Hey everyone! This week I wanted to talk about a Netherlandish Renaissance artist called Jan Gossaert. Gossaert was also known as Jan Mabuse or Jennyn van Hennegouwe. He is categorized as a Flemish artist, but he actually spoke French. Gossaert was born in 1478 and died in 1532. He was one of the first Netherlandish artists to go to Italy and brought back Italian Renaissance features to the north.
The painting I wanted to discuss today is called St. Luke Painting the Madonna created in 1520-5.
This painting represents St. Luke creating the first drawing of the Virgin and Child. St. Luke here is creating the painting with his eyes almost closed because an apparition of the figures came to him. It’s interesting that Gossaert makes it seem like the angel is guiding St. Luke to draw, almost as though St. Luke is so transfixed by his vision that he needs help or guidance with drawing.
The vision of Mary is surrounded by clouds and angels. There are two angels who are in the process of crowning Mary. The three angels on the bottom seem to be holding Mary up while she is sitting. I love the image of the pink dressed angel trying so hard to hold up Mary’s leg.
Mary and Christ are relaxing, but they are posed. Christ is holding onto his mother in a baby-like fashion. The hair and face of Mary are very similar to Jan van Eyck’s style.
Behind St. Luke and the angel are the architectural settings that reference ancient Roman and Greek architecture. Gossaert also includes architectural designs and figures on the architectural setting in the style of grisaille, which is the use of grey colors to create an imitation of sculptures. He even includes a sculpture of Moses on the top of the structure.
Gossaert does an amazing job of representing space. Even though this space seems a little cramped, at the same time, it is very roomy. Gossaert appears to be messing around with illusion and the connection between the divine and earthly world.
Lastly, Gossaert also uses a Leon Battista Alberti’s pictorial painting technique of the window. Essentially, this means that the painter provides a way into the artwork. It’s almost like something grabs you or invites you into the painting. This is seen in this painting because it’s almost like we are walking into these particular scene and painting of St. Luke painting Mary and Jesus.
As a final reflection, I wanted to include this quote I found from Alberti that I thought beautifully describes art: “Consequently I used to tell my friends that the inventor of painting, according to poets, was Narcissus, who was turned into a flower; for, as painting is the flower of all arts, so the tale of Narcissus fits our purpose perfectly. What is painting but the act of embracing by means of art the surface of a pool?” (blogspot.com).
Feature Image from wga.hu