Fontainebleau is a commune in France, famous for its historic palace and incredible forests, which played host to the French royals for centuries. The incredible palace (below) was a centre of artistic excellence during the 16th century, with figures such as Sebastiano Serlio, Rosso Fiorentino and Philibert de l’Orme working on the site.
The work of these artists and countless others is together known as the “School of Fontainebleau”–perhaps the most well-known example of this group is the painting below.
The style of this royal court school is instantly recognisable from its ornate, Mannerist appearance–think nudity, embellishment, riddles and symbolism–as well as the frequent references to the famous hunting forest. The art is playful (often borderline sexual), elegant and exaggerated.
The charming fragment of a larger work from Sotheby’s shows all these elements, as well as aspects of courtly life and the specific famous features of Fontainebleau (the forests, boar and deer).
Looks like it was originally a panel from a predella (long rectangular scene under an altarpiece: image below) depicting the annunciation, although it could also have been part of a similar composition in a different context, as part of an item of furniture (e.g. a cassone chest or a bed).
The annunciation is the story of the Angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary to tell her she would conceive the son of God. Such scenes typically depict an angel carrying lilies, appearing to Mary in a scene of imagined domestic life. Gabriel’s hand signals are highly symbolic and Mary is variously depicted in the different stages of the tale–as shocked, fearful, modest and accepting.
Other common symbolism includes the ray of light from heaven (the conception) and elements designed to invoke purity/virginity, e.g. reflections and clear glass bottles.
The artist is unknown (as with the vast majority of works from this period), although pupils of Fra Filippino Lippi have been mentioned (Raffaellino del Garbo). Below is an annunciation scene by Lippi, in the form of two tondi.
On January 15, 1559 Elizabeth I was crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey during a grand coronation. Although only 25, Elizabeth’s early years and surprising ascension to the throne were fraught with political perils.
The youngest daughter of Henry VIII was third in line for the crown after being restored to the line of succession near the end father’s life. Like Mary before her, Parliament declared Elizabeth illegitimate to clear Jane Seymour’s path to the throne. In 1554, the outbreak of Wyatt’s Rebellion nearly led to Elizabeth’s execution at the Tower, the same death her mother, Anne Boleyn, faced as Mary suspected Elizabeth’s involvement in the plot. Edward and Mary’s tumultuous reigns had led England to the edges of radical Protestantism only for the nation to be violently reunited with Rome. A court in conflict, economic instability, and the painful upheaval of the Reformation was the new Queen’s inheritance. What followed Elizabeth’s coronation was an unprecedented time in British history some refer to as England’s ‘Golden Age’.
On this day in 1536, Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife died. Only 1 of their 5 children survived, their daughter Mary I. Unable to produce a male heir, their marriage turned sour. For seven years the Pope refused to annul their marriage.
This issue takes a look at the good and bad in medieval communities: students, religious groups, ethnic minorities, confraternities, and guilds. Who was excluded, and why? What did these organizations offer, and how did people benefit from membership in religious and lay groups? We examine “the other” in the Armenian minority living in medieval Byzantium. We look at desirable and undesirable religious and secular communities, from the respectable lay confraternities, to the much-maligned monastic order of Sarabites, to the strange development of fringe groups such as flagellants. We look at economic organizations in the Middle Ages as we explore the world of masons and guilds, discovering what membership entails and the various strategies employed to fight off competition. Lastly, we look at community shared through cuisine as we explore the world of Parsi cooking.