WORKS OF ART, PART 2
I continue to revisit my collection of art cards and in these days when cities and towns are emptied by the Coronavirus I came to think of anonymous Renaissance depictions of ideal cities, inspired by the writings of classical writers like Vitruvius. Some kind of harmonious dream spaces, though to me they look somewhat eerie and cold. Predecessors to Chiricos´s empty piazzas?
La cittá ideale (1490-1500) in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie.
However, most portraits were still of wealthy people. Through these increasingly realistic portraits we meet persons who look like we could encounter them in the street today. Such down-to-earth depictions became increasingly prominent in religiously inspired paintings. The twenty-three-year-old Hans Holbein’s picture The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, now in Öffentliche Kunstsammlung in Basel, presents Jesus Christ as a corpse with signs of putrefaction. The word is made flesh, and the flesh is dead. It is not remarkable that Fyodor Dostoevsky became utterly captivated when he was confronted with the painting during a visit to Basel in 1867. His wife had to drag him away from the panel, fearing that the impressive sight might induce an epileptic fit in the sensitive author. Dostoevsky saw in Holbein an impulse similar his own preoccupations; a desire to confront Christian faith with everything that negated it, for example a realization that suffering, unredeemable death, and putrefaction appeared to invalidate any hope of resurrection.