Saturday, June 25, 2016

1300s Gardens - Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) - 1400s Illuminations


Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 6 On herb gardens (folio 157)   These workers are maintaining raised beds. De Crescenzi noted that these hot beds were constructed by putting fresh dung in a pit & either putting soil over it & planting in the soil, covering over the plants with a shelter in inclement weather.

Piero de’Crescenzi’s 12 book treatise, the "Liber Ruralium Commodorum" (On the Rural Arts) is the most important work on agriculture & gardens written during the middle ages. Piero de Crescenzi wrote "Liber Ruralium Commodorum" in 1305.

Book 1 - the best location & arrangement of a manor, villa, or farm
Book 2 - the botanical background needed to raise different crops
Book 3 - building a granary & cultivation of cereal, forage & food 
Book 4 - on vines & wine-making
Books 5 & 6 - arborculture &horticulture, including 185 plants useful for medicine & nourishment
Book 7 - meadows and woods
Book 8 - on gardens
Book 9 - animal husbandry & bee-keeping
Book 10 - hawking & hunting
Book 11 - a general summary of the book
Book 12 - a calendar of duties and tasks, month by month. 

Italian attorney & land-owner Crescenzi relied heavily on Roman agricultural principles, although he supplemented these traditions with contemporary medieval ideas natural sciences & medicine. Crescenzi took much of his information from Roman authors, such as Cato, Columella, Varo, & Palladius. 

Crescenzi’s treatise surveys building, managing, & maintaining an agricultural estate & even devotes an entire book of his treatise to pleasure gardens, before the development of villa gardens in the Renaissance. 

By the late 15C, his work was widely available in manuscript & print editions & was owned by many in the lavish villas around Rome, Florence, & Venice. 

Manuscript copies of Ruralia Commoda were popular (over 100 copies are known), making it an excellent candidate for the new technology of printing. The editio princeps appeared in 1471- in Latin, un-illustrated, it was printed by Johann Schüssler of Augsburg. Another 36 incunable editions exist, most printed in Germany. 

The treatise remained one of the most popular works of its kind until the 17C, when the Aristotelian precepts on which it was based were nearly smothered by the empirical methods of more recent developments in science.


Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French.  Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 5 On trees (folio 112v)



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 5 On trees (folio 112v) b   Crescenzi advised: "Trees are to be planted in their rows, pears, apples,  & palms, & in warm places, lemons. Again mulberries, cherries, plums, & such noble trees as figs, nuts, almonds, quinces, & such-like, each according to their kinds, but spaced twenty feet apart more or less."


Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 7 On meadows and groves (folio 201v) For decorative features using trees, Crescenzi suggests willow & popular trees, densely planted with other plants & vines, "cut out into the shape of towers & crenellations." 



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 8 On pleasure gardens (folio 205v)



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 10 On hunting (folio 265r)



Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09. Illuminator - Master of Fitzwilliam MS. 268 - 1470-1485 - French. Le livre des prouffis champestres et ruraux, Book 11 On regulating a rural operation.  Piero de' Crescenzi gave advice on breeding pheasants, which he believed were more noble & more beautiful than any other bird in the garden or farm.  He also wrote that garden parks often were stocked with wild beasts. 

He advised, "Of the gardens of royal personages & powerful & wealthy lords. And inasmuch as wealthy persons can by their riches & power obtain such things as please them & need only science & art to create all they desire. For them, therefore, let a great meadow be chosen, arranged, & ordered, as here shall be directed. Let it be a place where the pleasant winds blow &  where there are fountains of waters; it should be twenty 'Journaux' or more in size according to the will of the Lord & it should be enclosed with lofty walls. Let there be in some part a wood of divers trees where the wild beasts may find a refuge. In another part let there be a costly pavilion where the king & his queen or the lord & lady may dwell, when they wish to escape from wearisome occupations & where they may solace themselves."

"Let there be shade & let the windows of the pavilion look out upon the garden but not exposed to the burning rays of the sun. Let fish-pools be made & divers fishes placed therein. Let there also be hares, rabbits, deer & such-like wild animals that are not beasts of prey. And in the trees near the pavilion  let great cages be made & therein place partridges, nightingales, blackbirds, linnets, & all manner of singing birds. Let all be arranged so that the beasts & the birds may easily be seen from the pavilion. Let there also be made a pavilion with rooms & towers wholly made of trees...”

14C Italian manuscript Treatise on Rural Economy by Pietro de' Crescenzi (c 1233-1320)



14C Italian manuscript Treatise on Rural Economy by Pietro de' Crescenzi (c 1233-1320)

Piero de' Crescenzi (1233-1321) Liber ruralium commodorum 1304-09  Title page of a vernacular translation of the De agricultura of Piero Crescentio, printed by Capcasa in Venice in 1495


Summer - American Charles Courtney Curran 1861-1942


Charles Courtney Curran (1861-1942) Charles Courtney Curran was an American Impressionist, celebrated for his iconic paintings of women.


Morning Madonna

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Giovanni Bellini (c.1430-1516). Madonna and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.


Friday, June 24, 2016

15C Picnic


15C The Repas Champetre Tapestry which could translate to meal in the fields. Originally woven at Tournai at the end of the 15C, this tapestry depicts richly-dressed countryfolk holding a banquet not in a formal garden, but in a rustic landscape. Shepherds & their charges surround the diners. Music comes from a bagpiper in the distance and a shepherd boy in the foreground. 



Sunny Summer Women


Elizabeth Sonrel (French painter, 1874-1953 ) Rêverie 1920



Lucy Martha Taggart (American artist, 1880-1960) Eleanor 1921


Frank Dicksee (English Pre-Raphaelite painter, 1853-1928) Elsa



Arvid Nyholm (Swedish American artist, 1866–1927) Miss N. 1917



Lilla Cabot Perry (American painter, 1848-1933) The Yellow Screen



Valentin Serov (Russian-born painter, 1865-1911) Portrait of Henrietta Girshman c 1906



August Vincent Tack (American artist, 1870–1949) The Lady in Yellow 1863



Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) Eve 1919


Jean Édouard Vuillard (French painter, 1868-1940)  In Bed 1891


Morning Madonna


William Dyce (Scottish artist, 1806–1864) The Virgin and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

15C Madonna in a Garden attributed to Michelino Molinari da Besozzo (Italian painter, c. 1370-1455)


The Madonna of the Rose Garden St. with Catherine of Alexandria (Madonna del Roseto) is attributed to Michelino da Besozzo or Stefano da Verona. Dating to c. 1420–1435. Castelvecchio Museum of Verona.

The theme of the Virgin in a garden can be found in the Biblical book Song of Solomon 2:2: I am the Rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys. As a lily among the thistles, So is my beloved among girls. And from Solomon 4:12: A garden locked is my sister, my bride, A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up

Mary was often depicted as a symbol of wisdom, & she was represented in many paintings with an open book. The Biblical book of Ecclesiasticus 24:14, also refers to roses & palm trees (with which the virgin is sometimes associated): I have grown tall as a palm in En-Gedi, As the rose bushes of Jericho. Sometimes Mary was called "The Rose of Jericho."

Here Mary sits within an enclosed garden lined with roses, suggesting metaphorical associations with the paradise bower of the Song of Songs. The painting shows the traditional theme of the Madonna with Child within an enclosure of roses, a hortus conclusus, symbol of her virginity, in the presence of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The latter, as a princess, is crowned, & is accompanied by her martyrdom at the torture wheel. There are also numerous angels. They are performing a series of activities: reading; collecting petals of rose; playing near a Gothic font (symbolizing the definition of Mary as Fons gratiae, "Spring of Grace"). Two peacocks are roaming in the garden: they are a symbol of the immortality of Christ since early Christian times, when their flesh was considered not liable to rot.


Summer - American John Sloan 1871-1951


American John French Sloan (1871-1951) was a member of The Eight, a group of American artists, & he became a leading figure in the Ashcan School of realist artists. He was known for his urban genre painting & ability to capture the essence of neighborhood life in New York City, often through his window.


John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) The Picnic Grounds 1906

I was never interested in putting propaganda into my paintings, so it annoys me when art historians try to interpret my city life pictures as 'socially conscious.' I saw the everyday life of the people, and on the whole I picked out bits of joy in human life for my subject matter. John French Sloan



John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) The New Blue Dress 1913

I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. I think that very often a literary motive may inspire the finest art, in fact almost always. John French Sloan


John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Gladys Carter Woman in White 1916

What more do you want to know about an artist when you have his work? John French Sloan



John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Austrian-Irish Girl c 1920

Consistency is the quality of a stagnant mind. John French Sloan


John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Carol with Red Curls 1913

You can be a giant among artists without ever attaining any great skill. Facility is a dangerous thing. When there is too much technical ease the brain stops criticizing. Don't let the hand fall into a smart way of putting the mind to sleep. John French Sloan



John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Suzette in Yellow 1916

The emphasis on original, individual work in the past years has done a great deal to produce a crop of eccentric fakes and has carried art away from the stream of tradition. Tradition is our heritage of knowledge and experience. We can't get along without it. John French Sloan



John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Mary Kerr Young Woman in Black and White 1902

The subject may be of first importance to the artist when he starts a picture, but it should be of least importance in the finished product. The subject is of no aesthetic significance. John French Sloan


John Sloan (American painter, 1871-1951) Pink and Blue 1915

Though a living cannot be made at art, art makes life worth living. It makes living, living. It makes starving, living. It makes worry, it makes trouble, it makes a life that would be barren of everything — living. It brings life to life. John French Sloan


Morning Madonna


Jean Malouel or Jan Maelwael (Dutch artist, active 1357-1415) Madonna and Child with Angels c 1410

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

15C The Garden of Love


The Garden of Love c. 1465. Master E. S. (German). engraving. With chess-players, 3 couples assembled in a garden, enclosed by a fence; one lover to the right is depicted as a jester.

Beginning in 15C Italy & in Northern Europe, images of The Garden of Love appear in secular art depicting courtly love. The Garden of Love is often a landscape with a flowery meadow, a grove, & a fountain, where lovers gather to meet, eat, sing, dance, & make love.  

Giovanni di Francesco Toscani (1370-1430)  The Garden of Love, c. 1420.

Giovanni di Francesco Toscani (1370-1430) - Detail The Garden of Love

Giovanni di Francesco Toscani (1370-1430) - Detail The Garden of Love

The Garden of Love, a literary theme in poetry of classical antiquity & the Middle Ages, was usually portrayed as an idyllic realm of courtly love - music, feasting, & games where ladies inspired dedicated service from their admirers.

Attributed to Master E.S.German (or conceivably Swiss) engraver, Southwestern Germany 1430s-1470 The Garden of Love.

Attributed to Master E.S.German (or conceivably Swiss) engraver, Southwestern Germany 1430s-1470 The Garden of Love. Detail

Much like the medieval Hortus Conclusus, an enclosed monastery garden usually a symbol of the Virgin Mary represented as a fortress in a religious allegory, the Garden of Love was also usually enclosed, secluded, & ordered but a world apart from the guilt of Christian religious symbolism. 

The Garden of Love or The Fountain Of Life. Singers & Musicians In A Garden Miniature From De Sphaera By Leonardo Dati 1470 Italy

An enclosed medieval Hortus Conclusus located at royal palaces & grand manor houses usually represented a garden of earthly delights. Both the secular & the religious gardens could be enclosed by formidable high brick or stone wall, but sometimes a wicker fence or a wooden trellis. Both gardens would probably be filled with scented flowers & herbs.

 Master of the Gardens of Love (fl. ca. 1430-1440-45) was a Netherlandish engraver

Most Gardens of Love have a flowing fountain, sometimes octagonal, often located in the garden center. In classical myth, a fountain traditionally belongs to the god of love. Often Cupid is included in the fountain design or is a carving beside it aiming arrows at the elites gathering & playing in The Garden of Love. 

Monogrammist WH (printmaker; German) The Garden of Love Couples within an enclosed garden,  outside are people swimming in a river and further back into the landscape are soldiers on horseback. c. 1475-80

The well-born needed leisure time to indulge in exploring love in an atmosphere where religious transgression was encouraged. Passing time; the constraints of religious & secular law; & infirmity & death existed only outside the wall of The Garden of Love which seemed to be unending spring.

Attributed to Master E.S.German (or conceivably Swiss) engraver, Southwestern Germany 1430s-1470   The Garden of Love. The Master E. S.'s representation of the garden of love departs from pictorial tradition, which usually portrayed the scene as an idyllic realm of music, feasting, & games where women inspired dedicated service from their suitors. Here, however, the Master E. S. satirized the ideals of courtly love & warned against the immoral behavior forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church as well as local authorities. While the woman opening the man’s coat in the foreground represents temptation & sin, her companion, the fool, symbolizes lust. 

The Garden of Love could reflect earlier classical & religious investigations of the nature of love. The poet Gautier de Chatillôn (c. 1135–1182) in Verna redit temperies 
The season of spring returns
with her thick dusting of flowers,
the earth in her new aspect
smiles at our ways
for whom love is everything,
food for our hunger.

The Garden of Love by Bartolomeo Baldini Baccio,  Florentine 1436-1487

The Garden of Love in European art declined during the late 15C.  However, The Garden of Love tradition was continued only occasionally later by Titian (fl 1506-1576) in the 16C, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) in the 17C, & by Watteau (1684–1721) in the 18C.


The Garden of Love. Tapestry, Nuremberg, Germany, c. 1450-1460


Summer - James Jabusa Shannon 1862-1923



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Lady Shannon and Kitty on the Dunes 1900-1910

Summer is traditionally a family time which constantly negotiates a fine thread somewhere between expectation & reality. And this morning, I thought of the paintings of James Jabusa Shannon, 1862-1923, who was born the son of Irish parents in Auburn, New York, & moved to Canada with his parents, when he was 8. He sailed to London when he was 16 in 1878, & studied at the Government Art Training School, South Kensington. He made his debut at the Royal Academy at age 19. In 1901, he was elected President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, & he became a full Academician in 1909. He was knighted in 1922, and died the following year. His paintings, many about family interactions, certainly dangle somewhere between fantasy & reality.


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) A Summer's Day



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Estelle, 1886.



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) The Green Vase



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Diana MacDonald 1894



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Flora 1922



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) A Lady


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) The Flower Girl 1900


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Jungle Tales 1895


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Lorna and Dorothy Bell, Daughters of W. Heward Bell, Esq.


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Michealmas


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) The Squirrel



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) The Bathers



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Forbidden Fruit



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Princess Royal, Princess Mary Countess of Harewood (1897–1965) 1915



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Lady Winifred Paget (1881–1965), Viscountess Ingestre, and Her Infant Son



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Lady Grace Dance. British, 1862-1923



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Lady Barber in a Landscape Martha Constance Hattie Barber (1869–1933)



James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) The Artist's Wife


James Jabusa Shannon (American-born British artist, 1862-1923) Self Portrait 1919
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