Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Medieval Landscapes

Icon of St. John the Evangelist
from the Dionysiou Monastery
11th c.

The Medieval landscape was filled with weird and wonderful images of nature rife with rich symbolism. One of my most favorite images in Medieval painting is the hand of god reaching down out of the clouds. In certain paintings, there even appear to be flying saucers (actually, I think that's what the object looks like in the above featured icon from which the hand of God reaches). Even with great scholarship, it is difficult, if at all possible, for our modern minds to comprehend fully how the actual and interpreted landscape was truly perceived over a thousand years ago.

Wikipedia has a good, brief article featuring images and links on Medieval painting.

With certain painters and pieces of art, the Medieval gives way to the Early Modern world. Considering landscape, these certain painters include Giotto di Bodone with his fabulous rocks in The Miracle of the Spring and the more naturalistic setting in Preaching to the Birds, and Simone Martini with, for example, his theatrical landscape backdrop of Guido Riccio da Fogliano.

Because of the remarkable depiction of landscape, the Trés Riches Heures de Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers is often cited as a marker in the development of landscape painting. Other Books of Hours also feature notable landscapes.

A well-written article on Landscapes in Italian Renaissance succinctly describes issues of the Medieval perception of landscape and how those issues developed.

Read my other posts on the history of Landscape Painting.

See my paintings at Landscape into Art.

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