In the Month of July by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, Dutch Artist, 1828-1903
A Windmill on a Polder Waterway, Known as ‘In the Month of July’, 1889, oil on canvas, 102×66 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Behold! a giant am I! / Aloft here in my tower, / With my granite jaws I devour / The maize, and the wheat, and the rye, / And grind them into flour.     /     I look down over the farms; / In the fields of grain I see / The harvest that is to be, / And I fling to the air my arms, / For I know it is all for me.     …     Ah, how the world has changed / Since the days of the old windmill, / When July’s hot breath would still / Its sails, and the sun would parch and dry / The wind that once turned it at will! writes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His poem The Windmill captures the power and importance of windmills in the past, and how they were able to harness the power of the wind to grind grain into flour. The mention of July’s hot breath and the parching sun also gives a sense of the summer season. The painting In the Month of July by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël exhibits the same characteristics.  

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël (1828-1903) was a Dutch painter known for his landscape paintings. He was born in Amsterdam and trained at the Royal Academy of Art in that city. Gabriël’s early work was influenced by the Barbizon school of painting, which emphasized the realistic representation of nature. Later, he was influenced by the Hague School of Painting, which focused on capturing the atmosphere and mood of the landscape. Gabriël became a leading member of this movement.

His paintings often depict the Dutch countryside, with its wide open spaces, flat fields, and skies filled with clouds. He was particularly interested in the effects of light and atmosphere, and his work often has a serene and contemplative quality. Gabriël’s paintings were well received during his lifetime and he received numerous awards and honors. He exhibited regularly in the Netherlands and also showed his work in Paris and London. His paintings can be found in many museums around the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Gabriël was also a respected teacher and had many students who went on to become successful painters. He died in Scheveningen, Netherlands, in 1903.

Our country is saturated with colour. … I repeat, our country is not grey, not even in grey weather, nor are the dunes grey… wrote Constant Gabriël in a letter, and unlike many Hague School painters, he actually enjoyed depicting a beautiful summer day. The painting In the Month of July by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël showcases exactly what he believed!

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, Dutch Artist, 1828-1903
A Windmill on a Polder Waterway, Known as ‘In the Month of July’ (detail), 1889, oil on canvas, 102×66 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The painting, completed in 1889 and currently in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, depicts a typical Dutch landscape in the height of summer. In the foreground, there is a field of tall grass and wildflowers, while in the distance there is a small village nestled among trees. The sky is filled with fluffy clouds, and the light of the sun is reflected in the water in the foreground. The painting is characteristic of Gabriël’s work, which often focused on the Dutch countryside and the effects of light and atmosphere. His paintings typically have a calm, contemplative quality, and ‘In the Month of July’ is no exception.

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, Dutch Artist, 1828-1903
A Windmill on a Polder Waterway, Known as ‘In the Month of July’ (detail), 1889, oil on canvas, 102×66 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gabriël was associated with the Hague School of Painting, which emphasized realism and an interest in capturing the atmosphere and mood of a particular place. He was also influenced by the Barbizon School of Painting, which emphasized the realistic representation of nature. His paintings often feature the flat fields and wide skies of the Dutch countryside, and he was particularly interested in the changing effects of light and weather. In the Month of July is a beautiful example of Gabriël’s work, showcasing his skill at capturing the beauty and serenity of the Dutch landscape in the summer season.

For a PowerPoint on Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël’s oeuvre, please… Check HERE!

Fish and Waves by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany, American artist, 1848 – 1933 – Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company
Fish and Waves Table Lamp, attributed to Clara Driscoll, circa 1900- 1903, Leaded Glass, patinated bronze, H. 38.1 cm, Private Collection

In a 1917 Harper’s Bazaar article, Louis Comfort Tiffany explained how he combined his love of water and his appreciation of Asian art and symbolism, in the decoration and landscaping of his home, Laurelton Hall: “Well, you see…here water is used as an element of beauty, following the methods of the Far East. The Orientals worship water. To them, it is a treasure rare, a guest they honor. Here it not only harmonizes with the architectural scheme, but the vital liquid suggests hope, a message even to those living in the arid places of life. So here I have a cascade. Just listen to its merry music as it splashes over the rockery. It is the quick movement of the water that interests me, constant and pure as sunlight. I glory in its whimsicality. Fish and Waves by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the artist’s rare and iconic Table Lamp, best exemplifies his belief.

When I think of Louis Comfort Tiffany, I think of nature’s power, its brittleness, and joy. I think of radiance, luminosity, and brilliance in colour… Let’s start by answering some questions about the great American creator, starting with Who …

Who was Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933)? He was an American artist and designer best known for his work in stained glass. He was born in New York City to a family of artists and craftsmen and was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the National Academy of Design. Tiffany began his career as a painter but soon turned his attention to decorative arts and design. In 1879, he founded the Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated Artists, which produced furniture, ceramics, and metalwork, as well as stained glass. Tiffany’s most famous work is his stained glass, which he began producing in the 1880s. He developed a technique for producing iridescent glass, known as Favrile glass, which became one of his trademarks. In addition to his work in stained glass, Tiffany was also a prolific interior designer and created a number of luxurious and ornate interiors for wealthy clients. He was also involved in the design of jewelry, particularly in the Art Nouveau style. Tiffany was a prominent figure in the art world of his time and received numerous awards and honors throughout his career.

Who were the artists or craftsmen who worked with Tiffany to create his iconic stained glass artworks? Tiffany had a team of skilled artisans and craftsmen who worked with him at his studio, the Tiffany Studios, in New York City. These artisans and craftsmen were responsible for creating the various components of the stained glass window, including cutting and assembling the glass pieces, creating the metal framework, and painting and firing the glass. Some of the notable artisans who worked at the Tiffany Studios were women, like Agnes F. Northrop, who was the head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department, and Clara Driscoll, who was the head of the Women’s Glass Decorating Department. Other skilled workers at the studio included glass cutters, glass painters, and metalworkers who helped bring Tiffany’s designs to life.

Who was Clara Driscoll, the head of the Women’s Glass Decorating Department at Louis Comfort Tiffany Studio? Clara Driscoll was an American artist and designer who worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany’s studio, primarily designing lamps and mosaics. She was born in 1861 in Tallmadge, Ohio, and studied art and design at the Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Driscoll began working for Tiffany in 1888 and quickly rose through the ranks to become the head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department. She was responsible for designing many of Tiffany’s most famous lamps, including the Dragonfly, Wisteria, Peony lamps, and Fish and Waves Table Lamp. Driscoll’s contributions to Tiffany’s studio were largely uncredited during her lifetime. However, in recent years, her contributions have been more widely recognized, and she is now considered to be one of the most important designers of the Art Nouveau period. In 2007, a collection of her personal letters was discovered, shedding new light on her contributions to Tiffany’s studio and her life as a female artist in the early 20th century.

Tiffany’s Table Lamp ‘Fish and Waves’ is perhaps the finest representation of water’s ever-changing beauty, Tiffany’s fascination with the Orient, and goldfish vigorously swimming among the seaweed. This is a fine example of how Tiffany brilliantly combined the Art of Glass and Metalwork. Let’s finish this presentation with questions starting with How…

How can we introduce Tiffany’s Table Lamp ‘Fish and Waves’? Dated circa 1900-1903, the ‘Fish and Waves’ Table Lamp is known for its intricate and colorful design featuring a school of goldfish swimming among waves of blue and green glass. The designer is believed to be Clara Driscoll. The inspiration comes from Tiffany’s fascination with the Far East, and particularly Koi, the Japanese goldfish that symbolizes perseverance and inner strength as well as prosperity.

How does Clara Driscoll describe Tiffany’s fascination with Japanese Art? In a letter in 1898, she revealingly notes that Tiffany’s home was filled with Japanese art… ‘like a dream of poetry and harmony that might have come out of the East. It is somewhat oriental in effect but not in detail. As if Mr. Tiffany had gone to the same great sources of inspiration but had evolved his own conception of their great principles. I told him that I felt that his work was in some ways suggestive of Eastern thought, which seemed to please him – and he said, ‘Yes I have always been influenced by the oriental idea of form and color’. He said he thought that I was gaining in my work and that I was thinking in the right direction.’

Louis Comfort Tiffany, American artist, 1848 – 1933 – Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company
Fish and Waves Table Lamp, attributed to Clara Driscoll, circa 1900- 1903, Leaded Glass, patinated bronze, H. 38.1 cm, Private Collection

How would the ‘Fish and Waves’ Table Lamp Shade be described? The shade, of a ‘circular’ shape with a diameter of around 40.6 cm, is made up of hundreds of individual pieces of stained glass, each carefully cut and soldered together to create the complex design of an unsurpassed sense of motion. The depicted goldfish, brilliantly rendered in amber and orange-streaked yellow glass, swim counter-clockwise, among the sinuous vertical strands of seaweed, in glorious shades of green, aquamarine, teal, and blue, that sway gently upwards, with some overlapping a few of the goldfish. The glass selected for the background water passages is equally exceptional. Composed of rippled transparent green-streaked navy and blue glass, the pieces were placed so that the ripples go in a number of different directions, greatly adding to the overall effect of moving water. Mauve glass streaked with brilliant jewel-tone hues is selectively interspersed, evoking the sense of light reflecting on the water’s surface.

How would the ‘Fish and Waves’ Table Lamp cast bronze base be described? The base of the lamp is typically made of cast bronze, and it features three large fish swimming upwards against the current towards cresting waves surmounted by a rope-twist collar that supports the shade. The casting is of phenomenal quality, as is the applied rich brown patina with green highlights.

In 2019, Paul Doros, presenting the Fish and Waves by Louis Comfort Tiffany Table Lamp for Sotheby’s, wrote… A major aspect of Tiffany Studios’ marketing at the turn of the 20th Century was to proclaim that their glass and lamps were true works of art, the equivalent of any great painting or sculpture. This unique example of their Fish and Waves lamp superbly exemplifies that claim and highlights the firm’s remarkable standards of excellence in both manufacturing and aesthetics. It is indeed a masterwork and an object to be revered and treasured by all admirers of Tiffany’s oeuvre.

For a Student Activity inspired by Fish and Waves by Louis Comfort Tiffany, please… Check HERE!

Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa

Giambattista Tiepolo, Italian Artist,1696 – 1770
Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, circa 1745, fresco mounted on canvas, 7,29 x 4,02 m, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France (my amateurish attempt to Photography)

No other work by Tiepolo could be closer to our hearts, as it seems to have been created for us (the people of France). The last great Venetian painter and an episode in the history of France: is this not the finest possible blend of everything Venetian and French? This is how the fresco Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, in Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, was presented to the French public by the ‘librettist’ of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in 1896. (page 121-130) and

Giambattista Tiepolo, also known as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, is widely regarded as one of the greatest painters of the Rococo period. Tiepolo came from a family of artists, and he received his initial artistic training from his father, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo the Elder. Tiepolo’s talent and artistic abilities quickly gained recognition, leading to commissions for various decorative frescoes in palaces and churches across Europe. His works showcased his mastery of composition, grandeur, and a distinctive sense of lightness and elegance.

Giambattista Tiepolo, Italian Artist,1696 – 1770
Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa (detail), circa 1745, fresco mounted on canvas, 7,29 x 4,02 m, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France (my amateurish attempt to Photography)

Circa 1745 Tiepolo was commissioned to paint a historic event for the Contarini family, and specifically for Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta. Standing in the Veneto area, only a few kilometers from Padua and Vicenza, on the ruins of an ancient castle built by the Dente family around the year 1000, the Villa was a farmhouse up until the mid-17th century, when Federico Contarini, one of the procurators of San Marco, expanded the building, turning it into a palace. Villa Contarini reflects Palladio’s signature style, which is characterized by symmetry, proportion, and the grandeur of Venetian nobility.

Andrea Michieli, called Vicentino, 1542-1617
Entrance of King Henry III of France at San Nicolo al Lido, 1593, oil on canvas
400 x 810 cm, Sala delle Quattro Porte, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy
Andrea Michieli, called Vicentino, 1542-1617
Entrance of King Henry III of France at San Nicolo al Lido, 1593, oil on canvas
400 x 810 cm, Sala delle Quattro Porte, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy

Venetian grandeur was what Henri III of France experienced in 1574 while traveling from Poland to France in order to accept the French Crown. He arrived in Venice on 18 July 1574 and stayed in La Serenissima for ten days of official festivities and sightseeing. His host, Doge Alvise Contarini, welcomed him in front of the church of San Nicolò on the Lido for the day’s lavish reception, in front of a triumphal arch and an open loggia supported by ten Corinthian columns, designed by Andrea Palladio. The days that followed were dazzling with regattas, theatrical and musical performances, sightseeing, attendance of administrative events, phantasmagoric balls, and meetings with all members of Venice’s aristocracy and intelligentsia.

The day of his departure, Tuesday, the 27th of July, was equally grand. Henri III, accompanied by the Doge of Venice and all the members of the Venetian Senate, traveled up to Lissa-Fusine, where they bid farewell. The French Prince, soon to be King of France, was not left alone during his boat trip down the Brenta en route to Padua. He was still accompanied by ambassadors of La Serenissima, and Federico Contarini, a close relative of the Doge, who invited the Prince to visit the countryside Contarini Villa, for an impromptu stopover, probably the last lavish luncheon on Venetian soil. Henri III graciously accepted… and the rest is history, documented, two hundred years later, by Giambattista Tiepolo. (pages 121-130)

Tiepolo’s style was characterized by vibrant colors, graceful figures, and dramatic, dynamic compositions. His brushwork displayed a remarkable sense of movement and fluidity, and his use of light and shadow added depth and dimension to his paintings. His fresco for Villa Contarini is a remarkable composition that showcases the artist’s style, his mastery of the fresco technique, and his ability to depict grand scenes with intricate details. The fresco depicts the historical event of Henri III being welcomed to the Contarini Villa by members of the influential Contarini family. The composition is visually captivating, with a dynamic arrangement of figures, a strong sense of movement, and attention to detail. The artist’s skillful brushwork and use of chiaroscuro contribute to the overall richness and realism of the fresco, while the intricate costumes and ornate accessories worn by the depicted figures reflect the fashion of the period. The fresco serves as a testament to Tiepolo’s technical prowess and his ability to capture historical events in a visually captivating and engaging manner.

Giambattista Tiepolo, Italian Artist,1696 – 1770
Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, circa 1745, fresco mounted on canvas, 7,29 x 4,02 m, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France

The amazing fresco Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, is in Musée Jacquemart-André, in Paris. It is the Museum’s piece de resistance as it crowns the mansion’s spectacular Winter Garden. Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, were great collectors of art. They bought the Tiepolo fresco in 1893, dismantled it, and transferred it from Veneto to their townhouse on the Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, the site of what today is the Musée Jacquemart-André.

The Winter Garden, the Staircase, and Tiepolo’s painting of Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France

For a PowerPoint on Tiepolo’s oeuvre, please… Check HERE!

I enjoyed reading Diplomatic Gifts on Henri III’s Visit to Venice in 1574, by Evelyn Korsch, Nicola Imrie, Pamela J. Warner, Evelyn Korsch, Studies in the Decorative Arts, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Fall-Winter 2007–2008), pp. 83-113 (31 pages)

The short Video, titled, TIEPOLO au musée Jacquemart-André, by Patricia Carles, is also interesting to watch…

Photo Credits: and and and

Persephone as Isis and Hades as Sarapis

Statue Group of Persephone as Isis and Hades as Sarapis, 180-190 AD, Marble, from Gortyn, the island of Grete, Greece

Persephone, Daughter of Zeus, blessed / Only begotten, gracious Goddess, receive this good offering, / Much honoured, you, overpowered by Hades, / you are beloved and lifegiving, / You hold the doors of Hades under the depths of the earth; / Transactor of Justice, your beloved hair the sacred olive branch of the enemy / Mother of the Eumenides, Queen of the Underworld, / You, maiden from Zeus through secret begetting… / … Listen, blessed Goddess and send up fruits from the earth / In peace, flourishing in health from your soothing hand; / And, in life abundance, leading to richness of old age / Then to your realm O Sovereign, and to powerful Hades… and I am reminded of The Statue Group of Persephone as Isis and Hades as Sarapis in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete… some questions and answers!

Where were the statues of Persephone as Isis and Hades as Sarapis found? The statues were discovered on the Island of Crete, in the Temple of the Egyptian Gods in the ancient city of Gortyn.

Few words about the Temple of the Egyptian Gods in Gortyn… It is a significant monument from the ancient world that provides insight into the religious and cultural life of the city. The temple was built during the Roman period and was dedicated to the worship of Egyptian gods, including Isis, Serapis, and Anubis. The temple was likely constructed as a result of the influence of Egyptian culture in Gortyn, as well as the growing popularity of the Egyptian gods in the Roman world. It is a symbol of the cultural diversity of the city and its cosmopolitan nature. The Temple was first excavated by G. Oliverio, in 1914.

Few words about the ancient city of Gortyn… an ancient city located in Crete, Greece, and the capital of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica. It was one of the most important cities in ancient Crete and was a center of politics, culture, and commerce. In its heyday, Gortyn was a thriving city with a diverse population. The city was known for its impressive architecture, including temples, like that of the Egyptian Gods, public buildings like the Roman Odeon, and impressive fortifications. The city was home to the Gortyn Code, a set of laws and regulations that governed the lives of the people of Crete and regulated everything from trade and commerce to marriage and family life.

Few words about the statues of Persephone as Isis and Hades as Sarapis… The statues from the Temple of the Egyptian Gods at Gortyn combine iconographic elements and symbols of Hellenic and Egyptian deities alike. The figure of Persephone as Isis is depicted frontally holding a sistrum and wearing a mantle crowned with a disk, the symbol of the sun, between two horns. Hades as Sarapis stands frontally as well. He is crowned with the modius, or grain measure, and holds the scepter of his divine authority in his left hand. On his right is Cerverus, facing the viewer, ferocious-looking and fierce.

Who were the Greek Gods Persephone and Hades? Persephone and Hades are divine figures from ancient Greek mythology. Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and harvest. Hades was the god of the underworld and the dead.

The myth of Persephone and Hades begins with the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades. According to the story, Hades was so enamored with Persephone that he abducted her and took her to the underworld to be his bride. This caused great distress for Demeter, who searched the earth for her daughter and caused the crops to wither and die. To resolve the situation, Zeus intervened and arranged for Persephone to spend half of the year with her mother and half of the year with her husband in the underworld. During the time that Persephone was with Demeter, the crops would grow and the earth would be fertile, but during the time she was with Hades, the earth would become barren.

This is why the ancient Greeks associated the myth with the changing of the seasons and the cycle of death and rebirth. In addition to being a story about the changing of the seasons, the myth of Persephone and Hades also symbolizes the journey of the soul and the transition from life to death. Hades represents the dark, mysterious, and unknown aspects of the afterlife, while Persephone represents the soul that must journey through this realm. The myth of Persephone and Hades is undoubtedly an important and enduring tale in Greek mythology that continues to captivate audiences to this day.

Why and How did the Greek Gods, Persephone, and Hades, connect with the Egyptian Gods Isis and Sarapis? The cult of the Egyptian Gods is attested at many sites of the ancient Greek world and became quite popular during the Hellenistic period. The amalgamation of the attributes of the Egyptian deities Isis and Sarapis with those of the Greek Persephone and Hades is a syncretic phenomenon observed during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

One of the key similarities between Persephone and Isis is their association with the afterlife and the underworld. Persephone was abducted by Hades and became the queen of the underworld, while Isis was often depicted as the “Lady of the Tomb” and was associated with the afterlife and the dead. Both figures were also associated with the idea of rebirth and renewal and were revered as powerful, nurturing goddesses who could bring life and fertility to the earth. In both myths, the goddess was seen as a powerful figure who could help guide the souls of the dead through the afterlife and ensure that they reached their final resting place.

The Egyptian God Sarapis is thought to be a creation of Ptolemaic Egypt, an amalgama of Osiris, husband of Isis, Apis, and Hades. Sarapis was widely worshipped in the Hellenistic world and was particularly popular in the city of Alexandria in Egypt. He was depicted as a powerful and benevolent ruler of the underworld and was seen as a savior figure who could grant salvation to those who worshipped him. Despite their different origins, both Hades and Sarapis were seen as gods of the underworld who held sway over the fate of the dead. In this sense, they both represented the powers of death and the afterlife in the ancient world.

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Photo Credit:

The Enameled Murano Beaker at Musée Jacquemart-André

Enameled blue beaker with Annunciation, late 15th century, Enamelled Glass, H. 10.2 cm, Musée Jacquemart-André, inv. no. MJAPOA 934, Paris France (Photo Credit: Marya Stamatiadi, March 2023)

Finally, after centuries of isolated beginnings and endings, rediscoveries and losses, Venetian workers in the mid-15th century commenced a tradition of enameling on glass vessels that would become widely disseminated in other European glassworking cultures—and continue to be practiced, without interruption, to the present day. A new BLOG POST on The Enameled Murano Beaker at Musée Jacquemart-André is my lead to investigating the art of glass enameling in the Venetian lagoon.

I know little about Enameled Glass, but the Murano beaker I saw at Musée Jacquemart-André got me interested in investigating its type further. The internet site of the Museum, unfortunately, provided no information on the enameled beaker in its collection. The Corning Museum of Glass, however, provided valuable information on Enameled Glass in general. Based on the information I read, let me answer some questions starting with What, and How

What is Enameled Glass? Enameled glass is a type of glass that has been decorated with a layer, or more, of colored or opaque vitreous enamel. For a most useful and detailed description of how an Enameled Glass piece is created, you can read a 15th-century manuscript in the Library of San Salvatore in Bologna. It was brought to scholarly attention in 1982 by Hugh Tait… the text says: To paint glass, that is to say, cups or any other works in glass with smalti or any colour you please, take the smalti you wish to use, and let them be soft and fusible, and pound them upon marble or porphyry in the same way that the goldsmiths do. Then wash the powder and apply it upon your glass as you please and let the colour dry thoroughly; then put the glass upon the rim of the chamber in which glasses are cooled, on the side from which the glasses are taken out cold, and gradually introduce it into the chamber towards the fire which comes out of the furnace and take care you do not push too fast lest the heat should split it, and when you see that it is thoroughly heated, take it up with the pontello and fix it to the pontello and put it in the mouth of the furnace, heating it and introducing it gradually. When you see the smalti shine and that they have flowed well, take the glass out and put it in the chamber to cool, and it is doneAll About Glass | Corning Museum of Glass (

How did Enameled Glass develop, chronologically up to and including the 16th century, in Murano, Italy? A. 1291 AD: The furnaces of all glassmakers in Venice were relocated to the island of Murano due to the risk of fires. This was the start of the concentration of the Venetian glassmaking industry in Murano. B. 14th century: During this period, Venetian glassmakers began to gain renown for their high-quality and innovative creations. The art of enameling glass, known in Venice since the Middle Ages, was probably inspired by Byzantine models. C. 15th and 16th centuries: The peak of the art of enameled glass in Murano was achieved. Artists such as Angelo Barovier and the workshop of the “Seguso” family introduced a refined style of painting on glass with enamels, creating objects of extraordinary beauty. During this time, Venetian Enameled Glass, often decorated with scenes from contemporary life or mythology, was sought after by the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in Europe.

Enameled blue beaker with Annunciation (Detail), late 15th century, Enamelled Glass, H. 10.2 cm, Musée Jacquemart-André, inv. no. MJAPOA 934, Paris France (Photo Credit: Marya Stamatiadi, March 2023)

What do we know about the Enamelled Murano Beaker at Musée Jacquemart-André? Personally, very little. Great help in my quest to learn about this precious piece of glass making, has been reading two articles, The Renaissance Enameled Vessels from Padua Santa Chiara Monastery by Silvia Ferucci, Rosa Barovier Mentasti, and Cristina Tonini (pages 92-94) and Authentic or Not? Searching for Firm Ground in the Discussion on Renaissance Venetian Gilded and Enameled Glasses by Françoise Barbe, Erwin Baumgartner (Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 63 (2021), page 152), and

According to Ferucci, Barovier Mentasti, and Tonini… The Annunciation was a subject of Venetian enameled decoration on glass since the early seventies of the 15th century, at least. A list, for example, dated March 31, 1474, of glass beakers by Giovanni da Lodi, enameller active in Murano, includes a beaker with the Annunciation (uno cieto a nuntiata). The 200-2001 excavations conducted in the Monastery of Santa Chiara in Padua revealed four enameled Glass beakers with an Annunciation scene dating towards the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century.

Enameled blue beaker with Annunciation, c. 1470-1490, archaeological find, Santa Chiara Convent, Padova, Italy, and Enameled blue beaker with Annunciation, late 15th century, Enamelled Glass, H. 10.2 cm, Musée Jacquemart-André, inv. no. MJAPOA 934, Paris France (Photo Credit: Marya Stamatiadi, March 2023)

The four Padua beakers with the Annunciation show the Virgin announced and the archangel Gabriel, each inside a simple roundel of white or yellow colour. The only difference is that in one of the beakers, a plush yellow and white laurel wreath is added around the white roundel. According to the authors, this embellished beaker is similar to the  Annunciation blue beaker kept in the Musée Jacquemart André in Paris. Édouard André, (1833-1894), the authors add, and Nélie Jacquemart (1841-1912), his wife, collected Italian art and decorative art, showing a particular interest also in Venetian art, like the blue glass beaker. The only difference, according to my humble opinion, is that the green/terracotta red wreath of the Musée Jacquemart André is thinner and less luxurious looking, yet perfectly fitting and complementing the composition’s colour scheme.

The next information comes from the article of Françoise Barbe and Erwin Baumgartner. The authors stress the importance of the archaeological discovery in the convent of Santa Chiara in Padua. They also stress the stylistic similarities between the two glass beakers (in Padua and in Paris). However, when a glass analysis was performed for each glass beaker, the results showed differences in their composition. Thus, Barbe and Baumgartner presented three questions: 1. Was the Paris glass beaker in the façon de Venise, produced during the Renaissance period, but in a different location than Venice? Was it a copy made during a later chronological period to complete, for example, an antique-style series? Or was it a fake? The authors believe that there is no decisive answer to any one of the three questions and further investigation is in demand.

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Photo Credit for the Padua Annunciation Beaker…

Consul Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus

Leaf of a Diptych with Consul Areobindus, 506 AD, elephant ivory bas-relief, 39x13cm, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France (my amateurish attempt at Photography)

Devant une tribune, write the Cluny Museum Experts, paré de ses insignes, Areobindus est entouré d’assesseurs. La main droite levée, il lance les jeux avec la “mappa”, sorte de linge qui servait à signaler le début des jeux du cirque. En dessous sont représentés ces jeux : des gladiateurs combattent des animaux sauvages. On the 10th of May, 2023, I was in Paris, at the Cluny Museum, paying my respects to Consul Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus. It was a moment I will always cherish!

Let’s answer some questions starting with Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How…

What do we know about Late Roman / Early Byzantine Consular Diptychs? They were a form of ceremonial and commemorative artwork that originated in the late Roman Empire. They were created in the form of hinged wooden panels, often covered in ivory or other valuable materials. Consular diptychs typically consisted of two panels, known as leaves, which were decorated with relief carvings and inscriptions. These diptychs were presented as gifts to friends and supporters, by newly appointed consuls, who were the highest-ranking officials in the Roman Empire. They served as a record and celebration of their consulship. The inscriptions on the diptychs included the consul’s name, the names of the emperor or emperors in office during their consulship, and sometimes additional details such as the consul’s accomplishments or notable events from their term.

What do Consular Diptychs usually feature as their decoration? They often featured intricate and detailed relief carvings depicting various scenes, including mythological figures, military victories, and allegorical representations of virtues. These carvings were highly symbolic and conveyed messages of power, prestige, and legitimacy. Many consular diptychs have been lost or damaged. However, a number of surviving examples provide valuable insights into the art, culture, and political context of the late Roman / Early Byzantine Empire. They are significant historical artifacts that shed light on the individuals who held the highest offices in the Roman / Byzantine state.

Leaf of a Diptych with Consul Areobindus (detail upper part), 506 AD, elephant ivory bas-relief, 39x13cm, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France

Who was Consul Areobindus? Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus was a high-ranking Byzantine official and military leader during the reign of Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus (c. 431 – 518) in the 6th century AD. Areobindus was a scion of an extremely distinguished family of Roman and  Alanic-Gothic heritage. He was married to Anicia Juliana, the daughter of Olybrius, briefly the western Roman Emperor in 472, and his wife Placidia, thus, connecting Areobindus to the Theodosian dynasty. Along with his wife, considered to be the most aristocratic and the wealthiest inhabitant of Constantinople, Aerobindus spent a life of military and administrative distinction. In 506 AD, he served as consul of the Byzantine Empire. The consular office, though it had lost its administrative functions by this time, was still an important honorific title. The period of Areobindus’s consulship corresponded with the early period of Byzantine history, which was characterized by frequent wars with Sassanid Persia, the Germanic tribes, and other neighbors, as well as a flowering of Greek and Roman art and culture.

Leaf of a Diptych with Consul Areobindus (detail – faces), 506 AD, elephant ivory bas-relief, 39x13cm, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France

When was the Consular Diptych of Areobindus created? It was created in 506 AD, in Constantinople, when Areobindus was elected Consul of the Eastern Roman / Byzantine Empire.

How can the composition of Areobindus’s Diptych be described? Areobindus’s Consular Diptych is one of the best preserved and most intricately designed examples of Byzantine Consular Diptychs. Under the inscription C[omite] SAC[ri] STA[buli] ET M[agister] M[ilitum] P[er] OR[ientum] EX C[onsule] C[onsul] OR[dinarius] the artist of the Diptych presents Areobindus, in strict frontality, dressed in consular robes and holding the traditional symbols of the consul’s office, including a mappa circensis (a handkerchief with which the Consul gave the signal for the games to commence) and an elaborate scepter. Flanked by two of his assistants, the Consul is depicted presiding over the circus games sitting on a luxurious chair with curved legs and no back. The quality of the carving and the level of detail in this scene attest to the skill of the artist and the luxury of the object.

Leaf of a Diptych with Consul Areobindus (detail lower part), 506 AD, elephant ivory bas-relief, 39x13cm, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France
Leaf of a Diptych with Consul Areobindus (detail lower part with spectators), 506 AD, elephant ivory bas-relief, 39x13cm, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France

The lower part of the described Diptych depicts scenes of circus games, typically referred to as the venationes. These were staged hunts or fights involving wild animals, a popular form of public entertainment, at the time, alongside chariot races and gladiatorial combats. The venationes depicted in the Areobindus Diptych, showcase a range of exotic and dangerous animals, symbolizing both the consul’s power and the grand spectacle of the games themselves. It is a surprising, delightful scene. The artist exhibits originality, energy, and an unexpected variety of poses and gestures.

Why is the Consular Diptych of Areobindus significant? Simply put, it serves as an exceptional example of Early Byzantine artistry and craftsmanship. Its intricate relief carving depicts an important historical figure of the time, providing valuable insights into the iconography and symbolism of the era. It also serves as a tangible connection to the tradition of Consular Diptychs, which were presented as gifts to high-ranking officials or distributed during official ceremonies. It exemplifies the use of art and objects as a means of political communication and the display of status and authority during the Early Byzantine period.

Leaf of a Diptych with Consul Areobindus, 506 AD, elephant ivory bas-relief, 39x13cm, Musée de Cluny, Paris, France

Where is the Consular Diptych of Areobindus currently located? The Consular Diptych of Areobindus is an invaluable resource for historians studying the Byzantine Empire and the broader late antique period. It is an artifact that connects us directly with the people, events, and cultures of the past. It is part of the Louvre Museum Collection, but it is exhibited in the Cluny Museum, also known as the Musée National du Moyen Age, in Paris.

How can the Cluny Museum best be described? The Musée de Cluny, also known as the Musée National du Moyen Age, or the National Museum of the Middle Ages, is located in Paris, France. It is housed in two significant historic buildings: the 15th-century Hôtel de Cluny and the Gallo-Roman thermal baths dating back to the 3rd century. The museum is renowned for its extensive collection of medieval artifacts, including tapestries, sculptures, manuscripts, and metalwork. Its most famous work is arguably the “The Lady and the Unicorn” series of tapestries, a masterpiece of the late Middle Ages.

The architecture of the museum itself is notable. The Hôtel de Cluny is a fine example of late medieval secular architecture, with its Gothic-style features and well-preserved rooms. The adjacent thermal baths showcase the grandeur of Roman architecture and provide an interesting contrast. The museum is also known for its medieval-inspired gardens. These gardens are designed based on medieval texts and archaeological research and serve as a quiet oasis in the bustling city of Paris. As a whole, the museum provides a unique experience for visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the Middle Ages, serving as a testament to the creativity, skill, and artistry of the period.

For a PowerPoint inspired by the Consul Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus BLOG POST, please… Check, HERE!

Photo Credits

Seascape Study with Rain Cloud by John Constable

John Constable, Artist of the United Kingdom, 1776–1837
Seascape Study with Rain Cloud (Rainstorm over the Sea), 1824-1828, Oil on paper laid on canvas, 22.2×31.1 cm, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

…Look! look! that livid flash! / And instantly follows the rattling thunder, / As if some cloud-crag, split asunder, / Fell, splintering with a ruinous crash, / On the Earth, which crouches in silence under; / And now a solid gray wall of rain / Shuts off the landscape, mile by mile; / For a breath’s space I see the blue wood again, / And, ere the next heart-beat, the wind-hurled pile… writes James Russell Lowell and the Seascape Study with Rain Cloud by John Constable in the Royal Academy of Arts comes to my mind., page 97

John Constable, a British landscape painter who was known for his beautiful paintings of the English countryside, was also fond of rendering the dramatic English sky. In fact, in a letter to fellow artist and friend John Fisher, he wrote back in 1821… It will be difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the keynote, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment. The sky is the source of light in nature, and it governs everything. If you paint the colours of the sky and reflected light, you cannot do otherwise than produce beautiful pictures.

Constable believed that clouds were an essential element in creating a sense of atmosphere and mood in landscape paintings. He studied them carefully and believed that they were constantly changing, creating an ever-evolving and dynamic landscape. In his paintings, he often depicted large, billowing clouds that filled the sky, adding drama and depth to his compositions. He used a variety of techniques to capture the fleeting nature of clouds, including layering paint and using bold brushstrokes to create texture and movement. His works continue to inspire artists today, and his philosophy on the importance of capturing the ever-changing beauty of nature, including clouds, remains relevant.

Constable’s love for clouds is evident in his many paintings, including Seascape Study with Rain Cloud, a painting created between 1822 and 1824 in Brighton, and currently held in the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. According to the Museum experts… This is one of the most dramatic studies of sea and sky that Constable sketched at Brighton. The thunderous black clouds and torrential downpour have been painted rapidly to capture the fleeting nature of the scene.

The painting depicts a seascape with a large rain cloud looming in the distance. The sea is choppy, and the waves are rough, with white caps visible on the surface of the water. The sky is dark and moody, with the rain cloud dominating the upper half of the painting. The lower half of the painting features the sea and the horizon, with a few distant boats visible on the horizon.

The painting is a study of mood and atmosphere, with Constable expertly capturing the power of nature. The sky has been created with a series of hasty sweeps of the brush. The surface of the sea has been given emphasis by a number of horizontal incisions perhaps with the end of the brush. The dark, stormy sky and the shaft of sunlight suddenly breaking through the glowering black clouds is beautiful, uplifting… sublime!

Seascape Study with Rain Cloud by John Constable is considered to be one of the artist’s masterpieces and a prime example of his ability to capture the beauty and power of nature in his paintings. It is a significant work in the history of British landscape painting and remains a popular piece in the Royal Academy’s collection.

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Flaming June

Frederic, Lord Leighton, British Artist, 1830–1896
Flaming June, 1895, Oil on Canvas, 119.1 × 119.1 cm, Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc., Ponce, Puerto Rico

According to Leighton, the composition was inspired by the posture of a tired model. He elaborated her sinuous pose and then added sheer orange draperies. Her skin flushed by the sun, she is transformed into a personification of summer heat. The image reflects Leighton’s allegiance to artistic ideals that emphasized harmonious color and form over narrative… Flaming June is currently presented at the MET, in New York City, part of the Victorian Masterpieces from the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico (October 8th, 2022 – February 2024) Exhibition. I first saw the painting in 1997 in Washington DC, as part of The Victorians: British Painting in the Reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901 NGA Exhibition. Lord Leighton’s painting was one of the highlights… and rightly so! and

When Flaming June was first exhibited in 1895 at the Royal Academy in London, it received mixed reviews from the public and critics. Some praised the painting for its beauty and technical skill, while others criticized it for being too decorative and lacking in substance. Over time, Flaming June became one of Lord Leighton’s most celebrated works and is now regarded as a masterpiece of Victorian art. Its popularity is due in part to the fact that it captures the essence of the Aesthetic Movement, which valued beauty and art for art’s sake. The painting’s stunning colours, intricate details, and graceful composition have made it a favorite of art lovers and collectors around the world.

Leighton’s studio on the eve of the exhibition in 1895
Photo: Bedford Lemere / Historic England Archive

The first time I saw Flaming June I was stunned by the artist’s use of colour, light, and texture. The painting features an amazing palette of warm oranges, yellows, and reds, contrasted with cool blues and greens. The colour scheme creates a sense of harmony and balance, with the warm tones of the woman’s dress and skin offset by the cool tones of the background and the marble bench.

The use of light and shadow is another important aspect of the painting’s composition. The warm light of the sun illuminates the woman’s neck, face, and body, creating a sense of warmth and intimacy. The play of light and shadow also adds depth and dimensionality to the painting, making it appear almost three-dimensional.

The texture is also notable. Lord Leighton was known for his attention to detail, and this is evident in the intricate folds and drapery of the woman’s dress, which appear almost lifelike. The texture of the marble bench is also finely rendered, with the veins and striations of the stone adding depth and dimension to the painting.

Frederic, Lord Leighton, British Artist, 1830–1896
Flaming June (detail), 1894, black and white Chalk on brown Paper, Leighton House Museum, London, UK

Overall, the colours, use of light, and textures of Flaming June are integral to the painting’s beauty and impact. The warm, vibrant colours and intricate textures work together to create a sense of luxury and elegance, while the play of light and shadow adds depth and dimension to the painting. The result is a stunning work of art that continues to captivate viewers more than a century after its creation.

Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896) was a British painter and sculptor who is considered one of the most important figures of the Victorian era. He was born in Scarborough, England, and showed an early talent for art, studying under several well-known artists before enrolling at the Royal Academy in London. He was known for his technical skill and attention to detail, and his paintings often featured classical or historical themes. He was particularly interested in the human form, and many of his works depict idealized figures in elegant poses. Leighton’s legacy as an artist is a lasting one. Regarded as one of the most important artists of the Victorian era, his influence can be seen in the work of many artists who came after him.

Frederic, Lord Leighton, British Artist, 1830–1896
Flaming June, 1894, black and white Chalk on brown Paper, Leighton House Museum, London, UK

Flaming June is part of the collection of the Ponce Museum of Art in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The painting was acquired by the Ponce Museum of Art in 1963 and has been on display there ever since.

In the early 20th century, when Victorian art was already falling out of fashion, Samuel Courtauld, the millionaire collector and founder of the Courtauld Institute, called it “the most wonderful painting in existence”.

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

The curator of the exhibition Flaming June: The Making of an Icon (4 November 2016 to 2 April 2017) at Leighton House, Daniel Robbins, assembled five of the six works from the artist’s original 1895 Studio Installation on the eve of the 1895 Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Besides Flaming June (1895), we can see Lachrymal (Tears), 1895, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Between Hope and Fear, The Maid with the Golden Hair, and Candida which have been in private collections since the 19th century. Curators could not trace the sixth canvas, A Study, or Listener, the painting that Leighton sent to the Royal Academy instead of Candida.

Léon Bakst

Léon Bakst, Russian Artist, 1866-1924
Costume Design for a Woman from the Village, for the Ballet ‘Daphnis and Chloé’, performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, 1912, Watercolor and graphite, 26 × 21.6 cm, the MET, NY, USA

It is goodbye to scenery designed by a painter blindly subjected to one part of the work, to costumes made by any old dressmaker who strikes a false and foreign note in the production; it is goodbye to the kind of acting, movements, false notes and that terrible, purely literary wealth of details which make modern theatrical production a collection of tiny impressions, without that unique simplicity which emanates from a true work of art… wrote Léon Bakst… and my students loved him!

Léon Bakst (Lev Samoylovich Rosenberg, 1866-1924) was a Russian artist and designer, best known for his work in the fields of theatrical and costume design. He was born in Grodno, now in modern-day Belarus, and studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Bakst’s most significant contributions were to the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, a Russian ballet company that performed throughout Europe in the early 20th century. Bakst designed sets and costumes for many of the company’s most famous productions, including “The Firebird,” “Petrouchka,” and “The Rite of Spring.” In addition to his work with the Ballets Russes, Bakst also designed costumes for the Moscow Art Theatre and for various operas and plays. He was also an accomplished painter, creating works in a variety of styles including Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Art Deco, and Orientalism.

I am intrigued by the artist’s research into the art of ancient Greece which began in St Petersburg when preparing designs for productions of the Greek tragedies Hippolytus, Antigone, and Oedipus at Colonus in 1902 and 1904. It was apparently further enhanced in 1907 when Léon Bakst visited Greece with Valentin Serov, a journey which ‘had the most profound effect on the artist as it radically affected his palette and inspired his decorative imagination΄. In the Archaeological Museum in Olympia, looking at the statues of female figures, Bakst wrote… I want terribly to run my hand over the marble, to find out what Niobe’s(?) shoulders are like… and

Léon Bakst, Russian Artist, 1866-1924
Costume Design for Tamara Karsavina as Chloé, for Daphnis et Chloé, ca. 1912, Graphite and tempera and/or watercolor on paper, 28.2×44.7 cm, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, USA
Léon Bakst, Russian Artist, 1866-1924
Cleopatra, Costume for a Syrian woman, 1909, cotton, silk, metal studs, paint, length 110.0 cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Cleopatra, Costume for a Greek, 1909, silk, lamé, metallic braid, center back length 96.0 cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The artist’s talent was boundless, wrote the State Tretyakov Gallery experts, reaching the very top in every field of art he touched upon – be it stage design, costume designs, graphics, or painting. There was much to explore… but my 4-Steps to Success Lesson Plan kept me… on track!

My students were enthused by Bakst’s style characterized by bold colors, sinuous lines, intricate patterns, and the use of exotic motifs. They were fascinated by his ability to draw inspiration from Russian folk art, Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures, and Classical Antiquity. His projects, they understood, were revolutionary at the time, and helped to establish a new standard for theatrical design. They were impressed by how contemporary his oeuvre appears and how his work continues to inspire designers and artists today.

A RWAP Student Activity (RWAP stands for: Research – Writing – Art – Project) in a PowerPoint format with eighteen examples of Designs and actual Costumes by Léon Bakst … HERE!

For a PowerPoint, please… Check

Léon Bakst, Russian Artist, 1866-1924
Costume design for Theseus, (Oedipus at Colonus performance at St. Petersburg, Alexandrinsky Theater), 1904, Watercolor and Pencil on Paper, 28 by 21 cm, Private Collection

The Stavelot Triptych in the Morgan Library

Stavelot Triptych, ca. 1156-1158, Wood; copper-gilt frames, silver pearls and columns, gilt-brass capitals and bases, vernis brun domes, semi-precious stones, intaglio gems, beads, champlevé, and cloisonné enamels, Wings open: height: 484 mm, width: 660 mm, The Morgan Library and Museum, NY, USA

The Stavelot Triptych in the Morgan Library tells us the story of Byzantine and Romanesque Art at its finest. Two worlds united in harmony… brilliant, luxurious, and precious, the triptych in the Morgan Library provides a telling meeting ground for East and West. The Eastern symbolic representation of Constantine and Helena is juxtaposed to the Western narrative mode, and Byzantine liturgy and hagiography (in which Constantine is a Saint) are contrasted with their Western counterparts. Magnificent, skillfully made, and radiant, the Stavelot Triptych is an uncontested masterpiece of the 12th-century Renaissance. The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261, pp. 461-463 by William M. Voelkle

Let’s try to answer some questions, so as to better understand the Stavelot Triptych in the Morgan Library…

Why is this amazing work of art named, the Stavelot Triptych? The Stavelot Triptych is a medieval Christian artwork currently housed in the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. The name of the piece is derived from two key elements: the town of Stavelot and the art form of a triptych. Stavelot is a town in the Belgian Ardennes where the triptych was originally commissioned for the great imperial Benedictine Stavelot Abbey. This Benedictine monastery was an important religious center in the region, and the artwork was created to serve as a devotional object. The word “triptych” refers to the format of the artwork. A triptych is a three-paneled piece, typically hinged together, with a central panel and two side panels that can be folded inwards. These types of works were often used as altarpieces or portable religious objects in the medieval period.

What is so special about the Stavelot Triptych? This is a luxurious masterpiece of Western medieval art that consists of three triptychs, a greater Mosan triptych of gilded bronze decorated with champlevé enamels, and two Byzantine smaller triptychs, attached in the central panel, decorated with cloisonné enamels. The triptych was created as a reliquary of the True Cross, as it includes fragments of the True Cross. The two Byzantine triptychs and the relics were probably a gift of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, to Abbot Wibald during the winter of 1155-1156, when Wibald, on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, acted on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. The Stavelot Triptych represents a harmonious blend of various artistic styles and techniques, such as Romanesque, Mosan, and Byzantine. This synthesis showcases the cultural exchange and artistic interactions that took place during the Romanesque period, making the triptych a valuable example of the transmission of ideas and skills across different regions.

What is the Date of the Stavelot Triptych? According to the Morgan Library and Museum experts… the Reliquary in the Morgan Library comprises of three Triptychs. The two small ones in the center are Byzantine and date from the late 11th or early 12th century. The larger Triptych which houses the two Byzantine works is Mosan and dates circa 1156-1158.

What is the iconographic program of the Stavelot Triptych? Paraphrasing the Morgan Library presentation… The central panel of the Stavelot Triptych contains two Byzantine triptychs decorated with cloisonné enamels. The upper triptych depicts the Annunciation (presented in the outer wings) and the Crucifixion with Mary and John the Evangelist flanking the Cross in the central panel. The lower, larger, triptych depicts the four Evangelists (in the outer wings), four Byzantine military saints (inner sides of the wings – George and Procopius on the left, Theodore and Demetrius on the right), and Constantine and Helena flanking the relics of the True Cross in the central panel beneath busts of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael.

Stavelot Triptych (Detail), ca. 1156-1158, Wood; copper-gilt frames, silver pearls and columns, gilt-brass capitals and bases, vernis brun domes, semi-precious stones, intaglio gems, beads, champlevé, and cloisonné enamels, Wings open: height: 484 mm, width: 660 mm, The Morgan Library and Museum, NY, USA
Stavelot Triptych (Detail), ca. 1156-1158, Wood; copper-gilt frames, silver pearls and columns, gilt-brass capitals and bases, vernis brun domes, semi-precious stones, intaglio gems, beads, champlevé, and cloisonné enamels, Wings open: height: 484 mm, width: 660 mm, The Morgan Library and Museum, NY, USA

The inner sides of the Romanesque Stavelot Triptych wings contain six champlevé enamel medallions (three in each wing) narrating the legend of the True Cross. The left-wing medallions tell the story of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. Starting with Constantine’s dream of the Cross, the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the middle medallion shows Constantine’s victory at the Milvian Bridge, and the upper medallion shows Constantine being baptized just before his death, by Pope Sylvester I. The three medallions on the right wing tell the story of Saint Helena’s discovery of the True Cross. Starting with the bottom medallion, Helena is depicted questioning Jewish leaders. The narration continues with the middle medallion showing Helena watching as servants dig up the Cross on Mount Calvary, and culminates with the upper medallion, and Helena is testing the three crosses on a sick man to find the one True Cross that has the healing powers.

In summary, the Stavelot Triptych is important in art history due to its synthesis of various artistic styles, exceptional craftsmanship, religious significance, and its role in the preservation of medieval art. It provides insight into the artistic and cultural landscape of the 12th century and serves as a testament to the skill and creativity of the artists who produced it.

For a Student Activity on the Stavelot Triptych in the Morgan Library, please… Check HERE!