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Archive for March, 2010
by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we will start a consideration of the artists who worked during the Renaissance period in Europe. During this time, art was either commissioned or done for the church, which essentially meant the same thing: the churches, monasteries, and other religious organizations gathered together a store of art that reflected the emotions and reality of people.

We are focusing on the latter Italian Renaissance today and the principle artists involved during that period and look at some of their best works. In general, the renaissance represented a transition from highly stylized art of only religious subjects to art that incorporated the sense of light and color available in the new media available. In addition, innovations in the use of perspective gave these artworks a greater sense of reality.

We hope that this will provide you with food for thought regarding the Holy Week celebrations on which we are also focusing this week.  GLB

    

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”
— E. O. Wilson

“Every renaissance comes to the world with a cry, the cry of the human spirit to be free.”
— Anne Sullivan Macy

“In essence the Renaissance was simply the green end of one of civilization’s hardest winters.”
— John Fowles

“Actually I like the idea of being a Renaissance hack. If tombstones were still in style, I would want to have the two words chiseled right under my name.”
— Dennis Flanagan

“Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance.”
— Horace

“No account of the Renaissance can be complete without some notice of the attempt made by certain Italian scholars of the fifteenth century to reconcile Christianity with the religion of ancient Greece.”
— Walter Pater

“In the West there has always been the attempt to try make the religious building, whether it’s a Medieval or Renaissance church, an eternal object for the celebration of God. The material chosen, such as stone, brick, or concrete, is meant to eternally preserve what is inside.”
— Tadao Ando

“New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements… the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.”
— Jackson Pollock

  

Note:
This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.

GLB

  

The Renaissance: Italian Renaissance Painting

Raphael_Marriage_of_the_Virgin The Renaissance (French for "rebirth"; Italian: Rinascimento, from ri- "again" and nascere "be born") was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Florence in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation has resulted in the Renaissance being viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".

There is a general, but not unchallenged, consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Tuscany in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Gr

eek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Italian Renaissance (Part 2)

Italian Renaissance painting is the painting of the period from the early 15th to mid 16th centuries occurring within the area of present-day Italy, which was at that time divided into many political areas. The painters of Renaissance Italy, although often attached to particular courts and with loyalties to particular towns, nonetheless wandered the length and breadth of Italy, often occupying a diplomatic status and disseminating both artistic and philosophical ideas.

The city that is renowned as the birthplace of the Renaissance and in particular, Renaissance painting, is Florence. A detailed background is given in the companion articles Renaissance and Renaissance architecture.

Italian Renaissance painting can be divided into four periods:

  • Proto-Renaissance, 1290–1400… 
    The Proto-Renaissance begins with the professional life of the painter Giotto and includes Taddeo Gaddi, Orcagna and Altichiero.
  • Early Renaissance, 1400–1475…
    The Early Renaissance was marked by the work of Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Uccello, Piero della Francesca and Verrocchio.
  • High Renaissance, 1475–1525…
    The High Renaissance period was that of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. The Mannerist period included Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo and Tintoretto.
  • Mannerism, 1525–1600…
    Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals and restrained naturalism.
Influences

Izokefalizm The Tribute Money for the Brancacci by Masaccio.

The influences upon the development of Renaissance painting in Italy are those that also affected Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, Government and other aspects of society.

Birth_of_St_Mary_in_Santa_Maria_Novella_in_Firenze_by_Domenico_Ghirlandaio The Birth of the Virgin Mary,
by Ghirlandaio.

The following list presents a summary, dealt with more fully in the main articles that are cited above.

  • Classical texts, lost to European scholars for centuries, became available. These included Philosophy, Poetry, Drama, Science, a thesis on the Arts and Early Christian Theology.
  • Simultaneously, Europe gained access to advanced mathematics which had its provenance in the works of Islamic scholars.
  • The advent of movable type printing in the 15th century meant that ideas could be disseminated easily, and an increasing number of books were written for a broad public.
  • The establishment of the Medici Bank and the subsequent trade it generated brought unprecedented wealth to a single Italian city, Florence.
  • Cosimo de’ Medici set a new standard for patronage of the arts, not associated with the church or monarchy.
  • Humanist philosophy meant that man’s relationship with humanity, the universe and with God was no longer the exclusive province of the Church.
  • A revived interest in the Classics brought about the first archaeological study of Roman remains by the architect Brunelleschi and sculptor Donatello. The revival of a style of architecture based on classical precedents inspired a corresponding classicism in painting, which manifested itself as early as the 1420s in the paintings of Masaccio and Uccello.
  • The development of oil paint and its introduction to Italy had lasting effects.
  • The serendipitous presence within the region of Florence of certain individuals of artistic genius, most notably Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, formed an ethos which supported and encouraged many lesser artists to achieve work of extraordinary quality.
  • A similar heritage of artistic achievement occurred in Venice through the talented Bellini family, their influential inlaw Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto.
Patronage and Humanism (High Renaissance, 1475–1525)

Sandro_Botticelli_046  The Birth of Venus for the Medici by Botticelli.

In Florence, in the latter 15th century, most works of art, even those that were done as decoration for churches, were generally commissioned and paid for by private patrons. Much of the patronage came from the Medici family, or those who were closely associated with or related to them, such as the Sassetti, the Ruccellai and the Tornabuoni.

In the 1460s Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder had established Marsilio Ficino as his resident Humanist philosopher, and facilitated his translation of Plato and his teaching of Platonic philosophy, which focused on humanity as the centre of the natural universe, on each person’s personal relationship with God, and on fraternal or "platonic" love as being the closest that a person could get to emulating or understanding the love of God.

Hugo_van_der_Goes_006 The Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes.

In the Medieval period, everything related to the Classical period was perceived as associated with paganism. In the Renaissance it came increasingly to be associated with enlightenment. The figures of Classical mythology began to take on a new symbolic role in Christian art and in particular, the Goddess Venus took on a new discretion. Born fully formed, by a sort of miracle, she was the new Eve, symbol of innocent love, or even, by extension, a symbol of the Virgin Mary herself. We see Venus in both these roles in the two famous tempera paintings that Botticelli did in the 1480s for Cosimo’s nephew, Pierfrancesco Medici, the Primavera and the Birth of Venus.

Meanwhile, Ghirlandaio, a meticulous and accurate draughtsman and one of the finest portrait painters of his age, executed two cycles of frescoes for Medici associates in two of Florence’s larger churches, the Sassetti Chapel at Santa Trinita and the Tornabuoni Chapel at Santa Maria Novella. In these cycles of the Life of St Francis and the Life of the Virgin Mary and Life of John the Baptist there was room for portraits of patrons and of the patrons’ patrons. Thanks to Sassetti’s patronage, there is a portrait of the man himself, with his employer, Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Lorenzo’s three sons with their tutor, the Humanist poet and philosopher, Agnolo Poliziano. In the Tornabuoni Chapel is another portrait of Poliziano, accompanied by the other influential members of the Platonic Academy including Marsilio Ficino.

Domenico_Ghirlandaio_001 The Sassetti Altarpiece by Ghirlandaio.

The Papal commission (High Renaissance, 1475–1525)

In 1477 Pope Sixtus IV replaced the derelict old chapel at the Vatican in which many of the Papal services were held. The interior of the new chapel, named the Sistine Chapel in his honour, appears to have been planned from the start to have a series of 16 large frescoes between its pilasters on the middle level, with a series of painted portraits of popes above them.

In 1479, a group of artists from Florence was commissioned with the work: Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli. This fresco cycle was to depict the Life of Moses on one side of the chapel and the Life of Christ on the other with the frescoes complementing each other in theme. The Nativity of Jesus and the Finding of Moses were adjacent on the wall behind the altar, with an altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virgin by Perugino between them. The four paintings on the end walls were unfortunately destroyed.

Pietro_Perugino_034 Christ Giving the Keys to Peter, by Perugino.

The remaining 12 pictures indicate the virtuosity that these artists had attained, and the obvious cooperation between individuals who normally employed very different styles and who had very different skills. The paintings gave full range to their capabilities as they included a great number of figures of men, women and children and characters ranging from guiding angels to enraged Pharaohs and the devil himself. Each painting required a landscape. Because of the scale of the figures that the artists agreed upon, in each picture, the landscape and sky take up the whole upper half of the scene. Sometimes, as in Botticelli’s scene of the Purification of the Leper, there are additional small narratives taking place in the landscape, in this case the Temptation of Christ.

Of the paintings, one stands out. It is Perugino’s scene of Christ giving the Keys to St. Peter. This picture is remarkable for the clarity and simplicity of its composition, the beauty of the figurative painting, which includes a selfportrait among the onlookers, and especially the perspective cityscape which includes reference to Peter’s ministry to Rome by the presence of two triumphal arches, and centrally placed an octagonal building which might be a Christian baptistry or a Roman Mausoleum.

Leonardo da Vinci (High Renaissance, 1475–1525)

Leonardo, because of the scope of his interests and the extraordinary degree of talent that he demonstrated in so many diverse areas, is regarded as the archetypal "Renaissance man". But it was first and foremost as a painter that he was admired within his own time, and as a painter, he drew on the knowledge that he gained from all his other interests.

 Rectangular fresco, in very damaged condition, 
of the Last Supper. The scene shows a table across a room which has 
three windows at the rear. At the centre, Jesus sits, stretching out his
 hands, the left palm up and the right down. Around the table, are the 
disciples, twelve men of different ages. They are all reacting in 
surprise or dismay at what Jesus has just said. The different emotional 
reactions and gestures are portrayed with great naturalism.The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo was a scientific observer. He learned by looking at things. He studied and drew the flowers of the fields, the eddies of the river, the form of the rocks and mountains, the way light reflected from foliage and sparkled in a jewel. In particular, he studied the human form, dissecting thirty or more unclaimed cadavers from a hospital in order to understand muscles and sinews.

More than any other artist, he advanced the study of "atmosphere". In his paintings such as the Mona Lisa and Virgin of the Rocks, he used light and shade with such subtlety that, for want of a better word, it became known as Leonardo’s "sfumato" or "smoke".

Simultaneous to inviting the viewer into a mysterious world of shifting shadows, chaotic mountains and whirling torrents, Leonardo achieved a degree of realism in the expression of human emotion, prefigured by Giotto but unknown since Masaccio’s Adam and Eve. Leonardo’s Last Supper, painted in the refectory of a monastery in Milan, became the benchmark for religious narrative painting for the next half millennium. Many other Renaissance artists painted versions of the Last Supper, but only Leonardo’s was destined to be reproduced countless times in wood, alabaster, plaster, lithograph, tapestry, crochet and table-carpets.

Apart from the direct impact of the works themselves, Leonardo’s studies of light, anatomy, landscape, and human expression were disseminated in part through his generosity to a retinue of students.

Michelangelo (High Renaissance, 1475–1525)

God2-Sistine_Chapel The Creation of Adam for Pope Julius II by Michelangelo.

In 1508 Pope Julius II succeeded in getting the sculptor Michelangelo to agree to continue the decorative scheme of the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel ceiling was constructed in such a way that there were twelve sloping pendentives supporting the vault that formed ideal surfaces on which to paint the Twelve Apostles. Michelangelo, who had yielded to the Pope’s demands with little grace, soon devised an entirely different scheme, far more complex both in design and in iconography. The scale of the work, which he executed single handed except for manual assistance, was titanic and took nearly five years to complete.

The Pope’s plan for the Apostles would thematically have formed a pictorial link between the Old Testament and New Testament narratives on the walls, and the popes in the gallery of portraits. It is the twelve apostles, and their leader Peter as first Bishop of Rome, that make that bridge. But Michelangelo’s scheme went the opposite direction. The theme of Michelangelo’s ceiling is not God’s grand plan for humanity’s salvation. The theme is about humanity’s disgrace. It is about why humanity needed, and in the terms of the faith, needs Jesus.

Superficially, the ceiling is a Humanist construction. The figures are of superhuman dimension and, in the case of Adam, of such beauty that according to the biographer Vasari, it really looks as if God himself had designed the figure, rather than Michelangelo. But despite the beauty of the individual figures, Michelangelo has not glorified the human state, and he certainly has not presented the Humanist ideal of platonic love. In fact, the ancestors of Christ, which he painted around the upper section of the wall, demonstrate all the worst aspects of family relationships, displaying disfunction in as many different forms as there are families.

Vasari praised Michelangelo’s seemingly infinite powers of invention in creating postures for the figures. Raphael, who was given a preview by Bramante after Michelangelo had downed his brush and stormed off to Bologna in a temper, painted at least two figures in imitation of Michelangelo’s prophets, one at the church of Sant’ Agostino and the other in the Vatican, his portrait of Michelangelo himself in The School of Athens.

Raphael (High Renaissance, 1475–1525)

Raffael,_Sixtinska_madonnan The Sistine Madonna by Raphael.

With Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael’s name is synonymous with the High Renaissance. However, he was younger than Michelangelo by 18 years and Leonardo by nearly 30. It cannot be said of him that he greatly advanced the state of painting as his two famous contemporaries did. Rather, his work was the culmination of all the developments of the High Renaissance.

Raphael had the good luck to be born the son of a painter, so his career path, unlike that of Michelangelo who was the son of minor nobility, was decided without a quarrel. Some years after his father’s death he worked in the Umbrian workshop of Perugino, an excellent painter and a superb technician. His first signed and dated painting, executed at the age of 21, is the Betrothal of the Virgin, which immediately reveals its origins in Perugino’s Christ giving the Keys to Peter.

Raphael was a carefree character who unashamedly drew on the skills of the renowned painters whose lifespans encompassed his. In his works the individual qualities of numerous different painters are drawn together. The rounded forms and luminous colours of Perugino, the lifelike portraiture of Ghirlandaio, the realism and lighting of Leonardo and the powerful draughtsmanship of Michelangelo became unified in the paintings of Raphael. In his short life he executed a number of large altarpieces, an impressive Classical fresco of the sea nymph, Galatea, outstanding portraits with two popes and a famous writer among them, and, while Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a series of wall frescoes in the Vatican chambers nearby, of which the School of Athens is uniquely significant.

This fresco depicts a meeting of all the most learned ancient Athenians, gathered in a grand classical setting around the central figure of Plato, whom Raphael has famously modelled upon Leonardo da Vinci. The brooding figure of Heraclitus who sits by a large block of stone, is a portrait of Michelangelo, and is an obvious reference to the latter’s painting of the Prophet Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel. His own portrait is to the right, beside his teacher, Perugino.

But the main source of Raphael’s popularity was not his major works, but his small Florentine pictures of the Madonna and Christ Child. Over and over he painted the same plump calm-faced blonde woman and her succession of chubby babies, the most famous probably being La Belle Jardinière ("The Madonna of the Beautiful Garden"), now in the Louvre. His larger work, the Sistine Madonna, used as a design for countless stained glass windows, has come, in the 21st century, to provide the iconic image of two small cherubs which has been reproduced on everything from paper table napkins to umbrellas.

Influence of Italian Renaissance Painting

Michelangelo and Titian both lived into the second half of the 16th century. Both saw their styles and those of Leonardo, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Antonello da Messina and Raphael adapted by later painters to form a disparate style known as Mannerism, and move steadily towards the great outpouring of imagination and painterly virtuosity of the Baroque period.

The artist who most extended the trends in Titian’s large figurative compositions is Tintoretto, although his personal manner was such that he only lasted nine days as Titian’s apprentice. Rembrandt’s knowledge of the works of both Titian and Raphael is apparent in his portraits. The direct influences of Leonardo and Raphael upon their own pupils was to effect generations of artists including Poussin and schools of Classical painters of the 18th and 19th centuries. Antonello da Messina’s work had a direct influence on Albrecht Dürer and Martin Schongauer and through the latter’s engravings, countless artists including the German, Dutch and English schools of stained glass makers extending into the early 20th century.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and later The Last Judgment had direct influence on the figurative compositions firstly of Raphael and his pupils and then almost every subsequent 16th century painter who looked for new and interesting ways to depict the human form. It is possible to trace his style of figurative composition through Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Bronzino, Parmigianino, Veronese, to el Greco, Carracci, Caravaggio, Rubens, Poussin and Tiepolo to both the Classical and the Romantic painters of the 19th century such as Jacques Louis David and Delacroix.

Under the influence of the Italian Renaissance painting, many modern academies of art, such as the Royal Academy, were founded, and it was specifically to collect the works of the Italian Renaissance that some of the world’s best known art collections, such as the National Gallery, London, were formed.

          

References

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Renaissance… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

Wikipedia: Italian Renaissance Painting… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Renaissance_painting

Web Sites and Blogs:

Brainy Quote: Renaissance Quotes…  
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/renaissance.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 As we enter the fourth day of Holy Week, let us continue to focus our attention on the Christ that is the center of this celebration. On Palm Sunday, we commemorated the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Today we begin a less defined, in the Western world, the period from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the observation. It is a time to continue our focus upon the meaning of this period of time.  GLB

    

“Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter.”
— Josh McDowell

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
— Pope John Paul II

“Most people outside of America won’t get it. It’s the Easter bunny. It’s another lie and I don’t understand why we had to invent this character.”
— Todd Rundgren

“I am very proud of this work because it is more about the meaning of the Easter Rising and its relationship to what this whole century has been about, people liberating themselves, freeing themselves.”
— Leon Uris

“And it is always Easter Sunday at the New York City Ballet. It is always coming back to life. Not even coming back to life – it lives in the constant present.”
— John Guare

“Do we believe that there is equal economic opportunity out there in the real world, right now, for each and every one of these groups? If we believed in the tooth fairy, if we believed in the Easter Bunny, we might well believe that.”
— William Weld

“God expects from men something more than at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress.”
— Robert South

“A strangely reflective, even melancholy day. Is that because, unlike our cousins in the northern hemisphere, Easter is not associated with the energy and vitality of spring but with the more subdued spirit of autumn?”
— Hugh Mackay

  

Holy Week: Holy Wednesday

mid-Paso_de_misterio_de_El_Olivo,_Miércoles_Santo,_El_Puerto.ogg In Christianity, Holy Wednesday (also called Spy Wednesday, and in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Holy and Great Wednesday) is the Wednesday of the Holy Week, the week before Easter. It is followed by Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday).

Towards the end of the Tuesday evening Bridegroom service (Orthros for Great and Holy Wednesday), the Hymn of Kassiani is sung. The hymn, (written in the 9th century by Kassiani the Nun) tells of the woman who washed Christ’s feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. (Luke 7:36-50) Much of the hymn is written from the perspective of the sinful woman:

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, sensing Your Divinity, takes upon herself the duty of a myrrh-bearer. With lamentations she brings you myrrh in anticipation of your entombment. "Woe to me!" she cries, "for me night has become a frenzy of licentiousness, a dark and moonless love of sin. Receive the fountain of my tears, O You who gathers into clouds the waters of the sea. Incline unto me, unto the sighings of my heart, O You who bowed the heavens by your ineffable condescension. I will wash your immaculate feet with kisses and dry them again with the tresses of my hair; those very feet at whose sound Eve hid herself from in fear when she heard You walking in Paradise in the twilight of the day. As for the multitude of my sins and the depths of Your judgments, who can search them out, O Savior of souls, my Savior? Do not disdain me Your handmaiden, O You who are boundless in mercy."

The Byzantine musical composition expresses the poetry so strongly that it leaves many people in a state of prayerful tears. The Hymn can last upwards of 25 minutes and is liturgically and musically a highpoint of the entire year.

On Great and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated, at which the faithful may receive Holy Communion from the reserved Holy Mysteries. This service combines Vespers with a Communion Service. Each of these services has a reading from the Gospel which sets forth the theme for the day.

Biblical history

In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as "Spy Wednesday", indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins.

This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on the head by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of spikenard. Some of the disciples were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Western Christianity

Although it is frequently celebrated on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, the Tenebrae is a liturgy that is often celebrated on this day. The word tenebrae comes from the Latin meaning darkness. In this service, all of the candles on the altar table are gradually extinguished until the sanctuary is in complete darkness. At the moment of darkness, a loud clash occurs symbolizing the death of Jesus. The ‘strepitus’, as it is known more probably symbolizes the earthquake that followed Jesus’ death: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent" Matthew 27:51(AV).

Eastern Christianity

In the Orthodox Church, the theme of Holy and Great Wednesday is the commemoration of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus before his Crucifixion and Burial; a second theme is the agreement to betray Jesus made by Judas Iscariot.

The day begins with the celebration of the Presanctified Liturgy on Tuesday afternoon. Later that evening, the Orthros (Matins) follows the special Holy Week format known as the Bridegroom Prayer. Towards the end of Orthros, the Hymn of Kassiani is sung. The hymn, (written in the 9th century by Kassiani the Nun) tells of the woman who washed Christ’s feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. (Luke 7:36-50) Much of the hymn is written from the perspective of the sinful woman:

Santa_Kassia Russian icon of Saint Kassiani
holding a scroll with her hymn
written on it.

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, sensing Your Divinity, takes upon herself the duty of a myrrh-bearer. With lamentations she brings you myrrh in anticipation of your entombment. "Woe to me!" she cries, "for me night has become a frenzy of licentiousness, a dark and moonless love of sin. Receive the fountain of my tears, O You who gathers into clouds the waters of the sea. Incline unto me, unto the sighings of my heart, O You who bowed the heavens by your ineffable condescension. I will wash your immaculate feet with kisses and dry them again with the tresses of my hair; those very feet at whose sound Eve hid herself from in fear when she heard You walking in Paradise in the twilight of the day. As for the multitude of my sins and the depths of Your judgments, who can search them out, O Savior of souls, my Savior? Do not disdain me Your handmaiden, O You who are boundless in mercy."

The Byzantine musical composition expresses the poetry so strongly that it often leaves many people in a state of prayerful tears. The Hymn can last upwards of 25 minutes and is liturgically and musically a highpoint of the entire year.

On this day members of the church receive Holy Unction after receiving Holy Communion at the Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evening.

It is on account of the agreement made by Judas to betray Jesus on this day that Orthodox Christians fast on Wednesdays (as well as Fridays) throughout the year.

Customs:

  • Poland…  
    Children traditionally hurled an effigy of Judas from the church steeple. It was then dragged through the village, pounded with sticks and stones and what was left of it was drowned in a nearby pond or river.
  • Czech Republic…  
    The day is traditionally called Ugly Wednesday, Soot-Sweeping Wednesday or Black Wednesday, because chimneys used to be swept on this day, to be clean for Easter.
  • Malta
    This day is known as L-Erbgħa tat-Tnieber (Drums’ Wednesday), in the past children went to the parish church and drummed on the chairs to make the sound of thunderstorms.
Scripture Reading

As Moses approached Mount Sinai, this reading from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, we should approach Mount Zion, our heavenly home. God is a consuming fire, through Whom we are all cleansed, as long as we listen to His Word and progress in holiness. If we turn from Him now, however, having received the revelation of Christ, our punishment will be greater than that of those Israelites who grumbled against the Lord and were forbidden, therefore, from entering the Promised Land.

Hebrews 12:14-29

Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God. Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up do hinder, and by it many be defiled. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau; who for one mess, sold his first birthright. For know ye that afterwards, when he desired to inherit the benediction, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, although with tears he had sought it.

For you are not come to a mountain that might be touched, and a burning fire, and a whirlwind, and darkness, and storm, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard excused themselves, that the word might not be spoken to them: For they did not endure that which was said: And if so much as a beast shall touch the mount, it shall be stoned. And so terrible was that which was seen, Moses said: I am frighted, and tremble.

But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, And to the church of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel.

See that you refuse him not that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon the earth, much more shall not we, that turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven. Whose voice then moved the earth; but now he promiseth, saying: Yet once more, and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also. And in that he saith, Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of the moveable things as made, that those things may remain which are immoveable.

Therefore receiving an immoveable kingdom, we have grace; whereby let us serve, pleasing God, with fear and reverence. For our God is a consuming fire.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

 

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Holy Week…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week

Wikipedia: Holy Wednesday…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Wednesday

About.com: Scriptural Reading for the Wednesday of Holy Week…
http://catholicism.about.com/od/lentenreadings/qt/Reading_WeHW.htm

Brainy Quote: Easter Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/easter.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we honor John Ford, the director of many of the best liked movies that I saw in the local theater while growing up in suburban Los Angeles (Downey). He received four Academy Awards for his directorial work and produced more movies than can be cited here. During World War II he managed a team in the Navy that produced Propaganda films. Not only did these movies present the “company line”, but they were great works of cinematography! We were all sadden with the death of Ford and will miss his great works. We can be thankful, however, for the many younger directors who learned their craft under the tutelage of John Ford.  GLB

    

“Electronics is clearly the winner of the day.”
— John Ford

“How did I get to Hollywood? By train.”
— John Ford

“Revenge proves its own executioner.”
— John Ford

“They are the silent griefs which cut the heart-strings.”
— John Ford

“I am… a mushroom; On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then.”
— John Ford

“It is easier to get an actor to be a cowboy than to get a cowboy to be an actor.”
— John Ford

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”
— John Ford

“Anybody can direct a picture once they know the fundamentals. Directing is not a mystery, it’s not an art. The main thing about directing is: photograph the people’s eyes.”
— John Ford

John Ford: One of Hollywood’s Finest

John_Ford_1946 “John Ford passionately loves Freedom,” President Nixon said on March 31, 1973. “John Ford, in his works, has depicted freedom in all of its profound depths. … John Ford has fought for freedom, and for that reason it is appropriate that tonight, on behalf of all of the American people, he receives the Medal of Freedom.”
— President Richard M. Nixon

John Ford (1894 – 1973) was an American film director of Irish heritage famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath. His four Best Director Academy Awards (1935, 1940, 1941, 1952) is a record, although only one of those films, How Green Was My Valley, also won Best Picture.

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Ford directed over 140 films (although nearly all of his silent films are now lost) and he is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers of his generation. Ford’s films and personality were held in high regard by his colleagues, with Ingmar Bergman and Orson Welles among those who have named him as one of the greatest directors of all time.

In particular, Ford was a pioneer of location shooting and the long shot which frames his characters against a vast, harsh and rugged natural terrain. Ford has further influenced directors as diverse as Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, Peter Bogdanovich, Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, Wim Wenders, Pedro Costa, David Lean, Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Quentin Tarantino, John Milius, Satyajit Ray, François Truffaut, Lindsay Anderson and Jean-Luc Godard.

Feeney to Ford

Ford was born John Martin “Jack” Feeney (though he later often gave his given names as Sean Aloysius, sometimes with surname O’Feeny or O’Fearna; a Gaelic equivalent of Feeney) in Cape Elizabeth, Maine to John Augustine Feeney and Barbara “Abbey” Curran, on February 1, 1894 (though he occasionally said 1895 and that date is erroneously inscribed on his tombstone). His father, John Augustine, was born in Spiddal, County Galway, Ireland in 1854. Barbara Curran had been born in the Aran Islands, in the town of Kilronan on the island of Inishmore (Inis Mór). John A. Feeney’s grandmother, Barbara Morris, was said to be a member of a local (impoverished) gentry family, the Morrises of Spiddal, headed at present by Lord Killanin.

John Augustine and Barbara Curran arrived in Boston and Portland respectively within a few days of each other in May and June 1872. They were married in 1875, and became American citizens five years later on September 11, 1880. They had eleven children: Mamie (Mary Agnes), born 1876; Delia (Edith), 1878–1881; Patrick; Francis Ford, 1881–1953; Bridget, 1883–1884; Barbara, born and died 1888; Edward, born 1889; Josephine, born 1891; Hannah (Joanna), born and died 1892; John Martin, 1894–1973; and Daniel, born and died 1896 (or 1898). John Augustine lived in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood of Portland, Maine with his family, and would try farming, fishing, working for the gas company, running a saloon, and being an alderman.

Feeney attended Portland High School, Portland, Maine. He moved to California and began acting and working in film production for his older brother Francis in 1914, taking “Jack Ford” as a stage name. In addition to credited roles, he appeared uncredited as a Klansman in D.W. Griffith’s 1915 classic, The Birth of a Nation, as the man who lifts up one side of his hood so he can see clearly. He married Mary McBryde Smith, on July 3, 1920, and they had two children, one a daughter who was married to singer and actor Ken Curtis from 1952-1964. The Ford marriage lasted until his death, although he had many extramarital relationships.

Directing Career

John Ford began his career in film after moving to California in July 1914. He followed in the footsteps of his multi-talented older brother Francis Ford, twelve years his senior, who had left home years earlier and had worked in vaudeville before becoming a movie actor. Francis played in hundreds of silent pictures for Thomas Edison, Georges Melies and Thomas Ince, eventually progressing to become a prominent Hollywood actor-writer-director with his own production company (101 Bison) at Universal.

Jack Ford started out in his brother’s films as an assistant, handyman, stuntman and occasional actor, frequently doubling for his brother, whom he closely resembled. Francis gave his younger brother his first acting role in The Mysterious Rose (November 1914). Despite an often combative relationship, within three years Jack had progressed to become Francis’ chief assistant and often worked as his cameraman. By the time Jack Ford was given his first break as a director, Francis’ profile was declining and he ceased working as a director soon afterward.

Silent Era

During his first decade as a director Ford honed his craft on dozens of features (including many westerns) but fewer than a dozen of the more than sixty silent films he made between 1917 and 1928 have survived in any form and only ten have survived in their entirety, although prints of several Ford ‘silents’ previously presumed lost have been rediscovered in foreign film archives over recent years.

Throughout his career Ford was one of the busiest directors in Hollywood, but he was extraordinarily productive in his first few years as a director—he made ten films in 1917, eight in 1918 and fifteen in 1919—and he directed a total of 62 shorts and features between 1917 and 1928, although he was not given a screen credit on most of his earliest films.

Ford made a wide range of films in this period, and he became well-known for his Western and ‘frontier’ pictures, but the genre rapidly lost its appeal for major studios in the late 1920s. Ford’s last silent Western was 3 Bad Men (1926), set during the Dakota land rush and filmed at Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in the Mojave Desert. It would be thirteen years before he made his next Western, Stagecoach, in 1939.

During the 1920s, Ford also served as president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a forerunner to today’s Directors Guild of America.

Talkies – 1928-1939

Ford was one of the pioneer directors of sound films; he shot Fox’s first song sung on screen, for his film Mother Machree (1928) of which only three of the original seven reels survive; this film is also notable as the first Ford film to feature the young John Wayne (as an uncredited extra) and he appeared in Ford’s next two movies. Ford also directed Fox’s first all-talking dramatic feature Napoleon’s Barber (1928), a 3-reeler which is also now lost.

Just before the studio converted to talkies, Fox gave a contract to the German director F. W. Murnau, and his film Sunrise (1927), still highly regarded by critics, had a powerful effect on Ford. Murnau’s influence can be seen in many of Ford’s films of the late 1920s and early 1930s — his penultimate silent feature Four Sons (1928), starring Victor McLaglen, was filmed on some of the lavish sets left over from Murnau’s production. Ford’s last silent feature Hangman’s House (1928) is notable as one of the first credited screen appearances by John Wayne.

Note:
John Ford was a prolific director. We have chosen to sample some of his best films in the following sections for reference. It is impossible to cover the full range of his work in this space. Please refer to the Wikipedia citation in the Reference section for a fuller presentation.

1939-1941

ford_wayne_stagecoach_poster Stagecoach (1939) was Ford’s first western since 3 Bad Men in 1926, and it was his first with sound. Reputedly Orson Welles watched Stagecoach forty times in preparation for making Citizen Kane. It remains one of the most admired and imitated of all Hollywood movies, not least for its climactic stagecoach chase and the hair-raising horse-jumping scene, performed by the stuntman Yakima Canutt.

During World War II, Commander John Ford, USNR, served in the United States Navy and made documentaries for the Navy Department. He won two more Academy Awards during this time, one for the semi-documentary The Battle of Midway (1942), and a second for the propaganda film December 7th (1943).

Ford was present on Omaha Beach on D-Day. As head of the photographic unit for the Office of Strategic Services, he crossed the English Channel on the USS Plunkett (DD-431), anchored off Omaha Beach at 0600. He observed the first wave land on the beach from the ship, landing on the beach himself later with a team of US Coast Guard cameramen who filmed the battle from behind the beach obstacles, with Ford directing operations. The film was edited in London, but very little was released to the public. Ford explained in a 1964 interview that the US Government was “afraid to show so many American casualties on the screen”, adding that all of the D-Day film “still exists in color in storage in Anacostia near Washington, D.C.” Thirty years later, historian Stephen E. Ambrose reported that the Eisenhower Center had been unable to find the film. Ford eventually rose to become a top adviser to OSS head William Joseph Donovan. According to records released in 2008, Ford was cited by his superiors for bravery, taking a position to film one mission that was “an obvious and clear target”. He survived “continuous attack and was wounded” while he continued filming, one commendation in his file states.

War Years

During World War II, Commander John Ford, USNR, served in the United States Navy and made documentaries for the Navy Department. He won two more Academy Awards during this time, one for the semi-documentary The Battle of Midway (1942), and a second for the propaganda film December 7th (1943).

John_Ford,_1946 Ford was present on Omaha Beach on D-Day. As head of the photographic unit for the Office of Strategic Services, he crossed the English Channel on the USS Plunkett (DD-431), anchored off Omaha Beach at 0600. He observed the first wave land on the beach from the ship, landing on the beach himself later with a team of US Coast Guard cameramen who filmed the battle from behind the beach obstacles, with Ford directing operations. The film was edited in London, but very little was released to the public. Ford explained in a 1964 interview that the US Government was “afraid to show so many American casualties on the screen”, adding that all of the D-Day film “still exists in color in storage in Anacostia near Washington, D.C.”Thirty years later, historian Stephen E. Ambrose reported that the Eisenhower Center had been unable to find the film. Ford eventually rose to become a top adviser to OSS head William Joseph Donovan. According to records released in 2008, Ford was cited by his superiors for bravery, taking a position to film one mission that was “an obvious and clear target”. He survived “continuous attack and was wounded” while he continued filming, one commendation in his file states.

Post-war career

ohara_wayne_quietman_poster After the war, Ford became a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy Reserve. His last wartime film was They Were Expendable (MGM, 1945), an account of America’s disastrous defeat in The Philippines, told from the viewpoint of a PT boat squadron and its commander. Ford repeatedly declared that he disliked the film and had never watched it, complaining that he had been forced to make it, although it was strongly championed by filmmaker Lindsay Anderson. Released several months after the end of the war, it was among the year’s top 20 box-office draws, although Tag Gallagher notes that many critics have incorrectly claimed that it lost money.

Ford directed sixteen features and several documentaries in the decade between 1946 and 1956. As with his prewar career, his films alternated between (relative) box office flops and major successes, but most of his later films made a solid profit, and Fort Apache, The Quiet Man, Mogambo and The Searchers all ranked in the Top 20 box-office hits of their respective years.

ford_mydarling_poster Ford’s first postwar movie My Darling Clementine (Fox, 1946) was a romanticized retelling of the primal Western legend of Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with exterior sequences filmed on location in the visually spectacular (but geographically inappropriate) Monument Valley. It reunited Ford with Henry Fonda (as Earp) and co-starred Victor Mature in one of his best roles as the consumptive, Shakespeare-loving Doc Holliday, with Ward Bond and Tim Holt as the Earp brothers, Linda Darnell as sultry saloon girl Chihuahua, a strong performance by Walter Brennan (in a rare villainous role) as the venomous Old Man Clanton, with Jane Darwell and an early screen appearance by John Ireland as Billy Clanton. In contrast to the string of successes in 1939-41, it won no major American awards, although it was awarded a silver ribbon for Best Foreign Film in 1948 by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, and it was a solid financial success, grossing $2.75 million in the USA and $1.75 million internationally in its first year of release.

The Argosy Years

fonda_grapesposter Refusing a lucrative contract offered by Zanuck at 20th Century Fox that would have guaranteed him $600,000 per year, Ford launched himself as an independent director-producer and made many of his films in this period with Argosy Productions, a partnership between Ford and his old friend and colleague Merian C. Cooper, originally founded after the success of Stagecoach. The Fugitive (1946), again starring Fonda, was the first project of the Argosy Productions enterprise. It was a loose adaptation of Grahame Greene’s The Power and the Glory, which Ford had originally intended to make at Fox before the war, with Thomas Mitchell as the priest. Filmed on location in Mexico, it was photographed by distinguished Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (who later worked with Luis Bunuel). The supporting cast included Dolores Del Rio, J. Carroll Naish, Ward Bond, Leo Carillo and Mel Ferrer (making his screen debut) and a cast of mainly Mexican extras. Ford reportedly considered this his best film but it fared relatively poorly compared to its predecessor, grossing only $750,000 in its first year. It also caused a rift between Ford and scriptwriter Dudley Nichols that brought about the end of their highly successful collaboration. Greene himself had a particular dislike of this adaptation of his work.

1950s

ford_riogrande_poster Ford’s first film of 1950 was the offbeat military comedy When Willie Comes Marching Home, starring Dan Dailey and Corinne Calvet, with William Demarest, from Preston Sturges ‘stock company’, and early (uncredited) screen appearances by Alan Hale Jr and Vera Miles. It was followed by Wagon Master, starring Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr, which is particularly noteworthy as the only Ford film since 1930 that he scripted himself. It was subsequently adapted into the long-running TV series Wagon Train (with Ward Bond reprising the title role until his sudden death in 1960). Although it did far smaller business than most of his other films in this period, Ford cited Wagon Master his personal favorite of all his films, telling Peter Bogdanovich that it “came closest to what I had hoped to achieve”.

ford_john_patcheyeRio Grande (Republic, 1950), the third part of the ‘Cavalry Trilogy’, co-starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, with Wayne’s son Patrick Wayne making his screen debut (he appeared in several subsequent Ford pictures including The Searchers). It was made at the insistence of Republic Pictures who demanded a profitable Western as the condition of backing Ford’s next project, The Quiet Man. A testament to Ford’s legendary efficiency, Rio Grande was shot in just 32 days, with only 352 takes from 335 camera setups, and it was a solid success, grossing $2.25m in its first year.

Last years, 1960-1973

In his last years Ford was dogged by declining health, largely the result of decades of heavy drinking and smoking, and exacerbated by the wounds he suffered during the Battle of Midway. His vision in particular began to deteriorate rapidly and at one point he briefly lost his sight entirely; his prodigious memory also began PresMedalFreedomto falter, making it necessary to rely more and more on assistants. His work was also restricted by the new regime in Hollywood, and he found it hard to get many projects made — by the 1960s he had been pigeonholed as a Western director and complained that he now found it almost impossible to get backing for projects in other genres.

Ford’s health deteriorated rapidly in the early 1970s; he suffered a broken hip in 1970 which put him in a wheelchair, and had to move from his Bel Air home to a single-level house in Palm Desert, near Eisenhower Medical Center, where he was being treated for cancer. In October 1972 the Screen Directors Guild staged a tribute to Ford and in March 1973 the American Film Institute honored him with its first Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony which was telecast nationwide, with President Richard Nixon promoting Ford to full Admiral and presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Ford died on 31 August 1973 at Palm Desert, California, and his funeral was held on 5 September at Hollywood’s Church of the Blessed Sacrament. He was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1854…
    In Tokyo, Commodore Matthew Perry signs a treaty opening Japanese ports to American trade.
  • In 1880…
    Wabash, Indiana, becomes the first U.S. town with a totally electric streetlight system (four lights powered by a steam engine).
  • In 1896…
    Chicago inventor Whitcomb Judson patents a “hookless fastener,” an early zipper.
  • In 1933…
    Congress establishes the Civilian Conservation Corps to help put men to work during the Depression.
  • In 1970…
    Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, reenters the atmosphere after twelve years in orbit.
  • In 1973…
    President Nixon awards John Ford the Medal of Freedom.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: John Ford… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ford

Brainy Quote: John Ford Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_ford.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we will start a consideration of the artists who worked during the Renaissance period in Europe. During this time, art was either commissioned or done for the church, which essentially meant the same thing: the churches, monasteries, and other religious organizations gathered together a store of art that reflected the emotions and reality of people.

We are focusing on the Early and Middle Italian Renaissance today and the principle artists involved during that period and look at some of their best works. In general, the renaissance represented a transition from highly stylized art of only religious subjects to art that incorporated the sense of light and color available in the new media available. In addition, innovations in the use of perspective gave these artworks a greater sense of reality.

We hope that this will provide you with food for thought regarding the Holy Week celebrations on which we are also focusing this week.  GLB

    

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”
— E. O. Wilson

“Every renaissance comes to the world with a cry, the cry of the human spirit to be free.”
— Anne Sullivan Macy

“In essence the Renaissance was simply the green end of one of civilization’s hardest winters.”
— John Fowles

“Actually I like the idea of being a Renaissance hack. If tombstones were still in style, I would want to have the two words chiseled right under my name.”
— Dennis Flanagan

“Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance.”
— Horace

“No account of the Renaissance can be complete without some notice of the attempt made by certain Italian scholars of the fifteenth century to reconcile Christianity with the religion of ancient Greece.”
— Walter Pater

“In the West there has always been the attempt to try make the religious building, whether it’s a Medieval or Renaissance church, an eternal object for the celebration of God. The material chosen, such as stone, brick, or concrete, is meant to eternally preserve what is inside.”
— Tadao Ando

“New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements… the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.”
— Jackson Pollock

  

Note:
This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.

GLB

  

The Renaissance: Italian Renaissance Painting

Raphael_Marriage_of_the_Virgin The Renaissance (French for "rebirth"; Italian: Rinascimento, from ri- "again" and nascere "be born") was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Florence in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation has resulted in the Renaissance being viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".

There is a general, but not unchallenged, consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Tuscany in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Gr

eek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Italian Renaissance (Part 1)

Italian Renaissance painting is the painting of the period from the early 15th to mid 16th centuries occurring within the area of present-day Italy, which was at that time divided into many political areas. The painters of Renaissance Italy, although often attached to particular courts and with loyalties to particular towns, nonetheless wandered the length and breadth of Italy, often occupying a diplomatic status and disseminating both artistic and philosophical ideas.

The city that is renowned as the birthplace of the Renaissance and in particular, Renaissance painting, is Florence. A detailed background is given in the companion articles Renaissance and Renaissance architecture.

Italian Renaissance painting can be divided into four periods:

  • Proto-Renaissance, 1290–1400… 
    The Proto-Renaissance begins with the professional life of the painter Giotto and includes Taddeo Gaddi, Orcagna and Altichiero.
  • Early Renaissance, 1400–1475…
    The Early Renaissance was marked by the work of Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Uccello, Piero della Francesca and Verrocchio.
  • High Renaissance, 1475–1525…
    The High Renaissance period was that of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. The Mannerist period included Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo and Tintoretto.
  • Mannerism, 1525–1600…
    Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals and restrained naturalism.
Influences

Izokefalizm The Tribute Money for the Brancacci by Masaccio.

The influences upon the development of Renaissance painting in Italy are those that also affected Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, Government and other aspects of society.

Birth_of_St_Mary_in_Santa_Maria_Novella_in_Firenze_by_Domenico_Ghirlandaio The Birth of the Virgin Mary,
by Ghirlandaio.

The following list presents a summary, dealt with more fully in the main articles that are cited above.

  • Classical texts, lost to European scholars for centuries, became available. These included Philosophy, Poetry, Drama, Science, a thesis on the Arts and Early Christian Theology.
  • Simultaneously, Europe gained access to advanced mathematics which had its provenance in the works of Islamic scholars.
  • The advent of movable type printing in the 15th century meant that ideas could be disseminated easily, and an increasing number of books were written for a broad public.
  • The establishment of the Medici Bank and the subsequent trade it generated brought unprecedented wealth to a single Italian city, Florence.
  • Cosimo de’ Medici set a new standard for patronage of the arts, not associated with the church or monarchy.
  • Humanist philosophy meant that man’s relationship with humanity, the universe and with God was no longer the exclusive province of the Church.
  • A revived interest in the Classics brought about the first archaeological study of Roman remains by the architect Brunelleschi and sculptor Donatello. The revival of a style of architecture based on classical precedents inspired a corresponding classicism in painting, which manifested itself as early as the 1420s in the paintings of Masaccio and Uccello.
  • The development of oil paint and its introduction to Italy had lasting effects.
  • The serendipitous presence within the region of Florence of certain individuals of artistic genius, most notably Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, formed an ethos which supported and encouraged many lesser artists to achieve work of extraordinary quality.
  • A similar heritage of artistic achievement occurred in Venice through the talented Bellini family, their influential inlaw Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto.
Themes

Much painting of the Renaissance period was commissioned by or for the Catholic Church. These works were often of large scale and were frequently cycles painted in fresco of the Life of Christ, the Life of the Virgin or the life of a saint, particularly St. Francis of Assisi. There were also many allegorical paintings on the theme of Salvation and the role of the Church in attaining it. Churches also commissioned altarpieces which were painted in tempera on panel and later in oil on canvas. Apart from large altarpieces, small devotional pictures were produced in very large numbers, both for churches and for private individuals, the most common theme being the Madonna and Child.

Paolo_Uccello_031 The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello.

Throughout the period, civic commissions were also important, local government buildings like the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena being decorated with frescoes and other works both secular, such as the Allegory of Good Government, and religious, such as Simone Martini’s fresco of the Maèsta.

Portraiture was uncommon in the 14th and early 15th century, being mostly limited to civic commemorative pictures such as the equestrian portraits of Guidoriccio da Fogliano by Simone Martini, 1327, in Siena and, of the early 15th century, John Hawkwood by Uccello in Florence Cathedral and its companion portraying Niccolò da Tolentino by Andrea del Castagno.

During the 15th century portraiture became common, initially often formalised profile portraits but increasingly three-quarter face, bust-length portraits. Patrons of art works such as altarpieces and fresco cycles often were included in the scenes, a notable example being the inclusion of the Sassetti and Medici families in Ghirlandaio’s cycle in the Sassetti Chapel. Portraiture was to become a major subject for High Renaissance painters such as Raphael and Titian and continue into the Mannerist period in works of artists such as Bronzino.

With the growth of Humanism, artists turned to Classical themes, particularly to fulfil commissions for the decoration of the homes of wealthy patrons, the best known being Botticelli’s Birth of Venus for the Medici. Increasingly, Classical themes were also seen as providing suitable allegorical material for civic commissions. Humanism also influenced the manner in which religious themes were depicted, notably on Michelangelo’s Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Other motifs were drawn from contemporary life, sometimes with allegorical meaning, some sometimes purely decorative. Incidents important to a particular family might be recorded like those in the Camera degli Sposi that Mantegna painted for the Gonzaga family at Mantua. Increasingly, still lifes and decorative scenes from life were painted, such as the Concert by Lorenzo Costa of about 1490.

Important events were often recorded or commemorated in paintings such as Uccello’s Battle of San Romano, as were important local religious festivals. History and historic characters were often depicted in a way that reflected on current events or on the lives of current people. Portraits were often painted of contemporaries in the guise of characters from history or literature. The writings of Dante, Voragine’s Golden Legend and Boccaccio’s Decameron were important sources of themes.

In all these subjects, increasingly, and in the works of almost all painters, certain underlying painterly practices were being developed: the observation of nature, the study of anatomy, the study of light and the study of perspective.

Giotto (Proto-Renaissance Painting)

Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-36-_-_Lamentation_(The_Mourning_of_Christ)

The Lamentation by Giotto,
c. 1305,
Scrovegni Chapel, foreshadows the Renaissance.

Giotto, (1266–1337), by tradition a shepherd boy from the hills north of Florence, became Cimabue’s apprentice and emerged as the most outstanding painter of his time. Giotto, possibly influenced by Pietro Cavallini and other Roman painters, did not base the figures that he painted upon any painterly tradition, but upon the observation of life. Unlike those of his Byzantine contemporaries, Giotto’s figures are solidly three-dimensional; they stand squarely on the ground, have discernible anatomy and are clothed in garments with weight and structure.

But more than anything, what set Giotto’s figures apart from those of his contemporaries are their emotions. In the faces of Giotto’s figures are joy, rage, despair, shame, spite and love. The cycle of frescoes of the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin that he painted in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua set a new standard for narrative pictures. His Ognissanti Madonna hangs in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, in the same room as Cimabue’s Santa Trinita Madonna and Duccio’s Ruccellai Madonna where the stylistic comparisons between the three can easily be made. One of the features apparent in Giotto’s work is his observation of naturalistic perspective. He is regarded as the herald of the Renaissance.

Florence (Early Renaissance, 1400–1475)

The earliest truly Renaissance images in Florence date from the first year of the century known in Italian as Quattrocento, synonymous with the Early Renaissance. At that date a competition was held to find an artist to create a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistry of St. John, the oldest remaining church in the city. The Baptistry is a large octagonal building in the Romanesque style, whose origins had been forgotten and which was popularly believed to date from Roman times. The interior of its dome is decorated with an enormous mosaic figure of Christ in Majesty thought to have been designed by Coppo di Marcovaldo. It has three large portals, the central one being filled at that time by a set of doors created by Andrea Pisano eighty years earlier.

Ghiberticompetition Ghiberti’s competition entry.

Pisano’s doors were divided into 28 quatrofoil compartments, containing narratives scenes from the Life of John the Baptist. The competitors, of which there were seven young artists, were each to design a bronze panel of similar shape and size, representing the Sacrifice of Isaac.

Two of the panels have survived, that by Lorenzo Ghiberti and that by Brunelleschi. Each panel shows some strongly classicising motifs indicating the direction that art and philosophy were moving, at that time. Ghiberti has used the naked figure of Isaac to create a small sculpture in the Classical style. He kneels on a tomb decorated with acanthus scrolls that are also a reference to the art of Ancient Rome. In Brunelleschi’s panel, one of the additional figures included in the scene is reminiscent of a well-known Roman bronze figure of a boy pulling a thorn from his foot. Brunelleschi’s creation is challenging in its dynamic intensity. Less elegant than Ghiberti’s, it is more about human drama and impending tragedy.

Ghiberti won the competition. His first set of Baptistry doors took 27 years to complete, after which he was commissioned to make another. In the total of 50 years that Ghiberti worked on them, the doors provided a training ground for many of the artists of Florence. Being narrative in subject and employing not only skill in arranging figurative compositions but also the burgeoning skill of linear perspective, the doors were to have an enormous influence on the development of Florentine pictorial art. They were a unifying factor, a source of pride and camaraderie for both the city and its artists. Michelangelo was to call them the Gates of Paradise.

The Development of Linear Perspective

Paolo_Uccello_043 The Presentation of the Virgin by
Paolo Uccello shows his experiments
with perspective and light.

During the first half of the 15th century, the achieving of the effect of realistic space in a painting by the employment of linear perspective was a major preoccupation of many painters, as well as the architects Brunelleschi and Alberti who both theorised about the subject. Brunelleschi is known to have done a number of careful studies of the piazza and octagonal baptistery outside Florence Cathedral and it is thought he aided Masaccio in the creation of his famous trompe l’oeil niche around the Holy Trinity he painted at Santa Maria Novella.

According to Vasari, Paolo Uccello was so obsessed with perspective that he thought of little else and experimented with it in many paintings, the best known being the three Battle of San Romano pictures which use broken weapons on the ground, and fields on the distant hills to give an impression of perspective.

In the 1450s Piero della Francesca, in paintings such as The Flagellation of Christ, demonstrated his mastery over linear perspective and also over the science of light. Another painting exists, a cityscape, by an unknown artist, perhaps Piero della Francesca, that demonstrates the sort of experiment that Brunelleschi had been making. From this time linear perspective was understood and regularly employed, notably by Perugino in his Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter in the Sistine Chapel.

Piero_della_Francesca_042_Flagellation The Flagellation demonstrates
Piero della Francesca’s control
over both perspective and light.

The Understanding of Light

Giotto used tonality to create form. Taddeo Gaddi in his nocturnal scene in the Baroncelli Chapel demonstrated how light could be used to create drama. Paolo Uccello, a hundred years later, experimented with the dramatic effect of light in some of his almost-monochrome frescoes. He did a number of these in terra verde or "green earth", enlivening his compositions with touches of vermilion. The best known is his equestrian portrait of John Hawkwood on the wall of Florence Cathedral. Both here and on the four heads of prophets that he painted around the inner clockface in the cathedral, he used strongly contrasting tones, suggesting that each figure was being lit by a natural light source, as if the source was an actual window in the cathedral.

Piero della Francesca carried his study of light further. In the Flagellation he demonstrates a knowledge of how light is proportionally disseminated from its point of origin. There are two sources of light in this painting, one internal to a building and the other external. Of the internal source, though the light itself is invisible, its position can be calculated with mathematical certainty. Leonardo da Vinci was to carry forward Piero’s work on light.

     

References

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Renaissance… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

Wikipedia: Italian Renaissance Painting… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Renaissance_painting

Web Sites and Blogs:

Brainy Quote: Renaissance Quotes…  
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/renaissance.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 As we enter the third day of Holy Week, let us continue to focus our attention on the Christ that is the center of this celebration. On Palm Sunday, we commemorated the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Today we begin a less defined, in the Western world, the period from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the observation. It is a time to continue our focus upon the meaning of this period of time.  GLB

    

“Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter.”
— Josh McDowell

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
— Pope John Paul II

“Most people outside of America won’t get it. It’s the Easter bunny. It’s another lie and I don’t understand why we had to invent this character.”
— Todd Rundgren

“I am very proud of this work because it is more about the meaning of the Easter Rising and its relationship to what this whole century has been about, people liberating themselves, freeing themselves.”
— Leon Uris

“And it is always Easter Sunday at the New York City Ballet. It is always coming back to life. Not even coming back to life – it lives in the constant present.”
— John Guare

“Do we believe that there is equal economic opportunity out there in the real world, right now, for each and every one of these groups? If we believed in the tooth fairy, if we believed in the Easter Bunny, we might well believe that.”
— William Weld

“God expects from men something more than at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress.”
— Robert South

“A strangely reflective, even melancholy day. Is that because, unlike our cousins in the northern hemisphere, Easter is not associated with the energy and vitality of spring but with the more subdued spirit of autumn?”
— Hugh Mackay

  

Holy Week: Holy Tuesday

5208-20080122-1255UTC--jerusalem-calvary Holy Tuesday or Great and Holy Tuesday is the Tuesday of Holy Week, which precedes the commemoration of the death of Jesus.

Towards the end of the Tuesday evening Bridegroom service (Orthros for Great and Holy Wednesday), the Hymn of Kassiani is sung. The hymn, (written in the 9th century by Kassiani the Nun) tells of the woman who washed Christ’s feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. (Luke 7:36-50) Much of the hymn is written from the perspective of the sinful woman:

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, sensing Your Divinity, takes upon herself the duty of a myrrh-bearer. With lamentations she brings you myrrh in anticipation of your entombment. "Woe to me!" she cries, "for me night has become a frenzy of licentiousness, a dark and moonless love of sin. Receive the fountain of my tears, O You who gathers into clouds the waters of the sea. Incline unto me, unto the sighings of my heart, O You who bowed the heavens by your ineffable condescension. I will wash your immaculate feet with kisses and dry them again with the tresses of my hair; those very feet at whose sound Eve hid herself from in fear when she heard You walking in Paradise in the twilight of the day. As for the multitude of my sins and the depths of Your judgments, who can search them out, O Savior of souls, my Savior? Do not disdain me Your handmaiden, O You who are boundless in mercy."

Western Christianity

In the Roman Catholic Church, the readings are Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 71:1-6, 71:15, 71:17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; and John 13:21-33, 13:36-38.

Few Protestant churches have special services for Holy Tuesday. Those which do may follow the general pattern of the Roman Catholic observance.

Eastern Christianity

RossGospWiseFoolVirginsF4 The Wise and Foolish Virgins
(from the Rossano Gospels).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, this day is referred to as Great and Holy Tuesday, or Great Tuesday. On this day the Church commemorates the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), which forms one of the themes of the first three days of Holy Week, with its teaching about vigilance, and Christ as the Bridegroom. The bridal chamber is used as a symbol not only of the Tomb of Christ, but also of the blessed state of the saved on the Day of Judgement. The theme of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) is also developed in the hymns of this day.

The day begins liturgically with Vespers on the afternoon of Great Monday, repeating some of the same stichera (hymns) from the night before. At Great Compline a triode (Canon composed of three Odes), written by St. Andrew of Crete is chanted.

The Matins service for Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week is known as the Bridegroom Service or Bridegroom Prayer, because of their theme of Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, a theme movingly expressed in the troparion that is solemnly chanted during them. On these days, an icon of "Christ the Bridegroom" is placed on an analogion in the center of the temple, portraying Jesus wearing the purple robe of mockery and crowned with a crown of thorns (see Instruments of the Passion). These Matins services are often chanted the evening before, in order that more of the faithful may attend. The Matins Gospel read on this day is from the Gospel of Matthew 22:15-23:39.

The four Gospels are divided up and read in their entirety at the Little Hours (Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Ninth Hour) during the course of the first three days of Holy Week, halting at John 13:31. There are various methods of dividing the Gospels, but the following is the most common practice:

Holy and Great Tuesday
  • Third Hour—The second half of Mark
  • Sixth Hour—The first third of Luke
  • Ninth Hour—The second third of Luke

At the Sixth Hour there is a reading from the Book of Ezekiel 1:21-2:1

At the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, some of the stichera from the previous night’s Matins (Lauds and the Aposticha) are repeated at Lord, I have cried (see Vespers). There are two Old Testament readings: Exodus 2:5-10 and Job 1:13-22. There is no Epistle reading, but there is a Gospel reading from Matthew 24:36-26:2

Scripture Reading

As Easter approaches, St. Paul’s words in the Letter to the Hebrews are timely. We must continue the fight; we must not give up hope. Even when we undergo trials, we should take comfort in the example of Christ, Who died for our sins. Our trials are our preparation for rising to new life with Christ on Easter.

Hebrews 12:1-13

And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God. For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin: And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him. For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.

Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh, for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits, and live? And they indeed for a few days, according to their own pleasure, instructed us: but he, for our profit, that we might receive his sanctification.

Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

      

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Holy Week… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week

Wikipedia: Holy Tuesday… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Tuesday

About.com: Scriptural Reading for the Tuesday of Holy Week…
http://catholicism.about.com/od/lentenreadings/qt/Reading_TuHW.htm

Brainy Quote: Easter Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/easter.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 It was a surprise on this day in 1981 when a young man pulled out a pistol and shot at our president, Ronald Reagan. He was injured, but had been shielded by his spokesman, James Brady, who ended up with a bullet in the brain. The frightening part of this attempt on the president’s life followed by less than twenty years the death of President John F. Kennedy by an assassin’s bullet. In the aftermath, laws were modified in many states to restrict the use of the insanity defense that was used by the attempted assassin, John F. Hinckley.  GLB

    

“Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer.”
— Ronald Reagan

“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
— Ronald Reagan

“How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”
— Ronald Reagan

“I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
— Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan: Assassination Attempt

Reagan_assassination_attempt_montage The Reagan assassination attempt occurred on Monday, March 30, 1981, just 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley, Jr.. Reagan suffered a punctured lung, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly.

Reagan was the first serving United States president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. No formal invocation of presidential succession took place, although a controversial statement by Secretary of State Alexander Haig that he was “in control here” marked a short period during which Vice President George H. W. Bush was physically absent, flying back to Washington, D.C. aboard Air Force Two from a speech in Fort Worth, Texas. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained confined to a psychiatric facility.

Motivation

The motivation behind Hinckley’s attack stemmed from an obsession with actress Jodie Foster due to erotomania. While living in Hollywood in the late 1970s, he saw the film Taxi Driver at least 15 times, apparently identifying strongly with Travis Bickle, the lead character. The arc of the story involves Bickle’s attempts to protect a 12-year-old child prostitute, played by Foster; toward the end of the film, Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States Senator who is running for president. Over the following years, Hinckley trailed Foster around the country, going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale University in 1980 when he learned that she was a student there after reading an article in People magazine. He wrote numerous letters and notes to her in late 1980. He called her twice and refused to give up when she indicated that she was not interested in him. Convinced that by becoming a national figure he would be Foster’s equal, Hinckley began to stalk then-President Jimmy Carter — his decision to target presidents was also likely inspired by Taxi Driver. He wrote three or four more notes to her in early March 1981. Foster gave these notes to her dean, who gave them to the Yale police department, which sought to track Hinckley down but failed.

Speaking Engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel

Hinckley arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, March 29, getting off a Greyhound Lines bus and checking into the Park Central Hotel. He had breakfast at McDonald’s the next morning, noticed U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s schedule on page A4 of the Washington Star, and decided it was time to make his move. Knowing that he might not live to tell about shooting Reagan, Hinckley wrote (but did not mail) a letter to Foster about two hours prior to the assassination attempt, saying that he hoped to impress her with the magnitude of his action.[10]

On March 30, 1981, Reagan delivered a luncheon address to AFL-CIO representatives at the Washington Hilton Hotel. He entered the building around 1:45, waving to a crowd which included news media, citizens, and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

The Shooting

Shortly before 2:30 PM local time (EST), as Reagan walked out of the hotel’s T Street NW exit toward his waiting car, Hinckley emerged from the crowd of admirers and fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 cal. blue steel revolver six times in three seconds. The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head. The second hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back. The third overshot the president and hit the window of a building across the street. The fourth hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen. The fifth hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open side door of the president’s limousine. The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the side of the limousine and hit the president in his left armpit, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly an inch from his heart. Secret Service agents sprang into action, rushing at Hinckley with guns drawn and pulling him to the ground. Agent Dennis McCarthy (no relation to agent Timothy McCarthy) dove onto Hinckley as others threw him to the ground. Secret Service agent Robert Wanko took an Uzi from a briefcase and used it to cover the Presidential Limousine’s evacuation.

Sixteen minutes after the assassination attempt, the ATF found that the gun had been purchased at Rocky’s Pawn Shop in Dallas, Texas. It had been loaded with six “Devastator”-brand .22LR cartridges, which contained small lead azide explosive charges designed to explode on contact. The rounds were not manufactured in the U.S.; any bullet which contained actual explosives would have been classified as an illegal explosive device under U.S. federal law at the time that Hinckley purchased them. All six bullets failed to explode.

The entire incident was captured on video by at least five cameramen, including all of the major broadcast networks. The new Cable News Network had been broadcasting Reagan’s speech live moments earlier, and its crew was still inside the hotel. Hinckley asked the arresting officers whether that night’s Academy Awards ceremony would be postponed due to the shooting, and indeed it was — it aired the next evening.

Reagan Taken to George Washington University Hospital

Reagan_recovering_after_being_shot_1981 President Reagan with Mrs. Reagan
inside George Washington University
Hospital four days after the shooting

Moments after the shooting, Reagan was whisked away by the Secret Service agents in the presidential limousine. At first, there was no realization that the President had been wounded; the bullet which struck him entered under his armpit. However, when Secret Service agent Jerry Parr checked him for gunshot wounds, Reagan coughed up bright, frothy blood, indicating that his lung was punctured. Reagan, already in great pain, believed that one of his ribs had cracked when agent Parr pushed him into the limousine. Parr ordered the motorcade to divert to nearby George Washington University Hospital.

Although the emergency room staff had been notified that gunshot victims were incoming, no stretcher was ready. Reagan exited the limousine and was assisted into the emergency room. Reagan complained of difficulty breathing, his knees buckled, and he went down on one knee.

The trauma team, led by Dr. Joseph Giordano, treated Reagan with intravenous fluids, oxygen, tetanus toxoid, and chest tubes. When First Lady Nancy Reagan arrived in the emergency room after being informed, he remarked to her, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” (borrowing boxer Jack Dempsey’s line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney).

Significant quantities of blood came out of the chest tubes. The chief of thoracic surgery, Dr. Benjamin L. Aaron, decided to operate because the bleeding persisted. Ultimately, Reagan lost over half of his blood volume.

In the operating room, Reagan joked, “Please tell me you’re all Republicans.” Giordano, a liberal Democrat, replied, “Today Mr. President we’re all Republicans.” The operation lasted about three hours. His post-operative course was complicated by fever, which was treated with multiple antibiotics.

Reagan’s staff was anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly. The morning after his operation, he signed a piece of legislation. Reagan left the hospital on the 13th day. Initially, he worked two hours a day in the White House. He did not lead a Cabinet meeting until day 26, did not venture outside Washington until day 49, and did not hold a press conference until day 79. Reagan’s physician thought recovery was not complete until October.

Reagan had been scheduled to visit Philadelphia on the day of the shooting. While intubated, he scribbled to a nurse, “All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia”, a reference to the W.C. Fields tagline.

Alexander Haig “In Control”

Members of the Cabinet, including Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and National Security Advisor Richard Allen, met in the White House Situation Room to discuss various issues, including the availability of a nuclear football (which was still in the possession of the Army officer “carrier” with the president for much of the day), the apparent presence of more than the usual number of Soviet submarines off the Atlantic coast, and the presidential line of succession. These meetings were recorded with the participants’ knowledge by Allen, and the tapes have since been made public. Upon learning that Reagan was in surgery, Haig declared, “the helm is right here. And that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here.”

Al_Haig_speaks_to_press_1981 Secretary of State Alexander Haig
speaks to the press about the shooting

The Secretary of State is not second in the line of succession but fourth, after the Vice President (at the time, George H. W. Bush), Speaker of the House (at the time, Tip O’Neill) and the President pro tempore of the Senate (at the time, J. Strom Thurmond). Haig was accused, by Weinberger and others, of overstepping his authority.

At the same time, a press conference was underway in the White House. CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked deputy press secretary Larry Speakes who was running the government, to which Speakes responded, “I cannot answer that question at this time.” Upon hearing Speakes’ remark, Haig scribbled out a note which was passed to Speakes, ordering him to leave the dais immediately. Moments later, Haig himself entered the briefing room, where he made the following controversial statement:

“Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.”

Hinckley Family Connections

John Hinckley Jr. is the son of John Hinckley Sr., chairman of the oil company Vanderbilt Energy Corp., one of Vice President George H.W. Bush’s larger political and financial supporters in his 1980 presidential primary campaign against Ronald Reagan. Also, John Hinckley Jr.’s older brother, Vanderbilt vice president Scott Hinckley, and the Vice President’s son Neil Bush, had a dinner appointment scheduled for the next day.

The Associated Press published the following short note on March 31, 1981:

“The family of the man charged with trying to assassinate President Reagan is acquainted with the family of Vice President George Bush and had made large contributions to his political campaign….Scott Hinckley, brother of John W. Hinckley Jr. who allegedly shot at Reagan, was to have dined tonight in Denver at the home of Neil Bush, one of the Vice President’s sons….The Houston Post said it was unable to reach Scott Hinckley, vice president of his father’s Denver-based firm, Vanderbilt Energy Corp., for comment. Neil Bush lives in Denver, where he works for Standard Oil Co. of Indiana. In 1978, Neil Bush served as campaign manager for his brother, George W. Bush, the Vice President’s eldest son, who made an unsuccessful bid for Congress. Neil lived in Lubbock, Texas, throughout much of 1978, where John Hinckley lived from 1974 through 1980.”

Aftermath

Reagans_wave_after_returning_from_WH_1981 The Reagans wave from the White House
after President Reagan’s return from the
hospital on April 11, Reagan wore a bullet
proof vest under his red sweater.

Reagan’s plans for the next month or so were canceled, including a visit to the Mission Control Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in April 1981 during STS-1, the first flight of the Space Shuttle. Vice President Bush instead called the orbiting astronauts during their mission. Reagan would visit Mission Control during STS-2 that November. Reagan returned to the Oval Office on April 25, receiving a standing ovation from staff and Cabinet members; referring to their teamwork in his absence, he insisted, “I should be applauding you.” His first public appearance was an April 28 speech before the joint houses of Congress to introduce his planned spending cuts, a campaign promise. He received “two thunderous standing ovations”, which the New York Times deemed “a salute to his good health” as well as his programs, which the President introduced using a medical recovery theme.

The two law enforcement officers recovered from their wounds, although Delahanty was forced to retire due to his injuries. The attack seriously wounded the President’s Press Secretary, James Brady, who sustained a serious head wound and became permanently disabled. Brady remained as Press Secretary for the remainder of Reagan’s administration, but this was primarily a titular role. Later, Brady and his wife Sarah became leading advocates of gun control and other actions to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. They also became active in the lobbying organization Handgun Control, Inc. – which would eventually be renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – and founded the non-profit Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed in 1993 as a result of their work.

In his public remarks, later reprinted by The New York Times, President Reagan endorsed the act:

“Anniversary” is a word we usually associate with happy events that we like to remember: birthdays, weddings, the first job. March 30, however, marks an anniversary I would just as soon forget, but cannot… four lives were changed forever, and all by a Saturday-night special – a cheaply made .22 caliber pistol – purchased in a Dallas pawnshop by a young man with a history of mental disturbance. This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now – the Brady bill – had been law back in 1981… If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land. And there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the Bradys, Delahantys, McCarthys and Reagans face every March 30.

James-Brady-August-2-2006 James Brady in August 2006

Reagan experienced numerous complications from his surgery right after the shooting. For the rest of his term, he suffered several medical problems related to his injuries; he tried to hide them from the general public and his staff.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982. The defense psychiatric reports had found him to be insane while the prosecution reports declared him legally sane. Following his lawyers’ advice, he declined to take the stand in his own defense. Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he is still being held. After his trial, he wrote that the shooting was “the greatest love offering in the history of the world”, and did not indicate any regrets.

The not-guilty verdict led to widespread dismay, and, as a result, the U.S. Congress and a number of states rewrote laws regarding the insanity defense. The old Model Penal Code test was replaced by a test that shifts the burden of proof of insanity from the prosecution to the defendant. Three states have abolished the defense altogether.

Jodie Foster was hounded relentlessly by the media in early 1981 because she was Hinckley’s target of obsession. She commented on Hinckley on three occasions: a press conference a few days after the attack, an article she wrote in 1982, and during an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes II; she has otherwise ended several interviews after the event was mentioned.

The assassination attempt was portrayed in the 2001 film The Day Reagan Was Shot. James Brady’s recovery was dramatized in the 1991 made-for-television film Without Warning: The James Brady Story, with Beau Bridges as Brady.

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1842…
    Dr. Crawford W. Long of Jefferson, Georgia, becomes the first U.S. physician to perform surgery using anesthesia induced by ether to kill pain.
  • In 1858…
    Hyman Lipman of Philadelphia patents a pencil with an attached eraser.
  • In 1867…
    Secretary of State William H. Seward signs an agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, about two cents an acre.
  • In 1891…
    Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, the country’s first national forest, is established.
  • In 1981…
    President Reagan is shot and seriously wounded by John W. Hinckley, Jr., outside a Washington, D.C., hotel
    .

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Reagan Assassination Attempt… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan_assassination_attempt

Brainy Quote: Ronald Reagan Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ronald_reagan_2.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we will start a consideration of the artists who worked during the Renaissance period, the 14th through 17th centuries, in Europe. During this time, art was either commissioned or done for the church, which essentially meant the same thing: the churches, monasteries, and other religious organizations gathered together a store of art that reflected the emotions and reality of people.

We will take each of these periods this week and consider the principle artists during that period and look at some of their best works. In general, the renaissance represented a transition from highly stylized art of only religious subjects to art that incorporated the sense of light and color available in the new media available. In addition, innovations in the use of perspective gave these artworks a greater sense of reality

We hope that this will provide you with food for thought regarding the Holy Week celebrations on which we are also focusing this week.  GLB

    

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”
— E. O. Wilson

“Every renaissance comes to the world with a cry, the cry of the human spirit to be free.”
— Anne Sullivan Macy

“In essence the Renaissance was simply the green end of one of civilization’s hardest winters.”
— John Fowles

“Actually I like the idea of being a Renaissance hack. If tombstones were still in style, I would want to have the two words chiseled right under my name.”
— Dennis Flanagan

“Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance.”
— Horace

“No account of the Renaissance can be complete without some notice of the attempt made by certain Italian scholars of the fifteenth century to reconcile Christianity with the religion of ancient Greece.”
— Walter Pater

“In the West there has always been the attempt to try make the religious building, whether it’s a Medieval or Renaissance church, an eternal object for the celebration of God. The material chosen, such as stone, brick, or concrete, is meant to eternally preserve what is inside.”
— Tadao Ando

“New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements… the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.”
— Jackson Pollock

  

Note:
This posting is intended for the educational use of photographers and photography students and complies with the “educational fair use” provisions of copyright law. For readers who might wish to reuse some of these images should check out their compliance with copyright limitations that might apply to that use.

GLB

  

The Renaissance: Religious Art

David_von_Michelangelo The Renaissance (French for "rebirth"; Italian: Rinascimento, from ri- "again" and nascere "be born") was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Florence in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation has resulted in the Renaissance being viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".

There is a general, but not unchallenged, consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Tuscany in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and there has been much debate among historians as to the usefulness of Renaissance as a term and as a historical delineation. Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age, while others have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras. Indeed, some have called for an end to the use of the term, which they see as a product of presentism – the use of history to validate and glorify modern ideals. The word Renaissance has also been used to describe other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.

Overview

Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man
shows clearly the effect writers of
Antiquity had on Renaissance
thinkers. Based on the specifications
in Vitruvius’s De architectura around
1500 years before, Da Vinci tried to
draw the perfectly proportioned man.

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence affected literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.

Renaissance thinkers sought out in Europe’s monastic libraries and the crumbling Byzantine Empire the literary, historical, and oratorical texts of antiquity, typically written in Latin or ancient Greek, many of which had fallen into obscurity. It is in their new focus on literary and historical texts that Renaissance scholars differed so markedly from the medieval scholars of the Renaissance of the 12th century, who had focused on studying Greek and Arabic works of natural sciences, philosophy and mathematics, rather than on such cultural texts. Renaissance humanists did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the Renaissance’s greatest works were devoted to it, and the Church patronized many works of Renaissance art. However, a subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other areas of cultural life.[14] In addition, many Greek Christian works, including the Greek New Testament, were brought back from Byzantium to Western Europe and engaged Western scholars for the first time since late antiquity. This new engagement with Greek Christian works, and particularly the return to the original Greek of the New Testament promoted by humanists Lorenzo Valla and Erasmus, would help pave the way for the Protestant Reformation.

Artists such as Masaccio strove to portray the human form realistically, developing techniques to render perspective and light more naturally. Political philosophers, most famously Niccolò Machiavelli, sought to describe political life as it really was, that is to understand it rationally. A critical contribution to Italian Renaissance humanism Pico della Mirandola wrote the famous text "De hominis dignitate" (Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486), which consists of a series of theses on philosophy, natural thought, faith and magic defended against any opponent on the grounds of reason. In addition to studying classical Latin and Greek, Renaissance authors also began increasingly to use vernacular languages; combined with the introduction of printing, this would allow many more people access to books, especially the Bible.

In all, the Renaissance could be viewed as an attempt by intellectuals to study and improve the secular and worldly, both through the revival of ideas from antiquity, and through novel approaches to thought. Some scholars, such as Rodney Stark, play down the Renaissance in favor of the earlier innovations of the Italian city states in the High Middle Ages, which married responsive government, Christianity and the birth of capitalism. This analysis argues that, whereas the great European states (France and Spain) were absolutist monarchies, and others were under direct Church control, the independent city republics of Italy took over the principles of capitalism invented on monastic estates and set off a vast unprecedented commercial revolution which preceded and financed the Renaissance.

Origins

Most historians agree that the ideas that characterized the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th century Florence, in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374), as well as the painting of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). Some writers date the Renaissance quite precisely; one proposed starting point is 1401, when the rival geniuses Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won). Others see more general competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio for artistic commissions as sparking the creativity of the Renaissance. Yet it remains much debated why the Renaissance began in Italy, and why it began when it did. Accordingly, several theories have been put forward to explain its origins.

During Renaissance, money and art went hand in hand. Artists depended totally on patrons while the patrons needed money to sustain genuises. Wealth was brought to Italy in 14th, 15th and 16th century by expanding trade into Asia and Europe. Silver mining in Tyrol increased the flow of money. Luxuries from the Eastern world, brought during Crusades made the prosperity of Genoa and Venice.

Art

God2-Sistine_Chapel The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

One of the distinguishing features of Renaissance art was its development of highly realistic linear perspective. Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337) is credited with first treating a painting as a window into space, but it was not until the demonstrations of architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) and the subsequent writings of Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) that perspective was formalized as an artistic technique. The development of perspective was part of a wider trend towards realism in the arts. To that end, painters also developed other techniques, studying light, shadow, and, famously in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, human anatomy. Underlying these changes in artistic method, was a renewed desire to depict the beauty of nature, and to unravel the axioms of aesthetics, with the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael representing artistic pinnacles that were to be much imitated by other artists. Other notable artists include Sandro Botticelli, working for the Medici in Florence, Donatello another Florentine and Titian in Venice, among others.

Concurrently, in the Netherlands, a particularly vibrant artistic culture developed, the work of Hugo van der Goes and Jan van Eyck having particular influence on the development of painting in Italy, both technically with the introduction of oil paint and canvas, and stylistically in terms of naturalism in representation. (For more, see Renaissance in the Netherlands). Later, the work of Pieter Brueghel the Elder would inspire artists to depict themes of everyday life.

Leonardo_self Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa,
The Last Supper and Vitruvian
Man
are examples of
Renaissance art

In architecture, Filippo Brunelleschi was foremost in studying the remains of ancient classical buildings, and with rediscovered knowledge from the 1st-century writer Vitruvius and the flourishing discipline of mathematics, formulated the Renaissance style which emulated and improved on classical forms. Brunelleschi’s major feat of engineering was the building of the dome of Florence Cathedral. The first building to demonstrate this is claimed to be the church of St. Andrew built by Alberti in Mantua. The outstanding architectural work of the High Renaissance was the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica, combining the skills of Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, Sangallo and Maderno.

Mona_Lisa Monalisa by Leonardo da Vinci is
a master piece of Renaissance
and world art

The Roman orders types of columns are used: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. These can either be structural, supporting an arcade or architrave, or purely decorative, set against a wall in the form of pilasters. During the Renaissance, architects aimed to use columns, pilasters, and entablatures as an integrated system. One of the first buildings to use pilasters as an integrated system was in the Old Sacristy (1421–1440) by Filippo Brunelleschi.

Arches, semi-circular or (in the Mannerist style) segmental, are often used in arcades, supported on piers or columns with capitals. There may be a section of entablature between the capital and the springing of the arch. Alberti was one of the first to use the arch on a monumental. Renaissance vaults do not have ribs. They are semi-circular or segmental and on a square plan, unlike the Gothic vault which is frequently rectangular.

Conception

The term was first used retrospectively by the Italian artist and critic Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) in his book The Lives of the Artists (published 1550). In the book Vasari was attempting to define what he described as a break with the barbarities of gothic art: the arts had fallen into decay with the collapse of the Roman Empire and only the Tuscan artists, beginning with Cimabue (1240–1301) and Giotto (1267–1337) began to reverse this decline in the arts. According to Vasari, antique art was central to the rebirth of Italian art.

However, it was not until the nineteenth century that the French word Renaissance achieved popularity in describing the cultural movement that began in the late-13th century. The Renaissance was first defined by French historian Jules Michelet (1798–1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France. For Michelet, the Renaissance was more a development in science than in art and culture. He asserted that it spanned the period from Columbus to Copernicus to Galileo; that is, from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the seventeenth century. Moreover, Michelet distinguished between what he called, "the bizarre and monstrous" quality of the Middle Ages and the democratic values that he, as a vocal Republican, chose to see in its character.[9] A French nationalist, Michelet also sought to claim the Renaissance as a French movement.

The Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) in his Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860), by contrast, defined the Renaissance as the period between Giotto and Michelangelo in Italy, that is, the 14th to mid-16th centuries. He saw in the Renaissance the emergence of the modern spirit of individuality, which had been stifled in the Middle Ages. His book was widely read and was influential in the development of the modern interpretation of the Italian Renaissance. However, Buckhardt has been accused of setting forth a linear Whiggish view of history in seeing the Renaissance as the origin of the modern world.

More recently, historians have been much less keen to define the Renaissance as a historical age, or even a coherent cultural movement. As Randolph Starn has put it,

Rather than a period with definitive beginnings and endings and consistent content in between, the Renaissance can be (and occasionally has been) seen as a movement of practices and ideas to which specific groups and identifiable persons variously responded in different times and places. It would be in this sense a network of diverse, sometimes converging, sometimes conflicting cultures, not a single, time-bound culture.
—Randolph Starn

For better or for worse?

Massacre_saint_barthelemy Painting of the St. Bartholomew’s
Day Massacre, an event in the
French Wars of Religion,
by François Dubois

Much of the debate around the Renaissance has centered around whether the Renaissance truly was an "improvement" on the culture of the Middle Ages. Both Michelet and Burckhardt were keen to describe the progress made in the Renaissance towards the "modern age". Burckhardt likened the change to a veil being removed from man’s eyes, allowing him to see clearly.

In the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness – that which was turned within as that which was turned without – lay dreaming or half awake beneath a common veil. The veil was woven of faith, illusion, and childish prepossession, through which the world and history were seen clad in strange hues.[75]

—Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

On the other hand, many historians now point out that most of the negative social factors popularly associated with the "medieval" period – poverty, warfare, religious and political persecution, for example – seem to have worsened in this era which saw the rise of Machiavelli, the Wars of Religion, the corrupt Borgia Popes, and the intensified witch-hunts of the 16th century. Many people who lived during the Renaissance did not view it as the "golden age" imagined by certain 19th-century authors, but were concerned by these social maladies. Significantly, though, the artists, writers, and patrons involved in the cultural movements in question believed they were living in a new era that was a clean break from the Middle Ages. Some Marxist historians prefer to describe the Renaissance in material terms, holding the view that the changes in art, literature, and philosophy were part of a general economic trend away from feudalism towards capitalism, resulting in a bourgeois class with leisure time to devote to the arts.

Johan Huizinga (1872–1945) acknowledged the existence of the Renaissance but questioned whether it was a positive change. In his book The Waning of the Middle Ages, he argued that the Renaissance was a period of decline from the High Middle Ages, destroying much that was important. The Latin language, for instance, had evolved greatly from the classical period and was still a living language used in the church and elsewhere. The Renaissance obsession with classical purity halted its further evolution and saw Latin revert to its classical form. Robert S. Lopez has contended that it was a period of deep economic recession. Meanwhile George Sarton and Lynn Thorndike have both argued that scientific progress was perhaps less original than has traditionally been supposed.

Some historians have begun to consider the word Renaissance to be unnecessarily loaded, implying an unambiguously positive rebirth from the supposedly more primitive "Dark Ages" (Middle Ages). Many historians now prefer to use the term "Early Modern" for this period, a more neutral designation that highlights the period as a transitional one between the Middle Ages and the modern era. Others such as Roger Osborne have come to consider the Italian Renaissance as a repository of the myths and ideals of western history in general, and instead of rebirth of ancient ideas as a period of great innovation.

     

References

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Renaissance… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

Web Sites and Blogs:

Brainy Quote: Renaissance Quotes…  
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/renaissance.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 As we enter the second day of Holy Week, let us continue to focus our attention on the Christ that is the center of this celebration. Yesterday, we commemorated the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Today we begin a less defined, in the Western world, period (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) in the observation. It is a time to continue our focus upon the meaning of this period of time.  GLB

    

“Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter.”
— Josh McDowell

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
— Pope John Paul II

“Most people outside of America won’t get it. It’s the Easter bunny. It’s another lie and I don’t understand why we had to invent this character.”
— Todd Rundgren

“I am very proud of this work because it is more about the meaning of the Easter Rising and its relationship to what this whole century has been about, people liberating themselves, freeing themselves.”
— Leon Uris

“And it is always Easter Sunday at the New York City Ballet. It is always coming back to life. Not even coming back to life – it lives in the constant present.”
— John Guare

“Do we believe that there is equal economic opportunity out there in the real world, right now, for each and every one of these groups? If we believed in the tooth fairy, if we believed in the Easter Bunny, we might well believe that.”
— William Weld

“God expects from men something more than at such times, and that it were much to be wished for the credit of their religion as well as the satisfaction of their conscience that their Easter devotions would in some measure come up to their Easter dress.”
— Robert South

“A strangely reflective, even melancholy day. Is that because, unlike our cousins in the northern hemisphere, Easter is not associated with the energy and vitality of spring but with the more subdued spirit of autumn?”
— Hugh Mackay

  

Holy Week: Holy Monday

5208-20080122-1255UTC--jerusalem-calvary Holy Monday or Great and Holy Monday is the Monday of Holy Week, which precedes the commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. It is the second day of holy week.

Western Christianity

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Gospel lesson at Mass tells of the Anointing of Jesus at Bethany (John 12:1-9), which chronologically occurred before the Entry into Jerusalem described in John 12:12-19. Other readings used are Isaiah 42:1-7 and Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14.

Few Protestant churches have special services for Holy Monday. Those which do may follow the general pattern of the Roman Catholic observance.

Eastern Christianity

Konstantin_Flavitsky_001 In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, this day is referred to as Great and Holy Monday, or Great Monday. On this day the Church commemorates the withering of the fruitless fig tree (Matthew 12:18-22), a symbol of judgement that will befall those who do not bring forth the fruits of repentance. The hymns on this day also recall Joseph, the son of Jacob, whose innocent suffering at the hand of his brethren (Genesis 37), and false accusation (Genesis 39-40) are a type (foreshadowing) of the Passion of Christ.

The day begins liturgically with Vespers on Palm Sunday night, repeating some of the same stichera (hymns) from the night before. At Small Compline a Triode (Canon composed of three Odes), written by St. Andrew of Crete is chanted.

The Matins service for Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week is known as the Bridegroom Service or Bridegroom Prayer, because of their theme of Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, a theme movingly expressed in the troparion that is solemnly chanted during them. On these days, an icon of "Christ the Bridegroom" is placed on an analogion in the center of the temple, portraying Jesus wearing the purple robe of mockery and crowned with a crown of thorns (see Instruments of the Passion). The Matins Gospel read on this day is from the Gospel of Matthew 21:18-43). The canon at Matins has only three odes in it (a triode), and was composed by St. Cosmas of Maiuma.

The four Gospels are divided up and read in their entirety at the Little Hours (Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Ninth Hour) during the course of the first three days of Holy Week, halting at John 13:31.

There are various methods of dividing the Gospels, but the following is the most common practice:

Holy and Great Monday
  • Third Hour—The first half of Matthew
  • Sixth Hour—The second half of Matthew
  • Ninth Hour—The first half of Mark

At the Sixth Hour there is a reading from the Book of Ezekiel 1:1-20

At the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, some of the stichera from the previous night’s Matins (Lauds and the Aposticha) are repeated at Lord, I have cried (see Vespers). There are two Old Testament readings: Exodus 1:1-20 and Job 1:1-12. There is no Epistle reading, but there is a Gospel reading from Matthew 24:3-35

Scripture Reading

We have an eternal high priest and an eternal sacrifice in Jesus Christ. The Law is no longer imposed externally, as it was in the old covenant, but written on the hearts of those who believe. Now, writes St. Paul in the Letter to the Hebrews, we must simply persevere in the Faith. When we doubt or draw back, we fall into sin.

Hebrews 10:19-39

Having therefore, brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ; a new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, and a high priest over the house of God: Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), and let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.

For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, but a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But call to mind the former days, wherein, being illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions. And on the one hand indeed, by reproaches and tribulations, were made a gazingstock; and on the other, became companions of them that were used in such sort. For you both had compassion on them that were in bands, and took with joy the being stripped of your own goods, knowing that you have a better and a lasting substance. Do not therefore lose your confidence, which hath a great reward. For patience is necessary for you; that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise.

For yet a little and a very little while, and he that is to come, will come, and will not delay. But my just man liveth by faith; but if he withdraw himself, he shall not please my soul. But we are not the children of withdrawing unto perdition, but of faith to the saving of the soul.

  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

     

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Holy Week… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week

Wikipedia: Holy Monday… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Monday

About.com: Scriptural Reading for the Monday of Holy Week… 
http://catholicism.about.com/od/lentenreadings/qt/Reading_MoHW.htm

Brainy Quote: Easter Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/easter.html

by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Most of us don’t remember the rationing implemented during the second world war, but many of our parents do (and if not our parents, our grandparents). Many of the goods that we now take for granted were needed for the war effort and, therefore, they were not available to consumers. Most people complied to support their sons fighting in either the European or Pacific theaters of the war. We review some of the things that people on the home front had to do without. We are now going through with some of that in terms of energy, carbon emissions, and other resources in short supply worldwide..  GLB

    

“I don’t like Communism because it hands out wealth through rationing books.”
— Omar Torrijos Herrera

“There was still food rationing in England and life was difficult all through my 2 year stay in Oxford.”
— Sydney Brenner

“If we are to keep democracy, there must be a commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.”
— Learned Hand

“If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: “Thou shalt not ration justice.””
— Sophocles

“If you believe that health care is a public good to be guaranteed by the state, then a single-payer system is the next best alternative. Unfortunately, it is fiscally unsustainable without rationing.”
— Charles Krauthammer

“I began to ration my writing, for fear I would dream through life as my father had done. I was afraid I had inherited a poisoned gene from him, a vocation without a gift.”
— Mavis Gallant

“Even during the rationing period, during World War II, we didn’t have the anxiety that we’d starve, because we grew our own potatoes, you know? And our own hogs, and our own cows and stuff, you know.”
— James Earl Jones

“Revolutions require work, revolutions require sacrifice, revolutions, and our own included, require a certain amount of rationing, a certain amount of calluses, a certain amount of sacrifice.”
— Lee Harvey Oswald

Rationing in the United States: World War II

RationingBoardNOLAVachonC Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, or services. Rationing controls the size of the ration, one’s allotted portion of the resources being distributed on a particular day or at a particular time.

Rationing is often instituted during wartime for civilians as well. For example, each person may be given “ration coupons” allowing him or her to purchase a certain amount of a product each month. Rationing often includes food and other necessities for which there is a shortage, including materials needed for the war effort such as rubber tires, leather shoes, clothing and gasoline. Towards the end of the First World War, panic buying in the United Kingdom prompted rationing of first sugar, then meat, for the rest of the war. During World War II rationing existed in many countries including the United Kingdom and the United States.

United States

WWII_USA_Basic_Mileage_Ration_(front) Class A Basic mileage ration stamps
for 1934 Plymouth

At the beginning of World War II, a rationing system was established in the United States. The United States had an abundance of petroleum at the time nationally, but lacked enough infrastructure to transport petroleum overland to all parts of the country. Gasoline shortages were especially acute in the Eastern states because most petroleum was carried by sea by tanker, which became dangerous with U-Boats operating off the USA coast. Until the Big Inch and Little Big Inch pipelines started pumping petroleum from East Texas to the northeast states, gas supplies in the East were tight. Of equal concern for all parts of the country was a shortage of rubber for tires since the Japanese quickly conquered the rubber-producing regions of Southeast Asia. Although synthetic rubber had been invented in the years preceding the war, it had been unable to compete with natural rubber commercially, so the USA did not have enough manufacturing capacity at the start of the war to make synthetic rubber. Throughout the war, rationing of gasoline was motivated by a desire to conserve rubber as much as by a desire to conserve gasoline.

A national speed limit of 35 miles per hour was imposed to save fuel and rubber for tires. Depending on need, civilians were issued one of a number of classifications of gasoline cards, entitling them to a quantity of gasoline each week. When purchasing gasoline, one had to present a gas card and a vehicle sticker in addition to payment. Books of ration stamps were issued for other commodities and were valid only for a set period, to forestall hoarding.

To get a classification and rationing stamps, one had to appear before a local War Price and Rationing Board which reported to the U.S. Office of Price Administration. Each person in a household received a ration book, including babies and small children who qualified for canned milk not available to others. To receive a gasoline ration card, a person had to certify a need for gasoline and ownership of no more than five tires. All tires in excess of five per driver were confiscated by the government, because of rubber shortages. An A sticker on a car was the lowest priority of gasoline rationing and entitled the car owner to 3 to 4 gallons of gasoline per week. B stickers were issued to workers in the military industry, entitling their holder up to 8 gallons of gasoline per week. C stickers were granted to persons deemed very essential to the war effort, such as doctors. T rations were made available for truckers. Lastly, X stickers on cars entitled the holder to unlimited supplies and were the highest priority in the system. Ministers of Religion, police, firemen, and civil defense workers were in this category. A scandal erupted when 200 Congressmen received these X stickers.

WWII_USA_Ration_Book_3_Front Tires were the first item to be rationed in January 1942 after supplies of natural rubber were interrupted. Soon afterward, passenger automobiles, typewriters, sugar, gasoline, bicycles, footwear, fuel oil, coffee, stoves, meat, lard, shortening and oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled, and frozen), dried fruits, canned milk, firewood and coal, jams, jellies, and fruit butter were rationed by November 1943.

WWII_USA_Ration_Book_3_Back Medicines such as penicillin were rationed by a triage committee at each hospital.

Many levels of rationing went into effect. Some items, such as sugar, were distributed evenly based on the number of people in a household. Other items, like gasoline or fuel oil, were rationed only to those who could justify a need. Restaurant owners and other merchants were accorded more availability, but had to collect ration stamps to restock their supplies. In exchange for used ration stamps, ration boards delivered certificates to restaurants and merchants to authorize procurement of more products.

The work of issuing ration books and exchanging used stamps for certificates was handled by some 5,500 local ration boards of mostly volunteer workers selected by local officials.

Each ration stamp had a generic drawing of an airplane, gun, tank, aircraft carrier, ear of wheat, fruit, etc. and a serial number. Some stamps also had alphabetic lettering. The kind and amount of rationed commodities were not specified on most of the stamps and were not defined until later when local newspapers published, for example, that beginning on a specified date, one airplane stamp was required (in addition to cash) to buy one pair of shoes and one stamp number 30 from ration book four was required to buy five pounds of sugar. The commodity amounts changed from time to time depending on availability. Red stamps were used to ration meat and butter, and blue stamps were used to ration processed foods.

To enable making change for ration stamps, the government issued “red point” tokens to be given in change for red stamps, and “blue point” tokens in change for blue stamps. The red and blue tokens were about the size of dimes (16 mm) and were made of thin compressed wood fiber material, because metals were in short supply.

Description of Rationing by a World War II Brit

Horace Basham, in a posting to Youth.com, describes his experience about rationing during World War II. Check out the citation below in the References section below.

My name is Horace A. Basham. Ex-RAF Aircraft Mechanic. At the start of the war I lived in the east end of London, West Ham. Which was heavily bombed.

In 1939 at the beginning of World War 2 Britain was put on strict rationing. All imports would be in short supply, as were much of home grown and manufactered commodities. Everyone, man. woman and child, were issued with a ration card and a National Registration card (an indentity card).

The ration cards were presented to shopkeepers who cut the appropriate number of coupons for the rationed item at the time of purchase. The number of coupons cut was determined by the Ministry of Food. Sometimes more or less were taken depending on the supply of any particular commodity. Fruit and most veggies., unless they were grow yourself. Oranges and Bananas were a very rare luxury. Items of food rationed included Meat, (including bacon); milk and milk powder, the later was mainly for children and invalids; eggs; clothing and footwear; Petrol and oil, these of course were reserved for essential services. The ordinary person had none or very litle. Not so many had cars anyway.

I can not give you an accurate account of the amounts allowed of each item. It was little enough. For one person; one or two eggs a week; 2oz. of butter per person. The wrapper of a pound pat of butter was printed in 2 oz. segments. It was easy to cut the allotted 2ozs. We had eight of us at home at the beginning of the war so we would get a whole 1 lb. pat of butter. Cheese was at 2 to 4 0zs. heavy workers got the larger amount. Miners got other privileges also. I preferred to eat salted margarine than butter, the rest of the familiy had my butter ration. And so that was the pattern of things. What one did not eat others did and there was a swapping too with friends and neighbors. In the main the M o F. managed rationing very well. People were not starved and the balanced diet benifitted the whole population gaining in health. Except for Scotland the beer was brewed weaker. Clothing and footwear were made to a standard. All items conforming to a war time standard had a special brand mark. Much use was made made of factory canteens or cafes near by the work place. Where meals could be had without surrendering of precious food coupons.

As my brothers were called up to the army we had less. and of course when I went into the RAF there was less still. But with two brothers and sister with mum and dad there was no real hardship. dad had an allotment where he grew much of our vegitables. Surpluses could be swapped.

That there was a black market can not be denied. I for one once used it on one of my leaves. We were issued with ration coupons for use on leave. But not enough clothing coupons to buy much. Not even a pair of shoes. I went to Petticoat Lane street market in Aldgate London to see what I could get. I approached one stallholder and he directed me to the back of his shop. Here we struck a bargain. I bought from him the extra coupons needed. I then left the shop. Handed the coupons and the purchase price of the shoes to the same stallholder. I had a smart new pair of utility shoes to wear with my uniform. Instead of heavy military boots. Why were transactions carried out like this? because appearances had to be maintained.

I hope my inadequate discription of rationing in WW2 satifies some of your questions.

      

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1790…
    John Tyler, the tenth U.S. president, is born in Charles City County, Virginia.
  • In 1848…
    An ice jam at the source of the Niagara River causes Niagara Falls to stop flowing for the first time in recorded history.
  • In 1927…
    Major Henry O’Neil de Hane Segrave becomes the first man to drive faster than 200 miles per hour, on a course at Daytona Beach, Florida.
  • In 1951…
    Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.
  • In 1973…
    The last U.S. troops depart South Vietnam, ending America’s direct military involvement in the Vietnam War.
  • In 1974…
    Mariner 10 becomes the first space probe to visit the planet Mercury and send back close-up images.
  • In 1999…
    The Dow Jones industrial average closes above 10,000 for the first time.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Rationing… 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing#United_States

Wikipedia: RE: Rationing in WW2… 
http://www.youth.net/memories/hypermail/0189.html

Brainy Quote: Rationing… 
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/rationing.html

Gerald L. Boerner

    

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 I visited this exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) and found to my delight an assemblage of some of the great photographs from the career of one of the most notable fashion and portrait photographers of the last half century. Richard Avedon has photographed the rich and famous as well as the poor. This exhibit also presented sixty-nine images of the movers and shakers of the American government during the 1970s and 1980s. While it is no longer on display on the West coast, I would encourage anyone interested in photography to catch any exhibit that includes any of the images included in this exhibition.  .  GLB

    

The Exhibit:

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power
San Diego Museum of Art
June 6 through September 6, 2009

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power traces Avedon’s interest in and fascination with American politics through the 1950s until the photographer’s death in 2004. Organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., with the cooperation of the Richard Avedon Foundation, New York, and the Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power contains many rarely seen photographs drawn from the collection of the Richard Avedon Foundation, including works that have never before been exhibited or published.

Format and Presentation: All photographs were mounted in frames behind glass. They varied in size from 8 by 10 inches up to poster size or larger. They were all silver gelatin prints from film showing excellent darkroom development. He allowed some edges of the prints to develop to black to create a type of frame around the individual prints. There were a few color prints, but most were in black and white.

Review of the Exhibit:

“During his six-decade career, Richard Avedon was arguably the most important American fashion photographer and portraitist. Avedon mastered his craft while serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II, and he found employment after the war with Harper’s Bazaar and Theater Arts. He quickly rose to prominence in his field, invigorating fashion photography of the time by staging fictional tableaux and developing an unprecedented theatrical style. He moved to Vogue in 1966 and to The New Yorker in 1992, and he continued to be an innovator in fashion photography and portraiture, as well as print and television advertising, until his death in 2004.”

Richard Avedon was indeed a photographic craftsman. From his early magazine work for Harper’s Bazaar and Theater Arts, he proceeded to photograph both the rich and famous along with those out of power. As you enter the gallery, you come face to face with a 3’ by 3’ portrait of Charlie Chaplin with his fingers pointing like a pair of horns out of his head. Just beyond that, we see a portrait of one of the last slaves still living. In all of these photos, he has the vision of just how to light the subject to create the appropriate mood. While he allowed the subjects to assume a pose that was most comfortable, he positioned his camera to compose just the right “take” on each subject.

richard_avedon_07 One of the things that I felt when viewing these images was how he captured the eyes of his subjects. In some cases, the eyes were wide open and the spectral highlights capture your attention. In others, he lit the scene so that these highlights were missing — the person stared out as if thorough a morning fog. His capture of the eyes might be pensive, agitated, fearful, forlorn, or lonely. One of the first images that I saw after the Charlie Chaplin portrait was a shot of William Cosby, who had been born a slave. This portrait showed the elderly black man staring into the distance with a “resolved” glare, as if he were looking back over his life. Avedon’s portraits have a way of telling a story without a word other than “…born a slave.” This picture indeed says a thousand words with his image jumping out through the eyes and use of highlights and shadows.

The use of highlights and shadows was a skill evidenced throughout the exhibit. It was interesting to compare, for instance, the traditional head portrait of Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State with the more pensive portrait taken of him years later. In the latter portrait, Kissinger was lighted so that the aged skin tones and heavy wrinkles of the face told a story of the burden that he had carried during his years of public service. While still flattering, the selective accentuation of these tonal variations made for an eye-catching, compelling photograph. This was but one example of Avedon’s wise use of light.

His documentary images were also eye-popping. He captured the Embassy Staff in Saigon just before the fall of the Embassy. He illustrated the full impact of war upon these staff members. His portraits of the G.I.’s, of the Vietnamese woman caught in a napalm “bath”, his capture of the fear in the people are so realistic that they could be the cause of nightmares in children. Also, he caught the lawyers and defendants involved in the “Chicago Seven” trial in the late 1960s. The realism of photographing the realities of conflict without being limited by the setting is to be admired. He demonstrated his “craft” in less than optimal circumstances, an indication of real talent!

avedonthefamily1-410x333 On display also is the groundbreaking series of portraits, The Family that has been commissioned by Rolling Stone magazine. He captured, in rather sterile, studio poses, sixty-nine portraits of elected officials, government bureaucrats, lawyers & lobbyists, captains of industry, and union officials. These sixty-nine portraits were all 8 by 10 inches, mounted in frames behind glass, and arranged in three rows of twenty –three portraits each. Just the number of photos and their arrangement had a major impact on any observer seeing the sheer mass of this display. These were the men and women of power during the 1970s and 1980s! This gallery of the elite was not arranged with similar individuals grouped together, but their impact was increased by the interspersing of portraits of individuals from different groups in juxtaposition. However, in each of these portraits, Avedon composed the images in slightly different ways, so they were not mirror images, as if from an assembly line. And, as usual, the eyes speak loud and clear so that each portrait told its own story. With a little bit of background in the context of the 1970s and 1980s, one could hear each of these portraits telling an important part of the story of that era in American history.

I would suggest that anyone planning to visit this exhibit would be well-advised to read a bit about the political history of the last half of the 20th century. These photos tell visually what textbooks tell in words: the character of the players in the shaping the policies of our nation. The book by the Corcoran Gallery on this exhibit contains essays and photos present in this exhibit. This book can aid one’s preparation for understanding what is being portrayed in these portraits. Bibliographic information is found at the end of this report.

2734604473_b5e33dc1cdThis exhibit presents Avedon’s work in a sequence of periods. During in each of these periods, Avedon utilized slightly different perspectives. These can be seen in some images being more carefree, some being more somber, others being very pensive, and still others being very reflective of the dark side of man. But during all of these periods, he was able to capture the subjects of his portraits in a variety of moods appropriate to the subject and the context of America at that point in history.

It should be noted that some of the images on exhibit portray the nude body, primarily of males. This did not always reflect the sexual orientation of those being photographed, but the lighting employed was used to obtain the best image of the subject. Some parts of the anatomy of some of his subjects were of significant proportion, which he portrayed as just another part of the character of the person being photographed. I include this note as a warning to those who do not wish to view such images. Most of the exhibit consists of clothed individual, so a word to the wise should be sufficient.

barack-obama_885652i To end this review on a high note, one of the most impacting images on display was that of our current president, Barach Obama as an Illinois state senator. This portrait was taken with Obama in shirt sleeves and sans a tie. He was about to make the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention. The portrait caught the energy, determination and physical attributes of this future president of these United States. Time will tell how he will appear after his four or eight years in that office. But in this portrait, he inspires confidence and hope.

Finally, one can view Avedon’s portraits in one of many magazines. He was prolific in his productivity over his lifetime. But it takes seeing this mass of work in display at one time and in one place to truly appreciate the full impact of his body of work. I believe that this body of work should be required viewing of most students of photography, digital or film. In addition, I would suggest that as one views this exhibit, one looks carefully at the use of light and shadow to create the high-impact images on display in this exhibit. It is a real lesson in how to do portrait photography. Also, his wisdom in allowing each of his subjects to determine their own posing position had a profound impact on these images. Avedon placed his camera in such a way to capture the best rendering of his subject given their self-selected pose and the lighting in use. He then was able to capture these images that show his subjects in an extremely relaxed position in the best light possible. These are all lessons we can all benefit from in our own photographs!

Bibliography:

Steidl & Partners. (2008) Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power. Co-published with The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. & The Richard Avedon Foundation (ISBN: 978-3-86521-675-5)

Richard Avedon photographed the faces of politics throughout his career and this book brings together his political portraits for the first time. Juxtaposing images of elite government, media, and labor officials with photographs of countercultural activists, writers and artists, and ordinary citizens caught up in national debates, it explores a five-decade taxonomy of politics and power by one of America’s best-known artists.

Richard Avedon’s Web Site…
http://www.richardavedon.com/#p=-1&at=-1