Sunday, April 23, 2017

1616 Spring, Summer, & Autumn - Locus amoenus, Allegories by Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568-1625 & Hendrick van Balen 1575-1632

Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568-1625 & Hendrick van Balen 1575-1632 Spring, 1616

As in these paintings, allegorical characters in stories & in art of this period were often located in garden settings. The locus amoenus was one of the traditional locations of epic & chivalric literature. As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a type of prose & verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of Medieval & Early Modern Europe.  Locus amoenus (Latin for "pleasant place") is a literary term which generally referring to an idealized place of safety or comfort, usually a beautiful, shady parkland or open woods, sometimes with connotations of Eden. A locus amoenus usually has 3 basic elements: trees, grass, & water. 


Often, the locus amoenus garden will be in a remote setting & with only components or suggestions of a more formal, geometric, walled garden, such as the flower pots seen above. The locus amoenus can also be used to highlight the differences between urban & rural life or be a place of refuge from the processes of time & mortality. In some works, such gardens also have overtones of the regenerative powers of human sexuality marked out by flowers, & goddesses of springtime, love, & fertility. Ernst Robert Curtius formulated the concept's definition in his European Literature & the Latin Middle Ages (1953). 


Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568-1625 & Hendrick van Balen 1575-1632 Summer, 1616


Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568-1625 & Hendrick van Balen 1575-1632 Autumn, 1616