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Author Topic: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven  (Read 6419 times)

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Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2011, 01:39:52 pm »
I was more tightly focused on that mirror - it shouldn't be possible at that period, and we're talking similar design here, at least - it might seed ideas to be developed.
Don't go the is-she-or-isn't-she route, it leads nowhere, but the mirror's an open question still.

Hm?  What about the Arnolfini Mirror shouldn't be possible at that period?  Or are you just meaning in 1136, when this story is set, rather than in the mid-1400s, which is when that painting dates from?   I'll grant that a mirror like the Arnolfini Mirror wouldn't be likely in the real world in 1136, since the convex style mirrors of that sort don't seem to have come into fashion until the 1400s and later (I think I saw a reference to one that came from as early as late 1300s, but that may have been a rare exception).  Earlier mirrors tended to be of polished metal, often contained in an ornamental case.  The later convex mirrors, as I recall, started out as slightly convex sheets of metal, but later on they were made with blown glass backed with polished metal, which is why they tended to be round or oval, since you are actually looking at a cross section of a glass bubble.  (For a bit of admittedly condensed history on mirror development, see here:  http://www.mirrorresilvering.com/a_brief_history_of_mirrors.htm).  KK's tech level for the Eleven Kingdoms tends to be a little advanced compared to our real world, so I tend to draw anywhere from roughly 1000-1500 for my inspirations, with a fair bit more emphasis on the lower end of that range than the higher end to keep a more medieval than Renaissance feel.  Actually, the mirror in my story isn't based directly on the Arnolfini Mirror, although it's quite similar.  As I recall, it was modeled on a gorgeous museum piece I stumbled upon while researching mirrors and their history, though I would guess it dates from roughly the same period as the Arnolfini painting and some others in this list that also depict convex mirrors:

http://larsdatter.com/mirrors.htm

I'll see if I can find the picture link to my "inspiration mirror" again, because it was quite nice.  I know I shared it with someone else here on the forum the day I found it online, but I don't recall if I sent a link to the image via PM or in chat.  If it was in chat, I probably don't have a link to it anymore if it was in the afternoon and I was on Mibbit, but if I sent it via PM, I'd still have a copy of the message...somewhere...God only knows on which page of Sent PMs....   :D

As to the overly-debated "is she pregnant or does she just look that way?" question, all I can attest to is that, having seen many a woman wearing a houppelande, it is pretty much impossible to wear that much yardage of fabric gathered tightly under one's bustline and not look like you've got at least a 'baby bump."  That's pretty much a full circle of medium to heavy weight fabric draped and gathered in one area, with the rest of the skirt also being held in front of that, and draped and gathered, which would make even an anorexic woman look ready to pop.  So yeah, it might have been fashionable as much because it makes a woman look fertile as for the warmth that much fabric would offer (which is why only a truly insane woman would wear a houppe to a summertime event here in the sunny US South!), but she may not be any more pregnant than her husband is.

As to those expressions Alkari mentioned, maybe what they're really thinking is "Why are we wearing this many blumming layers of cloth?  No wonder we're miserable...this isn't the North Pole!"   ;)  (Though I forget exactly when the "mini Ice Age" hit Northern Europe.  Maybe it really was that cold during that particular month and year, and they weren't simply being fashion horses for their formal portrait?  There were perfectly good meteorological reasons, though, why lots of layers of clothing became fashionable for a good long while and later went back out of fashion again.)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Rahere

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Re: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2011, 01:49:57 pm »
Other mediterraneans, the Spanish, named the flamingo after the Flemings, as these were birds who spent their entire time up to their knees in water whilst gorgeously dressed in the most brilliant pink...
Not to mention their wild dances, the source and origin of the Flamenco, but actually invented when Charles V told the inhabitants of Binche to show off their fabulous lace, thereby inventing the Mxp5r8ZvqGY[/youtube] de Binche, who were supposedly emulating the Aztecs, a subject about which they knew absolutely nothing.

Offline Rahere

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Re: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2011, 01:57:50 pm »
On the mirror question, I'm rather with the push-it-backwards brigade of dating history, conservatism's one thing but no end of errors, and some of them pretty significant, have been made by interpreting "not later than 1454" as "1454", rather than "1454 or earlier". The rest is not that relevant to the theme of the chapter, which is why I was avoiding it.

Going into it in greater detail yet, it's surrounded by a set of roundels which appear to be Stations of the Cross. At this time they could also have been a miniature Book of Hours, a publicity campaign to educate the nobility in the farming year and the three-crop rotation system. One must remember that at this time, with Europe just pulling itself back together after the Black Death, and France in particular sorting itself out after the massacre of the experienced senior French leadership at Agincourt (1415), that some of those coming to the top were either themselves, or their spouses, not properly trained for the job. Now, if you were to take that transfer-of-knowledge idea and use it to key something else...

Talking of which, have you seen the 17th-Century Puteanus Bruxellas Septenaria? That's a key work in the powers-of-seven alchemical dry path interpretation, not least in the way every copy seems to have a different sequence of patronymic arms, and nobody really understands what he was getting at by it.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2011, 02:42:14 pm by Rahere »

Offline Rahere

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Re: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2011, 02:21:31 pm »
This is dredging out the depths of memory:

1. You couldn't mirror metal repoussée to that extent and get the precision of reflection shown.
2. Glass quality for lenses, a similar question, did not reach sufficient standard until the 16th century, as shown in the development of lens technology.
3. Murano only invented the mercury-based glass mirror in the 16th century, and the technology didn't escape intil the 17th century.
4. Gavin Menzies work on the Chinese records suggests their mirror technology was known in Europe in 1438, and my own places van Eyck in direct contact, a close team collaborator, with Cusanus, the key contact in Europe.

But in any case, that's Europe, not Henslowe Hall...
« Last Edit: October 23, 2011, 02:26:59 pm by Rahere »

Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2011, 02:41:45 pm »
Your argument about the mirror not being possible at the time rather assumes that the item was meant to be realistic and in correct perspective.  Showing a larger than life costly item could also be an artistic symbol of the merchant's wealth, a symbol that would be well-understood by the people of the day, just as would any subtleties of clothing.  It would also have been impossible for Van Eyck to paint the images in the mirror in such detail, including the roundels, had he done it in correct size.  The roundels would have been mere blobs, and the main reverse images of the two figures would have been indistinct blurs of black and green.   Given that the painting itself seems to have been produced to celebrate an important occasion (a wedding, or perhaps the wife being given legal authority to act for her husband, as has also been suggested), then it would naturally include symbols of wealth, power, status, etc, and you'd never say that the perspective overall is 100% "realistic". 
« Last Edit: October 23, 2011, 02:53:09 pm by Alkari »

Offline Rahere

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Re: Visionaries--Part One--Chapter Seven
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2011, 03:09:19 pm »
The furthest art could get from being eschatologically realistic at that time was the bestiary, and that was a form of realism. It was a battle Leonardo and Michaelangelo were to fight fifty years later, for example in the Sistine Chapel ceiling, look at the non-Christian symbolism there. That was the whole point of Michaelangelo's Prisoners, not simply as a lesson to carvers how to free their image from the constraints of the stone (and a further lesson going the other way is in Rodin's Prisoners), but also as a message that Art must be allowed to be liberal too. But the age of classical allegory is still to come with Manutius' 1499 Hypnerotomachia (for which the first seeds were laid, but not yet mature), only eschatological allegory was then allowed. This is the heyday of the rise of the Church Triumphant, of which van Eyck was a key promulgator of the message: it's about as unlikely that he'd do such a thing as that Lady Gaga would enter a nunnery.
Another aspect of the debate is that the argument is following the rationality of the post-Enlightenment world. To argue this correctly, we have to use the tools of the time, and that is something we've nearly forgotten. As far as perspective's concerned, it's still being played with after Brunelleschi's 1425 discovery of the use of a mirror to check against reality: van Eyck's 1435 Fountain of Grace is most peculiar in that respect, mostly because the technique imposed a single point of infinity, whereas reality has a plane of infinity.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2011, 03:36:57 pm by Rahere »

 


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