Reflection 3

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1. Hidden or disguised symbolism was a favorite vehicle of the Northern Renaissance painters. This “secret iconography” was not so secret to the contemporary viewer of works like Robert Campin’s Merode Altarpiece (Fig. 8-3) or Jan Van Eyck’s Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife (Fig. 8-6).

People of this period would have instantly recognized the hidden meaning of the objects, just as you instantly recognize the meaning of the app icons on your smart phone. Also, it became a kind of game or pastime to try to find all of the objects and meanings.

2. Watch this short video, then using the two works above, see if you can list at least 5 (five) objects and their hidden meaning for each painting!

Otis Art History 18 – Iconography in Northern Renaissance Art

3. Begin to write your Unit 3 reflection

During the Middle Ages in Europe there was a craze for relics associated with holy persons and/or martyred saints from Early Christianity. Many of these objects (bones, hair, clothing) were brought back to Europe by the Crusaders. They were displayed in churches along the Pilgrimage Routes were traveling repentant Christians could view and venerate them.

1. Read these two articles on the Cult of Relics:

2. Answer these questions in the Reflections blog for Unit 3:

  • Did you know about relics and that they are still venerated in churches today?
  • Do you think there were a lot of false or fake relics disseminated in the Middle Ages?
  • Is there a similar phenomenon in secular (non-religious) life that you can think of? For example, many people make a “pilgrimage” to Graceland, or Disney World.

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