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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:25

Here's Newton's discovery of The Refraction of Light, a fine, hand painted reproduction of which can be sourced from China for a mere $163.15. Your choice of Caravaggio is available for the same price.





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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:27

Joseph Wright was certainly a master of painting light and shadow.

Here's his, "A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun":

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:31

Have they Newton discovering the catflap one? By Catavaggio I think?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 16:57

nordmann wrote:
Have they Newton discovering the catflap one? By Catavaggio I think?

Laughing

Love that picture you've posted, MM.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 17:04

That made me laugh so loudly that the cat, who was sitting on the table harassing me, shot off. Thanks on both counts.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 04 Jan 2013, 00:02

Getting back to the x-ray thing: this wonderful example of how a scientific analysis of a painting opens insights into historical periods has just been made public by the National Gallery in London in advance of a forthcoming exhibition of x-rayed artwork "Unseen Paintings Beneath Tudor Portraits" which will run until June 2nd.

The artist is uncredited but what is startling for a portrait of Walsingham, Elizabeth's spymaster at the height of England's highly Protestant stand against Catholic Spain, is the image found beneath - a study of the Blessed Virgin Mary no less, and with child - a classic Catholic image the display of which in the period and place was almost an invitation to be arrested, or worse. The assumption being proffered by the Gallery's curator Dr Tarnya Cooper is that the earlier painting had not found a buyer and was therefore recycled for the portrait but it does raise an interesting historical question regarding who exactly was the target customer in the first place? The indications are that both have been executed by the same artist - someone who was being commissioned by the establishment while at the same time not averse to turning out expensively commissioned images for Catholic clients. As to who then painted both pictures? Well this is almost as intriguing a historical puzzle in itself.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Fri 04 Jan 2013, 07:24

Hadn't heard about this! Fascinating stuff, I agree. There's one of Thomas Sackville, too, with "A Flagellation of Christ" beneath:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/interactive/2013/jan/03/x-ray-tudor-portraits
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 15:41

Even the Daily Mail thought the news of the x-rayed Tudor portraits was worth reporting. Some more details about the pictures here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2257066/How-image-Elizabeth-Is-security-chief-painted-Catholic-drawing-Virgin-Mary-subversive-artist.html

I wonder if George Gower could be a suspect? He was officially Serjeant Painter to Queen Elizabeth, but he also painted Sir Thomas Kytson the Younger and his wife. The Kytsons, of Hengrave Hall, were known Catholic recusants.

Elizabeth wasn't too fussed about talented artists or musicians being Catholics. William Byrd and Thomas Tallis were both Catholics - but the queen was more interested in their music than their religious proclivities. Just wondered if Gower was possibly another tolerated Catholic in her employ. Can't find out much about Gower, let alone his religion; but the National Gallery would have mentioned him, I suppose, were he a suspect. Some of his work is hard to identify though - or so I've read.





Sir Thomas Kytson





Lady Kytson with Rather Large Feather
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 16:12

She may have been easy-going with regard to employing them but the production of Catholic imagery was against the law, and a law that was being enforced with even more vigour in the last decades of the 16th century as the political situation with respect to Spain deteriorated to a nadir never before reached. It was not a good time to be Catholic at all (those enjoying special favour excepted) and it was also a time which saw the wilful destruction of perceived Catholic iconography by random groups and individuals on a par with later puritan activity. To produce a painting of the madonna and child in the years leading up to 1590, as this painting has been tentatively dated, would have been a very foolhardy act indeed. To sell it an even more dangerous venture.

The artist of the finished product has always been simply labelled as "a painter of the Anglo-Dutch school", a group of (mainly portrait) artists who were enjoying considerable cross-border commissions and sales but who were anything but uniform in style. The realism of the face in the Walsingham portrait is why Gower isn't normally proposed as the artist. His facial features are normally very stilted and wooden ("stylised" is the polite expression). It's a pity Walsingham's hands aren't included in the portrait - Gower was absolutely crap at drawing them. All his kit-kats look like banana sellers. It would however have decided the issue.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 06 Jan 2013, 06:47

What strikes about Lady Kytson above is that she looks like the current Princess Anne. Any relation there?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 06 Jan 2013, 08:06

Islanddawn wrote:
What strikes about Lady Kytson above is that she looks like the current Princess Anne. Any relation there?

There must be rogue genes all over the place in that family...

Princess Beatrice of York seems (quite legitimately of course) to have inherited Victoria's adenoidal pout:









Beatrice is really very pretty - lovely hair.


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 13 Jan 2013, 14:21

Van Gogh's sunflowers are turning brown:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/14/van-gogh-sunflowers-yellow-paint

On the music thread we touched briefly on work that had been heard just too often (especially in films or in advertising) - overexposure (and not just to light) can spoil a painting's appeal too.

Much of van Gogh's work (like the sunflowers) has been postered to death. Athena has a lot to answer for.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 19 Jan 2013, 18:56

This goes a way toward answering the topic question. What is considered art is purely dependant on an individual's perception, or in other words, there is no one definitive answer?

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 19 Jan 2013, 20:25

This is from the photo archives of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where it was taken (1970s). The two little girls are clearly more interested with whatever they see behind the service grill, than in the works of art on the walls.



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 20 Jan 2013, 08:26

I'd be looking with them through the grill also, if the work displayed in the photo is any indication of what is on offer at the museum. But to be fair, those children are a little young to fully appreciate an art gallery.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 20 Jan 2013, 12:16

We loved school excursions to the National Gallery in Dublin for just that reason! The labyrinth of air vents between the chambers were large enough to accommodate an intrepid party of three or four ten year old explorers and, provided one brought a tin opener, allowed secret access to anywhere in the building.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 02 Feb 2013, 14:47

Not really relevant to the thread I suppose, but this made me sad:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2271520/Ronald-Parkinson-Former-V-A-chief-died-squalor-battle-depression.html

I went to one of his lectures, years and years ago. It was brilliant. Here is his description of Bernini's "Neptune and Triton":

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/berninis-neptune-and-triton/


RIP, Ronald Parkinson.

http://www.staitarts.com/2013/01/ron-parkinson/
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 16 Feb 2013, 21:06

My friends and I are discussing at the moment (like you do) Rembrandt's "Return of the Prodigal Son". Kenneth Clark considered this to be a pretty good piece of art:

Depicting the moment of the Prodigal Son's return to his father in the Biblical parable, it is a renowned work described by art historian Kenneth Clark as "a picture which those who have seen the original in Leningrad may be forgiven for claiming as the greatest picture ever painted."

There is apparently a shadowy fourth figure in the picture - a beautiful woman surely too young to be the boy's mother. I can't see her.

But it is an incredibly moving picture.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 16 Feb 2013, 22:05

Rembrandt had a thing about this story. At the last count there were over 150 drawings, etchings and paintings executed by him throughout his career which took this parable as their theme, the vast majority depicting this final scene. So by the time he painted the one above it was a theme that the elderly Rembrandt had well explored, and it shows. I reckon the artist saw a lot of himself in both the father and the son by that time, an interesting Freudian conundrum.

As is his "The Prodigal Son in a Brothel" (sometimes "Tavern"), where Rembrandt himself is the wayward lad and his wife Saskia is portrayed as the prostitute. There is some dispute as to whether Rembrandt set out with this title in mind when he painted it. By the time he sold it however it had been incorporated, by himself, into his own Prodigal Son ouevre.

What a glass!


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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 16 Feb 2013, 22:06

I can see the other figure, top left here but it looks more like a death's head than a young beauty. Click on the picture and it enlarges.
http://spinoza1111.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/rembrandt-prodigal-son.jpg
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sat 16 Feb 2013, 22:14

The artistic tradition in that scene was to include the father's household servants. Quite a few depictions have one servant with freshly laundered clothes ready to give to the little git on the old fool's instruction. A laundry maid is also sometimes there too for that reason.

I'm sorry - but when it comes to the PS parable, I'm with his brothers. Redemption and forgiveness are great and all that, but I still reckon the little bastard should have apologised to the lot of them - not just the money man.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 10:07

Discussion of Rembrandt's Prodigal (is it really "the greatest picture ever painted"?) started when one of my friends produced a postcard of the work which she'd got free with her copy of "The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of a Homecoming" by Henri Nouwen. She's doing a Lent course and she wanted some ideas.

Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest and his book (which I haven't read, but I'm going to) is really a long meditation on this painting and on the themes of unconditional love and forgiveness.

I'll admit I'm struggling with both the story and the picture. I was last night and I still am this morning. I've never been that keen on Rembrandt (I know very little about his work), but I was struck by the way the kneeling boy, the "little git", the "little bastard" (both perfectly fair descriptions - "little shit" was also offered here last night) is presented. He's superbly done, with his shaven head, his broken sandals and his desperation. But is he fooling the old man (and me) yet again - the father whom the artist shows certainly as gentle and loving, but also perhaps as weak and needy - a pretty desperate man himself? (How does that fit in with the idea of the father as representing God?) Does everyone else - family and servants - see the father as the "old fool"? I hope not - the boy is surely sincere - and he is, after all (according to the original story), not asking for more cash, but for a job.

But the uneasy feeling remains - are forgiveness and reconciliation actually for the foolish, the needy and/or the weak?

The other point raised last night was that the old man is actually being terribly unfair. Is he? Does the tall, stern, strong man on the right (presumably the older brother) have every right to be pretty p*ssed off with what's going on? I suppose he's the Pharisee figure; he certainly looks like a Pharisee (and this parable was aimed at the Pharisees, not the "sinners"). How correct, righteous and rigid he is, indignant (but then who wouldn't be?), judgemental and quite unforgiving of his little shit of a brother who's been having such a good time down among the harlots (he seems in Luke to be more upset about the harlots than the money).

Infuriatingly we never know in these stories what happens next.

Wonder who else has painted this story? Will have a google later if I have time.

PS There were only two brothers.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 10:25

The scene was almost de rigeur for every aspiring artist from the moment christendom interposed itself between the palette and the canvas right up to the 18th century. There are hundreds of surviving examples from various hands - probably one time there would have been thousands out there. The composition is generally very uniform and formulaic - the son and father on the left and the rest of the picture filled with various household figures, though these are normally interpreted as servants rather than kin or pharisee, especially since so many of them are keen to provide fresh laundry for the little scumbag (see, I found another one).

Quote :
Infuriatingly we never know in these stories what happens next.

I imagine Luke's version of JC didn't reckon the bit where the laundry maid then mysteriously gets a dose of the clap wouldn't gel with the rest of the narrative for parable purposes.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 10:38

PS - as regards the morality of the tale, there is none that I could ever detect. The son's contrition is too fresh to be readily accepted as genuine or lasting, he has a long way to go after the point where the story ends before he can even begin to earn back the trust of those close to him. The father is sufficiently old to have outgrown the "tough love" phase and probably simply thinks "sod it, I'll be gone soon anyway. He and his brothers are old enough to sort it all out for themselves." All in all it's a scene which nearly every family has emulated in some form or another, even to the point of welcoming the miscreant back into the fold with forgiveness, at least initially. What happens next in the real world is as varied as there have been families dealing with the dilemma.

Bad parable - like so many of JC's. As agony aunt he would have been crap. I prefer Pamela Stephenson in The Guardian myself.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 11:15

But then the story isn't just about families and how to survive them, is it? It's certainly not just about the Prodigal and his relationship with the father - that older brother/Pharisee is surely just as interesting - and difficult - a character (perhaps the unfortunate laundry maid gets the clap from him - that would make a good twist to the story).

Doesn't Rembrandt show that quite clearly - the brother is as important (all the red and the lighting too) in the composition of the picture? Significant too that he's standing on some sort of step - moral high ground and all that - makes him look down on the other two.

Odd how these crappy JC stories have lasted - they must have something to tell us. Deceptively simple stuff.

PS I know in Luke's gospel the brother wasn't actually present at the reconciliation - he was hard at work on the estate - but last night we all agreed that the figure on the right *was* indeed him. Perhaps we've all got it wrong - will google around later for "expert" views.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 11:27

Quote :
Odd how these crappy JC stories have lasted - they must have something to tell us. Deceptively simple stuff?

No, just so generally vague and poorly related/translated often that one can use them to get across any old moral one wishes - especially useful for morally ambiguous outfits like organised religions are. I'm sure preachers and the like have used that parable to illustrate a million different moralistic certainties they entertained at the time, however contradictory, and all with equal conviction. No wonder "JC stories have lasted" - they all play into such creeps' hands. A pity the underlying philosophical theory on which many of them were based is not taught with the same vigour, along with the philosophical discipline of questioning their intrinsic value as theory in the first place. But then, that would have simply encouraged people to think on their own terms- god forbid!

You're intent on interpreting the manservant as the brother in Rembrandt's painting. You could of course be quite right, or at least in accord with Rembrandt, but you're bucking artistic tradition in making that claim on your and Rembrandt's behalf. A more honest assessment of his identity is "dunno, some sceptical bloke".

I never said the New Testament parables were simplistic, just crap - neither moralistic in any useful way nor instructive at any practical level. Aesop's Fables are where you want to go to find deceptively simple parables from which one can learn a well-defined moral code and enhance one's common sense while one's at it.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 11:27

As a morality tale it has the same irritation factor as the one about the lost sheep. Leave the others to go looking for it? Hell slap it into the daft ovine pest, it's hardly likely to express gratitude and when the dotty shepherd hears the distant bleating as the wolves get into the pen with the cooperative remainder of the flock, well hell mend him as well.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 11:40

ferval wrote:
As a morality tale it has the same irritation factor as the one about the lost sheep. Leave the others to go looking for it? Hell slap it into the daft ovine pest, it's hardly likely to express gratitude and when the dotty shepherd hears the distant bleating as the wolves get into the pen with the cooperative remainder of the flock, well hell mend him as well.

But it's not a Biblical version of Shaun the Sheep, ferval - it's an allegory on the banks of the Nile!

My favourite Aesop(?) fable is the one about the scorpion and the stupid frog that gives him a lift across the river. They both drown.

Sigh.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 11:44

Quote :
it's an allegory on the banks of the Nile!


Poor allegory then.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 12:01

OK - no parable in the Synoptic Gospels is strictly speaking pure allegory, but some parables do contain "subordinated allegorical aspects" - don't they?

But let's keep on the art - never talk about religion - didn't Priscilla say that to me once, many, many posts ago?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 12:05

Difficult to discuss religious art without analysing the theology, pseudo-philosophy, and of course the crapology which underpins its themes.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 12:08

OK then, art.

I assume you've seen this before but it was repeated last night and I watched it again. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j4d3g/Baroque!_From_St_Peters_to_St_Pauls_Episode_1/

I like Waldemar, not everyone does, but I've enjoyed all his programmes.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 14:44

Thank you for the link, ferval; I haven't seen that programme, so I shall look forward to viewing it this evening.

Nordmann - found this. Apparently critics do differ about the identity of the richly dressed man on the right, but Christian Tumpel, an expert on Rembrandt, argues that he does represent the elder brother:

"In his Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt departs from accuracy in the biblical parable depiction since, according to the Bible, as soon as the father realizes the prodigal son’s return, he runs to meet him halfway to the house. Rembrandt depicts the father just outside his house. Christian Tümpel claims that the elder brother is most probably the standing figure to the right (Tümpel 2006, p. 275) but Susan Donahue Kuretsky identifies him with the young person in the back, looking at the viewer. (Kuretsky 2007, p. 23, p. 24) In any case, whoever the elder brother is identified with his inclusion in the picture is also a departure from the Bible as, according to it, he was in the fields at the time of the prodigal son’s arrival."

PS I very much enjoy discussing religious art with you two, and of course in doing so we are probably going to express differing attitudes to belief. That should not be a problem.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 17:33

Rembrandt, like a lot of other artists, was flogging what the punters wanted. If a particular punter wanted Mickey Mouse (though more normally himself) in the frame the artist was inclined to oblige. This led to several anomalies in composition, especially of religious themes where strict formulae often applied. I myself wouldn't want to argue the toss about the figure on the right in this painting until I knew more about the provenance - and especially the commissioning - of the work. In the case of the Prodigal Son this is not clear. It appears an original buyer pulled out and a subsequent one emerged only after some time at a knock-down price (Rembrandt was being screwed left right and centre at this point, especially by religious types). It was altered - the background seems to have been painted over, leaving that shadowy figure where once a more clearly defined group had stood. The guy on the right might well have got a face-lift (or drop) in the process.

I imagine this was of little import to Rembrandt himself - at this stage it was the rent that held priority.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Sun 17 Feb 2013, 17:51

PS, Temp - apologies if I'm not so enthused about what Tümpel may or may not have thought. I have had the task in the past of having to read much that this guy has written about the Dutch school, and when he wasn't pushing his extremely narrow-minded evangelical viewpoint at every opportunity in his so-called "interpretations" he was making bald assertions without much to back them regarding artists' motivations, modus operandi and style (a failing of religious types). His tendency to dismiss almost every theme as "pagan" which did not lend itself to his extremely christian terms of definition might have been something he got away with in his lifetime - but nowadays it reads as more and more laughable.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 08:13

nordmann wrote:
PS, Temp - apologies if I'm not so enthused about what Tümpel may or may not have thought. I have had the task in the past of having to read much that this guy has written about the Dutch school...

Well, that's where we differ of course. I know nothing about Tumpel and I haven't read anything by him. I only discovered him yesterday and read online that he was considered to be an "expert" on Rembrandt. I certainly didn't know he was a "religious type" as you put it. I was just trying to find out what various commentators had said about that baffling figure on the right.

But wasn't Rembrandt himself very religious? Again, I don't know, only surmising from what I've gleaned by googling. He certainly doesn't seem to have been a spitter and curser like Caravaggio.

I've been looking at other Prodigals. This is Guercino's version, 1619:



How different this Prodigal is with his strong muscular arms and his determination to rip off his swineherd's clothes. I can't see much grief or repentance here, just relief that the bad times are over. He has not been broken like Rembrandt's boy. And the father - just as strong and determined - nothing of the loving fool about this man? The position of the father's hand on the boy's back is interesting though - apparently guiding, but also perhaps controlling? Is that what the boy had been running from? Again, very different from those superb hands on the Rembrandt father.

nordmann wrote:
....and when he wasn't pushing his extremely narrow-minded evangelical viewpoint at every opportunity in his so-called "interpretations" he was making bald assertions without much to back them regarding artists' motivations, modus operandi and style (a failing of religious types). His tendency to dismiss almost every theme as "pagan" which did not lend itself to his extremely christian terms of definition might have been something he got away with in his lifetime - but nowadays it reads as more and more laughable.
Please don't be offended by this, nordmann, but that reminds me of something that was once said to me by a very old and very kind Christian lady. I was giving her a lift home from a Bible Study group where I had had my usual run-in with our friendly local Fundies. I was ranting and raving about them and how they annoyed the hell out of me. She simply said, "And you, my dear, are just like them. You always have to be right."

I was speechless with indignation, but it taught me a lesson. Mind you, I still rant and rave about the Fundies.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 08:14

There's right and then there's right - as you well know Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 08:24

Tümpel - like Sister Wendy - saw every depiction in painted art through a filter of theology. If it didn't have anything to say after having been through his filter then it contained nothing worth saying. That kind of analysis does not necessarily lack insight, but it lacks scope, and after reading his hundredth evaluation of a Dirck Hals (Franz Hals's brother) or Pynacker as "pagan" one gets very weary of his gumph. Pynacker in particular offended him - not only did he convert to Catholicism in order to marry but he then adopted a "pox on both your houses" attitude to the church in Holland, refused to have anything to do with any man who wore a dress, and spent the rest of his life doing fantastic portraits and frescoes of Dutch landscape for wealthy patrons who, by definition, were above all that religious squabbling crap. Unlike many of his contemporary artists he died in odium (others of the "arty" fraternity wouldn't be seen dead with him) and quite wealthy. Rembrandt represented the other batch - died well respected as an artist but penniless, having been screwed by his religious patrons at every opportunity.

Seek out his portraits and compare them to others of the era, like Van Dyck. They are sublime.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 10:39

Of course the father is a control freak, Temps. When the brother who kept the place going and for whom I have long harboured sympathy, is peeved because the fatted calf is to be prepared for a welcoming feast for the drop out, he is reprimanded. His father snaps that he has always had his father's love and ought be satisfied by that. I know so many people who have suffered similar experience and the hurt runs deep. Are then any pictures of that, I wonder? The underlying difficulty in understanding repeated 'forgiveness' makes the parable hard to accept - has this been reflected in art?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 11:43

Yet Rembrandt's father is not a "control freak" at all, Priscilla; he is quite the opposite! It is the elder son (if we assume that Tumpel and I are correct in identifying the figure on the right as he) who looks so stern and controlling - and *rejecting*. No warmth or love or compassion at all. Rembrandt's father fascinates me because he *does* look like a bit of an old softie - the "old fool" as nordmann calls him.

But it's surely important to read the whole of Chapter 15 in Luke's Gospel. It's a series of stories about various bits of lost property: sheep, coins and sons - stories all aimed at the Pharisees who, as usual, had assembled like vultures around Christ. The chapter opens: "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."

Nice touch in the story to have the Prodigal eating with filthy pigs of all things: that must have really shocked the murmurers.

But I don't know. I'm confused, as always. Your question about art that focuses on the peeved brother is interesting - I still think he's the really important character. I understand his irritation - probably his hatred? - for his kid brother, but he's still not a likeable character.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 13:23

Yes, he is the most important character becaue it was the likes of him - and me - that the parable was aimed. The repentant feckless still get the best of free old age care, numerous charities and attention. All right, so the meek shall inherit the earth - later. Mmm.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 13:29

Now don't whinge, Priscilla. You got your Winter Fuel Allowance didn't you? What more do you want?

I'm pretty meek, but so far I've never inherited anything except an umbrella - the likes of you get the family silver and stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 13:44

It's not all the meek who shall inherit the earth. Those who meekly obey the commandments but understandably decline to give away their savings to the nearest smack-head are told to ruminate on camels and needles and forget about their inheritance. Those who meekly inquire if they can simply test if zombies exist by sticking their finger through the nail holes put their inheritance in grave jeopardy. Those who meekly take a suicidal messiah at his word and helpfully accelerate the process as a favour for the lad can not only forget their inheritance but look forward to millennia of hate aimed at their memory. Meek is good, but only according to that suicidal messiah's criteria.

The NT is full of fall-guys like this, in the stories attributed to JC and the stories about him. Artists have often portrayed them however in a very sympathetic light (despite the righteous people at the time being equally often in one of their periods of pure christian hatred towards anything that looked even in the slightest bit meek and vulnerable, bless 'em). But then artists were often very pissed-upon people. They could see through the JC story and knew who the real heroes were (and heroines - Mary Magdalene in particular).
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 14:11

Just to return to the artistic representations of the Prodigal Son, and bearing in mind the comments about the key figure of the older son ...
In Guericino's version the older brother doesn't look particularly peeved at all. I take it that is him rather than just a servant, there being only three charcaters in the picture, and as we all seem to agree the parable does need all three - father, loyal son, feckless wastral son - to work.

As you say Temp there's not much grief or repentance here from the Prodigal. But neither is there any obvious anger or display of self-righteous injustice from the older son. If anything both lads almost seem to be working the silly Old Man together.



Guericino did at least two other Prodigals ... in neither of these two does the loyal son (if it is him) look particularly annoyed:





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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 14:30

I'm not sure, MM. I think the chap with the feather is a servant (he does look a bit posh though, so you could be right).

I find this Prodigal really confusing. It is by Paul Tissot and it is set in *Paris* of all places. It is called "Le Retour de L'Enfant Prodigue". (Interesting that that translates as *child*, not *son*.)

It does all look a bit like "Prodigal Son - the Musical". They seem about to burst into a rousing chorus of something or other.

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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 14:36

PS Isn't that last picture you posted also by Guercino? I think it was an earlier version of the one I sent.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 14:41

I think both pictures were by Guercino ... and I've just found yet another two, it was obviously a popular theme for him (and since he died quite wealthy I guess that means it was a popular theme among his clients).

Re Tissot's version - Yes indeed it does look rather like a stage set, like a scene from 'Les Misérables', ... or 'The Glums' as my dad always called it.

EDIT : The question is though, amongst all that mutitude of neighbours, household, servants, passers-by etc. who is the pissed off older son?
My money's on this one:



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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 15:02

of course, temp. when I inherited all that silver, a country seat and a couple of castles and a vast fortune, I was also an only child; this is an advantage of WW2 coming when it did. Of course I got my winter allowance but actually there's little lasting heat from a a grate full of £10 notes. I was ever such a good child though anyway. I soon outgrew that to fill the gap of not having feckless siblings.
is there any mention of the dutiful son having a wife? I bet she had remark to make.
My problem with this issue is repeated foriveness without rebuke apart from a few 'Ale and Mary's and an 'Arthur which art's' - I assume abusing priests confessed and get forgiven several times and I'm getting the feeling that the Pope being troubled by the same notion finally jacked in the forgiving father role.
I loved 'The Musical' remark - and how apt it is.
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 15:54

I like the little dog in the early Guercino picture; he's jumping up happily at the Prodigal, pawing him in delight. That must have really got to the older brother. Even the family *dog* is over the moon to see that the reprobate is back.

I'm starting to feel a little bit sorry for O.B. ...
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 16:25

Re the encircled OB, I think it is the one in skull cap and shawl... Sad, you see.
ought I go now?
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   Mon 18 Feb 2013, 16:41

Hmm ... I take your meaning P, but Mr Skullcap seems just a bit too old for me ... especially when the Prodigal lad himself seems barely out of his teens. And just in terms of composition the figure I'd ringed remains coldly aloof, the highest head in the painting, standing stiffly erect, literally head and shoulders above everyone else, regarding the scene with no obvious emotion, or rather his emotions are perhaps tightly surpressed behind a bland controlled visage ... that in a scene where everyone else, even the street cats, seem to have something to say (and as Temp so aptly put it - they all look as they are about to burst into song).

Also have you noticed how my favoured candidate for the slighted brother, looks quite a lot like ... well, to me he looks quite like the reconstruction of King Richard III, no?

Another mediaeval man much maligned and most mightily miffed!
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