Painting, Christian

Painting, Christian The first law which governed the early Christian sculptors and painters was to present Christ as the source and center of their life, and so to depict him that other figures in their compositions should appear like rays emanating from him. With respect to the contents and spirit of representation, it may be said that, during the entire period of early Christian art, both sculpture and painting were, for the most part, limited to symbolical expression. In the beginning, symbolical representations were alone permitted. Soon, however, the art impulse partially broke away from these fetters; yet art still remained a sort of biblia pauperum, and served chiefly as a mere reminder of the themes of sacred history. Even at a later period, when works of art were employed in multitudes for church decorations, Biblical scenes, especially from the Apocalypse, were still preferred. As early as the 4th century we find a portrait-like representation of sacred personages accompanying these forms of artistic symbolism. It was even believed that veritable portraits of Christ, the Madonna, and the Apostles, existed in paintings from the hand of St. Luke, and in. sculpture from that of Nicodemus, in the napkin of St. Veronica, yea, even in the so-called ἀχειροποιήτοις ("likenesses of celestial origin").

In the first third of the early Christian period, from, the 3d century to the second half of the 5th century, of which numerous works of art in the so- called cemeteries (catacombs of Rome, Naples, Syracuse, etc.) have been preserved, painting still maintained the ancient plastic method of representation (as may be seen also in the paintings in the cemeteries, in the mosaics of Santa Costanza and Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, San Giovanni in Fonte, and San Nazario e Celso at Ravenna). In the second third, till the 8th century, painting sought more and more to adapt the antique forms to the idealistic, transcendental spirit of Christianity, as may be seen from the mosaics of Santa Pudentiana and Santi Cosma e Damiano at Rome, of San Appollinare Nuovo, San Appollinare in Classe, and San Vitale at Ravenna, and some miniatures. After the 8th century, painting, and in fact, the entire art of early Christianity, lapsed into a continually deepening decline, till the 11th century, as may be seen in the mosaics of San Prassede, San Marco, and others in Rome, and miniatures of various manuscripts, and the Iconostasis (q.v.) of Greek and Russian churches.

With the new life which the 11th century ushered in in Western Christendom, architecture reached not only the climax of its own development, but also asserted a decided preponderance over sculpture and painting. One spirit and one life prevailed in all three of the sister-arts. The newly awakened art impulse developed itself in the North, especially in Germany, much later in Italy. Here the earliest movement took place in the 12th century, and the following century had been ushered in before the first endeavors were made by single artists of lesser rank to blend the Byzantine style with the ancient Italian, and thus to infuse new life into the old Christian types. The "Romanesque" style of painting first reached completeness in Giovanni Cimabue and in Duccio di Boninsegna of Sienna (fl. about 1282). On this wise there grew up two schools of painting — that of Florence and that of Sienna; the Florentine of a severer type, approaching nearer to the early Christian (Byzantine), the Siennese characterized more by tenderness and sentiment, more independent, and likewise more graceful in the rendering of form. These two masters were followed by Giotto di Bondone of Florence (1276-1336), known under the title of "the father of Italian painting," but in fact only the founder of the Gothic style of painting. He was a bold reformer, and broke through the traditions of art and servile adherence to the early Christian types. The best pupils of Giotto were Taddeo Gaddi, and his son, Angelo Gaddi, Giottino, Orcagna, Spinello, Aretino, Antonio Veneziano, and others.

In Germany, the beginnings of the Romanesque style may be traced back to the 11th century. An improvement is manifest in the 12th century, especially in the famous altar of Verdun (of the year 1180, now in the monastery of Neuburg, near Vienna), in the mural paintings of the grand hall of the monastery of Brauweiler, near Cologne, and the ceiling of the central aisle of St. Michael, at Hildesheim. Far more numerous and important are the works still preserved from the period of the Gothic style, in which the peculiar spirit of mediaevalism first attained to complete artistic expression. The development of glass-painting must especially be noted — probably a German invention, dating at the end of the 10th century — examples of which are seen in the windows of St. Cunibert, at Cologne, in the choir of Cologne Cathedral, in the Church of St. Catharine, at Oppenheim, and in Strasburg Cathedral. In easel pictures, which previously appear to have been very little painted, there is manifest no higher artistic endeavor until the middle of the 14th century. After this three separate schools may be distinguished:

1. The Bohemian, or school of Prague, founded by Charles IV;

2. The Nuremberg school, the chief representative monuments of which are several altar-shrines in the Frauenkirche, in St. Laurence, and St. Sebald, at Nuremberg;

3. The school of Cologne, by far the most important, whose chief representatives were master Wilhelm (about 1360) and master Stephan Lochner (about 1430).

With the beginning of the 15th century broke forth, in opposition to the spirit of mediaevalism, a decided endeavor after greater truth of expression in art an endeavor in light, color, drawing, and composition, to bring the spiritual import of representation into harmony with the laws and principles of nature. This naturalistic development first manifested itself in Italy in the Florentine school. Fra Giovanni Angelico da Fiesole (1387-1455), although in other respects wholly dominated by the spirit of mediaevalism, was, nevertheless, the first who sought to penetrate into the psychological meaning of the human countenance. Over against him, already decidedly emancipated from mediaevalism, stands Tommaso di San Giovanni da Castel, called Masaccio (1401-28), one of the greatest masters of the 15th century. With Fra Angelico are associated the names of Benozzo Gozzoli and Gentile da Fabriano; with Masaccio those of Fra Filippo Lippi, his son Filippino, Domenico Ghirlandajo, and Bastiano Mainardi. Other Florentine artists, as Antonio Pallajuolo and Andrea del Verocchio, who were also sculptors, strove by anatomical studies to transfer plastic forms to painting in a more vigorous modelling of the human figure; while Luca Signorelli of Cortona (1440-1521), by the nobleness and artistic truth of his compositions, presents a strong contrast with the deeper sentiment of the Umbrian school, which, with its chief theatre in the vicinity of Assisi, is an antithesis of the Florentine. Celebrated masters of the Umbrian school were Pietro Perugino (1446-1526), the teacher of Raphael, and the latter's father, Giovanni Santi (died 1494), as well as Raphael's friend, Francesco Francia (died 1517). The remaining schools of Italy, as the Venetian, with its Giovanni Bellini (about 1430-1516), the school of Padua and Mantua, with masters like Francesco Squarcione and Andrea Mantegna (1431- 1506), follow the Florentine.

Italian painting reached its climax in the 16th century. The most celebrated masters of that period were Leonardo da Vinci, Cesare da Sesto, Andrea Salaino, Francesco Melzi, and especially Luini. The Venetian school of the 16th century sought to realize by means of color the noble results to which Leonardo had attained. In the quality of color this school achieved a supremacy over all others. Its chief master was Titian. With him labored the distinguished pupils of Giorgione-Fra Sebastiano del Piombo, Giacopo Palma, called Il Vecchio, and Pordenone. Among Titian's own pupils the most distinguished was Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto. In the renowned Paul Veronese, we have a master of color of the highest rank. The principal seat of the Lombard school in the 16th century was Parma. Its chief master was Correggio. The Florentine school, and, later, almost the entire painting of Italy after the beginning of the 16th century, were ruled by Michael Angelo, and by such lesser lights as Ricciarelli, Venusti, Sarto, and others. The greatest of the five great masters is Raphael. His best pupils were Giulio Romano (1492-1546), Gaudenzio Ferrari, and Giovanni da Udine.

In the Netherlands a new impulse was given to Christian painting by Hubert van Eyck (died 1426), the inventor, or, rather, the improver, of oil painting, and his younger brother and pupil, John van Eyck (died 1441). Their principal pupils were Pieter Christus, Rogier van der Weyden, and particularly Hans Memling. The influence thus begun made itself felt ill Holland, where a similar school was founded, whose chief masters were Lucas van Leyden, and his contemporary Jan Mostaert. At the beginning of the 16th century a number of artists followed the style of the Van Eycks. The most distinguished of these was Quintin Massys, the smith of Antwerp (died 1529).

Similar was the career of German art during this period. The Gothic style had a long supremacy; but about the middle of the 15th century all the German schools followed the Italian. The chief masters of this period were, in the school of Cologne, Johann von Mehlem, the painter of the Death of the Virgin.; in the school of Westphalia, the master of Liesborn monastery; in the school of Ulm and Augsburg, Martin Schin (about 1480), the somewhat younger: Bartholomatus Zeitblom, and his successor, Martin Schaffner, of Ulm, and Hans Holbein, father of the renowned Holbein the younger, of Augsburg; in the school of Nuremberg, Michael Wohlgemuth (1434-1519), and more especially his pupil Albrecht Durer. Mention must also be made of the Saxon school, whose head was the well known Lucas Cranach (1472-1553), the friend of Luther, whose best pupils were his sons, John and Lucas Cranach the younger. The only artist who can be compared with the great master of Nuremberg is Hans Holbein the younger (1497-1554). His most characteristic works are the Darmstadt MadoInna, a copy of which is at Dresden, and his well-known Dance of Death. In the second half of the 16th century the painting of Germany and the Netherlands lost its independence by servile imitation of Italian masters. But in Italy, too, we find a sudden decline, which clearly evidences that art had passed its zenith. A second race of pupils became mere imitators, even exaggerating the onesidedness of Titian, Correggio, and Michael Angelo. The best examples of these so-called "mannerists" were Fr. Salviati, and Giorgio Vasari. In opposition to this confusion, at the end of the century arose the Bolognese school of the Caraccis, whose advent marks for Italy the commencement of the fourth period of modern painting. Ludovico Caracci, and his nephews and pupils, Agostino and Annibale Caracci, established a sort of eclectic system, whose purpose it was to imitate the chief distinguishing qualities of the five great masters of painting. Their best pupils were Domenichino (15811641), Guercino (1590-1666), Franc. Albani (1578-1660), and especially Guido Reni (1575-1642), the, most distinguished of all. A second school of Italian, painting arraying itself in opposition to the idealism of the great masters, and developing a one-sided realism and naturalism, was founded in the beginning of the 17th century. Its principal representative was Mic. Angelo.Amerighi da Caravaggio, whose pupils, the two Frenchmen, Moyse Valentin :and Simon Vonet, and the eminent Spanish master, Gius. Ribero, called Spagnoletto, transplanted their influence to France and Spain. Notwithstanding the eminent talents exercised to uphold the fame of Italian painting, yet in the 18th century it reached its lowest level of decadence. It was in Spain that the new revival of catholicism in art found, in the 17th century, its strongest support. The five great masters who represent the completest development of painting in Spain were almost all from the school of Seville. They were: 1. Jose Ribera; 2. Francesco Zurhbaran (1598-1662); 3. Diego Velasquez da Silva (15991660), one of the most eminent of portrait-painters; 4. Alonzo Cano; 5. Bartolome Murillo. The flourishing period of Spanish painting was of short duration; and in the last quarter of the 17th century the schools of Spain degenerated into mere factories of art, such as Luca Giordano of Italy introduced.

In the Netherlands, painting maintained a certain elevation of rank for a somewhat longer period. Here two distinct schools, that of Brabant (Belgium) and that of Holland, developed themselves out of national divisions. The former had its masters in Peter Paul Rubens, and in his pupils, viz. Jac. Jordaens, Caspar de Crayer, and, above all, Aniton van Dyck (1599-1641). The latter was represented by Theodor de Keyser, Franz Hals, Barth, Van der Helst, and others, who. were almost exclusively portrait-painters. A far higher development was, however, reached in the famous Rembrandt, whose most distinguished pupils and successors were Gerbrandt van der Eeckhout, Solomon Koning, and Ferdinand Bol.

France and Germany can claim no position of importance during this period in a brief review of Christian painting. In Germany, the Thirty Years' Wai had nearly uprooted all elements of culture, and when, in the 18th century, the country began to recover from these devastations, masters of only subordinate rank, as Balth, Denner, Dietrich; and Raphael Mengs (172879), appeared upon the stage. In France, the older and better masters, like Nic. Poussin, Eustache Lesueur, and others, strove in vain to make head against the theatrical style represented by Charles Lebrun, the fat vorite of Louis XIV. Since the diffusion over, Europe of. that immoral and irreligious spirit which preceded and. followed the French Revolution, Christian painting has liaturally experienced a marked decline. But in Germany, France, and Belgium individual schools. have again grown up, the excellences of which, in the appreciation of the grand and the beautiful, cannot be denied. In Germany, Munich, Disseldorf, Berlin, and of late Vienna, must be mentioned as the principal seats of revived painting, in which sacred themes occupy a most significant place, and these treated both in a Catholic and a Protestant spirit, the former by Cornelius, Overbeck, Fiirich, H. Hess, Schraudolp, and others; the latter by Lessing, Hiibner, Bendemann, Deger, Von Gebhardt, and others. On the whole, however, modern, religious painting, corresponding to the religious condition of the present time, seems partly a mere endeavor to revive a greatness and power which has perished, and partly a blind effort to reach a new goal, which is still enshrouded in darkness.

The best modern works on the history of Christiait painting are, Kugler, Handbuch der. Geschichte der Malerei seit Constantin. dem Grossen (2d ed. Berlin, 1847; 4th ed. by Liibke, 1872); Ch. Blanc, Histoire des Pein- tres de Toutes les Ecales depvlis la Renaissance jusque nos Jours (Paris, 1851 sq.); W. Lubke, Geschichte deritalienischen Malerei voum 4. bis 16. Jahrhundert (8th ed. Stuttgart, 1880); A. Woltmann, Geschichte der Malerei (Leipsic, 1878; Engl. transl. Lond. and N.Y. 1881); Ruskin, Modern. Painters (Lond. 1843-60, 5 volumes); Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Storia della Pittura in Italia dal Secole II al Secolo X VI (Florence, 1875); the art. Malerei in Plitt-Herzog, Real-Encyklop.; and Peinture in Lichtenberger, Encyclop. des Sciences Religieuses, s.v. (B.P.)

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