Tence: The depiction of the falling body in Bavaria from Georg Pencz to Pier Paul Rubens (1534-1624).

« Für Kunst und Künstler war der Manierismus ein Sturz in die Welt. » (Michael Philip, catalogue of the exhibition Sturz in die Welt. Die Kunst der Manierismus in Europa, 2008, p.12.)

Based on my doctoral research, this project focuses on the depiction of the falling body in a corpus of Northern paintings mostly produced for Bavarian patrons from the 1530s to the beginning of the 17th century. At the time of Mannerism, images of the Rebel Angels banished from Heaven by the archangel Michael or of the falling Phaethon punished by Jupiter in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Book II) spread out in sacred and profane interiors. In his Schilderboeck (1604), Karel van Mander having in mind the Last Judgement by Michelangelo completed in 1541 assumes that « « sometimes one should be posed as if falling, when it is appropriate ». Scholars like Emil Maurer in 1990 and Miguel Falomir in 2014 have noticed that depicting human figures upside down in the act of falling was an anatomical and technical challenge, one of the most difficult for the artists. Three of them born at different times have ensured the iconographical fortune of mythical divine punishments in Bavaria : Georg Pencz in Nuremberg (c. 1500-1550), Christoph Schwarz in Munich (c. 1545-1592) and Pieter Paul Rubens in Neuburg a. d. Donau (1577-1640). My research will explore the works of these painters in Munich and Nuremberg by comparing their specific approaches of the dramatic movement of the fall which are closely related to the expectations of the patrons. Depending on the location of the paintings, the impact of the falling figures on the viewer will be carefully examined. Together with this aesthetic perspective, I intend to study the iconographical and historical aspects of the commisions especially the role of the Rebel Angels in Jesuits’ imagery thanks to the holdings of the BZI and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Moreover, I will consider how in paintings by Rubens produced between 1616 and 1624, like the Fall of the Damned and Saint Michael defeating the Rebel Angels in the Alte Pinakotek, the free falling entwined figures become part not only of a « triumph of the flesh » (G. Almonsi) but also of a rhetoric of the body in perpetual motion.

 

Bibliographical references :

- E. Maurer, Manierismus. Figura serpentinata und andere Figurenideale, Zürich, Neue Züecher Zeitung, 2001 (1990)

- M. F. Falomir (dir.), Las furias : alegoría política y desafío artístico, cat. ex., [Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2014], Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2014

- M. Philipp, V. Tàtrai, O. Westheider (dir.), Sturz in die Welt. Die Kunst des Manierismus in Europa, cat. ex., [Budapest, Bucerius Kunt Forum, 2008 - 2009], Munich, Hirmer, 2008

Projektmitarbeiter ZI