Friday, November 1, 2013

All Saints

Jacopo Tintoretto, Paradise, 1588 - 1592

This was Tintoretto's last great work, an immense painting on canvas, perhaps the largest ever, painted for the Consiglio Maggiore in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice.  In this room, senators, committees, and office-holders for the Venetian Republic were elected by the ruling mercantile oligarchy.  Christ in this painting wears the red robe of a Venetian senator.  Tintoretto was in his 70s and in ill health when he painted this.  He had a lot of help from his family, especially from his son Domenico, and his talented daughter Marietta (very unusual for the time).  Critics usually praise the surviving oil sketches for this painting (rightly so) and pan the final painting.  I saw this painting 25 years ago and I remember thinking it was a spectacular finale for a career full of spectacular paintings (most of which can still be seen in Venice in their original places).

Titian, The Trinity in Glory, 1554

 Albecht Dürer, The Landauer Altarpiece, 1511

Matthaus Landauer, a wealthy Nuremberg merchant, commissioned this painting for a small charitable hospital that he founded for destitute and solitary elderly artisans who could no longer work.  This was a hospital not for people to recover, but to die with a small measure of comfort and dignity.  This was a painting meant to be seen by the dying, thus the crucified Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity.  This was meant to be a foretaste of the welcome that the wards of Landauer's hospital could expect after the end.  If you look closely, all classes of people in 16th century Europe appear with the saints in heaven; popes, emperors, bishops, princes, bourgeois, and peasants.  They all stand together as equals before God.  Landauer himself appears in the painting on the lower left being greeted by the very red robed cardinal.  Landauer spent his last days in the hospital he founded together with the destitute artisans.
I know some people don't like this picture, but I love it; the handling of the composition and the coloring in this picture is magnificent, and I love the sentiment behind it.

Simone Martini, Maesta, from the Palazzo Publico in Siena, 1315

As for my roll call of the saints, I don't think I'd change much the one I wrote in 2011.
Maybe I might expand it a little.

1 comment:

JCF said...

Knowing my Byzantine tastes, the Martini is from the tail end of Western Christian art I like (until we get to the Modern period!).