Monday, April 11, 2005

More manly men

Rosaries in the Renaissance were certainly not just for women. There were many Manly Men who had their portraits painted clutching a rosary or paternoster -- preferably with Really Big Beads to demonstrate how wealthy and successful they were.

Besides the paintings of Manly Men with Rosaries that I've mentioned before in It's a Guy Thing, there are also quite a few woodcuts on the same subject in the Marburg Photo Archive.

As I said for the previous bunch, most of these guys don't look as if they're enjoying sitting for their pictures either. Perhaps the serious-to-sour expression is the convention of the time (late 1500s-early 1600s) for men who are trying to look adult, responsible and respectable :)

Here are a couple of the Really Big Beads guys. On the left is Andreas Musculus in 1573, by Franz Friedrich. On the right, Prince George III of Anhalt in 1553, by Lucas Cranach the Younger.



More of the same: on the left, Kaspar Peucer, artist and date uncertain; on the right, another unknown artist picturing Johannes Briesmann, sometime after 1549.



Somewhat smaller rosaries: here's Johann Nieberl in 1609, by Lucas Kilian:



And three from the same family: Hilpolt, Lorentz, and Anton Kress von Kressenstein. These all appear to be memorial portraits from the early 1600s. The third one (Anton) is attributed to Hans Troschel; the others aren't certain -- but they certainly look to me as though they all could have been done by the same artist.



Although some of the beads inevitably are behind a sleeve or hidden in the hand in these pictures, you can actually tell quite a bit about the rosaries. For instance, Anton Kress (to start with the last) is wearing his rosary around his right wrist, the second or third person I've seen doing this (one of his brothers is doing the same). There seem to be more than 10 but fewer than 20 beads, with smaller beads between each one (or at least that's how I interpret this). In front of the cushion below his hand you can faintly see the outline of an equal-armed cross that looks to be about an inch and a half high (comparing it with his fingers for scale).

Mr. Nieberl seems to have a very similar set of beads, and here you can see the cross a lot more clearly; but if there are small beads between the bigger ones, they're not as clear.

Andreas Musculus (what a name!) seems to be holding a classic "tenner" -- it looks like a string of ten beads, with an eleventh larger bead and what looks like a small tassel on the far right. We can see six beads next to that one; if he's concealing three beads in his hand, there's one more bead below his little finger, followed by something that isn't clear. We could be seeing a ring attached to the strand, followed by a heart-shaped thing with a cross on it (which looks rather like a sword).

Woodcuts are, of course, not photos, so we can never be sure the artist is showing a real object in exact detail. But these are interesting hints, at least.

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