Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pope's First Mass - Not Big Enough For the Raphael Tapestries ?

Pope's Inaugural Mass in the Sistine Chapel
I closed the last post  with - how BIG must the occasion be before they bring out the Raphael Tapestries?!

Well not even the Pope's first Mass in the Sistine Chapel is worthy of the Tapestries. The lower walls remain bare save for their faux drapery.

The Tapestries absence could be due to the new Pope's shunning of all the ostentation associated with the office of  Pope - much of the pomp deliberately being stripped away.

The chapel nevertheless looks magnificent with the Cardinals in Gold for the Mass in contrast to Red for the Conclave - a wonderful site!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Pope App Answers My Question From the Last Conclave

Sistine Chapel Ready For the Conclave
A question I posed on the Sistine Chapel’s  Wiki Entry during the conclave , back in 2005, for last Pope - Pope Benedict 16th/XVI - has just been answered. Here's my question from Wikipedia:
Raphael's Tapestries and the Conclave
Is it true that the Tapestries from Raphael's cartoons are only brought out for major events in the Sistine. Such an event is the current Conclave to select a new Pope ?
If so are there any pictures or video of the Chapel in all its glory complete with the Raphael tapestries ? Where can I get them ?
One of Ten Raphael Sistine Chapel Tapestries - Christ's Charge to Peter
The Raphael Tapestries were designed in Rome by Raphael and made Bruges by the leading weaver of the day, in the early sixteenth century. There was a recent, much acclaimed, V&A exhibition on the cartoons or drawings   which showed them off beautifully - comparing V&A's cartoon/drawing with the Vatican's real thing. I have written about a Black in one of the Tapestries.

My question has now been answered however not by any Wikipedia correspondents but by The Pope App from Vatican News on my iPhone!

Cardinals in front of the Faux Drapery
I have the pictures you see here of the Chapel set up for the Conclave taken from The Pope App, which allowed the images to be shared on Facebook, Twitter or by email. And oddly, sadly there are NO Raphael tapestries to be seen.  The faux drapes are there -  remaining uncovered, exposed below the Florentine frescos looking, to my eye, a bit lost and out of place in all the glory of the Chapel and Cardinals. 

You would think on such an illustrious, historic occasion the Chapel would be dressed in all its finery – in its very best.

Chapel and Cardinals
Still it does look good with Michelangelo’s inspirational ceiling, his awesome Last Judgment and the beautiful frescos from fifteenth century Florence’s finest painters all set off by the Cardinals in their dramatic red robes to great effect.

A wonderful sight – pure theatre on the most breathtaking stage - bring on the white smoke!

BTW how BIG must the occasion be before they bring out the Raphael Tapestries?!

Black Magus in Birmingham

Adriaen Isenbrandt  Adoration of the Magi Triptych  (1510-12)
I had an hour or so to spare in Birmingham,  last Sunday so decided to visit its Art Gallery to see if any Renaissance Blacks were to be found.

It was quite easy, perhaps too easy, as the Gallery's paintings and sculpture were laid out chronologically. In its Medieval and Renaissance room I found an Adoration scene by Adriaen Isenbrandt (c1490 to 1551) with a characteristic Black Magus complete with earring. He was in a Adoration panel flanked either side - dexter (right!) panel The Annunciation and sinister (left!) panel The Circumcision. 

Adriaen Isenbrandt  Black Magus Detail
Isenbrandt‘s realistic, naturalistic style with much exquisite detail in all parts of the composition, in oil on oak, follows the style of two previous generations of Bruges artists :                      

1st  Generation Jan Van Eyck (c. 1395–1441) 

2nd Generation Hans Memling (1430 - 1494)

3rd Generation Adriaen Isenbrandt (c1490 to 1551)

The Black Magus presence most probably came from Isenbrandt‘s awareness of Hans Memling’s (1430 - 1494) influential Adoration work (see below), as Memling had done , for me, the definitive work that introduced the Black Magus presence into the Adoration composition to other Netherlandish artists of the period.

Memling’s Adoration was itself a variation of a work by his master Roger van den Weyden (c1400 - 1464) - van Wyden’s foppish young, White Magus is  substituted - fifteen years later - by Memling for an equally flamboyant young but Black Magus.

Rodger van den Weyden, Adoration of the Magi, oil on panel, c.1455

Hans Memling, Adoration of the Magi, oil on panel, c.1470-72,

Netherlandish rtists such as Hugo van der Goes (1440- 1482), Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) and Gerard David (active 1484; died 1523). Just like Adriaen Isenbrandt seem to have been aware of the Memling altarpiece with its Black Magus.

So, Adriaen Isenbrandt's Adoration Tryptch with its Black Magus takes its style from fifteenth century Bruges artistic traditions and its composition from Hans Memling to create a colourful, pleasing and typical Adoration with a Black Magus.

Adriaen Isenbrandt  Adoration Triptych Detail

Adriaen Isenbrandt  Adoration of the Magi Triptych (Detail) (1510-12)