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Medieval or International Gothic Art


The term used for the artwork created during the 14th till the mid 15th centuries in Europe is known as Medieval or International Gothic Art. The International Gothic is also the term given for Medieval artwork. They were frequently used to convey Christian messages as well as to illustrate wealth and increase status since they were often extremely pricey. Theses painting normally had detailed, linear, and a luminous paint palette. Artists would usually use stylised figures combined with colours and gold. This was because most of the paintings were based on Christian biblical figures (altarpiece) and were made for the Church. These paintings were mostly done by the use of Tempera paint and were spatially illogical, but could have observed naturalistic details. The painting on the right is an example of a Triptych – a picture on three panels. It is also an example of how medium was used throughout the International Gothic Period. Since artists then would produce painting for the Church in in very large altarpiece paintings or sometimes in small devotional paintings. The paintings would consist of many symbolism, important biblical figures.

Jacopo di Cione and workshop Adoring Saints: Left Main Tier Panel The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece 1370-1 Egg tempera on wood 169 x 113 cm

Jacopo di Cione and workshop The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece 1370-1 Egg tempera on wood 206.5 x 113.5 cm

Jacopo di Cione and workshop Adoring Saints: Right Main Tier Panel The San Pier Maggiore Altarpiece 1370-1 Egg tempera on wood 169 x 113 cm


Typical International Gothic features include; • • • • •

Simplification/elimination of detail Figure set against a background of gold with no horizon. Figures almost fill the format Figures are elongated: accentuated by linear vertical elements of clothing Decorative: colour and line unite figure and setting.


Artists during the International movement mostly used Tempera paint on their paintings. Egg tempera paint is pigments, egg yolk with water. The pigments were gathered by the artists from the world around them. The Towns eggs were used to paint flesh and Country eggs were sued for more rich colours.

Artists in general are always finding new ways to create a number of different types of colours. During the medieval time period, they used many ways to create a variety of colours to portray the divine world, Heaven. Thus, colours were extremely important, but some pigments were more important since they were rare. For example, Ultramarine (a primary colour) is a pigment which comes from a precious gemstone called Lapis Lazuli. It is mined from cave in Afghanistan. These gemstones were difficult to extract and were quite expensive. At one point, the Church owned this pigment because it was hard to obtain.

Ultramarine Lapis Lazuli


The Inside of the Diptych This painting is called the Wilton Diptych because of the family who originally owned the piece before the National Gallery obtained it. It is a Diptych which means that two panels hinged together. So, this suggests that the piece would be opened or closed with the painting being inside and protected. The dimension of the painting suggests that it could be portable and are opened to use is as an aid in prayer. With all the material used to make this object, it would have been expensive.

Richard II presented to the Virgin and Child by his Patron Saint John the Baptist and Saints Edward and Edmund ('The Wilton Diptych’), 1395-9, Egg on oak, 53 x 37 cm


This was initially made for the King of England, Kind Richard II. The background consist of patterns, such as, vines and tangibles, with gold embedded on them. On the foreground, there are four figure. King Richard II himself (kneeling on the right) with St Edmund the Martyr (on the left), St Edward the Confessor (on the middle) and St John the Baptist (on the right).

They are decorated with gold embroidery, especially their head pieces. This is because the two of the figures that are standing were King of England, including King Richard II. These two kings were known as very righteous individuals that were turned into saints. Thus, they didn’t just have crowns, but with an halo as well.

Each of these individuals are recognised by their attribute. St Edmund carrying an arrow that he was martyred with, St Edward holding a ring which links to a miracle he carried out and St John with a lamb which symbolises his acknowledgment of Jesus as the Son of God. King Richard is recognised by the personal emblem, a white stag, that he is wearing on a chain of pearls. There is also an image of a white stag on his cloth.


All of the figures are looking across the panel where there is an image of the Heavens, or a garden since there are flowers on the floor, with Madonna holding baby Jesus. Both of the figures are surrounded by standing and kneeling angels in a compressed space.

The outer part of baby Jesus halo, there is a fading image of the thorn crown which is reference to his crucifixion and his sacrifice.

Madonna and baby Jesus are off centre, but because all of the figures are looking towards them, they become the centre figures which drawing the viewers towards them ae well.

Madonna is a bit larger in proportion than the angels. This again draws the viewers towards her and it also shows her religious importance.

Baby Jesus seems to be leaning towards King Richard II in the left panel in gesture of blessing. He is also showing his foot (Madonna is holding his right foot) to show the viewers as though he is showing where the nails went during the crucifixion.


He is also reaching out towards a banner held by an angel, on the left, who is looking towards him. The angel holding the banner of St George, a saint, which associates to England and the King. This could be suggesting that the King rules by divine right, sanctioned by the Madonna and Child's presence and blessing.

The robes that Madonna and the angles are wearing are vivid blue. This is because the blue pigment used were Ultramarine which is very expensive and it showed wealth. The angels are also wearing a brooch with an image of a white hart which is a symbol of Richard II.

The angels wings have detailed decorative naturalism. The top of the flag also contains an orb which might be an image of an island, England, which could again associate with England.

Two angels on the right-hand side seem to converse as though they are talking to one another


The outside of the Diptych

Richard II presented to the Virgin and Child by his Patron Saint John the Baptist and Saints Edward and Edmund ('The Wilton Diptych’), 1395-9, Egg on oak, 53 x 37 cm


The left-hand side image has an image of a shield which has the emblem of France and England. The object had an emblem of France because King Richard II was French, but he ruled England. It also has a image of a cross with five birds on it.

The image on the right has Kings Richard II emblem, a white stage. It has a crown around its neck which is attached to a chain.

The stag is resting on a field of flowers and rosemary which is also another emblem of the King.

Originally the image the shield would have

On top of the shield, there is a lion which is a symbol of England.


The object mostly uses primary colours. There are some secondary colours present, but it is hardly noticeable and is used for a small amount.


Romanticism


Romanticism was an art movement which occurred in the late 18 th and the middle 19th century. Romanticism doesn’t have a definitive style, it is defined more of an attitude rather than a set of characteristics. The main point of the movement was the belief in the value of individual experience. It was different to the rationalism and order that underlies Neoclassicism, the art movement before Romanticism. The movement was a reaction against conservatism and neo classical compositions. The artist, Romantic, of the Romanticism period looks for the unattainable, outside the limits of society. They believed that a destroyed temple is more beautiful to see than the complete classical temple it once was. The imagination of the artist was important in artistic experience.


Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1818-1819, Oil on canvas, 193 x 282 inches, Musée du Louvre, Paris


This painting was created by Théodore Géricault, a French Romantic painter. It was created in 1818-1819 and oil paint as a medium on a canvas. The painting’s dimension is 193 x 282 inches. This size was unseal during the time because, large paintings were to embark important subjects or to show heroic deeds of some sort. This painting is far from that. The painting represents human misery by showing the struggle of the passengers on the raft. The painting is of an event that happened in 1816, a shipwreck of a ship named Medusa. This painting specifically shows the less unfortunates ones who were left by the ship, seen on the right. The Raft of the Medusa is denoting to the ship named the Medusa. 150 French sailors and passengers, were drifting on a raft off west Africa for 13 days. However, they ended up fighting, killing, and eating the dead (cannibalism). After 13 days, 15 were rescued and only 10 survived. The shipwreck was a political scandal, the disaster was blamed on the uselessness of the captain who hadn’t sailed for over 20 years. Portrait of Théodore Géricault


In order to create realistic texture of flesh and accurate anatomy, he created small stages with clay figures and even received body parts from the morgue.


Only 20 figures are seen on the foreground, including the raft, out of about 550 people who are cramped up in a wooden raft, which seems to be breaking. They seem to abandon by the ship, seen on a grey silhouette sailing away from them on the right. There are two figures who are waving at the ship, seems to be their shirt as they are half naked, to make them notice them. On the background, there are waves, but on the left the waves are more violent, looks as though it is about to crash with the raft, but on the right there are more calm, still violent. There are three pyramidal shapes in the painting. The first one is made by the figures who are trying to be noticed by the ship – they seems to be pushing, not all figure, a figure upwards. The second one by the topsail of the boat and the last one by a old man in a red cloak, he is looking at though he has accepted his fate, who is holding a naked man on he left.


There is a man who seems to be well nourished waving towards the ship, trying to get noticed. This represents the hope of the people and denotes the little hope of some people, even when the monarchy has failed them. Behind the man, there are piles of people, both dead and alive. This signifies the chaos that occurred because of the failed monarchy, the selfishness of men trying to help themselves. The well nourished man seems as though he is treated highly by the people as some of them are supporting him. The men supporting him can be seen as a message to people that helping one another to succeed rather then for themselves.

On the left of the scruffy man, is a man who is malnourished – his ribs are visible, his face is pale and skinny. This also represent chaos of the failed monarchy.

In the distance, there is a ship present, rarely visible, which represents that the only speck of hope was disappearing. Gericault created the ship with this magnitude so that the viewers would have a hard time viewing it too.

There is a old scruffy looking man sitting with a facial expression, as well as posture, of hopelessness whilst wearing a red robe. He looks as though he has lost all hope of rescue. This might relate to the content and the purpose of the painting, the failure of the monarchy. The revolution began in 1789 which established a Republic in France putting an end to the Napoleonic Empire. Thus, restoring monarchy. But, the captain was a King’s representative and was appointed to, failed. This man represented the hopelessness of the people who were under the control of the monarchy who failed them.

The dead man on the old man’s is clearly influenced by the Greeks. This shows that Gericault was inspired by the Greeks, but in the painting the man doesn’t have an idealised figure

There are torn wet French Uniform and blooded axe seen in the water. This could possibly be the captain’s, suggesting at the theory of the Medusa being purposely wrecked under the order of the monarchy. The blooded axe indicates the horror and terror of the passenger had to endure to in order to survive, especially by cannibalism.


Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830, Oil On Canvas 2.6 m x 3.25 m,


Visible shape primary colours, the blues, yellows and the especially powerful reds

This paining of Liberty Leading the People was painted by an artist named Eugène Delacroix inn 1830. It was done on a large canvas, oil as a medium, with a dimension of 2.6 m x 3.25 m. Romanticism is also associated with political radicalism, and frequently uses contemporary subject matter, although in a familiar semi-idealised manner. In the 1830 Revolution that toppled the Bourbons and put the July Monarchy of Louis Philippe in power. The painting is a mixture of the real, the invented and allegory. It is visually striking, capturing the excitement and energy of the event, and a potent symbol of the struggle for freedom. Delacroix gave it a strong visual impact which suggested optimism and belief of the French people. He breaks with the tradition of subtle modulation of colour. He applies brilliant pure pigment.


In the midground, there are two figures standing together, but they represent very different social and economic positions. The man in the top hat, waistcoat and jacket is a member of the middle class. The second figure represents a member of the working or lower class. Delacroix's message is the revolution unites these classes against the ruling aristocracy.

The woman in the centre of the painting holds the tricolor – this is the banned flag of revolution and democracy. She is also exposing her breasts. The figure is not an actual person but rather the embodiment of an idea. Marianne, the woman, is allegorically representing democracy. The reason why Delacroix exposed her breasts is because Democracy was born in Ancient Greece and he wanted to remind viewers democracy by his use of partial nudity

Notre Dame, a symbol of the King's power is now flying the tricolor In the foreground there are two dead bodies laying. The figure on the left is intended to enrage the viewer. He is dressed in a long nightshirt as his body was dragged into the street from his bed where he had been shot. In this sense the painting is propaganda. The dead uniformed figure on the right is a royalist soldier. Here, Delacroix shows the enemy as vulnerable Delacroix is alluding to the royal troops who spread terror by murdering suspected revolutionary sympathizers in their beds and then dragging the bodies into the streets as a warning.


The difference between Neoclassical and Romantic Sculpture Neoclassical sculpture:

Romantic sculpture:

Clear derivation from classical statuary

Based on the body,

Moral mission: refined feelings, moral purity; truth

Violent emotion,

Harmonious balance between the spiritual and the sensual

Intense exaggerated movement, anatomical detail.

Idealised and timeless perfection

White marble


Portrait of Antoine Paris by Hyacinthe Rigaud


The painting was done by a French artist, Hyacinthe Rigaud. He was born in 1659 and died in 1743. Rigaud, a baroque painter, was one of the most successful painters of his time. He was the principal official painter of Louis XIV, and he also worked for his heir, Louis XV.

The painting depicts of a middle-aged man, centrally placed, sitting up-right, in a very posh manner, facing to the right, away from the viewers, with very luxuries velvet textured clothing. It is a realistic portrait of Antoine Pâris who is representing himself as a wise and wealthy traveller. The painting was completed in 1724. It in unknown where the portrait was painted, but now it is located in The National Gallery, London, in Room 33. The painting has a dimension of 144.7 x 110.5 cm and is done on a canvas with oil as its medium. The artist uses the dramatic change between light and dark as a technique to exaggerate the movement within the painting – this is known As Baroque Painting. The Baroque cultural movement began round 1600 and lasted till the early 18th century. It was a art movement that not only portrays motion but also emotion. Baroque, unlike the renaissance, showed painting with realistic features of landscape and the human body instead of amplifying them by for exampling, giving them abs. The artist uses rich, deep colours to intensify specific colours to give it a dramatic presence. The colour is organised by making the background have dimmer shades than the foreground to emphasise it. This helps the man on the portrait stand out more making him look more heroic and of importance.

Portrait of Hyacinthe Rigaud


Hyacinthe Rigaud, Antoine Pâris, 1724, Oil on canvas, 144.7 x 110.5 cm


He is looking away from the viewers suggesting that he is an important figure who considers the viewers as unimportant individuals. It’s as if he is intimidating the us. He has a double chin that suggest that he is quite over-weight. This again displays his wealth as he has money to spoil himself with luxurious food. He is smiling showing off that his life style is very comfortable. He is placed on the central of the painting and takes almost most of the space suggesting that he is an influential figure.

He has very a rosy cheeks making him look quite innocent. This might suggest that he might not be that abusive with his authority.

There is an unknown source of light, might be from a window, in an angle giving the painting tones and defining the main features. The main features especially defines his face because regardless to the foreground or the background, it important that the viewer won’t forget that it’s his wealth that is being displayed. The unknown light source create Light to create tonal modelling He is sitting in an informal pose which suggests that he is confident since he doesn’t have to stand up with his chest out to show authority.

His collar is opened showing his clean skin. This shows off his wealth even more as it demonstrates that he doesn’t have to do any hard labour in the fields underneath the sun and get sunburnt . It also suggests that he has a very comfortable life.


He is wearing a wig which was very fashionable in his time. It was symbol of social status and only the wealthy could afford. It is also a representation of his statue. His right hand is relaxed and opened. This looks as if he is ordering someone. This might suggest that he is of high statue and is able to use his authority on someone. His hand being opened might also suggest that he is very relaxed.

The light hits the back of the hand exaggerating his paleness. This defines the navy drapery his is covered with to show off his wealth. The artist has painted his left-hand on the centre of the painting which draws the viewers eye to it and make them notice the navy drapery he is clenching. Thus, showing his wealth.

The inner part of his hand has shadow whereas the light hits the other side of his hand. This gives the hand depth making it look realistic. This also gives the hand a form of motion.

He is in elaborate clothes with fine laces. This shows that he has the money to buy expensive garments. The detailed furniture has more lighting to it than the background to make it stand out more and be more noticeable to viewer. The chair and the desk he is sitting/leaning on have very defined details with golden colour and red velvet. this is associated to his wealth. The artist uses light and dark to make the texture look realistic and almost touchable.

He is covered with a navy and a gold coloured blankets. This literally shows his wealth even further. Especially because of th way the artist has painted them to give it a very different type of texture to other objects. The artist and again used light and shadow in a very realistic way. It almost seems touchable.


The colour is organised by making the background have dimmer shades than the foreground to emphasise it. This helps the man on the portrait stand out more making him look more heroic and of importance.

In the background, there is a column of books found which suggests that he is in the library and that he was a very well-educated man. Having books also shows wealth since lowerclassed citizens were not able to afford them as they were hand written by monks.

He has pilaster architectures which adds an elegance and statue since only the rich can afford to hire architects and workers to build it in their houses.

There is also a display of foreign objects, a vase, which suggests that he is a traveller who brought back souvenirs from his journey. This is known as The Grand Tour – a trend which started around 1660 where youngsters would bring back items from their trips as tokens. However, only wealthy people could do so.


The artist is depicting the wealth of Antoine Paris or maybe even exaggerating it to the viewers. He not only shows his wealth, but his statue and authority as well. He does so by using exaggerating specific objects to make them look expensive and exhibit wealth of that time by the use of light and dark contrast, giving it depth. For instance, the navy and gold very drapery as well as the red velvet of the furniture. The artist uses dramatic changes of light and dark to give it a different texture to others, making it realistically touchable. Although the expensive clothing he is wearing is still visible, but the artist decided to show-off the velvet more. Back then, velvet were only affordable to wealthy people since it was imported from foreign country/countries and they were weaved beautifully by hand. Rigaud painted the velvet drapery with higher contrasts after Antoine Paris’s face so people would see the fabric first then his face to let people would know that the luxurious material belongs to him. Thus, showing his wealth. The background of the painting also displays his wealth as it has columns of book and foreign object. This shows that he is knowledge and have the money to buy books. People with wealth were fortunate to be educated and able to purchase books. Just like the velvet, books were hand-written and made, by monks, making them expensive. Having a foreign already presents his wealth since lower-class wouldn’t be able to visit another country or even afford to bring back a souvenir. The artist paints the background with lower contrast to highlight the foreground, to let the viewers know who the man with the wealth is. Paris is not only exhibiting his wealth, but his status. However, Riguad shows his wealth more than his authority since you have to really analysis it to see it and most of them is shown by the gesture of Antoine Paris. This might be because people already know him as an important figure and he doesn’t need to indicate it. There are other observation that suggests this assumption. He is looking away from the viewers showing his confidence or showing the viewers of their insignificance. His right hand is open and pointing to the left as if he is ordering someone. This gesture presents his authority as he is accessed to order someone. He is going this gesture whilst sitting down informally. This also express his authority since he doesn’t have to stand up. Back then, people of lower statue had stand up and bow to their superior. The wig is the only object that shows his Authority since they would had to wear them in social occasions such as, a ball. He is also wearing quite a bit wig which extends his vision of authority to the viewers.

UNIT 4: Art History [Part III]  

Art and Design (Foundation Diploma Level 3), Art History Unit 4, New College

UNIT 4: Art History [Part III]  

Art and Design (Foundation Diploma Level 3), Art History Unit 4, New College

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