Saturday, 26 July 2014

Marquetry decoration on August I's wiredrawing bench

Wood; the material out of which which the bulk of the bench is made and decorated. It is essential to look more closely at it, especially with my focus on the landscape and the environment. 

Marquetry as a way of adorning objects has a long history. Evidence of its practice has been traced back to the ancient Egyptians, with the Greeks and Romans carrying on the tradition of beautifying their furniture with rare wood inlays. In fifteenth-century Italy, a method of decoration called intarsia became very popular amongst the elite. Solid timber was hollowed out then filled in with valuable metals, precious stones, ivory and rare woods. Marquetry differs from intarsia; thin layers of wood veneer are cut, collected in a design, and laid out over the surface which is to be decorated’ rather than inserted into a hollowed out base.[1] This jigsaw of different wood veneers is precisely how the bench decoration was made.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Mastering Colour and other tricks

High definition colour feels like an entirely modern invention. Saturated manipulated photos, flat screen LCD tvs and 3D cinematic experiences combine to produce a visual pummelling apparently like never before. We have become so accustomed to synthetic colour that we take it for granted, like a cake addict, we are immune to the occasional treat.

So when we emerged blinking from the national gallery basement last night, our eyes had been reset and our brains reattuned to the special nature of the colours around us. The ridiculously blue cock and the bright flags of Trafalgar Square shining in the sunshine had taken on a new significance. They seemed to be a continuation of what we'd seen in Making Colour. A colour wheel of life, perhaps.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Some notes on identification: Ruta graveolens and Elector August

I'm currently looking at details which is my favourite part of art; looking for any clues to build up a better idea of what is going on. This little section concerns a mysterious procession of people towards a stunning 16th century view of Dresden.

The third and final procession of the bench is more open to interpretation than the previous two. However I suggest that this is August returning from a day’s hunting, and present the following reasons. Firstly, his position as riding ahead of the group, which was standard court etiquette, as befitted a man of high status. Secondly, his attire. His clothes initially do not appear overly elaborate, yet his long cloak has a beautifully stiffened collar and a silver chain is fastened around his shoulders by a rosette or other shape. A lace collar peeps out from underneath it. In comparison to the hunters in the various tableaux, he is extremely well dressed for riding in the forest.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Anne de Montmorency and August I

Where is the hunt?
You know me, I relish a good connection. I went looking for a geographical connection between Elector August I in Dresden and the current home of his wire drawing bench in Ecouen. It was unlikely, I admit, but I was rewarded for perseverance so I thought I'd quickly share.

Although the bench is no longer in its original location, and separated from the Dresden art and books with which it would have initially sat, its current geographic location is wholly appropriate. The country chateau which houses the museum in Ecouen was once the home of French aristocrat Anne de Montmorency, (1493-1567) Constable of France under Francis I. He spent his entire life in the service of the French kings and for Catholicism, and was well-known for his martial abilities, usually against Francis’s great rival, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.