Saturday, 19 July 2014

Mastering Colour and other tricks


High definition colour feels like an entirely modern invention. Saturated manipulated photos, flat screen LCD tvs and 3D cinematic experiences combine to produce a visual pummelling apparently like never before. We have become so accustomed to synthetic colour that we take it for granted, like a cake addict, we are immune to the occasional treat.

So when we emerged blinking from the national gallery basement last night, our eyes had been reset and our brains reattuned to the special nature of the colours around us. The ridiculously blue cock and the bright flags of Trafalgar Square shining in the sunshine had taken on a new significance. They seemed to be a continuation of what we'd seen in Making Colour. A colour wheel of life, perhaps.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Some notes on identification: Ruta graveolens and Elector August

I'm currently looking at details which is my favourite part of art; looking for any clues to build up a better idea of what is going on. This little section concerns a mysterious procession of people towards a stunning 16th century view of Dresden.

The third and final procession of the bench is more open to interpretation than the previous two. However I suggest that this is August returning from a day’s hunting, and present the following reasons. Firstly, his position as riding ahead of the group, which was standard court etiquette, as befitted a man of high status. Secondly, his attire. His clothes initially do not appear overly elaborate, yet his long cloak has a beautifully stiffened collar and a silver chain is fastened around his shoulders by a rosette or other shape. A lace collar peeps out from underneath it. In comparison to the hunters in the various tableaux, he is extremely well dressed for riding in the forest.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Anne de Montmerency and August I

Where is the hunt?
You know me, I relish a good connection. I went looking for a geographical connection between Elector August I in Dresden and the current home of his wire drawing bench in Ecouen. It was unlikely, I admit, but I was rewarded for perseverance so I thought I'd quickly share.

Although the bench is no longer in its original location, and separated from the Dresden art and books with which it would have initially sat, its current geographic location is wholly appropriate. The country chateau which houses the museum in Ecouen was once the home of French aristocrat Anne de Montmerency, (1493-1567) Constable of France under Francis I. He spent his entire life in the service of the French kings and for Catholicism, and was well-known for his martial abilities, usually against Francis’s great rival, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

More on the bench: Hunting for a direction

What the heck is it?
What I am about to describe has never been done so completely in English, as far as I know. The images were afforded a mere quarter of a paragraph in Gunther Heine's 1990 article about the bench. I can't say with the same surety say that it hasn't been done in French or German, but if it has, I haven't yet found it. Given my focus on geography of art, the landscape images were demanding that I take a closer look so I took a flying visit to the Museum of the Renaissance in Ecouen, to look at the those images specifically. This is what I constructed in transit so it's rough and ready.

I need to orientate you so you can piece together a map of the bench in your head. Imagine you are standing at one short end of it, looking all the way down towards the good light and the window. That illuminated end is the end with the image of the man in his workshop and the elaborate coat of arms of the Elector of Saxony. But you're not there yet, you see the monogrammed AM in the landscape. Crouch down and move to the right. Underneath the long jousting tableau, which you've already admired, there is the first square picture. There are four of these, two either side of the end pieces.