Before you visit, think about… Where do we see pictures of people/ faces in every day life? The Queen on stamps, coins, bank notes… Relatives and friends in photographs…. Models and members of the public on advertising posters, leaflets, books, magazines, packaging…
Simone Martini St John the Evangelist, 1320 (one of the oldest paintings at The Barber) Italian Expressions Look at this picture for 30 seconds! Task : Volunteer to pull a sad face, a happy face, an angry face. Q. How can we tell a person’s feelings from their face? A sad face…Eyes look down, frown, upside down smile. A happy face…bright eyes, looking up, smile/an angry face….crooked eyebrows, pursed lips. Q. Look at this person’s face. How are they feeling? What tells us this? Theme Martini was a ‘Renaissance’ artist. Renaissance art is very old. It was made between 1300 and 1600. Our painting is 693 years old! Martini was an Italian artist. Italy is a Catholic country. Q. What is the theme of most Renaissance art you see in the gallery? Religion. This painting is of Saint John, one of Jesus' Disciples. Q. Where do we find the story of Jesus? Q. Why might Saint John be so sad?
This painting was not made for an art gallery, it was made for a private individual. It was part of three panels. A ‘triptych’. St John was on the right, Jesus was in the middle, and Mary was on the left. This is a replica triptych made by artist Peter Murphy in 1999. The three panels folded together like a big book so the person who owned it could carry it around with them easily. They would have opened it out and prayed. Context
Colours and paints Q. What colours do you see? gold, red, green. Renaissance artists did not have paint, like us, that they could buy in tubes or bottles, they had to make their own paints from natural things; rocks, plants and insects. Where do you think they found red colours? Cochineal beetle! Where do you think they found the colour blue? lapis lazuli. This was a very expensive stone that originally came from Afghanistan. It was worth the same as gold! Artists would grind down the stone into a powder and mix it with water and egg yolk to make paint! + Notice the beautiful gold background. Renaissance artists used gold as it made the paintings glow in candlelight. Artists would have beaten gold coins into extremely fine sheets and applied this to the sticky surface of the wooden panel.
Colour and composition Franz Hals Portrait of a Man Holding a Skull, 1610 Netherlands Q. Describe his expression. Does he look happy or sad? Serious or jolly? Q. He is looking straight at us. How does this make you feel? Look at this painting for 30 seconds! Q. What do you see in this portrait? a man, holding a skull. Q. What is the man wearing? dark clothes, white collar(ruff), white frilly cuff. Q. Was he rich or poor? Rich. This man was probably a wealthy merchant who could afford for the artist to paint his portrait. He wears very fashionable dark clothing that was worn by Protestants who wanted to appear modest. This man was Dutch. He lived in the Dutch city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. This was a protestant country.
Symbolism Q. Look carefully on the wall in the background. What can you see? There is a coat of arms with a white horse in the top right. of the painting. This would have been this man’s family coat of arms, however the family has not been identified. This is a very mysterious painting. Nobody knows for certain who the man was. Q. Who do you think he was? What do you think he did? If you look very carefully there is an inscription around the coat of arms. It says, ‘Ita Mori…Etat Suae 60’ (Latin words). This means-‘To perish thus (to die)…Aged 60’. This tells us that the man in the picture was 60 years old when this painting was made. The reference to death, and the presence of the skull, could mean that the man has already died, or he could just be reminding us of his mortality, and the mortality of us all. This man would eventually die but his portrait will always live on. Q. Why is he holding a skull? Skulls symbolize death and ‘vanitas’. This reminds us not to place importance on things we own because they are not important. Q. What things do you have at home that you don’t really need? Q. Copy the man’s hand gesture. What do you think this means? He might be telling us how much money he has, or he could be saying that money doesn’t last forever, when we die it isn’t something we can take with us.
Context This portrait is entitled ‘A Portrait of a Lady’ and dated the same year. It hangs at Chatsworth House. This painting was painted by Hals on wood from the same tree trunk as our painting, so we think this means the pair were husband an wife. Q. What are the similarities?
Colour and composition Govaert Flinck Portrait of a Boy, 1640 Netherlands Look at this painting for 30 seconds! Q. What do you see? A young boy standing outside. Q. How old do you think this little boy is? About 8 years old Q. What is he wearing? Brown jacket, brown cape, brown trousers or ‘breeches’, brown shoes, brown hat, white ruff. Q. Was he rich or poor? These would have been popular clothes for wealthy young boys in the Protestant Netherlands at this time. Simple, dark and subdued. Q. It has similar dark colours, but compare this painting to the one by Hals, what’s different? This is a full length portrait, set in a landscape. He stands alongside a tree stump and a bush, and there is a river with a city in the distance. There is a low horizon and a large area of sky, which makes the small boy appear larger Q. why is this? Q. How would you describe the sky?
This little boy may have been related to the artist, and the son of a wealthy business man and art collector who would have commissioned the artist to paint this painting for him. Q. One thing in this painting tells us that he came from a wealthy family. What is it? Bamboo cane. Q. Where did bamboo come from and why does this tell us his family was rich? Bamboo came from China. In 1640 people could not travel very easily to other countries. There were no cars, trains, or aeroplanes, but the wealthy were beginning to travel by ship to far away countries like the Far East. This bamboo cane would have been a highly prized luxury object, and brought back as a souvenir, a symbol that his family may have been wealthy enough to travel all the way to China!...this was a very long boat ride away from the Netherlands and Europe! It also refers to the Dutch being amongst the first European to trade with China. Context Replica of 17 th Century baroque ship Part of a world map
Colour and composition Andre Derain Portrait of Bartolomeo Savona, 1906 French Look at this portrait for 30 seconds! Q. How does this portrait compare to the others we have looked at in terms of size? Q. Is the sitter looking at us (the viewer) or away from us? What might this say about his personality? Thoughtful, dreamy, aristocratic? Q. What colours can you see in this painting? Yellow, green, orange, blue, pink, green. Q. What is unusual about the mans hair? It has blue in it! Is hair normally blue? Style Derain belonged to a group of artists called the ‘Fauves’, which is French for ‘wild beasts’. They were called this because of the way they painted; quickly using bright, vivid, non naturalistic colours.
Context The story behind this painting is a fascinating one… The sitter, Bartolomeo Savona, was from Sicily (this is an island at the end of the boot of Italy). He came to London to improve his English. He met the artist, Derain when they were staying at the same guest house of Mrs Bradley. Derain came to London to paint views of the River Thames and famous landmarks. He hoped this would mean more people would buy his paintings and he would become a successful artist. When Derain developed a terrible toothache and needed to visit the dentist, Savona acted as his interpreter because Derain spoke very little English. As a way of saying thank-you for Savona’s help, Derain painted Savona’s portrait, which was completed in just three 20 minute sittings! Q. Do you know how to say hello in French? Bonjour or Salut. Q. Do you know how to say hello in Italian? Ciao!