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# In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t

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Senior RC Moderator
Joined: 02 Nov 2016
Posts: 5052
GPA: 3.39
In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t  [#permalink]

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22 Nov 2019, 02:59
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 466, Date: 21-Nov-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details

In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of the artist as an individual; rather it is diffused through the artistic genius of centuries embodied in the rules of religious art. Art of the Middle Ages is first a sacred script, the symbols and meanings of which were well settled. The circular halo placed vertically behind the head signifies sainthood, while the halo impressed with a cross signifies divinity. By bare feet, we recognize God, the angels, Jesus Christ and the apostles, but for an artist to have depicted the Virgin Mary with bare feet would have been tantamount to heresy. Several concentric, wavy lines represent the sky, while parallel lines water or the sea. A tree, which is to say a single stalk with two or three stylized leaves, informs us that the scene is laid on earth. A tower with a window indicates a village, and, should an angel be watching from the battlements, that city is thereby identified as Jerusalem. Saint Peter is always depicted with curly hair, a short beard, and a tonsure, while Saint Paul has always a bald head and a long beard.

A second characteristic of this iconography is obedience to a sacred mathematics. “The Divine Wisdom,” wrote Saint Augustine, “reveals itself everywhere in numbers,” a doctrine attributable to the neo-Platonists who revived the genius of Pythagoras. Twelve is the master number of the Church and is the product of three, the number of the Trinity, and four, the number of material elements. The number seven, the most mysterious of all numbers, is the sum of four and three. There are the seven ages of man, seven virtues, seven planets. In the final analysis, the seven-tone scale of Gregorian music is the sensible embodiment of the order of the universe. Numbers also require a symmetry. At Chartres, a stained glass window shows the four prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah, carrying on their shoulders the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

A third characteristic of this art is to be a symbolic language, showing us one thing and inviting us to see another. In this respect, the artist was called upon to imitate God, who had hidden a profound meaning behind the literal and wished nature itself to be a moral lesson to man. Thus, every painting is an allegory. In a scene of the final judgment, we see the foolish virgins at the left hand of Jesus and the wise at his right, and we understand that this symbolizes those who are lost and those who are saved. Even seemingly insignificant details carry hidden meaning: The lion in a stained glass window is the figure of the Resurrection. These, then, are the defining characteristics of the art of the Middle Ages, a system within which even the most mediocre talent was elevated by the genius of the centuries. The artists of the early Renaissance broke with tradition at their own peril. When they are not outstanding, they are scarcely able to avoid insignificance and banality in their religious works, and, even when they are great, they are no more than the equals of the old masters who passively followed the sacred rules.

Spoiler: :: OA
C

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) theorize about the immediate influences on art of the Middle Ages
(B) explain why artists of the Middle Ages followed the rules of a sacred script
(C) discuss some of the important features of art of the Middle Ages
(D) contrast the art of the Middle Ages with that of the Renaissance
(E) explain why the Middle Ages had a passion for order and numbers

Spoiler: :: OA
B

2. It can be inferred that a painting done in the Middle Ages is most likely to contain

(A) elements representing the numbers three and four
(B) a moral lesson hidden behind the literal figures
(C) highly stylized buildings and trees
(D) figures with halos and bare feet
(E) a signature of the artist and the date of execution

Spoiler: :: OA
A

3. Which of the following best describes the attitude of the author toward art of the Middle Ages?

(A) The author understands and admires it.
(B) The author regards it as the greatest art of all time.
(C) The author prefers the music of the period to its painting.
(D) The author realizes the constraints placed on the artist and is disappointed that individuality is never evident.
(E) The author regards it generally as inferior to the works produced during the period preceding it.

Spoiler: :: OA
E

4. The author refers to Saint Augustine in order to

(A) refute a possible objection
(B) ridicule a position
(C) present a suggestive analogy
(E) provide proof by illustration

Spoiler: :: OA
D

5. All of the following are mentioned in the passage as elements of the sacred script EXCEPT

(A) abstract symbols such as lines to represent physical features
(B) symbols such as halos and crosses
(C) clothing used to characterize individuals
(D) symmetrical juxtaposition of figures
(E) use of figures to identify locations

Spoiler: :: OA
C

6. The passage would most likely be found in a

(A) sociological analysis of the Middle Ages
(B) treatise on the influence of the Church in the Middle Ages
(C) scholarly analysis of art in the Middle Ages
(D) preface to a biography of Saint Augustine
(E) pamphlet discussing religious beliefs

Spoiler: :: OA
D

7. By the phrase “diffused through the artistic genius of centuries,” the author most likely means

(A) the individual artists of the Middle Ages did not have serious talent
(B) great works of art from the Middle Ages have survived until now
(C) an artist who faithfully followed the rules of religious art was not recognized during his lifetime
(D) the rules of religious art, developed over time, left little freedom for the artist
(E) religious art has greater value than the secular art of the Renaissance

Source: Master GMAT
Difficulty Level: 650

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Re: In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t  [#permalink]

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22 Nov 2019, 20:12
I am not convinced with the answer of q5. Why the answer should not be C? In this passage, there is nothing mentioned about clothes.
Senior RC Moderator
Joined: 02 Nov 2016
Posts: 5052
GPA: 3.39
Re: In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t  [#permalink]

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22 Nov 2019, 23:11
1
Hea234ven wrote:
I am not convinced with the answer of q5. Why the answer should not be C? In this passage, there is nothing mentioned about clothes.

Official Explanation

5. All of the following are mentioned in the passage as elements of the sacred script EXCEPT

Explanation

This is an explicit idea question. Each of the incorrect answers is mentioned in the first paragraph as an element of the sacred script. As for (A), lines may be used to represent water or the sky. As for (B), these indicate sainthood or divinity.

As for (C), shoes are mentioned as an identifying characteristic. And (E) also is mentioned (a tree represents earth).

(D), however, is not mentioned as an element of the sacred script. Symmetry is discussed in conjunction with numbers, and that has to do with another characteristic altogether.

Hope it helps
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In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t  [#permalink]

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22 Dec 2019, 07:23
Got questions 3 and 5 incorrect. I marked E for question 3. How is option A correct?
Senior RC Moderator
Joined: 02 Nov 2016
Posts: 5052
GPA: 3.39
Re: In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t  [#permalink]

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22 Dec 2019, 08:46
1
AA01 wrote:
Got questions 3 and 5 incorrect. I marked E for question 3. How is option A correct?

Official Explanation

3. Which of the following best describes the attitude of the author toward art of the Middle Ages?

Difficulty Level: 700

Explanation

The tone of the passage is clearly one of appreciation—in the sense that the author both understands the art and admires it. This is further supported by the contrast between art of the Middle Ages and religious art of the Renaissance at the end of the passage.

(B) overstates the case. The author is only discussing the one period, with only casual reference to the period following it. We cannot conclude from this discussion of art of the Middle Ages that the author considers this art the greatest of all art.

(C) cannot be deduced from the passage, for the reference to music will not support such a judgment.

(D) is inconsistent with the author’s opening and closing remarks.

Finally, (E), too, must be incorrect given the generally approving treatment of the passage.

Hope it helps
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Re: In the art of the Middle Ages, we never encounter the personality of t   [#permalink] 22 Dec 2019, 08:46
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