Art History II Final Paper
Section I: Late Gothic in the North (15th Century)
Gothic art was a medieval art movement that lasted about 200 years. It began in France out of the Romanesque period in the mid-12th century, concurrent with Gothic architecture found in Cathedrals. By the late 14th century, it had evolved towards a more secular and natural style known as International Gothic, which continued until the late 15th century, where it evolved into Renaissance art. The primary Gothic art mediums were sculpture, panel painting, stained glass, fresco and illuminated manuscript.
Robert Campin was a painter if the Late Gothic period that was very determined to be modern in his paintings. He shows this with his Merode Altarpiece. It is a tryptich painted in oils with a horizontal format. The painting is filled with rich vibrant colors and the modeling on the figures is linear and crisp. It is symmetrical, but rather cramped, as it is jam-packed with symbolic meaning. It has a secondary meaning to it. For example, the flowers in the painting are associated with the Virgin Mary, the roses referring to her charity and the violets to her humility. Also, the freshly burned out candle implies that perhaps the Lord’s presence had overcome the material light, or perhaps the light itself represents the Lord himself. This use of everyday objects in an everyday home allowed average people to relate to the painting, and gave this spiritual theme a very realistic aspect.
Campin being of the Late Gothic, uses deep glowing oil paints, bold dramatic colors, and stained glass windows. His edges are very flat, rigid, and stiff. (angels wings, Mary’s gown- is there a knee there?) He attempts to use scientific perspective but does not achieve it. The table is not successfully going back in space.
Van Eyck’s Ghent altarpiece is also very modern for his time. He understood aerial perspective, unlike Robert Campin. His altarpiece is a triptych, but...