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#348858 - 01/24/09 06:24 PM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: Grrr82CU]
Berzelmayr Offline
Companion

Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 100
Sometimes I wish the "hair-fashion" for young males of Leonardo's time would have looked like the one from the 50s, so these confusions (male or female) wouldn't get so much attention and we could talk about other aspects grin (btw, since I've mentioned the 50s there's an old American TV film where the young James Dean played John: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=21bqgY5HLPw - after 3:33 min wink

I think the popularity of the "Brown-interpretation" is partly based on a rather modern idea that every disciple of Jesus was guy with a beard and clothes that look somehow "Middle Eastern". I mean, if you compare the traditional depictions of the disciple John with the way we remember him from several Jesus-movies then you understand what I mean. Though it was not alway like this, the John from an older Jesus-film by Nicholas Ray ("King Of Kings") was still representing that youthful image of him:

On the other hand a rather recent movie that is even filmed from his perspective ("Gospel of John") makes him look like that:


So people that are getting used by this interpretation and not knowing or forgetting the traditional way and therefore not expecting someone looking so young. One could even speculate, whether a young John that is very close to Jesus makes those many Christians, who are scared of anything that goes into a certain direction, feel uncomfortable, and that they maybe even prefer to see Mary Magdalene next to him.

And of course the old question 'what is actually feminine' rises again. That cuteness is seen primarily as something "feminine" has a lot to do with the fact that youthful looks just stay a lot longer with females, which makes people believe it would therefore a real female trait, while it is actually more a question of age and development.

Just like faces of very old women (or extreme body buidling ones) can look quite coarse (including some growth of beard and often lowered voices) on the one hand, boys would be still on their way to develop all these physical chracteristics that one expects from males on the other. One should mention that this kind of "über-youthfulness" were also attributes of other saints and of course of angels (they idea that the latter look like young males isn't just connected to some art schools of the Renaissance but also based on the bible and a comment of the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus about the destruction of Sodom).

Here are two examples:
St Sebastian by Raffaello:


St George by Mantegna:


The legends say they were both soldiers of the Roman army so ones would expect them to look more adult, but artists (both older and younger than Leonardo) prefered it to paint them in a way that looks "feminine" to modern viewers. Well, it's not just John, but also other males that got this physical chracteristics. Another strong indication that there was never an intention on Leonardo's side to put Mary Magdalene into this picture.


Edited by Lisa Shea (12/29/12 11:25 PM)
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#348924 - 01/25/09 10:26 AM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: Berzelmayr]
PDM Offline


True Blue Soulmate

Registered: 12/16/04
Posts: 22788
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To be honest, I wonder if this is really worth debating, because we shall probably never know, for certain, what was going on on Leonardo's mind and what was influencing him.

However, the item has been posted for discussion, and I find it quite interesting to discuss.

As for effeminate-looking young boys, there is no need to try to convince me, personally, because I know that this is so.

On the other hand, young women also looked 'effeminate'.

Here are some very pretty young boys by Raffaelo & Perugino:

http://dardel.info/museum/museum1/Raffaelo-giovane.jpg
http://dardel.info/museum/museum1/Raffaello_Altoviti.jpg
http://dardel.info/museum/museum1/Perugino1.jpg

I fully accept that Leonardo might well have taken a moment from the biblical 'Last Supper', with Jesus and his twelve male disciples, and painted it exactly as per the Bible story.

Like others, he may well have decided that the 'beloved disciple' referred to John, and then made him look like an effeminate young boy.

On the other hand, some people ~ rightly or wrongly ~ have interpreted Leonardo as something of a rebel, who had problems with church dogma.

He was also very clever.

Heretical ideas were flowing around Renaissance Florence.
A number of Renaissance paintings are known to contain symbolism and, perhaps, 'hidden messages'.

If Leonardo had heard some of the heretical stories, and wanted to include them in his paintings, then he would have been intelligent & talented enough to include them, secretly.

He may not have done ~ but it isn't impossible.

Can we see anything that makes us wonder, when we look at Leonardo's 'Last Supper'?

Well, certainly some people can.

They wonder why the boy who is supposed to be sitting in the lap of Jesus is leaning away from him.

They wonder why Leonardo left that noticeable 'V' shape between them.

They wonder why John looks so much like some of Leonardo's female models.

For my part, it is not that I do not see or understand the arguments, it's that I do not think that anyone can conclusively know what was in Leonardo's mind.

Furthermore, I think that it is worth looking into other possibilities ~ and other mysteries.

Berzelmayr has posted Raffaello's 'St Sebastian' (I hope there won't be copyright problems with that ~ or with the images I shall include).
Here are some more people by Raffaello, who look just like St Sebastian ~ and like each other:



One is Mary Magdalene at the Crucifixion and one St John.
They could be twins! (Or triplets with Sebastian.)

Here are Mary Magdalene and St John at the Crucifion, again ~ by Perugino this time:

Twins again!

You can see the full paintings here:
http://www.artchive.com/artchive/r/raphael/raphael_crucifixion.jpg

http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/96/70096-004-7A4B5F54.jpg
http://www.pa.msu.edu/courses/2003fall/isp213h/art/renaissanceImages/peruginoCrus.jpg

I cannot tell the difference between Mary Magdalene and St John in these two paintings.
Why should that be?
Why were they painted as twins?

Maybe, if I could understand that, then I would be better able to understand why Leonaerdo painted his St John looking exactly like another Mary ~ the mother of Jesus.

I feel that, if the paintings, themselves, didn't pose the questions, then nobody would be asking them.

That doesn't mean, of course, that there aren't perfectly reasonable and non-controversial answers to these questions. smile
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#349206 - 01/26/09 08:07 PM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: PDM]
Grrr82CU Offline
Companion

Registered: 09/04/07
Posts: 100
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: PDM, color added by this writer for discussion point emphasis
As for effeminate-looking young boys, there is no need to try to convince me, personally, because I know that this is so. On the other hand, young women also looked 'effeminate'

Aren’t they suppose to ??? smile

Originally Posted By: PDM, color and underline by this writer for discussion point emphasis
I fully accept that Leonardo might well have taken a moment from the biblical 'Last Supper', with Jesus and his twelve male disciples, and painted it exactly as per the Bible story. Like others, he may well have decided that the 'beloved disciple' referred to John, and then made him look like an effeminate young boy

.According to Leonardo’s notes by his own hand, that is exactly what he did minus the "effeminate" part. Painting under the influence of The Florentine School very likely resulted in Leonardo himself not considering his portrayals of a male youth as "effeminate" but simply as "youthful" in the style of his era.

Originally Posted By: PDM
They wonder why the boy who is supposed to be sitting in the lap of Jesus is leaning away from him

.Perhaps it is because they are either unfamiliar with or have chosen to ignore (which is the more likely) the fourth gospel account (Jn 13:23-25) that very clearly describes the figure to Jesus’ right – not as leaning away from Jesus but inclining towards Peter to hear the question Peter is asking him to relay to Jesus.

According to the NT account, at Jn 13:2, the sequential stages of movement by the disciple are as follows:

  1. The disciple was leaning on Jesus’ chest (Jn 13:23)
  2. Then the disciple leaned towards Peter when Peter “beckoned/motioned” (Gr: neuei) to him that he wanted the disciple to relay a message to Jesus (Jn 13:24)
  3. Then the disciple leaned back towards Jesus and asked him the question Peter had directed him to ask (Jn 13:25)
.Now – what do you suppose we would be hearing - IF - Leonardo had chosen instead to paint the moment when after hearing Peter’s question the disciple leaned back towards Jesus and asked him Peter’s question?

We would be hearing a chorus from da Vinci Code advocates clamoring that, “See there! Mary is leaning on Jesus’ beast!” – completely ignoring the leaning first one way and then another and for what purpose.

When someone is determined to make something of nothing, they will at the sacrifice of almost any truth or fact and in this case, both from Leonardo's notes as well as the NT account, the "space" was created incidental to the disciple inclining towards Peter to hear what he had to say.

Put another way – “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts” on the part of da Vinci Code enthusiasts.

And by the way, if Leonardo had not opted to portray the "before" (the disciple leaning towards Peter) and instead painted the "after" (the disciple leaning back towards Jesus) there would have been no "V" shape, no "chalice", no pagan symbol of womanhood, no central theme for Mr. Brown to base his novel upon.

That alone demonstrates that the "V" space is totally incidental to the movement of the disciple leaning towards Peter, not an intent on the part of Leonardo to paint a symbolic "womb".

What else was Leonardo going to put in the "gap" between the disciple leaning towards Peter and therefdore away from Jesus? An octagon? A rectangle? A window?

In choosing the portray the NT passage describing the figure leaning towards Peter, Leonardo had no choice but to paint the “space” created by that action exactly the way he did. No hidden meanings, no symbolism for future understanding, no covert expressions of an heretical whisper, just a space, just a space accommodating the action of the disciple to Jesus' right leaning towards another disciple to hear him.

Every evidence considered regarding the NT account Leonardo obviously modeled his two figures after leaves no reasonable doubt that attributing some mystical meaning to the “space” created by the one disciple leaning towards Peter is exactly the process of “creating something out of nothing to suit an agenda unknown to Leonardo himself”.

In weeks of meetings - more when time permits.

...and Grrr82CU smile


Edited by Lisa Shea (12/29/12 11:25 PM)
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#349238 - 01/27/09 05:02 AM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: Grrr82CU]
PDM Offline


True Blue Soulmate

Registered: 12/16/04
Posts: 22788
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Grrr82CU
"Put another way – “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts” on the part of da Vinci Code enthusiasts."

As a historian, I know that we have to go with 'the facts', but I have also learned that we may not always be sure of the full facts.

Sometimes our conclusions are correct; sometimes they are incorrect and sometimes they are ... well, inconclusive.

I feel, though, that sometimes historians miss things by saying:

“My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with [ideas or alternative theories]” smile

I loved 'The Da Vinci Code'; and found it very exciting, readable and thought-provoking. However, as you will find if you read back through the threads, I have criticised it a lot.

I do think, though, that Brown, or his sources, made some good ~ or, at least, interesting ~ points, that were worth following up.

I think that this was one of them.

Quote:
... the "V" space is totally incidental ..... Leonardo had no choice but to paint the “space” created by that action exactly the way he did. No hidden meanings, no symbolism for future understanding, no covert expressions of an heretical whisper, just a space, just a space accommodating the action ....


Maybe so.
But Reniassance painting is renowned for its symbolism, is it not?


Edited by Lisa Shea (12/29/12 11:26 PM)
_________________________
"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.

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#351879 - 02/14/09 07:18 AM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: PDM]
Berzelmayr Offline
Companion

Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 100
Sorry, I wanted to reply much earlier, but then I had a little computer crash shortly before my answer was ready.... eek

Originally Posted By: PDM
To be honest, I wonder if this is really worth debating, because we shall probably never know, for certain, what was going on on Leonardo's mind and what was influencing him.

Sure, but we can tell the people with good conscience that Dan Brown's ideas don't match the things that Leonardo and other Renaissance artists have left us (I mean their paintings, sketches, writings, etc.)


Originally Posted By: PDM
As for effeminate-looking young boys, there is no need to try to convince me, personally, because I know that this is so.

I don't really use the term "effeminate" as you may have noticed. But I understand that many people don't want to follow me here. wink


Originally Posted By: PDM
Like others, he may well have decided that the 'beloved disciple' referred to John,

Who didn't believe that actually? (5 centuries ago)


Originally Posted By: PDM
On the other hand, some people ~ rightly or wrongly ~ have interpreted Leonardo as something of a rebel, who had problems with church dogma.

He was also very clever.

Heretical ideas were flowing around Renaissance Florence.
A number of Renaissance paintings are known to contain symbolism and, perhaps, 'hidden messages'.

If Leonardo had heard some of the heretical stories, and wanted to include them in his paintings, then he would have been intelligent & talented enough to include them, secretly.

He may not have done ~ but it isn't impossible.

Well, if those Dominican monks from Milan, who saw Leonardo's work every day, had like Dan Brown thought that this would be "clearly a woman", then he would have been the opposite of clever, especially since fighting heresy was traditionally a job of this monastic order. If he wanted to make some kind of heretic joke then using one of the teenage boys, he liked in a way people from the following century already thought he would, as a model for "the beloved disciple" then this would be more realistic and also much more on the safe side, since those monks or other people surely couldn't identify Salai or other possible models.


Originally Posted By: PDM
Can we see anything that makes us wonder, when we look at Leonardo's 'Last Supper'?

Well, certainly some people can.

They wonder why the boy who is supposed to be sitting in the lap of Jesus is leaning away from him.

See Grrr82CU's answer. It's just about depicting different moments from those lines that describe what happened at the Last Supper.


Originally Posted By: PDM
They wonder why Leonardo left that noticeable 'V' shape between them.

Maybe there is even a 'V' and a 'M' and maybe it stands for 'Vergine Maria' as Jesus has declared some kind of last will at the cross that his mother shall also become the mother of "the beloved disciple". That would make at least more sense that trying to put Mary Magdalene into this picture so obsessively as Dan Brown does.


Originally Posted By: PDM
They wonder why John looks so much like some of Leonardo's female models.

If we compare this figure with others then we'll see that although there's some similarity between this disciple and the heads of Leonardo's women, the resemblance with several figures that are male (especially the naughty "angel incarnate") is bigger.


Originally Posted By: PDM
I cannot tell the difference between Mary Magdalene and St John in these two paintings.
Why should that be?
Why were they painted as twins?

Well, that's these tendency in Renaissance art to give saints this (see my last post) overly youthful look as to say "a beautiful soul lives in a beautuful body" (and that is actually more an old Greek than a Judeo-Christian idea wink


Originally Posted By: PDM
Maybe, if I could understand that, then I would be better able to understand why Leonaerdo painted his St John looking exactly like another Mary ~ the mother of Jesus.

Not "exactly". As I said before, John resembles much more the young males of Leonardo's paintings and drawings (compare especially the noses and hairlines).
_________________________
John the Apostle in Art:
http://home.arcor.de/berzelmayr/st-john.html

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#351895 - 02/14/09 11:54 AM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: Berzelmayr]
PDM Offline


True Blue Soulmate

Registered: 12/16/04
Posts: 22788
Loc: UK
I still do not see why Renaissance artists would make John and Mary virtually indistinguishable from each other.

I still think that The Beloved Disciple looks more like Mary, in the two Virgin of the Rocks paintings, than like any of Leonardo's other models.
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#351963 - 02/14/09 04:38 PM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: PDM]
Berzelmayr Offline
Companion

Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 100
Here's a comparision of the disciple John with other pictures of young males made by Leonardo or at least after him to make clear what I meant:



(#2 is the Angel Incarnate - supposedly with Salai's look, #3 is maybe a work by one of Leonardo's students and is said to be a portrait of Salai and then we have him some years older as St. John the Baptist, #5 is even attributed to Salai as a copy after the painting by his master)


Edited by Berzelmayr (02/14/09 04:39 PM)
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John the Apostle in Art:
http://home.arcor.de/berzelmayr/st-john.html

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#352015 - 02/15/09 06:49 AM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: Berzelmayr]
PDM Offline


True Blue Soulmate

Registered: 12/16/04
Posts: 22788
Loc: UK
I do think that these males also look a lot like the paintings of Mary, in the Virgin of the Rocks.

I hadn't seen 'number 5' before ~ that is more like 'the beloved'.

How do you know that they are of Salai?

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#352019 - 02/15/09 06:59 AM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: PDM]
PDM Offline


True Blue Soulmate

Registered: 12/16/04
Posts: 22788
Loc: UK
I just want to clarify something.

I have absolutely no idea whether Leonardo meant anything by the way he painted 'the beloved disciple'.

I have no idea who the model was ~ male or female.

I have no idea whether 'John' only looks a bit girlish because we are looking through modern eyes.

I am not arguing for or against the idea that Leonardo was presenting 'the beloved disciple' as a female ~ Mary Magdalene.

I am simply saying that people are asking the questions and they have the right to do so.

By asking questions, we gain insight and knowledge.

Experts may think that they have all the answers, but that is not necessarily so.

If experts become blinkered to possibilities, then knowledge may stagnate.

I respect the knowledge of experts, but I do think that they need to keep their minds open to alternative ideas.

That's all, really.

I am interested in the information that I have gained through the thread, though. smile
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#419871 - 11/03/11 05:43 PM Re: The "Beloved Disciple" - Was Not Mary Magdalene [Re: PDM]
Grrr82CU Offline
Companion

Registered: 09/04/07
Posts: 100
Loc: Chicago, IL
Hi PDM - just in case you have reason to visit this topic again I wanted to tell you that I just left a note in the "Fatal Flaw" series on 11/03/11.

I don't want to repeat all that here because that would be unnecessary duplication - so this is just to ask you to look in "Leonardo's Painting - A Fatal Flaw?" thread for what I just posted for you smile
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