Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tutor Report: Assignment 2

Overall comments

Your work is well written and presented. In some instances more depth/bredth of analysis would be good, as I will focus on in my subsequent feedback.

Feedback on Assignment
Annotation: Titian, 'Rape of Europa'
This is a very detailed description of what can be seen in the painting. You also considered the subject, the artist, the mythological story and the commissioner of the work. What I would recommend you start to think about with annotations (and indeed whe looking at artworks generally) is how the artist's technique, combined with the subject matter, creates a particular meaning - which in itself is absolutely embedded in the context and time in which the artwork was made and viewed.
So... you rightly said that Titian was working during the period of the Italian Renaissance. In that case, we might expect certain characteristics to be present in the work which represenmt the 'ethos' of that artistic period.
One is the use of mythology to 'speak' about more everyday matters - so, for example, such subject matter would at the time often have been read in ways we might find surprising. So a painting such as this one by Titian could have been read in terms of comflict between European countries, as representative of the 'rape' of a region or of a country, and so on. Given that this is a p[ainting within a larger cycle of commissioned works, and given that the commissioner was Philip II, his powerful presence in Europe has to be a factor in what these paintings might have represented at the time.
Secondly, the use of subject matter which required the owner of the works to have a deep understanding of classical mythology would reflect well both on the patron, as well as on the artist in the latter's ability to deal with such subject matter.
Thirdly, given the deep interest in classical Greece we would expect to see idealized bodies represented in such a painting. At the same time artists were concerned to produce credible scenes - hence the use of aerial perspective which you note in this painting - but this was often somewhat at odds with classical idealization. One example is the somewhat awkward depiction of Europa lying on the bull's back!
Annotation: Caravaggio,'The Calling of St. Matthew'
Most of my comments above apply here also. You have detailed what we see and addressed the subject matter, artist, patron, and this time also the artistic context - this latter paragraph could have been expanded a little to say more about the theatricality of such art. You are right in that observation, and this was one of the key aspects of the Baroque (particularly in relation to religious artworks) in the effort to engage worshippers through drama and presenting believeable figures. Hence Caravaggio's frequent use of 'ordinary' people as his models was very controversial - some patrons (as here) welcomed it as it made the religious figures more accessible to the contemporary viewer, however others regarded it as blasphemous.
Project 7: Coreggio, ' Venus with Mercury and Cupid' (formal and contextual analysis of a sixteeth century mythological painting)
Again, good observation of the formal aspects of the painting. What do you think is the effect of how the artist has dealt with this subject matter? The fact that the figures are all on one plae, and appear very close to us, is really significant. It means that hte viewer is encouraged to engage with them and feel part of the scene that is presented to them. At the same time, as you observed, the composition is very orderly - the use of a triangle was a popular way to provide an underlying stability of composition, within which the painter could then introduce as much naturalism as possible - as you noticed in the handling of Cupid. The lighting is also very dramatic, and gives the painting a theatrical effect, almost as if we are looking at figures on a stage. (I don't know whether there is a final page missing in your submission - the final pagebefore the bibliography appears to be incomplete. I'd check this if you submit this work for formal assessment.)

So far as your bibliography is concerned, using some internet sources is fine, but it would be good also to look at (in the case of project 7, and also the annotations) published books on the Renaissance, the Baroque and Mannerist periods. That will give you a much deeper and richer understanding of the times.

Assignment 2: Visit to 18 Stafford Terrace, Linley Sambourne House

Here you gave a detailed description of each room, supported by good photographs and helpful plans. It clearly gave a vivid sense of the sheer amount of possessions seen in houses of this period.

Again, where I would have gone a bit further was in the areas of architectural style and interior decor. An Italianate style in the second half of the ninteenth century was a fairly 'safe' and conventional approach - so it would suggest that both the developer, and the Sambournes, were fairly conservative on that front. However it is interesting that the interior shows an interest in the 'Aesthetic' movement, thus signaling a more adventurous approach within these rooms. You could also think about the rooms in such houses in terms of whether they performed 'private' or 'public' functions - as you note, the Drawing Room would be used to entertain guests, therefore we might expect it to have receive careful attention in terms of presenting the family in a way they wished.

Your postcard collection is coming along well.

Learning Logs/Critical Essays

I've had a look at your blog. I can see here that you are referring to some solid reference books - make sure that this is reflected in your assignment work as well.

What I think there should be more of is self-reflection, i.e. the learning log. This will matter if you do decided to submit for formal assessment at the end of the course.

In summary:
Your learning log should reflect on your work and progress all the time. Its aims can be broken down into several heading:
1. Knowledge - artists, periods, descriptions, definitions, quotes, notes about exhibitions
2. Learning - principles, skills, elements, attitude
3. Ideas/thoughts (not just visual impressions)
4. Exercises and experiments
5. Making connections and being reflective

Broadly the log has 4 main functions - exploration, investigation, reflection and rethinking (taking your studies further)

So some of this is evident in your course work, of course, but it would also be good to see some sense of you relfecting on WHAT you are learning, WHAT is changing in the way you approach artworkds, and so on.

Dr Pauline Rose

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unit 7: Postcards/Images

6 paintings or sculptures: minor works to measure against the masterpieces/ single theme/ single artist.

I choose to collect my postcards based on the theme of "The Depiction of Violence in Italian Renaissance Art"

Judith and Holofernes. [bronze] Donatello (1430) Height: 236cm. Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian [oil on poplar] Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Piero del Pollaiuolo (1473-1475) Size: 291.5 x 206.6cm. National Gallery, London

David beats Goliath. [fresco] Michelangelo Buonarotti (1509) Size: 570 x 970cm. Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.
The Beheading of St. John the Baptist. [bronze] Vincenzo Danti (1570-1571) Height: St John the Baptist 164.2cm, Salome 243.0cm, Executioner 268.0cm. Museo del Bargello, Florence 

The Flagellation of Christ. [oil on panel] Francesco Bacchiacca (c. 1512-1515) Size: 55.9 x 48.1cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA.
The Flaying of Marsyas. [oil on vancas] Titian (c.1575) Size: 212 x 207cm. ARchbishop's Gallery, Kromeriz, Czech Republic.

Unit 7: Annotation: Titian, Europa


Georgievska-Shine, A. (2007) Titian, “Europa”, and the Seal of the “Poesie”. Artibus et Historiae. 28 (56), pp.177-185. Available from: [Accessed: 11 August 2011]

Stone Jr, D. The Source of Titian’s Rape of Europa. The Art Bulletin. 54 (1), pp. 47-49.
Europa. Available from: [Accessed: 11 August 2011]

Titian (1559-1562) Europa [oil on canvas] [online image] Place: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Available from: [Accessed: 10 April 2011]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unit 7: High Renaissance

The High Renaissance is the period where all the knowledge discovered and invented during the Renaissance culminates into a unprecedented level of technical competence, harmonious and balanced composition and rich imagination. During this time, the artist was considered an intellectual and was courted by the wealthy and the royalty. The period of High Renaissance Art is about 1490 to 1527. It was dominated by 3 artists: Leonard da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo Buanarroti (1475-1564) and Raphael (1483-1520).

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  • Figures in the painting show not only their outward action but also their inner thoughts and emotions and their non-action interaction with other figures
  • Accurate depiction of the human figure from his studies of human anatomy from dissection
  • Depiction of landscapes in paintings are from observations from real life; they are so scientifically accurate that geologists are able to identify the rock formations from the paintings
  • Introduced chiaroscuro, sfumato and aerial perspective
  • Achieve balance in composition without symmetry

While he was an apprentice in Verrocchio’s workshop, Leonardo painted an angel that was far more superior than the angel painted by Verrocchio in Baptism of Christ (1472-1475)

The Baptism of Christ (1472-1475) by Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci
The angel on the left with long curly locks is attributed to Leonardo. The angel has a more serene and intimate facial expression with softer lines and gradual change of colour compared to Verrocchio’s angel on the right.

Michelangelo Buanarotti (1475-1564)
  • Showed strength, mightiness and power in his figures (sculptures and paintings)
  • Used architectural knowledge in painting trompe l’oeil architectural elements such as lunettes and triangular spandrels above the arches of the windows and horizontal ribs of stones across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, thereby dividing the whole of the ceiling into sections
  • Famous works: Statue of David (1501-1503), ceiling of Sistine Chapel (1508-1512)
Ignudo from the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel

Raphael (1483-1520)
  • Harmonious balance of colour, power and emotion in his paintings
  • Portraits show the individuality and personality of the sitter
  • Painted many pictures of Madonna with attention to composition and emotion of the figures
  • Famous works: School of Athens (1509-1511), The Sistine Madonna (1513), Transfiguration (1517)
The Sistine Madonna (1513) by Raphael


Brauner, O.M. (1916) Painting: The High Renaissance in Italy. The Renaissance in Other Countries. Fine Arts Journal. [online]. 34 (8), pp.369-384, 387-401. Available from: [Accessed 6 April 2011]

Dunlop, G. (1989) Heroic Ambitions. [DVD] United Kingdom: T.V.S. Television Ltd

Eugene a. (2011) The Baptism of Christ. [online image]. Available from: [Accessed 4 April 2011]

Honour, H. and Fleming, J. (2009) A world history of art. Revised 7th ed. London: Laurence King

Mancinelli, F. (1993) The Sistine Chapel. trans by McConnachie, H. Vatican City: Edizioni Musei Vaticani

Pizzorusso, A. (1996) Leonardo’s Geology: The Authenticity of the “Virgin of the Rocks”. Leonardo [online] 29 (3), pp. 197-200. Available from: [Accessed 6 April 2011]

Raphael (1513) The Sistine Madonna [oil on canvas] [online image] Place: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany. Available from: [Accessed: 7 April 2011] (n. d.) Leonardo [online] Available from: [Accessed on 8 April 2011]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Assignment 1: Write a review on an art history documentary

‘The Age of Gothic’ is an art history documentary on Gothic architecture. The video begins by introducing the viewer to Chartres Cathedral in France as the main representative of Gothic architecture. Michael Woods, the host, elaborates on the socio-economic changes that took place in the mid-12th century; the population boom and the development of organized education. These became the catalysts for the development in Gothic architecture that follows.

       The video then brings us to the Church of St Denis where Abbott Suger started the Gothic architectural movement. William Clark, an art historian, points out that the key feature in Gothic architecture is the immense floating space of its interior. This is highlighted with wide panning shots of the columns and vaults of the church and beautiful divine coloured lights from the stained glass windows on the walls. Dramatic music that accompanied these slow moving images heightens the magic of Gothic interiors and enabled the viewer to experience Gothic church as a place ‘suspended between earth and heaven’ as mentioned by Abbott Suger.

       The viewer is brought back to Chartres and is introduced to the sculptures around the portals and their symbolisms; and is led into the interior to see the tall columns and vault of the High Gothic period. The flying buttresses, a key architecture element of Gothic architecture, is highlighted and contrasted with Romanesque architecture with a diagrammatic comparison. This is followed by a running commentary by Anne Prache, a French medievalist, on the beauty of stained glass windows and the stories they tell.

       I like this video because it takes full advantage of moving pictures to allow the viewer to better appreciate the greatness of Gothic architecture. The interiors are shown with the camera zooming in and panning over the dominant vertical lines in the cathedral to allow the viewer to see the massiveness of the vertical space. Appropriate music is used to amplify the beauty of the visuals.

       However, there is a lack of systematic arrangement in the presentation of Gothic architecture. The documentary jumps from external sculptures to interior architectural elements to external flying buttresses and then back to the interior stained glass decoration. This leads to a disconcerting viewing as there is a mishmash of exterior and interior; architectural elements and decorations.

       The inclusion of Canterbury Cathedral in England early in the video felt out of place and does not follow the development of typical of Gothic Architecture. Canterbury Cathedral would have better been mentioned near the end as a regional variant. It would also be better to mention briefly about the existence of Gothic architecture in other European countries such as Germany and Italy to show the widespread of its influence, as an uninformed viewer might conclude that Gothic architecture only exist in France and England.

       On the whole, this is a good video as an introduction to Gothic architecture and would whet the appetite of the viewer to visit the cathedrals and experience their wonders first hand.