26 December 2012

Medieval carpentry - 5

Fifth post in a series about medieval woodworking.  As ever it is circling around the real thing as this time it concerns a painting representing a polychromic (that's painted) carving.

Winter Sales #2.  I am pushing out a number of post drafts,  this one dates from June. A descent of the cross on a second Christmas day?  I think it can be appropriate for medieval paintings as they didn't hesitate to mix up different spaces and times in a single painting.

I discovered in a recent tv documentary the Kruisafneming from Rogier de le Pasture that translates into The Descent from the Cross of van der Weyden  from 1432. It was commissioned for a church here in Leuven, even if it is today in a dragon's lair (the Prado).

Dirk de Vos suggests that van der Weyden wished to evoke a life sized, carved relief filled with polychrome figures, and thus elavate his painting to the level of grand scale sculpture. The work's corners are filled with carved gilded tracery, with the presentation of living figures on a stage intended as a tableau vivant, or sculptural group, the latter of which is created through the sense of condensed movement within a single instant.

So the painting puts people in a box to echo a traditional carved altarpiece. Some see it as the best painting of the fifteenth century,  I could agree with that,  this and Lascaux for the other periods  ... and a few others.  Anyway it fits the woodworking bill: medieval wooden panel with decorative oil finish.