Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On the Streets of Dijon:

Walking through the streets of Dijon: A city that has been mythical within my mind, ever since I began my study of the art of the Netherlands, as Dijon was once the capital of the Burgundian Netherlands. The Dukes of Burgundy: Phillip the Bold, John the Fearless, Phillip the Good, and Charles the Bold, are all my new best friends; they were the rulers during that period of the Netherlands' history, and they and their legacy couldn't make me any more excited, than both already tend to do. The paintings of each of these men have loomed in my mind, ever since I became aware as to their importance. You see, Mary of Burgundy, the daughter of Charles the Bold, married the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and together they created Phillip I, who married Joanna of Castile; Phillip and Joanna together created Charles V, who is so often considered the grandfather of Europe, and who was responsible for the dividing of the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Spain. Charles V and his wife, Isabella of Portugal, together created Phillip II, whose blood flowed through the veins of the Phillips III and IV, the latter being the patron of Velasquez. Dijon was thus constructed during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and it was the setting of the dazzlingly court of the Duchy of Burgundy. Though quite far from both Bruges and Ghent, the city was highly connected to those cities, by way of the constant coming and goings of the court, which travelled between these cities. Timber-framed houses, their upper stories jettying over their ground floors, are to be found in the city's streets, standing alongside architecture from more recent centuries of past. Phillip the Bold built for himself, the Chartreuse de Champmol, which was meant to be the final resting place of the Dukes of Burgundy upon the death of each. The Well of Moses occupies its courtyard; its sculptures executed by Claus Sluter, that famed sculptor who combined Northern Realism with the International Gothic, to create a style uniquely his own. Famed for its mustard, the city should be famed for its Palace, built by the Dukes of Burgundy, which is now both the city's city hall, as well as the site of its fine arts museum, in which the aforementioned four paintings are housed. Walking through the streets of Dijon–if one looks with the right set of of eyes–will stir the soul, tickle the senses, and simultaneously evoke elusive Burgundian splendor.