Philadelphia Museum of Art

Here’s a quick peek at the artworks which made the greatest impression on me during my latest visit to the PMA.  My main goal was to refresh my memory on how western European religious artwork pre-1500 CE incorporates sculptural elements…but I always get distracted.

walker_no landKara Walker, no world, 2010

hopper_the catboat

Hopper, The Catboat


Jim Dine, Braid

Much as I love this, he definitely goofed a bit.  I’m saying this on my authority as a person who has braided a lot of hair in her life.  On a more positive note, it makes Alan Magee‘s hair studies more amazing.

Wait.  Maybe I’m remembering something of Andrew Wyeth’s.  I left their monographs at home, or else this errant memory would be much easier to pin down!

piranesi_the round tower_carceri

Piranesi, The Round Tower, Carceri series

Piranesi always makes me think of this movie, or is it the other way around?

thaulow_water mill

Frits Thaulow, Water Mill

campin_christ and the virgin

Campin, Christ and the Virgin

You really must see the original to fully appreciate the incredibly convincing shallow relief he suggests with the jewels.  (Incredibly ironic contrast of flat gold leaf and trompe l’oeil gems with the rendering of the figures a sort of midpoint in volumetric gamesmanship.)

van der weyden_crucifixion

Rogier van der Weyden, The Crucifixion

Is it just me, or is this painting incredibly anachronistic? By that question, I mean to assert that feeling of timelessness when you look a painting and wonder if it was really painted six hundred years ago.  Art history, are you pranking me…again?  Crucifixions don’t really get me like Annunciations sometimes do…but the use of space, design, and general compositional chutzpah in this one speaks to me.

van gogh_rain

Vincent Van Gogh, Rain

This is one of the PMA paintings I make a point of seeing on every visit.  His enthusiasm for Japanese prints shows in this painting in a way which interests me far more than the linear branch stuff.

eakins_gross clinic

The Eakins paintings…as a group.  Sadly, the Gross Clinic is at its PAFA (Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts) home this year.  I will hunt it down.


The following are terrible photos, but that’s because I was going for the shot that best noted their sculptural aspects.

patinir_assumption of the virgin

Joachim Patinir, Assumption of the Virgin, 1510-1520

(It barely shows in this photo, but the layers and levels of representation in this painting are incredible.  Those fuzzy grey areas around the raised roundels are grisaille faux sculpture scenes.  Incredible stuff.)



pma_juan ximinez_michael

Juan Ximinez, Archangel Michael, 1500-1503

pma_pau vargos_saint ortho

Pau Vargos, Saint Ortho, 1490s

(tooled gold)


Text and image as incorporated in books or altarpieces:

PMA_ill manuscripts case

Illuminated manuscripts displayed in order to best preserve the books (at the expense of ease of viewing).  The dim room, glass/plexi cases, and stands with page straps all protect the book while providing at least a small glimpse of the contents.

pma_text on wings_follower of lucas van leyden

Salome receiving the head of John the Baptist, follower of Lucas van Leyden, 1515

There is nothing but wood on the back side of these (and several other triptychs’) panels.  The gold text is linked to the frame’s molding, which in turn outlines the textual wings and figurative central panel with equal emphasis.  It holds together rather well.  How unusual is it?