Archive for the Mantegna Category

Into the Mouth of Hell

Posted in 19th Century, Atget, Chicanna, Hell Mouth, l'Enfer, Mantegna, Montmartre, Parco dei Mostri, Xieng Khuan on April 12, 2012 by babylonbaroque

The notion of Hell Mouth has been on my mind, Holy Week has just passed, Christ’s descent into Limbo, often referred to as the Harrowing of Hell being first and foremost. I also happen to be working on a series of painting in which the Gates of Hell feature more or less rather prominently. To see examples of the progress check out my studio journal Boondocks Babylon, link in sidebar.

My most direct inspiration for Hell Mouth being Andrea Mantegna’s depiction of Christ’s descent into darkness.

Andrea Mantegna

Christ’s Descent into Limbo


1468

Frick

Another inspiration, one I have turned to time and again is the monstrous gates at the Parco die Mostri.

Incredible beyond belief.

In my research, collecting various reference materials I soon came to realize Western Christians weren’t the only ones depicting the entrance to the Underworld with such ghoulish excess. Examples could be found in Asia, most specifically outside of Laos at Xieng Khuan, often referred to as Buddha Park. although not ancient, I believe built mid-century, they draw upon an outlandish tradition, clearly delighting in the creation of such demonic follies.

One may also turn to Mesoamerica at the Maya site of Chicanna. At the site “monster mouths”  had provided a dramatic backdrop for ceremonial processions, now marvelous photo opportunities.

For those not familiar with Mayan architecture the details can be puzzling given the geometric stylization, I suggest enlarging the image (all of the images for that matter). The eyes and teeth will become visible as you examine the complex design ;the visual puzzle it part of the pleasure I find in Mesoamerican art.

But I must confess the Hell Mouth that touches my heart the most is the architectural pastiche found in Montmartre at the sublimely bizarre cabaret l’Enfer. The entrance captured below by Atget.

facade of l’Enfer

photograph by Atget

The excessive sense of fun is such a pleasure , Philippe Jullian in his indispensable Montmartre tells us that the facade is essentially cardboard and plaster- but what wondrous paste.

The above image is terribly small, but if you are interested more  images can be found at this link.

I’m particularly delighted by this interior image, I snagged it from the wonderful blog Haunted Lamp (see sidebar) quite some time ago and I have treasured it  ever since.

In case you haven’t had your fill of fin de siècle smoke and mirrors check out this video clip bursting with vintage posters and publicity shots. I’m tickled by it .

As is so often the case this blog acts as  a great organizing tool for my ideas and interests;  I am so pleased that so many readers have shared these interests.

Until next time,

take care,

Babylon Baroque


Philoctetes, Nasty Snake Bites and Traitorous Comrades (plus other hot, fallen, half -naked guys)

Posted in Babylon Beefcake, Guido Reni, Hercules, LACMA, Mantegna, Philoctetes on October 3, 2011 by babylonbaroque

The better half is writing an article on Philoctetes, the Greek warrior favored by Herakles,  who suffered a snake wound, abandonment by his comrades and psychological agony.

My task of course was to find suitable images.

So here they are.

Nicolai AbrahamAbildgaard

The Wounded Philoctetes

1775

Upon entering his own funeral pyre, Hercules entrusted Philoctetes with his bow and poisoned arrows, with which Philoctetes shot Paris. A final victory for the Greeks in the Trojan War.

His comrades proved to be far less valiant.

Guido Reni

Heracles and the Hydra (snake theme)

1620

Philoctetes and his mates were advised by an oracle to make a sacrifice to the  god Chryse. As Philoctetes had made a  similar sacrifice with Hercules in his youth, (the two seemed to be un-naturally close) Philoctetes was chosen to lead the way. As first man in line, he encounters a snake and suffers a vicious bite.

Nicolas Poussin

Landscape with a Man Frightened by a Snake

 1633-35

Montreal Museum of Fine Art

(interesting note, this painting was purchased by the Bloomsbury artist duncan Grant in 1920)

So painful the bite, his howling made the sacrifice impossible to perform. Irritated by his incessant agony and quite stinky festering wound, his loyal comrades abandon him to the nearby island of Lemnos. As Hephaestus had his own foul smelling shop there no one would be bothered by his wails and stench.

Nice fellows.

Jean Germain Drovais 1763-1788

Philoctetes on the Island of Lemnos

1788

Andrea Mantegna

Hephaestus

1497

Frankly, not sure how the story ends, seems to be a bunch of angst, will need to read the Beloved’s paper.

Until then, beefcake with wounds.

Jean-Simon Berthélemy 1743-1811

Death of a Gladiator

(I know not Greek, but hot, and a local favorite)

1773 

LACMA

It has been quite some time since I posted but early in September, the very handsome Andy Whitfield died, without being glib, he was known for having played a particularly striking gladiator. I confess I have never seen the show, but this Welshman, of quite striking looks was difficult not to notice. To die so young, 39, adds to the pathos. 

Recquiscat in Pace

I appreciate the patience of my readers, my classes have been quite difficult, even this abbreviated post has taken me away from tasks that need attending to. Until next time, take care, Babylon Baroque