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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

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The fantastic Jesuit Andrea Pozzo published results of his researches on perspective in his Perspectiva pictorum et architectoru (1693),
explaining how he was able to compellingly, unbelievably represent
three-dimensional images on two-dimensional spaces, this image showing
plan and projection and profile, effectively giving you a
three-dimensional cross section of the architectural element…and having them seemingly float in space. His work is just absolutely gorgeous.

Pozzo 7

Pozo
Pozo 2

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

I stumbled upon these very inventive, peep-into-the-future of imagination images by Theodor Hosemann in journal Exlibris Buchkunst (for the year 1910). Hosemann's (1807-1875) name came into a blurry recognition as a leading genre painter and very busy illustrator in mid-century Germany, but certainly not for these images, which remind me very much of J.J. Grandville, one of the leading imagist illustrators of the 19th century. (Grandville has been a subject in this blog quite often; for example, see here.)

Hosemann908
The originals were completed in 1847 and depict some of the trials demanded of future vision, looking into the year 1947. I particularly like the steam-driven horse-mobiles and the steaming-hatted Mercury laughingly outrunning a grimaced Time.

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1942 (Part I)
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 I silently laugh at my own cenotaph
And out of the caverns of rain..  Percy B. Shelley, "The Cloud", 1820

[John Ruskin, Cloud Perspectival, 1860. Source for all Ruskin images: "Cloud Studies: The Visible Invisible",
by Mary Jacobus,

And this:

[John Ruskin, Cloud Perspective: Curvilinear., Modern Painters, Vol. V, Plate LXV.]

In a way the first image reminds me of Andrea Pozzo's work in his monumental Rules and
examples of perspective proper for painters and architects
(1693):

Pozo

but really more in the way that Pozzo's work seems to be elevated and floating in a heavy perspectivist space, bigger and blockier sky-borne marble than with ruskin. But still, the disembodied floatiness of the Pozzo work is ethereal.

Ruskin does round out his blocky and beautiful geometry, which definitely reminds me of work w=that would appear 90 years later: Ruskin, again:

And Georgia O'Keefe's Clouds III (1963), though her clouds tend towards a more rigid geometry in Clouds IV (1965, following):

Clouds O'KeefeO'Keefe, Clouds Above the Sky III, 1963

Clouds okeefe sky above iv 1965O'Keefe, Clouds Above the Sky IV, 1965

Ms. Georgia is definitely seeing her clouds with different eyes than Ruskin, and they are entirely different creatures–but still, the two come together in my head as relatives. The clouds, I mean.

I started looking around for early hard-line cloud geometries and thus far I haven't found very much, though there is a tremendous example by Henry Van de Velde's (1863-1957) "Sun at Ocean (Rhythmic Synthesis”) which I found in Werner Hoffman’s Turning Points in Twentieth century Art, 1890-1917 and which was executed in 1888/9, looks to me to be absolutely incredible for its time, a nearly non-representational, proto-abstract something, done three decades before these genres came into being.

Clouds van de velde
I don;t know where the designer Van de Velde fits in the early history of non-representational art, but his effort in the second to last decade of the 19th century certainly seems to be very unusual for its time, and a good example of creative cloud representation.

Non-standard cloud imagery is much easier to finding the 20th century, like those of Georges Braque in his La Ciotat Harbor (1906):

Clouds braque
Even this starts to have the look of something earlier, particularly if you turned the clouds-in-art clock way back, say, into the Renaissance. For example Martin Schoengauer 's spectacular The Temptation of St. Anthony, which was printed in 1470/5 , has
a beautiful, fluid circularity to it, full of an earthy roundness even
as the saint is pursued by demons. But the sky in the background is
populated with nothing but dashes to suggest clouds , and which also starts to look something like the Fauvist and Expressionist works to come, 400/500 years later.

Clouds schoengauer

(There are many examples of the sky being simply not represented at all, particularly in woodblock,

like this image from Ovid ( Accipe Studiose Lector P. Ouidij Metamorphosin...printed in Venice in 1509:

Clouds no couds livy913

"You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead –
There were no birds to fly".–Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass.

There are many non-sky images like this.

Another interesting modern example is this Paul Klee (though it comes fairly late in that career, in 1940):

Clouds Paul Klee 1940And an example from the ubiquitous Picasso, still later, in 1962:

Clouds Picasso

But earlier images are harder to locate. The obvious early-ish source (though still much later in the century) would be Van Gogh (say, with Starry Night) and Monet, though the fractalesque Van Gogh gets much closer to the re-interperative power of the Ruskin images than the reflected impressionist beauty of the Monet.

Clouds Monet
On a cursory look around the antiquarian painterly sky-world, it is becoming obvious that the cloud geometries of Ruskin are very uncommon.

Notes

1. For full text of Ruskin's Modern Painters , see (1873)volume 5 for (1860) and (1873)

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1939 Part of the series on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things.

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Mona_lisa_stolen-1911

[A photo of the place on the wall in the Louvre where the Mona Lisa lived until stolen in 1911.]

I bumped into a Google search page that was filled with entries for designers and jewelers with business names invoking the Mona Lisa–Mona Lisa Jewelry and so on. This coupling could well be found in the crushed metaphor jar in the back of the refrigerator. One thing is for certain: no doubt the real Mona Lisa had plenty of money (probably the wife of a successful merchant named Francesco de Giocondo) and privilege to afford jewelry, but in the Leonardo's painting she is pictured quite plainly, wearing none. Her hair is also very simply portrayed. This was a rare thing to do in portrait–as a real people who portraits were being made usually wore as much jewelry as they could or in some sensical variation of that. The hair too was a big deal–all you have to do is take a quick survey of hairstyles of Renaissance women in paintings and it will become instantly clear hairstyles were complex and involved. Mona Lisa's dress, too, is very simple–plain even–and in understated, muted color.

Mona_Lisa yhands
All of this was exceptionally unusual for the time.

There's not a speck of jewelry on the Mona Lisa, and her hair is simply parted, falling to her shoulders. Maybe Leonardo didn't want anything in the painting to fix it at any specific point in time, as the whole entity seems to be in a state of suspended completion, or complete but not quite there, still becoming something. Perhaps highly defined hair and jewelry on her fingers would have been unacceptable anchors, giving places for the eyes to land and move away from the lush layers of light and tone that give the painting some of its enormous "motion".

It is hard to imagine the hands of Mona Lisa like those seen in the portrait by Raphael of Maddalena Strozzi Doni. Painted at about the same time as the Mona Lisa, the 22-year-old master Raphael achieved a great image of course, but one very much in opposition to Leonardo's. (The next year Raphael would paint St. Catherine, who would have no jewelry and simple hair, but of course she was also a saint–but he did give her some pretty fancy and involved clothing, in spite of the wheel she was leaning against. Depictions of saints and religious icons are different from secular portraits–but even here it is difficult to break away from imaging luxurious cloth and clothing.)

Raphael msddalena hands [The hands of Raphael's Maddalena Strozzi Doni, 1506.]

So in the history of missing things, or of missing jewelry and finery, the Mona Lisa must rank pretty high. It was just unusual to think of a business name invoking the antithesis of what the business is about.

The Mona Lisa of course became one of the most famous missing things in the history of missing things when she was stolen by the not-very-bright Vincenzo Peruggia in 1911, but that's another story (and one which I talk a little about in the post The Most Famous Missing Doorknob in the History of Art).

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

"Haiti" A drama of the black Napoleon by William Du Bois : With the New York cast.

Here's another Massive Mosaic display (following up on a Massive 500-Daguerretotype display, here), this one utilizing (linked!) thumbnails from he Library of Congress WPA Poster Collection, located here.

The WPA was the Works Progress Administration, the largest of the New Deal agencies, and it was designed to give paid jobs to the millions of people who were out of work during the Great Depression. From 1935-1943 the WPA put some 8.5 million people to work in a vast social undertaking, distributing food and clothing, building houses, roads, bridges, parks and making enormous construction improvements to the national infrastructure. There was also an arts art to the project which employed many thousnads of artists, actors and writers in producing dramas, histories, guidebooks and other sorts of artistic projects, including the artwork for the posters advertising other WPA projects.

"During its 8-year history, the WPA built
651,087 miles of highways, roads, and streets; and constructed, repaired, or
improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853
airport landing fields."–Indiana University'Lily Library, here.

During its lifetime the WPA spent about $12 billion, which worked out to be something like 4-6% of the GDP, annually. To put this in some perspective, that would be like taking the entire amount of money spent on the war on terror over the past 11 years and investing it all in caring for the poor and fixing bridges and building roads and so forth…I roundly reckon that figure to be about $8 trillion dollars that would have been spent on domestic issues rather than fighting wars This is about $80k/per capita, or $320k/family of four, which is somewhere around what the MacArthur folks receive–so basically the war money is the sly equivalent of a Genius Award granted to each and every family.

Historical GDP numbers, here, from


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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Franzini 1
I was very happy to find a full-text and nicely-navigable copy of this classic work online. Giorlamo Francini's Le
Cose maravigliose dell'alma citta di Roma, anfiteatro del mondo : con le chiese, et antichita rapresentate in disegno / da Girolamo Francino ; con l'aggiunta del dottor Prospero Parisio (In Roma : Ad instanza di Gio. Antonio Franzini, & herede di Girolamo Franzini) was printed in 1600 and is considered an iconic work on travel writing, as well as one of the first sophisticated/modern "guide books" to the city of Rome. It was pocket-sized, and contained all manner of information about buildings and artists–useful info, if you had never been to the city before. It was also a distinct difference from books intended to the pilgrim; this book was definitely looking for a popular, general readership, looking to benefit in their stay in Rome by having a literary, artistic, and architectural key to the city.

The illustrations are charming and lovely–even though small (less than two inches square), they provide just enough detail for you to unmistakeably identify the principle structures. The full text (with illustrations) is located here.

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Ripa757

I've just written a short post on the beautiful key to iconography by Cesare Ripa, Iconologia overa descrittione d'imagini delle virtu, viti, sffetti, passioni humane, corpi celesti, Mondo e sue parti…, which was published in Padua in 1611. The version I used was an 18th-century English translation with new illustrations–now though the translation was very appreciated, the images were not so. As I pointed out, they do serve the purpose of illustrating the specifics in iconography, the images were not that pleasing. I wanted to include here an example from the original, and in particular the imagery of "Dawn".

It is a gorgeous thing, a very striking, very strong woodcut showing the messenger of the new day coming, attacking the night with arrows of dawn.

I enjoy he earlier, more robust images for this iconology, even though there are many variants to choose from–there were more than 40 editions of this work since its first non-illustrated edition in 1593–but given it all I much prefer the early 17th century flavor.

JF Science Books Post 1880



Crsyon dead

All material quoted below is from the magnificent The Newton Project website, which contains transcriptions of Newton's writing in science, alchemy and religion, and also contains much correspondence.

There isn't quite a complete alphabet here, but I think it is close enough, and it does organize (for my mind) some early thinking on color-making by Isaac Newton (1642-1727) when he as 17 years old. There's much of interest on the construction of color here, not the least of which is some prosaic methods for coloring dead people and a general color for clouds. Things would get more involved, of course, as Sir Isaac would later write perhaps the most important books ever written on optics (in 1704).

After the half-alphabet there is an installment of Newton's mechanisms of art, containing instructions on the instruments of drawing, and how to do emblem work, prepare bases, how to shadow, how to enlarge and copy work, how to draw a landscape, and more.

But first, here's his list of how to make color.

How to prepare your colours
Such colours as have need of grinding you must grind them with faire water, then put them on a smoth chalk stone, & let them dry. then grind them againe with Gum water & reserve them in muscle shels for your use.

B is for Blood

A blood red colour.
Sinaper, lake, & vermillion make a good red.

Another
Take blew Inde & steepe it in water & put to it a little Verditer.

Another
Take some of the clearest blood of a sheepe & put it into a bladder & with a needle prick holes in thebottom of it then <6r> hang it up to dry in the sunne; & disolve it {i}n allum water according as you have need.

Charecole black & seacole black
Grind charcole very small with water, let it dry then grind it with oyle. thus make seacole black.

Read Full Article →

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post [Part of the series on Blank, Empty and Missing Things]

There was an anonymous painter,

in an anonymous room,

painting an anonymous woman,

in an anonymous gloom…--By Anonymous

I wondered about when it was that anonymous portraits appeared. Not just depictions of people in large battle scenes, or some unidentified spectator of some miraculous something, or wardens of the unknown in some sort of religious icon, but single subjects seated for a singular purpose of having their likeness rendered. And at the end of that process, the sitter would be anonymous–not their names-lost-to-history-anonymous after having the title of the painting lost to time, but always-and-forever anonymous. It seemed to me a luxury for a painter to paint for the sake of painting, that they would paint perhaps for pleasure or for practice, as the practice of purchasing anonymous portraits was not one of high popularity.

File:Florentine 1475 NG of Victoria.jpg Anonymous portrait of an anonymous woman, ca. 1475

Read Full Article →

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Some of the work of Georg Pencz (who I wrote about last week, regarding the representations of the zodiac) from the website Zeno.org.

Each image is expandable.

Pencz, Georg: Ehrenpforte der 12 sieghaften Helden des Alten Testaments«, 1. Blatt
Ehrenpforte der 12 sieghaften Helden des Alten …
Pencz, Georg: Ehrenpforte der 12 sieghaften Helden des Alten Testaments, 2. Blatt
Ehrenpforte der 12 sieghaften Helden des Alten Testaments, …
Pencz, Georg: Ehrenpforte der 12 sieghaften Helden des Alten Testaments, 3. Blatt
Ehrenpforte der 12 sieghaften Helden des Alten Testaments, …
Pencz, Georg: Braut zwischen den beiden Brautführern
Braut zwischen den beiden Brautführern
Pencz, Georg: Das Glücksrad
Das Glücksrad
Pencz, Georg: Der Neid mit seinen 12 Eigenschaften
Der Neid mit seinen 12 Eigenschaften
Pencz, Georg: Der Neidische und Geizige
Der Neidische und Geizige
Pencz, Georg: Der Niemand
Der Niemand
Pencz, Georg: Der Verleumder
Der Verleumder
Pencz, Georg: Diana und Actaeon
Diana und Actaeon
Pencz, Georg: Die Ehebrecherbrücke Königs Artus
Die Ehebrecherbrücke Königs Artus
Pencz, Georg: Die Hasen und die Frösche
Die Hasen und die Frösche
Pencz, Georg: Die sieben Hindernisse des Christussuchers
Die sieben Hindernisse des Christussuchers
Pencz, Georg: Ehebrecherbrücke
Ehebrecherbrücke
Pencz, Georg: Esel in der Löwenhaut
Esel in der Löwenhaut
Pencz, Georg: Familie bei Tische
Familie bei Tische
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Jupiter
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Jupiter
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Mars
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Mars
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Merkur
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Merkur
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Mond
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Mond
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Saturn
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Saturn
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Sonne
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Sonne
Pencz, Georg: Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Venus
Folge der »Planetenbilder«, Venus
Pencz, Georg: Gerücht
Gerücht
Pencz, Georg: Geschichte vom Hirten und dem Wolf
Geschichte vom Hirten und dem Wolf
Pencz, Georg: Hasen fangen die Jäger
Hasen fangen die Jäger
Pencz, Georg: Klage der Musen
Klage der Musen
Pencz, Georg: Paar aus dem Hochzeitszug
Paar aus dem Hochzeitszug
Pencz, Georg: Thomyris mit dem Kopf des Cyrus
Thomyris mit dem Kopf des Cyrus
Pencz, Georg: Wappen des Don Pero Lasso
Wappen des Don Pero Lasso
Pencz, Georg: Zwei Zuschauerinnen des Brautzuges
Zwei Zuschauerinnen des Brautzuges
Pencz, Georg: Zweierlei Predigten