Личная библиотека и записная книжка

Jean Fouquet. Etienne Chevalier Presented by St. Stephen. c. 1450. Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Posted in Об искусстве, библиотека by benescript on 07.05.2012

Van Eyck’s realism soon enjoyed international renown. In Italy, Bartolomco Fazio extolled the Flemish artist in 1455/56 as the «prince of our century’s painters». In France, too, where Burgundian art was already well known, the new style quickly won favour, becoming known as «la nou-velle pratique». Traces of its influence can be felt in the work of Enguerrand Charonton, and in the celebrated Pieta of Villeneuve-les-Avignon, painted c. 1470 by an anonymous master of southern France. The donor, whose face is realistically represented, is shown kneeling in an attitude of prayer at the bottom left of the Pieta. His white robe, as well as the attribute of oriental architecture (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) against a gold background, suggest he has travelled as a pilgrim to Jerusalem. The artist has given powerful dramatic expression to the grief of the mourners, and the intention to introduce the donor into their company seems obvious enough. Nevertheless, the gaze and gestures of the donor have not (yet) made any impression on the holy figures themselves, so that he remains outside their gestural narrative. Although part of the painting, the donor thus seems somewhat isolated within it. His gaze is intended to be directed towards the events taking place, but in order meet his patron’s demands, the artist has painted him looking less into the centre of the painting than diagonally out of it.

Van Eyck’s realism soon enjoyed international renown. In Italy, Bartolomco Fazio extolled the Flemish artist in 1455/56 as the «prince of our century’s painters». In France, too, where Burgundian art was already well known, the new style quickly won favour, becoming known as «la nou-velle pratique». Traces of its influence can be felt in the work of Enguerrand Charonton, and in the celebrated Pieta of Villeneuve-les-Avignon, painted c. 1470 by an anonymous master of southern France. The donor, whose face is realistically represented, is shown kneeling in an attitude of prayer at the bottom left of the Pieta. His white robe, as well as the attribute of oriental architecture (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) against a gold background, suggest he has travelled as a pilgrim to Jerusalem. The artist has given powerful dramatic expression to the grief of the mourners, and the intention to introduce the donor into their company seems obvious enough. Nevertheless, the gaze and gestures of the donor have not (yet) made any impression on the holy figures themselves, so that he remains outside their gestural narrative. Although part of the painting, the donor thus seems somewhat isolated within it. His gaze is intended to be directed towards the events taking place, but in order meet his patron’s demands, the artist has painted him looking less into the centre of the painting than diagonally out of it.

According to tradition, Fouquet painted the Virgin with the features of Agnes Sorel, the favourite of Charles VII.
Agnes Sorel made Eticnne Chevalier her executor, undoubtedly the sign of a close relationship between them.

The portrait of Etienne Chevalier is similar, in some respects, to van Eyck’s portrait of Chancellor Rolin. Fouquet too was commissioned to paint an official who had risen from a non-aristocratic background to a high-ranking position in the feudal absolutist state, and whose desire to create a memorial to himself betrayed his need to compete for social status with the nobility. At the same time, the diptych may have been an ex-voto gift, a token of his gratitude on being appointed Chancellor «Tresorier») of France in 1451. Possibly, it was intended to commemorate the king’s respected mistress, who had died on 9 Feb. 1450. Whereas van Eyck had found a «progressive» solution to the problem of integrating into a spatial and narrative unity a donor worshipping the Virgin, Fouquet, who had been leading court artist for many years, although not officially made «peintre du roi» until 1475, shows Chevalier and St. Stephen, the donor’s patron saint, in silhouette. The purity of the outlines and trenchant, extensive areas of colour are emphasised by the light background of the marble wall and pilasters, on which the name of the donor is repeated in a frieze-like pattern. Fouquet’s novel departure from Netherlandish donor portraiture is the reduction of his subject’s complexity to a minimum of clear, expressive components. Van Eyck’s compression of numerous allusive details in his compositions contrasts with Fouquet’s simple, lapidary symbols: the stone, for example, evidently a sign of the artist’s interest in geology, resting on a leather-bound, gilt-edged prayer-book. Like the wound on the saint’s tonsure, from which blood drips down into the hood of his dalmatic, the stone signifies the patron saint’s martyrdom. In a Book of Hours produced for Chevalier (1452-60), and now at the Musee Conde at Chantilly, Fouquet painted the lapidation of St. Stephen in miniature.

 

 

 

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