Thursday, January 1, 2009

Francisco d'Ollanda's De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines


Since you liked it so much the first time we're back in 16th century Portugal: I hope that you'll be happy. In the Duarte d'Armas' post I told you that Italian Renaissance art's impact reached Portugal very late because of a strong Flemish influence. My somewhat exaggerated theory is that Portuguese art skipped that phase entirely, jumping from Gothic art to Mannerism (and I say "exaggerated" mainly because of two French sculptors working in the country at the time). One of the greatest Mannerist Portuguese artists and a strong advocate of Italian art, a great admirer of Michelangelo (or Micael Agnello, as he wrote in a letter addressed to the great genius; maybe Michelangelo was a lamb in Italian to become an angel in Latin?, he called him Michael Angelus in a famous portrait - see above), was Francisco d'Ollanda (Francisco de Holanda in today's orthography). Ironically, he was the son of a Flemish artist living in Portugal: Antonio d'Ollanda ("Holanda" means "Holland").
Francisco de Holanda leaved Portugal in 1537 and lived in Rome until 1547. It was there that he drew many ancient ruins. He collected his drawings as (among other info) Das Antigualhas (on old things; 1539, 1540). He also wrote a Neoplatonic book: Da Pintura Antiga (on old painting, 1548). The second part of the book (known as "Diálogos de Roma," the "Roman dialogues") records the opinion of a few important Italian celebs about aesthetics, Michelangelo among them...
De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines (images from the world's past) is basically the Bible as a graphic novel. One hundred and seventy six pages survived at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (Madrid's national library). It took the author nearly thirty years to draw (1545 - 1573) considering that, during those years, he also dedicated his attention to other projects, of course. Francisco de Holanda was not a great artist, so, again, I did this post mainly because De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines is an amazing curio. The first part of his "Genesis" is absolutely masterful though. If you think that there're similarities between some of Francisco de Holanda's drawings and William Blake's it's simply because they exist...

You can find the whole book, here (just search for "Francisco de Holanda"):
http://bibliotecadigitalhispanica.bne.es/

Image:
Michaelangelo by Francisco de Holanda, in Das Antigualhas, but drawn many years after Holanda came back from Italy (sorry for the poor resolution). Michelangelo is portrayed in profile (as if on an old Roman coin) between laurel and rose wreaths. Both were used to crown the Roman emperors, both symbolized victory and honor.

PS A few posts ago I compared one of my favorite comics artists, Jacques Tardi, to Eric Flint. This happened because I wanted to underline his commercial work (the Adèle Blanc-Sec series) which is a parody of action-adventure children’s comics in the same way as Flint’s books are fantasies with a laugh. It was an injustice, of course, because Jacques Tardi also did (and continues to do) great books about WWI. I’m sure that he would like to be compared to Louis-Ferdinand Céline instead. I’m not sure if he’s that good an artist though (i mean "artist" in the broad sense of the word, of course)… A minor Céline, perhaps?...

1 comment:

CARLES BUIGAS said...

"De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines" de Francisco de Holanda, BIBLIOGEMMA ha hecho el facsimil del libro, copia identica al original. Mas información www.bibliogemma.com.
Saludos