The questioning and political upheavals put in motion by the Renaissance and the Reformation intensified in the 17th century. Religious wars continued, gradually the Protestant forces gained control in the north where Spain acknowledged the independence of the Dutch Republic in 1648.
The Catholic Church remained strong in southern Europe, the Holy Empire, and France. The economic strength of the secular rulers slipped away, and the king of Spain had to declare bankruptcy by the end of the century. Other rulers were not much better off.
Artists continued to find patrons in the church and the secular state and in the newly prosperous and confident prosperous urban middle class. Many Baroque artists used naturalism, the true-to-life depiction of the world that led to the popularity of portraiture, genre painting (scenes from everyday life), still life (paintings of food, fruit or flowers), and religious paintings featuring ordinary people and settings.
Baroque art intends to create an intense emotional response from the viewer. Often dramatic and theatrical…made of mixed media…showing a spectacular technical artistic ability.
Late in the century (the 1600’s) a refined Baroque style known as the Rococo evolved. Rococo and Baroque remained popular until the rise of Neoclassicism about 1775.
The patronage of the church and its allies supported the Counter-Reformation art as propaganda. Churches with their painting, statues, and magnificent architecture helped convince the faithful of the power of traditional religion. The young Bernini was hired by the pope to design an enormous baldachin (canopy) to cover the main altar of Saint Peter’s.
The resulting Baldacchino , which stands about 100 feet high, is a true Baroque grandiose display. Winding bronze grapevines decorate columns modeled after columns in the Temple of Solomon. Because Protestants questioned the belief in the authority of the pope coming from Saint Peter, the Counter-Reformation art emphasized this idea.
During this time of embellishments and changes to Saint Peter’s, the last change was the addition, by Bernini, of the colonnade.
Bernini spoke of the colonnade as being the “motherly arms of the church” reaching out to the world. The original plans would have closed in the open side so that people walking into the space would feel enclosed within the “arms”.
Bernini began his career as a sculptor, and he continued to work in that medium throughout his career for both the papacy and private clients. His sculpture of David, made for the nephew of the pope, introduced a new kind of three-dimensional composition that intrudes forcefully into the viewers space. Bent at the waist and twisting far to one side, he is ready to launch the fatal rock at Goliath.
This mature David, with his lean sinewy body, is all tension and determination His clinched mouth and straining muscles echo his frame of mind.
Self-Portrait of Bernini and the face of his David.
Even after Bernini’s appointment as Vatican architect, his large workshop enabled him to accept outside commissions. One of these outside commissions was a chapel where he covered the walls with marble and created the sculptural group of Saint Teresa of Ávila in Ecstasy for a niche above the altar.
Although today viewers find this sculpture of Saint Teresa charged with sexuality, the church approved of depictions of such supernatural mystical visions. In fact, to help worshipers achieve the emotional state of religious ecstasy, religious art of the time frequently depicted ecstatic states, enhanced by light and miraculous masses of swirling clouds.
Not all Roman Baroque was intended to overwhelm the viewer with sheer spectacle. Caravaggio introduces an intense new realism and a dramatic use of light and gesture to Italian Baroque art. Most of his commissions after 1600 were for religious art and the reactions were mixed. His powerful, brutal naturalism was rejected by some patrons as unsuitable to the subjects dignity.
However, his realism was closely tied to Counter-Reformation ideas of spirituality, and the effort to make Christian history and doctrine meaningful to common people.
One of Caravaggio’s earliest religious paintings, The Calling of Saint Matthew, tells the story recorded in the Gospels of Jesus calling Levi the tax collector to be one of his apostles.
Nearly hidden behind Saint Peter, Jesus dramatically points toward Levi-who will become Saint Matthew. The future Saint Matthew responds by pointing to himself in surprise, the gesture emphasized by the light streaming in from an unseen source at the right Caravaggio invented this dramatic lighting style called tenebrism.
Emotional power combines with a solemn, classical monumentality in Caravaggio’s painting, Entombment . Being almost 10 feet by 7 feet, the size and immediacy of this painting strikes the viewer with almost physical force. The figures form a large, off-center triangle , with the young John the Apostle at the apex. The Virgin and Mary Magdalene barely intrude due to the careful placing of the light on the body of Christ.
Caravaggio’s violent temper kept him in trouble. He was frequently arrested, generally for minor offences. By 1606, he had to flee from Rome…from then on he was on the run, supporting himself by painting. He died of a fever in 1610, just short of his 39th birthday. He inspired a generation of artists with his tenebrist technique and his intense realism.
One of Caravaggio's most successful Italian followers was Artemisia Gentileschi , whose international reputation helped spread the Caravaggesque style beyond Rome. Born in Rome, she studied under her artist father, also a follower of Caravaggio. In 1616, she moved to Florence where she was elected to the Florentine Academy of Design.
In one of several versions of Judith triumphant over the Assyrian General Holofernes, Artemisia brilliantly uses Baroque naturalism and tenebrism. Judith still holds the bloody sword as her maid stuffs the generals head into a sack. Throughout her life, Artemisia painted images of heroic and abused women.
Leaders of the Church lived like princes, but they were not the only patrons of art. The growth of nation-states and absolute monarchies realized that impressive buildings and splendid portraits could enhance their status with an aura of power. The fortunes of Spain dramatically declined, but you couldn’t tell it from the art that was produced there. Spanish artists and writers created a “Golden Age” which included a briliant artist named Velázquez. He entered the painters guild in 1617. At the beginning of his career he was profoundly influenced by Caravaggio.
Working “from life”, Velázquez painted scenes of ordinary people amid still lifes of various foods and kitchen utensils. The model for Water Carrier of Seville was a well known character in that city. The objects and figures gave the artist the chance to show his skill at representing volumes and textures such as glass, pottery, skin, and fabrics.
In 1623, the young artist moved to Madrid and became the court painter for the young Hapsburg ruler, Phillip IV. Velazquez kept this position until his death in 1660. Two visits to Italy, where he studied complex figurative composition, influenced the evolution of the artist’s style.
Velázquez most striking work is the multiple portrait known as Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor) , painted near the end of the artists life. The viewer seems to be standing in the space occupied by the Queen and King, reflected in the mirror on the back wall of the room.
The center of attention is the five year old Princess Margarita surrounded by her attendants, all recognizable portraits. The mature style of Velázquez fascinated the later Impressionists. He would build up layers of loosely applied paint to build forms, finishing with highlights of white lemon and pale orange. This technique captured the effect of light on surfaces…while, up close, forms dissolve into a complex maze of individual brush strokes.
Murillo, one of the most popular painters of his day, was known for his rich colors and skillful technique. His paintings of Mary followed the Counter-Reformation “rules” for representing her…dressed in blue and white, hands folded, standing on a crescent moon as she was carried upward by angels, surrounded by an unearthly light.
Murillo’s home, Seville was the center of trade with the Spanish colonies, and the church exported many paintings to the new world. When the natives started to visualize the Christian story, paintings such as Murillo’s provided the imagry. By 1519, Cortez had taken over the Aztec capitol (now Mexico City) and established Mexico as a colony of Spain. Local beliefs and practices were suppressed, and Roman Catholic beliefs were imposed throughout Spanish America.
Mexico gained its own patron saint when the Virgin Mary appeared to and Indian, Juan Diego, in 1531. Mary is said to have asked that a church be built on a hill where the goddess Coatlicue had once been worshiped. As proof of this vision, Juan Diego brought the archbishop flowers that the Virgin had caused to bloom. When he opened the cloak he had carried the flowers in, there was an image of a dark skinned Mary.
The painter Sebastian Salcedo depicted Mary and the story of Juan Diego in the 18th century. The sight of the vision was named Guadalupe after Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain. In 1754, the pope declared the Virgin of Guadalupe to be the patron saint of the Americas.
The Spanish held Flanders during most of the Baroque period, often under direct and oppressive rule. In spite of this, the arts flourished. Antwerp was a major arts center where the Spanish were enthusiastic patrons of the arts. Peter Paul Rubens was accepted into the Antwerp painters Guild at the age of 21…he soon left for Italy and worked for the Duke of Mantua where he was paid to copy famous paintings all over Italy, gaining a fine education at the same time!
In 1608, Rubens went back to Antwerp, and worked for the Spanish Hapsburgs. His first major commission was a large canvas triptych. Unlike most other triptychs of the time, the wings of the triptychs extended the story of the center panel across all three panels.
The cross is being raised in the center panel, with mourners to the right of Jesus, and indifferent soldiers to the left of Jesus.
Rubens became the first international superstar of the art world. He worked for Philip IV of Spain, Marie de’Medici of France and Charles I of England. Maria de’Medici asked him to do a series of paintings about her life. He did 21 paintings showing the life of Maria and Henry IV as one continuous triumph overseen by the Roman gods. In the painting of the royal engagement, Henry IV falls in love with Marie as he looks at her portrait presented to him by Cupid and the god of marriage, Hymen.
A personification of France is urging Henry to abandon war for love…putti are playing with his armor, and the smoke of battle is in the background. These kinds of huge paintings (this one 10 feet by 9 feet) were political propaganda of the highest sort. Rubens ran a workshop with many assistants to help him. Two of his assistants became important painters in their own right. Jan Bruegel and Anthony van Dyck
In this painting of Charles I of England, van Dyck has managed to make the small king look even larger than his horse! He is in casual clothes for hunting, and stands on a bluff looking out to the water. Contrary to the appearance suggested by this portrait, Charles was not to rule his country successfully.
Elizabeth I died in 1603 and the crown of England went to James VI of Scotland who became James I of England and united those two countries. His son was Charles I James the first hired Indigo Jones as his architect. Jones’s style was based on the works of Palladio, and Jones introduced Renaissance classicism to England.
Jones designed a house for the queen in Greenwich and a banqueting house at the royal palace of Whitehall in London. In 1630, Charles I commissioned Rubens to decorate the ceiling. He loved the paintings so much that he moved the evening entertainment to another room to save the paintings from the smoke of candles.
The Queen’s House, London, England, designed by Indigo Jones The White House, Washington, DC, designed by James Hoban.
In 1648, Spain recognized the Dutch Republic. The Netherlands prospered, and Dutch artists found many patrons among the prosperous middle class of the larger cities of the Netherlands. Group portraiture became very popular, and Frans Hals developed a style influenced by realism of Caravaggio and the Velázquez treatment of light.
Hals could turn the portrait into a lively social event with a strong underlying geometry.
The most important painter working in the Netherlands in the 17th century was Rembrandt van Rijn. After completing his formal study, he opened a busy studio in Amsterdam. His art included paintings and etchings of mythological subjects, religious scenes, and landscapes. But, like most Dutch artists, his primary source of income was portraiture.
In The Night Watch, the complex interactions of the figures and the vivid, individualized likenesses of the militiamen make this painting one of the greatest group portraits in European art.
Rembrandts etchings and drypoints (see page 404) were widely collected and brought high prices in his lifetime. In The Three Crosses , he tries to capture the moment that Jesus says “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”.
Rembrandt painted many self portraits that became more personal and internalized as he got older…something new in the history of art. Mercilessly analytical, the portrait depicts the furrowed brow, sagging flesh, and prematurely aged face (he was only 53) of one who has suffered deeply but retained his dignity.
Perhaps the greatest Dutch painter of contemporary life was Jan Vermeer. He produced few works, and most of them ar enigmatic scenes of women in a domestic setting. There are objects in his paintings that carry underlying or hidden meanings.
When Vermeer, a Catholic in a Protestant country, painted Woman Holding a Balance , he placed every detail in the painting to achieve an overall balance. However, the painting on the wall is a Last Judgment painting, suggesting that the balance in the womans hand is more than a casual inclusion.
Louis XIV was an absolute monarch whose reign was the longest in European history. He became known as “the Sun King.” In art, he was often shown with some of the attributes of Apollo. Here he is shown framed in a billowing curtain, showing off his legs and the high heels he invented because he was so short. The directness of the kings gaze and the realism of his sagging face make him movingly human and testify to the artist’s genius for portraiture. (Hyacinthe Rigaud)
The French court under Louis XIV was the envy of every ruler in Europe. The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture maintained strict control over the arts, and membership ensured an artist lucrative royal and civic commissions.
The ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors glorifies the reign of Louis XIV as the sun god Apollo…a reference to the influence of classical art (Neoclassical history painting was the favorite of the king, the Academy and it’s patrons)
The Rococo style was a reaction, on all levels of society, against the Grand Manner of Baroque art. Rococo art is characterized by pastel colors, delicate curving forms, dainty figures, and a lighthearted mood. Rococo involved architecture and art. In painting, the Rococo style emerged in the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau.
The work that gained Watteau fame was The Pilgrimage to Cythera . The painting depicts a dream world in which beautifully dressed people depart for or take their leave of the mythical island of love.
The earth would never spoil their clothes nor a summer shower threaten them. This vision with its overtones of wistful melancholy, had a powerful attraction in early 18th century Paris, and soon charmed the rest of Europe.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard carried Rococo fantasies into the second half of the 18th century. He painted a series of works for Madam du Berry, Louis XV’s mistress, in 1771.
When the paintings were presented to Madam du Berry, she rejected them, ordering a new set of paintings in the new Neoclassical style. The era of Rococo was at an end.
Before the invention of photography, scientists relied on painters to illustrate their work. Anna Maria Merian was sent by the Dutch government to South America where, for two years, she studied and recorded her observations. She published the results of her travels in a book with 72 large plates of engravings made from her watercolors.
One of the most sought after and highest paid still life painters in Europe was Rachel Ruysch, in the Netherlands. Her works were sought after for their sensitive, free form arrangements and the beautiful color harmonies. Every flower in her paintings was a botanical study. Although married with ten children, she never stopped painting, and had a 70 year career.
She achieved such fame in her lifetime that she got higher prices for her work than Rembrandt got for his. She often added reptiles or insects to her paintings In the Protestant Netherlands, even art informed by science carried a moral message in the Baroque and Rococo periods.
ARTA - BAROC & ROCCOCO
Baroque and Rococo ArtThe questioning andpolitical upheavalsput in motion by theRenaissance and theReformationintensified in the 17thcentury.Religious warscontinued, graduallythe Protestant forcesgained control in thenorth where Spainacknowledged theindependence of theDutch Republic in1648.
The Catholic Churchremained strong in southernEurope, the Holy Empire,and France.The economic strength ofthe secular rulers slippedaway, and the king of Spainhad to declare bankruptcy bythe end of the century. Otherrulers were not much betteroff.Phillip IV of Spain1605-1665
Artists continued to findpatrons in the church and thesecular state and in thenewly prosperous andconfident prosperous urbanmiddle class.Many Baroque artists usednaturalism, the true-to-lifedepiction of the world thatled to the popularity ofportraiture, genre painting(scenes from everyday life),still life (paintings of food,fruit or flowers), andreligious paintings featuringordinary people and settings.
Baroque art intends tocreate an intenseemotional response fromthe viewer.Often dramatic andtheatrical…often made of mixedmedia…often showing aspectacular technicalartistic ability.
Late in thecentury (the1600’s) arefinedBaroque styleknown as theRococoevolved.Rococo andBaroqueremainedpopular untilthe rise ofNeoclassicismabout 1775.
The patronage of thechurch and its alliessupported the Counter-Reformation art aspropaganda.Churches with theirpainting, statues, andmagnificent architecturehelped convince thefaithful of the power oftraditional religion.The young Bernini washired by the pope todesign an enormousbaldachin (canopy) tocover the main altar ofSaint Peter’s.
The resultingBaldacchino, whichstands about 100 feethigh, is a true Baroquegrandiose display.Winding bronzegrapevines decoratecolumns modeled aftercolumns in the Temple ofSolomon.Because Protestantsquestioned the belief inthe authority of the popecoming from Saint Peter,the Counter-Reformationart emphasized this idea.
During this time of embellishments and changes to Saint Peter’s, thelast change was the addition, by Bernini, of the colonnade.The space he had to work with was irregular and already had anobelisk and a fountain in it.
Bernini spoke of the colonnade as being the “motherly arms of thechurch” reaching out to the world. The original plans would haveclosed in the open side so that people walking into the space wouldfeel enclosed within the “arms”.
Bernini began his career as a sculptor, and hecontinued to work in that medium throughouthis career for both the papacy and privateclients.His sculpture of David, made for the nephewof the pope, introduced a new kind of three-dimensional composition that intrudesforcefully into the viewers space.Bent at the waist and twisting far to one side,he is ready to launch the fatal rock at Goliath.
This mature David, with his lean sinewy body, is all tension anddetermination. His clinched mouth and straining muscles echo hisframe of mind.
Self-Portrait of Bernini and theface of his David.
Even after Bernini’sappointment as Vaticanarchitect, his largeworkshop enabled him toaccept outsidecommissions.One of these outsidecommissions was a chapelwhere he covered the wallswith marble and created thesculptural group of SaintTeresa of Ávila in Ecstasyfor a niche above the altar.
Although today viewers findthis sculpture of SaintTeresa charged withsexuality, the churchapproved of depictions ofsuch supernatural mysticalvisions.In fact, to help worshipersachieve the emotional stateof religious ecstasy,religious art of the timefrequently depicted ecstaticstates, enhanced by light andmiraculous masses ofswirling clouds.
Not all Roman Baroque wasintended to overwhelm theviewer with sheer spectacle.Caravaggio introduces anintense new realism and adramatic use of light andgesture to Italian Baroque art.Most of his commissions after1600 were for religious art andthe reactions were mixed.His powerful, brutal naturalismwas rejected by some patrons asunsuitable to the subjectsdignity.
However, his realism was closely tied to Counter-Reformation ideasof spirituality, and the effort to make Christian history and doctrinemeaningful to common people.
One ofCaravaggio’searliestreligiouspaintings, TheCalling ofSaintMatthew, tellsthe storyrecorded inthe Gospels ofJesus callingLevi the taxcollector to beone of hisapostles.
Nearly hidden behind Saint Peter, Jesus dramatically points towardLevi-who will become Saint Matthew.The future Saint Matthew responds by pointing to himself insurprise, the gesture emphasized by the light streaming in from anunseen source at the rightCaravaggio invented this dramatic lighting style called tenebrism.
Emotional power combineswith a solemn, classicalmonumentality inCaravaggio’s painting,Entombment.Being almost 10 feet by 7 feet,the size and immediacy of thispainting strikes the viewerwith almost physical force.The figures form a large, off-center triangle, with the youngJohn the Apostle at the apex.The Virgin and MaryMagdalene barely intrude dueto the careful placing of thelight on the body of Christ.
Caravaggio’s violent temperkept him in trouble. He wasfrequently arrested,generally for minoroffences.By 1606, he had to flee fromRome…from then on he wason the run, supportinghimself by painting.He died of a fever in 1610,just short of his 39thbirthday.He inspired a generation ofartists with his tenebristtechnique and his intenserealism.
One of Caravaggios mostsuccessful Italian followerswas Artemisia Gentileschi,whose internationalreputation helped spread theCaravaggesque stylebeyond Rome.Born in Rome, she studiedunder her artist father, alsoa follower of Caravaggio.In 1616, she moved toFlorence where she waselected to the FlorentineAcademy of Design.
In one of several versionsof Judith triumphant overthe Assyrian GeneralHolofernes, Artemisiabrilliantly uses Baroquenaturalism and tenebrism.Judith still holds the bloodysword as her maid stuffsthe generals head into asack.Throughout her life,Artemisia painted imagesof heroic and abusedwomen.
Leaders of the Church lived likeprinces, but they were not the onlypatrons of art. The growth ofnation-states and absolutemonarchies realized thatimpressive buildings and splendidportraits could enhance theirstatus with an aura of power.The fortunes of Spaindramatically declined, but youcouldn’t tell it from the art thatwas produced there.Spanish artists and writers created a “Golden Age” which included abrilliant artist named Velázquez. He entered the painters guild in1617.At the beginning of his career he was profoundly influenced by
Working “from life”,Velázquez painted scenes ofordinary people amid stilllifes of various foods andkitchen utensils.The model for Water Carrierof Seville was a well knowncharacter in that city.The objects and figures gavethe artist the chance to showhis skill at representingvolumes and textures such asglass, pottery, skin, andfabrics.
In 1623, the young artistmoved to Madrid andbecame the court painterfor the young Hapsburgruler, Phillip IV.Velázquez kept thisposition until his deathin 1660.Two visits to Italy,where he studiedcomplex figurativecomposition, influencedthe evolution of theartist’s style.
Velázquez moststriking work is themultiple portraitknown as Las Meninas(The Maids of Honor),painted near the end ofthe artists life.The viewer seems tobe standing in thespace occupied by theQueen and King,reflected in the mirroron the back wall of theroom.
The center of attention isthe five year old PrincessMargarita surrounded byher attendants, allrecognizable portraits.The mature style ofVelázquez fascinated thelater Impressionists.He would build up layers ofloosely applied paint tobuild forms, finishing withhighlights of white, lemon,and pale orange.This technique capturedthe effect of light onsurfaces…while, upclose, forms dissolve intoa complex maze ofindividual brush strokes.
Murillo, one of the mostpopular painters of hisday, was known for hisrich colors and skillfultechnique.His paintings of Maryfollowed the Counter-Reformation “rules” forrepresenting her…dressedin blue and white, handsfolded, standing on acrescent moon as she wascarried upward by angels,surrounded by anunearthly light.
Murillo’s home, Seville was thecenter of trade with the Spanishcolonies, and the church exportedmany paintings to the new world.When the natives started tovisualize the Christian story,paintings such as Murillo’sprovided the imagry.By 1519, Cortez had taken overthe Aztec capitol (now MexicoCity) and established Mexico as acolony of Spain.Local beliefs and practices weresuppressed, and Roman Catholicbeliefs were imposed throughoutSpanish America.
Mexico gained its own patronsaint when the Virgin Maryappeared to an Indian, JuanDiego, in 1531. Mary is said tohave asked that a church be builton a hill where the goddessCoatlicue had once beenworshiped.As proof of this vision, JuanDiego brought the archbishopflowers that the Virgin had causedto bloom. When he opened thecloak he had carried the flowersin, there was an image of a darkskinned Mary on the cloak.
The painter SebastianSalcedo depicted Maryand the story of JuanDiego in the 18thcentury.The sight of the visionwas named Guadalupeafter Our Lady ofGuadalupe in Spain.In 1754, the popedeclared the Virgin ofGuadalupe to be thepatron saint of theAmericas.New Spain(Mexico)pope
The Spanish held Flanders duringmost of the Baroque period, oftenunder direct and oppressive rule.In spite of this, the arts flourished.Antwerp was a major arts centerwhere the Spanish wereenthusiastic patrons of the arts.Peter Paul Rubens was acceptedinto the Antwerp painters Guild atthe age of 21…he soon left forItaly and worked for the Duke ofMantua where he was paid tocopy famous paintings all overItaly, gaining a fine education atthe same time!
In 1608, Rubens went back to Antwerp, and worked for the SpanishHapsburgs. His first major commission was a large canvas triptych.Unlike most other triptychs of the time, the wings of the triptychsextended the story of the center panel across all three panels.
The cross is being raised in the center panel, with mourners to theright of Jesus, and indifferent soldiers to the left of Jesus.
Rubens became the firstinternational superstar of the artworld. He worked for Philip IV ofSpain, Marie de’Medici of Franceand Charles I of England.Maria de’Medici asked him to do aseries of paintings about her life.He did 21 paintings showing the lifeof Maria and Henry IV as onecontinuous triumph overseen by theRoman gods.In the painting of the royalengagement, Henry IV falls in lovewith Marie as he looks at her portraitpresented to him by Cupid and thegod of marriage, Hymen.
A personification of France isurging Henry to abandon warfor love…putti are playingwith his armor, and the smokeof battle is in the background.These kinds of huge paintings(this one 10 feet by 9 feet)were political propaganda ofthe highest sort.Rubens ran a workshop withmany assistants to help him.Two of his assistants becameimportant painters in theirown right, Jan Bruegel andAnthony van Dyck.
In this painting of Charles Iof England, van Dyck hasmanaged to make the smallking look even larger thanhis horse!He is in casual clothes forhunting, and stands on abluff looking out to thewater.Contrary to the appearancesuggested by this portrait,Charles was not to rule hiscountry successfully.
Elizabeth I died in 1603 and the crown of England went to James VIof Scotland who became James I of England and united those twocountries. His son was Charles I.James I hired Indigo Jones as his architect. Jones’s style was basedon the works of Palladio, and Jones introduced Renaissanceclassicism to England.
Jones designed a house for thequeen in Greenwich and abanqueting house at the royalpalace of Whitehall in London.In 1630, Charles Icommissioned Rubens todecorate the ceiling. He lovedthe paintings so much that hemoved the eveningentertainment to another roomto save the paintings from thesmoke of candles.
The Queen’s House, London,England, designed by IndigoJonesThe WhiteHouse,Washington, DC,designed byJames Hoban.
In 1648, Spain recognized the Dutch Republic. The Netherlands prospered, andDutch artists found many patrons among the prosperous middle class of the largercities of the Netherlands.Group portraiture became very popular, and Frans Hals developed a styleinfluenced by realism of Caravaggio and the Velázquez treatment of light.
Hals could turn the group portrait into a lively social event with astrong underlying geometry.
The most importantpainter working in theNetherlands in the 17thcentury was Rembrandtvan Rijn. Aftercompleting his formalstudy, he opened a busystudio in Amsterdam.His art included paintingsand etchings ofmythological subjects,religious scenes, andlandscapes. But, likemost Dutch artists, hisprimary source of incomewas portraiture.
In The Night Watch, the complex interactions of the figures and thevivid, individualized likenesses of the militiamen make this paintingone of the greatest group portraits in European art.
Rembrandtsetchings anddrypoints (seepage 404) werewidely collectedand brought highprices in hislifetime.In The ThreeCrosses, he triesto capture themoment thatJesus says“Father, intoyour hands Icommend myspirit”.
Rembrandt painted manyself portraits that becamemore personal andinternalized as he gotolder…something newin the history of art.Mercilessly analytical,the portrait depicts thefurrowed brow, saggingflesh, and prematurelyaged face (he was only53) of one who hassuffered deeply butretained his dignity.
Perhaps the greatest Dutch painter ofcontemporary life was Jan Vermeer.He produced few works, and most ofthem are enigmatic scenes of womenin a domestic setting.There are objects in his paintingsthat carry underlying or hiddenmeanings.
When Vermeer, aCatholic in aProtestant country,painted WomanHolding a Balance, heplaced every detail inthe painting to achievean overall balance.However, the paintingon the wall behind thewoman is a LastJudgment painting,suggesting that thebalance in thewomans hand is morethan a casualinclusion.
Louis XIV was an absolutemonarch whose reign was thelongest in European history. Hebecame known as “the SunKing.”In art, he was often shown withsome of the attributes ofApollo.Here he is shown framed in abillowing curtain, showing offhis legs and the high heels heinvented because he was soshort.The directness of the kingsgaze and the realism of hissagging face make himmovingly human and testify tothe artist’s genius for
The French court under Louis XIV was the envy of every ruler inEurope. The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture maintainedstrict control over the arts, and membership ensured an artistlucrative royal and civic commissions.
The ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors glorifies the reign of Louis XIV asthe sun god Apollo…a reference to the influence of classical art(Neoclassical history painting was the favorite of the king, theAcademy, and it’s patrons)
The Rococo style was a reaction, on all levels of society, against theGrand Manner of Baroque art. Rococo art is characterized by pastelcolors, delicate curving forms, dainty figures, and a lightheartedmood.Rococo involved architecture and art. In painting, the Rococo styleemerged in the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau.
The work that gained Watteau fame was The Pilgrimage to Cythera.The painting depicts a dream world in which beautifully dressedpeople depart for or take their leave of the mythical island of love.
The earth would never spoil their clothes nor a summer showerthreaten them. This vision with its overtones of wistful melancholy,had a powerful attraction in early 18thcentury Paris, and soon charmedthe rest of Europe.
Jean-Honoré Fragonardcarried Rococo fantasiesinto the second half of the18thcentury.He painted a series ofworks for Madam duBerry, Louis XV’smistress, in 1771.The Pursuit Love Letters The MeetingThe Loveris Crowned
When the paintings werepresented to Madam duBerry, she rejected them,ordering a new set ofpaintings in the newNeoclassical style.The era of Rococo was atan end.
Before the invention ofphotography, scientistsrelied on painters toillustrate their work.Anna Maria Merian wassent by the Dutchgovernment to SouthAmerica where, for twoyears, she studied andrecorded her observations.She published the resultsof her travels in a bookwith 72 large plates ofengravings made from herwatercolors.
One of the most sought afterand highest paid still lifepainters in Europe wasRachel Ruysch, in theNetherlands.Her works were sought afterfor their sensitive, free formarrangements and thebeautiful color harmonies.Every flower in herpaintings was a botanicalstudy.Although married with tenchildren, she never stoppedpainting, and had a 70 yearcareer.
She achieved such fame inher lifetime that she gothigher prices for her workthan Rembrandt got forhis.She often added reptiles orinsects to her paintingsIn the ProtestantNetherlands, even artinformed by sciencecarried a moral message inthe Baroque and Rococoperiods.