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Dec 13, 2010

The Restoration of Jan Gossaert...

A couple of weeks ago I was in New York City and had an opportunity to go to the Metropolitan Museum. It was late int the week, and my family was tired, so they chose to have a lazy morning. So I went to the Met early and alone. Originally, I intended to walk through the American Wing and reacquaint myself with some of my long-time favorites – Whistlers, Sargents, Cassatts, and the like – but the American Gallery was closed for remodeling. Instead, I walked across the building and into an exhibition on Jan Gossaert, a 15th century painter I was completely unfamiliar with.

The Sacred and
the Sensual:

Hercules and Deianira"
Legs intertwined.

Gossaert painted both holy 
alters and sex. He painted 
Madonnas, Princes,
Bankers, and Lovers.
Many of his
mythological themes 
were purposely
double-framed, so if 
one frame was
removed the image 
would convey a
different meaning...

The Gossaert exhibition was astounding and it kept going gallery after gallery. The show spanned his entire life as a painter and it took me more than two hours to work my way through it. Gossaert was a well-established Gothic painter who was asked to accompany a Flemish Prince on a diplomatic mission to the Vatican – the mission being to negotiate with the Pope about taxes. Gossaert was invited to come along to document the mission. The papal negotiations took over two years, which gave Gossaert plenty of time to immerse himself in the recently unearthed sculptures and ancient ruins now considered responsible for launching the Italian Renaissance. Gossaert amassed a body of knowledge that he then brought home to his northern climes, and, as a result, he is credited with transforming the gothic nature of Northern Europe's painting into something more akin to the Italian School.

The clip below runs  a little over 9 minutes, but is well worth the time to get to the end. Besides seeig how 400 year old paintings are cleaned, you'll experience a stunning connection between Jan Gossaert and the history-making Ghent Alterpiece, painted by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Apparently, plagerizing a masterpiece wasn't considered such a bad thing to do back in those days as it might be is now. It was considered good. In fact, if you do it now it's considered Post-Modern referencing. (Ha!)

I recommend you expand this clip into your monitor's full frame so you may enjoy it full-screen.(Click on the arrows button in lower right corner.)  Also, if you have enough band-width, play it back at 720 or 1080 HD ,so you can fully appreciate the jewel-like surfaces of the work.

And yes, both of these paintings were even better in person...



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