Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tonal Disturbance

All Will Fall. (Caprichos, no. 19 Todos caerán.)

There They Go Plucked. (Caprichos, no. 20 Ya van desplumados.)

Nothing Could Be Done about It. (Caprichos, no. 24 - Nohubo remedio)

Might Not the Pupil Know More (Caprichos, no. 37 Si sabrá mas el discipulo)

And So Was His Grandfather. (Caprichos, no. 39 Asta su abuelo.)

Thou Who Canst Not. (Caprichos, no. 42 Tu que no puedes.)

Tale Bearers - Blasts of Wind. (Caprichos, no. 48 Soplones.)

Hobgoblins. (Caprichos, no. 49 Duendecitos.)

The Chinchillas. (Caprichos, no. 50 Los chinchillas.)

They Spruce Themselves Up. (Caprichos, no. 51 Se repulen.)

What a Tailor Can Do! (Caprichos, no. 52 Lo que puede un sastre!)

What a Golden Beak! (Caprichos, no. 53 Que pico de oro!)

To Rise and to Fall. (Caprichos, no. 56 Subir y bajar.)

Look How Solemn They Are! (Caprichos, no. 63 Miren que grabes!)

Where Is Mother Going (Caprichos, no. 65 Donde vá Mamá)

There It Goes. (Caprichos, no. 66 Allá vá eso.)

Pretty Teacher! (Caprichos, no. 68 Linda maestra!)

You Will Not Escape. (Caprichos, no. 72 No te escaparas.)

In 1799 Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) published a series of 80 prints called 'Los Caprichos'. In his masterly hands the aquatint etching technique cloaks the line art with subtle and varying tonal effects. This afforded Goya the opportunity, as biographer Robert Hughes says, to

"exalt the scribble, the puddle, the blot, the smear, the suggestive beauty of the unfinished--and, above all, the primal struggle of light and dark, that flux from which all consciousness of shape is born."
Like the artist himself, 'Los Caprichos' are complex and open to a range of interpretations. Goya suffered from what seems to have been a disabling bout of meningitis in 1792 which left him stone deaf for the remainder of his life. The illness and resulting alienation and depression provided him with a unique insight into a nightmare world of torment that he so ably transfers to his prints.

Goya lived in a time of social upheaval with the French Revolution, the religious excesses of the Inquisition and the progressive thinking of the Enlightenment manifesting as significant influences. He attacks all manner of human superstition, prejudice, hypocrisy and stupidity in his etchings, whilst subtly mocking the church and state for keeping the people in misery and ignorance.

To avoid alienating his benefactors at Court and to protect himself from the wrath of the Inquisition, Goya masks his satire with the inclusion of demonic and perverse fantasy figures that defy a single understanding. This code of symbolism in the series has provided scholars with a rich vein to mine and has been referred to by some as visual language.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fludd Returns

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Secundus p461

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Tertius p476

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Tertius p478

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Primus p438

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Primus p445

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Secundus Illustration after p454

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Secundus p459

Fludd - Pars VII Liber Quartus p495

Fludd - Pars VI Liber Quartus p421 battering ram

Fludd - Pars VI p543 fort

Fludd - Pars VI Liber Primus p386 fort

Fludd - Pars VI Liber Quartus p426 cannons

Fludd - Pars VI Liber Quartus p427 cannons/artillery

Fludd - Pars VI Liber Quartus p428 weapons

Fludd - Pars VI Liber Quartus p419 scuba for war

Fludd - Pars V Liber Teritius p331 eye sketches

Fludd - Pars IV Liber Primus p299

Fludd - Pars IV Liber Primus p300 eye anatomy

Fludd - Pars III Liber Secundus p277 perspective

Fludd - Pars IV Liber Quartus p31

Fludd - Pars III Liber Teritius p281

Fludd - Pars III Liber Teritius p291

Fludd - Pars IV p293 De Optica Scientia

These are further example illustrations from mystic rosicrucian Robert Fludd's 'De Naturae Simia'. This book forms part of the encyclopaedic series issued over 9 years to 1626 called 'Utriusque Cosmi Maioris Scilicet et Minores Metaphysica, Physica Atque Technica Historia'. Although it doesn't appear to be stated anywhere, I had a distinct feeling that the University of Utah website contains more than just the 'De Naturae Simia' illustrations.

The images above and in the previous post on Flood constitute a very small sampling of the veritable multitude of illustrations from Merian/de Bry seen throughout Fludd's work. Again, you can find the page/section locations for each image by checking the alt tags.

As with so many publications from this period it's difficult to speculate about the extent to which the contents may have been copied or modified from other sources. Certainly the machines and the fortification and perspective images above bear similarities to earlier works (think Dürer and Ramelli) but these subjects were at the forefront of technological theorizing during the renaissance so a certain repetition of core design principles (the waterwheel for instance) could be expected. There is also the influence and experience (and reused engraving plates!) that the printshop and illustrators brought to the projects.

Fludd is credited with one theoretical concept (not shown above) that, to an extent supports the notion that he contributed his own ideas, rather than merely extracting material from older sources. He described a perpetual motion system in which a water source would turn a wheel which in turn would be able to both grind grain and also drive an Archimedes screw pump to return the water to its origin, able to fall again and continue to power the process. It's completely fanciful of course but this was an era when there was no knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics and speculative entrepreneurs even attempted to obtain patents on aspects of Fludd's design up to the 19th century.


Flute Prints

Michael Rössler Un faiseur de flutte (A Male Wind Instrument Maker), mid-18th century

Michael Rössler - 'Un faiseur de flutte' (detail)

'Un Faiseur de Flutte' (A Male Wind Instrument Maker)
Michael Rössler, mid-18th century

William Hogarth The Enraged Musician, 1741

Hogarth's The Enraged Musician (detail)
'The Enraged Musician'
William Hogarth , 1741

Louis Eugène Pirodon 'Musique' - after Emmanuel Notterman

Louis Eugène Pirodon 'Musique' (detail)'Musique'
Louis Eugène Pirodon, 19th century (after Emmanuel Notterman)

Louis-Léopold Boilly Le Concert (The Concert), 19th century

Louis-Léopold Boilly - 'Le Concert' (detail)
'Le Concert'
Louis-Léopold Boilly, 19th century

Albrecht Dürer - 'Das Mannerbad' (The Men's Bath)

Dürer's 'Das Mannerbad' (detail)
'Das Mannerbad' (The Men's Bath)
Albrecht Dürer , c. 1496-97

Jules Worms - 'La Lutte Artistique'. Quadrille

Jules Worms - 'La Lutte Artistique' (detail)'La Lutte Artistique' (The Artistic Struggle)
Jules Worms, 19th century

These are just a few of the 33 prints from the Dayton C. Miller Iconography Collection at the Library of Congress.

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