Friday, January 27, 2012

The Triumph of Winter

January 27th is the birth anniversary of the immortal Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer of Don Giovanni, 27 sublime piano concerto's and many other monumental classical works. Its also the birth-date anniversary of Lewis Carroll, an Oxford professor, author of Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, author of Venus in Furs (1870). It is also World Holocaust Memorial Day. These are the main historical characters and events associated with my birthday.

Because this morning is frosty, with a return to real Winter temperatures, The Triumph of Winter (1568) by Antoine Caron (1521-1599) seems a fitting selection. Caron was a French painter of the Northern Mannerist school, an art movement sandwiched somewhere between the Renaissance and Baroque (c.1560-1610) which delighted in unusual perspectives, animated movement and scenes allegorical and mythological. The figure of Mercurius, a god closely associated with the art of alchemy, can be seen holding his Caduceus wand. Standing next to him is a dancing Bacchanalian violinist. Winter, sitting upon a chariot, drawn in procession by storks in harness, is Triumphant. Any of the four statuettes of the Layer monument would, dare I suggest it, not be incongruous or out of place in this decorative and theatrical winter scene. 


Nick said...

Happy birthday. You share the date with some interesting characters. From memory, I have the dubious pleasure of sharing mine with Benedict Arnold -- the traitor! I'd take Mozart over him.

I'd never seen that painting before, and I'm unfamiliar with the Northern Mannerist school, so thanks for sharing.

teegee said...

Well, happy birthday to you and the rest of them. Caron's painting is a terrific curiosity shop. I wonder what was the source for the statuary types represented on pedestals (they may just be seasons, of course, before which Winter processes). Wouldn't we like to see the masques presented at Fontainebleau or, for that matter, Mantua!

Osie said...


Not only would the four statuettes not be out of place, they are in fact already there! The Bacchanalian Violinist is Vanitas; Mercurius is Pax; the woman standing to Mercurius’ right is Gloria and the four men with sludge hammers are Labor. If there is any doubt, the red-robed woman on the far left and the man with the smoking ball behind the laborers serve as brackets around them. Also, even though the title is “Winter Triumphant,” Winter himself is at the far right of the painting, almost as a side note. I would venture to suggest that Caron gives us a clue that it is a representation of the quaternary by using four laborers and placing them in the exact center of the painting. A very wonderful find, Kev!

That’s quite a variety of people to share a birthday with! I know I share mine with Marilyn Monroe on June 1, but no one else notable comes to mind. I had a funny thought--since you have Sacher-Masoch, I wondered what the Marquis de Sade’s birthday is with the thought of how hilarious (at least to me) it would be if I shared his. As it turns out, his is June 2!


Thanks Nick, archetypal Aquarians, all 3 of them.

Hi Pat,I think Caron was based at Fontainebleau. Some masques or at least Intermedia of 1585 have been recorded. I will let you know more when I find the disc!.

Osie, that is an extremely perceptive observation. A double quaternity in fact.Pity the reproduction is poor, are they representing the planets? Jung names over fifty different descriptions of forms/qualities of Mercurius. But they are as you sharply observe, four quite distinct 'types' within a double $ no less.

And that is no small coincidence in name sharing dates, I quite like the idea of Monroe, boosting up the eternal gallery like an archetype re-vitalized.

Laurie M. said...

Winter upon the chariot puts me in mind of Narnia's witch and how Winter reigned supreme there until the work of Aslan was complete.