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Lillie Catalogue: The essays on Architecture in Renaissance Painting: Based A844 Ex. 4.4.5-6

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Sunday, 9 Dec 2018, 20:44

Lillie Catalogue: The essays on Architecture in Renaissance Painting: Based A844 Ex. 4.4.5-6

 1.     ‘Entering the picture’ elaborates on how the viewer might enter in the picture through the architectural devices employed by painters of the Renaissance.

In reading this part of the catalogue, consider how Lillie is answering the question: ‘to what extent [were] late medieval and Renaissance artists engaged in creating pictures that could be visually inhabited?’ (Lillie, 2014).

The material here is surely transferrable to our understanding, other factors being taken into account, of all representational art in that the use of door, window, and other frames always force a contrast between a surface  as an imagined interior and the barriers and invitations to a viewer’s entry to them. This meticulous scholarly intervention though creates the potential to talk about all these issues and relate them to themes in content as well as form – not least the issue of interiority. The sense of creating place out of space means that we can deal with notions of familiarity / unfamiliarity (Freud’s uncanny), feelings of belonging or estrangement and the relationship of these themes to notions of community and divine grace.

2.     ‘Place making’ outlines the ways in which architecture could construct a sense of ‘place’. The introductory section analyses how Veneziano’s Virgin and Child was incorporated into the street, which should allow you to link this with the discussion in Section 1 of this block about miraculous images in public space.

In the exhibition space, the painting was placed high above the entrance to the gallery, along with the contemporary etching and map showing its placement and the ceremonial route (Figures 3 and 4 in the online exhibition catalogue). This points to the ways that display is also crucial for exhibitions and can help elucidate some of the important points the exhibition raises.

Here the distinction between space and place is crucial, as is the cusp between them in the notion of defamiliarization, derealization and anachronism. We can come to a place that is not yet a place – is experienced as alienating space and this has important functions for the artist, viewer and artistic meaning – especially the more numinous forms of the latter – mysticism, religious mystery and so on.

The role of real display settings – whether a church or gallery is implicit here and how meanings become related to issues of hanging the works.

3.     ‘Architectural time’, the final essay, examines the ways that artists attempted to portray time through architecture. In particular, it looks at the issue of time in relation to the Nativity, and seeks to answer the following question: ‘What roles does architecture play in creating, structuring, or confusing time in these pictures?’ (Lillie, 2014).

You might want to think about why the author has chosen the Nativity as a particular subject to explore this theme

Obviously the answer to the latter is in the reading. It is because the nativity has become the origin of all time and a cusp between old and new time that are created with it. This raises the importance of anachronism and how the temporal and a-temporal might be visually displayed – usually by violent contrasts of present, past and unknown, for which incongruent buildings, ruins and so on can stand in.


Ex. 4.5.6

For catalogue entries remember to include:

·       an in-depth visual and textual analysis (including provenance and material condition)

·       references to other relevant images and collections

·       an individual bibliography.

Before reading the exhibition catalogue’s conclusion, consider what you have learned from the exhibition.

·       Was it successful in conveying the role that architecture has to play in Renaissance paintings?

    • Yes. It made available new ways of talking about the relationship of content, form & context, whilst engaging in close readings of the pictures themselves in terms of different layers of meaning and relevance to viewers contemporary to the paintings and after.

·       Do the works of art chosen support the arguments made in the catalogue essays? Do they answer the questions posed?

    • Yes. But that is barely surprising, given the resources of the National Gallery. What would surprise would be choosing paintings that might be more resistant to those readings but in which they still have relevance. Much nearer to a way of working that questions its own historical assumptions. A less historicist take (or its potential, would be also be interesting to have such as in Rubin’s work.

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