The Labours of the Months: June

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: June, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

What is so rare as a day in June? / Then, if ever, come perfect days; / Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune, / And over it softly her warm ear lays: / Whether we look, or whether we listen, / We hear life murmur, or see it glisten; / Every clod feels a stir of might, / An instinct within it that reaches and towers, / And, groping blindly above it for light, / Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers; / The flush of life may well be seen / Thrilling back over hills and valleys; / The cowslip startles in meadows green. / The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice, / And there’s never a leaf nor a blade too mean / To be some happy creature’s palace; / The little bird sits at his door in the sun, / Atilt like a blossom among the leaves, / And lets his illumined being o’errun / With the deluge of summer it receives; / His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings, / And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings; / He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,— / In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best? Writes back in the 19th century James Russell Lowell… and further back, in the 15th century, an anonymous painter creates The Labours of the Months: June! https://discoverpoetry.com/poems/june-poems/

The Labours of the Months is a theme that frequently occurs during the Late Medieval-Renaissance Period Art. It attracts our attention in sculptural pieces adorning Churches and Cathedrals of the time, striking Vitreaux Windows, amazingly colourful manuscripts, and paintings, monumental, like the eleven surviving panels in Torre Aquila I presented in 2020 (check: https://www.teachercurator.com/?s=torre%20aquila&cat=plus-5-results), or small, like the paintings in the National Gallery, in London, we explore in 2021… month by month… https://archive.org/details/labormonth00webs/page/n9/mode/2up Webster, James Carson – 1905-1989, The labors of the months in antique and medieval art to the end of the twelfth century, 1938, Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University,     and      https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: June (detail), about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

For The Labours of the Months: June, we have an outdoor scene. “A barefoot young man sits holding a sheaf of corn he has cut in one hand and his scythe in the other. The sleeves of his blue jacket are rolled up and a straw hat shades his face, suggesting that this little painting represents one of the summer months.” The National Gallery of Art experts “think it may be June when grain crops are harvested in northern Italy, where this picture was painted.” https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-june

For a PowerPoint on The Labours of the Months at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!

Teaching with Antonello da Messina

Antonello da Messina, 1430-1479
Portrait of a Man (detail), about 1475-6, Oil on poplar, 35.6 x 25.4 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/antonello-da-messina-portrait-of-a-man

“Now there was one Antonello da Messina, a person of good and lively intelligence, of great sagacity, and skilled in his profession, who, having studied design for many years in Rome, had first retired to Palermo, where he had worked for many years, and finally to his native place, Messina, where he had confirmed by his works the good opinion that his countrymen had of his excellent ability in painting. This man, then, going once on some business of his own from Sicily to Naples, heard that the said King Alfonso had received from Flanders the aforesaid panel by the hand of Johann of Bruges, painted in oil in such a manner that it could be washed, would endure any shock, and was in every way perfect. Thereupon, having contrived to obtain a view of it, he was so strongly impressed by the liveliness of the colours and by the beauty and harmony of that painting, that he put on one side all other business and every thought and went off to Flanders…” Teaching with Antonello da Messina is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by a very curious Italian artist, a daring creator and an amazing innovator! A few years back in Palermo, in front of his Virgin Annunciate, all I could do was, silently whisper “Ἁγνὴ Παρθένε Δέσποινα, Ἄχραντε Θεοτόκε, Χαῖρε Νύμφη Ἀνύμφευτε. / Παρθένε Μήτηρ Ἄνασσα, Πανένδροσέ τε πόκε, Χαῖρε Νύμφη Ἀνύμφευτε.     /     Ὑψηλοτέρα οὐρανῶν, ἀκτίνων λαμπροτέρα, Χαῖρε Νύμφη Ἀνύμφευτε. / Χαρὰ Παρθενικῶν Χορῶν, Ἀγγέλων ὑπερτέρα, Χαῖρε Νύμφη Ἀνύμφευτε…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiK8wHm4JGM and https://www.saint.gr/236/texts.aspx and http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/antonellodamessina.htm

Antonello da Messina, 1430-1479
Portrait of a Man, about 1475-6, Oil on poplar, 35.6 x 25.4 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/antonello-da-messina-portrait-of-a-man 

“…Having arrived in Bruges, he became very intimate with the said Johann, making him presents of many drawings in the Italian manner and other things, insomuch that the latter, moved by this and by the respect shown by Antonello, and being now old, was content that he should see his method of colouring in oil; wherefore Antonello did not depart from that place until he had gained a thorough knowledge of that way of colouring, which he desired so greatly to know. And no long time after, Johann having died, Antonello returned from Flanders in order to revisit his native country and to communicate to all Italy a secret so useful, beautiful, and advantageous. Then, having stayed a few months in Messina, he went to Venice, where, being a man much given to pleasure and very licentious, he resolved to take up his abode and finish his life, having found there a mode of living exactly suited to his taste. And so, putting himself to work, he made there many pictures in oil according to the rules that he had learned in Flanders; these are scattered throughout the houses of noblemen in that city, where they were held in great esteem by reason of the novelty of the work. He made many others, also, which were sent to various places. Finally, having acquired fame and great repute there, he was commissioned to paint a panel that was destined for S. Cassiano, a parish church in that city. This panel was wrought by Antonio with all his knowledge and with no sparing of time; and when finished, by reason of the novelty of the colouring and the beauty of the figures, which he had made with good design, it was much commended and held in very great price. And afterwards, when men heard of the new secret that he had brought from Flanders to that city, he was ever loved and cherished by the magnificent noblemen of Venice throughout the whole course of his life…” I think… let Vasari “speak,” he is probably the best to introduce to my students, Antonello da Messina’s contribution to Italian Renaissance Art… http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/antonellodamessina.htm

Antonello da Messina, 1430-1479
San Cassiano Altar (detail), 1475-76, Oil on panel, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
https://artinwords.de/antonello-da-messina-pala-di-san-cassiano-sacra-conversazione/

Teaching with Antonello da Messina References – References, a PowerPoint and Activities…

For a List of ONLINE References on Antonello da Messina TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Antonello da Messina, please… Click HERE!

I always feel confident discussing an artist with my students when I prepare my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline

For Student Activities (3 Activities), please… Click HERE!

I hope, Teaching with Antonello da Messina, will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name Teacher Curator?

Antonello da Messina, 1430-1479
Virgin Annunciate (detail), c. 1476, Oil on wood, 45 x 34,5 cm, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo
https://eclecticlight.co/2019/08/02/the-first-italian-master-in-oil-antonello-da-messina-2/

The Labours of the Months: May

The Labours of the Months: May, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

Pink, small, and punctual, / Aromatic, low, / Covert in April, / Candid in May,     /     Dear to the moss, / Known by the knoll, / Next to the robin / In every human soul.     /     Bold little beauty, / Bedecked with thee, / Nature forswears / Antiquity. Writes Emily Dickinson, but for The Labours of the Months: May small painting in the National Gallery in London, the feeling is different.  https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/may-flower/

Starting the 1st of January 2021 and for every month so far, I “travel” to the National Gallery in London and present one, out of twelve, small picture, “painted on canvas and then… glued to a wooden panel. It is possible that (these twelve pictures) were made to decorate the recessed panels of a pair of doors. The paintings seem to have been planned in pairs with the figures facing each other and are currently displayed in two frames in groups of six. They show the ‘labours of the months’ – the rural activities that take place each month throughout the year.” This set of painted Doors combine simplicity in execution and extravagance in visual effect! The paintings, very small in size, about 13.6 x 10.6 cm, were achieved in vivid, bright, luxurious colours, like “ultramarine blue for the sky, strong vermilion and red lake for the clothing, with rich greens and yellows in the landscape. The restricted and repeated use of colour gives the group of little pictures a charming, decorative simplicity. All but one of the scenes show a man working outdoors on what appears to be the estate of a large villa, seen in several of the paintings, at the foot of the distant blue mountains.”     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The Labours of the Months: May (detail), about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The panel that represents the month of May, according to the National Gallery experts, “is the most puzzling picture of the series.” Observing the picture’s composition the viewer will see a seated young man, he seems alert and ready to stand up, holding “two rods, with one crossing the other at the top.” He is simply dressed, barefoot but wearing a broad-rimed straw hat, looking, as if he is expecting a nod, coming from someone straight in front of him, to continue the task he is planning to finish. “ It looks as though (the young man) might be making a supporting frame for vegetables or fruit,” the experts suggest, as there seems to be “a tradition in Italy for one of the spring months to be represented by a youth holding crossed branches, often in bud…” ttps://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-may

Whatever our Venetian young man is about to do… Whether or not this is the correct attribution… Enjoy an unpretentious Renaissance painting and Best Wishes for the Month of May!!!

For a PowerPoint on The Labours of the Months: May at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!

The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
The Raising of Lazarus, 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, 43.5 x 46.4 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA https://www.kimbellart.org/collection/apx-197501

Lazarus Saturday… “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany…” (John 12:1) and The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio is a wonderful painting to start our 2021 Journey of the Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
The Raising of Lazarus (detail), 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, 43.5 x 46.4 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA https://www.wikiart.org/en/duccio/raising-of-lazarus-fragment-1311

Duccio di Buonisegna is one o the greatest Μasters of Early Renaissance Art. Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, introduces the great Sienese artist with admiration and respect… “Without doubt those who are inventors of anything notable receive the greatest attention from the pens of the writers of history, and this comes to pass because the first inventions are more observed and held in greater marvel, by reason of the delight that the novelty of the thing brings with it, than all the improvements made afterwards by any man whatsoever when works are brought to the height of perfection, for the reason that if a beginning were never given to anything, there would be no advance and improvement in the middle stages, and the end would not become excellent and of a marvellous beauty. Duccio, then, painter of Siena and much esteemed, deserved to carry off the palm from those who came many years after him…” http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25759/25759-h/25759-h.htm#Page_7

My decision to start the 2021 Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church presentation with a painting by Duccio was carefully thought. James H. Stubblebine’s 1975 article Byzantine Sources for the Iconography of Duccio’s Maestà triggered my imagination… It was finally in his hands! A centuries-old Manuscript Codex from a Monastery somewhere in the land of ancient Macedonia. He felt curious and lucky and privileged to hold such a treasure in his hands! His spirit lifted, in awe… ideas and images wildly dancing in his head, a tingling sensation going down his hands… he felt the urge to start painting… a spiritual golden world, divine, yet with layered hills and trees effortlessly arranged to create a feeling of depth, ethereal figures clad in spring-like coloured robes… How can I combine His World and mine, he thought, and he started painting… The Art Bulletin, Vol. 57, No. 2 (Jun. 1975), pp. 176-185 (10 pages), Published by CAA https://www.jstor.org/stable/3049368?seq=1. (The text in italics is purely fictional)

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
Maesta – Back Side, 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena, Italy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maest%C3%A0_(Duccio)#/media/File:Maest_001_duccio_siena_duomo.jpg

In 1771 the Maesta was dismantled and damaged in the process. Few pieces were lost forever, some of its original panels were sold, and today, like orphan siblings, these panels are housed in European or American Museums. I always seek them out when I visit the National Gallery in Washington DC or the National Gallery, for example, in London. Viewing a Duccio panel is always a pleasure! Visiting, however, the Tuscan city of Siena, its splendid Cathedral and finally the first floor of its Museo Dell’Opera, where Duccio’s Maesta is exhibited, I am in “exaltation.” The Duccio Altarpiece, painted from 1308 to 1311 in Siena and exhibited in Sienna “visible from both sides, is one of the most prodigious artistic undertakings of all time.” If I may humbly add, it is also Duccio’s remarkable gesture of respect to the Byzantine artistic tradition, surprisingly still alive in Tuscany of the early fourteenth century. https://operaduomo.siena.it/en/sites/museum/ and https://www.kimbellart.org/collection/apx-197501

“Thus, under Duccio’s aegis, Byzantium had its last, and perhaps noblest stand on the Italian field.” https://www.jstor.org/stable/3049368?seq=1 Page 184

For a Student Activity on Duccio’s The Raising of Lazarus, please… Check HERE!

Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1278 – 1318
The Raising of Lazarus (detail), 1310–11, Tempera and gold on panel, 43.5 x 46.4 cm, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA https://twitter.com/roisin_donohoe/status/1276307352501784576/photo/2

Angelic Musicians

Domenicos Theotokopoulos, 1541-1614
The Concert of the Angels, c. 1608-1614, oil on canvas, 115-217 cm, National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum – Evripidis Koutlidis Foundation, Athens https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painting/domenicos-theotokopoulos-el-greco/the-concert-of-the-angels.html
Together with…
The Annunciation, 1614, oil on canvas, 2.940,00×2.090,00 mm, Banco Santander, Spain
https://el.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF:Domenikos_Theotokopoulos,_El_Greco_-_The_Annunciation_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Domenicos Theotokopoulos is in my heart. I find him an attractive personality in every aspect… talented, educated, ambitious, curious, adventurous, persistent…  Art is everywhere you look for it, hail the twinkling stars for they are God’s careless splatters…” he wrote and I think of his Angelic Musicians, shining like flickering stars, in the National Gallery in Athens. http://elgreco.net/el-greco-quotes.jsp and https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painting/domenicos-theotokopoulos-el-greco/the-concert-of-the-angels.html

Domenicos Theotokopoulos was a Cretan Greek, born in Handaka-Candia, present-day Herakleion, part, at the time, of the thriving Republic of Venice. Archival research in Venice showed that between 1526-28 his family relocated from Chania to Handaka where in 1541 Domenicos was born. His orthodox-Greek family belonged to the upper-middle class, as his father, Giorgos Theotokopoulos, worked for the government of the Venetian Republic, most probably as a merchant and a tax collector. Very little is known of  Domenicos’s mother and early childhood. He was undoubtedly talented, and his father, realizing it, placed him as an apprentice in a painter’s workshop to learn this profitable trade. The name of his teacher is unknown, but judging from Domenicos’s earliest paintings, he was a great master of the Post-Byzantine Cretan School. Crete at the time was the center of a thriving artistic community and understanding the artist’s early influences and style is important in decoding his later work! https://www.historical-museum.gr/webapps/elgreco/xronologio.php?lang=en

By 1567/8 Theotokopoulos travelled to Venice, by 1570, he was in Rome, by 1576 he moved to Spain and in 1577 the artist settled in Toledo, where he found his spiritual home and remained for the rest of his life. He died on the 7th of April 1614, admired for his unique fluid style, temperamental character and humanist education. One of his friends and admirers, Hortensio Félix Paravicino y Arteaga (1580-1633) the Spanish poet, preacher and a member of the Trinitarian Order, wrote for the artist “O Greek divine! We wonder not that in thy works / The imagery surpasses actual being.” Paravicino also wrote, foreseeing Theotokopoulos’s legacy “Future generations will admire his strange genius, but for centuries he will not be imitated.” http://www.nccsc.net/essays/spanish-style  

I would like the reader of this BLOG POST, titled Angelic Musicians, to focus on two paintings. One of them is in Athens and is titled The Concert of the Angels, the other is in Madrid, and is an Annunciation scene. Now imagine them together and you will see one of the last, if not the last painting, the artist created but never finished. The original painting, an Annunciation scene, was commissioned for the Chapel of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist outside the walls of Toledo. Today, separated, the product of 19h century vandalism, may look slightly odd, but still, enthral the viewer with their unique “beauty.”

Domenicos Theotokopoulos, 1541-1614
The Concert of the Angels, c. 1608-1614, oil on canvas, 115-217 cm, National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum – Evripidis Koutlidis Foundation, Athens
https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painting/domenicos-theotokopoulos-el-greco/the-concert-of-the-angels.html

The Concert of the Angels in Athens is for me a wonderful depiction of an imaginary, celestial concert, full of energy and vibrato. Domenicos Theotokopoulos, the so-called El Greco, loved music and treated it with respect. The painting in Athens shows a musical ensemble with seven “ecstatic” angels, reading music, singing or playing the spinet, a harp, a flute and a viola da gamba. I wonder what kind of music Domenico enjoyed most, and which musician of his time he favoured… https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painting/domenicos-theotokopoulos-el-greco/the-concert-of-the-angels.html

The artist uses swift brushwork and swaying movement in postures and robes to create excitement in his composition. Like tongues of fire, his swirling figures look more like spiritual beings than real bodies…

The colour palette that the artist uses is another distinctive characteristic of his mannerism. The colours are iridescent but bold. He uses oranges in red and green and yellow/gold in blue. Tints and shades are juxtaposed. Values of high or low intensity are treasured. Theotokopoulos’s final Annunciation was never finished but whether you see its upper part in Athens or the actual Annunciation part in Madrid, its expressive power is unquestionable.

For a PowerPoint on Theotokopoulos’s paintings of the Annunciation, please … Click. HERE!

The National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum – Evripidis Koutlidis Foundation in Athens has uploaded a wonderful (in Greek) Video to watch… https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=316373302403183  

Domenicos Theotokopoulos, 1541-1614
The Annunciation, 1614, oil on canvas, 2.940,00×2.090,00 mm, Banco Santander, Spain
https://el.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF:Domenikos_Theotokopoulos,_El_Greco_-_The_Annunciation_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

The Labours of the Months: April

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: April, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote:   When April with its sweet-smelling showers  /  The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,  Has pierced the drought of March to the root,   /  And bathed every veyne in swich licour  And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid  /  Of which vertu engendred is the flour;   By the power of which the flower is created;  /  Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth   When the West Wind also with its sweet breath,  /  Inspired hath in every holt and heeth   In every holt and heath, has breathed life into  /  The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne   The tender crops, and the young sun  /  Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,   Has run its half course in Aries,  /  And smale foweles maken melodye,  And small fowls make melody,  /  That slepen al the nyght with open ye   Those that sleep all the night with open eyes  /  (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),   (So Nature incites them in their hearts)… Geoffrey Chaucer first line for The Canterbury Tales refers to April…   for The Labours of the Months: April cer/gp-aloud.htm

In London, at the National Gallery there are 12 small pictures, “painted on canvas and then each glued to a wooden panel. It is possible that they were made to decorate the recessed panels of a pair of doors. The paintings seem to have been planned in pairs with the figures facing each other and are currently displayed in two frames in groups of six. They show the ‘labours of the months’ – the rural activities that take place each month throughout the year.” This set of painted Doors combines simplicity in execution and extravagance in visual effect! https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The painting that may represent “sweet-smelling” April, shows  a cooper making a wooden barrel. “He raises his mallet ready to strike the tool in his other hand. The work must be physically hard as he has tied a band of white cloth around his forehead to keep the sweat out of his eyes. The barrel will be used to store wine made from the grapes we see being pressed in September.”     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-april

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: April, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

Coopers were important craftsmen during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. They created wooden barrels to store wine, spirits and salted meats, buckets to draw and carry water, wooden bowls and plates for daily use, pails, churns and tubs for various agricultural or home-industry needs. Coopers, like the one depicted in the small London painting, were respected and valued Renaissance professionals.

Depicting the Labours of the Months was a popular artistic theme that was frequently used in the decoration of Cathedrals and Churches, Castles and  Palaces, Psalters, Breviaries and Books of Hours across Europe during the Medieval and Early Renaissance period. Each month, depicting popular activities of peasants or/and the gentry throughout the year were sometimes paired with the Signs of the Zodiac circle. They would be either simple and small in size or large and elaborate, crafted in stone, wood, stained glass, painted in murals or often enough, painted in parchment. Many great Monuments and Libraries in Europe display fine examples of such artefacts for art lovers to enjoy.  http://www.livingfield.co.uk/ages/labours-of-the-months/

For a PowerPoint on The Labours of the Months at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!

Teaching with Andrea Mantegna

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
Camera degli Sposi, The West Wall: The Meeting, (detail of the left panel), 1465-74, Walnut oil on plaster, Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Mantegna_075.jpg?uselang=it

“How great is the effect of reward on talent is known to him who labors valiantly and receives a certain measure of recompense, for he feels neither discomfort, nor hardship, nor fatigue, when he expects honor and reward for them; nay, what is more, they render his talent every day more renowned and illustrious. It is true, indeed, that there is not always one to recognize, esteem, and remunerate it as that of Andrea Mantegna was recognized. This man was born from very humble stock in the district of Mantua; and, although as a boy he was occupied in grazing herds, he was so greatly exalted by destiny and by his merit that he attained to the honorable rank of Chevalier, as will be told in the proper place…” This is how Giorgio Vasari introduces Andrea Mantegna, the artist who was is “seen to have been wrought with much art and diligence.” Teaching with Andrea Mantegna is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Italian artist I admire. To visit Andrea’ Camera degli Sposi in the Palazzo Publico in Mantua was for years an unreachable dream. In 1988 along with a group of students/friends my dream came to fruition and I was finally, in the middle of this amazing room… moved, I confess, and emotional.     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreamantegna.htm

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
The presentation of Christ in the temple (detail-Probably Self-portrait), 1465-1466, tempera on canvas, 86×67 cm, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Portraits_of_Andrea_Mantegna#/media/File:Andrea_Mantegna_049_detail_possible_self-portrait.jpg

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Mantegna’s oeuvre I start with Giorgio Vasari’s final words. “Andrea was so kindly and praiseworthy in all his actions, that his memory will ever live, not only in his own country, but in the whole world; wherefore he well deserved, no less for the sweetness of his ways than for his excellence in painting…” and continue with the artist’s tutelage under Squarcione, who “made him practise much on casts taken from ancient statues and on pictures painted upon canvas which he caused to be brought from diverse places, particularly from Tuscany and from Rome. By these and other methods, therefore, Andrea learnt not a little in his youth…” I finish my presentation of Andrea Mantegna’s contribution to world art with his reaction to Squarcione’s criticism that “his pictures resembled not living figures but ancient statues of marble or other suchlike things.” My students are intrigued and a discussion takes place by how “This censure piqued the mind of Andrea; but, on the other hand, it was of great service to him, for, recognizing that Squarcione was in great measure speaking the truth, he set himself to portray living people, and made so much progress in this art, that, in a scene which still remained to be painted in the said chapel, he showed that he could wrest the good from living and natural objects no less than from those wrought by art. But for all this Andrea was ever of the opinion that the good ancient statues were more perfect and had greater beauty in their various parts than is shown by nature, since, as he judged and seemed to see from those statues, the excellent masters of old had wrested from living people all the perfection of nature, which rarely assembles and unites all possible beauty into one single body, so that it is necessary to take one part from one body and another part from another.”     http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/giorgiovasari/lives/andreamantegna.htm

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
The San Zeno Polyptych (detail), 1457-60, Tempera on panel,  480 x 450 cm, San Zeno, Verona
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Details_of_Pala_di_San_Zeno_by_Andrea_Mantegna#/media/File:Andrea_Mantegna_024.jpg

Teaching with Andrea Mantegna References – References, a PowerPoint and Activities…

For the List of ONLINE References on Andrea Mantegna TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Andrea Mantegna, please… Click HERE!

I always feel confident discussing an artist with my students when I prepare my 7 Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline

For Student Activities (5 Activities), please… Click HERE!

I hope that Teaching with Andrea Mantegna will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name Teacher Curator?

Andrea Mantegna, 1431-1506
Ceiling decoration of the Camera degli Sposi (detail), 1465-74, Walnut oil on plaster and fresco, Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Camera_picta_-_Ceiling#/media/File:Andrea_mantegna,_camera_degli_sposi,_1465-74,_volta,_oculo,_07.jpg

The Labours of the Months: March

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: March, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march

Dear March – Come in – / How glad I am – / I hoped for you before – / Put down your Hat – / You must have walked – / How out of Breath you are – / Dear March, how are you, and the Rest – / Did you leave Nature well – /Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –/I have so much to tell –     /     I got your Letter, and the Birds – / The Maples never knew that you were coming – / I declare – how Red their Faces grew – / But March, forgive me – / And all those Hills you left for me to Hue – / There was no Purple suitable – / You took it all with you –     /     Who knocks? That April – / Lock the Door – / I will not be pursued – / He stayed away a Year to call / When I am occupied –  / But trifles look so trivial / As soon as you have come     /     That blame is just as dear as Praise / And Praise as mere as Blame –   Dear March, Come in!, a poem by Emily Dickinson, is about the love and joy it brought to her… She personifies March as if he were a friend… and I find it a fitting introduction to the new POST The Labours of the Months: March!     https://poets.org/poem/dear-march-come-1320     and     https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/emily-dickinson

Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos, or Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropolis, 12th or 15th century, Athens
http://www.religiousgreece.gr/athens-attica/-/asset_publisher/lpcrESlL5iOO/content/panagia-gorgoepekoos

Depicting The Labours of the Months in works of art is a tradition that goes back to ancient Greek times. The charming Church of Hagios Eleutherios in Athens, also known as the Panagia Gorgoepikoos or the Mikri (Small) Metropolis, made up entirely of spolia of both ancient and Christian monuments, is a good example to start with. Above the main entrance to the Church and under the roof cornice, the builders of this extraordinary church placed “a frieze of Pentelic marble, which shows the months of the Attic Calendar, some festivals, and the complete circle of the Zodiac.” This ancient frieze “attempts to put together and coordinate the lunar calendar (Attic months and festivals) and the solar calendar (the signs of the Zodiac).” Amazing…     https://hellenismo.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/the-frieze-of-the-attic-calendar/

Calendar Frieze at the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos or Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropolis (Date of the Calendar Frieze: 2nd century BC- Date of the Church: 12th or 15th century) Athens
Photo credit: http://surprisedbytime.blogspot.com/2011/10/cyriaco-and-little-metropolis.html

Drawings of the Calendar Frieze in the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos or Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropoli (Date of the Calendar Frieze: 2nd or 15th  century BC- Date of the Church: 12th century) Athens
https://hellenismo.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/the-frieze-of-the-attic-calendar/

Olga Palagia, Professor of Classical Archeology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, argues that the Calendar Frieze, in most probability,  was created in Athens for the Great Panathenaic festivities of the year 142/3. If this small Attic Calendar Frieze, Palagia still argues, is tied to Herodes Atticus, who presented Athens with a number of public buildings…if this Calendar Frieze was part of the grand Athenian marble Panathenaic Stadium complex, built entirely at the expense of Herodes Atticus for the Great Panathenaia that fell in 142/3… well,  makes it most interesting evidence of public Calendar representation… but in the realm of pure speculation!     The date and iconography of the calendar frieze on the little metropolis, Athens, JdI 123, 2008, by Olga Palagia,     https://www.academia.edu/843544/The_date_and_iconography_of_the_calendar_frieze_on_the_little_metropolis_Athens_JdI_123_2008

SO… The Calendar of the Months during Antiquity and the Labours of the Months later in history attracts our attention in Calendar works of Art adorning public buildings, Churches and Cathedrals of the time, striking Vitreaux Windows, amazingly colourful manuscripts, and paintings, monumental, like the eleven surviving panels in Torre Aquila I presented in 2020 (check: https://www.teachercurator.com/?s=torre%20aquila&cat=plus-5-results), or small, like the paintings in the National Gallery, in London, we will explore in 2021… month by month…     https://archive.org/details/labormonth00webs/page/n9/mode/2up Webster, James Carson – 1905-1989, The labors of the months in antique and mediaeval art to the end of the twelfth century, 1938, Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University,     and      https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: March (detail) , about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march

For the Venetian Month of March at the National Gallery, we have yet another outdoor scene. “A bearded man wearing a yellow tunic trims vines that have been trained to grow up two trees. The branches of the vine are bare, while the trees have a few brownish leaves. Pruning vines is an activity carried out in Italy in winter, when the plant is dormant, and in spring when the new leaves have started to grow.” Once more, young farmers need to bundle up and take care of the daily chores…     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march

For a PowerPoint on The Labours of the Months at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: March, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-march
Calendar Frieze at the Church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos, Hagios Eleftherios or Mikri Mitropoli (Date of the Calendar Frieze: 2nd century BC- Date of the Church: 12th or 15th century) Athens     http://surprisedbytime.blogspot.com/2011/10/cyriaco-and-little-metropolis.html

Teaching with Jan van Eyck

Jan van Eyck, before 1395-1441
Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?),
1433, oil on wood, 25,5 x 19 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/e/eyck_van/jan/01page/13turban.html

When the time comes for me to introduce my students to Jan van Eyck’s oeuvre I start with his remarkable motto, Als Ich Can – As well as I can, inscribed in large Greek letters on the upper part of the frame of his Self-Portrait? at the National Gallery in London. Humble words… but appreciate how subtly they draw attention to his extraordinary skills as a painter. Where can you go wrong Teaching with Jan van Eyck?     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-portrait-of-a-man-self-portrait

“Jan van Eyck is credited with originating a style of painting characterised by minutely realistic depictions of surface effects and natural light. This was made possible by using an oil medium, which allowed the building up of paint in translucent layers, or glazes.” These three lines by the National Gallery in London embody the essence of van Eyck’s painting style and technique. I like to read it to my students emphasizing his contribution to Western European Art. Information about his training and his life is scarce, we do know, however, that he was a member of the gentry class and that by 1425 he lived in Bruges and Lille as court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. We also know that in 1428 he travelled to Portugal to paint Philip the Good’s future wife, Isabella of Portugal.     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/jan-van-eyck

“Hubrecht van Eyck, the most famous painter ever known, started this work of art; his brother Jan, who was second in the art, finished the task at the request of Joos Vijd. With this verse the donor consigns the work to your charge on May 6th 1432. Admire what they have done for you”. The famous inscription on the frame of the Ghent Altarpiece sets off my Jan van Eyck PowerPoint Presentation and lets my students admire what they (Hubrecht and Jan) have done for us.

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in the Ghent Altarpiece (detail) by Jan van Eyck, 1432, St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium
https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-ghent-altarpiece-adoration-of-the-mystic-lamb-detail-of-the-holy-spirit-in-the-guise-of-a-dove-hubert-and-jan-van-eyck/MwEFlDeCLbw9RQ

Introducing a former BLOG POST at the 2020 Ghent Museum of Fine Arts Exhibition, titled Van Eyck – An Optical Revolution, I further discuss with my students his painting characteristics: 1. How he perfected the Oil Technique by adding siccatives. With oil paints, he created rich, deep, lustrous colours, flawless golden tones, and amazing life-like textures. 2. How Observation of reality is key to Jan’s Art. For example, his portraits are lifelike to the minutest detail, his depiction of nature and natural phenomena are credible and authentic, his art seems like it’s competing with reality itself! 3. How Observation of Reality is key to Jan’s Art. For example, his portraits are lifelike to the minutest detail, his depiction of nature and natural phenomena are credible and authentic, his art seems like it’s competing with reality itself! 3. How Observing and Painting Optical Light Phenomena shows an artist deeply interested “in the painting of light, so crucial to his optical revolution.” Scholars believe that Jan van Eyck “not only gathers practical but also theoretical knowledge in order to reproduce the effects of light.”     https://vaneyck2020.be/en/the-optical-revolution/     and     https://www.teachercurator.com/art/van-eyck-an-optical-revolution/

Teaching with Jan van Eyck… Online References PowerPoints and Activities…

For the List of ONLINE References on Jan van Eyck’s oeuvre, TeacherCurator put together, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on the Ghent Altarpiece, please… Click HERE! https://www.teachercurator.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Twith-JvanE-Ghent2-PP.pptx. List of Slides and Photo Credits for the Ghent Altarpiece PowerPoint, please… Click HERE!

For my PowerPoint on Jan van Eyck’s Oeuvre, please… Click HERE! List of Slides and Photo Credits for Jan van Eyck’s Oeuvre PowerPoint, please… Click HERE!

I always feel confident discussing an artist with my students when I prepare my Steps to Success Lesson Plan Outline

For High School level Student Activity, please… Click HERE!

For a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project), please… Click HERE!

I hope that teaching with Jan van Eyck will prove easy and helpful. Do you think it justifies my BLOG name TeacherCurator?

Alexandra D. and her Arnolfini Wedding RWAP Sketchbook Pages
Marios M. and his Arnolfini Wedding RWAP Sketchbook Pages

The Labours of the Months: February

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: February, about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

The Labours of the Months: February POST will start with In February, a poem by John Addington Symonds, the English poet, literary critic, cultural historian and writer of numerous biographies of writers and artists: “The birds have been singing to-day / And saying: “The spring is near! / The sun is as warm as in May, / And the deep blue heavens are clear.”   /     The little bird on the boughs / Of the sombre snow-laden pine / Thinks: “Where shall I build me my house, / And how shall I make it fine?     /     “For the season of snow is past; /  / The mild south wind is on high; / And the scent of the spring is cast / From his wing as he hurries by.”     /     The little birds twitter and cheep / To their loves on the leafless larch: / But seven foot deep the snow-wreaths sleep, / And the year hath not worn to March.https://discoverpoetry.com/poems/february-poems/

The Labours of the Months is a theme that frequently occurs during the Late Medieval-Renaissance Period Art. It attracts our attention in sculptural pieces adorning Churches and Cathedrals of the time, striking Vitreaux Windows, amazingly colourful manuscripts, and paintings, monumental, like the eleven surviving panels in Torre Aquila I presented in 2020 (check: https://www.teachercurator.com/?s=torre%20aquila&cat=plus-5-results), or small, like the paintings in the National Gallery, in London, we will explore in 2021… month by month… https://archive.org/details/labormonth00webs/page/n9/mode/2up Webster, James Carson – 1905-1989, The labors of the months in antique and mediaeval art to the end of the twelfth century, 1938, Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University,     and      https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january

By an unknown Venetian artist…
The Labours of the Months: February (detail), about 1580, oil on canvas, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, National Gallery, London
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

For 2021, I want to present something different, unpretentious but rare. In London, at the National Gallery, there are 12 small pictures, “painted on canvas and then each glued to a wooden panel. It is possible that they were made to decorate the recessed panels of a pair of doors. The paintings seem to have been planned in pairs with the figures facing each other and are currently displayed in two frames in groups of six. They show the ‘labours of the months’ – the rural activities that take place each month throughout the year.” This set of painted Doors combines simplicity in execution and extravagance in visual effect! The paintings, very small in size, about 13.6 x 10.6 cm, were achieved in vivid, bright, luxurious colours, like “ultramarine blue for the sky, strong vermilion and red lake for the clothing, with rich greens and yellows in the landscape. The restricted and repeated use of colour gives the group of little pictures a charming, decorative simplicity. All but one of the scenes show a man working outdoors on what appears to be the estate of a large villa, seen in several of the paintings, at the foot of the distant blue mountains.”     https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/italian-venetian-the-labours-of-the-months-january#painting-group-info

For the Month of February, we have an outdoor scene. “A young man kneels beside a wooden block and cuts stakes with a hatchet. A line of stakes has already been set in the field behind him, which is ploughed into rows ready to be planted, perhaps with vines or olives. The stakes would be used to support the young plants.” The festivities of the holidays are over and now the young farmers need to bundle up and take care of the daily chores…

For a PowerPoint on The Labours of the Months at the National Gallery in London, please… Check HERE!