The of the Gothic more obviously present.



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The Gothic Diptych at the Minneapolis Museum of Art, which is attributed to the Master of the Passion Diptych, seems atfirst glance to be a fine example of the mixed mannerism and classicism typical of a time in transition between Gothic and Renaissance styles. The small ivory panels, which are dated at approximately 1375, have a deeply traditional subject matter. They portray a series of scenes from the life of Christ, beginning with the Annunciation and proceeding through his birth, adoration by the Magi, betrayal, death, ascension, and the final gift of his spirit to the people at Pentecost.

These subjects are executed skillfully in the tiny medium (the entire work in less than 9 inches tall), with careful attention paid to the expression and placement of the figures. Stylistically, this piece seems both common to its time and yet also enlightening as to its historical moment. There is a certain classical stylization to the flow of the drapery and clothing about the figures which has evolved from the more formless shapes of the earlier middle ages, and hints at an evolving classicism and awareness of form that heralds the oncoming Renaissance. The characters are in constant contorting motion, and the drapery about them is used to accentuate the angles at which they are caught, and an articulated body is visible below. “In the Gothic figure no such differentiation exists” (Iskold), until the Gothic begins to blend Sucha blend is not entirely uncommon in the later Gothic era, of course, and one sees other characteristics of the Gothic more obviously present. The extreme mannerism of certain artists at this time is more gently portrayed here, but still visible in the bodies that contort off to one side, and the sometimes exaggerated facial expressions.

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The male background figures especially tend towards a slightly regressive mannerism, with grins that border on gri…

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