Artists and Travel
Bacchanal with a Wine Vat
The 1400s bore witness to a revived interest in antiquity which is embodied in Renaissance artwork and architecture.  The Renaissance style was inspired by the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, but with a new twist thanks to a deeper understanding at the time of architectural structures and materials.  The Medieval style, consisting of deformed and almost childlike figures, was replaced with a more anatomically correct form, aided by studies done by artists and natural philosophers. 1   Some areas of Europe, especially in the northern regions, were slow to adopt the Renaissance style.  Over time, access to works and knowledgebases were made more readily available through prints which were a popular collector’s items as they were easy to find and affordable with the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press in c.1440. 2 Some artists travelled to Italy and studied the Renaissance style in person.  Andrea Mantegna travelled to Rome during the years of 1494-95, where he was exposed to objects of antiquity such as the Bacchic sarcophagi (fig.1) that were in private collections and churches and influence works of his such as his engraving Bacchanal with a Wine Vat (fig.2). 3  Private collections of art and artifacts were in the possession of prominent families around the Mediterranean, such as the Medici family of Florence, during the time.  Artist’s works ended up in Cabinets of Curiosity and often shaped how people viewed the world around them. During the time of the Renaissance, Germany was stuck in the Gothic style which persisted well into the 16th century, when they were thrown into the Renaissance by an artist named Albrecht Dürer.  Born the son of a goldsmith in 1471, Dürer travelled to Italy in 1520 where he was introduced to a new way of seeing the world. 4  From this his style evolved to include a new interest in bold colours, the nude form, and the inclusion of mythological characters from Antiquity.  The Italian influence manifested itself in more than just artistic style; Dürer gained a new theoretical interest and wrote several books and guides about the human form and, related to it, geometry.  When he returned to Nuremberg, Dürer set up his own workshop where he produced prints and other works that were influenced by the Italian style he had been introduced to during his travels (fig. 3 and 4).  Dürer kept a travel diary during his visits to Italy and had many correspondences to people back in Nuremberg.  In his diary, he documents gifts given to him and payments received for his works.  “Rodrigo gave me six large Indian cocoanuts, a very fine piece of coral, and two large Portuguese florins… Gave 4 stivers for the little tortoise… Herr Gilbert, who gave me a Calicut target made of fish skins, and two gloves as they use them for fighting.” 5 All the objects mentioned are often found in Cabinets of Curiosity.  If one is receiving foreign objects as gifts, a personal collection naturally grows in size and the importance of the Cabinet increases over time.  Dürer kept track of gifts he sent back to Germany, most of which would be added to various private collections due to their rarity or unique nature to Germans.  “To Pirkheimer I have sent a large cap, a very handsome buffalo horn inkstand, a silver [medal of the] Emperor... To Kasper Ntitzel I have sent a great elk’s foot, ten large fir cones with pine kernels.” 6  With this we see how some collections were formed through gifts sent from other travellers.  In a letter to Wilibald Pirkheimer in 1506, he wrote that “Now as to what you commissioned me, namely, to buy a few pearls and precious stones, you must know that I can find nothing good enough or worth the money: everything is snapped up by the Germans.” 7   Dürer’s correspondence has many references to various objects that he was asked to pickup for collectors in Germany, showing how collections could form without the owner leaving their home.  Artists who travelled not only created works that ended up in Cabinets of Curiosity, they also served as eyes in foreign lands.  By sending exotic objects to people back home, they broadened the representation of foreign lands in collections that the owner was previously unaware of.  Like Documenaries? Wondrous Obsessions: The Cabinet of Curiosities, BBC, presented by Professor Nandini Das. ________________________________________________ 1 Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, “The Rediscovery of Classical Antiquity,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2002, accessed November 10, 2017, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/clan/hd_clan.htm 2 Heilbrunn, “Rediscovery.” 3 Ditto. 4  Ditto. 5 Albrecht Dürer, Memoirs of Journeys to Venice and the Low Countries, trans. Rudolf Tombo (Adelaide: The University of Adelaide Library, 2005), At Antwerp, https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/durer/albrecht/journeys/contents.html. 6 Dürer, Memoirs of Journeys, At Antwerp. 7 Ditto, Part 1.
Bacchic sarcophagus
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, by Durer, 1505.  Exposed to the Venetian use of colour, Durer now has more texture and vibrancy to his art.
Portrait of a Young Woman with Her Hair Done Up, 1497.  Durer has been to Italy once at this point, but his figures are still more similar to the Gothic style.
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Artists and Travel
The 1400s bore witness to a revived interest in antiquity which is embodied in Renaissance artwork and architecture.  The Renaissance style was inspired by the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, but with a new twist thanks to a deeper understanding at the time of architectural structures and materials.  The Medieval style, consisting of deformed and almost childlike figures, was replaced with a more anatomically correct form, aided by studies done by artists and natural philosophers. 1   Some areas of Europe, especially in the northern regions, were slow to adopt the Renaissance style.  Over time, access to works and knowledgebases were made more readily available through prints which were a popular collector’s items as they were easy to find and affordable with the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press in c.1440. 2 Some artists travelled to Italy and studied the Renaissance style in person.  Andrea Mantegna travelled to Rome during the years of 1494-95, where he was exposed to objects of antiquity such as the Bacchic sarcophagi (fig.1) that were in private collections and churches and influence works of his such as his engraving Bacchanal with a Wine Vat (fig.2). 3   Private collections of art and artifacts were in the possession of prominent families around the Mediterranean, such as the Medici family of Florence, during the time.  Artist’s works ended up in Cabinets of Curiosity and often shaped how people viewed the world around them. During the time of the Renaissance, Germany was stuck in the Gothic style which persisted well into the 16th century, when they were thrown into the Renaissance by an artist named Albrecht Dürer.  Born the son of a goldsmith in 1471, Dürer travelled to Italy in 1520 where he was introduced to a new way of seeing the world. 4  From this his style evolved to include a new interest in bold colours, the nude form, and the inclusion of mythological characters from Antiquity.  The Italian influence manifested itself in more than just artistic style; Dürer gained a new theoretical interest and wrote several books and guides about the human form and, related to it, geometry.  When he returned to Nuremberg, Dürer set up his own workshop where he produced prints and other works that were influenced by the Italian style he had been introduced to during his travels (fig. 3 and 4).  Dürer kept a travel diary during his visits to Italy and had many correspondences to people back in Nuremberg.  In his diary, he documents gifts given to him and payments received for his works.  “Rodrigo gave me six large Indian cocoanuts, a very fine piece of coral, and two large Portuguese florins… Gave 4 stivers for the little tortoise… Herr Gilbert, who gave me a Calicut target made of fish skins, and two gloves as they use them for fighting.” 5 All the objects mentioned are often found in Cabinets of Curiosity.  If one is receiving foreign objects as gifts, a personal collection naturally grows in size and the importance of the Cabinet increases over time.  Dürer kept track of gifts he sent back to Germany, most of which would be added to various private collections due to their rarity or unique nature to Germans.  “To Pirkheimer I have sent a large cap, a very handsome buffalo horn inkstand, a silver [medal of the] Emperor... To Kasper Ntitzel I have sent a great elk’s foot, ten large fir cones with pine kernels.” 6   With this we see how some collections were formed through gifts sent from other travellers.  In a letter to Wilibald Pirkheimer in 1506, he wrote that “Now as to what you commissioned me, namely, to buy a few pearls and precious stones, you must know that I can find nothing good enough or worth the money: everything is snapped up by the Germans.” 7   Dürer’s correspondence has many references to various objects that he was asked to pickup for collectors in Germany, showing how collections could form without the owner leaving their home.  Artists who travelled not only created works that ended up in Cabinets of Curiosity, they also served as eyes in foreign lands.  By sending exotic objects to people back home, they broadened the representation of foreign lands in collections that the owner was previously unaware of.  Like Documenaries? Wondrous Obsessions: The Cabinet of Curiosities, BBC, presented by Professor Nandini Das. ________________________________________________ 1 Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, “The Rediscovery of Classical Antiquity,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2002, accessed November 10, 2017, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/clan/hd_clan.htm 2 Heilbrunn, “Rediscovery.” 3 Ditto. 4  Ditto. 5 Albrecht Dürer, Memoirs of Journeys to Venice and the Low Countries, trans. Rudolf Tombo (Adelaide: The University of Adelaide Library, 2005), At Antwerp, https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/durer/albrecht/journeys/contents.html 6 Dürer, Memoirs of Journeys, At Antwerp. 7 Ditto, Part 1.
Bacchanal with a Wine Vat Bacchic sarcophagus Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, by Durer, 1505.  Exposed to the Venetian use of colour, Durer now has more texture and vibrancy to his art.
Portrait of a Young Woman with Her Hair Done Up, 1497.  Durer has been to Italy once at this point, but his figures are still more similar to the Gothic style.