Sunday, February 4, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Man Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him. 
1630s Cornelis de Vos (Flemish painter, c 1584-1651) Family Portrait Seated on a Garden Terrace.  Cornelis De Vos was most successful as a painter of individual & group portraits. After the departure of Antony van Dyck (1599-1641) for England in 1621, & Peter Paul Rubens' (1577-1640) absences from Antwerp on diplomatic & artistic missions, de Vos became the leading portraitist of the Antwerp haute-bourgeois & patrician society. He only commenced painting full-length portraits after Anthony van Dyck's return to Antwerp in 1627. In these portraits the figures are typically placed in front of architecture & an open landscape or formal garden.