Jousts & Jigsaw puzzles

You’d think that with Corona everything would be more relaxed, but I have the constant feeling that I’m running out of time.

This weekend I did more research on the jousting bishop. With the libraries closed, the borders closed and not much information available online, I’m only stuck with one question: did he participate in the Valenciennes tournament or not? The rest of the information I have found about him, seems to add up, and the sources seem reliable. I’m writing up a document with all my findings up till now, which I will post on the relevant page. I do need to adjust some of the pages and questions.

I came across an interesting fait divers regarding the jouster’s grandfather in a rather obscure book about mysteries, one of those silly books you find in the esoteric section of bookstores, and the thrift store. At first it seemed not so important but after some investigation it’s another interesting item to research. This will be on another page, but that’s not for the coming days.

So that’s a whole post to say I have nothing to say for the moment.

To be continued.


From one virgin to another

Death of the virgin – Hortulus Animae 1517

This is the last post about Hugo van der Goes for now. It’s not even about Hugo directly. I’m through with the book and there is nothing new related to his work and the link with the tournament man to write about for the time being. But it’s a small path towards the next thing I am going to look into, the Medici Virgin by Rogier van der Weyden. I left it on the back burner because I thought it was not so relevant for the quest at first, but after seeing some other similar paintings, there are a few things I want to check before I continue with other things. We received message that the painting atelier won’t reopen before the summer holidays, and we’re still not allowed to do much apart from shopping and some sports, and the library extended the deadline to somewhere end of summer, so there is time.

Back to Virgin number 1. I was leafing through a book looking for a particular picture and came across a woodcut depicting the death of Mary, surrounded by the apostles. It reminded me of the painting by Hugo so I did some quick research on this.

The book was a popular prayer book, earliest edition with these illustrations I found was 1515. The woodcuts are by Erhard Schon and Hans Spriningklee. Not sure by which of those two the woodcut above was done but both have a link with Dürer. Schon was influenced by him and may have collaborated on Maximilian’s triumphal arch. Springinklee was a pupil of Dürer and also worked on the triumphal arch.

The above woodcut resembles the one by Dürer that predates this (I think it was 1505, not sure):

Death of Mary by Dürer

Around 1520 Dürer travelled to the Low Countries. He kept a diary that is quite interesting to read. It gives you a good idea of his life and how travelling by a man of his status was done in those times. It is clear from the diary that Dürer was just as much, if not more, a merchant as an artist.

He visited many places, including Mechelen but does not say anything special about it. Along his trip he saw many works of art, including works by Rudiger (I suppose that’s Rogier) and Hugo van der Goes. One of these works was a painting by Hugo in the Nassau chapel at Brussels. According to Elisbeth Dhanens this could have been the lost original of which a copy – St Luke drawing the Virgin – is now at Lissabon (see earlier post). In St Jacob’s church he saw a Madonna with child. Dürer also describes how he saw Michelangelo’s Madonna at the same location. The statue has been moved a couple times since and the current location is the Church of Our Lady at Bruges, the same church where the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold are. I am not sure if the statue is currently back in place after the renovations but it’s interesting to think that you can still look at a piece of art that Dürer saw when it was still under warranty in a matter of speaking.

Not to be continued. We move on to another episode of the quest.


Safe dating in times of corona

One of those weird details in Bosch paintings, this one from an Adoration of the Magi.

This post is not going where you think it is going…

This is something I mentioned before, but I keep running into dating issues. Not just that most books and paintings of the 15th century are not dated but when dates are used, they do not correspond 1 on 1 with the dates we use now.

First of all there is the Julian-Gregorian conversion, which differs from region to region, and started from 1582. Due to timing issues caused by the method of the Julian calendar, it was decided to skip a number of days at a given time. The difference was 10 days at first, but it increments so now we’re apparently 13 days ahead. The result is that not only is it not clear if authors writing after 1582 are using the new date format or the old one when mentioning dates from a time before that, but you also have to factor in the incrementation between the author’s time and the current time.

The second issue is that the year in the middle ages didn’t start on 1 January but on another selected day, usually the day of an important catholic event such as the Annunciation or Easter. This means there is also some discrepancy in year numbers between now and eg. dates in the contemporary chronicles. To give a relevant example, it can happen that you find 1476 as the year when Charles the Bold died, instead of 1477.

I am not even going to mention the weird French Republican calender that was used during a few years around 1800.

It’s convenient we’re in lockdown and I have no idea of what day, month and year it is anyway.


Si je puis…

Yesterday I researched a story about Charles the Bold that sounded interesting enough to base a painting on. So I followed the lead and ended up in another maze of dead ends. Once I get to the bottom of this, I’ll have another story for you. Here is something else instead for today.

A while ago I drew a sketch after an illustration by Job for the Loys XI book. The book has really beautiful illustrations in the early 1900’s French style. I don’t onw a copy but there is one online, on the BnF site, I think.

Today I thought I’d get the drawing tablet out and finish it digitally, because I thought that would be easier. Plan is to use it in a short animation film I’m preparing. I don’t know why I thought going digital was a good idea because this small bit took most of the day and it’s still a mess. I’m not even going to mention the cross-eyed face. And my hands shake too much for crisp lines (some weird hereditary feat, not my drinking habit, lol). I went to YouTube to watch some instruction videos about painting with tablets, but the thousands of buttons and options you seem to need, made my brain freeze so I gave up.

Tomorrow I go back to normal oils so I can finish Brexit. At least, I will try.

Stay safe (and wash your hands).


Art in quarantine

This is probably the last one about the Goes book. I finished it yesterday, though I admit I skipped some parts that were of less interest to me. I did have a closer look at the Bonkin piece, which is in a museum in Edinburgh. It looks odd, like it was done by somebody else in places. The book contains pictures with enlarged details of the painting and the kneeling priest and the faces of St Andreas and St George are quite good, though. So, mystery. Also, what was the link between Hugo and Scotland? Portinari was in Bruges, sucking up to Charles and ruining his bank by doing this (yeah, incompetent bank managers and bad credit, a rare thing) This one also made me think of the Medici Virgin, supposedly by Rogier, with its long thin, rather stiff characters.

Talking about Portinari. His face looks odd in the Portinari triptych. It looks like some of the faces on the Seven Sacraments by Rogier van der Weyden. I learned a while ago that that was because they were painted on foil and added later on. Did this happen with the Portinari one too? Or was the painting damaged? Forgot to check this but it’s not vital for reconstructing the life of the tournament dude and I have other things to do first.

I lay awake for a while thinking about a new painting, could link it to an art school assignment perhaps. I want to base it on the almost last words by Charles the Bold but I ran into a hurdle. There is another post in this, so that’s for later. I am beginning to sound like the news with all their cliffhangers.

I banned the Parsifal painting to the attic. I don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes it is better to leave things alone for a while.


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