My Art History Methodology - Jean Luc Angrand

My Art History Methodology - Jean Luc Angrand

The works of the masters of the Italian Renaissance offer a richness of details that is expressed through two main forms of interpretation: the surface reading and the hermetic reading.

Surface Reading: This approach, also known as the academic reading of the 20th century, is the one that has received approval from academies and universities. It is widely taught in educational institutions and dominates the descriptions of artworks found in art history books.

Hermetic Reading: This interpretation is often addressed more succinctly in academic texts. It delves into subtle motifs and minute details embedded in paintings to enrich the narrative.

Example: The Mandorle, representing a shell, especially the Saint James shell, is associated with the goddess Venus and the Virgin Mary. Also symbolizing the initiatory path of alchemists, it stands as a perfect example of this dual interpretation. Reference: The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, circa 1485.

Numerous iconographic dictionaries provide detailed explanations of these symbols. My publications are designed to assist art history students in mastering this methodology or simply to pique the curiosity of art enthusiasts.

My Unique Contribution: I strive to highlight the symbols buried within artworks, often of alchemical, astrological, kabbalistic, or mythological origin. The combination of these symbols often unveils a parallel narrative, intentionally concealed by the artist, which can either complement or contradict the surface reading.

Take, for instance, "The Saint Anne" by Leonardo da Vinci. At first glance, it depicts a pious image of Jesus playing with a lamb, flanked by his mother Mary and grandmother Anne. However, a deeper analysis reveals an alchemical subtext suggesting divine fertilization, with a daring interpretation related to Saint John the Baptist - a viewpoint some might deem heretical.

This same challenging spirit is evident in his two versions of "The Virgin of the Rocks", displayed at the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London.

I apply this methodology with fervor and precision to numerous artworks, and the outcomes are self-evident. Yet, as always, I invite you to judge for yourself.

To delve deeper into my works and analyses,

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