Attics of their mind

Painters across the centuries, the millennia, have always conjured out of their imaginations, fantastic towers and cities which do not exist. Sometimes a product of the subconscious, and sometimes a liberal artistic freedom, these artists created a dream architecture of the gaudy, the improbable, and often the psychologically revealing in their depictions of architecture. For some reason, the imagination seems to spawn certain delusions of grandeur in the form of stately mansions, than that of the humble abode. Home sweet home. At one time architecture and art were often coupled together. The list of painter-architects and architect painters is substantial and includes Michelangelo and da Vinci.

---FIRST EDITION of the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century, with over 1800 woodcuts. The publication history of the Nuremberg Chronicle is perhaps the best documented of any book printed of that period. Not only do the contracts between Schedel and his financial partners Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermaister, and Schedel and the artists survive in the Nuremberg Stadtsbibliothek, but so too do detailed manuscript exemplars of both Latin and German editions. The two editions were planned simultaneously, each with its own specially designed, new type, and both with the same woodcuts; the Latin edition preceded the German by about 5 months (see following lot for the German edition). Albrecht Dürer, godson of Koberger, is believed to have worked on the woodcuts, since he was apprenticed to Wolgemut from 1486 to 1489. (See A. Wilson, The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle, Amsterdam: 1976.)---- read more: image:

Painting imaginary structures and cities is what Shakespeare termed ” buildings of my fancy”, in Coriolanus and King Lear. Until the advanced stages of the Renaissance, symbolic cities and ideal buildings were the norm. No one expected the representation to be a mere replica of the actual structure. Readers of the fifteenth-century “Nuremberg Chronicle” did not seem to fret that the same woodcut appeared five times in the same book, labeled Mainz, Bologna, Lyons, Naples and Aquilera, or that another picture of an imaginary walled city pretended to be Damascus, Perugia, Siena, Mantua and Ferrara.

"The principal illustrations are maps of the World and of Germany and central Europe, but there are also 99 views of towns and cities, several anonymous, principally of Europe, but including some from the Near East, such as Constantinople, Damascus, Babylon and Jerusalem. The majority of these views are imaginary. Thus, for example, the woodcut entitled 'ANGLIE PROVINCE', and variously said to be London or Dover, is more plausibly a view of Nuremberg. Indeed, 49 of the views are actually printed from a group of 14 woodcuts, used indiscriminately throughout. There are also thirty double-page view of cities, including Nuremberg, Venice, Rome, Strasbourg, Saltzburg, Ulm, Basle and others, where the publishers have attempted to portray a more realistic image of the city shown. " read more: image:

The number of architectural imaginings is inversely related to their nominal depiction. In many religious and mythological representations, the artists appeared far more involved in the scenery than an attraction for the subject matter. Biblical events were traditionally presented in luxurious architectural settings; very few humble villas and modest stables.

"Memling combined all passages from the Passion into one painting, adding the Resurrection and three appearances, creating a total of 23 scenes on one small panel. The praying figures in the lower corners are probably Tommaso Portinari, who commissioned the painting, and his wife. The story of Jesus' last hours begins far left in the corner with his entry into Jerusalem, then winds its way through town into the Garden of Gethsemane, bottom left, to continue in the middle, where we see Jesus brought before Pilate and the Scourging, only to leave town and to end with the Crucifixion on the Mount behind the city." Read More:

Above: In a less worldly time and place, Flemish primitives solved the problem of making the remote stories of the Bible real by transporting them to the familiar, if equal imaginary ideal of the local landscape. In Memling’s depiction of the Passion of Christ, 1470, a fifteenth-century vision of stepped gables and Gothic tracery represents the ancient city of Jerusalem. Only the onion domed tower at right, and the distant scene of Jesus driving the money changers from a temple vaguely resembling the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at the left center, reminds the viewer that this is the distant Levant.

William marlow. Capriccio. In what may have been the best of both worlds to an Englishman under the spell of Venice, William marlow painted this Capriccio in 1790, relocating London's St. Paul's on the Grand Canal. read more:

Like a medieval mystery play, the narrative unfolds through the winding, congested streets of the town; the squares and courtyards are arranged as separate but related stages on which the Passion story can be enacted. Drawing on techniques from the brilliant miniatures of the previous century, Memling uses arched doorways and windows to frame each incident, frequently stripping away whole walls to reveal an interior scene. This balanced composition, this lack of any central event-the Crucifixion is all but oblivious on the horizon- subordinates the story to the decorative aesthetic of the architecture and gives the painting an almost playful and merry effect. Also participating in Memling’s canvas- no more anachronistic than the Flemish setting- are his wealthy patrons, the Italian representative of the Medici family in Bruges Tommasso Portinari kneeling in the corner at far left and his wife at far right.

Reconstruction of Jerusalem. "International Gothic describes courtly Gothic art from about 1360 to 1430, after which Gothic art begins to merge into the Renaissance art that had begun to form itself in Italy during the Trecento, with a return to classical principles of composition and re

m, with the sculptor Nicola Pisano and the painter Giotto as especially formative figures. The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is one of the best known works of International Gothic. The transition to the Renaissance occurred at different times in different place..." read more:


In the attics of my life
Full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know
And lights no eye can see
When there was no ear to hear
You sang to me

I have spent my life
Seeking all that’s still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune
And closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to me

In the book of love’s own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to fly
You flew to me

to me

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets all are told
And the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me ( Attics of My Life, The Grateful Dead )

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