memling: serenity among the swords

When interest in Hans Memling revived, about a century and a half ago, the truth about him, unearthed from archives in Bruges was not as romantic as previously conjectured. Memling was not Flemish, but German, and he had arrived in Bruges, not as a wounded soldier on his last legs who reformed and began painting pious little pictures in repentance from his previous incarnation as slaughtering, blood-soaked gallant knight, but rather as a master painter who was formed in the workshop of Rogier van de Weyden. He was listed among the 217 most heavily taxed burghers and he bought a substantial house. In other words, an early example of the bourgeois class and willing to show it to the world.

---one of the greatest masterpieces of 15th-century Flemish painting, Memling’s devotional diptych of Maarten van Nieuwenhove adoring the Virgin and Child, commissioned by the 23-year-old future burgomaster of Bruges. Still in its original hinged frame, the diptych is one of Memling’s most exquisitely finished and detailed works, set in an interior resplendent with stained glass windows depicting the sitter’s coat-of-arms and patron saint. There is perhaps no better example of Memling’s artistic variety, if not split personality. The Madonna and Child are delicately beautiful, refined yet oddly unreal and otherworldly, while young Martin, earnest, doughy and stolidly featured, is, despite the gap of 500 years, very much ours.---Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/jeromack/jeromack12-6-05.asp

—one of the greatest masterpieces of 15th-century Flemish painting, Memling’s devotional diptych of Maarten van Nieuwenhove adoring the Virgin and Child, commissioned by the 23-year-old future burgomaster of Bruges. Still in its original hinged frame, the diptych is one of Memling’s most exquisitely finished and detailed works, set in an interior resplendent with stained glass windows depicting the sitter’s coat-of-arms and patron saint. There is perhaps no better example of Memling’s artistic variety, if not split personality. The Madonna and Child are delicately beautiful, refined yet oddly unreal and otherworldly, while young Martin, earnest, doughy and stolidly featured, is, despite the gap of 500 years, very much ours.—Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/jeromack/jeromack12-6-05.asp

Certain deductions also fatten the Memling biography; since twenty five portraits by him have survived, considered a phenomenal number, h was obviously much sought after and since most of his clients were business tycoons, both foreign and domestic, we may assert that he had an international reputation. A look at his works, even in bad reproductions, reveals one quality in common: a gentle serenity. Memling lived in a day when warfare was regarded as a Godly calling and executions were a form of public entertainment; violence was everywhere and was nowhere more commonplace than art. Yet Memling had no stomach for painting martyrdoms. In 1488, the city magistrates of Bruges were accused of treason and tortured in the marketplace.

---Recently restored, Portrait of an Old Woman (whose companion piece, Portrait of an Old Man, is at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art), dramatically illustrates Hans Memling's ability to record realistically every nuance of the sitter. Each crisp fold of the aged matron's stiff, sterile and starched wimple is starkly depicted in this small-scale panel. Memling's patrons were largely ecclesiastical and patrician. The Late Middle Ages in which they lived were a trying time of recurring plague, pestilence, civil and religious unrest. Memling's exacting and revelatory paintbrush accurately recorded this woman's psychological burden in his telling visual portrayal of her wearisome visage.  Read More:http://arthistory.about.com/library/weekly/sp/bl_memling_rev.htm

—Recently restored, Portrait of an Old Woman (whose companion piece, Portrait of an Old Man, is at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art), dramatically illustrates Hans Memling’s ability to record realistically every nuance of the sitter. Each crisp fold of the aged matron’s stiff, sterile and starched wimple is starkly depicted in this small-scale panel. Memling’s patrons were largely ecclesiastical and patrician. The Late Middle Ages in which they lived were a trying time of recurring plague, pestilence, civil and religious unrest. Memling’s exacting and revelatory paintbrush accurately recorded this woman’s psychological burden in his telling visual portrayal of her wearisome visage.
Read More:http://arthistory.about.com/library/weekly/sp/bl_memling_rev.htm

According to J. Huizinga, who quoted an eyewitness, “The unfortunates are refused the death blow which they implore, that the people may feast again upon their torments.” We are free to presume that on this occasion, Memling stayed home.

Odd how Memling’s landscapes seem more “primitive” , certainly with little sense of realism; works conveying a simplicity of vision that distances itself from some of the underlying complexities that does not evoke the same sense of childlike wonder that the portraits reflect:


---This is a painting of Jerusalem and at the center of the painting is the scourging of Christ. All of the scenes around it, in various parts of the city represent different events in the arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus. There are even two scenes representing the crucifixion; one with him dying on the cross and another on the next hill, of him being taken off the cross. There is even a resurrected Christ in the lower right corner about to harrow hell. This is all typical of Flemish painting especially.In the extreme lower right and left corners, I believe we have the devout patrons of this painting.---Read More:http://cain.blogspot.ca/2010/10/concept-maps-and-crucifixions.html

—This is a painting of Jerusalem and at the center of the painting is the scourging of Christ. All of the scenes around it, in various parts of the city represent different events in the arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus. There are even two scenes representing the crucifixion; one with him dying on the cross and another on the next hill, of him being taken off the cross. There is even a resurrected Christ in the lower right corner about to harrow hell. This is all typical of Flemish painting especially.In the extreme lower right and left corners, I believe we have the devout patrons of this painting.—Read More:http://cain.blogspot.ca/2010/10/concept-maps-and-crucifixions.html

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