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IMG_0853 Hendrick Avercamp. 1585-1634 Amsterdam Winter landscape. Paysage d'hiver; Vers 1610 Schwerin.Staatliches Museum

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posted by jean louis mazieres alias jean louis mazieres on Monday 23rd of July 2018 10:07:32 AM

Hendrick Avercamp. 1585-1634 Amsterdam Winter landscape. Paysage d'hiver; Vers 1610 Schwerin.Staatliches Museum ART AND BELIEFS: RENAISSANCE, REFORM (2), LIGHTS. Painting, perhaps more than other arts, is a faithful reflection of the ideologies (religious or secular beliefs) that govern a society at a given moment. She is the witness of the ideas and representations of the world that govern a civilization. The history of painting is not limited to questions of techniques, biographies of painters and the study of stylistic influences. Like events history, the history of art is dominated by ideological and political considerations and is highly dependent on dominant beliefs and politically correct at the time the historian writes. It is useless to insist here on this evidence which comes out of the frequentation of the Museums of the European Fine Arts: For well over a millennium the art and the painting of Europe were the artistic expression of a religious ideology, the Catholicism in the west, and Orthodoxy in the east. We forget a little too much to the west, this orthodox civilization, different although very close. So, our successive beliefs inspire our European art, and particularly that of painting. 2 ° THE REFORM A / THE EVENTS B / THE ART A/ THE EVENTS An ideological evolution relatively similar to that which occurred at the Renaissance, but very different in its mechanisms and its consequences takes place in Europe, at the end of the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th century: The Reformation. The "Reform " is seen as a continuation of the Renaissance by all those who adhere to the idea of a "European sense of history" by affirming that man progresses by leaving the deep shadows of religious obscurantism, catholic or orthodox for Europe, to go to the full light of triumphant Atheistic Reason. In this vision of European history, according to this belief, the Renaissance of the 16th century, and this is the very reason of its appellation by the historians of the 19th century (Jules Michelet mainly), is the first important step towards the Light. The first distance taken by enlightened minds with Catholic beliefs. In this vision of European history, according to this belief, the 16th century Renaissance is the first important step towards the Light. The first distance taken by enlightened minds with Catholic beliefs. This is the reason for its appellation of "Renaissance" by historians of the 19th century including Jules Michelet. Then came the Reformation, the second decisive step that liberates all northern Europe from Catholic obscurantism in favor of the "free examination" of each. The "Enlightenment", of which the French Revolution is the decisive political act, crowns this representation of the history of Europe: They are the third stage of the historical ascent of the man of Europe towards true knowledge, that rational, rid of superstition and ignorance represented by the alliance of monarchs and popes, and correlatively, towards freedom, equality and fraternity of peoples. Reform and Light, the fundamental ideas, those proclaimed openly and those occult, are the same, or very close, and this kinship explains the solidarities currently still very efficient between Judaism, Protestantism and Masonry. Three convergent beliefs in their essential values. Like the Renaissance, the Reforms - they are diverse, rival and even sometimes enemies - are therefore a distance taken versus the vision of the world proposed by Catholic Christianity But unlike the Renaissance Humanism, which fully agreed to coexist with Catholicism, the Reforms are deeply anti-Catholic. Unlike Renaissance Humanism, whose thinking was nourished by late Greco-Roman philosophies, the Reforms are Judeo-Christian in inspiration. It is therefore through their anti-Catholicism that they can exist. By the name they gave themselves at the time they were born, they defined themselves by opposing Catholicism. Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe is in a little different story. Orthodox Europe will join the history of Western Europe only in the 20th century, during its tragic confrontation with Communism. Marxism is a rationalist and materialistic belief stemming from the same currents as the Reformation and the Enlightenment, of which it is a very direct descent. Reformed religions are related to Christianity, but Judaism strongly inspires them. Judaism explains many aspects of their doctrines, and the return to some very characteristic values of the Old Testament. Of which two absolutely essential: - The predestined peoples, elected by the mere fact that he believes well, "he is in the line". On this point nothing has changed in relation to Catholicism. The Reforms, although they say the opposite, are a continuation of the spirit of intolerance, in religion as in politics. - The role of money as a legitimate sign of social success and good religious affiliation. It is the bourgeois and materialist mark that characterizes the reformed movement. History is not repeated, however: The Reformation concerns a much larger number of people in Europe than the Renaissance. The elites involved are no longer only aristocratic circles or very big bourgeois, but also circles big bourgeois, and bourgeois. It is an episode in the political and ideological rise of the bourgeoisie. Silver begins to take the advantage over the sword. The trader, whose frustrations date back to the Bronze Age, feels that he can finally dominate the warrior, under hand, discreetly. The merchant-banker will finance wars that others, aristocracies and peoples will do in his place, and where they will die, but not him, or less. Great difference indeed with the "Renaissance", the peoples too are now very directly concerned in their daily life by the ideological change. For their misfortune. These elites, broader, will indeed impose on peoples, artisans and peasants, their ideas, their bias, and use them to satisfy their intolerance, cultivate their hatreds, and prosper their fortunes on the people's blood. The "Renaissance" was essentially a cultural phenomenon confined to the aristocracy aristocracy and para-nobiliary. The "Renaissance" took place in the princely courts and salons of the aristocracy. The Reformation is more globally and directly political, it takes over the entire European, urban and rural space. The Reformation, with the middle and high bourgeoisie, leaves the relatively peaceful cultural field, or of categorial violence, and enters into that of a political violence that concerns everyone. The Réformation is often masked, however, behind princes who still hold the high ground and quickly understand the interest of adopting the new religious principles. The official history, the one taught to the general public, is very discreet on this point: but the stake and the motive absolutely principal of the Wars of religion was the appropriation of the domains of the Church. Politically it is the well-known principle: "Such prince, such religion". On this point all the elite of northern Europe agree: Too bad for the peoples. If they do not adapt to new doctrines, they will be slaughtered . The beliefs of the people are insignificant things which the new rising elites are trampling: it suffices to force them to change them, in the name, of course, of True Faith, Freedom of Thought, and the Republic. Because the Reformation is the first step in the struggle against the earth aristocracies and the royalty, allegedly in the name of the people. We will see this scenario of an enlightened elite leading the people to massacres, on an even larger scale: First to the French Revolution and with the Napoleonic wars. Then in the 20th century, with the two world wars, and with the communist societies. Intolerance is almost foreign to the spirit of the humanist Renaissance. Individual and categorial violence is of all time, but the violence on the collective scale of the peoples, appears in large, to the Reformation: Catholic intolerance, of course, which is very well described in all history books. But also Protestant intolerance, which European and Western historiography, politically correct, pretends to ignore, but which was just as causal, just as complete and just as deadly. The complies history of France, who is taught from primary to higher, speaks only of the massacre of Protestants by Catholics during St. Bartholomew. But the victims of the wars of French religions were about 10,000 people in each camp. Protestantism in France, in the North as in the South, is not at all a popular phenomenon. The victims of St. Bartholomew were armed nobles, plus their servants and men-at-arms, and sometimes their families, who came to take power in Paris by seizing the person and spirit of the King. The plot failed because of the King and his entourage and the people of Paris. If he had succeeded, the French people should have made themselves Protestant. The popular France of that time is Catholic more than 90%. Protestantism, in the regions where it was established, was totally imposed by the aristocracies on local populations, as a challenge to the King's government or a regional revolt against Paris. As for the Thirty Years War in Germany, it is an immense massacre of peoples, in the name supposedly of God and religion, but in reality of the political and financial ambitions of some. At least five million deaths out of 15 to 20 million people, this is one of the great decimations in the history of Europe. For the ideologically correct history it is mainly the fault of the Habsburgs, Catholics, not of the Protestant King of Sweden, and not of the King of France, who supported the Protestants in Germany. Protestantism is, banally, humanly, appetites for possession and power, dressed in great religious doctrines and political ideals claiming to be republican. Such a bishop was thus able, by making himself Protestant, to transmit to his descendants, which became legitimate, his bishopric become duchy. What a temptation! The sins of the flesh and those of patrimonial covetousness rewarded by a simple conversion to the new true and pure religion. The Reformation was an immense secular rush on the property of the Church, it is its main reality and the most realistic explanation of its success. Why not ? But nobody says it except in the works of historians of small diffusion. Why? "The Prince", in the name of which the people must change their religion, is also, sometimes, a group of bourgeois, merchants, financiers, as in La Rochelle, in Geneva, or in many cities of Germany. Because the Reformation, it is in all the Europe north of the Alps the beginning of the rise of power of the commercial, banking bourgeoisie, against the warrior and landed aristocracy. The Reformation is also, for the most part, decisive, a manifestation of resistance from North, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian against the culture of Southern Europe. A national affirmation, an obvious opposition to a culture not only Catholic, but Mediterranean, strongly influenced by the Greco-Roman civilization. A culture to which the countries of Northern Europe, where the Reformation triumphs, were largely foreign. The Renaissance was largely initiated by Italy and encouraged by the Popes. Renaissance Europe was at the humanistic hour of Italy. The Reforms are an inverse phenomenon: They are against the Popes and Italy, they leave Northern Europe, try to conquer the South, but triumph exclusively on their land: the part of Europe that had not not known Roman colonization. B / AND THE ART? In the field of Art in general (architecture, sculpture, music, literature) the consequences of Protestantism are not always absolutely obvious. On the other hand, in painting the Reformation introduces a quite remarkable, characteristic change, very obviously perceptible outside the circle of scholars. Change is not at all in styles, whose evolution continues in the framework of a painting always attached to an exact representation of reality. The Renaissance had represented a culmination in the style of European painting: The art of painting had arrived at the perfect imitation of Nature celebrated by Giorgio Vasari. An exact three-dimensional reproduction of the world on a flat surface (wall or painting table) In the Reformation nothing similar happens. European painting is perpetuated everywhere, countries remaining Catholic or reformed countries, with the same techniques and sames aesthetic principles, that are not modified compared to the previous century. Contrarywise the change of beliefs is very clearly manifested in the themes of painting. After the Reformation, the European artist does not paint differently than in Catholic times and the Renaissance, but he paints something else. This mutation of the subjects of painting is manifested, almost exclusively in the Northern Netherlands, and very little, or much less, in the other regions won by Protestantism (Northern Germany, Scandinavian countries, England): Three new directions appear clearly in the themes of European painting in the Protestant Netherlands: - The disappearance or rarefaction of religious themes - The appearance on the artistic scene of the bourgeois society, and even of the artisan and peasant circles. - The disappearance of themes inspired by mythology and Greco-Roman history. The Reformation is first of all iconoclasm, ie the massive destruction of Catholic works of art. Then there is the almost complete absence, or at least the important regression, of religious subjects in painting and sculpture. The Reformation is not strictly aniconic like the Semitic religions (Judaism and Islam), Lutheranism less than Calvinism, but it is very close to it. The Renaissance had not at all suppressed Catholic religious subjects in painting. It had only brought to light for the aristocratic and very bourgeois elites new subjects inspired by Greco-Roman antiquity. The "Reformation" is more radical: It is the birth of a materialist painting, profane, desacralised, whose dominating subjects are the landscape, the mores of everyday life, the still life, the bourgeois portrait. With Protestantisms, virgins and saints disappear completely from the art of painting. Christ is also rarer, and his representation is often limited to the very last scenes of the Passion (Ecce Homo, Crucifixion, Resurrection). Some occasional scenes of the Old Testament are treated. Except for a few exceptions such as Rembrandt and his pupils, the painting of the Dutch Golden Age is totally secular, desacralised: Floral or animal still lifes, lunches, buffets garnished, banquets, merry societies, scenes of streets and village or city life, kermesses peasants, smoky and noisy taverns, brawls and loves of peasants, rural scenes with cows, pigs, sheep and poultry, landscapes of dirt roads, canals and seashores, seascapes in calm weather or storm. And always a changing sky with subtle lights. The naturalist and realistic imagination of the painters of the Netherlands of the North is remarkable, and quite innovative in the European space. All European modern art, in its beginnings will be inspired by it two centuries later. For example, with the Barbizon School, an introduction to Impressionism. But also, a little earlier, in the art of still life, the animal representation, the representation of society. The painting of the Netherlands is also the entry in force on the art scene of the middle class and even the people, artisan or farmer. The portrait is essentially that of the man and the woman in the middle class and the middle class. The Protestant bourgeois settles in the middle of the painting, like the aristocrat of the Renaissance. It is no longer the humble donor, very small, at the foot of Christ, the Virgin and the Saints of Gothic times. The craftsman or the peasant is painted, but he does not get painted. Only the wealthy bourgeois can afford a portrait. The bourgeoisie also likes to be represented as a group, as a family, in its activities. This is how Dutch painting becomes a faithful account of everyday life in the Dutch bourgeois house: cleaning, laundry, tidying up, raising children, neighborhood visits, hobbies and small house parties. The paintings of the big family celebrations, brimming with victuals and happily watered, take of great importance. They are an image of the society of the time. An ideal in which everyone recognizes himself. The social life of the Dutch bourgeois is as well and solemnly represented in their various fraternities and corporations. The views of the streets, markets, and squares of the city are a foreshadowing of our contemporary "street photography". Conciliabula, meetings, preaching in churches stripped of their ornamentation, where dogs are allowed to attend sermons, while pissing against the columns. Obviously Dutch dogs are less well educated than French or Italian dogs. At least in the painting. Despite some skulls here and there, terrestrial foods occupy much of this reformed society: Markets, buffets and tables are full of provisions. To see this painting, the Protestant Netherlands of the North are, in the 17th century, a society of plenty. A society where we cook a lot, we dance, we sing, we play cards, we smoke and we drink to excess. And as they drink a lot, the men of the people, not the burghers, also urinate a lot, against the walls of the taverns, or in the street. Women get drunk with more or less distinction. We vomit too! In family, or at the door of the tavern. It is the woman who brings her husband back to the wheelbarrow, or vice versa. Usurers, financiers, bankers, taxators appear and do not seem to hinder the tables well stocked with provisions, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, crustaceans, pies .... with the bouquets of flowers to digest them, as well as the "Vanities" and their skulls, to excuse them. The representation of peasant life is relatively marginal, but in comparison with other European countries it is very important because it exists only in the Netherlands. It is true that this attention to the popular is already present, in all the country, before the Reformation: Bruegel Pierre and Brueghel Jean are the obvious proof. We see toothless peasants singing and reading not only music scores but newspapers. The farm animals are very present, the hens, the oxen, the pigs, not only the horses and the deer of the aristocratic painting of the south of Europe. Animal representations no longer need the pretense of an "entry into Noah's Ark" to multiply. Cows and bulls are just ruminating. There is no need to call them Io, or they kidnap Europe, to access the dignity of subjects of a painting. The representation of the four seasons is more popular than in the rest of Europe: more realistic, without mythology or the search for symbolism. Ceres no longer presides over the harvest, nor Bacchus at the harvest. Indeed, another very clear manifestation of cultural independence in northern Europe, and a refusal to assume an inheritance considered as foreign, is the disappearance, very revealing, almost general, mythological scenes or inspired by Greco-Roman history. The "Reformation" is on this point the absolute opposite of the "Renaissance". Finished, Greece and Rome. The only past that the Reformation is interested in is the Judaic: the Old Testament. Venus ? Artemis? Io? Nymphs? Europe? The Amazons? Marie Madeleine? No. Possibly, a little bit: Esther, Judith, Bathsheba, Suzanne ... but especially the woman and the banal mother, those everyday. Caring mother, full of family and domestic qualities, or easy woman, middle-class woman or peasant woman. The painting of the reform, as it flourishes in the Northern Netherlands after independence, is the exact reflection of the tastes, preoccupations, and ambitions of an average Nordic bourgeoisie. Only landscapes of Italy arouse a curiosity that can be described as tourist. The Dutch painters will thus excel in the representation of the Alps, Roman ruins and Mediterranean ports. Sometimes even without leaving the soil of the Netherlands. This evolution of the painting of the Netherlands after the Reformation is not anecdotal, or purely circumstantial, it is very clearly a prefiguration of our contemporary society. The materialistic painting of the Netherlands in the 17th century announces the primacy of the materialistic values that will be those of our western society of production-consumption after the industrial revolutions of the 19th century. Meanwhile even more new: the painting without speech, absurd and ugly, of the Mondialist Contemporary Art, who is appeared after 1950. But there will be in Europe a transition, that of Modern Art (1850-1950). A century which is like an admirable swang song of the art of European painting by its search for novelty in the aesthetic field, but without abandoning the idea that art is the figuration of the beautiful, nor that it is a sharing of emotions between artists and populations, with the general public, and not only with an elite who claims to be enlightened.



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