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of the thirteenth century a new art impulse came from the North in the shape of a northern builder, who, after building Assisi, visited Florence and instructed Arnolfo in Gothic, as opposed to Greek architecture. Thus there met the two principles of art—the Norman (or Lombard), vigorous and savage; the Greek (or Byzantine), contemplative but sterile. The new spirit in Florence " adopts what is best in each, and gives to what it adopts a new energy of its own, ... collects and animates the Norman and Byzantine tradition, and forms out of the perfected worship and work of both, the honest Christian faith and vital craftsmanship of the world. . . . Central stood Etruscan Florence : agricultural in occupation, religious in thought, she directed the industry of the Northman into the arts of peace; kindled the dreams of the Byzantine with the fire of charity. Child of her peace, and exponent of her passion, her Cimabue became the interpreter to mankind of the meaning of the Birth of Christ” (Ariadne Florentina, ch. ii. ; Mornings in Florence, ii. 44, 45).
215, 216. VARIOUS SAINTS.1
School of Taddeo Gaddi (Gaddi : 1300–about 1366). Taddeo Gaddi was one of the best and most faithful of Giotto's followers: art had gone back," he used to say, “since his master's
These pictures, like all the rest in the room except 564 (which is on linen cloth attached to wood) and 276 (which is in fresco), are painted in tempera on wood. Tempera (or distemper) painting is a generic term for the various methods in which some other substance than oil was the medium. Various substances were thus used-such as gum, glue or size, flour-paste, white of egg, milk of figs. Cennino Cennini, who wrote a treatise on painting at the end of the fourteenth century, professes to give the exact method of Giotto. Egg beaten up with water was preferred by him, except where the yellowness of the mixture injured the purity of the colour. The colours thus mixed were laid on to a panel (or on to a cloth stretched over the panel) previously prepared with a smooth white ground of plaster. And finally oil or albumen was used to go over the whole surface. This was the practice in general use for all detached pictures until the middle of the fifteenth century, when what is known as “the Van Eyck method” came into vogue (see p. 275 n.)
Fresco painting is painting upon walls of wet plaster with carths of different colours diluted with water. It is so called from the colour being applied to the fresh wet surface of lime, but it is of two kinds : (I) fresco secco, when the plaster of lime has been allowed to dry on the wall and is then saturated with water before painting; this was the method in use till
death.” But like Giotto himself, he is but poorly represented in the National Gallery-these pictures and 579, p. 74, being doubtful productions of his school.
There is an air of settled peace, of abstract quietude, about this company of saints which is very impressive-something fixed in the attitude and features recalling the conventual life as described by St. Bernard and paraphrased by Wordsworth in his Ecclesiastical Sonnets
Here Man more purely lives, less ost doth fall,
594. THE “HOLY MONEY DESPISERS.”
Emmanuel (Byzantine : about 1660). This picture is the earliest in the gallery--not in order of time, but in order of artistic development. It is a genuine Byzantine picture, an example, therefore, of the art which prevailed in Italy from the sixth century down to about 1250, and the influence of which survived even when the Italian painters had developed an art of their own. The Byzantine style of painting is distinguished by its conventionality and its constancy. It was the recognised thing that such and such a subject should be treated in such and such a way and no other. There is a Byzantine Manual of Painting in a manuscript of the eleventh century in which instructions are given not only as to the subjects to be represented, but as to the costume, age, and lineaments of the characters. An art of this kind was naturally unchanging. This picture is probably only 200 years old, but if it had been painted 800 years ago, or if it had been ordered only the other day from the monks of Mount Athos, little difference of style would be perceptible. It is signed in Greek “by the hand of Emmanouel, priest of Tzane," and there is a painter of that name who is known to have been living in Venice about the year 1660.
after Giotto's time; (2) buon fresco, when the colours are laid on to the fresh plaster before it is yet dry. (The fullest account of these various technical processes and their history is Sir C, Eastlake's " Materials for a History of Oil Painting," a review of which by Mr. Ruskin appeared in the Quarterly Review, and is reprinted in On the Old Road, i. 133 sq.)
The picture is conventional in its choice of subject--the saints Cosmas and Damian being one of the subjects recognised in Byzantine art. They were martyrs of the fourth century - patron saints of medicine, which they practised without fees—hence their title, the “holy money -despisers.” They are here receiving the Divine blessing. The picture is conventional also in its treatment. Thus the attitude of the hand is the recognised symbol whereby to express that a figure is speaking. So too, the background is formed by a golden plain, which is meant to represent the air or the sky. The dark blue semicircle surrounding the bust of our Saviour, above the two heads of the saints, has more or less the form of the horizon, and is meant to represent the heaven in which Christ dwells (Richter, pp. 5-7).
573. THE NATIVITY.
574. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.
575. THE RESURRECTION.
Orcagna (about 1308-1368). See under 569, p. 70. These three pictures are parts of the altar-piece, 569. They are very rude and “conventional”: nothing can be more absurd, for instance, than the sleeping sheep and shepherds at the top of the Nativity; but they are interesting, if only by comparison with later pictures of the same subjects. Such a comparison shows how constant the traditional ways of representing these events were, and how individual choice was shown in beautifying the traditions. Thus many of the details in the Nativity here are similar in idea to those in Botticelli's (III. 1034, p. 56). So also we have the same Resurrection banner here as in Fra Angelico's (II. 663, p. 43). But in the several manners of treating the themes there is all the difference between art and rudeness.
276. HEADS OF ST JOHN AND ST. PAUL.1
Giotto (1276–1337). See under 568, p. 72.
BROWNING: Fra Lippo Lippi.
Painted in fresco secco : see footnote on p. 67.
569. THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.
Orcagna (about 1308-1368). Orcagna is one of the many instances of the union of the arts in the Middle Age. His father was a goldsmith, and he himself was distinguished alike as a painter, a sculptor, and an architect-a union which he used to note by signing his pictures “the work of ... sculptor," and his sculptures “the work of ... painter.” As a sculptor and architect he is best known by the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence; as a painter by his frescoes of the Last Judgment and Triumph of Death in the Campo Santo at Pisa. His real name was Andrea di Cione, but he was called by his contemporaries Orcagna, a corruption of Arcagnuolo, the Archangel. “An intense solemnity and energy in the sublimest groups of his figures, fading away as he touches inferior subjects, indicates that his home was among the archangels, and his rank among the first of the sons of men” (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iii. $ 8).
This altar-piece, though a handsome piece of church furniture, is not a favourable specimen of the master's powers, It was painted for the church of San Pietro Maggiore, a model of which is held by St. Peter (amongst the saints adoring on the spectator's left). The nine smaller pictures, now dispersed about this room (573-5, 576-8, 570-2), were originally placed under the principal picture. A certain quaint uncouthness in the picture is apparent to every one, but this should not blind us to its wealth of expressive detail. Thus, "in the sensitive cast of the Mother's countenance, and in the refined pose of her figure, there is a rare degree of eloquence, such as silently bespeaks a modesty which would shun, a humility which would disallow, any sort of self-adornment. Her Lord, to whose will she submits herself, is no less monumental in dignity of combined power and tenderness. And in the celestial band below, in the maidens that play and sing at the Mother's feet, despite their quaint little almond eyes, there is a naïveté of expression, a simplicity and animation unequalled at so early a date. In particular she who, singing behind the harpist, generously spends her soul in impassioned songs, while others, agreeable to nature's truth, are singing regardless of their song, interested only in what is around. Again, in that dual company of holy men and women sitting about the throne, reverence stills every feature, and a saintly singleness of purpose keeps each eye as they look in loving adoration on Him whose dying bought their soul's salvation, or as they lean towards Her whose human heart petitioned them to Paradise” (A. H. Macmurdo in Century Guild Hobby Horse, ii. 34).
701. THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.
Justus of Padua (died 1400). A picture of interest as being the oldest by any North Italian painter in the Gallery—the date inscribed on the plinth below is 1367. Justus (Giusto di Giovanni) was a native of Florence, who afterwards settled in Padua and founded his style upon the works of Giotto in that town. None of the pictures by followers of Giotto in the Gallery are so satisfactory as this. “The Virgin is of a fresh type, pretty and noble also. Amongst the saints in the centre picture that of St. Paul (on the extreme right) is distinguished by its natural bearing. There is, however, vigour and a sense of beauty and proportion throughout this charming little work.” In the panel to the left, with the Nativity, “may be noticed the spirit of alertness in the attendant waiting to wash the child, and the statuesque design of St. Joseph ;" in that to the right, with the crucifixion, "the figure of St. John, at the foot of the Cross, with its fine expression of grief, and beautifully-designed drapery" (Monkhouse, p. 23). On the reverse side of the wings are other incidents from the life of the Virgin. 567. CHRIST ON THE CROSS.
Segna di Buonaventura (Sienese : painted 1305-1319). A ghastly and conventional work by one of the early Sienese painters---a pupil of Duccio (see II. 566, p. 46). 576. THE “THREE MARIES” AT THE SEPULCHRE. 577. THE ASCENSION. 578. THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Orcagna ( about 1303-1368). See under 569, p. 70. Parts of the altar-piece, 569. 5809 PART OF AN ALTAR-PIECE. Jacopo Landini (about 1310-1390). See under 580, p. 78.
These figures formed the cuspidi, or upper pictures, of the “Ascension of St. John” (580). In the middle is the symbolic representation of the Trinity (seen best on a large scale in