Phallus & Vulva

The pilgrim and secular badges found by archaeologists unexpectedly teach us how the symbols associated with sexuality were perceived in the late Middle Ages. The secular badges confront us with the aspect of everyday life, which until now remained largely unknown. The written sources were silent about them, and the objects themselves were preserved in…

Continue Reading

The Queen

Marie Louise Gonzaga (1611-1667), duchess of Mantua and Nevers, future queen of Poland, grew up in the family estate in Burgundy. Her godfather was Louis XIII (1601-1643), the king of France, only a decade older than her. Her hand in marriage was sought in 1627 by the king’s brother Gaston, Duke of OrlĂ©ans (1608-1660) and…

Continue Reading

Resurrection

This is one of my favorite representations of the moment of resurrection. Its author is the Master Francke, a Dominican artist active mainly in Hamburg. When composing this scene, he seems to be absorbed not only by the mystery of overcoming death. He was also occupied by its practical aspect. Before Christ takes the triumphant…

Continue Reading

Ecce Homo

Easter is coming. This is the “Ecce Homo” by Maarten van Heemskerck, a triptych ordered by the family Drenckwaert from Dortrecht in 1644. It was to serve them as a commemoration of their piety, as well as a means of obtaining salvation. The husband and wife, placed on both sides of the main panel, pray…

Continue Reading

Sankt Gallen

This year we celebrate the centenary of the creation of Bauhaus – an art and craft school that has revolutionized thinking about how to create architecture. Its priority was to provide good living conditions. On this occasion, I would like to recall the “prototype” of functional thinking in planning, maybe a bit controversially, from the…

Continue Reading

Mirabilia

I have recently focused here on describing images of monstrous human races in order to understand the mechanism of creating an image of other in European culture. In previous entries, I summarized how the ancient Greeks and Romans perceived the inhabitants of distant lands and how this influenced knowledge developed in the Middle Ages. Today’s…

Continue Reading

Danzig Man in London

Holbein was one of the finest portrait painters of the sixteenth century. He came from Augsburg, one of the richest German cities with strong artistic traditions. However, he worked mainly in Basel and London. His are the portraits of Henry VIII or Erasmus of Rotterdam, reproduced countless times as illustrations for texts describing these characters….

Continue Reading

Monstrous races & christianity

After a short overview of ancient texts describing the inhabitants of inaccessible lands, it is time for medieval authors. The knowledge of the world developed in antiquity penetrated the imagination of Christian writers. On the one hand, they rejected everything that was associated with pagan practices, but they remained faithful to the belief that monstrous…

Continue Reading