Thursday, September 8, 2016
Renaissance Magazine Newsletter #4
Christmas Across Centuries featuring The Tallis Scholars
With radiant harmonies and cascading polyphony, early music has beguiled Miller audiences since the theater's founding. Today's masters of period performance bring this ancient music to life, each employing their own signature style. This season, the Orlando Consort present a thrilling new project: Carl Theodor Dreyer's classic silent film La Passion de Jeanne d'Arcaccompanied by a live score of medieval music. We'll also hear from returning favorites The Tallis Scholars, Le Poème Harmonique, and New York Polyphony, while the Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis make their Miller debut.
The peerless Tallis Scholars return to the picturesque sanctuary of St. Mary's with a celebration of Christmas. The holiday mass Puer natus est nobis captures Renaissance master Thomas Tallis at his most splendid and complex, perfectly paired with celebratory works by his contemporary John Sheppard. The program also includes a pair of works by Arvo Pärt, whose crystal clear counterpoint is a perfect fit for The Tallis Scholars. Pärt's love of polyphony, and his respect for his 16th-century forebears, shines in these graceful works.
The Tallis Scholars were founded in 1973 by their director, Peter Phillips. Through their recordings and concert performances, they have established themselves as the leading exponents of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Peter Phillips has worked with the ensemble to create, through good tuning and blend, the purity and clarity of sound which he feels best serve the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard. It is the resulting beauty of sound for which The Tallis Scholars have become so widely renowned.
FLORENCE, Portraits at the Court of the Medicis
Complete report, with images:
The Jacquemart-André Museum is presenting an exhibition dedicated to the art of 16th century Florentine portrait painting. The unerring eye of Edward André and Nélie Jacquemart has enabled them to collect, amid the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance art, portraits by the hand of such painters as Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Francesco Salviati. For the first time in Paris, they will be reunited with their contemporaries Rosso Fiorentino, Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo and Bronzino. Famous in their time, but today less well known by the French public, these artists fashioned the portraits of men and women who witnessed the profound transformation of the city of Florence during the 16th century. The selected works, presented in an itinerary that is both thematic and chronological, allow us to understand the progressive evolution of the genre towards a public and personal affirmation of the self-image as a desire to leave a mark for posterity.
This exhibition provides the opportunity to rediscover these refined portraits of the late Renaissance and its distinguished representatives. Following the austerity of the Republican era, still bearing the imprint of the teachings of the great masters such as Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael, portraits become brilliant and complex, symbols as much of the luxury of the Medici court as of the inner beauty of the soul, manifestos of the «modern style» that was so greatly admired.
In the 16th century, the art of portraiture became increasingly common among the Florentine elite, who had found in it a means of capturing their facial characteristics and social status for posterity. They drew on literary characters such as Petrarch, musical references or a staged production full of symbols to describe the model’s life in all its facets.
The Musée Jacquemart-André has devoted an unrivalled exhibition to the great Florentine portrait painters of the 16th century, based on around forty works. Alongside the presentation of masterpieces by Pontormo, a pupil of Andrea del Sarto and master of mannerism, there will be a chance to appreciate the refined and graceful features, typical of the portraits of Bronzino or Salviati, which are testimony to a meaningful sense of sophistication.
This exhibition will offer a panorama of Florentine portraiture in the 16th century with all its main themes and stylistic transformations. Through the eyes of the painters experimenting with new ways of representing their contemporaries, it will allow visitors to appreciate the style developments of the Cinquecento, an especially eventful century in cultural and religious terms.
The portraits of the republican period in the early 16th century in all their gravitas gave way to heroic representations of men at war, symbols of military and political conflicts that led the Medici to seize power in Florence in 1530. Next come the court portraits, distinguished by their richness and elegance, and the portraits of artists, witnesses to a new role bestowed on court painters and opening their minds to other forms of art such as poetry and music.
This exhibition has benefited from an extraordinary partnership with the Museums of Florence. Other renowned international museum institutions and exceptional collections such as the Royal Collection (London), the Louvre (Paris) and even the Städel Museum (Frankfurt) are also supporting this event with remarkable loans
The Republic of Florence and the Dawn of the Golden Age of Portraiture
The premature death of Lorenzo il Magnifico, on 4 April 1492, was a turning point in the history of Florence and the Medici. The decades 1490–1510 marked a low point for these merchants, whose good fortune had brought them wealth and power for more than a century. Il Magnifico was succeeded by his son Piero who, in 1494 was obliged to flee the city, and Savonarola took power. It was not until 1512 that the Medici were finally authorised to return to the city. Florence underwent a radical political and cultural transformation.
Throughout this period, young artists depicted their models against a plain background or before a landscape, as can be seen in Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio’s Veiled Woman.Whether depicted in three quarters or in profile, like the Portrait of a Man by both Franciabigio and Rosso Fiorentino respectively, the models are serious and have a certain simplicity—severity even — in both their postures and their attire. The rigour and sobriety characteristic of these works reflected the return to moral values linked to antique republican virtues.The names of numerous artists were ascribed this painting, before it was eventually attributed to Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.
What persists from these conjectures is the unanimous recognition of the artist’s sensibility to the «maniera moderna» (modern style) of Leonardo and Raphael. To begin with, the twisting movement of the body contributes to the impact of the young woman’s presence: the three-quarters pose hints at the upper back and the tilt of the shoulders feigns a vitality that energises the pyramid in which the body seems to move.
Next, the hands stage an invitation to look closer: the right hand seems to be resting on the picture frame, the fingers exhibiting a disturbing naturalism, the rings capturing and reflecting the light, as do the gilded edges of the pages of the Prayer Book.
The topographical narration is depicted through the two openings in the loggia. On the left, one can see the hospital at the convent of San Paolo. On the right, before a fortified enclosure, stands the monastery of San Jacopo di Ripoli.The appearance of the young woman complies with the standards of beauty that were fashionable at the time. The shoulders are exposed by a deep neckline that reveals the beginning of the bosom, with a hint of the lacework around the edge of the bodice. The dress and its detachable sleeves are made from a fine black woollen cloth that Florentine weavers exported all over Europe. Under a translucent veil, undulating delicately and coming to rest on the bare shoulders, a white satin bonnet gathers the long hair, hiding it from the eyes of a society that attributed an erogenous power to it.
Despite the restraint in the choice of hues and the simplicity of the ornaments, the dress and the bonnet are made from high quality fabrics and their cut denotes a sensuality that would be astonishing in a portrait of a religious lady.In contrast, a certain moderation in the display of pomp bears witness to a style of attire that was specific to the ladies of Florence because of the social context, for the Republic had decreed sumptuary laws in order to limit the consumption of luxury goods by the urban elite. The aim was to promote the export of wealth so as to ensure the economic sustainability of the province; it was also a way to return to the moral foundations of the Republic.