The late 7th-century Gospel of St. John preserved among the relics of St. Cuthbert retains its original binding, whose decorative designs embody in an exemplary way the principles of composition that informed early Insular art. The designs on the front and back covers are geometrical not only for showing the influence of compass and straight-edge. They are geometrical in conception as well, having proportions among their major dimensions that are all based on the "two true measures of geometry", the golden section ratio and the square root of two. This essay analyses the forms of the designs and provides line-drawings to show how they could have been created.
The depiction of the crying face is the final result of a process in which several stages can be distinguished. Full articulation of the crying face is found in the works of Rogier van der Weyden (tears rolling down the cheeks). The motif became quickly popular in Flemish 15th-century painting. Literary traditions, continuing since the early Middle Ages, suggest that tears gradually acquired the meaning of redemption rather than being a manifestation of pain only. In Flemish art only saintly figures are allowed to shed tears.
Vasari's scattered information on the destroyed Villa Soranza places Anselmo Canneri there as a frescoist as well as Veronese and Zelotti. Comparison of eleven fresco fragments of 1551 form Soranza with contemporary works by the three artists confirms the presence of all three hands in the frescoes, which are usually attributed to Veronese alone. The lost decorative program is reconstructed by collating the original list of 108 fragments, drawn up in 1818, with lists of fragments shown in England in 1825 and 1827 and with the visual remains, using Ridolfi's passage to help place fragments in the four decorated rooms. Twelve drawings in Milan record extant and described elements of the decoration and also record the same three hands identified in the extant fragments. Sources for the cycle at "La Soranza" exist among earlier fresco cycles in Renaissance Verona, where antiquarian studies had fostered illusionistic decorations since 1500.
The 17th-century development by Dutch genre painters of the oyster meal theme is easily divided into two time periods: the introduction of the theme of consuming oysters in merry company scenes from 1610-35, and the oyster meal often depicted in more intimate settings from 1660-80. There is a hiatus from 1635-60 in which few examples of the oyster meal appear. In both the early and the later periods there is a compositional change, dividing each period into two phases. Paintings of the early period are commonly festive, the important change occurring the shift of locale from outdoors to indoors; whereas, paintings of the later period are nearly all indoors - in domestic interiors - the change lying in the kind of occasion portrayed, which shifts from feast to tryst. The role of the oyster in later painting changed gradually, but distinctly. Always a symbol of the sense of taste - and a delicacy at that - its erotic significance was steadily accentuated. This development accrued to the shift from banquet scenes with oysters as an incidental feature, to lovers scenes, where the oyster meal is the principal theme. The opportunity to moralize varied accordingly with the same changes.
Gustave Courbet subtitled the massive painting (1855) depicting his Studio a "real allegory". In practice, this puzzling conjunction of disparate terminology signifies an assemblage of symbolic figures in contemporary dress arranged into a moralized (left vs. right) compositional scheme; the entire ensemble is expressed, however, in a vigorously naturalistic painterly language. Although print-sources have been identified for major canvases by Courbet preceding L'Atelier, to date none has been found to account overall for two significant factors: the anomalous, triptych-like composition and the underlying revolutionary exaltation of "la Liberté". To explain these factors, I propose an engraving, published in 1789 by Claude Niquet, which celebrated the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" by employing a similarly symbolic composition and apparently parallel allegorizing motifs. Significant correspondences of format, thematics and personifications are discussed and related to what is known of the metaphorical references in L'Atelier and to Courbet's expressed artistic ideas and political sentiments.