Category: Renaissance period


Today is the 204th Birth Anniversary of 19th century French artist, Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin.

With Flandrin’s masterpiece ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’ (Seated Young Male Nude by the Sea) from 1836 (Above me - not behind) at the Louvre (May 2009)

With Flandrin’s masterpiece ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’ (Seated Young Male Nude by the Sea) from 1836 (Above me – not behind) at the Louvre (May 2009)

Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864)

Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, born on 23rd of March, 1809, had an interest for the arts since his childhood. Yet he was forced into being a businessman by his parents. Still determined, in 1929, he went to Paris, and trained under the famed French Neoclassical painter, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867); who eventually ended up not just being his teacher but his friend as well. Although Flandrin’s works were nowhere as great as  Ingres’, and even though Flandrin is not famed for leaving behind a great bulk of masterpieces, he did manage to make a mark with his one great painting ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’ (Seated Young Male Nude  by the Sea) from 1836. Which I was lucky enough to come across, when I visited the Louvre for the 4th time (which was the last time I visited the Louvre) in May 2009.  

Unlike the renaissance era previously, when it comes to the neo-classical era of the 18th & 19th centuries, though they embody many a traits borrowed from the renaissance; there is a more photographic element to these newer paintings. Especially when it comes to human portraits and nudes.

That’s what’s most probably the best thing about ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’, it’s almost photographic, it could almost feel as if it’s an actual photograph of a male nude with a seaside backdrop and not a painting. It’s also famous, for the body’s somewhat 3D effect with the roundedness of flesh on the flawless’ skinned human form. The nude in the forefront is almost cut-off, and protruding outwards towards us, while contrasting to this, the backdrop is flat and blends in. It has also been compared to the renaissance master, Leonardo da Vinci’s study of the human form from four centuries before, da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, from 1490.

In 1857, first President of the French Republic, Napoleon III, nephew of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, bought ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’, which is now housed at the Louvre, in Paris.

In 1853, Flandrin was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. A decade later, he started to get ill, and just two days before his 55th Birthday, he died of smallpox, on the 21st, of March 1864.  

The Flandrin Pose

Flandrin’s ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’,  due to it’s famous pose, is now more commonly known as The Flandrin Pose. And since the paintings advent to the public, The Flandrin Pose, has been re-created a zillion times till date. The most notable photography versions happen to be; Fred Holland Day’s (1864-1943), the first person in the U.S.A. to advocate that photography should be considered a fine art, version called Ebony & Ivory (from the late 19th Century, most probably 1897), which showcased a black male with a white statuette, taken inside a studio, Wilhelm von Gloeden’s (1856-1931) Caino (1902), who brought back the nude outside to a very rocky natural surrounding, and Karel Egermeier’s work for Paysage Olympique from 1924; to name a few. As time went by the image became more and more homoerotic, even though nothing sexual is implied in the original paining. The most controversial version most probably is photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s (1946-1989); some of whose work I came across at an exhibition in London, back in Jan-Feb 2005, I do not remember the name of the small gallery that housed the exhibition; Ajitto (1981). Ajitto, was, like most of Mapplethorpe’s works, almost bordering on pornography. The still is of a black male inside a studio, on top of a stool, with his huge genitals shown hanging loose below. It’s the only re-creation of The Flandrin Pose that showcase male genitalia, that I have come across. In the 21st century, there was Richard Taddei’s painting, Meditation (2003), an interestingly slightly abstract and distorted image, with slight pop art feel, this work feels like a postmodernist work from the 1960’s. More recently I came across a work titled Flandrin’s Skateboarder, a picture taken somewhere between 2009 and 2012, by an unnamed photographer. Which was an interesting take on the classic. Here the nude is seated atop a skateboard, kept on a bench on a terrace/roof top with a chilly industrial background with leafless trees afar. And the nude is wearing a woolly beanie on his head. A stark contrast to the sunny summer appearance of Flandrin’s original, ‘Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer’.

Nuwan Sen’s Art Sense

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Statue of David

Statue of David

 Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance period, was born in Italy (current Tuscany area) on 6 March 1475.

With Michelangelo's Rebellious Slave &  Dying Slave at the Louvre

With Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave & Dying Slave at the Louvre, in Paris (August 2008)

Growing up as a kid, my knowledge of artists of modern arts was pretty limited, with the exception of Dali, Picasso, M F Hussain and a few others. But when it came to the Italian Renaissance artists, I was a bit of a pro. Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael etc etc…, were among my favourites (second only to Dali) ever since I realised I had a passion for, and was gifted with talent for, the arts. Most beautiful works by the Renaissance artists was their study of the human figure, which added to their scientific knowledge, whereas Da Vinci went to the extent of designing machines (sketches on paper only) applicable to the human form. Yes, the study of the human anatomy gave rise to everything architecturally surrounding us, since way before. Everything, from the chairs we sit on, the houses we live in, high-rise buildings, are an extension of the human form, made specially for humans. Michelangelo’s Statue of David, is one of the most popular sculptures, although am yet see the original, despite having visited Florence in the Spring of 2005, I didn’t get a chance to do so. Again in the Spring 2005, besides visiting Rome (and the Vatican), I missed out on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The thing was, in April 2005, I travelled around Europe for a month with a Eurail pass, valid on the European rail network for a month, covering as much as possible, occasionally sleeping in trains (few places I had a place to stay in, and once at a Bed & Breakfast in Vienna, Austria; but generally I took the night train from country to country as to use the daytime as much for travel within a country), putting my bag in a locker at a station and covering a town, hopping on the next train etc etc.. So whatever I could catch that Spring was pretty limited.

But I have seen a some other works by Michelangelo, the highlight was when I got to see some of his works at the Louvre (picture above), which I visited four times, July 2008, August 2008, April 2009 & May 2009. I passed his two famous sculptures many times, but it’s only in my second visit that I took a picture alongside the sculptures (pictured above). Most of my photographs of paintings and sculptures, are the ones I took. So from my second visit onwards I’ve tried to take pics with me in them as much as possible.

Back again in April 2005, even though I never got to see the Sistine Chapel, I did visit the Vatican, and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by Michelangelo (pictured below), although he died (on 18 February 1564) before he could compete it.  

ROMA 001

Nuwan Sen’s Art Sense

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