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The Hunter

Yesterday I had exactly 8 minutes left for the Brussels Fin-de-siècle museum (impressionism and art nouveau art mainly) before I had to run off to catch my train. So I decided I just wanted to have a look at Khnopff’s sphinx, there wasn’t time for anything else.

But when I was on my way through the sombre labyrinthine museum a huge painting caught my attention and stopped me in my tracks . It is called The Primitive Hunter (Le chasseur primitif) and it was painted by a certain Jacques de Lalaing. The museum bought it directly from the artist in 1886 according to the info sign next to it. It depicts a nude man stringing a bow in the midst of a group of animals (at least, I think he is stringing a bow, the painting is murky). The longer I look at it, the more disturbing it becomes. There are dogs and maybe other animals lurking in the shadows, ready to attack, the face of the hunter is hardly visible. What is he looking at? Is he targeting us? Are we, the viewers, the prey?

From the man with the arrow  of a few minutes before to the man with the bow, it was an interesting transition.

It was very hard to take a good picture of the painting due to its size and the reflections of the lights.  But here are a couple shots to give you an impression:

That is, however, not the end of the story. When I got home I searched for information about the painter on the internet. I did a simple search for his name but the first search result that came up was someone completely different with the same name: a Jacques de Lalaing who lived from 1421–1453. He was a famous knight and one of the best tournament fighters of that time. He was working for … yeah, sigh, indeed, it seems there is no escape from the Burgundians yet.

Jacques died in the revolt of Ghent in 1453 where he was allegedly killed by a cannon ball, according to Wiki.  Judging from the painter’s bio, I presume he is a descendant from the knight.

Last but not least though this is just my personal opinion but when I was looking at some paintings a few minutes ago, I realised how much the hunter reminds me of Adam in Cabanel’s painting Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise.

***

I just read that they’re usings scanners to locate the stolen and lost JustJudges by van Eyck. Great, I hope they find it.  it may be a part of the quest.

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Splendour

Hier zijn nog enkele foto’s van details van schilderijen uit het Old Masters Museum in Brussel (zie post van gisteren).

Grappige baby:

Dit om te bewijzen dat niet iedereen even goed portretten kon schilderen:

Details van een achtergrond:

Lazarus:

Aan de voeten van Lazarus:

Ook wel wat gruwelijkheden:

Mooie portretstudies van Rubens:

Paracelsus (nudge nudge):

Wie we daar hebben: Filips de Schone met een gigantisch schaap om zijn nek en Johanna de Waanzinnige:

Mooi geschilderde lendendoek van Christus

Gabriël in een van de betere Annunciaties, deze is van de Lairesse:

 

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Face to face with Antoine

This morning I took the train to Brussels so I could go and have a look at Antoine’s garb in the Old Masters Museum before I do the underdrawing of C. There is a fairly good picture on Wikipedia but it’s always better to see it in real. Also, in most pictures the top of the hat is edited out and I couldn’t figure out how the coat and shoulders look like either (tbh, I still can’t).

I got there a bit too early and there was already a rather large queue of tourists waiting in line until the museum opened its doors, mainly because it was a Sunday and raining and there was nothing else to do, I guess. Luckily the groups of Chinese tourists trouped together before Rubens and Breugel. Antoine was mostly ignored except for the ones doing the audio tour.

The portrait was painted around 1463 by Rogier van der Weyden (or his studio?) according Wikipedia so Antoine must have been in his forties at the time of painting.  He was an illegitimate son of Philip the good of Burgundy, hence his epithet The Big Bastard of Burgundy (his mum must have been so proud). He was born around 1421 and died in 1504.

The painting was a lot smaller than I remembered so I accidentally walked past it the first time. Here is a picture of the portrait on the wall, so you have an idea. It is on the left:

I spent quite some time studying the picture and taking photographs with my phone.  It was not so easy to take good pictures because a) the painting is very dark b) a lot of the lighting in the museum comes from natural sources through the windows in the ceiling and it was raining heavily and very dark outside c) there is a glass plate in front of the painting which causes reflections.

Here are some of the pictures I took. The white spots are reflections of some lamps. I didn’t edit them out. Maybe I will upload some more under WIP > Burgundia later on.

I am not sure how true to life this portrait is. Van der Weyden’s portraits tend to be a bit formulaic. In any case, it was one of my first favourite paintings. There is also a portrait by Memling in which he looks a bit older and more according to the Memling portrait formula  (wide face and frizzy hair) and with a particularly ugly hat but it’s not in this museum.

I also made some pictures of interesting details of other medieval paintings such as Philip the Fair and Joanna the Mad, but I’ll write a separate post about those.

 

Well, I can honestly say that after this visit, it still remains one of my favourite portrait paintings. There is a similar one, also really good, without an arrow and in which he wears a red collar, but it’s in private hands, I believe. (Lucky bastards, lol).

 

 

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Update 17.09.18

The river Ourthe

[This is going to be in Dutch for a change, my head’s too fuzzy today].

Afgelopen weekend waren we op het traditionele schoonfamilieweekend in de Ardennen. Ik loop graag in bossen rond, om mijn  hoofd leeg te maken en om inspiratie op te doen, maar in een grote groep luidruchtige volwassenen en kinderen en op een pad dat ook voor een mountainbikerace werd gebruikt was dat wel wat minder vanzelfsprekend.

Met zulk een grote groep bestaat zo’n weekend vooral uit het wachten en rondhangen tussen het bereiden, opeten en opruimen van de maaltijden. Misschien was dat even met niks bijzonders bezig zijn niet zo slecht. Er was nu tijd om te ontspannen, wandelen en zwemmen, ook al omdat wifi en gsm-ontvangst in de Ardennen vaak onbestaande zijn.

We hebben ook de burchtruïne van La-Roche-en-Ardennes bezocht. Hier enkele foto’s:

The castle of La Roche, on a hill in the middle of the city

 

‘s Avonds terwijl er rondom mij spelletjes gespeeld werden en boeken gelezen had ik tijd om te tekenen. Ik had een hoop tekenspullen meegesleurd omdat ik wat met houtskool en pastel dacht te gaan experimenteren maar na één blik op het bleke Zweedse Ikea-interieur van onze gite heb ik me maar tot mijn vulpotlood en een paar Bourgondiërs beperkt. Ik heb veel langer aan de tekeningen gewerkt dan gewoonlijk maar gezien mijn (officieuze) schoonmoeder nogal wild met cava omgaat zien ze er beschonkener uit dan de bedoeling was oO.

De tekeningen staan onder Wip > Burgundia.

Crumbling tombstone in an old cemetery

Mijn metaqueeste heeft me al een aantal haast slapeloze nachten gekost maar ze vordert zo goed dat ik doorga. Ik baan me als Theseus een weg door een fantastisch labyrinth van wraak, moord, incest, ontucht en devotie, moeilijke vaders, bezorgde moeders en laffe verraders, woede en vergiffenis, krankzinnigheid, bijgeloof, afpersing, uitpersing, trots, spilzucht, duistere symboliek, verborgen sleutels, reizende relikwieën, gestolen schilderijen, verloren schatten, losgelden, verminkingen, en lelijke kapsels. Vooral heel veel lelijke kapsels.

 

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The Sword in the Stone – Part II: Horned and dangerous

Updated on 08/09/18

Last week I leafed through a couple illustrated versions of Orlando Furioso, not as great as the Doré one, though but still ok.  (See earlier post). I wanted to refresh my memory regarding the protagonists and conducted some cursory research.

Orlando or Roland was one of Uncle Charlemagne’s paladins (we’re speaking about 800ish). He travelled to the south of France, not to drink beers at the beach, but to beat up Saracens and some locals, which is a little frowned upon nowadays and rightly so.

Spoiler alert: he died.

“Roland’s own death was very near” – I found this 1900ish looking picture somewhere in the dark abyss of the net

Orlando or Roland also appears in Dante’s Divina Commedia (Canto XXXI of Hell or thereabouts).

In Ariosto’s very fictional tale Orlando goes completely mad after the woman he loves runs off with the Saracen Medoro (I summarise the story based on the Wikipedia page, not sure if this is correct. I had to read quite a few knight’s tales in the past but Orlando Furioso was not one of them. It’s now on my bucket list.)

Angelica and Medoro by G. Doré. Can’t blame Angelica. Medoro has really nice legs.

There are a few other knights in the tale such as Ruggiero, who rescues the chained heroine from a dragon and more trope fantasy stuff. There is also a badass female knight Bramante:

Better not mess with Bramante

Raging Roland, or – if you want – Ripped Roland

Back to the original Roland. No legendary hero is complete without some magical equipment. For Roland this was, besides his horn and his horse, an unbreakable sword called Durendal. I found two different versions of how and where he got it: either through Charlemagne or from the necromancer Maugis, who happens to be the inspiration for the name of this site.

According to legends or the internet (interchangeable), the sword Durendal ended up at Rocamadour (F), a French pilgrimage site. Three years ago we were a bit early for our holiday rental place  so we passed the few extra hours by visiting  the nearby town of Rocamadour. I took a couple pictures there and I dug them up as I wanted to see if I had accidentally photographed the sword. At the time I had no idea Durendal was supposed to be in that place so I didn’t specifically look for it. I scanned the pictures with some guidance from Wiki and guess what?

HAHAHA, found it! Unfortunately, it’s not the original sword but a fake. Who would have thought?

Anyway, the story is not finished.

Durendal was the sharpest sword in existence and unbreakable thanks to some magical accoutrements. The hilt of Durendal is said to have contained four relics (for other uses of relics, see  earlier Holy Blood post): a tooth of St. Peter, hair of St Denis, a piece of the dress of the mother of Jesus and last but not least, blood of Basil of Caesarea.

Theoretically, one could use the above recipe in order to create another magical sword. So I investigated where relics of all those people could theoretically be found today. St. Peter’s grave is in the basilica of the same name in Rome.  The tomb of Mary is in Jerusalem. Saint Denis was buried in Paris (close to where we stayed in Paris in May apparently. If I had known…). Basil’s head is in Greece, but there are other relics of him around, including a couple of his vertebrae, one of which allegedly -is kept in the same basilica as the Blood relic. Which is in Bruges.

Tip of the day: In case you want to create your own magical sword, at least you know now that the Italian job will be the easiest.

Good luck with that…

Orlando Furioso – A quick and messy affair in my sketch book