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Petrus Christus (HD) Samuel Barber: Agnus Dei

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Uploaded on Mar 13, 2011

Petrus Christus, together with his elder contemporary Rogier van der Weyden, was the successor of the founders of the old Netherlandish school of painting: the van Eyck brothers and Campin. Most probably Christus was Jan van Eyck's pupil; after the death of the teacher, in 1441, he took over the workshop and completed van Eyck's unfinished pieces.
Though his works have many characteristics found in van Eyck's style, Petrus Christus significantly developed the Netherlandish school. His importance today lies in his further development of the art of perspective. He was the first painter in the North who arrived empirically at the law of linear perspective and also applied it. He was also the first Dutch master, who started to paint portraits in rooms, against recognizable interiors, and not against a neutral background. After Christus was made master and citizen of Bruges in 1444, van Eyck's influence on him faded and was replaced by his interest in van der Weyden and Campin. His representation of background, often in the form of landscapes in a mood of quiet harmony, influenced later Netherlandish painters, in particular Bouts, Ouwater and Geertgen. Like Jan van Eyck, Christus was a considerable traveler, probably active in Milan, Venice, and Genoa as well as working for those centers' mercantile colonies in Bruges. There are 24 known works by Christus Petrus. The best collections are in Berlin and New York.

Madonna of a Dry Tree. Since 1462 Petrus Christus and his wife were the members of the Brotherhood of Madonna of the Dry Tree, a religious society, which was engaged in charity and worshiped the immaculate conception of the Virgin. The society existed since 1396 and united aristocracy and clergy. This small painting was most probably a home altarpiece of a society member. This depiction was illustrating the verse by the Prophet Ezekiel (17:24)
"All the trees
of the countryside will know
that it is I, the Lord,
who bring low the tall tree
and raise the lowly tree high,
who shrived up the green tree
and make the shriveled tree
put forth buds.
I, the Lord, have spoken;
I shall do it."

These verses were interpreted in the medieval theology, as indication at barren St. Anna, who gave birth to St. Maria. The golden 'A' letters, which hang among the dry branches, symbolized 15 times Ave Maria. The work was fulfilled between 1460-1473.

/source: Olga's Gallery/

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