The Baroque Period
The Baroque Art began in Italy between the sixteen hundreds and the seventeen hundreds. Classicism of the High Renaissance has been replenished during the Baroque period. During the Baroque period of art, the exploration of the fundamental components of the human nature and the realm of senses and emotions were very crucial. The Baroque era was very vast and dynamic, radiant and colorful, dramatic and intense, passionate and ardent, and sensual and overpowered by emotions. The superficial form of light was fascinated during this period due to the thoughts of godlike sun or the truth of the Holy Spirit. The Baroque naturalism maintains the religious themes in content. The elements of perception in the Baroque art are how we perceived the natural human figures are in motion through space, time, and light. We present and analyze the extent of human actions and passions in all its degrees of lightness, darkness, and intensity.
One of the most well known Italian painters from the Baroque period was Annibale Carracci. One of his famous works was from the Gallery of the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The Farnese ceiling had a big impact in the modification of High Renaissance painting. It revives the Renaissance in human themes and emotions and the concentration of human nature and anatomy; therefore, forming a connection between the Renaissance and the Baroque. It creates the naturalistic and classical art and form in the paintings. He greatly influenced another Italian painter named Carlo Dolci, who painted Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist. In this painting, strong feelings and emotions are being greatly expressed without words. We see that Carracci’s painting of the Farnese ceiling was painted in rich, brilliant colors, just like the Virgin and the Child’s clothing in Dolci’s painting. The emphasis of the human body and emotions are greatly displayed. Human nudity and beauty was also an important factor. The nudity of the Child embodies spiritual and abstract meaning of nature. Human nudity symbolizes purity, truth and innocence. We can comprehend that in the paintings of Carracci and Dolci that human nature and love are complement of each other and also determines the theme of the story throughout the paintings. This is some of the ways that Dolci kept Carracci’s traditions of naturalism. In my opinion, I feel that the symbolic meaning of the delicate and fragile Child in Dolci’s painting represents the birth of Christ. The facial expressions of the Virgin and the Child had a great sense of joy and love. We can actually feel the love and the unbreakable bond between the Virgin and the Child. The tilting of the Virgin’s head demonstrates the closeness and inseparable connection of the Virgin and the Child. The Virgin’s zealous expression and long devoted thoughts tells me that she treasures the Child as he was brought to this new world. The significance of the Child’s finger crossing and pointing upward gives a metaphorical meaning. As Saint John the Baptist is kneeling and praying to the Christ Child, in return, the Christ Child blessed him. The rich, radiant colors play an important role in the intensity of the light and movement of the painting. The intensity of the colors drew our attention first to the painting even before the solid figure forms. The ripples of the satin give a feeling of movement in the painting. And the colors give us the feeling of warmth. The blue and red satin was very rich and bright, reflecting the light off of it. The process of chiaroscuro is also being used among the red and blue satin. The use of modeling of light and shade gives a better three-dimensional effect and depth to the painting. There was also a hidden glowing light surrounding the Child’s head, hinting the importance of the Child. And yet, there is also a hidden ring of gold light around the Virgin’s head. The significance of light symbolizes the presence of the Divine or God. Therefore, it makes the Dolci’s painting more iconic than Stomer’s painting.
During the Baroque period, another fascinating Italian painter introduced his dark and dramatic view of religious themes. He converts both religion and the classics into a gloomy, harsh drama in a dark setting of time and place. Many of his great works were Conversion of St. Paul, Calling of St. Matthew, and Death of the Virgin. Well-known for his talent in the art industry, his name was Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio. One of his disciples that still kept his traditional view and stylistic techniques was Mathias Stomers, who painted The Judgement of Solomon. Many details in this painting were similar to Caravaggio’s works. For instance, the use of artificial light is being understood. Although the light form is from a candle, the effects of the material light throw precise shadows on the surface, giving religious intentions. The setting of the scene always seems to be taken in a mundane environment, and the time appears to be taken at nighttime. The sharp contrast of light and dark creates a naturally dramatic feature of the settings and the figures. This famous technique called tenebrism was greatly use. A keen ray of light illuminating and shattering a world of darkness and bearing a spiritual message was the central religious themes. It forces the eyes to see the figures and the scenes in greater details. Many figures cast a shadow due to the light causing the atmosphere to be more dark and mysterious. This painting is very theatrical and narrative. A smooth, swimming feeling of motion also catches the eye to move to illustrate a story or to invite the viewer to acknowledge the feelings and emotions that have been taken place. The lady in gold garnishes seems to be in a panic-stricken state. It appears that she was breast feeding the baby that was still living, and all of sudden, the man with the sword harshly snatched one of his legs, holding the baby upside-down. The great definitions of the muscular body and sturdy stance of the man with the sword gives the impression of strength. The use of modeling in light and shade and use of chiaroscuro gives a better effect of three-dimensional form. The man behind the woman in gold seems to be in shock and appears to me also that he took one abrupt inhalation due to the impression of his hand on his chest. Solomon appears to have power and control over others due to the monarchial and over-ornately appearance. He seems to be irrational and ordered the babies to be slaughtered. His right hand waving in the air tells me that he doesn’t want to see it, while his left hand with the wand seems to order the man with the sword to act his command. The lady in blue seems to be pleading and explaining things to Solomon, but appears that she is not being listened to. The man standing right of the lady in blue is pointing his finger upward. This significance of the finger gesture gives us the idea of Gods is being present or understood to be present although our eyes does not see it. The symbolic and biblical meaning of the death and slaughtering of the babies is the sacrifice of Christ. And the light forms in this painting draws attention to our eyes that mainly concentrates the center of the painting, leaving our eyes to strained to see what is happening in the shadows. The clothing of the two ladies and Solomon is very gaudy. As the artificial light of the candle reflects off the clothing, it gives a great intensity in the painting. Strong modeling in dark and light and use of chiaroscuro heightens the drama in the painting, giving it a black, dark feel and mood. But our minds are still wondering and left unsaid of what was the last judgement of Solomon.
Although Carlo Dolci’s painting of the Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Mathias Stomer’s painting of The Judgement of Solomon is different between one is more iconic or narrative than the other, they both still had kept the traditions of the Baroque art. The religious content and interest in human nature and emotions is greatly portrayed. The communication of emotions in each painting is very clear, understood, and felt. The use of perspective of forms and chiaroscuro designed to bring the viewers to feel the painting. And also the use of tenebrism causes the scene to be more dramatic due to the harsh contrast of dark next to light. They both used bright and radiant colors; therefore, the intensity of the colors stands out of the painting. The biblical and symbolic meaning of both babies from each painting represents a religious theme in the Bible. And the expressions of each figure are left to lead us to predict the feelings and emotions among the scenes.
Word Count: 1486
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