Monday, March 21, 2016

Cats in Art: Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg as Saint Jerome (Cranach)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.

The bride and I have been  traveling the past couple of weeks and I decided to take a short break from Mister Tristan (the blog, not the 8 year old human being).  We visited the Ringling estate in Sarasota, FL, and sent several delightful hours there (you must go if you ever find yourself in Sarasota!).  Yes, it's the John Ringling of circus fame.  My next couple of Cats in Art posts will feature other paintings from this museum.

Image credit Gary, photo taken at the Ringling Museum of Art, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg as Saint JeromeLucas Cranach the Elder,  1526, oil on panel, held by Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL.

And the kitty close-up:

Comments from the Ringling Museum site:
The painting has an elaborate symbolic program which would have been read and understood by educated people of the day. In the foreground are a lion, Jerome's companion in the desert; a beaver symbolic of industriousness, a squirrel indicating frugality, a parrot to signal the Annunciation, in addition to pheasants, a peacock, an apple and a deer - all symbolic of characteristics Albrecht wanted associated with himself.

The composition is a virtual mirror image of Durer's famous print of St. Jerome in his study, which is not surprising as Cranach often turned to Durer's prints for inspiration. Cranach was the first to assimilate the lessons to be learned from Durer as to the use of luminous color, landscape detail and incisive portraiture. This latter quality can be seen in the forceful and assertive appearance of Albrecht as Jerome.

The painting was purchased by John Ringling in 1932 and was last shown in the Masterpieces of Art exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1957.

Couple of my comments: I did a Cats in Art post of the Durer print, here, and indeed this painting by Cranach is quite similar in its composition (though obviously not in its execution).

Standing in the Ringling Museum right in from of this large painting left me in awe.  It's one thing to view an image in a coffee table book or on the web, but quite another to stand right there, close enough to touch.  This painting in particular seemed to almost leap off the panel with its energy and vibrant colors.

So, the lesson of the day is this: visit art museums, large and small, whenever you can.

[Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!]

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