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ART 4 2-DAY 11 AUGUST
Died on 11 August 1883: Louis~Édouard Dubufe,
French painter, best known for portraits, born on 31 March 1819.
— He was trained by his father Claude-Marie Dubufe [1790 – 23 Apr 1864] and then by Paul Delaroche. Edouard Dubufe first appeared at the Salon in 1839 with the Annunciation, a Huntress and a portrait, winning a third class medal. He followed this in 1840 with an episode in the life of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, which won him a second class medal; in 1844 he won a first class medal with Bathsheba and a genre scene set in the 15th century. His wife and his son were also artists, specializing in portrait busts and decorative painting.
— Photo of Dubufe
— Le Congrès de Paris, 1856 (1856; 705x1167pix, 82kb — ZOOM to 1691x2800pix, 260kb) _ Pour mettre fin à la guerre de Crimée, un congrès fut convoqué à l’initiative de Napoléon III à Paris du 27 février au 8 avril 1856. L’empereur apparut alors comme l’arbitre de l’Europe et ce fut pour lui une revanche sur le congrès de Vienne de 1815. Il réunit les ministres des Affaires étrangères de la Russie, de la Turquie, de la Grande-Bretagne, du Piémont-Sardaigne, de l’Autriche et de la Prusse sous la présidence du ministre français Walewski. Les décisions prises furent l’objet d’un traité signé le 30 mars 1856 : la mer Noire fut neutralisée, l’intégrité territoriale de l’empire ottoman fut garantie, le sultan accepta l’égalité de ses sujets chrétiens et musulmans, les principautés de Moldavie et de Valachie acquirent leur autonomie, le Danube inférieur devint un fleuve international.
La scène se tient au ministère des Affaires étrangères dans l’ancien salon des Attachés rebaptisé salon du Congrès, en hommage au congrès de Paris. Dubufe a réparti chacun des quinze diplomates au rang convenable, selon l’importance de la puissance qu’il représente. Tous semblent irrémédiablement atteints d’inertie; ils semblent poser, fixés et sans vie, devant celui qui les a mis en place. En s’attaquant à cet épisode majeur de l’histoire diplomatique du Second Empire, Dubufe, peintre de portraits mondains, abordait non sans audace le grand genre de l’histoire contemporaine inauguré sous le Premier Empire par Gros et David. Et de fait, ce sujet commandé par l’administration impériale en 1856 devait être traité avec le même souci de grandeur et de vraisemblance que les scènes militaires exécutées pour les galeries historiques de Versailles par d’autres artistes. Du point de vue de l’exécution, ce vaste portrait de groupe témoigne d’ailleurs d’un métier excellent et, du point de vue de la composition, relève du tour de force, mérites que perçurent les contemporains du peintre lorsque l’œuvre fut exposée – et admirée par Napoléon III – au Salon de 1857.
— Une Dame (1854, 131x98cm) — Deux Soeurs (1840; 800x609pix, 87kb)
Died on 11 August 1956: Jackson
an auto accident in East Hampton. He was born on 28 January 1912.
The commanding figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement, he began to study painting in 1929 at the Art Students' League, New York, under the Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. During the 1930s he worked in the manner of the Regionalists, being influenced also by the Mexican muralist painters (Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros) and by certain aspects of Surrealism.
From 1938 to 1942 he worked for the Federal Art Project. By the mid 1940s he was painting in a completely abstract manner, and the `drip and splash' style for which he is best known emerged with some abruptness in 1947. Instead of using the traditional easel he affixed his canvas to the floor or the wall and poured and dripped his paint from a can; instead of using brushes he manipulated it with sticks, trowels or knives (to use his own words), sometimes obtaining a heavy impasto by an admixture of sand, broken glass or other foreign matter. This manner of Action Painting (tachisme in French) had in common with Surrealist theories of automatism that it was supposed by artists and critics alike to result in a direct expression or revelation of the unconscious moods of the artist.
Pollock's name is also associated with the introduction of the All~over style of painting which avoids any points of emphasis or identifiable parts within the whole canvas and therefore abandons the traditional idea of composition in terms of relations among parts. The design of his painting had no relation to the shape or size of the canvas indeed in the finished work the canvas was sometimes docked or trimmed to suit the image. All these characteristics were important for the new US painting which matured in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Number 1a (1948) Black Yellow Cathedral (1947) Flame
Male Female (1942, 73~1/4x49 in) Moon Woman (1942, 69x43 in) Night Mist
Pasiphae Sleeping 3 War 2 Untitled (screenprint based on painting number 7, 1951)
Untitled (1944) Stenographic Figure (1942, 40x56 in)
New York Blue (Moby Dick) (1943, 18~3/4x23 7/8 in) The She~Wolf (1943, 41~7/8x67)
Eyes in the Heat (1946, 54x43 in) The Key (1946, 59x84 in) The Tea Cup (1946, 40x28 in)
Shimmering Substance (1946, 30~1/8x24~1/4 in) Full Fathom Five Number 8 (1949, detail)
Lavender Mist: Number 1 (1950) Easter and the Totem (1953, 84~1/4x58 in)
Died on 11 August 1866: Raffaello Sernesi,
of gangrene after being wounded and taken prisoner by the Austrians, against
whom he was fighting as one of Garibaldi's soldiers.
— Sernesi ebbe vita molto breve. Nato infatti a Firenze il 29 dicembre 1838, morì all'ospedale di Bolzano l'11 agosto 1866. Militante nelle formazioni garibaldine durante la guerra del 1866, cadde ferito e fatto prigioniero dagli austriaci, moriva poco dopo di cancrena. Con Signorini, Borrani e Cabianca, poi a Pergentina con Lega, Sernesi, che aveva studiato incisione e poi pitturai, dipinse sulla natura, alternando sintetiche visioni dei colli fiorentini a paesaggi della montagna pistoiese a S. Marcello, dove si era recato col Borrani. Nel primissimo gruppo macchiaiolo, fu il più delicato, schivo dai forti accenti di colore e impegnato in un difficile accordo tra la tecnica macchiaiola e un tonalismo diffuso, di alto accento poetico. Visse un fecondo periodo a Castiglioncello nel gruppo di Martelli.
— Sernesi was an Italian painter born in Florence on 29 December 1838, uno dei Macchiaioli (dabbers). They were a group of 19th-century Florentine and Neopolitan painters who reacted against the rule-bound Italian academies of art and looked to nature for instruction.
The Macchiaioli felt that patches (Italian macchia) of color were the most significant aspect of painting. The effect of a painting on the spectator was to derive from the painted surface itself, rather than from any ideological message or narrative. The Macchiaioli used a sketch technique to record their initial impressions of nature--often as seen from a distance--by means of color and light. Their theory was similar to that of the French Impressionists, but it was even more concerned with color structure.
During a short period of 20 years the Macchiaioli produced startlingly fresh and vivid paintings. The most outstanding artist of the group was the Florentine Giovanni Fattori [1825-1908], who attained brilliant effects of light and color by the use of strong color patches.
Other important painters included Telemaco Signorini [1853-1901], the critic and theoretician of the group, who used color with great sensitivity in his usually socially significant scenes; Silvestro Lega [1826-1895], who combined a clearly articulated handling of color patches with a poetic feeling for his subject; and Raffaello Sernesi and Giuseppe Abbati [1836-1868], also artists of great originality in their use of color.
— Abetelle pistoiesi (24x37cm; 334x450pix, 22kb)
Cupolino delle Cascine (1861; 262x407pix, 18kb) — Mare a Castiglioncello (1864, 189x500pix, 23kb)
— La punta del Romito veduta da Castiglioncello (203x770pix)
— Pagliai a Castiglioncello (280x720pix; 162kb) — Radura nel bosco (20x15cm; 520x372pix)
— Sull’aia (250x620pix) — Pascolo a S.Marcello 1861 (307x400pix)
— Tetti al sole (1861, 318x550pix, 21kb) — Abetelle a S.Marcello 1864 (274x418pix)
— Il pratone delle Cascine 1865 — Cavallo (235x303pix)
— Senza titolo 1 landscape with cows (154x436pix; 16kb)
— Senza titolo 2 landscape with man at low wall (271x327pix, 27kb)
Died on 11 August 1494: Hans Memling
(or Mamline, Memlinc, Hemling), Flemish Northern
Renaissance painter born between 1430 and 1440. He studied under Rogier
van der Weyden. Memling's students included Gerard
David and Michel
— Together with Dieric Bouts I and Hugo van der Goes, he was one of the most important exponents of the new artistic developments that flourished in the southern Netherlands in the 15th century in the wake of Jan van Eyck, the Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden. Their principal innovation was to apply optic realism to devotional or mystical subjects. Although Memling lived in the turbulent period of transition from the Burgundian ruling house to that of the Habsburgs, little of this is evident in his work. His commissions were almost exclusively from rich burghers in Bruges (bankers, merchants and politicians) or churchmen and the occasional aristocrat. Often they were foreigners, especially Italians, who had political or financial connections with the town, whose central economic position was to last only a few decades longer. They had Memling paint their portraits, bust or full length, in devotional paintings or on altarpieces for their chapel in Bruges or back home. He seems not to have received official commissions (from the town council or court). An exceptional proportion of this oeuvre has survived. Besides about 20 altarpieces, often in several panels and of considerable size, there are about 15 individual paintings of the Virgin and Child, for which the side panels with figures or donor portraits are missing, another 20 paintings depicting saints or various themes from the Gospels and more than 30 portraits (some in the form of a diptych with a Virgin and Child).
Although known as a master of Flemish painting, Hans Memling was born in Seligenstadt, near what is today Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Memling, whose name is sometimes spelled Memlinc, first established himself as a painter in Brussels. In style and composition his work shows the strong influence of Rogier van der Weyden, the great Flemish painter. Because of this, Memling is thought to have studied under the older artist. In about 1466 Memling moved to Brugge, where his career prospered. Like many other Flemish masters, Memling painted with glowing colors and fine craftsmanship. Unlike most artists, his style varied little throughout his career. Many of Memling's well-known religious works were painted for the Hospital of Saint John in Brugge. These include Adoration by the Magi and six panels depicting Saint Ursula's journey to Rome, which he painted for the hospital's shrine to that saint. Memling was a master of portraiture. The faces he painted with careful detail glow with life. The character of each is subtly suggested. In addition to the portraits Memling painted for the notables of Brugge, he also received commissions from foreign visitors such as Tommaso Portinari of the Florentine Medici. Memling died in .
Hans Memling was a Flemish painter of religious works and portraits characterized by their gentle, sweet tranquility. Memling was born in Seligenstadt, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and became a citizen of in 1465. Little is known of his training, although it appears he was strongly influenced by the style of the Flemish master Rogier van der Weyden, especially in his love of delicate detail and his fine precise drawing. Memling's work consists primarily of altarpieces, devotional diptychs and triptychs, and portraits. His compositions representing the Madonna in sumptuous backgrounds often include representations of saints, portraits of donors, or detailed landscapes. His style changed little throughout most of his career; typical works such as the Donne Triptych, named also The Virgin and the Child with Saints and Donors (1475), and the Marriage of Saint Catherine (1479) are characterized by an overall delicacy and harmony that result from a symmetrically balanced composition; clear, even lighting; and a masterly deployment of colors ranging from rich golds, reds, and blues to subtle halftones. His figures radiate an attitude of quiet devotion rather than the intense fervor found in the works of his contemporaries.
As a portraitist, Memling produced idealized representations of his subjects, such as the figure of Tommaso Portinari, part of the Portinari Triptych (1470). In another vein, he produced the unique Seven Joys of the Virgin (1480), a panoramic landscape made up of an iridescent assemblage of towns and castles, hills and mountains, and ports and ships. Late in his career, under the influence of the art of the Italian Renaissance, his style became more vigorous. Such an unrestrained work as Bathsheba at the Bath (1485), which portrays a female nude in a realistic bathhouse scene, has a subject and a setting unusual in 15th-century Flemish painting.
Memling was a Flemish artist of German origin, active in the Netherlands in the second half of the XV century. Hans Memling was born around 1430-1440 in Seligenstadt in the Main region. Little is known about his training and early work. Perhaps he was trained in Cologne. Already in 1465, he was mentioned in Brussels, and from 1466 he worked in Bruges. Many art historians agree that he was most probably a late pupil of Rogier van der Weyden; in any case, the latter’s influence is noticeable in Memling’s earliest authenticated works, although in some works he surpassed his probable teacher. This is true, for example, for the Triptych from Prado, which stands out for its horizontal structure. The Triptych adorned Charles V’s oratory at the royal residence in Aceca; two of the Magi are usually identified as Charles the Bold and Phillip the Good.
Memling also experienced the influence of Bouts.
However, he soon developed his own style, which is characterized by the
great charm of the figures in movement and expression, beautiful colors
and narrative richness.
from The GOLDEN LEGEND or LIVES of the SAINTS
compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa,
ENGLISHED by WILLIAM CAXTON
Here followeth the Passion of Eleven Thousand Virgins.
The passion of eleven thousand virgins was hallowed in this manner. In Britain was a christian king named Notus or Maurus, which engendered a daughter named Ursula. This daughter shone full of marvellous honesty, wisdom, and beauty, and her fame and renomee was borne all about. And the king of England which then was right mighty, and subdued many nations to his empire, heard the renomee of her, and said that he would be well happy if this virgin might be coupled to his son by marriage. And the young man had great desire and will to have her. And there was a solemn embassy to the father of Ursula, and promised great promises, and said many fair words for to have her; and also made many menaces if they returned vainly to their lord. And then the king of Britain began to be much anxious, because that she that was ennobled in the faith of Jesu Christ should be wedded to him that adored idols, because that he wist well she would not consent in no manner, and also because he doubted much the cruelty of the king. And she, that was divinely inspired, did so much to her father that she consented to the marriage by such a condition, that for to solace her he should send to her father ten virgins, and to herself, and to those ten other virgins, he should send to each a thousand virgins, and should give to her space of three years for to dedicate her virginity, and the young man should be baptized, and in these three years he should be informed in the faith sufficiently, so that by wise counsel, and by virtue of the condition made, he should withdraw from her his courage. But this youngling received this condition gladly, and hasted his father and was baptized and commanded all that Ursula had required should be done. And the father of the virgin ordained that his daughter, whom he most loved, and the others that had need of the comfort of men and service, ordained in their company good men for to serve them.
Then virgins came from all parts, and men came for to see this great company, and many bishops came for to go with them in their pilgrimage, among whom was Pantulus, bishop of Basle, which went with them to Rome, and returned from thence with them and received martyrdom. S. Gerasine, queen of Sicily, which had made of her husband that was a cruel tyrant a meek lamb, and was sister of Maurice the bishop, and of Daria, mother of S. Ursula, to whom the father of S. Ursula had signified by secret letters. She, by the inspiration of God, put herself in the way with her four daughters, Babilla, Juliana, Victoria and Aurea, and her little son Adrian, which, for love of his sisters, went in the same pilgrimage, and left all in the hands of his own son, and came into Britain, and sailed over sea into England. And by the counsel of this queen the virgins were gathered together from divers realms, and she was leader of them, and at the last she suffered martyrdom with them. And then, the condition made, all things were made ready. Then the queen showed her counsel to the knights of her company, and made them all to swear this new chivalry; and then began they to make divers plays and games of battle, as to run here and there, and feigned many manner of plays. And for all that they left not their purpose, and sometimes they returned from this play at midday and sometimes unnethe at evensong time. And the barons and great lords assembled them to see the fair games and disports, and all had joy and pleasure in beholding them, and also marvel.
And at the last, when Ursula had converted all these virgins unto the faith of Christ, they went all to the sea, and in the space of a day, they sailed over the sea, having so good wind that they arrived at a port of Gaul, named Tielle, and from thence came to Cologne, where an angel of our Lord appeared to Ursula, and told her that they should return again, the whole number to that place, and there receive the crown of martyrdom. And from thence, by the monition of the angel, they went towards Rome. And when they came to Basle they left there their ships and went to Rome afoot. At the coming of whom the pope Ciriacus was much glad, because he was born in Britain and had many cousins among them, and he with his clerks received them with all honour. And that same night it was showed to the pope that he should receive with them the crown of martyrdom, which thing he hid in himself, and baptized many of them that were not then baptized. And when he saw time convenable, when he had governed the church one year and eleven weeks, and was the nineteenth pope after Peter, he purposed tofore all the people, and showed to them his purpose, and resigned his office and his dignity. But all men gainsaid it, and especially the cardinals, which supposed that he trespassed, leaving the glory of the papacy and would go after these foolish virgins, but he would not agree to abide, but ordained an holy man to occupy in his place, which was named Ametus. And because he left the see apostolic against the will of the clergy, the clerks put out his name of the catalogue of popes. And all the grace that he had gotten in his time, this holy company of women made him for to leave it.
| And then two felon princes
of the chivalry of Rome, Maximus and Africanus, saw this great company of
virgins, and that many men and women assembled to them, doubted that christian
religion should much be increased by them, wherefore they required diligently
of their voyage. And then sent they messengers to Julian, their cousin,
prince of the lineage of the Huns, that he should bring his host against
them, and should assemble at Cologne, and there behead them because they
were christian. And the blessed Ciriacus issued out of the city of Rome
with this blessed company of virgins, and Vincent, priest cardinal, and
Jacobus that was come from Britain into Antioch, and had held there seven
years the dignity of the bishop, which then had visited the pope, and was
gone out of his city and held company with these virgins, when he heard
of their coming, and suffered martyrdom with them. And Maurice, bishop of
Levicana, the city, uncle of Babilla and Juliana, and Follarius, bishop
of Lucca, with Sulpitius, bishop of Ravenna, which then were come to Rome,
put them in the company of these virgins.
Ethereus, the husband of Ursula, abiding in Britain, was warned of our Lord by a vision of an angel that he should exhort his mother to be christian. For his father died the first year that he was christened, and Ethereus, his son, succeeded after him in his reign. And then when these holy virgins returned from Rome with the bishops, Ethereus was warned of our Lord that he should anon arise and go to meet his wife at Cologne, and there receive with her the crown of martyrdom, the which anon obeyed to admonishments divine, and did do baptize his mother and came with her and his little sister Florence, then also baptized, and with the bishop Clement, meeting the holy virgins, and accompanied them unto martyrdom. And Marculus, bishop of Greece, and his niece Constance, daughter of Dorotheus, king of Constantinople, which was married to the son of a king, but he died tofore the wedding, and she avowed to our Lord her virginity; they were also warned by a vision, and came to Rome and joined them to these virgins unto the martyrdom.
And then all these virgins came with the bishops to Cologne, and found that it was besieged with the Huns. And when the Huns saw them they began to run upon them with a great cry, and araged like wolves on sheep, and slew all this great multitude. And when they were all beheaded, they came to the blessed Ursula, and the prince of them, seeing her beauty so marvellous, was abashed, and began to comfort her upon the death of the virgins, and promised to her to take her to his wife. And when she had refused him and despised him at all, he shot at her an arrow, and pierced her through the body, and so accomplished her martyrdom. And one of the virgins, which was named Cordula, was sore afeared, and hid herself all that night in a ship, but on the morn she suffered death by her free will, and took the crown of martyrdom. And because her feast was not held with the other virgins, she appeared long after to a recluse, and commanded him that the next day following the feast of the virgins, her feast should be remembered. They suffered death the year of our Lord two hundred and thirty-eight. But some hold opinion that the reason of the time showeth that they suffered not death in that time, for Sicily ne Constantinople were then no realms, but it is supposed that they suffered death long time after, when Constans was emperor, and that the Huns and Goths enforced them against christian men in the time of the emperor Marcian, that reigned in the year of our Lord four hundred and fifty-two. It is to be remembered that among these eleven thousand virgins were many men, for the pope Cyriacus and other bishops, and Ethereus king, with other lords and knights, had much people to serve them. And as I have been informed in Cologne that there were men besides women that thilke time suffered martyrdom, fifteen thousand. So the number of this holy multitude, as of the holy virgins and men, were twenty-six thousand, to whom let us pray to our Lord that he have mercy on us.
There was an abbot that impetred of the abbess of the place where these holy virgins rest in Cologne, a body of one of these virgins, and promised that he would set it in his church in a fair shrine of silver, but when he had it, he kept it a year upon the altar in a chest of tree. And in a night as the abbot sang matins, the said virgin descended from the altar bodily, and inclined honourably tofore the altar, and went through the choir, seeing all the monks which, were thereof sore abashed, and then the abbot ran and found it all void and nothing therein. Then the abbot went to Cologne and told to the abbess all the thing by order. Then went they to the place where they had taken the body, and found the same there again. And then the abbot required pardon, and prayed the abbess that he might have again the same body or another, promising right certainly to make hastily a precious shrine, but he could none have in no manner.
There was a religious monk which had great devotion to these holy virgins, and it happed that he was on a day sick, and saw a right fair and noble virgin appear to him, and demanded him if he knew her. And he was amarvelled of this vision, and said he knew her not. And she said: I am one of the virgins to whom thou hast such great devotion, and thereof thou shalt have a reward. If thou say eleven thousand paternosters for the love and honour of us, we shall come unto thine aid and comfort at the hour of thy death, and then she vanished away. And he accomplished her request as soon as he might, and anon after he did do call his abbot, and did him to be annealed or anointed. And as they anointed him he cried suddenly: Make ye place to the holy virgins, and go out of the way that they may come to me. And when the abbot demanded him what it was, and what he meant, he told to him by order the promise of the virgin. Then all they withdrew them a little after, and soon came again and found him departed out of this world unto our Lord. Then let us devoutly give laud and praising unto the blessed Trinity and pray him that by the merits of this great multitude of martyrs he will forgive and pardon us of our sins, that after this life we may come unto this holy company in heaven Amen.
| The above narrative is condensed
by Memling into a mere six scenes three on each of the two long sides.
Apart from the arrival in Rome, all the scenes are enacted on the banks
of the Rhine at Cologne and Basle. Ursula was the daughter of Deonutus,
the Christian king of Brittany. Her virtue and beauty were universally praised,
causing the pagan king of Anglia to seek her as the bride for his son and
heir, Etherius. To avoid difficulties, Ursula resolved, with divine prompting,
to accept the proposal on condition that she might first undertake a three-year
pilgrimage to Rome, accompanied by eleven thousand virgins from the English
kingdom, on eleven ships. Permission was given, and the company set off.
Memling picks up the story at their first stop on the Rhine at Cologne.
^ Saint Ursula Shrine (1489, 87x33x91cm) (seen from the Saint Ursula end, and the side with scenes 1-2-3 and the 11 virgins medallion) _ Saint Ursula Shrine (seen from the Virgin and Child end, and the side with scenes 4-5-6 and the Coronation of Mary medallion) _ The Saint Ursula Shrine was the first Memling work to be identified as such in a historical text. Although commissioned for Saint John's Hospital, it has neither an inscription nor a signature, unlike the Saint John altarpiece and the Floreins triptych, both of which were ordered for the same institution. This might be explained by the fact that the shrine was not on permanent display, but was shown only on the feast-day of Saint Ursula. Unlike the paintings, which also focus attention on the donors and the maker, this is a purely liturgical object. Memling's care for detail and constant concern for harmony are part of his predilection for a classical style. These aspects of his art are given their finest expression in the Saint Ursula Shrine. Memling was commissioned to decorate a new reliquary, to which the saint's remains were to be transferred on 21 October 1489 during a grand ceremony in the chancel of the church of the hospital of Saint John. (The relics would seem to have previously been kept in a small 14th century chest, which has also survived). The new shrine was made of wood, based on a model in precious metal. It is in the form of a house or chapel, the pack-saddle roof of which is set with painted trompe-l'oeil "tondi". The decoration of pinnacles, gables, crockets, finials, interlacing and statuettes in niches, is in the finest flamboyant Gothic style. The six arched openings in the sides take the place of stained glass windows, and recount six episodes from the life of the saint as recorded by Jacques de Voragine in The Golden Legend. Ursula was a Breton princess. She agreed to marry Eree, son of the pagan King of England, on the condition that he convert to Christianity. She was subsequently martyred for her faith at the hands of the Huns.
The carved and gilded shrine in the form of a small church containing the relics of Saint Ursula is decorated with paintings on all four sides. The two lateral sides each feature three scenes from the life of Saint Ursula, while the two narrower ends show the saints and the 11'000 virgins, the Virgin and Child and the donors. The decoration of the shrine occupies a central position in Hans Memling's wide-ranging oeuvre and demonstrates both his outstanding qualities and his limitations as an artist. His energies are devoted above all to the portrayal of single figures in graceful poses, to the realistic observation of detail, and to an exquisite palette which is often reminiscent of miniature painting. Although Memling is a narrator, dramatic climax is foreign to his temperament even in a scene of martyrdom. He lacks depth of expression and the ability to convincingly "stage-manage" crowd scenes. Instead, he provides a wealth of inexhaustibly varied details which together "add up" into the overall composition. A comparison with Carpaccio's more or less contemporaneous treatment of the Saint Ursula legend is particularly illuminating. Memling was clearly familiar with Cologne at first hand, as demonstrated by his accurate portrayal of the city skyline in the background, showing the unfinished cathedral, the distinctive tower of Great Saint Martin's church and, on the left, the church of Saint Cunibert.
Memling thoroughly researched this work, visiting the places that he was to paint in order to get the buildings exactly right. The Rhine itself acts as a unifying thread running through the different episodes in the cycle. On one side of the reliquary the ships are coming from the north, and cast anchor on the left bank, so that the town is on their right. On the other side, the ships are sailing towards the north, running along the right bank as they advance downstream, and thus the city is to their left. Everything is so finely observed, that one can reconstruct the angle from which the artist viewed the city with great precision, proof that Memling really did make drawings from the viewpoints he had chosen for his pictures of the ships at rest on both legs of their journey. Rarely has an artist gone further in the pursuit of pictorial truth, a feat that is all the more astonishing given the very small size of the pictures.
| — Saint
Ursula Shrine: Arrival in Cologne (scene 1) (35x25cm) Ursula disembarks
from one of the boats tied up at the port of Cologne, assisted by several
of her companions. The company makes its way through one of the city gates.
Sailors unload baggage from the hold. In the background we see several Cologne
buildings, from left to right: the Bayenturm, the towers of Saint Maria
Lyskirchen, the nave and another tower of Saint Severin's, Gross Saint Martin
and the Cathedral. Through the double window of a house to the right of
the gate, we see the nocturnal visitation to Ursula of an angel, who informs
her that she is to suffer a martyr's death upon her return to Cologne.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Arrival in Basle (scene 2) (35x25cm) The fleet, represented once again by just two vessels, has put in at Basle. This time Memling includes male pilgrims, in accordance with the vision of the legend experienced by Elizabeth of Schöngau. Seamen furl the sails. The townscape is imaginary, with only the late-Gothic tower being interpreted as an echo of the town-hall in Brussels. The pilgrims are shown as they leave Basle on the right to continue their journey to Rome on foot. The snow-covered Alps in the distance form a link with the following scene.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Arrival in Rome (scene 3) (35x25cm) Leaving the mountains behind them, the pilgrims arrive in procession in Rome, where they are met by Pope Cyriacus at the portal of an imaginary church or baptistry. The round tower with its circular windows and colonnades in the middle ground, and the putti frolicking and making music on the cornice before it, are also meant to suggest an Italian environment. Etherius, dressed all in red, kneels behind Ursula, whom he has come to join. Ursula is now wearing a demure cap with a veil, under which her hair is loose. Her headgear now remains the same until her demise. A citizen with more personalised features kneels behind Etherius, holding his hat before him. The pope is dressed in a red dalmatic, as is the acolyte who holds his crosier. A group of cardinals and other high-ranking churchmen stand behind him. The concentration of red robes is a clear reference to the coming martyrdom. Inside the church, Etherius' confession is heard, Ursula takes communion, and those who have not yet been baptised undergo the ceremony.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Departure from Basle (scene 4) (35x25cm) The pope and his retinue have decided to accompany the future martyrs on their way to Cologne. In the left background they reach the gates of Basle. The scene in the foreground shows them embarking on the boats. To reach the second vessel, they have to clamber across the first. Several maidens are being rowed away in a small boat on the left. They remain behind to proclaim their faith.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Martyrdom (scene 5) (35x25cm) Scenes 5 and 6 form a continuous whole, and are enacted upon the eastern bank of the Rhine. The Roman rulers, who wished to snuff out this escalation in the practice of the Christian faith, called upon their relative Julius, leader of the Huns, to await the pilgrims in Cologne and to put them to death. The attack begins in the distance on the opposite bank, shown on the extreme left (the ship being fired upon is the one in the far right background of the previous panel). The massacre on board the two ships is depicted in the foreground. Etherius is stabbed to death in Ursula's arms. The king of the Huns, meanwhile, takes a fancy to Ursula, but when she fails to respond to his advances he shoots her dead with an arrow. It is difficult to identify the other characters depicted in this final panel. A woman and an older man standing behind Ursula witness her execution with intense sympathy. They are clearly citizens of , and unconnected with the legendary company. Perhaps they were involved in the ordering of the shrine. The turbaned figure is another odd presence. Memling, and other painters of his era, often portrayed Old Testament kings or Roman emperors in this manner. He might thus be one of the Roman potentates, unless he is the king of the Huns who makes known his feelings for Ursula with a gesture of his hand. The townscape features, from left to right, the Bayenturm, Saint Severin's, with the towers of Saint Maria Lyskirchen before it, Saint Maria im Kapitol, Gross Saint Martin and the Cathedral.
| — Saint
Ursula Shrine: Martyrdom (scene 6) (35x25cm) Scenes 5 and 6 form a continuous
whole, and are enacted upon the eastern bank of the Rhine. The Roman rulers,
who wished to snuff out this escalation in the practice of the Christian
faith, called upon their relative Julius, leader of the Huns, to await the
pilgrims in Cologne and to put them to death. The attack begins in the distance
on the opposite bank, shown on the extreme left (the ship being fired upon
is the one in the far right background of the previous panel). The massacre
on board the two ships is depicted in the foreground. Etherius is stabbed
to death in Ursula's arms. The king of the Huns, meanwhile, takes a fancy
to Ursula, but when she fails to respond to his advances he shoots her dead
with an arrow. It is difficult to identify the other characters depicted
in this final panel. A woman and an older man standing behind Ursula witness
her execution with intense sympathy. They are clearly citizens of , and
unconnected with the legendary company. Perhaps they were involved in the
ordering of the shrine. The turbaned figure is another odd presence. Memling,
and other painters of his era, often portrayed Old Testament kings or Roman
emperors in this manner. He might thus be one of the Roman potentates, unless
he is the king of the Huns who makes known his feelings for Ursula with
a gesture of his hand. The townscape features, from left to right, the Bayenturm,
Saint Severin's, with the towers of Saint Maria Lyskirchen before it, Saint
Maria im Kapitol, Gross Saint Martin and the Cathedral.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Virgin and Child (91x41cm) The narrow sides of the chest portray Saint Ursula at one end, holding an arrow and protecting the holy virgins under her cloak, and the Virgin Mary at the other, with the Christ Child and two kneeling nuns. Both scenes are located in the interior of a Gothic chapel, painted in such a way as to suggest the interior of the reliquary.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Saint Ursula and the Holy Virgins (91x41cm) The narrow sides of the chest portray Saint Ursula at one end, holding an arrow and protecting the holy virgins under her cloak, and the Virgin Mary at the other, with the Christ Child and two kneeling nuns. Both scenes are located in the interior of a Gothic chapel, painted in such a way as to suggest the interior of the reliquary.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Medallions (11 virgins side) The iconographical programme of the shrine is completed by medallions on the slopes of the roof, and four small carved figures at the corners. The tondos, which are clearly by another hand, comprise a `group portrait' of the first eleven virgins, with the pope, cardinal, bishop and Etherius behind them, on this side, and the Coronation of the Virgin by the Holy Trinity on the other. Each of these two principal medallions is flanked by two smaller ones, depicting musical angels. All of the medallions have a red ground. The detail and fine brushwork of these little paintings recall the Diptych of Jean du Cellier, while not always matching its quality.
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Medallions (Coronation of Mary side)
— Saint Ursula Shrine: Figures _ The four small carved statues at the corners represent Saint James, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Agnes and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (central panel) (1491, 205x150 cm) _ International recognition of Memling's brilliance resulted about the end of 1480s in an important German commission, the last one recorded. The Passion triptych was painted on behalf of Heinrich Greverade or his brother Adolf (or both) for their chapel in Lübeck Cathedral. Heinrich was a merchant who represented the interests of the Hansa from the Oosterlingenhuis in . His brother became the master of Lübeck Cathedral in 1494. The donor shown in the altarpiece is probably Adolf, whose will made the foundation possible. For a variety of reasons, the chapel was not inaugurated until 1504, but the altarpiece dates from 149I and together with the Last Judgement, the Saint John altarpiece and the Nájera panels it is one of the biggest works painted by Memling. It is a triptych with double wings. When open the Carrying the Cross (left wing), the Crucifixion (central panel) and the Resurrection (right wing) can be seen. In its first closed position, the four saints to whom the altar was dedicated are visible across the full width of the triptych. The actual exterior, showing an Annunciation in grisaille, is only revealed when the wings are closed a second time. This structure was not customary in the Low Countries and was probably inspired by German, especially Lübeck, examples. _ detail
(Greverade) Altarpiece (left wing) (205x75cm) Christ Carrying the Cross.
Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (right wing) (205x75cm) the Resurrection.
Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (first closed position) (205x75cm inside the frame, each) (shown in the original frame) Saints Blasius and John the Baptist.
Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (closed) (205x75cm inside the frame, each) (shown in the original frame) Saints Jerome and Egidius.
Man of Sorrows (after 1490, 129x92cm) _ The Man of Sorrows is shown half-length against a heavily darkened, greenish-blue background. His figure cuts across a grey, moulded stone frame painted in trompe-l'oeil, which gives it the appearance of emerging from the painting three-dimensionally. This is an established illusionistic effect already used by Van Eyck for his niche figures (Annunciation) but which was first applied to living figures by Memling in the portraits of Tommaso Portinari and his Wife (1470, 44x34cm each). The devotional type of the suffering Christ who displays the wounds inflicted by his death on the Cross in order directly to engage the compassion of the believer is a familiar one in fifteenth-century Northern European art. The Man of Sorrows with the angels of the Last Judgement (1444-46) by Petrus Christus [1410-1473] is a direct precursor. Memling developed several other variations on this traditional typological theme.
Standing Virgin and Child (1490, 43x36cm) _ detail (Child head and shoulders) _ Man Donor (44x32 cm) _ Woman Donor ( 45x32cm) _ A number of correspondences, including dimensions, origins and inscriptions prove that the three fragments In Bucharest (the Standing Virgin and Child and the two panels with donors) belong together. They were cut down to matching size obviously before 1656. The Virgin, who is clearly standing up as she reaches the height of the column capitals and does not have the Child on her lap, has been cut in half. The donors, who are kneeling, have been trimmed at the top and bottom to more or less the same height. It is extremely difficult after so much time to determine why the painting was mutilated in this way. The darker color to the man's right, and above all the red drapery to the woman's left, seem to be original, at least in part and are thus likely to be remnants of the patron saints who originally stood alongside the donors . The hypothesis that the three paintings originally belonged to a single fixed panel is strengthened by the half dowel-holes that are still to be seen on the inner edges of the portraits. The three panels are thus fragments of the original vertical planks of the painting, which were linked by internal dowel pegs. We ought, therefore, to imagine a composition similar to the Virgin with donor in Ottawa, but with an extra figure on the opposite side. If there was a little more space above the Virgin, the original panel must have measured roughly 100x100 cm. The landscape behind the man is painted over a piece of wood inset at a later date. Similar triangular pieces have also been inserted to the left and right of the woman. Like the horizontal strip above the heads in both panels, these additions (to replace damaged or sawn-out sections?) were already present in 1656, when the panels were part of the collection of Leopold Wilhelm.
Virgin with the Child Reaching for his Toe (1495, 24x18cm) [a copy] _ The Virgin is in a loggia contained at the back by two small columns in reddish-brown marble and offering a view onto a wooded landscape. In front, on a parapet cut across by the edge of the painting, the Infant Christ sits on a cloth. He is restrained by the Virgin's left hand and from her right hand he is about to receive an apple, while with his own right hand he playfully reaches for his toe. In terms of its composition and typology, the painting exhibits the well-known Memling characteristics, but technically it is heavily executed with rough modelling of the hands, the features and the drapery. It has clearly been painted by an average follower of Memling. Similar robust features and a face with rather oriental eyes are to be seen in a number of other Memlingian Virgins at half length. So a master can be assumed who has concentrated mainly on imitating Memling's Virgin-and-Child types. The fact that the composition was repeated again and again and even by great painters such as Juan de Flandes and Jan Provoost indicates that a lost Memling prototype must have existed.