“Animating Landscape” by Guest Lecturer April Oettinger

Professor April Oettinger of Goucher College in Baltimore kicked off AU Art History’s spring lecture series with an insightful dive into Lorenzo Lotto’s landscape paintings, exploring the techniques through which he incorporated enlivening, ephemeral effects into his pastoral scenes.  Her talk entitled, “Animating Landscape: Lorenzo Lotto and the Sublime Turn in Venetian Landscape Art 1500-1550,” opened with the crucial point that the notion of pure landscape painting did not exist in the early sixteenth century.  From this context, Oettinger explores the rhetorical function of landscapes within conceptual pieces.

In Lotto’s Assumption of the Virgin (1506), for example, the trees dotting the background landscape range from sapling to fallen, mimicking the life cycle of Christ in wood–poetically important as it was the wood of the cross that bore Christ in death.  Similarly, in The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome, Peter, and an Unidentified Female Saint (1505, below), the conifers formally mirror the stance of Christ while the broken evergreen prefigures his crucifixion. 

 

Lotto

Within these poignant scenes full of rhetorical meaning, Lotto layered into these landscapes the ornamental ephemeral effects of smoke, fog, and moonlight to animate the painting world, challenging the typical stillness of the arcadian manner.  This both showed Lotto’s artistic virtuosity and brought visual focus into the landscape portion of his paintings.

Oettinger

We are grateful to Professor Oettinger (above) for sharing her discoveries with us and for dynamically engaging with AU students in the question and answer session following her talk. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s