Friday, August 23, 2013

Silk Screen Painting

Quite a few years ago, I posted that silk screen painting was not period for the Germanic people in my chosen time frame of study.  I ran across something interesting, which doesn't necessarily counter this view point, but it does question it.

Gail Stirler wrote an article on Advanced Techniques on Silk Banner Painting in which she includes part of a translation of Cennino d'Andrea Cennini's "Ill Libro dell' Arte" or The Craftsman's Handbook.  Cennini was an Italian painter who supposedly lived from about 1370 until about 1440, though this is somewhat questionable.  The supposition is that his work was written sometime in the 14th century.  The translated section from her article has been copied here verbatim as follows:
X.clxv: If you have to do palls or other jobs on silk, first spread them out on a stretcher as I taught you for the cloth. And, according to what the ground is, take chaboni (vine charcoal), either black or white. Do your drawing, and fix it either with ink or with tempered color; and if the same scene or figure has to be executed on both sides, put the stretcher in the sun with the drawing turned toward the sun, so that it shines through it. Stand on the reverse side. With your tempered color, with your fine minever brush, go over the shadow which you see made by the drawing. If you have to draw at night, take a large lamp on the side toward your design, and a small lamp on the side which you are drawing, this, on the right side; thus there might be a lighted taper on the side which is drawn on, and a candle on the side which you are drawing, if there is no sun. And if you have to draw by day, contrive to have light from two windows on the side with the drawing, and have the light from one little window shine on what you have to draw.
Then size with the usual size wherever you have to paint or gild; and mix a little white of egg with this size, say one white of egg to four goblets of or glasses of size. And when you have got it sized, if you want to lay any diadem or ground in burnished gold, to bring you great honor and reputation, take gesso sottile and a little Armenian bottle, ground very find together, and a little bit of sugar. Then with the usual size and a very little white of egg, mixed with a small amount of white lead, you put on two coats of it thinly wherever you wish to gild. Then apply your bole just as you apply it on panel. Then lay your gold with clear water, mixing with it a little of the tempera for the bole; and burnish it over a good smooth slab, or a good sound, smooth board. And stamp and punch it likewise over this board.
Furthermore, you may paint any subject in the usual way, tempering the colors with yolk of egg, laying the colors in six or eight times, or ten, out of regard for the varnishing; and then you may gild the diadems or grounds with oil mordants; and the embellishments with garlic mordents, varnishing afterward, but preferable with oil mordants. And let this serve for ensigns, banners and all.
This indicates to my untrained artistic brain, that the method of silk screen painting was in use during the medieval period.  I have yet to find any indication that it was used in the Germanic areas, but at least it gives a lead into the possibility of this technique, as trade between the Italians and the Germans was free and common throughout much of the middle ages.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Meister Bertram's Altars - Part 2, Buxtehude Altar

The Buxtehuder Altar, which has been variously dated from 1367-87 to 1400-10, appears to be a collection of 18 images.  The arrangement of 16 of those images are presented below, but the placement of the remaining 2 images is currently a mystery.  The only reference I've been able to find to these other two images comes from the 1905 book concerning Meister Bertram (SEE: Meister Bertram's Altars - Part 1, Grabow Altar) and they have not been included in this post as I was unable to find color images of them available.

Left panel
Row 1: (1) Joachim's Sacrifice, (2) Joachim among the Shepherds
Row 2: (3) Circumcision of Christ, (4) The Adoration of the Kings

Center panel:
Row 1: (5) Encounter under the Golden Gate, (6) The Birth of Mary, (7) The Annunciation of Mary, (8) The Visitation
Row 2: (9) Presentation in the Temple, (10) The Massacre of the Innocents, (11) The Flight into Egypt, (12) The Christ Child in the Temple

Right panel
Row 1: (13) The Birth of Christ, (14) The Annunciation to the Shepherds
Row 2: (15) The Visit of the Angels [or Knitting Madonna], (16) The Wedding at Cana

What I enjoy the most about these paintings are the everyday details which Meister Bertram chose to present.  There are flasks (or flasche) in 2, 13, 14 and 16; a two-pronged pitchfork? in 2 and 14; dining ware (dishes, jugs, knife, tablecloth) in 6 and 16; a workbasket in 15; knitting in the round (knit stitch only) in 15; a hunting horn in 14; a child's toy top with string in 15; and various clothing representations for nobles down to peasants and children.

I am curious about the belt the gentleman server is wearing in 16.  Could the piece attached to his belt indicate that some purses or pouches were hung from the belt in this manner instead of having loops on the pouch/purse which had a belt laced through it?  I have never seen this belt design, but in many ways, this would make sense as I have found that having a purse/pouch with a belt laced through it, while entirely secure, is cumbersome in many ways.  If nothing else, this may be another belt variation for wearing pouches, if that is truly its design intent.

[General Note: Attempting to pull together the various works of individual artists is definitely more of a challenge than it should be with our modern conveniences...]

Friday, August 9, 2013

Knitting or Naalbinding

Unfortunately, this subject fell into a discussion recently ("Knitting isn't period."), which lead me to do a little research to back up my stand-point ("Yes, it is.").

The non-existence of surviving needles and a general lack of viable information have lead to suppositions that knitting is not period to the medieval time frame.  Depending on where or when your persona may have lived, there is some merit to this supposition, but for the Germanic peoples, there are examples of knitting within at least my general area of study.

Existence: Knitting or Naalbinding

What is the basis for those who would claim that there wasn't knitting during period?

The main argument I have found against knitting in period is as follows (with only minor variations):
They only used a single long needle, similar to naalbinding or tatting, to achieve the appearance of knitting, therefore, they didn't have knitting in the middle ages.  Instead the people of the middle ages used a stitch called the Tarim-stitch or "Coptic" stitch, which is a naalbinding technique.  Many of the early medieval pieces (before the 14th century) which were identified as knitting were actually naalbinding instead of knitting.
While this could be a perfectly viable stand-point, there is at least one image in the Germanic area which concerns the use of knitting in period and there are a number of extant artifacts as well.
Buxtehuder Altar - The Visit of the Angels or Knitting Madonna by Meister Bertram of Minden, circa 1400-10
One image does not an argument make, but it can't be ignored for being only one painting.  Some authorities have dated this painting to around 1367-87 (bildindex), while others have dated it to 1400-10.  I am uncertain what the current acceptable date may be, but I have used the later in an effort to be reasonably consistent.  In either case, it shows knitting in the Germanic areas just prior to my particular time frame.  Unfortunately, these "knitting Madonnas" cannot be found everywhere in Europe.  Thus far, I've only seen this single Germanic piece, a Flemish etching (The Life of the Infant by Hieronymus Wierix, before 1619) and two from Italy, one of which, The Holy Family by Ambrogio Lorenzetter, was produced around 1345... decidedly before this piece.

Extant examples are provided by a couple of sources.

Firstly, by the Venetian ship, "Gagiana," which sank near the rocky inlet Gnalic just a few miles south of the town of Biograd, Croatia in 1583, as well as the English ship, "Mary Rose," which sank outside Portsmouth, England in 1545.  Instead of re-writing information that is already available online, here is another individual's research into the Knitted Flat Cap followed by the Curious Frau's cap pattern.

Secondly, has compiled a rather comprehensive list in Knit Clothing from the Middle Ages through the 17th century.

Appearance: Differences betweeen Naalbinding and Knitting Fabrics

I have noticed two differences between naalbinding and knitting once the fabrics are completed.  On the knit side of the fabric, there are obvious loops that appear like "v"s.  Using knitting needles, the individual skeins of these loops are separate and distinct at the point of the "v", while the naalbinding Tarim-stitch causes the skeins to be crossed one over the other.  On the perl side of the fabric, the fabric appears as horizontal dashed lines.  Using knitting needles, these lines appear straight, distinct, and perfectly horizontal, while the individual stitches of the naalbinding Tarim-stitch, while also horizontal, appear somewhat rounded.  (This may be an illusion based on what I've been able to observe.)

While the fabric does appear somewhat similar, it appears to behave somewhat differently when it is stretched.  If you stretch a knitted fabric, the holes remain somewhat even and uniform, almost square in fact, whereas naalbinding appears to have more stretch and the holes appear elongated.  Technique and skill may have a bit to do with how much naalbinding stretches, but this is not an area I have currently researched.


Both techniques were likely practiced during the later Middle Ages in many areas of Europe while the medieval population was transitioning from a cumbersome, though very elastic and durable, process (naalbinding) to a faster, though slightly less elastic, product (knitting). 

Further Reading:
  1. Medieval Egyptian Child's Sock
  2. Hand Knit Hose by Donna Flood Kenton 
  3. Knitted Caps by Cathy Snell
  4. The Knitting Crafts in Europe from the Thirteenth to the Eighteenth Century by Irena Turnau
  5. A Workwoman's Guide, containing instructions in cutting out and completing those articles of wearing apparel, &c., which are usually made at home; also, explanations on upholstery, straw-platting, bonnet-making, knitting, &c. by A Lady (1840)
  6. The Venetian Shipwreck at Gnalic: Biograd na moru by Tomaž Lauko and Zrinka Mileusnić

Friday, August 2, 2013

After Hans Sebald Beham - ICB

While going through all these images that are attributed to Hans Sebald Beham, I ran across at least one that he produced in 1520, but has a different monogram.  It was not unusual in this point in history for an artist to "copy" another artists work and sell it for his own.  From everything I can tell, plagiarism was not illegal and was rather common.  I have also been unable to track down to whom the monogram on it belongs.  Since the original, which is reversed compared to this one, dates to 1520, this piece should date sometime after that point, unless of course it was Hans Sebald Beham who copied this artist (as this one is much more detailed compared to the other), but I would need to determine who the original artist was to figure that out.

Peasant with a Basket of Eggs

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hans Sebald Beham, A Study Part 5 - Bourgouise

I may be classifying the following group of individual incorrectly, but my reasoning was sound at the time I did so.  The following images contain individuals who do not appear to be of the noble or ruling class and yet they do not have the same look as the peasants or military which Sebald Beham has also drawn.  This lead me to conclude that they were of the bourgeoisie, or upper middle class.  Basically, they are dressed too fine to be peasants, but not fine enough to be nobles.

Wedding at Cana, circa 1520

Two Couples and a Fool, circa 1535-50

Prodigal Son Wasting His Patrimony (Prodigal Son series), 1540

Death Masquerading as a Fool, 1541

Ill-Matched Lovers (or the Old Man and Young Woman), circa 1545

Ill-Matched Lovers (or the Old Woman and Young Man), circa 1545

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hans Sebald Beham, A Study Part 4 - Landsknecht (Soldier) Clothing 1525-1547

I can't say that I'm overly confident about most of the dating that has been attributed to these pieces, nor am I overly confident that Hans Sebald Beham produced all of them as only one-third of them contain his monogram.

Landsknecht, 1519

Landsknecht Encampment, circa 1520-1550

Landsknecht, 1520-50

Landsknecht, 1520

Landsknecht, circa 1525-30

Landsknecht, circa 1520-50

Landsknecht, circa 1520-50

Standard Bearer, 1526

Landsknechts, circa 1525-1550

Landsknecht, 1525-50

Landsknecht, 1535-50

The guard near the Powder Cask, circa 1540

Three Soldiers and a Dog, circa 1540

Landsknecht and Dog, circa 1540

Landsknecht, circa 1540-50

Piper, circa 1540-50

Landsknecht, Drummer and Piper, 1543

Landsknecht Gambling, uncertain date

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hans Sebald Beham, A Study Part 3 - Peasant or Working Class (1532-1550, Frankfurt)

It's amazing to me how a simple desire to collect the etchings of one individual ends up directing me down a rather unique research path.  Thus far, I've been able to determine that Hans Sebald Beham liked the Village (or Peasant) Wedding (or Festival) theme.  I have found at least four distinct sets that all portray this theme over the course of his lifetime; a set from 1520-22, more than one that was produced around 1537 and another from 1546-47.  There are likely others, but I haven't determined when they were produced at this present time.  This post contains portions of three of the four sets I've been able to find.  The final set appears to be complete, whereas the first two are far from being so, but I've left space for completing it as time permits.  Not all images represented here are from those sets, but they do represent his artwork while he was living in Frankfurt from 1532.

A Man at Market, looking to right, circa 1532-1550 (No. 256, Loftie)

A Woman at Market, looking to left, circa 1532-1550 (No. 257, Loftie)

Musicians, circa 1532-1550

This musician image has the feel of a Village Wedding set, but I am uncertain to which set it belongs.  Sebald always seems to have musicians playing bagpipes and a coronet/clarinet in each of the Village Wedding sets.  Based on the ground only, this could possibly go into the 1537 set, but the monogram size seems to remove that possibility.  How many of these Wedding sets did he actually produce?

Procession of Newlyweds, 1537
This "Procession of Newlyweds" appears to be from a separate set from the Village Wedding set below (circa 1537), though I will freely admit it's becoming more difficult to tell them apart at this point.

Peasant Brawl, circa 1532-1550
Again, this is a typical representation in his Village Wedding sets, yet at present I cannot determine to which set it belongs.

The Little Festival No 1 - Two men with bagpipes, circa 1537 (No. 237, Loftie)
The Little Festival No 2 - A couple of dancers, circa 1537 (No. 238, Loftie)
The Little Festival No 3 - A couple of dancers, circa 1537 (No. 239, Loftie)
The Little Festival No 4 - A couple, circa 1537 (No. 240, Loftie)
The Little Festival No 5 - A couple, circa 1537 (No. 241, Loftie)
The Little Festival No 6 - A couple, circa 1537 (No. 242, Loftie)
The Little Festival No 7 - A couple, circa 1537 (No. 243, Loftie)

The Little Festival No 8 - A couple, circa 1537 (No. 244, Loftie)

The Little Festival No 9 -  A couple, circa 1537 (No. 245, Loftie)

The Little Festival No 10 - Discovered Lovers, circa 1537 (No. 246, Loftie)

The Little Festival No 11 -  A couple "ICH WILL AVCH MIT", circa 1537 (No. 247, Loftie)
[Another flask appears when I was least expecting it...]

The Little Festival No 12 -  A couple, circa 1537 (No. 98, Loftie)

Weather Peasants, 1542

Weather Peasants, 1542

The most interesting aspect to the "Village Wedding" etchings is the fact that they continue from one image to the next. If you look, the ground from No 1 continues to No 2 and so on through to the end. Thus far it appears as if this series contained 10 images, but as this particular series is sometimes referred to as "Twelve Month" it begs the question, were there originally 12 etchings or are the first 6 etchings considered the months with the final 4 completing the set?  At present, I believe this set is actually complete.

Village Wedding No 1 - January and February, 1546 (No. 154, Loftie)

Village Wedding No 2 - March and April, 1546 (No. 229, Loftie)
This image contains the half-apron with smocked waistline as is common in Germanic artwork as well as a gollar and two different pouch/purse designs.

Village Wedding No 3 - May and June, 1546 (No. 230, Loftie)

Village Wedding No 4 - July and August, 1546 (No. 155, Loftie)

Village Wedding No 5 - September and October, 1546 (No. 231, Loftie)

Village Wedding No 6 - November and December, 1546 (No. 232, Loftie)
Here is a representation of the full apron with a narrow smocked neckline and straps over the shoulders, which is also a common Germanic representation.  And another basket, I love finding those.

Village Wedding No 7, 1546 (No. 156, Loftie)
Another gollar and a pair of musicians playing bagpipes and a clarinet/coronet?  (Not quite sure how to define musical instruments.)

Village Wedding No 8 - Feast, 1546 (No. 233, Loftie)
I enjoy finding feasts in artwork.  It draws the artwork to humanity and everyday living, though I don't suppose they had feasts all the time, but it reminds me of family reunions and other such gatherings.

Village Wedding No 9 - Peasant Brawl, 1547 (No. 161, Loftie)

Village Wedding No 10, 1547 (No. 234, Loftie)