing are luxurious and flowing. Parmigianino has stretched and lengthened bodily parts in the painting in a strange and impulsive way. The Angel's leg in the foreground is glossy and suggestive, whilst the prophet, holding up his scroll, looks emancipated and gaunt. The lavish, inviting image of the Madonna, combined with crowd of Angels in various states of undress has led some critics to believe that Parmigianino was trying to eroticize the scene. An oversized Christ child is splayed across the Madonna's lap. The way his arm is hanging freely down is also a pose suggestive of death, adding to the sense of ambiguity surrounding the painting. Spatial distances: Instead of giving a sense of equilibrium and balance to his arrangement, Parmigianino has chosen to pack all the angels claustrophobically to the left of the Madonna. Yet, the space to the right of her is open, except for the tall figure of St Jerome who has been so reduced in size he only just about reaches the Madonna's knee. The viewer's eye is forced to restlessly move around the painting in order to take in the disproportions of the tiny St Jerome to the overbearingly large figure of the Madonna. Even the architecture surrounding the Madonna looks to be out of proportion, with the strange sized column which looks to have no base or supporting structures behind it.
- 1547
- Whether in Rome or Florence, Michelangelo had a strong influence on sculptors of the 16th century. Vincenzo Danti followed closely in Michelangelo's footsteps. His bronze "Julius III" of 1553-56 in Perugia is derived from Michelangelo's lost bronze statue of Julius II for Bologna. Many of his figures in marble are only free variations on themes by Michelangelo. In much the same way, Baccio Bandinelli attempted to rival the monumentality of Michelangelo's "David" and the complexity of his "Victory" in the statue of "Hercules and Cacus" (1534), which was placed as a companion to the "David" in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Bartolommeo Ammannati should be best known for his design of the bridge of Sta. Trinità in Florence, but his most visible work is the Neptune Fountain (1560-75) in the Piazza della Signoria, with its gigantic figure of Neptune turned toward the "David" in presumptuous rivalry. The Deposition (also called the Florence Pietà, the Bandini Pietà or The Lamentation over the Dead Christ) is a marble sculpture by the Italian High Renaissance master Michelangelo. The sculpture, on which Michelangelo worked between 1547 and 1555, depicts four figures: the dead body of Jesus Christ, newly taken down from the Cross, Nicodemus (or possibly Joseph of Arimathea), Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. The sculpture is housed in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence. According to Vasari, Michelangelo made the Florence Pietà to decorate his tomb in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.[citation needed] Vasari noted that Michelangelo began to work on the sculpture around the age of 72. Without commission, Michelangelo worked tirelessly into the night with just a single candle to illuminate his work. Vasari wrote that he began to work on this piece to amuse his mind and to keep his body healthy.[1] After 8 years of working on the piece, Michelangelo would go on and attempt to destroy the work in a fit of frustration. This marked the end of Michelangelo's work on the piece and from there the piece found itself in the hands of Francesco Bandini, who hired an apprentice sculptor, by the name of Tiberius Calcagni,.to restore the work to its current composition.[2] Since its inception, the piece has been plagued by ambiguities and never ending interpretations, with no straightforward answers available. The face of Nicodemus under the hood is considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself.
- 1623
- When he tackled his David in 1623-224, Bernini knew that he was risking comparison with works in a sculptural tradition that included the great names of the artistic culture of the Italian Renaissance, from Donatello to Verrocchio and Michelangelo. He subverted the traditional way of representing David. Instead of depicting the static figure after killing Goliath (as had Donatello and Verrocchio) or the measured strain of the act itself (as had Michelangelo), Bernini once again countered with the dynamic charge of the spiral. It is well known that he took his inspiration from the so-called Borghese Gladiator, now in the Louvre but at the time one of the prize pieces in Cardinal Borghese's collection. From the Gladiator derive the feet planted widely apart and the twisting torso. In comparison to the earlier celebrated David sculptures, Bernini paid particular attention to the biblical text and sought to follow it as closely as possible. Unlike the earlier sculptures, Bernini's hero has a shepherd's pouch around his neck which already contains pebbles ready to use in the deadly sling which he will use against Goliath. The upper part of David's body is represented immediately after has taken a stone from his pouch. This means that the torso twists and strains not just physically but psychologically. The hero is depicted when, having taken the stone from his pouch, he twists his body in the opposite direction, tensioning it spring-like, then stops to think for a spilt second before releasing the stone that will slay Goliath. All the strain that has been built up shows in David's face, a self-portrait that was executed with Cardinal Borghese's assistance, for he volunteered to hold a mirror up to enable the twenty-five-year-old Bernini to complete his work.
- 1622
- This sculpture was commissioned by Cardinal Borghese of the Catholic Church and is still located in the Galleria Borghese—the room for which it was commissioned—in Rome, Italy. It depicts the Roman mythological story of the abduction and subsequent rape of Proserpina by the god, Pluto. This depiction captures the scene at the climax of the moment; Pluto is lifting Proserpina into the air, and she is visibly fighting back. This snapshot in time contains a considerable amount of life-like detail. These details, like the expression of fear on Proserpina's face or the sense of overwhelming force created by the muscular form of Pluto, inform the viewer and tell an entire story with a single moment in time. This dynamic representation, a trait developed by the Baroque masters,7 creates a vivid and believable representation of this myth. The contorted, serpentine configurations of the figures' bodies expand upon this dynamism; they invite the viewer to move around the sculpture, view it from every side, and become a part of the dynamic story. By forcing the audience to actively view the piece, Bernini ensures that the viewer's experience of the sculpture is expanded and dynamic in its own right. The intricate, lifelike details with which Bernini imbued the sculpture further this story and give it an emotional depth that connects with the viewer. The way Proserpina's hand presses into and distorts Pluto's face, and the impression that Pluto's hand makes in Proserpina's leg, serve to tell the story. These details inform us of the unwanted advances, as well as the sexual nature of the scene. The fact that the bodies are partially clothed, their genitalia hidden, only adds to the sensuality of this moment. The story is told through a corporeal representation that reaches to the core passions of every human being. The emphasis on the visceral is a common expository technique in Baroque sculpture.7 While this event is not from Christian beliefs, it still carries with it the same ideals that permeated this time period. The emphasis on the sensuous, bodily experiences, as portrayed through the dynamic poses and the detailed contact between the figures, is characteristic of Counter-Reformation and Baroque thought.
- 1562
- Missa Papae Marcelli, or Pope Marcellus Mass, is a mass by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It is his most well-known and most often-performed mass[citation needed], and is frequently taught in university courses on music[citation needed]. It was sung at the Papal Coronation Masses (the last being the coronation of Paul VI in 1963). The mass was composed in honor of Pope Marcellus II, who reigned for three weeks in 1555. Recent scholarship suggests the most likely date of composition is 1562, when it was copied into a manuscript at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.[2] The third and closing sessions of the Council of Trent were held in 1562-63, at which the use of polyphonic music in the Catholic Church was discussed. Concerns were raised over two problems: first, the use of music that was objectionable, such as secular songs provided with religious lyrics (contrafacta) or masses based on songs with lyrics about drinking or lovemaking; and second, whether imitation in polyphonic music obscured the words of the mass, interfering with the listener's devotion. Some debate occurred over whether polyphony should be banned outright in worship, and some of the auxiliary publications by attendants of the Council caution against both of these problems. However, none of the official proclamations from the Council mentions polyphonic music, excepting one injunction against the use of music that is, in the words of the Council, "lascivious or impure".[4] Starting in the late 16th century, a legend began that the second of these points, the threat that polyphony might have been banned by the Council because of the unintelligibility of the words, was the impetus behind Palestrina's composition of this mass. It was believed that the simple, declamatory style of Missa Papae Marcelli convinced Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, on hearing, that polyphony could be intelligible, and that music such as Palestrina's was all too beautiful to ban from the Church. An entry in the papal chapel diaries confirms that a meeting such as the one described by Baini occurred, but no mention is made of whether the Missa Papae Marcelli was performed there or what the reaction of the audience was.[2] This legend persisted into the 20th century; Hans Pfitzner's opera Palestrina is based upon this understanding of the deliberations of the Tridentine officials. While Palestrina sympathized with many of the Council's decisions, and, like Vincenzo Ruffo, sought deliberately to compose in a simplified, easily understood style to please church officials, there is no evidence to support either the view that the Council sought to banish polyphony entirely or that Palestrina's mass was the deciding factor in changing their minds. In the latter part of the 20th century, the Missa Papae Marcelli has been recorded frequently, and is often used as a model for the study of stile antico Renaissance polyphony in university courses on music. Missa Papae Marcelli does not (as far as is known) make use of any pre-existing theme. The motif of a rising perfect fourth and stepwise return (illustrated) is used extensively throughout this mass.[1] It is similar in profile to the opening of the French secular song "L'homme armé", which provided the theme for many Renaissance masses. But this is probably a coincidence, as themes with this profile were common in the 16th century, and Palestrina himself used them in several other masses.[5] The Kyrie consists of imitative polyphony in Palestrina's earlier style, based on the main motif. It is in the middle movements that Palestrina applies the simpler style needed after the Council of Trent. Richard Taruskin describes the Credo as "a strategically planned series of cadential 'cells' ... each expressed through a fragment of text declaimed homorhythmically by a portion of the choir ... and rounded off by a beautifully crafted cadence". The words are clearly distinguishable, since melodic decoration is confined to the longest syllables. A different selection of voices is used for each such phrase.[1] The Sanctus begins with very short phrases cadencing on C. Longer phrases then cadence on F, D and G before the music returns to C with conclusive effect. This was a new technique, using "tonal planning" to replace imitation as the means to keep the music moving forward.[1] The Agnus Dei returns to the imitative polyphony of the Kyrie (the opening of Agnus Dei I repeats that of the Kyrie). As was frequently done in the 16th century, Palestrina adds an extra voice in Agnus Dei II, making seven for this movement, in which is embedded a three-part canon that begins with the head-motive.
- 1517
- Born in Eisleben, Germany, in 1483, Martin Luther went on to become one of Western history's most significant figures. Luther spent his early years in relative anonymity as a monk and scholar. But in 1517 Luther penned a document attacking the Catholic Church's corrupt practice of selling "indulgences" to absolve sin. His "95 Theses," which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation. Although these ideas had been advanced before, Martin Luther codified them at a moment in history ripe for religious reformation. The Catholic Church was ever after divided, and the Protestantism that soon emerged was shaped by Luther's ideas. His writings changed the course of religious and cultural history in the West. But Hans Luther had other plans for young Martin—he wanted him to become a lawyer—so he withdrew him from the school in Magdeburg and sent him to new school in Eisenach. Then, in 1501, Luther enrolled at the University of Erfurt, the premiere university in Germany at the time. There, he studied the typical curriculum of the day: arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and philosophy and he attained a Master's degree from the school in 1505. In July of that year, Luther got caught in a violent thunderstorm, in which a bolt of lightning nearly struck him down. He considered the incident a sign from God and vowed to become a monk if he survived the storm. The storm subsided, Luther emerged unscathed and, true to his promise, Luther turned his back on his study of the law days later on July 17, 1505. Instead, he entered an Augustinian monastery. Luther began to live the spartan and rigorous life of a monk but did not abandon his studies. Between 1507 and 1510, Luther studied at the University of Erfurt and at a university in Wittenberg. In 1510-1511, he took a break from his education to serve as a representative in Rome for the German Augustinian monasteries. In 1512, Luther received his doctorate and became a professor of biblical studies. Over the next five years Luther's continuing theological studies would lead him to insights that would have implications for Christian thought for centuries to come. In early 16th-century Europe, some theologians and scholars were beginning to question the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was also around this time that translations of original texts—namely, the Bible and the writings of the early church philosopher Augustine—became more widely available. Augustine (340-430) had emphasized the primacy of the Bible rather than Church officials as the ultimate religious authority. He also believed that humans could not reach salvation by their own acts, but that only God could bestow salvation by his divine grace. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church taught that salvation was possible through "good works," or works of righteousness, that pleased God. Luther came to share Augustine's two central beliefs, which would later form the basis of Protestantism. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church's practice of granting "indulgences" to provide absolution to sinners became increasingly corrupt. Indulgence-selling had been banned in Germany, but the practice continued unabated. In 1517, a friar named Johann Tetzel began to sell indulgences in Germany to raise funds to renovate St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. THE 95 THESES Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only, Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences. Acting on this belief, he wrote the "Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," also known as "The 95 Theses," a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The reality was probably not so dramatic; Luther more likely hung the document on the door of the church matter-of-factly to announce the ensuing academic discussion around it that he was organizing. The 95 Theses, which would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, were written in a remarkably humble and academic tone, questioning rather than accusing. The overall thrust of the document was nonetheless quite provocative. The first two of the theses contained Luther's central idea, that God intended believers to seek repentance and that faith alone, and not deeds, would lead to salvation. The other 93 theses, a number of them directly criticizing the practice of indulgences, supported these first two. The 95 Theses were quickly distributed throughout Germany and then made their way to Rome. In 1518, Luther was summoned to Augsburg, a city in southern Germany, to defend his opinions before an imperial diet (assembly). A debate lasting three days between Luther and Cardinal Thomas Cajetan produced no agreement. Cajetan defended the church's use of indulgences, but Luther refused to recant and returned to Wittenberg. On November 9, 1518 the pope condemned Luther's writings as conflicting with the teachings of the Church. One year later a series of commissions were convened to examine Luther's teachings. The first papal commission found them to be heretical, but the second merely stated that Luther's writings were "scandalous and offensive to pious ears." Finally, in July 1520 Pope Leo X issued a papal bull (public decree) that concluded that Luther's propositions were heretical and gave Luther 120 days to recant in Rome. Luther refused to recant, and on January 3, 1521 Pope Leo excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church. On April 17, 1521 Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms in Germany. Refusing again to recant, Luther concluded his testimony with the defiant statement: "Here I stand. God help me. I can do no other." On May 25, the Holy Roman emperor Charles V signed an edict against Luther, ordering his writings to be burned. Luther hid in the town of Eisenach for the next year, where he began work on one of his major life projects, the translation of the New Testament into German, which took him 10 years to complete.
- 1545
- The Council of Trent played an important part in determining the outcome of theCounter-Reformation. Along with the part played by the Jesuits and certain individuals, the Council of Trent was a central feature of the Counter-Reformation. But whether Trent represented a positive move by the Catholic Church remains contentious. Any long term change in the Catholic Church depended on the attitude of the pope in power at one particular time. If there was no desire for change, then there would be no change! Julius III (1550 to 1555) showed little interest in reform. There were those popes who were the opposite and were truly interested in moving forward the Catholic Church such as Sixtus V (1585 to 1590). The Council of Trent was called by Paul Ill who was pope from 1534 to 1549 and it first sat in December 1545. It was finally disbanded in 1563 but though it would appear to have a life span of 18 years, it was only engaged in talks for four and a half years. Most of the popes at this time did not want to lose power and "they did not feel any enthusiasm for the abolition of abuses which were lucrative for the Papacy." (Cowie) The pope did not attend the meetings of the Council and he took no formal part in it. But his legates ensured that the pope's views would always be put forward and this meant that there was no danger in the revival of conciliarism (the Council being superior to the pope). 700 bishops could have attended the Council but to start with only 31 turned up along with 50 theologians. By 1563, a total of 270 bishops attended and the vast majority of them were Italian which was a great bonus for the pope as they were under his control and it was the pope who effectively controlled promotion to cardinal etc. and these men would not be seen in public doing anything other than what the pope wanted. The bishops also insisted that they vote as individuals rather than as a block-country vote and as there were 187 Italian bishops, 32 Spanish, 28 French and 2 German the Italians vastly outnumbered the other three countries put together! As such what was to be passed at Trent was what the pope accepted as being acceptable to him.
- 1600
- Saint Matthew was one of the twelve apostles, and author of the first Gospel. The tale of the calling of Saint Matthew is found in the New Testament, Matthew 9:9: "And when Jesus passed on from thence, he saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and he said to him: Follow me. And he arose up and followed him." Matthew was a Jewish tax collector sometimes also known as Levi the toll collector. Avaricious and presumably money-mad, Matthew was to give up his worldly possessions and take to the straight and narrow path when Jesus called him into his service while Matthew was working at the tax collector's stand at the Capernaum. In this painting, Caravaggio depicts the very moment when Matthew first realizes he is being called. Caravaggio's The Calling of Saint Matthew was executed for the left wall of the Contarelli chapel in the French church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. Cardinal Matteo Contarelli had saved for years to pay for the decoration of his chapel with scenes from the life of Saint Matthew, his namesake. Caravaggio's former, flashy employer Cavaliere d'Arpino originally won the commission and executed some frescoes in the dome but was unable to complete the work due to his many other commitments. Luckily for Caravaggio, in 1599 his patron Cardinal del Monte pulled some strings to secure the commission for the young artist. This was Caravaggio's first important job and the completed work would win him the highest of praise as well as the harshest of criticism for its shockingly innovative style. In other works on this theme, Saint Matthew is depicted inside a building, with Christ outside (in accordance with the Biblical text) calling upon him through a window. Both before and after Caravaggio this subject was frequently used as a pretext for anecdotal genre paintings. It's possible that Caravaggio was familiar with earlier Netherlandish paintings of money lenders or of gamblers around a table like Saint Matthew and his assistants. In this work Caravaggio draws inspiration from his own world, placing the biblical scene in modern reality. This work is evidence of Caravaggio's artistic confidence. He was not comfortable with the traditions of contemporary idealizing history painting and so he regressed to the subjects of his youth which had previously earned his success. Additionally, in this work there is a likeness between the gesture of Jesus as pointing towards Matthew and that of God as he awakens Adam in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Composition: The Calling of Saint Matthew can be divided into two parts. The figures on the right form a vertical rectangle while those on the left create a horizontal block. The two sides are further distinguished by their clothing and symbolically, by Christ's hand. The figures that appear in The Calling of Saint Matthew are similar if not modeled by those persons in other works, such as Cardshaps. It seems that this painting posed problems for Caravaggio in terms of its size and thus he used this piece to come up with a solution for painting from life grand, complicated multi-figured compositions. Use of light: The artist's use of light and shadow adds drama to this image as well as giving the figures a quality of immediacy. Many other artists later followed Caravaggio's example and copied this technique. The figures are engulfed by shadow and it is only the beaming light that shines across the wall and highlights the fact of St Matthew and the seated group that brightens the canvas. Color palette: Caravaggio brings this canvas to life with vivid colors; bold contrasts of reds, golds and greens and various textures of velvets and soft fur. He also contrasts gestures and expressions.
- 1614
- Judith Slaying Holofernes is a painting by the Italian early Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi completed between 1614-20.[1] The work shows the scene of Judith beheading Holofernes, which had been common in art since the Renaissance, as part of the group of subjects called the Power of women, which show women triumphing over powerful men. The subject takes an episode from the apocryphal Book of Judith in the Old Testament, which recounts the assassination of the Assyrian general Holofernes by the Israelite heroine Judith. The painting shows the moment when Judith, helped by her maidservant, beheads the general after he has fallen asleep drunk. The painting is relentlessly physical, from the wide spurts of blood to the energy of the two women as they perform the act.[1] The effort of the women's struggle is most finely represented by the delicate face of the maid, who is younger than in most paintings, which is grasped by the oversized, muscular fist of Holofernes as he desperately struggles to survive. Although the painting depicts a classic scene from the Bible, Gentileschi drew herself as Judith and her mentor Agostino Tassi, who was tried in court for her rape, as Holofernes. Gentileschi's biographer Mary Garrard famously proposed an autobiographical reading of the painting, stating that it functions as "a cathartic expression of the artist's private, and perhaps repressed, rage."[2] This self-insertion was reversed in an influential composition by Cristofano Allori (c. 1613 onwards), which exists in several versions and copied a conceit of Caravaggio's recent David with the Head of Goliath; here the head is a portrait of the artist, Judith his ex-mistress, and the maid her mother.[3] Gentileschi painted two versions of this piece: the first is at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples, and the second is at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.[4][5] Gentileschi painted another piece, Judith and her Maidservant (1613-14), which shows Judith holding a dagger while her maidservant carries a basket containing a severed head. Judith and her Maidservant, is displayed in the Palazzo Pitti, in Florence. Judith beheading Holofernes has been depicted by a number of artists including Giorgione, Titian, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens and Caravaggio. Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes, c. 1598-1599. In Caravaggio's version the beheading seems effortless, in stark contrast to Gentileschi's depictions Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes is believed to be the main source of this work, and his influence shows in the naturalism and violence Gentileschi brings to her canvas. In both there is a notable absence of decorative detail in the background.[6] Gentileschi's father was a famous painter; he was also very much influenced by Caravaggio's style and painted his own version of Judith slaying Holofernes.
- 1708
- Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565, two-part musical composition for organ, probably written before 1708, by Johann Sebastian Bach, known for its majestic sound, dramatic authority, and driving rhythm. The piece is perhaps most widely known by its appearance in the opening minutes of the 1940 Disney cult classic Fantasia, in which it was adapted for orchestra by the conductor Leopold Stokowski. It also has a strong association in Western culture with horror films. The first part of Bach's piece is a toccata, the name of which is derived from the Italian toccare, "to touch." It represents a musical form for keyboard instruments that is designed to reveal the virtuosity of the performer's touch. Bach's take on the toccata is typical in that it has a great many fast arpeggios (notes of a chord played in a series rather than simultaneously) and runs up and down the keyboard but otherwise is generally free form and gives the composer much latitude for personal expression. In Bach's day, toccatas often served as introductions to and foils for fugues, setting the stage for the complex and intricate composition to follow. The fugue—a technique characterized by the overlapping repetition of a principal theme in different melodic lines (counterpoint)—that is the second part of Bach's composition reflects the particular popularity of the form during the late 1600s and early 1700s. Bach made much use of the fugue in his compositions, most famously in solo organ pieces such as this one but also in instrumental works and choral cantatas. This particular fugue, with its accompanying toccata, is not only the best known of Bach's many fugues but the most famous of fugues by any composer.
- 1669
- Rembrandt's final word is given in his monumental painting of the Return of the Prodigal Son. Here he interprets the Christian idea of mercy with an extraordinary solemnity, as though this were his spiritual testament to the world. It goes beyond the works of all other Baroque artists in the evocation of religious mood and human sympathy. The aged artist's power of realism is not diminished, but increased by psychological insight and spiritual awareness. Expressive lighting and colouring and the magic suggestiveness of his technique, together with a selective simplicity of setting, help us to feel the full impact of the event. The main group of the father and the Prodigal Son stands out in light against an enormous dark surface. Particularly vivid are the ragged garment of the son, and the old man's sleeves, which are ochre tinged with golden olive; the ochre colour combined with an intense scarlet red in the father's cloak forms an unforgettable colouristic harmony. The observer is roused to a feeling of some extraordinary event. The son, ruined and repellent, with his bald head and the appearance of an outcast, returns to his father's house after long wanderings and many vicissitudes. He has wasted his heritage in foreign lands and has sunk to the condition of a swineherd. His old father, dressed in rich garments, as are the assistant figures, has hurried to meet him before the door and receives the long-lost son with the utmost fatherly love. The occurrence is devoid of any momentary violent emotion, but is raised to a solemn calm that lends to the figures some of the qualities of statues and gives the emotions of a lasting character, no longer subject to the changes of time. Unforgettable is the image of the repentant sinner leaning against his father's breast and the old father bending over his son. The father's features tell of a goodness sublime and august; so do his outstretched hands, not free from the stiffness of old age. The whole represents a symbol of all homecoming, of the darkness of human existence illuminated by tenderness, of weary and sinful mankind taking refuge in the shelter of God's mercy.
- 1792
- Mary Wollstonecraft (/ˈwʊlstən.krɑːft/; 27 April 1759 - 10 September 1797) was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. Wollstonecraft died at the age of 38, eleven days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. This daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, became an accomplished writer herself, as Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir (1798) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. However, with the emergence of the feminist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft's advocacy of women's equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and work as important influences. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792), written by the 18th-century British proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should have an education. She argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society, claiming that women are essential to the nation because they educate its children and because they could be "companions" to their husbands, rather than mere wives. Instead of viewing women as ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage, Wollstonecraft maintains that they are human beings deserving of the same fundamental rights as men. Wollstonecraft was prompted to write the Rights of Woman after reading Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's 1791 report to the French National Assembly, which stated that women should only receive a domestic education; she used her commentary on this specific event to launch a broad attack against sexual double standards and to indict men for encouraging women to indulge in excessive emotion. Wollstonecraft wrote the Rights of Woman hurriedly to respond directly to ongoing events; she intended to write a more thoughtful second volume but died before completing it. While Wollstonecraft does call for equality between the sexes in particular areas of life, such as morality, she does not explicitly state that men and women are equal. Her ambiguous statements regarding the equality of the sexes have since made it difficult to classify Wollstonecraft as a modern feminist, particularly since the word and the concept were unavailable to her. Although it is commonly assumed now that the Rights of Woman was unfavourably received, this is a modern misconception based on the belief that Wollstonecraft was as reviled during her lifetime as she became after the publication of William Godwin's Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1798). The Rights of Woman was actually well received when it was first published in 1792. One biographer has called it "perhaps the most original book of [Wollstonecraft's] century".
- 1689
- An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a work by John Locke concerning the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. It first appeared in 1689 (although dated 1690) with the printed title An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. He describes the mind at birth as a blank slate (tabula rasa, although he did not use those actual words) filled later through experience. The essay was one of the principal sources of empiricism in modern philosophy, and influenced many enlightenment philosophers, such as David Hume and George Berkeley. Book I of the Essay is Locke's attempt to refute the rationalist notion of innate ideas. Book II sets out Locke's theory of ideas, including his distinction between passively acquired simple ideas, such as "red," "sweet," "round," etc., and actively built complex ideas, such as numbers, causes and effects, abstract ideas, ideas of substances, identity, and diversity. Locke also distinguishes between the truly existing primary qualities of bodies, like shape, motion and the arrangement of minute particles, and the secondary qualities that are "powers to produce various sensations in us"[1] such as "red" and "sweet." These secondary qualities, Locke claims, are dependent on the primary qualities. He also offers a theory of personal identity, offering a largely psychological criterion. Book III is concerned with language, and Book IV with knowledge, including intuition, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy ("science"), faith, and opinion.
- 1751
- Between 1751 and 1780 French philosopher, art critic, and writer Denis DiderotOffsite Link and French mathematician, mechanician, physicist and philosopher Jean le Rond d'AlembertOffsite Link edited and wrote portions of the Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire des sciencesOffsite Link, des arts et des métiers, par une société‚ de gens de lettres in 17 folio volumes of text plus 11 folio volumes (i.e., 10 volumes in 11) of plates. The first 7 volumes were published in Paris, but volumes 8 to 17 had to be published under a false Neuchâtel imprint. The main work appeared between 1751 and 1772. A supplement of 4 volumes plus one plate volume was published in Paris and Amsterdam from 1776 to 1777. The Table analytique et raisonnée for the set was published in 2 folio volumes in Paris and Amsterdam in 1780. Altogether there were 35 volumes, with 71,818 articles, and 3,129 plates. The central enterprise of the French EnlightenmentOffsite Link, the Encyclopédie embodied that movement's liberal, anti-clerical and scientific spirit, its preoccupation with man as a creature of nature, and its conception of culture and society as mutable products of the evolutionary processes of history. As such, the work challenged the twin authorities of the French monarchy and the Catholic Church, both of which derived their power from the traditional belief in a divinely ordained, unchanging order. Well aware of the dangers of affronting such powerful authorities, the philosophesOffsite Link who contributed to the Encyclopédie relied heavily on irony and subterfuge in their attacks on the established order, but the epistemological basis of these attacks was clearly stated in the Encyclopédie's "Discourse préliminaire," written by d'Alembert, who, "although he formally acknowledged the authority of the church, . . . made it clear that knowledge came from the senses and not from Rome or Revelation" (Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie 1775-1800 [1979] 7). "The Encyclopédie was an innovative encyclopedia in several respects. Among other things, it was the first encyclopedia to include contributions from many named contributors, and it was the first general encyclopedia to lavish attention on the mechanical arts. Still, the Encyclopédie is famous above all for representing the thought of the Enlightenment. According to Denis Diderot in the article 'Encyclopédie,' the Encyclopédie's aim was 'to change the way people think.' "(Wikipedia article on Encyclopédie, accessed 01-26-2010). The first seven volumes of the Encyclopédie were produced in relative safety, due in part to the support of powerful protectors, notably Madame de PompadourOffsite Link, but official tolerance came to an end in 1759, when the Encyclopédie was condemned by the ParlementOffsite Link of Paris and placed on the Index librorum prohibitorumOffsite Link by Pope Clement XIIIOffsite Link. Diderot was forced to complete the remaining ten volumes in secret and to publish them under a false Neuchâtel imprint. "In truth, secular authorities did not want to disrupt the commercial enterprise, which employed hundreds of people. To appease the church and other enemies of the project, the authorities had officially banned the enterprise, but they turned a blind eye to its continued existence" (Wikipedia). A high percentage of the Encyclopédie's 71,818 articles were written by Diderot and d'Alembert themselves, with another large portion, about 400 articles, written by the Baron d'HolbachOffsite Link. Other famous contributors included Jean-Jacques RousseauOffsite Link and VoltaireOffsite Link. The most prolific contributor was the French scholar Louis de JaucourtOffsite Link who wrote 17,266 articles, or about 8 per day between 1759 and 1765. Altogether 140 people contributed articles to the project. The Encyclopédie was a considerable commercial success, resulting in a print run of 4250 copies (Wikipedia), much larger than the typical print run of most publications at the time. The discussion and exposition of printing in the Encyclopédie is among the most significant of the 18th century. Of this Giles Barber wrote in French Letterpress Printing (1969)9-10: "The Encyclopédie provides one of the best general explanations of printing of the century, being both detailed and accurate. The main article is well supported by a host of minor ones including numerous definitions of terms and processes and by an excellent and evocative series of plates showing general workshop scenes as well as details of presses and other equipment. The authorship of all these articles is not, as yet ascertained. In their Preface the editors say: 'On juge bien que sur ce qui concerne l'Imprimerie et la Librairie, les memes tous les secours qui'il nos était possible de désirer'. In addition two of the publishers are credited with particular articles, David l'ainé with 'catalogue" (based on a manuscript by the abbé Girard bequeathed to Le Breton) and Le Breton himself with 'encre noire'. The technical part of the long and important article on 'imprimerie' is ascribed to the prote in Le Breton's shop, who we learn from the article 'prote', also ascribed to him, was one Brullé. J.B.M. Paillon, the famous engraver, wrote a number of minor articles on engraving ('dentelle, dorure sur parchemen, fleuron') and provided notes for others. Pierre Simon Fournier, the type founder, is similarly thanked in the Préface for providing background notes on his trade. "Papeterie' is by L. J. GoussierOffsite Link, one of the regular contributors, assisted by 'M. Prevost de Langlée près de Montargis'. "Of the chief editors we know that d'Alembert wrote 'bibliomanie' and that Diderot's editorial asterisk, indicating his responsibility for either part or all of the article, occurs before 'bibliothécaire', caractère de'imprimerie (doubtless basically written by Fournier), chassis, corps, correcteur' and a few other minor subjects. But the chief editor as far as printing was concerned was undoubtedly the Protestant chevalier Louis de JaucourtOffsite Link. Among his more important contributions were parts of 'imprimerie' covering 'histoire des inventions modernes' and 'imprimerie de Contantinople', the historical part of 'papier' and the articles on 'privilege d'impression' and 'relieur' as well as a large number of short ones. It has also bee suggested the printer Claude François Simon wrote many of the printing articles but no internal confirmation of this has been found."
- 1669
- Philosopher and mathematician René Descartes is regarded as the father of modern philosophy for defining a starting point for existence, "I think; therefore I am." IN THESE GROUPS FAMOUS ACADEMIC AUTHORS FAMOUS PEOPLE IN WRITING & PUBLISHING FAMOUS PEOPLE IN JOURNALISM & NONFICTION FAMOUS PHILOSOPHERS Show All Groups 1 of 3 « » QUOTES "I think; therefore I am." ("Cogito ergo sum.")" —René Descartes Synopsis René Descartes was born on March 31, 1596, in La Haye, France. He was extensively educated, first at a Jesuit college at age 8, then earning a law degree at 22, but an influential teacher set him on a course to apply mathematics and logic to understanding the natural world. This approach incorporated the contemplation of the nature of existence and of knowledge itself, hence his most famous observation, "I think; therefore I am." Early Life Philosopher René Descartes was born on March 31, 1596, in La Haye, a small town in central France, which has since been renamed after him to honor its most famous son. He was the youngest of three children, and his mother, Jeanne Brochard, died within his first year of life. His father, Joachim, a council member in the provincial parliament, sent the children to live with their maternal grandmother, where they remained even after he remarried a few years later. But he was very concerned with good education and sent René, at age 8, to boarding school at the Jesuit college of Henri IV in La Flèche, several miles to the north, for seven years. Descartes was a good student, although it is thought that he might have been sickly, since he didn't have to abide by the school's rigorous schedule and was instead allowed to rest in bed until midmorning. The subjects he studied, such as rhetoric and logic and the "mathematical arts," which included music and astronomy, as well as metaphysics, natural philosophy and ethics, equipped him well for his future as a philosopher. So did spending the next four years earning a baccalaureate in law at the University of Poitiers. Some scholars speculate that he may have had a nervous breakdown during this time. Descartes later added theology and medicine to his studies. But he eschewed all this, "resolving to seek no knowledge other than that of which could be found in myself or else in the great book of the world," he wrote much later in Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, published in 1637. So he traveled, joined the army for a brief time, saw some battles and was introduced to Dutch scientist and philosopher Isaac Beeckman, who would become for Descartes a very influential teacher. A year after graduating from Poitiers, Descartes credited a series of three very powerful dreams or visions with determining the course of his study for the rest of his life. Becoming the Father of Modern Philosophy Descartes is considered by many to be the father of modern philosophy, because his ideas departed widely from current understanding in the early 17th century, which was more feeling-based. While elements of his philosophy weren't completely new, his approach to them was. Descartes believed in basically clearing everything off the table, all preconceived and inherited notions, and starting fresh, putting back one by one the things that were certain, which for him began with the statement "I exist." From this sprang his most famous quote: "I think; therefore I am." Since Descartes believed that all truths were ultimately linked, he sought to uncover the meaning of the natural world with a rational approach, through science and mathematics—in some ways an extension of the approach Sir Francis Bacon had asserted in England a few decades prior. In addition to Discourse on the Method, Descartes also published Meditations on First Philosophy and Principles of Philosophy, among other treatises. Although philosophy is largely where the 20th century deposited Descartes—each century has focused on different aspects of his work—his investigations in theoretical physics led many scholars to consider him a mathematician first. He introduced Cartesian geometry, which incorporates algebra; through his laws of refraction, he developed an empirical understanding of rainbows; and he proposed a naturalistic account of the formation of the solar system, although he felt he had to suppress much of that due to Galileo's fate at the hands of the Inquisition. His concern wasn't misplaced—Pope Alexander VII later added Descartes' works to the Index of Prohibited Books. Later Life, Death and Legacy Descartes never married, but he did have a daughter, Francine, born in the Netherlands in 1635. He had moved to that country in 1628 because life in France was too bustling for him to concentrate on his work, and Francine's mother was a maid in the home where he was staying. He had planned to have the little girl educated in France, having arranged for her to live with relatives, but she died of a fever at age 5. Descartes lived in the Netherlands for more than 20 years but died in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 11, 1650. He had moved there less than a year before, at the request of Queen Christina, to be her philosophy tutor. The fragile health indicated in his early life persisted. He habitually spent mornings in bed, where he continued to honor his dream life, incorporating it into his waking methodologies in conscious meditation, but the queen's insistence on 5 am lessons led to a bout of pneumonia from which he could not recover. He was 53. Sweden was a Protestant country, so Descartes, a Catholic, was buried in a graveyard primarily for unbaptized babies. Later, his remains were taken to the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris. They were moved during the French Revolution, and were put back later—although urban legend has it that only his heart is there and the rest is buried in the Panthéon. Descartes' approach of combining mathematics and logic with philosophy to explain the physical world turned metaphysical when confronted with questions of theology; it led him to a contemplation of the nature of existence and the mind-body duality, identifying the point of contact for the body with the soul at the pineal gland. It also led him to define the idea of dualism: matter meeting non-matter. Because his previous philosophical system had given man the tools to define knowledge of what is true, this concept led to controversy. Fortunately, Descartes himself had also invented methodological skepticism, or Cartesian doubt, thus making philosophers of us all.
- 1687
- Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy),[1] often referred to as simply the Principia, is a work in three books by Isaac Newton, in Latin, first published 5 July 1687.[2][3] After annotating and correcting his personal copy of the first edition,[4] Newton also published two further editions, in 1713 and 1726.[5] The Principia states Newton's laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics; Newton's law of universal gravitation; and a derivation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion (which Kepler first obtained empirically). The Principia is "justly regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science".[6] The French mathematical physicist Alexis Clairaut assessed it in 1747: "The famous book of mathematical Principles of natural Philosophy marked the epoch of a great revolution in physics. The method followed by its illustrious author Sir Newton ... spread the light of mathematics on a science which up to then had remained in the darkness of conjectures and hypotheses."[7] A more recent assessment has been that while acceptance of Newton's theories was not immediate, by the end of a century after publication in 1687, "no one could deny that" (out of the Principia) "a science had emerged that, at least in certain respects, so far exceeded anything that had ever gone before that it stood alone as the ultimate exemplar of science generally."[8] In formulating his physical theories, Newton developed and used mathematical methods now included in the field of calculus. But the language of calculus as we know it was largely absent from the Principia; Newton gave many of his proofs in a geometric form of infinitesimal calculus, based on limits of ratios of vanishing small geometric quantities.[9] In a revised conclusion to the Principia (see General Scholium), Newton used his expression that became famous, Hypotheses non fingo ("I contrive no hypotheses"[10]).
- 1717
- The Embarkation for Cythera is an allegorical love story at its finest. What better place could Watteau have selected for young lovers to go than to Cythera, the beautiful Greek island of love? Historians still debate whether the pilgrims are on their way to the island or in fact preparing to leave. The majority lean towards their leaving. No matter the location, a group of young couples enjoy another on the densely vegetated island. The focus falls on three couples in particular who occupy the center right. The sitting couple is absorbed in a flirtatious conversation and the pair standing is preparing to take their place on the boat. The last admirer helps the object of his affection. Other happy couples are boarding the boat. Take note of the cupids hovering about the vessel, they are excited about the lover's journey. Embarkation for Cythera Inspirations for the Work Embarkation for Cythera Embarkation for Cythera Antoine Watteau Embarkation for Cythera Houdar de la Motte Watteau's inspiration for The Embarkation for Cythera culminated from a few different sources. He was inspired by fantastical geographical locations as well as from his beloved theater. Cythera: Known as Kithira, in modern Greek, Cythera is a southernmost and easternmost island of the Ionian Islands. It has a mountainous interior, rising to 1,663 feet. In Antiquity, Cythera was believed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite - Greek goddess of love - and thus became known as the Isle of Love. Watteau's portrayal of Cythera is perhaps the best deception the most vivid imagination could conjure up. His is an island of love, a paradise decorated with brightly colored landscapes that would enchant even the most plutonic friends to accept the invitation of love. Cupids can be seen flying over the boat, though their services may not be needed as nature does the flirting and mesmerizing quite effectively. Les Trois Cousines: This was a prose play by French comedy and tragedy playwright Florent Dancourt and it may have been an inspiration for The Embarkation for Cythera as a group of youths disguised as pilgrims of love prepare for a voyage to Cythera in the finale. Yet this may be the only similarity to Watteau's painting - Dancourt's sarcastic parody would be a spotty reflection of Watteau's happy and hazy dream. La Ventienne: Houdar de la Motte's opera ballet seems a more likely inspiration for The Embarkation for Cythera as it featured stock characters of the Commedia dell'Arte and other pilgrims who accepted the invitation to the island of love. Watteau pursued both of these themes. Embarkation for Cythera Analysis Embarkation for Cythera Embarkation for Cythera Antoine Watteau Embarkation for Cythera Embarkation for Cythera Antoine Watteau Embarkation for Cythera Embarkation for Cythera Antoine Watteau In his famous reception piece for the Academie, Watteau shocked the judges with his original style. His revival of colors reminiscent to earlier centuries and the lighting of his piece were particularly striking. Composition: All elements of The Embarkation for Cythera are in a head-on perspective. Watteau employs certain techniques to ensure that the viewer looks at his entire composition. The progression of the pilgrims returning to the boat draws attention to the three main couples in the center, who in a lover's trance, lost track of time. Viewers then glance upward as the space of the canvas is filled with a hazy sky that only Watteau could produce. From there, the viewer is enamored by a beautiful landscape as the clouds bring the focus downward. Tone: The theme of this piece cannot help but bring about a happy, peaceful mood. There is no sign of anguish, broken hearts or turmoil in any capacity. Instead, lovers prance around together and cupids fly overhead. Clearly, Watteau intended The Embarkation for Cythera to give the notion of a fine fantasy. Brushstrokes: Watteau was known for using a light and airy brushstroke to create his hazy dream-like atmospheres. This is particularly evident in the wispy clouds and lazy leaves. Color Palette: The landscape's bright palette echoes that of 16th century Venetian paintings. The neutral palette of the landscape is complemented nicely by the pastels of the lover's costumes. Lighting: The lighting cast in this dream plays up the bright colors of the character's clothing. The center of the canvas lights up the three main couples and the shadows retreat to play in the trees so less attention is paid to other characters.
- 1767
- Commissioned by the notorious French libertine Baron de St. Julien as a portrait of his mistress, The Swing was to be painted to the following specificity: "I should like you to paint Madame seated on a swing being pushed by a Bishop. " While this odd request was turned down by other painters such as Doyen, a painter of more serious historical subjects, Fragonard leapt to the occasion, producing what became the most iconic work of the French Rococo. In the foreground the playboy Baron himself is depicted, reclining in the lush shrubbery, one arm outstretched towards the maiden's skirts, his other arm holding his balance. He gave very specific instructions to Fragonard, stating "Place me in a position where I can observe the legs of that charming girl. " His mistress flies through the air on a sylvan swing, the lovely young lady giving herself away to frivolous abandon, her shoe flying off in the heat of the moment. In the background of the composition one can see what was originally going to be the Bishop requested by the perverse Baron, but which was changed to the mistress's husband by Fragonard. The husband plays a lesser role, being immersed in shadow while the Baron is illuminated under the maiden's dress. The inanimate objects add to the story as well. Two cherubs below the swing appear concerned by the sordid actions of the humans above them, one looking up at the women in trepidation and the other looking away from the action with a scowl. On the left side of the image is a stone statue of Cupid who raises a finger to his lips to point out the secretive nature of the impending affair. Overall Fragonard's The Swing, rich with symbolism, not only manages to capture a moment of complete spontaneity and joie de vivre, but also alludes to the illicit affair that may have already been going on, or is about to begin. The Swing Inspirations for the Work Pastoral Scene Pastoral Scene François Boucher The Garden of Love The Garden of Love Peter Paul Rubens Rosso Fiorentino Rosso Fiorentino Florence Considered to be Fragonard's most successful painting, The Swing stands alone today as an emblem of Rococo art. The combination of insouciant attitude, tongue-in-cheek eroticism, pastel swirls, and pastoral scenery creates an irresistible testament to the beauty of youth and illegitimate affairs. In Fragonard's world, adultery is but a devilishly gay way to pass the time. Francois Boucher: One of Fragonard's first teachers, the art of Francois Boucher seems to have made an impression on the young painter, and can be seen in such erotic confections as The Swing. Boucher specialized in the combination of the pastoral scene with a passionate sensibility. While originally commissioned to paint mythological scenes, Fragonard had a knack for turning them into more of a boudoir scene in open air and this cheeky sensibility is reflected in The Swing. Peter Paul Rubens: Always a fan of the Dutch Masters, the inspiration that Rubens provided is clear in this portrait with its attention to detail, loose fluid brushwork, and freewheeling attitude of the scene. In addition, the Dutch of this time period were notorious for their inclusion of small symbolic items, which appear in The Swing in the case of the embracing putti and Cupid with his finger over his lips, to symbolize the secrecy of the affair. These are all reminiscent of earlier works by Rubens. School of Fontainebleau: The infamous French palace, decorated in the late 1500s by a group of painters headed by Rosso Fiorentino, specialized in eroticizing the mythological or classical subjects that were requested for the aristocrats of the time, serving as a precursor for the fanciful tastes that the later nobles would request. Women at their bath, saucy portraiture, and pastoral settings were all seen here. The Swing would have fitted in perfectly. The Swing Analysis The Swing The Swing Jean-Honore Fragonard The Swing The Swing Jean-Honore Fragonard The Swing The Swing Jean-Honore Fragonard The Swing The Swing Jean-Honore Fragonard The Swing The Swing Jean-Honore Fragonard Fragonard painted The Swing with the intention of flattering the Baron and his mistress, to supply them with a lighthearted, frivolous painting and to provide an intimate memento of their relationship. To this end, he utilized only the finest of the Rococo techniques. Composition: The Swing is composed in a triangular shape, with the Baron and the husband forming the base of the pyramid, and the maiden in the air at the top of the triangle, in the center of the space. She is illuminated by the soft lighting coming from above, and the fanciful trees form an oval frame for the action in the center. Fragonard included a number of hidden details within the composition to heighten the message of playful love, including two putti embracing, a stone lap dog and dolphin, and a stone statue of Cupid. The lady's slipper, which flies off her foot as she swings so easily, is another playful touch which helps accentuate the erotic subject matter, as well as providing a visual focus in the splash of sunlight. Color Palette: The Rococo style attempted to appeal more to the sensual rather than the intellectual side. As a result Fragonard utilized a delicate pastel color palette that would be just as at home in a cupcake shop as on canvas, with frothy creams, juicy pinks, and minty greens. Lighting: For this outdoor scene, Fragonard utilized a soft dappled sunlight filtering through the trees and backlighting them, infusing the scene with a soft, seductive glow. The light hits the young lady on the swing, highlighting her fair skin and the creamy billows of fabric that swirl around her. In contrast, other aspects of the painting remain in shadow, such as the husband, possibly referencing his being "in the dark" as to his wife's affair. Tone and Mood: The mood in the painting is lighthearted and gay. The overall effect is one of erotic mirth and frivolity, typical of Rococo works. The contrast between light and shadow adds to the feeling that something illicit is taking place. Brushstroke: Emphasizing the free and easy nature of the subject matter, Fragonard uses a fluid, loose brushstroke, keeping the edges soft with regards to his main figures. In comparison to many of his other works however, he paints with a finer detail than usual, reminiscent of 17th Dutch masters such as Rembrandt.
- 1824
- Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, byname the Choral Symphony, orchestral work in four movements by Ludwig van Beethoven, remarkable in its day not only for its grandness of scale but especially for its final movement, which includes a full chorus and vocal soloists who sing a setting of Friedrich Schiller's poem "An die Freude" ("Ode to Joy"). The work was Beethoven's final complete symphony, and it represents an important stylistic bridge between the Classical and Romantic periods of Western music history. Symphony No. 9 premiered on May 7, 1824, in Vienna, to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience, and it is widely viewed as Beethoven's greatest composition. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 was ultimately more than three decades in the making. Schiller's popular "Ode to Joy" was published in 1785, and it is possible that Beethoven made his first of multiple attempts to set it to music in the early 1790s. He clearly revisited the poem in 1808 and 1811, as his notebooks include numerous remarks regarding possible settings. In 1812 Beethoven determined to place his setting of "Ode to Joy" within a grand symphony. Ten more years passed before that symphony's completion, and during that time Beethoven agonized over the composition's every note. His notebooks indicate that he considered and rejected more than 200 different versions of the "Ode to Joy" theme alone. When he finally finished the work, he offered to the public a radically new creation that was part symphony and part oratorio—a hybrid that proved puzzling to less-adventuresome listeners. Some knowledgeable contemporaries declared that Beethoven had no understanding of how to write for voices; others wondered why there were voices in a symphony at all. Alternative Titles: "Choral Symphony", "Ninth Symphony" RELATED TOPICS symphony Ludwig van Beethoven Leonard Bernstein musical composition Listen: Beethoven, Ludwig van: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125 (Choral) 0:00 / 0:14 Excerpt from the fourth movement, "Finale," of Beethoven's ... Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, byname the Choral Symphony, orchestral work in four movements by Ludwig van Beethoven, remarkable in its day not only for its grandness of scale but especially for its final movement, which includes a full chorus and vocal soloists who sing a setting of Friedrich Schiller's poem "An die Freude" ("Ode to Joy"). The work was Beethoven's final complete symphony, and it represents an important stylistic bridge between the Classical and Romantic periods of Western music history. Symphony No. 9 premiered on May 7, 1824, in Vienna, to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience, and it is widely viewed as Beethoven's greatest composition. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 was ultimately more than three decades in the making. Schiller's popular "Ode to Joy" was published in 1785, and it is possible that Beethoven made his first of multiple attempts to set it to music in the early 1790s. He clearly revisited the poem in 1808 and 1811, as his notebooks include numerous remarks regarding possible settings. In 1812 Beethoven determined to place his setting of "Ode to Joy" within a grand symphony. Ten more years passed before that symphony's completion, and during that time Beethoven agonized over the composition's every note. His notebooks indicate that he considered and rejected more than 200 different versions of the "Ode to Joy" theme alone. When he finally finished the work, he offered to the public a radically new creation that was part symphony and part oratorio—a hybrid that proved puzzling to less-adventuresome listeners. Some knowledgeable contemporaries declared that Beethoven had no understanding of how to write for voices; others wondered why there were voices in a symphony at all. SIMILAR TOPICS Der Ring des Nibelungen Star Wars Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 Peter and the Wolf Requiem in D Minor, K 626 Carmina Burana The Magic Flute The Nutcracker, Op. 71 Messiah Madama Butterfly The story of the premiere of Symphony No. 9 is widely told and disputed. Beethoven had steadily lost his hearing during the course of the symphony's composition, and by the time of its premiere he was profoundly deaf. Although he appeared onstage as the general director of the performance, kapellmeister Michael Umlauf actually led the orchestra with the conductor's baton, taking tempo cues from Beethoven. According to one account of the event, the audience applauded thunderously at the conclusion of the performance, but Beethoven, unable to hear the response, continued to face the chorus and orchestra; a singer finally turned him around so that he could see evidence of the affirmation that resounded throughout the hall. Other accounts maintain that the dramatic incident occurred at the end of the second movement scherzo. (At the time, it was common for audiences to applaud between movements.) Whenever the applause occurred, that it passed unnoticed by Beethoven makes clear that he never heard a note of his magnificent composition outside his own imagination. Symphony No. 9 broke many patterns of the Classical style of Western music to foreshadow the monolithic works of Gustav Mahler, Richard Wagner, and other composers of the later Romantic era. Its orchestra was unusually large, and its length—more than an hour—was extraordinary. The inclusion of a chorus, moreover, in a genre that was understood to be exclusively instrumental, was thoroughly unorthodox. The formal structure of the movements, while generally adhering to Classical models, also charted new territory. For example, the first movement, although in Classical sonata form, confounds listeners first by rising to a fortissimo climax in the harmonically unstable exposition section and then by delaying a return to the home key. The scherzo, with all its propulsive energy, is placed as the second movement, rather than the customary third, and the third movement is a mostly restful, almost prayerful adagio. The last movement builds from a gentle beginning into a brazen finale, while recalling some of the themes from earlier movements; once the "Ode to Joy" theme arrives, the musical form essentially becomes that of variations within a broader sonata-form structure. BRITANNICA STORIES IN THE NEWS / SOCIETY Scandal in South Korea President of South Korea Park Geun-hye at the Paris COP21, United nation conference on climate change. DEMYSTIFIED / FOOD What's the Difference Between Whiskey and Whisky? What About Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye? Glass of scotch whiskey and ice SPOTLIGHT / SCIENCE A Recent History of Climate Change Polar bear leaping between ice floes in the Arctic waters off Spitsbergen, Norway. IN THE NEWS / SOCIETY Fidel Castro Dies Fidel Castro in a Cuban telecast, May 27, 1960. See All Stories Despite some sharp initial critique of the work, Symphony No. 9 has withstood the test of time and, indeed, has made its mark. In the world of popular culture, the symphony's menacing second movement in brisk waltz time provided a backdrop for some of the most tense and twisted moments in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's psycho-thriller novel A Clockwork Orange (1962). The choral fourth movement accompanies a triumphant soccer (football) scene in Peter Weir's film Dead Poets Society (1989). In the realm of technology, the audio capacity of the compact disc was set at 74 minutes in the early 1980s, purportedly to accommodate a complete recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
- 1863
- Luncheon on the Grass ("Dejeuner sur l'Herbe," 1863) was one of a number of impressionist works that broke away from the classical view that art should obey established conventions and seek to achieve timelessness. The painting was rejected by the salon that displayed painting approved by the official French academy. The rejection was occasioned not so much by the female nudes in Manet's painting, a classical subject, as by their presence in a modern setting, accompanied by clothed, bourgeois men. The incongruity suggested that the women were not goddesses but models, or possibly prostitutes. Yet in Le dejeuner sur l'herbe, Manet was paying tribute to Europe's artistic heritage, borrowing his subject from The Pastoral Concert - a painting by Titian attributed at the time to Giorgione (Louvre) - and taking his inspiration for the composition of the central group from the Marcantonio Raimondi engraving after Raphael's Judgement of Paris.But the classical references were counterbalanced by Manet's boldness. The presence of a nude woman among clothed men is justified neither by mythological nor allegorical precedents. This, and the contemporary dress, rendered the strange and almost unreal scene obscene in the eyes of the public of the day. Manet himself jokingly nicknamed his painting "la partie carree". Manet displayed the painting instead at the Salon des Refuses, an alternative salon established by those who had been refused entry to the official one. Like his friend Courbet, Manet influenced modern painting not only by his use of realistic subject matter but also by his challenge to the three-dimensional perspectivalism established in Renaissance painting. Manet painted figures with a flatness derived partly from Japanese art and resembling (as Gustave Courbet commented) the flatness of the king or queen on a playing card. Luncheon on the Grass - testimony to Manet's refusal to conform to convention and his initiation of a new freedom from traditional subjects and modes of representation - can perhaps be considered as the departure point for Modern Art. The modernist reinvention of pictorial space had begun.
- 1882
- The painting exemplifies Manet's commitment to Realism in its detailed representation of a contemporary scene. Many features have puzzled critics but almost all of them have been shown to have a rationale, and the painting has been the subject of numerous popular and scholarly articles.[1][2] The central figure stands before a mirror, although critics—accusing Manet of ignorance of perspective and alleging various impossibilities in the painting—have debated this point since the earliest reviews were published. In 2000, however, a photograph taken from a suitable point of view of a staged reconstruction was shown to reproduce the scene as painted by Manet.[3] According to this reconstruction, "the conversation that many have assumed was transpiring between the barmaid and gentleman is revealed to be an optical trick—the man stands outside the painter's field of vision, to the left, and looks away from the barmaid, rather than standing right in front of her."[3] As it appears, the observer should be standing to the right and closer to the bar than the man whose reflection appears at the right edge of the picture. This is an unusual departure from the central point of view usually assumed when viewing pictures drawn according to perspective. Asserting the presence of the mirror has been crucial for many modern interpreters.[4] It provides a meaningful parallel with Las Meninas, a masterpiece by an artist Manet admired, Diego Velázquez. There has been a considerable development of this topic since Michel Foucault broached it in his book The Order of Things (1966).[5] The art historian Jeffrey Meyers describes the intentional play on perspective and the apparent violation of the operations of mirrors: "Behind her, and extending for the entire length of the four-and-a-quarter-foot painting, is the gold frame of an enormous mirror. The French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty has called a mirror 'the instrument of a universal magic that changes things into spectacles, spectacles into things, me into others, and others into me.' We, the viewers, stand opposite the barmaid on the other side of the counter and, looking at the reflection in the mirror, see exactly what she sees... A critic has noted that Manet's 'preliminary study shows her placed off to the right, whereas in the finished canvas she is very much the centre of attention.' Though Manet shifted her from the right to the center, he kept her reflection on the right. Seen in the mirror, she seems engaged with a customer; in full face, she's self-protectively withdrawn and remote."[6] The painting is rich in details which provide clues to social class and milieu. The woman at the bar is a real person, known as Suzon, who worked at the Folies-Bergère in the early 1880s. For his painting, Manet posed her in his studio. By including a dish of oranges in the foreground, Manet identifies the barmaid as a prostitute, according to art historian Larry L. Ligo, who says that Manet habitually associated oranges with prostitution in his paintings.[7] T.J. Clark says that the barmaid is "intended to represent one of the prostitutes for which the Folies-Bergère was well-known", who is represented "as both a salesperson and a commodity—something to be purchased along with a drink."[7] Other notable details include the pair of green feet in the upper left-hand corner, which belong to a trapeze artist who is performing above the restaurant's patrons. The beer bottles depicted are easily identified by the red triangle on the label as Bass Pale Ale, and the conspicuous presence of this English brand instead of German beer has been interpreted as documentation of anti-German sentiment in France in the decade after the Franco-Prussian War.[8]
- 1882
- In February 1882, Claude Monet went to Normandy to paint, one of many such expeditions that he made in the 1880s. This was also a retreat from personal and professional pressures. His wife, Camille, had died three years earlier, and Monet had entered into a domestic arrangement with Alice Hoschedé (whom he would marry in 1892, after her husband's death). France was in the midst of a lengthy economic recession that affected Monet's sales. In addition, the artist was unenthusiastic about the upcoming seventh Impressionist exhibition—divisions within the group had become pronounced by this time—and he delegated the responsibility for his contribution to his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel. Disappointed in the area around the harbor city of Dieppe, which he found too urban, Monet settled in Pourville and remained in this fishing village until mid-April. He became increasingly enamored of his surroundings, writing to Hoschedé and her children: "How beautiful the countryside is becoming, and what joy it would be for me to show you all its delightful nooks and crannies!" He was able to do so in June, when they joined him in Pourville. The two young women strolling in Cliff Walk at Pourville are probably Marthe and Blanche, the eldest Hoschedé daughters. In this work, Monet addressed the problem of inserting figures into a landscape without disrupting the unity of its painterly surface. He integrated these elements with one another through texture and color. The grass—composed of short, brisk, curved brushstrokes—appears to quiver in the breeze, and subtly modified versions of the same strokes and hues suggest the women's wind-whipped dresses and shawls and the undulation of the sea. X-radiographs show that Monet reduced the rocky outcropping at the far right to balance the proportions of sea and sky. This work is featured in the online catalogue Monet Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, the first volume in the Art Institute's scholarly digital series on the Impressionist circle. The catalogue offers in-depth curatorial and technical entries on 47 artworks by Claude Monet in the museum's collection; entries feature interactive and layered high-resolution imaging, previously unpublished technical photographs, archival materials, and documentation relating to each artwork.
- 1890s
- The Rouen Cathedral series was painted in the 1890s by French impressionist Claude Monet. The paintings in the series each capture the façade of the Rouen Cathedral at different times of the day and year, and reflect changes in its appearance under different lighting conditions. Painting the cathedral was a challenging task, even for Monet. Michael Howard, in his Encyclopedia of Impressionism (Carlton, 1997), writes: As always, the pictures gave him intense difficulties, which threw him into despair. He had vivid nightmares of the cathedral in various colors - pink, blue and yellow - falling upon him... [Monet wrote:] 'Things don't advance very steadily, primarily because each day I discover something I hadn't seen the day before... In the end, I am trying to do the impossible.' (224). Monet found that the thing he had set out to paint-light-was, because of its ever-changing nature and its extreme subtlety, an almost impossible thing to capture. He was assisted, however, by his ability to capture the essence of a scene quickly, then finish it later using a sketch combined with his memory of the scene. For these paintings, he used thick layers of richly textured paint, expressive of the intricate nature of the subject. Paul Hayes Tucker, in Claude Monet: Life and Art (Yale University Press, 1995), writes: Monet's sensitivity to the natural effects he observed are just one factor that make these pictures so remarkable; the way he manipulates his medium contributes to their majesty as well. For the surfaces of these canvases are literally encrusted with paint that Monet built up layer upon layer like the masonry of the façade itself. (155) The subtle interweaving of colors, the keen perception of the artist and the use of texture all serve to create a series of shimmering images in light and color-masterpieces worthy of the grandeur of their subject matter.
- 1924
- After Marc Chagall moved to Paris from Russia in 1910, his paintings quickly came to reflect the latest avant-garde styles. In Paris Through the Window, Chagall's debt to the Orphic Cubism of his colleague Robert Delaunay is clear in the semitransparent overlapping planes of vivid color in the sky above the city. The Eiffel Tower, which appears in the cityscape, was also a frequent subject in Delaunay's work. For both artists it served as a metaphor for Paris and perhaps modernity itself. Chagall's parachutist might also refer to contemporary experience, since the first successful jump occurred in 1912. Other motifs suggest the artist's native Vitebsk. This painting is an enlarged version of a window view in a self-portrait painted one year earlier, in which the artist contrasted his birthplace with Paris. The Janus figure in Paris Through the Window has been read as the artist looking at once westward to his new home in France and eastward to Russia. Chagall, however, refused literal interpretations of his paintings, and it is perhaps best to think of them as lyrical evocations, similar to the allusive plastic poetry of the artist's friends Blaise Cendrars (who named this canvas) and Guillaume Apollinaire. Years after Chagall painted The Soldier Drinks he stated that it developed from his memory of tsarist soldiers who were billeted with families during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese war. The enlisted man in the picture, with his right thumb pointing out the window and his left index finger pointing to the cup, is similar to the two-faced man in Paris Through the Window in that both figuratively mediate between dual worlds—interior versus exterior space, past and present, the imaginary and the real. In paintings such as these it is clear that the artist preferred the life of the mind, memory, and magical Symbolism over realistic representation. In Green Violinist Chagall evoked his homeland. The artist's nostalgia for his own work was another impetus in creating this painting, which is based on earlier versions of the same subject. His cultural and religious legacy is illuminated by the figure of the violinist dancing in a rustic village. The Chabad Hasidim of Chagall's childhood believed it possible to achieve communion with God through music and dance, and the fiddler was a vital presence in ceremonies and festivals.
- 1891
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (German: Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen, also translated as Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a philosophical novel by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885 and published between 1883 and 1891.[1] Much of the work deals with ideas such as the "eternal recurrence of the same", the parable on the "death of God", and the "prophecy" of the Übermensch, which were first introduced in The Gay Science.[2] Thus Spoke Zarathustra was conceived while Nietzsche was writing The Gay Science; he made a small note, reading "6,000 feet beyond man and time," as evidence of this.[3] More specifically, this note related to the concept of the eternal recurrence, which is, by Nietzsche's admission, the central idea of Zarathustra; this idea occurred to him by a "pyramidal block of stone" on the shores of Lake Silvaplana in the Upper Engadine, a high alpine region whose valley floor is at 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Nietzsche planned to write the book in three parts over several years. He wrote that the ideas for Zarathustra first came to him while walking on two roads surrounding Rapallo, according to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche in the introduction of Thomas Common's early translation of the book. Although Part Three was originally planned to be the end of the book, and ends with a strong climax, Nietzsche subsequently decided to write an additional three parts; ultimately, however, he composed only the fourth part, which is viewed to constitute an intermezzo. Nietzsche commented in Ecce Homo that for the completion of each part: "Ten days sufficed; in no case, neither for the first nor for the third and last, did I require more" (trans. Kaufmann). The first three parts were first published separately, and were subsequently published in a single volume in 1887. The fourth part remained private after Nietzsche wrote it in 1885; a scant forty copies were all that were printed, apart from seven others that were distributed to Nietzsche's close friends. In March 1892, the four parts were finally reprinted as a single volume. Since then, the version most commonly produced has included all four parts. The original text contains a great deal of word-play. An example of this is the use of words beginning über ("over" or "above") and unter ("down" or "below"), often paired to emphasise the contrast, which is not always possible to bring out in translation, except by coinages. An example is Untergang, literally "down-going" but used in German to mean "setting" (as of the sun), which Nietzsche pairs with its opposite Übergang (going over or across). Another example is Übermensch (overman or superman), discussed later in this article. The book chronicles the fictitious travels and speeches of Zarathustra. Zarathustra's namesake was the founder of Zoroastrianism, usually known in English as Zoroaster (Avestan: Zaraϑuštra). Nietzsche is clearly portraying a "new" or "different" Zarathustra, one who turns traditional morality on its head. He goes on to characterize "what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth, the mouth of the first immoralist:" For what constitutes the tremendous historical uniqueness of that Persian is just the opposite of this. Zarathustra was the first to consider the fight of good and evil the very wheel in the machinery of things: the transposition of morality into the metaphysical realm, as a force, cause, and end in itself, is his work. [...] Zarathustra created this most calamitous error, morality; consequently, he must also be the first to recognize it. [...] His doctrine, and his alone, posits truthfulness as the highest virtue; this means the opposite of the cowardice of the "idealist" who flees from reality [...]—Am I understood?—The self-overcoming of morality, out of truthfulness; the self-overcoming of the moralist, into his opposite—into me—that is what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth. — Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, "Why I Am a Destiny", §3, trans. Walter Kaufmann Zarathustra has a simple characterisation and plot,[4] narrated sporadically throughout the text. It possesses a unique experimental style, one that is, for instance, evident in newly invented "dithyrambs" narrated or sung by Zarathustra. Likewise, the separate Dithyrambs of Dionysus was written in autumn 1888, and printed with the full volume in 1892, as the corollaries of Zarathustra's "abundance". Some speculate that Nietzsche intended to write about final acts of creation and destruction brought about by Zarathustra. However, the book lacks a finale to match that description; its actual ending focuses more on Zarathustra recognizing that his legacy is beginning to perpetuate, and consequently choosing to leave the higher men to their own devices in carrying his legacy forth. Zarathustra also contains the famous dictum "God is dead", which had appeared earlier in The Gay Science.[5] In his autobiographical work Ecce Homo, Nietzsche states that the book's underlying concept is discussed within "the penultimate section of the fourth book" of 'The Gay Science' (Ecce Homo, Kaufmann). It is the eternal recurrence of the same events. This concept first occurred to Nietzsche while he was walking in Switzerland through the woods along the lake of Silvaplana (close to Surlej); he was inspired by the sight of a gigantic, towering, pyramidal rock. Before Zarathustra, Nietzsche had mentioned the concept in the fourth book of The Gay Science (e.g., sect. 341); this was the first public proclamation of the notion by him. Apart from its salient presence in Zarathustra, it is also echoed throughout Nietzsche's work. At any rate, it is by Zarathustra's transfiguration that he embraces eternity, that he at last ascertains "the supreme will to power".[6] This inspiration finds its expression with Zarathustra's roundelay, featured twice in the book, once near the story's close: "O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare? "I was asleep— From a deep dream I woke and swear:— The world is deep, Deeper than day had been aware. Deep is its woe— Joy—deeper yet than agony: Woe implores: Go! But all joy wants eternity— Wants deep, wants deep eternity."" Another singular feature of Zarathustra, first presented in the prologue, is the designation of human beings as a transition between apes and the "Übermensch" (in English, either the "overman" or "superman"; or, superhuman or overhuman. English translators Thomas Common and R. J. Hollingdale use superman, while Kaufmann uses overman, and Parkes uses overhuman. Martin has opted to leave the nearly universally understood term as Übermensch in his new translation). The Übermensch is one of the many interconnecting, interdependent themes of the story, and is represented through several different metaphors. Examples include: the lightning that is portended by the silence and raindrops of a travelling storm cloud; or the sun's rise and culmination at its midday zenith; or a man traversing a rope stationed above an abyss, moving away from his uncultivated animality and towards the Übermensch. The symbol of the Übermensch also alludes to Nietzsche's notions of "self-mastery", "self-cultivation", "self-direction", and "self-overcoming". Expounding these concepts, Zarathustra declares: "I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?" "All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape." "Whoever is the wisest among you is also a mere conflict and cross between plant and ghost. But do I bid you become ghosts or plants?" "Behold, I teach you the overman! The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go!" — Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, §3, trans. Walter Kaufmann The book embodies a number of innovative poetical and rhetorical methods of expression. It serves as a parallel and supplement to the various philosophical ideas present in Nietzsche's body of work. He has, however, said that "among my writings my Zarathustra stands to my mind by itself" (Ecce Homo, Preface, sec. 4, Kaufmann). Emphasizing its centrality and its status as his magnum opus, Nietzsche stated that: With [Thus Spoke Zarathustra] I have given mankind the greatest present that has ever been made to it so far. This book, with a voice bridging centuries, is not only the highest book there is, the book that is truly characterized by the air of the heights—the whole fact of man lies beneath it at a tremendous distance—it is also the deepest, born out of the innermost wealth of truth, an inexhaustible well to which no pail descends without coming up again filled with gold and goodness. — Ecce Homo, Preface, §4, trans. Walter Kaufmann Since many of the book's ideas are also present in his other works, Zarathustra is seen to have served as a precursor to his later philosophical thought. With the book, Nietzsche embraced a distinct aesthetic assiduity. He later reformulated many of his ideas in Beyond Good and Evil and various other writings that he composed thereafter. He continued to emphasize his philosophical concerns; generally, his intention was to show an alternative to repressive moral codes and to avert "nihilism" in all of its varied forms. Other aspects of Thus Spoke Zarathustra relate to Nietzsche's proposed "Transvaluation of All Values". This incomplete project began with The Antichrist.
- 1896
- Also sprach Zarathustra, once among the less frequently performed Strauss works (Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey film did give it an immense boost), now firmly ensconced in the standard repertoire, is a tone poem, i.e., a free-form symphonic piece that either tells a story or, as is the case here, suggests the moods of a literary text. It's difficult to discern why it should have been less frequently performed than, say, the same composer's Ein Heldenleben, the two being cut from similarly colorful cloth. Perhaps it's the association with Friedrich Nietzsche's knotty philosophical work of the same name that gained Zarathustra, the music, the unwarranted reputation of being "difficult." The composer initially disavowed any connection between his score and Nietzsche beyond being inspired by the book's poetic imagery and, particularly, its evocative chapter headings, eight of which Strauss employed as non-specific guides in his score. Also sprach Zarathustra was composed in 1896, the year in which Strauss became chief conductor of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. The city of his birth prized him greatly as a conductor, but the conservative public, and the impresarios serving that public, considered his compositions rather outré. Thus, the premiere was given in Frankfurt, with the composer conducting. The fiery debate that swirled around the score when it was new was caused less by the music than by the conflicting programs Strauss proposed at varying times as its subject matter. Before the Frankfurt premiere, he authorized the following shorthand program to be printed: "First movement: Sunrise. Man feels the power of God. Andante religioso. But man still longs. He plunges into passion (second movement) and finds no peace. He turns toward science, and tries in vain to solve life's problems in a fugue (third movement). The agreeable dance tunes sound and he becomes an individual. His soul soars upward while the world sinks far below him." Was he having us on? But that was neither his first (he had earlier leaked hints of a somewhat different program to the German press) nor last word on the subject. Strauss decided finally to put the matter to rest by prefacing the published score with the words of Nietzsche's opening paragraphs, the "Ode to the Sun," concluding in the exhortation to the creative spirit: "For too long we have dreamt music, now let us awake. We were nightwalkers. Let us now be daywalkers." (Nietzsche, it might be remembered, was a composer himself.) The titles of the eight sections that follow the brass-percussion-organ depiction of the sunrise - the movie music - were the only other programmatic clues left by the composer. The titles of the eight sections, which are played without pause, are "Of the Forest-dwellers"; "Of the Great Yearning"; "Of Joys and Passions"; "Dirge"; "Of Learning" - wherein the opening, three-note C-major theme of the "Sunrise," by now associated with Zarathustra himself, evolves into a spectacular fugue. In the subsequent "The Convalescent" the preceding fugal subject reaches a peak of frenzied complexity before winding down to a gentle cello solo. With "The Dance Song," Nietzsche's ferocious philosopher, Zarathustra, breaks into a waltz. Some pro-Strauss critics have cited this as the composer's glorification of the Life Force, while detractors point to it as an example of his wretched taste. In all likelihood, it is at once indicative of Richard Strauss' affection for another (unrelated) Strauss, the Waltz King himself, and his (Richard's) sense of humor, which included not taking himself nearly as seriously as his listeners did. The climax of the waltz melts into the finale, "The Night Wanderer's Song," announced by a bell tolling midnight, and concluding peacefully, with high woodwinds repeating, ever more softly, a B-major chord, while at the bottom of the orchestra the basses play the low C with which Also sprach Zarathustra began. Herbert Glass, after serving on the administrative staffs of the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Opera, was for 25 years a critic / columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He recently completed his 16th season as English-language editor / annotator for the Salzburg Festival.
- 1942
- "Fanfare for the Common Man" was certainly Copland's best known concert opener. He wrote it in response to a solicitation from Eugene Goosens for a musical tribute honoring those engaged in World War II. Goosens, conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, originally had in mind a fanfare "... for Soldiers, or for Airmen or Sailors" and planned to open his 1942 concert season with it. Aaron Copland later wrote, "The challenge was to compose a traditional fanfare, direct and powerful, yet with a contemporary sound." To the ultimate delight of audiences Copland managed to weave musical complexity with popular style. He worked slowly and deliberately, however, and the piece was not ready until a full month after the proposed premier. Image: Aaron Copland Aaron Copland on an American street, Ossining, New York (?), Victor Kraft, photographer (n.d.). Used by permission of Mrs. Victor Kraft. Music Division To Goosens' surprise Copland titled the piece "Fanfare for the Common Man" (although his sketches show he also experimented with other titles such as "Fanfare for a Solemn Ceremony" and "Fanfare for Four Freedoms"). Fortunately Goosens loved the work, despite his puzzlement over the title, and decided with Copland to preview it on March 12, 1943. As income taxes were to be paid on March 15 that year, they both felt it was an opportune moment to honor the common man. Copland later wrote, "Since that occasion, 'Fanfare' has been played by many and varied ensembles, ranging from the U.S. Air Force Band to the popular Emerson, Lake, and Palmer group ... I confess that I prefer 'Fanfare' in the original version, and I later used it in the final movement of my Third Symphony." Aaron Copland, said the composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, was the one to "lead American music out of the wilderness." Copland's musical opus, for which he received the 1964 Medal of Freedom, also included such masterworks as "Piano Variations" (1930), "El Salon Mexico" (1936), "Billy the Kid" (1938), "Fanfare for the Common Man" (1942), "Rodeo" (1942), "Appalachian Spring" (1944), and "Inscape" (1967). Image: William Heck, a Cattleman William Heck, a Cattleman, and His Wife Making out Their Income Tax Form, Moreno Valley, New Mexico, John Collier, photographer, February 1943. Prints and Photographs Division Taxes and the Common Man In March 1943, income taxes were a major issue for the common man. The United States had been at war about fifteen months and government spending soared. The previous year, as other taxes rose, only one in seven taxpayers had managed to save enough from their wages to pay the federal government. Congress had just recently required employers to withhold an employee's estimated taxes; and from 1942 to 1943, collected federal taxes rose from $3.2 billion to $6.5 billion and by 1944, to $20 billion.
- 1921
- Langston Hughes wrote "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" while on a train ride to Mexico, where he would live with his father for one year. He had just graduated from high school in Cleveland, Ohio, making him a mere eighteen years old. The poem was published in Crisis Magazine (the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1921, a year later. When his train crossed the Mississippi River, Hughes was inspired by its beauty and was also reminded of its role in sustaining slavery in America. The sun was setting, and Hughes had a long journey ahead of him. He took out a letter his father had written him and wrote this poem on the back of its pages.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is one of Hughes's most famous works, as it celebrated the voice and the soul of the black community in a time of great racial intolerance, injustice, and inequality in America. Hughes helped to inspire and unite the black community when their voice was not appreciated by a predominantly white society, and as a result, he became the unofficial poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a movement during the 1920s and 1930s in America in which black artists, activists, writers, musicians, and performers found new ways to explore and celebrate the black experience. While the movement's epicenter was in Harlem, New York, cities all across the country became hubs of the renaissance.

A few years after its publication, Hughes chose to dedicate "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" to W.E.B. DuBois, one of the most brilliant scholars, educators, civil rights activists, writers, and thinkers of all time. DuBois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP), and Crisis Magazine. He fought tirelessly for racial equality in America, and Hughes followed in his footsteps.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" connects the soul and heritage of the African-American community to four great rivers in the Middle East, Africa, and America. In this way, the poem charts the journey of African and African-Americans and links this community to the birth of civilization. The speaker tells the tale of freedom and enslavement that his people have endured, and it heralds their wisdom and strength.
- 1929
- Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the twentieth century's best-known advocates for nonviolent social change. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King's exceptional oratorical skills and personal courage first attracted national attention in 1955, when he and other civil rights activists were arrested after leading a boycott of a Montgomery, Alabama, transportation company which required nonwhites to surrender their seats to whites, and stand or sit at the back of the bus. Over the following decade, King wrote, spoke and organized nonviolent protests and mass demonstrations to draw attention to racial discrimination and to demand civil rights legislation to protect the rights of African-Americans. In 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, King guided peaceful mass demonstrations that the white police force countered with police dogs and fire hoses, creating a controversy which generated newspaper headlines throughout the world. Subsequent mass demonstrations in many communities culminated in a march that attracted more than 250,000 protestors to Washington, DC, where King delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech in which he envisioned a world where people were no longer divided by race. So powerful was the movement he inspired, that Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the same year King himself was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. Posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, King is an icon of the civil rights movement. His life and work symbolize the quest for equality and nondiscrimination that lies at the heart of the American—and human—dream.