Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Few months ago I started a project discussing highly esteemed works of art in a immature and amateur fashion. I am going to import the three I have done from my myspace blog and continue on with them on this blog. Hope you enjoy.

A New Project, Part 1
I have been largely absent in the recent weeks and it has been a pretty long time since I have posted anything blog-wise. I guess there hasn't been much to say recently. I have decided to start a new project, of sorts. I have a book called The Folio Society Book of the 100 Greatest Paintings. I haven't read it yet, but I have looked at some of the paintings. I plan on looking at a few of the paintings each week and reporting back on them here. I am completely unqualified to discuss art critically so don't expect anything profound.

I figure it is just a way for me to learn something and possibly share that with someone. I am not too concerned as to whether painting A doesn't belong on the list or not. Someone named Martin Bailey edited this book so I assume it is his expertise and opinion that they are the best.

I skipped the introduction as I am so apt to do. Perhaps I will go back and read it at a later time. It appears that the paintings are listed in chronological order and don't take into account anything painted pre 1200 CE (AD). So that means no Minoan Octopus Stirrup Jars, bummer.

Without further ado, here is the first painting:


The Rucellai Madonna by Duccio (painted 1285)

Obviously this book is going to have a good deal of religious art and in my opinion it is one of the only good things religion has given us (aside from the reproduction of ancient manuscripts).

This painting looks to me that it could have come straight out of an illuminated manuscript but it is actually from the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence and currently resides in the Galleria degli Uffizi, also in Florence.

The painting is Tempura on Panel. This is obviously in no way battered and deep fried as you would expect from tempura. In fact this book, after browsing the table of contents is decidedly Western in nature. Shouldn't this then be titled the 100 Greatest Western Paintings post 1200 CE?

The Central figure, as I am sure you guessed is Mary holding the little baby Jesus. It seems to me as though Duccio did not quite have the hang of painting children in proportion. Something just looks a little off about the J-man the Greeks also struggled with portraying children and babies. usually they just look like tiny men and I sort of see that here.

Jesus also appears to be all halo-ed up and blessing things already, interesting. I think the painter does a good job using all three dimensions with Mary's knee sticking out and the perspective on the throne/chair she sits upon.

I guess the frame painted with saints and apostles that surround the pentagon shaped painting remind me of illuminated manuscripts, well that and all of the gold.

So I guess that finishes painting one. I don't know if I will have anything to say about the others. I may be a one trick pony, or I may start being a sarcastic jerk about the images, who knows? This project of mine will either last 100 paintings or just a few. It depends on my interest and on my ability to talk about each one.


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  2. Dan, this blog was excellent!

    Are you big on art history? I am a collector of Folio editions too...when I have the money for them...I know Danielle's a big Folio fan too...and there's a book store in London that one I'll have to take you too!

    Anyway, I've got a wonderful Folio edition of a three-part collection called Gothic, Medieval and Byzantine cost me an arm and a leg...but was worth it!

    I've been fortunate enough to have been to Florence a few times...and to the Uffizi twice, and I recognise the painting!

    Vasari's The Lives of the Artists is a great read, and I recommend it...if you want to know all about Renaissance artists...written by somebody of that time it's full of rumours, insinuations and detail!

    I'm not one much for religious art...but I'm an admirer of Giotto's work...some thing about it just appeals to me...I think also that he was a friend of Dante Alighieri's too...and he did a portrait of him...

    Great blog!

  3. I wouldn't necessarily say that I am Big on art history. I have probably only taken 4 or 5 university classes in the field but I am definitely interested in it. I love the Folio editions. I have a bookcase filled with them but they mostly relate to the ancient world.

    I am pretty sure Folio had an edition of Vasari's Lives but I have never gotten ahold of it. I am planning to read much more nonfiction in the future than I have been lately. So hopefully I will get to that one soon.

    I like the rumors and scandalous talk that comes when bios are written by someone "of the time" Suetonius' Tweleve Caesars is like that too.

    I like to learn about the connections that artists have made with the important people of the day. Like you say of Giotto and Dante. That stuff fascinates me.