BAROQUE PERIOD: 1600-1750

ARTISTS AND PAINTINGS

KEY POINTS

This is our second period of art history.  In religion, the Catholic Church was no longer as powerful as it once had been, because many people were becoming protestants (A member of the western christian church. Believers go directly to the Word of God for instruction, and to the throne of grace in his devotions) Artists who painted for the Church created dramatic and emotional works to motivate people to continue in the Catholic Faith.  Because of scientific discoveries by people like Galileo and Newton, more realistic pictures of times and events became part of art.       
One of the most improtant centers of art during the Baroque period was the Netherlands.  Italy, France, and Spain remained Catholic, but the Netherlands became a protestant society.  Members of the Church did not believe that the churches should be decorated with fine art.  The Dutch artists had to come up with new kinds that would appeal to private collectors.  Art was becoming so popular that it started to be sold on the open market.  The composition of the paintings was very formal. It had a great sense of movement and emotion. Painters would use diagonal lines that added a sense of movement and tension.  You can see many contrasts between light and dark areas in many paintings, like Portrait of a Young Woman as a Sibyl. 
In the early 1700s, near the end of the Baroque period, the more delicate Rococo style developed in France.  This art is graceful and decorative....often very fancy and frilly.  It emphasizes curved lines and light-hearted moods.  The subjects of Rococo paintings are usually wealthy people, often engaged in activities of recreation or amusement.  Lighter colors and flowing brush strokes are often used.  Lancret's La Camargo Dancing is a Rococo genre scene.

Osias Beert the ELder, FLemish 1580-1624

Basket of Flowers c. 1615 Dallas Museum of ArtThis picture is oil on wood.  Beert specialized in flower paining and breakfast pieces. "Still Life" had not been created as a name yet.  Beert did not arrange the flowers and then paint them. He sketched many flowers individually, some that bloomed at different times, and then put them together in his painting.  He gave us a high point of view so we could see the individual blooms more completely.  If not, our side view would block out flowers behind the ones closest to us.  The wide curve of white and pale blossums pull us ink the red pulls our eyes across the basket to flowers at the back and the blue around the edges help visually hold it together and create a unified composition.
The Dutch would buy paintings for the beauty they brought, but they also expected a moral message.  Paintings costs less than the rare flowers they portrayed and lasted longer.  The meanings of some of the symbols have been lost over time, but some are easy to understand.  The cut flowers that will soon wilt are a reminder that earthly beauty and life do not last long. THe dropped petals on the tgable emphasize that message and the caterpillar and butterfly are symbols of resurrection and eternal life. 
Beert was one of the earliest still life painters in Antwerp.  He also continued his business as a cork merchant.  His son was a successful painter who worked in the same style.

Orazio Gentileschi Italian, 1563-1639

Portrait of a Young Woman as a Sibyl c.  1620 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  It was unusual for dramatic contrasts of light and shadow when Tintoretto used them, but became common in the work of Baroque Artists.  The contrast in this of a dark background and light focused on the woman, as well as a single large figure very close to the front of the picture plane is very characteristic of his work.  The gradual shading and highlights show very real three dimensional qualities.  TIny details show the pattern and texture of the cloth. 
The main subject of this image is an allegory.  The artist was not showing the young woman as herself, but a a sibyl. From an ancient Greek legend, a sibyl was a woman with the ability to foretell future events.  This woman has prophecies written on the scroll she holds in her right hand.  That scroll and her turban identify her as such.  This is almost certainly a portrait of a particular individual.  Scholars believe the artist's daughter Artemisia posed for the painting.  She was a model for her father and aslo his most important student.  She became one of the first female painters to win international fame for her work.  We don't know alot about Orazio's training, but he was clearly influenced by new approaches begun by other great painters he knew.  He had a brother who was a painter, and his father was a goldsmith.  He worked in several Italian cities, but spent the last years of hyis life and career in England, where he became court painter to King Charles I.

Claude Lorrain French, 1604/05-1682 Landscape with a Rock Arch and River c. 1628-30 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

He was originally named Claude Gelee. He was born in a region named Lorraine in what is now France.  He is normally just called Claude which recognizes his enormous fame as the most important painter of ideal landscapes.  He is considered French but lived most of his long life in Rome, Italy.  People often imitated and tried to forge his paintings, so he kept detailed drawings and records of the sales.
He was fascinated with the beauty of the countryside around Rome, the ruins, and most of all with the warm light that bathed everything.  He stayed outside sketching for hours. He did not paint accurate images of specific places, but took features from several and combined them to create a composition of ideal beautiful lands that existed in peace and limitless time.  Often he added small figures, like animals or people in boats. They added touches of color which led to a feeling of animation.  They were never the main point of the work...it was always the land and it's light.
Soft light creates peace and harmony.  Far away hills give us a look across a great distance.  Trees frame the painting in the foreground and a large rock pushes our eye onward toward the light in the disant background. The diagonal line of the river and the light that reflects leads us through the landscape. The small temple on top of the rock were comon features in his work.

Jusepe de Ribera Spanish, 1591/92-1652; Saint Bartholomew c. 1643 El Paso Museum of Art

In Catholic countries many artists were creating religious works to serve the needs of the Church.  One of those was a need for believers to connect to images of holy figures.  Ribera created this vision of a saint.  THe knife shown is  a symbol of Saint Bartholomew's martyrdom.  It reminds viewers that he gave his life for faith and that others should make sacrifices in their own lives (not giving up their life).  This painting is a typical one for Ribera. He uses a single figure against a plain background.  The light is focused on the subject.  Neutral colors  emphasize the dignity and seriousness of his subject.  Diagonal lines are fomred by the folds, his head, hand, and knife.  This strengthens the dramatic mood.  Long stokes of paint show the rough texture of cloth.  Thick, bold stokes make the wrinkles seem three dimensional. Tiny brushstrokes show individual haris on his head and in his beard. 
Ribera was the son of a shoemaker.  He was born in Spain but moved to Italy when he was a young man.  He spent almost all of his career in Naples, which is now Italy but was ruled by Spain at that time.  He is still known sometimes as Lo Sagnoletto, meaning "The Little Spaniard."  It was given to him for his birthplace and small size.  He was one of the earliest artists to paint in a very naturalistic way and chose ordinary poor people as his models.  Many works were exported back to Spain.  He had a strong influence on artists who followed him.

Abraham de Verwer Dutch, 1585-1650; View of Hoorn c. 1650 National Gallery of Art

This is a view of a water and atmosphere.  It is a quiet seacape that shows a distant city.  It provides a distant sliver to separate the water and sky.  The Netherlands is a mostly low, flat country.  That makes the horizon look low and straight and the sky fills the view.  Many Dutch landscape works show this.  Verwer uses color, light, and line to create a calm and peaceful scene.  Choosing a limited range of grays and browns that fill most of this image was typical for many Dutch landscape paintings.  Touches of Blue and rose in the sky make the image pleasant instead of gloomy.  hints of orange in the land and city adds liveliness. Cloudy but not stormy sky.  vertical lines of ships' masts add contrast and variety to keep it interesting. Their rhythm helps pull our eyes through the scene.
The sense of perspective is strenghened by the play of light on the water, the sizes of the ship at the left, the center, and the city in the background.  Art historians aren't sure how de Verwer received his training a an artist.  Records indicate he was a cabinet maker in the city of Haarler before he became a painter in Amsterdam.  He traveled in France, where he painted early views of Paris and created pen and ink drawings of French seaports. Those probably influenced the way he composed his paintings.  His son was also a painter.

Aelbert Cuyp

d

Christoffel Pierson Dutch, 1631-1714; Niche with Falconry Gear c. 1660s National Gallery of Art

Giuseppe Maria Crespi Italian, 1665-1747; Sleeping Shepherdess Teased by a boy c. 1695-1700; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art

Seabtiano Ricci Italian/Venetian, 1659-1734; Return of the Prodigal Son c. 1720 Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art

Nicolas Lancret French, 1690-1743; La Camargo Dancing c. 1730 National Gallery of Art