Wednesday, October 25, 2006

International Gothic Style

Saint George and the Princess of Trebizond Saint George and the Princess of Trebizond (about 1435, Pellegrini Chapel, Santa Anastasia, Verona, Italy) is a fresco by Italian painter Pisanello, who is considered a master of the International Gothic style. This style can be observed in the elegantly fluid lines of the work and its decorative tapestrylike quality. Despite this stylization, Pisanello studied the forms of animals and people from life so that his work never appears formulaic.Scala/Art Resource, NY

International Gothic Style, in the visual arts, a similarity of style in painting, manuscript illumination, sculpture, decorative arts manifested in different parts of Europe during the late 14th and into the 15th century. This style is noted for extreme linearity, giving the effect of elegance and refinement, and attention to decorative detail. Many of the works in the International Gothic style are devoted to secular themes. Because artists of the time often journeyed from one art center to another, it is difficult to date these works or to give their place of origin. For example, a French architect, Matthias of Arras, began building the Cathedral of Saint Vitus in Prague in 1344, and, upon his death in 1353, was succeeded by German architect Peter Parler. The renowned French manuscript, the Très riches heures du Duc de Berry (1413-1416, Musée Condé, Chantilly), was illuminated by the Limbourg brothers, natives of Flanders.

A merging of the artistic traditions of northern Europe and Italy took place at the beginning of the 15th century and is known as the International Gothic style. Among the many characteristics that define painting in this style is an attention to realistic detail that shows the artist's acute observation of human beings and of nature. In the early 1400s the Limbourg brothers moved from Flanders to France and created a magnificent Book of Hours, the famous Très riches heures du Duc de Berry (1413-1416, Musée Condé, Chantilly, France). One of the greatest works in the International Gothic style, this manuscript was done for their patron, Jean de France, Duc de Berry. Its remarkable calendar pages portray peasant life as well as that of the nobility, providing a brilliant record of the clothing, activities, and architecture of the times. Although these are full-page illustrations, they reflect an older medieval style, in that the figures are small and must vie for attention with other imagery.

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
This page from Les très riches heures du duc de Berry (The Book of Hours of the Duke of Berry) was produced by a family of Flemish illuminators, the Limbourg Brothers, around 1413. Each month of the year is represented in the book, showing activities associated with that season. The page shown here depicts the month of April, with members of the nobility enjoying themselves outdoors. It is in the Musée Condé, in Chantilly, France.Encarta EncyclopediaGiraudon/Art Resource, NY

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