Thursday, February 16, 2017

Before Public Gardens & Parks - 16C Elite Golf & Tennis as symbols of David & Bathsheba

Lucas van Gassel (Dutch artist, 1490-1568) A 1500s depiction of palace grounds illustrating the temptations of David & Bathsheba using Tennis & Beugelen

The principal literary source of inspiration for this paintings came from the pen of Antonio de Guevara, in particular his Del Menosprecio de la corte y alabanzade la aldea (A Dispraise of the Life of a Courtier), published in 1539. At the end of his preface to the Menosprecio, the author refers to the adultery of David & Bathsheba, as described in the bible. Gassel probably included the maze in his paintings as a tempting symbol of courtly pleasures from which it would be difficult to escape. The subject obviously appealed to the nobility, because between 1540-1560, about 12 copies were made at Gassel’s workshop of the original, all very similar in their layout & all including games such as beugelen & an open tennis court.