We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. IRSA s. CUTTLER Exotics in Post-Medieval European Art: Giraffes and Centaurs The popularity in the Middle Ages of the bestiary, a conquest of nature on parchment, testifies to man's enduring interest in his fellow creatures despite the strong medieval orientation towards the life of the spirit. Yet the lack of a methodology based on observation led to some farfetched conclusions about the natural world, even that part of it which lay just outside the window; bees, for example, were actually thought to be born from the corpses of cows.
It was also supposed that bear cubs were licked into shape by their mothers, and that beavers bit off their testicles when pursued by hunters. The increased curiosity about the things of this world included a new enthusiasm for animals, especially those not native to the West. Exotic species would appear on the European continent, but not until the nineteenth century was the average European likely to encounter them in real life. The tiger, for example, was known through frequent illustrations but seldom seen. It usually received a chapter in the bestiaries, in which it would be described as allowing itself to become fascinated by its own image in a mirror as a hunter made off with its cubs.
In , the first recorded tiger in Europe since Roman times was living at the court of the Duchess of Savoy in Turin and later in Ferrara. There are many accounts of their presence and even their breeding, first at various courts and then in the cities; they were kept in Rome by the popes as early as ,3 and Villard de Honnecourt made a drawing of a lion "al vif" in the thirteenth century4-where he saw the animal is unknown. The city of Florence kept lions as early as , and the French nobility owned lions in Paris, as is evident from the portrayal of three of them surrounding the figure of winged enthroned Fortune that crowns the Hostel de Fortune by the Cite des dames master c.
Philip the Good of Burgundy had four lions at his court in Ghent in , and records show that his son, Charles the Bold, paid for a lion's upkeep in Anthony in the Desert , Les Belles Heures, folio , c. Albans, made two drawings of it. His elephant was a gift from Alfonso V of Portugal in They could not have been all that numerous in Europe, however, or Count Amadeus VI of Savoy would not have gone to the trouble of bringing one back to Italy when he left Constantinople on June 9, The cities seem to have been inspired by the courts, and the courts were imitating the Orient-the menageries of the West have their precedents in the Byzantine and Islamic realms, whose rulers kept giraffes, for example, at various times during the medieval period and after the fall of Constantinople.
Giraffes and also Centaurs merit a closer look, for the two make an appearance in the same work. Anthony of Egypt, will be examined here. They depict St. Anthony on his way to visit St. Paul the Hermit and his encounter with a Centaur. According to his biographer St. Athanasius, St. Anthony was enjoined by a supernatural voice to learn humility from St.
Photo: Museum. Paul the Hermit. Acting on that injunction, St. Anthony set out to find him. In the Egyptian desert St. Anthony was given directions by a Centaur, who then ran away a short distance and died. They appeared in representations of Sagittarius in astrological scenes, on Romanesque cloister capitals, on bronze doors and, most frequently, in the calendars of books of hours.
Anthony on folio is seen to the left [Fig. Paul's hermitage in the upper corner. Behind the Centaur in the middle distance is a giraffe, a much more exotic creature, almost unknown in texts and illustrations throughout the medieval period. This, the only such representation from the first decade of the fifteenth century, is also the only one of relative accuracy since antique times. An Italian drawing of a giraffe after Cyriacus of Ancona is the next example chronologically, but it was made no earlier than Anthony on His Way to St.
Paul , Les Belles Heures, folio v. All that one can say of it, however, is that it had cloven hooves, four legs, spots, and a long neck. Isidore of Seville in the seventh century, knew very little about the giraffe's appearance, though already in , John of Biclaro, bishop of Gerona, referred in his chronicle to a giraffe being given as a gift to Emperor Justin II in Constantinople.
In the same century, St.
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In the eleventh century, Byzantine emperor Constantine Xl accepted the gift of a giraffe and an elephant from the sultan of Egypt. Emperor Frederick II, who ruled until , sent a white bear to the Egyptian sultan in exchange for a giraffe; in , Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus was given a giraffe by the king of Ethiopia, and Frederick's son Manfred received another giraffe from the Egyptian sultan Baybars in It seems clear that the giraffe was a most exotic animal seen by very few; even Marco Polo, describing one in Zanzibar, clearly had never seen it.
Jean de Berry, we know, owned a camel and an ostrich in ,33 but probably not a giraffe, for there is none even in the manuscript of the Merveilles du Monde, contemporaneous with the work of the Limburgs-nor is the duke's ostrich represented in books made for him. The excessive length of the forward curving horns of the Limburg's giraffe and its lack of spots show that the painters were not reproducing an animal they themselves had 4 Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Harbor at Naples , detail, right side, c.
Photo: Alinari. Nevertheless, their source might have seen an actual giraffe since the approximation in color and form is much closer to the real animal than the imagined camelopardalis pictured in the bestiaries. The Limburgs' source must also have been familiar with multi-oared galleys, one of which can be seen in the illustration of St. Anthony setting out on his journey to visit St.
Paul [Fig. Such a vessel is found in only two other illuminations by the Limburgs and their associates, one in the Belles Heures folio and the other in the scene of the Temptation of Christ in the Tres Riches Heures du duc de Berry Musee Conde, Chantilly. Sailboats without oars are the norm in northern works; an oared galley is a surprising exception.
They ply the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in the Descliers map of the world of , but three- and four-masted boats sail the oceans.
The Limburgs took pains with the exotic elements in the St. Anthony series. The sea on which the galley sails is colored red and leaves the observer in no doubt whatsoever of the foreign nature of the setting. It is Egypt, where St. Anthony spent his entire life, the land by the Red Sea where the sultan kept giraffes and crocodiles abounded. Such specificity is not the norm in the Belles Heures, though the locale is indicated in a scene on Mt.
Sinai from the life of St. Catherine folio 20 , the Grande Chartreuse is shown folio 97v , and the scene of St. Jerome leaving Constantinople features a galley in the distance Meiss called "imperial" folio ,36 but this is all. Greater specificity is found in the Tres Riches Heures, a later work. Inasmuch as no northern precedents exist for these motifs in association with St. Anthony's legend, we are left with the possibility of invention by the artists what Meiss cautiously called "thematic innovation"37 , which is entirely unlikely.
An Italian derivation is also a possibility, but invention by the Limburgs becomes even more doubtful when the series is re- lated to traditional Antonite iconography. For example, from the Byzantine Painter's Guide, a compilation reflecting earlier traditions, comes the following description of Anthony's beating by demons: A tomb. The saint is laid in it at the bottom. Demons surround him and strike him with a stick. Other demons drag off the cover of his tomb. In an illuminated book of , now in Malta, of the life of St. Anthony that was made for the seat of the the Hospital Order of St.
Anthony at St. Antoine en Viennois, the saint is once again in an uncovered sarcophagus. Anthony with the Centaur which is like a wild man, hairy to the waist and smoothskinned below, just the reverse of the Limburg Centaur. The beating of the saint by demons in this picture book is related to earlier Italian and Spanish examples, and the Centaur meeting is also related to an earlier Italian work, a panel attributed to the Sienese painter Martino di Bartolommeo, of c.
There the Centaur is not hairy, while the meeting with the Centaur and the beating of the saint are combined in a single panel. Anthony also relied for its form and content. Thus, the presence of the giraffe and the Red Sea galley must be thought of as based on models the Limburgs either had seen in Italy possibly Venice, though the giraffe does not appear in Venetian painting until the Bellinis in the early sixteenth century , or obtained through their contact with a Byzantine painter in the entourage of Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus.
He had visited Paris at the end of the fourteenth century, stayed two years, and attended the wedding of Jean de Berry's daughter. The possibility of Byzantine inspiration can be supported by evidence from other parts of the Belles Heures and in other works for the duke, for example the costume styles or the medals of Constantine and Heraclius made for the duke Cabinet des M6dailles, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.
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Another giraffe is depicted inhabiting Africa on the Genoese world map of [Fig. An approximation slightly It has long been conjectured that Pol de Limburg took artistic motifs from the Porta della Mandorla of Florence cathedral to grace the Annunciation page of the Belles Heures. Italian miniaturists were also map makers, though the evidence is late, from , and concerns the Ptolemy Atlas printed at Bologna by Domenico de' Lapi with the aid of Taddeo Crivelli, both known earlier as miniaturists.
Each is possible, but the unusual costumes and headdresses, the medals,44 the redness of the Red Sea, and the appearance of Eastern, apparently Imperial galleys as Meiss thought , point strongly to Byzantine influence. This exoticism is unique in fifteenth-century northern European art. The giraffe is not met again in the North for three-quarters of a century. A search of likely places for its appearance, such as scenes of Noah loading animals into the Ark, the Adoration of the Magi with Eastern entourages, or even Wonders of the World, turns up nothing.
The single exception known to date is the woodcut illustration in Bernhard Breydenbach's Peregrinationes in Terram Sanctam, printed at Mainz in [Fig. Its woodcuts were probably made by Erhard Reuwich of Utrecht. It is unlike all previous examples in that this long-bodied and long-necked creature has long, backward curving horns and spots. Its appearance in woodcut was to give it a long life. Reuwich may have seen a giraffe and the crocodile of the same woodcut in the menagerie of the sultan at Cairo.
In , a grand spectacle was put on in Florence involving-neither for the first nor the last time-the bringing of lions and other animals to the Piazza della Signoria to fight one another for the benefit of the citizenry. The lions must have been recently fed for they lay down and went to sleep. To en- courage them to perform, a giraffe "machine," or "Trojan giraffe," worked by twenty young men "in corpo venti garzoni" , prodded the beasts with lances, but to no avail. The gift by the caliph of Baghdad of a giraffe and a zebra to the Naples court of King Ferrante suggests at least one way such knowledge might have been transmitted.
Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum. Gentile Bellini painted a giraffe in the background of St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan , begun in and completed by his brother, Giovanni, after Gentile's death in The giraffe which Piero di Cosimo painted at the right side of his Vulcan and Aeolis National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa , which Panofsky dated around ,49 was probably landed at Pisa and brought to Florence, where it influenced Piero and also Andrea del Sarto, who Annunziata, Florence in His workshop added a giraffe to the Tribute to Caesarof at Poggio 3 Caiano.
There is also a miniature of c. The giraffe itself was celebrated by Angelo Poliziano and Antonio Costanzo. However, Bosch's giraffe in the middle ground of the left wing of the triptych [Fig. Cyriacus traveled in Greece in , was at Didyma in Asia Minor in , and copied many Greek and Latin inscriptions which later circulated widely in Europe.
Phyllis Lehmann has proposed a Florentine copy of Cyriacus's drawing [Fig. Julia also called St. Liberata altarpiece Palazzo Ducale. Julia, in Venice around C,, IC- ' -,,. Bosch could have seen the animal in Florence if he went to Italy between and , for in April of the latter year Anne de Beaujeu, daughter of Louis XII and regent of France, wrote to Lorenzo de' Medici asking him to send her the giraffe as promised. Nor, it seems, had Bosch seen it, because his giraffe resembles the Cyriacus drawing in pose and peculiar tail, exactly reproduced, though the horns are different.
The Cyriacus drawing may not, after all, have been Bosch's source, for the elephant from the same manuscript [Fig. Though Bosch shows the African and not the Asian elephant, the Florentine manuscript serves as a model only in part, so there could have been another copy of Cyriacus's manuscript that he used. No real giraffe was recorded in the North in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, though a tapestry series from Tournai made in the early years of the sixteenth century depicts elephants and As in the "gypsy" tapestries, here the children are naked and some of the men are dark-skinned.
Clearly he did his work before Wolfgang Resch in published at Nuremberg his woodcut of a giraffe with an Oriental keeper from a design by Niklas Stoer, based-as the text tells us, though it is hard to believe-on Lorenzo de' Medici's giraffe [Fig. One was by Conrad Gesner in , with the first illustration [Fig. Another portrayal is by Pierre Belon in [Fig. Adrian Collaert was born into a printmaking family in about in Antwerp, where he died June 6, He married the daughter of the well-known print master Philipp Galle in , and published a series, Animaliurn quadrupedum omnisgeneris verae etartificiosissimae delineationes in aes incisae et editae ab Adriano Collardo.
Twenty prints make up the series, and the seventeenth contains a giraffe that seems to have come from Gesner's Historiae animalium, but is rather freely interpreted with pointed, forward curving horns and a tail not seen on any other giraffe. Roelandt Savery d. In the latter years of Louis XIV's reign, space was reserved in his menagerie at Versailles for a giraffe; although Louis had an emissary at work collecting animals in Africa, it seems the space was never filled.
By the third quarter of the eighteenth century, more precise knowledge of the giraffe was acquired by European travelers in Africa. Allamand, professor of natural history at the University of Leiden, received the skeleton and skin of a young giraffe from the governor of the Cape of Good Hope , Ryk Tulbagh. Allamand sent a reconstruction drawing to Ge- orges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon , author of a famous encyclopedia of natural history, and Buffon published an engraving of it in his edition.
Knowledge spread rapidly in scholarly circles due to Buffon's work and its translations, such as the second English edition of I was not able to consult the French edition of nor the first English edition of , in eight volumes with engraved plates. The second English edition was printed in nine volumes with "over Copper-Plates. The illustration, which is fairly accurate despite its several translations, is probably the basis for another of greater artistic merit, Thomas Bewick's giraffe in his General History of Quadrupeds, printed at Newcastle upon Tyne in The wood engraving reproduced here is from the second edition of [Fig.
Bewick may never have seen a giraffe even though his text he wrote his own which he acknowledged was based on Buffon describes the differences between male and female giraffes. But the slight hump he shows on the animal's back can only be his instinctive response to the animal's medieval - and scientific name - "camelopardalis. The morphology of the giraffe in art which we have traced from its appearance in the early fifteenth century was resolved by scientific investigation and exploration.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the giraffe became well known. Though still exotic, it could now easily be viewed by the public and thus its physical appearance presented no more problems to the artist. The road to the modern zoo had been opened. Bewick, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2nd ed. Its appearance in the St. Anthony series of the Limburgs' manuscript is almost the only one in fifteenth-century Northern art, except for calendar pages and borders.
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The wiry style of this engraving may explain why the attribution is tentative, but it could be due to the close adherence to an unknown model that influenced the master. A battle like this, however, is unknown in fifteenth- century Northern art, and the classical reliefs known to Italian Renaissance artists are entirely different. An abstract setting and a ground crosshatched in order to silhouette the action create a barren stage. Close parallels to the setting can be found in earlier Schongauer prints, but also in a roughly contemporary Italian engraving by Jacopo de' Barbari of a Centaur-and-dragon battle.
The Battle of the Ten Fighting Nudes or the imitative engraving of Hercules and the Giants offer models rare in the North, while the costumes are clearly not Northern in the battle Courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum. The style of the engraving is, in its wiry feeling, closer to Italian work than to Master I A M's more pictorial certified engravings, but even though no exact model which the master could have copied exists today, it is not difficult to imagine that he drew upon an Italian work from the Pollaiuolo circle for inspiration.
Here is a surprising anticipation of it. There is a postscript to this.
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The illuminator has added elements that transform the work from a simple scene of classical inspiration and subject coming from Italy, into a multivalent expression of late medieval concepts and ideas. The classical Centaur, originally a Greek wild man unaccustomed to the amenities of civilization represented by the Lapiths, became drunk at the wedding feast of Perithous, started a fight, and tried to make off with the women, hence the battle.
The Centaur in medieval times was even turned into a demon Dante shows it as such in the Inferno, Chapters 9, 12, and The Centaur menaced by a traditional skeletalized figure of Death in a winding sheet holding a large arrow and by I A M's Lapiths, and the Centaur's wild woman companion a transformed Deineira,80 who is obviously not a female Lapith in danger of being abducted , were conceived by Testard as sinful and damned.
Death is their fate and it is very A positive primitivism in which wild folk have a decisive place is still unrecognized by the painter, despite its appearance in contemporary writings.
Nevertheless, the Centaur-wild man has been transformed by the revival of antiquity under Italian influence from an astrological symbol into an exotic motif in Northern culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. From the antique mosaics of Palestrina and El Jem to the close of the fifteenth century, the giraffe retained its exotic character for it was never seen by enough European artists to become familiar, despite engravings and woodcuts of Lorenzo de' Medici's giraffe and the example in Breydenbach's book.
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Paying close attention to the hand gestures of each of the disciples as explained by Hall, you would see that each one shows representation of a celestial zodiac sign. Starting with Aries at the head of the table and ending with Pisces. Mary meaning high priestess Magdalene means tower of knowledge and Jesus Zeus Christ gold also make a trinity, which is the human connection to GOD.
Traditionally the trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What happen to the woman? How can she not exist in this equation? The color blue is associated with the female and red is associated with the male. Clearly his knowledge is so carefully encoded in many of his works. In addition you can see how Da Vinci also grouped the disciples by the 4 seasons. Jesus in the middle of the 12 zodiac signs represents the SUN. All throughout history we have 12 portrayed in all ancient cultures. It is the same zodiac clock. The number 12 became a number revered by mathematicians and early astronomers. So the skies were divided into 12 portions, as were the months of year, reflecting the annual movement of heavenly bodies.
Superstitions and religious beliefs were piled on top of respect for the number 12 and were adopted by multiple early civilizations. The sky, divided into 12, has each portion ruled by a god, a divine being, a teacher, a prophet or a son of the sun. Odin, or Norse mythology, sat on a chair that overlooked all of creation, and had 12 sons. The Babylonians had the longest lasting influence upon our calendars, times, mathematics and religions, all of which emphasize the number The ancient Zoroastrians had twelve commanders on the side of light light being a symbol for the sun , and in Judaism and the Hebrew Scripture there are many references to the 12 tribes of Israel.
In Buddhism there are 12 life stages. Such holy persons are depicted with a bright solar light around their heads, which occurs when any object approaches the sun and stands in front of it. Although many ancient religions such as the Gnostics Greek for Knowledge understood things like the twelve disciples of Mithras to be symbolic of the stages of the waning and waxing sun throughout the year, later religions took it literally and believed in an actual 12 disciples — and some still do.
We have been taught the savior is coming. Well he is here, he has always been here and he resides in each and every one of us. Magdaline is the founder of MaggiesHolisticsNY.