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This is a Humanities class. No Plagiarism or AI work…. This will be checked. Choose a topic from Module 2, which covers late sixteenth and seventeenth century, that you are really interested in. U
The Italian Renaissance Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form The Italian Renaissance The Italian Renaissance The art of the Italian Renaissance was influential throughout Europe for centuries. Learning Objectives Describe the art and periodization of the Italian Renaissance Key Takeaways Key Points The Florence school of painting became the dominant style during the Renaissance . Renaissance artworks depicted more secular subject matter than previous artistic movements. Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rafael are among the best known painters of the High Renaissance . The High Renaissance was followed by the Mannerist movement, known for elongated figures. Key Terms fresco: A type of wall painting in which color pigments are mixed with water and applied to wet plaster. As the plaster and pigments dry, they fuse together and the painting becomes a part of the wall itself. Mannerism: A style of art developed at the end of the High Renaissance, characterized by the deliberate distortion and exaggeration of perspective, especially the elongation of figures. The Renaissance began during the 14th century and remained the dominate style in Italy, and in much of Europe, until the 16th century. The term “renaissance” was developed during the 19th century in order to describe this period of time and its accompanying artistic style. However, people who were living during the Renaissance did see themselves as different from their Medieval predecessors. Through a variety of texts that survive, we know that people living during the Renaissance saw themselves as different largely because they were deliberately trying to imitate the Ancients in art and architecture. Florence and the Renaissance When you hear the term “Renaissance” and picture a style of art, you are probably picturing the Renaissance style that was developed in Florence, which became the dominate style of art during the Renaissance. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Italy was divided into a number of different city states. Each city state had its own government, culture , economy, and artistic style. There were many different styles of art and architecture that were developed in Italy during the Renaissance. Siena, which was a political ally of France, for example, retained a Gothic element to its art for much of the Renaissance. Certain conditions aided the development of the Renaissance style in Florence during this time period. In the 15th century, Florence became a major mercantile center. The production of cloth drove their economy and a merchant class emerged. Humanism , which had developed during the 14th century, remained an important intellectual movement that impacted art production as well. Early Renaissance During the Early Renaissance, artists began to reject the Byzantine style of religious painting and strove to create realism in their depiction of the human form and space . This aim toward realism began with Cimabue and Giotto, and reached its peak in the art of the “Perfect” artists, such as Andrea Mantegna and Paolo Uccello, who created works that employed one point perspective and played with perspective for their educated, art knowledgeable viewer . During the Early Renaissance we also see important developments in subject matter, in addition to style. While religion was an important element in the daily life of people living during the Renaissance, and remained a driving factor behind artistic production, we also see a new avenue open to panting—mythological subject matter. Many scholars point to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus as the very first panel painting of a mythological scene. While the tradition itself likely arose from cassone painting, which typically featured scenes from mythology and romantic texts, the development of mythological panel painting would open a world for artistic patronage , production, and themes. Birth of Venus: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus was among the most important works of the early Renaissance. High Renaissance The period known as the High Renaissance represents the culmination of the goals of the Early Renaissance, namely the realistic representation of figures in space rendered with credible motion and in an appropriately decorous style. The most well known artists from this phase are Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo. Their paintings and frescoes are among the most widely known works of art in the world. Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Raphael’s The School of Athens and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling paintings are the masterpieces of this period and embody the elements of the High Renaissance. Marriage of the Virgin, by Raphael: The painting depicts a marriage ceremony between Mary and Joseph. Mannerism High Renaissance painting evolved into Mannerism in Florence. Mannerist artists, who consciously rebelled against the principles of High Renaissance, tended to represent elongated figures in illogical spaces. Modern scholarship has recognized the capacity of Mannerist art to convey strong, often religious, emotion where the High Renaissance failed to do so. Some of the main artists of this period are Pontormo, Bronzino, Rosso Fiorentino, Parmigianino and Raphael’s pupil, Giulio Romano. Humanism Humanism was an intellectual movement embraced by scholars, writers, and civic leaders in 14th century Italy. Learning Objectives Assess how Humanism gave rise to the art of the Renasissance Key Takeaways Key Points Humanists reacted against the utilitarian approach to education, seeking to create a citizenry who were able to speak and write with eloquence and thus able to engage the civic life of their communities. The movement was largely founded on the ideals of Italian scholar and poet Francesco Petrarca, which were often centered around humanity’s potential for achievement. While Humanism initially began as a predominantly literary movement, its influence quickly pervaded the general culture of the time, reintroducing classical Greek and Roman art forms and leading to the Renaissance . Donatello became renowned as the greatest sculptor of the Early Renaissance, known especially for his Humanist, and unusually erotic, statue of David. While medieval society viewed artists as servants and craftspeople, Renaissance artists were trained intellectuals, and their art reflected this newfound point of view. In humanist painting, the treatment of the elements of perspective and depiction of light became of particular concern. Key Terms High Renaissance: The period in art history denoting the apogee of the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance. The High Renaissance period is traditionally thought to have begun in the 1490s—with Leonardo’s fresco of The Last Supper in Milan and the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence—and to have ended in 1527, with the Sack of Rome by the troops of Charles V. Overview Humanism, also known as Renaissance Humanism, was an intellectual movement embraced by scholars, writers, and civic leaders in 14th- and early-15th-century Italy. The movement developed in response to the medieval scholastic conventions in education at the time, which emphasized practical, pre-professional, and scientific studies engaged in solely for job preparation, and typically by men alone. Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach, seeking to create a citizenry who were able to speak and write with eloquence and thus able to engage the civic life of their communities. This was to be accomplished through the study of the “studia humanitatis,” known today as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy. Humanism introduced a program to revive the cultural—and particularly the literary—legacy and moral philosophy of classical antiquity . The movement was largely founded on the ideals of Italian scholar and poet Francesco Petrarca, which were often centered around humanity’s potential for achievement. While Humanism initially began as a predominantly literary movement, its influence quickly pervaded the general culture of the time, re-introducing classical Greek and Roman art forms and contributing to the development of the Renaissance. Humanists considered the ancient world to be the pinnacle of human achievement, and thought its accomplishments should serve as the model for contemporary Europe. There were important centers of Humanism in Florence, Naples, Rome , Venice , Genoa, Mantua, Ferrara, and Urbino . Humanism was an optimistic philosophy that saw man as a rational and sentient being, with the ability to decide and think for himself. It saw man as inherently good by nature, which was in tension with the Christian view of man as the original sinner needing redemption. It provoked fresh insight into the nature of reality, questioning beyond God and spirituality, and provided knowledge about history beyond Christian history. Humanist Art Renaissance Humanists saw no conflict between their study of the Ancients and Christianity. The lack of perceived conflict allowed Early Renaissance artists to combine classical forms, classical themes, and Christian theology freely. Early Renaissance sculpture is a great vehicle to explore the emerging Renaissance style . The leading artists of this medium were Donatello, Filippo Brunelleschi, and Lorenzo Ghiberti. Donatello became renowned as the greatest sculptor of the Early Renaissance, known especially for his classical, and unusually erotic, statue of David, which became one of the icons of the Florentine republic. Donatello’s David: Donatello’s David is regarded as an iconic Humanist work of art. Humanism affected the artistic community and how artists were perceived. While medieval society viewed artists as servants and craftspeople, Renaissance artists were trained intellectuals, and their art reflected this newfound point of view. Patronage of the arts became an important activity, and commissions included secular subject matter as well as religious. Important patrons , such as Cosimo de’ Medici, emerged and contributed largely to the expanding artistic production of the time. In painting, the treatment of the elements of perspective and light became of particular concern. Paolo Uccello, for example, who is best known for “The Battle of San Romano,” was obsessed by his interest in perspective, and would stay up all night in his study trying to grasp the exact vanishing point . He used perspective in order to create a feeling of depth in his paintings. In addition, the use of oil paint had its beginnings in the early part of the 16th century, and its use continued to be explored extensively throughout the High Renaissance . “The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello: Italian Humanist paintings were largely concerned with the depiction of perspective and light. Origins Some of the first Humanists were great collectors of antique manuscripts, including Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Coluccio Salutati, and Poggio Bracciolini. Of the three, Petrarch was dubbed the “Father of Humanism” because of his devotion to Greek and Roman scrolls. Many worked for the organized church and were in holy orders (like Petrarch), while others were lawyers and chancellors of Italian cities (such as Petrarch’s disciple Salutati, the Chancellor of Florence) and thus had access to book-copying workshops. In Italy, the Humanist educational program won rapid acceptance and, by the mid-15th century, many of the upper classes had received Humanist educations, possibly in addition to traditional scholastic ones. Some of the highest officials of the church were Humanists with the resources to amass important libraries. Such was Cardinal Basilios Bessarion, a convert to the Latin church from Greek Orthodoxy, who was considered for the papacy and was one of the most learned scholars of his time. Following the Crusader sacking of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the migration of Byzantine Greek scholars and émigrés, who had greater familiarity with ancient languages and works, furthered the revival of Greek and Roman literature and science. Donatello’s Sublime Enigma The sculptor’s ‘Penitent Magdalene’ is surrounded by a sense of timelessness. By Tom L. Freudenheim Dec. 30, 2016 1:01 pm ET A rich literary and visual tradition surrounds Mary Magdalene, one of Christianity’s most elusive figures. She is described in the Gospel of St. Luke as the woman “who lived a sinful life…[and] stood behind [Jesus] at his feet weeping [and] began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” After reciting one of his parables, Jesus told her “your sins are forgiven.” Among the most sublime and emotionally resonant figures in all of Italian Renaissance art, Donatello’s “Penitent Magdalene” appears to have been inspired more by the various biblical texts (she is mentioned in all four Gospels) than by earlier visual versions, of which there are many. Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (c. 1386-1466), known as Donatello, was born in Florence, and early on spent formative time in Rome, where a mania for excavating and learning from the antique held many artists in thrall. The arc of his work defines the development of Italian Renaissance sculpture, ranging from the majestic St. John the Evangelist (1409-11), whose graceful, if inert, heft still reflects the late Gothic taste in sculpture, to the grand equestrian “Gattamelata” (1450)—the first such heroic work since antiquity. The sculpture seems far from the competing creative egos of the time. Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images Similarly, Donatello’s marble “David” (1408-09) presents an elegant figure who nevertheless comes across as somewhat wimpy, despite the rock in the fallen giant Goliath’s head at David’s feet. Taking up the same subject three decades later, however, Donatello moves Western art forward radically, both in figural attitude and in the development of bronze casting. This homoerotic naked David calmly triumphs over his adversary with placid facial attitude yet a balletic, if aggressive, posture. Michelangelo’s celebrated “David” (1501-04), alluding to ancient Roman sculpture in all its impassive monumentality, is in certain ways a response to Donatello’s more lyrical second work. The mystery of Donatello’s “Penitent Magdalene” (1453-55), now in Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum), seems far from the competing creative egos of an extraordinarily fertile time in art. Perhaps commissioned for the Baptistry, where it long stood, this dour carved wooden figure suggests that we put aside our admiration for the wonders of Italian Renaissance art to concentrate on devotion and personal anguish. This is not the Magdalene who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. It’s more likely the Magdalene who witnessed the Crucifixion. Or maybe not. One of the most enigmatic figures in art, the sculpture’s gender seems never to have been in question. Raffaello Borghini’s 1584 art historical text, “Il Riposo,” says that “she is consumed by fasting and abstinence, and every part of her body shows a perfect knowledge of anatomy.” And a guidebook of 1591 claims that the work “is so beautifully designed that she resembles nature in every way and seems alive.” But to this viewer, the figure looks more like a character whose female anatomy is barely discernible under a garment that we can identify as hair primarily because it’s a continuation of her own long hair, making her at once fully clothed and yet somehow very naked. The musculature expressed in exposed arms and legs prefigures the gender-bending women of Michelangelo’s Medici tomb sculptures. Yet the delicacy of the figure’s raised hands, slender fingers not quite connected in prayer, is almost incongruous against her apparently ravaged face. The toenails on her finely carved feet add an expressive note, as do the bone structure and sinews of the legs and the slight rise of her right foot with its barely perceptible suggestion of movement. During the terrible 1966 Florence flood, the figure’s lower half was immersed in water and heavily stained with oil, causing the thighs to crack in two places. Thanks to heroic salvage and restoration efforts, the Magdalene allegedly now looks much as it did when first created: the brown monochrome wood figure manifests barely any color differentiation between skin and hair/garment. That gives her the sense of timelessness we associate with characters we love in literature and art, whose biographies we feel we know even when we don’t. We share their joys and sorrows, because they are projections of ourselves. But with the “Penitent Magdalene”—a solitary figure beautifully displayed in a gallery so that we can keep walking around it—the viewer never quite grasps it all, because the artist’s ideas, more than half a millennium away, will always remain as elusive as they are seductive. —Mr. Freudenheim, a former art-museum director, served as the assistant secretary for museums at the Smithsonian. Why the Mannerists’ Bizarre Paintings Deserve a Second Look Jackson Arn Nov 26, 2018 4:24pm Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino Madonna with the Long Neck, 1534-1540 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence Agnola Bronzino, Portrait of Lodovico Capponi, 1550–55. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Among the thousands of un-babyish babies in Italian art—a group big and bizarre enough to merit its own Tumblr—there are none quite like the infant Jesus in Parmigianino ’s Madonna and Child with Angels (1534–40). Though clearly a newborn, Jesus must be well over 2 feet tall, most of that height contained in his long, skinny torso. Then there’s the infant’s lazy, almost languorous pose. He dangles precariously off of his mother’s lap; judging from the slope of Mary’s thigh, baby Jesus is about to slide to the floor. Not many people notice this accident-in-the-making the first time they see Parmigianino’s painting, probably because they’re too busy gaping at an even more bizarre feature of the work, the one that gave it its informal, better-known title: Madonna with the Long Neck. Learning about Mannerism —the movement that arose in Italy in the early 16th century, of which Madonna of the Long Neck is a favorite example—means stumbling upon unbridled weirdness in works of art that might seem dully conventional at first glance. No wonder Mannerism remains a contentious topic for academics: There seems to be some kind of requirement that every essay on the term begin by acknowledging how fiendishly difficult it is to define. Many art historians see the movement as a transitional one, jammed uncomfortably between the High Renaissance achievements of Michelangelo , Leonardo , and Raphael at the end of the 15th century and the extravagances of the Baroque era at the start of the 17th. They break it down by its key members (Parmigianino, Agnolo Bronzino , Benvenuto Cellini , Jacopo da Pontormo , Rosso Fiorentino ) and defining features: bright colors, contorted figures, indeterminate spaces, and an overpowering sense of artificiality. It might be better to understand Mannerism by getting a sense of what it was like to be a young painter in Italy at the beginning of the 16th century. The masters of the preceding generation had produced works that represented, at that moment in time, the apex of dramatic, lifelike painting. The smothering greatness of their achievements ushered in what Susan Sontag called a “late moment” in culture—an era whose peaks are already past—“that presumes an endless discourse anterior to itself.” For the younger generation, making art in the shadows of these giants must have been intimidating, to say the least. Alessandro Allori Suzanne et les vieillards (Susanna and the elders) Musée Magnin Jacopo da Pontormo The Deposition, 1525-1528 Santa Felicita, Florence In our own late moment, already poised to be remembered as the “Age of the Remix,” some postmodern artists have problematized the concept of originality, choosing to reinterpret old styles and forms, rather than start from scratch. Something roughly similar could be said for the Mannerist painters who emerged in the 1520s: The High Renaissance was like an austere parent, one they imitated and occasionally parodied, but could not ignore. “The strongest impression left behind by a typical Mannerist painting,” art historian Eric Newton once wrote, “is that the artist has derived hardly anything direct from nature, but has absorbed, digested, and stylized the paintings of others.” That’s an apt way to characterize Madonna with the Long Neck: It’s as if Parmigianino is playing a pictorial version of the telephone game, copying endless copies of Renaissance masterpieces until the image has mutated into something wilder than Raphael could have ever imagined. Much as some contemporary artists use humor to distance themselves from their historical precedents, the Italian Mannerists often presented their Renaissance homages in a lighthearted spirit. Over the centuries, many have confused this playfulness with slightness, interpreting it as a tacit admission that Mannerism was just a knockoff of what came before. Until well into the 20th century, in fact, Mannerist painters were by and large considered minor figures in the canon. More recently, art historians have tended to see inventiveness where others once saw stagnation. In a famous 1964 essay, Sontag found in Mannerism an ancestor of the modern Camp sensibility—“a love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration,” she wrote. New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl echoed Sontag’s point when he wrote that “we are mostly Mannerists now. Art about art, and style for style’s sake.” Mannerists may not have surpassed Michelangelo, exactly, but they found freedom in subservience, taking pleasure in an ironic form of imitation that was part homage, part parody. The problem with irony is that some people won’t recognize it. The Florentine painter Bronzino is an excellent case in point: His reputation has gone up and down over the centuries, and his works, like Mannerism itself, are often described as “cold”—technically brilliant, but emotionless. Bronzino’s portrait of Lodovico Capponi, completed between 1550 and 1555, shows its young subject—a page in the Medici court—standing against a green curtain, so that viewers have no idea where he really is. His long, clever fingers; slightly pursed lips; and narrowed eyes make him seem menacing and faintly revolting, like a 16th-century Italian Draco Malfoy. El Greco Christ Carrying the Cross, ca. 1577–1587 The Metropolitan Museum of Art Giuseppe Arcimboldo Four Seasons in One Head, ca. 1590 National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Permanent collection Advertisement Yet it’s simply wrong to say that this is a “cold” portrait. In a sense, Bronzino presents his viewers with a mask, the kind that many callow, insecure young men still wear today. But he also offers us a glimpse underneath that mask: Witness the medallion Lodovico carries in his right hand, which depicts a woman’s face. It’s crucial to know that at the time he sat for this portrait, Lodovico was having a passionate affair with a woman who’d already been chosen as a bride for a member of the Medici family. Historians have suggested that Bronzino knew about the affair when he painted the portrait, and in this way, the work’s apparent chilliness becomes a joke, even a rather sweet one: No matter how hard this kid tries to model himself off of older, haughtier courtiers, he remains, at heart, a starry-eyed softie. In the past 50 years or so, Mannerism has made a major comeback, to the point where scholars are trying to claim certain radical 16th-century artists as Mannerists, even if their works traditionally haven’t been studied through such a lens. The delightful paintings of Guiseppe Arcimoldo , which depict human beings built out of fruits, books, flowers, and more, may not seem to have much in common with the excessively stylized works of Bronzino or Parmigianino, but their vivid colors and cheeky humor make them excellent candidates. For that matter, the notion of using old or inanimate fragments to build something lively and new almost sounds like a metaphor for the Mannerist aesthetic. Then there’s El Greco , the notoriously unclassifiable, late-16th-century painter who lived in Spain for most of his adult life. Studying in Venice and Rome as a young man, he would have come across many of the key Mannerist works, and later on, he carried their influence—along with that of Byzantine icons and Michelangelo’s sculptures—with him to Toledo. The long, slender martyr in Christ Carrying the Cross (ca. 1577–87) bears a clear resemblance to Parmigianino’s figures—he’s like the man the baby in Madonna of the Long Neck grows up to be—and yet, it would be hard to confuse Parmigianino’s paintings for El Greco’s. In the best Mannerist works, the emotional meaning has to be teased out, slowly and carefully; in El Greco’s, strong emotion soaks through every square inch of the canvas, and the force of the figures’ faith or suffering or joy threatens to tear them to bits. Mannerism’s gaze is fixed on the High Renaissance; even when he’s consciously imitating earlier artists, El Greco seems to be looking forward hundreds of years to Cubism Expressionism, and even Abstract Expressionism But whether El Greco was or wasn’t a card-carrying Mannerist isn’t really the point: He studied Mannerism for years, and in the process of imitating this highly imitative movement, he happened upon a style all his own. His work—give it whatever label you like—proves that artists can mimic and be highly original at the same time. That’s the thesis to which the Mannerists devoted their careers, one that’s crucial to bear in mind when we look at their paintings today. Jackson Arn
This is a Humanities class. No Plagiarism or AI work…. This will be checked. Choose a topic from Module 2, which covers late sixteenth and seventeenth century, that you are really interested in. U
The Baroque Period Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form The Dutch Painters Ter Brugghen, van Honthorst, Hals, Leyster Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerrit van Honthorst, Frans Hals, and Judith Leyster were important genre painters of the Dutch Republic. Learning Objectives Explain the importance of ter Brugghen, van Honthorst, Hals, and Leyster to genre painting of the Dutch Republic Key Takeaways Key Points Ter Brugghen and Honthorst were both artists from the Dutch city of Utrecht who worked in the Caravaggisti tradition, emulating Caravaggio’s dramatic use of light and shadow. Both artists were directly inspired by their travels to Italy. Tavern scenes and other depictions of lively entertainment were common subjects for genre painters of this period. Frans Hals, another well-known Dutch painter, is remembered primarily for his portraiture and his pioneering use of loose brushwork. Judith Leyster is one of the few recognized female artists of the Dutch Golden Age and is known for depicting female subjects in domestic interior scenes. Leyster’s work is extremely similar to Hals, leading some historians to speculate that she may have been his apprentice. Key Terms chiaroscuro: An artistic technique developed during the Renaissance, referring to the use of exaggerated light contrasts in order to create the illusion of volume. Caravaggisti: Stylistic followers of the 16th century Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Mannerism: A style of art developed at the end of the High Renaissance, characterized by the deliberate distortion and exaggeration of perspective, especially the elongation of figures. The Dutch Golden Age The Dutch Golden Age was a period in the history of Holland generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence. Although Dutch painting of the Golden Age comes in the general European period of Baroque painting and often shows many of its characteristics, most lacks the idealization and love of splendor typical of much Baroque work, including that of neighboring Flanders . Most work in Holland during this era, including that for which the period is best known, reflects the traditions of detailed realism inherited from Early Netherlandish painting . A distinctive feature of the period is the proliferation of distinct genres of paintings, with the majority of artists producing the bulk of their work within one of these. The full development of this specialization is seen from the late 1620s, and the period from then until the French invasion of 1672 is the core of Golden Age painting. The Utrecht Caravaggisti Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerrit van Honthorst, as well as Frans Hals and Judith Leyster, were genre painters of the Dutch Republic. Their work generally depicted taverns and other scenes of entertainment that catered to the tastes and interests of a growing segment of the Dutch middle class. ter Brugghen Hendrick Jansz ter Brugghen (1588—1629) was a Dutch painter and a leading member of the Dutch followers of Caravaggio, or the Dutch Caravaggisti. Ter Brugghen began painting at the age of 13, studying with Abraham Bloemaert, a history painter trained in Mannerism . Around 1604, ter Brugghen traveled to Italy to expand his skills like many of his Dutch counterparts. While in Rome , he could have been in direct contact with Caravaggio. He certainly studied his work, as well as that of his followers, known as the Italian Caravaggisti. Upon returning to the Dutch city of Utrecht, he worked with Gerard van Honthorst, another member of the Dutch Caravaggisti. Flute Player by ter Brugghen, 1621: ter Brugghen, with Gerard van Honthorst, imported Caravaggio’s techniques from Italy in the early 17th century. Ter Brugghen’s favorite subjects were half-length figures of drinkers or musicians, but he also produced larger-scale religious images and group portraits. He carried with him Caravaggio’s influence, and his paintings have a strong dramatic use of light and shadow, as well as emotionally charged subjects. Though he died fairly young at age 41, his work was well received and highly influential in his lifetime. The Concert by ter Brugghen (1627), 99.1 x 116.8 cm, National Gallery, London: Some of ter Brugghen’s favorite subjects were half-length figures of drinkers or musicians, with a strong dramatic use of light and shadow in the style of Caravaggio. Van Honthorst Gerard van Honthorst (1590—1656) was born in Utrecht and also studied under Abraham Bloemaert. In 1616, Honthorst also traveled to Italy and was deeply influenced by the recent art he encountered there. Honthorst returned to Utrecht in 1620 and went on to build a considerable reputation, both in the Dutch Republic and abroad. Honthorst briefly became a court painter to Charles I in England in 1628. His popularity in the Netherlands was such that he opened a second studio in The Hague, where he painted portraits of members of the court and taught drawing. Honthorst cultivated the style of Caravaggio and had great skill at chiaroscuro , often painting scenes illuminated by a single candle. Apart from portraiture, he is known for painting tavern scenes with musicians, gamblers, and people eating. The Matchmaker by Gerard van Honthorst, 1625: This painting demonstrates Honthorst’s use of chiaroscuro, a style made popular by Caravaggio. Hals Frans Hals the Elder (c. 1582—1666) was most notable for his loose painterly brushwork, a lively style he helped introduce into Dutch art. Hals was also instrumental in the evolution of 17th century group portraiture. He is perhaps best known for his portraits, which were primarily of wealthy citizens and prominent merchants like Pieter van den Broecke and Isaac Massa. He also painted large group portraits for local civic guards and the regents of local hospitals. His pictures illustrate the various strata of society: banquets or meetings of officers, guildsmen, local councilmen from mayors to clerks, itinerant players and singers, gentlefolk, fishwives, and tavern heroes. In his group portraits, such as the The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company, Hals captures each character in a different manner. Hals was fond of daylight and silvery sheen, in contrast to Rembrandt’s use of golden glow effects. The Officers of the St Adrian Militia Company by Frans Hals, 1633: This is the second painting for the Cluveniers, St. Adrian, or St. Hadrian civic guard of Haarlem, by Frans Hals; today it is considered one of the main attractions of the Frans Hals Museum. Leyster Judith Jans Leyster (1609—1660) was one of three significant women artists in Dutch Golden Age painting. The other two, Rachel Ruysch and Maria van Oosterwijk, were specialized painters of flower still lifes, while Leyster painted genre works, a few portraits, and a single still life . Leyster largely gave up painting after her marriage, which produced five children. Leyster was particularly innovative in her domestic genre scenes . In them, she creates quiet scenes of women at home, which were not a popular theme in Holland until the 1650s. A Game of Cards by Judith Leyster: Leyster’s subject matter was similar to other genre painters of the period, with the exception that she tended to focus on female subjects. Although well-known during her lifetime and esteemed by her contemporaries, Leyster and her work were largely forgotten after her death. Leyster was rediscovered in 1893 when the Louvre purchased what it thought was a Frans Hals painting, only to find it had, in fact, been painted by Judith Leyster. Some historians have asserted that Hals may have been Leyster’s teacher due to the close similarity between their work; for example, Leyster’s The Merry Drinker from 1629 has a very strong resemblance to The Jolly Drinker of 1627—28 by Hals. Rembrandt Rembrandt is remembered as one of the greatest artists in European history and the most important in the Dutch Golden Age. Learning Objectives Describe the characteristics of Rembrandt’s painting Key Takeaways Key Points Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606—1669) is primarily known for portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits, landscapes, and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. Rembrandt’s self-portraits are exceptionally sincere, revealing, and personal, illustrating his development over time. Stylistically, Rembrandt’s work evolved from smooth to rough over the course of his lifetime. The thick, coarse strokes in Rembrandt’s work were unconventional at the time and poorly received by many of his contemporaries, though this technique is now viewed as essential to the emotional resonance of his work. Though he is remembered as the master of Dutch painting, Rembrandt’s success was uneven during his lifetime. Key Terms variegated: Streaked, spotted, or otherwise marked with a variety of color; very colorful. Caravaggisti: Stylistic followers of the 16th century Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. chiaroscuro: An artistic technique popularized during the Renaissance, referring to the use of exaggerated light contrasts in order to create the illusion of volume. Overview: Rembrandt Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606—1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher during the Dutch Golden Age, a period of great wealth and cultural achievement. Though Rembrandt’s later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardship, his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, earning him an excellent reputation as an artist and teacher. In 1626, Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame. Characteristics of Rembrandt’s Work Among the more prominent characteristics of Rembrandt’s work is his use of chiaroscuro , the theatrical employment of light and shadow. This technique was most likely derived from the Dutch Caravaggisti , followers of the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio who had first used the chiaroscuro technique. Also notable are his dramatic and lively presentation of subjects, devoid of the rigid formality that his contemporaries often displayed, and a visible compassion for the human subject, irrespective of wealth and age. Throughout his career, Rembrandt took as his primary subjects the themes of portraiture (dependent upon commissions from wealthy patrons for survival), landscape, and narrative painting. For the last, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail. His immediate family often figured prominently in his paintings, many of which had mythical, biblical, or historical themes. Titus as a Monk by Rembrandt, 1660: Rembrandt’s immediate family frequently figured in his paintings. This work features Rembrandt’s son Titus as a monk. In later years, biblical themes were still often depicted, but his emphasis shifted from dramatic group scenes to intimate portrait-like figures (such as in James the Apostle, 1661). In his last years, Rembrandt painted his most deeply reflective self-portraits (he painted 15 from 1652 to 1669) and several moving images of both men and women (such as The Jewish Bride, c. 1666) in love, in life, and before God. The Jewish Bride, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. : In his later years, Rembrandt painted several moving images of both men and women such as this painting of The Jewish Bride. Stylistically, Rembrandt’s paintings progressed from the early “smooth” manner, characterized by fine technique in the portrayal of illusionistic form , to the late “rough” treatment of richly variegated paint surfaces, which allowed for an illusionism of form suggested by the tactile quality of the paint itself. Contemporary accounts sometimes remark disapprovingly of the coarseness of Rembrandt’s brushwork, and the artist himself was said to have dissuaded visitors from looking too closely at his paintings. The richly varied handling of paint, deeply layered and often apparently haphazard, suggests form and space in both an illusory and highly individual manner. Self-Portraiture Rembrandt’s self-portraits trace the progress from an uncertain young man, through the dapper and very successful portrait painter of the 1630s, to the troubled but massively powerful portraits of his old age. Together, they give a remarkably clear picture of the man, his appearance, and his psychological make-up, as revealed by his richly weathered face. In his portraits and self-portraits, he angles the sitter’s face in such a way that the ridge of the nose nearly always forms the line of demarcation between brightly illuminated and shadowy areas. Self-portrait, c. 1629: Rembrandt’s earliest self-portraits portray his youthfulness and, sometimes, his uncertainty. Self-portrait by Rembrandt, 1659: Rembrandt’s numerous self-portraits provide a strong record of his development as an artist and offer insight into his personal psychology. Landscape Art and Interior Painting Landscape and interior genre painting of the Dutch Republic became increasingly sophisticated and realistic in the 17th century. Learning Objectives Evaluate Dutch landscape and interior genre painting in the 17th century Key Takeaways Key Points The first phase of Dutch landscape painting was known as the “tonal phase,” which was characterized by soft outlines , atmospheric effect, and focus on the sky. The ” classical phase” of Dutch landscapes began in the 1650s and retained an atmospheric quality; however, they featured contrasting light and color and the frequent presence of a compositional anchor, such as a prominent tree, tower, or ship. Paintings featuring animals emerged as a distinctive sub- genre of Dutch landscape painting around this time. Romantic Italianate landscapes, featuring soft golden light, also emerged as a sub-genre of landscape painting. Interior genre paintings were also extremely popular during the Dutch Republic, featuring lively scenes from everyday life, such as markets, inns, taverns, and street scenes, as well as domestic interiors. Jan Vermeer, whose work uniquely captured lighting in interior spaces , is now the most renowned genre painter of the Dutch Republic. Key Terms atmospheric: Evoking a particular emotional or aesthetic quality. atmospheric perspective: A technique in which an illusion of depth is created by painting more distant objects with less clarity and with a lighter tone. genre: A stylistic category, especially of literature or other artworks. Background: Dutch and Flemish Painting Landscape painting was a major genre in the 17th century Dutch Republic that was inspired by Flemish landscapes of the 16th century, particularly from Antwerp . These Flemish works had not been particularly realistic, most having been painted in the studio, partly from imagination, and often still using the semi-aerial view style typical of earlier Netherlandish landscape painting, in the tradition of Joachim Patinir, Herri met de Bles, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Dutch Landscapes A more realistic style soon developed in the Netherlands, with lower horizons making it possible to emphasize the often impressive cloud formations so typical of the region. Favorite subjects were the dunes along the western sea coast and rivers with their broad adjoining meadows where cattle grazed, often with the silhouette of a city in the distance. Winter landscapes featured frozen canals and creeks. The sea was a favorite subject as well, holding both military and trade significance. Important early figures in the move towards realism were Esaias van de Velde (1587–1630) and Hendrick Avercamp (1585–1634). The Tonal Phase From the late 1620s, the “tonal phase” of landscape painting began, as artists softened or blurred their outlines and concentrated on an atmospheric effect. Great prominence was given to the sky, with human figures usually either absent or small and distant. The leading artists of this style were Jan van Goyen (1596–1656), Salomon van Ruysdael (1602–1670), Pieter de Molyn (1595–1661), and, in marine painting, Simon de Vlieger (1601–1653), with a host of minor figures. River Scene by Jan van Goyen, 1652: Jan van Goyen was influential in the “tonal phase” of Dutch landscape painting, which was characterized by softened or blurred outlines and emphasis on the sky. The Classical Phase From the 1650s, the “classical phase” began, retaining the atmospheric quality but with more expressive compositions and stronger contrasts of light and color. Compositions are often anchored by a single “heroic tree,” windmill, tower, or ship in marine works. The leading artist of this phase was Jacob van Ruisdael (1628–1682), who produced a great quantity and variety of work, including Nordic landscapes of dark and dramatic mountain pine forests with rushing torrents and waterfalls. Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede: Jacob van Ruisdael (1628–1682) was one of the most prominent artists of the classical phase of Dutch landscapes. Other Landscape Styles Landscapes with animals in the foreground were a distinct sub-type and were painted by Aelbert Cuyp, Paulus Potter (1625–1654), Adriaen van de Velde (1636–1672), and Karel Dujardin (1626–1678), with Philips Wouwerman painting horses and riders in various settings. The cow was a symbol of prosperity to the Dutch and, apart from the horse, by far the most commonly shown animal; goats were used to indicate Italy. Another important type of landscape, produced throughout the tonal and classical phases, was the romantic Italianate landscape, typically in more mountainous settings than are found in the Netherlands, with golden light and sometimes picturesque Mediterranean and ruins. Jan Both (d. 1652), who had been to Rome and worked with French painter Claude Lorrain, was a leading developer of this sub-genre. Italianate landscapes were popular as prints, and more landscape paintings by painter Nicolaes Berchem were reproduced in engravings during the period itself than those of any other artist. A Southern Landscape with a Ruin by Jan Both: Both was known for working in the Italianate landscape style. Dutch Interior Genre Painting Apart from landscape painting, the development and enormous popularity of genre painting is the most distinctive feature of Dutch painting during this period. These genre paintings represented scenes or events from everyday life, such as markets, domestic interiors, parties, inn scenes, and street scenes. Genre painting developed from the realism and detailed background activity of Early Netherlandish painting , which Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder were among the first to turn into their principal subjects. The style reflected the increasing prosperity of Dutch society, and settings grew steadily more comfortable, opulent, and carefully depicted as the century progressed. Adriaen Brouwer is acknowledged as the Flemish master of peasant tavern scenes. Before Brouwer, peasants were typically depicted outdoors; he usually shows them in a plain and dim interior. Other artists whose common subjects were intimate interior scenes included Nicolaes Maes, Gerard ter Borch, and Pieter de Hooch. Jan Vermeer specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle class life; though he was long a very obscure figure, he is now the most highly regarded genre painter of Dutch history. The Milkmaid by Vermeer, 1658: Vermeer is a confirmed master of Dutch genre painting known for his interior scenes of middle class life. Still Life Painting Still life painting flourished during the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic. Learning Objectives Discuss themes and attributes of 17th century Dutch still life painting Key Takeaways Key Points Ambrosius Bosschaert was one of the early still life painters of the Dutch Republic. Still lifes presented opportunities for painters to demonstrate their abilities in working with difficult textures and complex forms . The vanitas theme, a moral message frequently found in still life painting, alluded to the fleeting nature of life. In the mid-16th century, the pronkstilleven style emerged, focusing on ornate and exotic objects. Still lifes were frequently drawn by copying flowers in books, as the Dutch were leaders in scientific and botanical drawings and illustrations. Key Terms vanitas: A type of still life painting, symbolic of mortality and characteristic of Dutch painting in the 16th and 17th centuries. Pronkstilleven: A style of ornate still life painting produced in Holland in the 17th century. Overview: Dutch Still Life Painting The Dutch still life tradition was largely initiated by Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621), a Flemish-born flower painter who had settled in the north by the beginning of the period and founded a dynasty . Early still lifes were relatively brightly lit, with bouquets of flowers arranged in a simple way. From the mid-15th century, arrangements that could fairly be called Baroque , usually against a dark background, became more popular, exemplified by the works of Willem van Aelst (1627–1683). Painters from Leiden, The Hague, and Amsterdam particularly excelled in the genre . In addition to still life paintings, the Dutch led the world in botanical and other scientific drawings, prints, and book illustrations at this time. Flowers in a Porcelain Vase by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder: Bosschaert was an early still life painter who established a dynasty of flower painters. Themes of Still Lifes Still lifes offered a great opportunity to display skill in painting textures and surfaces in great detail, and with highly realistic light effects. Food of all textures, colors, and shapes—silver cutlery, intricate patterns, and subtle folds in table cloths and flowers—all challenged painters. Flower paintings were a popular sub-genre of still life and were favored by prominent women artists, such as Maria van Oosterwyck and Rachel Ruysch. Dead game, as well as birds painted live but studied from death, were another sub-genre, as were dead fish, a staple of the Dutch diet. Abraham van Beijeren painted this subject frequently. Virtually all still lifes had a moralistic message, usually concerning the brevity of life. This is known as the vanitas theme. The vanitas theme was included in explicit symbols, such as a skull, or less obvious symbols such as a half-peeled lemon (representing life: sweet in appearance but bitter to taste). Flowers wilt and food decays, and silver is of no use to the soul. Nevertheless, the force of this message seems less powerful in the more elaborate pieces of the second half of the century. Initially, the subjects of still life paintings were typically mundane; however, beginning in the mid-century, the pronkstilleven (“ostentatious still life”), showing expensive and exotic objects, became more popular. Willem Claeszoon Heda (1595–c. 1680) and Willem Kalf (1619–1693) were leaders in this shift toward the pronkstilleven. In the works of all of the still life painters, colors tended to be muted, with browns dominating, especially in the middle of the century. Banquet Still Life, by Abraham Van Bereyen, 1660: This work is an example of an ostentatious still life. Despite the intense realism of individual flowers, paintings were composed from individual studies or even book illustrations, and blooms from very different seasons were routinely included in the same composition . The same flowers also reappear in different works, just as pieces of tableware do. In reality, bouquets of flowers in vases were not at all common in houses at the time; even the very rich tended to display flowers one by one in delftware tulip holders.
This is a Humanities class. No Plagiarism or AI work…. This will be checked. Choose a topic from Module 2, which covers late sixteenth and seventeenth century, that you are really interested in. U
The Northern Renaissance Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form The Northern Renaissance The Northern Renaissance Before 1450, Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy; after 1450, these ideas began to spread throughout Europe. Learning Objectives Describe how the Northern Renaissance differed from the Italian Renaissance Key Takeaways Key Points Humanism influenced the Renaissance periods in Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, and Poland. There were also other national and localized movements, each with different characteristics and strengths. Northern painters in the 16th century increasingly looked to Rome for influence, and became known as the Romanists . The High Renaissance art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the stylistic tendencies of Mannerism also had a great impact on their work. Although Renaissance humanism and the large number of surviving classical artworks and monuments in Italy encouraged many Italian painters to explore Greco-Roman themes, Northern Renaissance painters developed other subject matters, such as landscape and genre painting. Key Terms Romanists: A group of artists in the late 15th and early 16th century from the Netherlands who began to visit Italy and started to incorporate Renaissance influences in their work. Northern Renaissance: The Northern Renaissance describes the Renaissance as it occurred in northern Europe. The Northern Renaissance describes the Renaissance in northern Europe. Before 1450, Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy; however, after 1450 these ideas began to spread across Europe. This influenced the Renaissance periods in Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, and Poland. There were also other national and localized movements. Each of these regional expressions of the Renaissance evolved with different characteristics and strengths. In some areas, the Northern Renaissance was distinct from the Italian Renaissance in its centralization of political power. While Italy and Germany were dominated by independent city-states , parts of central and western Europe began emerging as nation-states. The Northern Renaissance was also closely linked to the Protestant Reformation , and the long series of internal and external conflicts between various Protestant groups and the Roman Catholic Church had lasting effects. As in Italy, the decline of feudalism opened the way for the cultural, social, and economic changes associated with the Renaissance in northern Europe. Northern painters in the 16th century increasingly looked to Rome for influence, and became known as the Romanists. The High Renaissance art of Michelangelo and Raphael and the stylistic tendencies of Mannerism had a significant impact on their work. Although Renaissance humanism and the large number of surviving classical artworks and monuments in Italy encouraged many Italian painters to explore Greco-Roman themes, Northern Renaissance painters developed other subject matters, such as landscape and genre painting. Danae by Jan Mabuse: One of the most well-known Romanists was Jan Mabuse. The influence of Michelangelo and Raphael showed in the use of mythology and nudity in this particular piece. As Renaissance art styles moved through northern Europe, they were adapted to local customs. For example, in England and the northern Netherlands, the Reformation nearly ended the tradition of religious painting. In France, the School of Fontainebleau, which was originally founded by Italians such as Rosso Fiorentino, succeeded in establishing a durable national style. Finally, by the end of the 16th century, artists such as Karel van Mander and Hendrik Goltzius collected in Haarlem in a brief but intense phase of Northern Mannerism that also spread to Flanders . Impact of the Protestant Reformation The Reformation was a religious movement in the 16th century that resulted in the theological divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Learning Objectives Describe the Protestant Reformation and its effects on Western European art of the 16th century Key Takeaways Key Points Art that portrayed religious figures or scenes followed Protestant theology by depicting people and stories accurately and clearly and emphasized salvation through divine grace, rather than through personal deeds, or by intervention of church bureaucracy. Reformation art embraced Protestant values , although the amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced. Instead, many artists in Protestant countries diversified into secular forms of art like history painting , landscapes, portraiture, and still life . The Protestant Reformation induced a wave of iconoclasm , or the destruction of religious imagery , among the more radical evangelists. Key Terms Protestant Reformation: The 16th century schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other early Protestants; characterized by the objection to the doctrines, rituals, and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church and led to the creation of Protestant churches, which were outside of the control of the Vatican. iconoclasm: The belief in, participation in, or sanction of destroying religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. The Protestant Reformation and Art The Protestant Reformation was a religious movement that occurred in Western Europe during the 16th century that resulted in the theological divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants. This movement created a North-South split in Europe, where generally Northern countries became Protestant, while Southern countries remained Catholic. Protestant theology centered on the individual relationship between the worshiper and the divine, and accordingly, the Reformation’s artistic movement focused on the individual’s personal relationship with God. This was reflected in a number of common people and day-to-day scenes depicted in art. The Reformation ushered in a new artistic tradition that highlighted the Protestant belief system and diverged drastically from southern European humanist art produced during the High Renaissance . Reformation art embraced Protestant values, although the amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced (largely because a huge patron for the arts—the Catholic Church—was no longer active in these countries). Instead, many artists in Protestant countries diversified into secular forms of art like history painting, landscapes, portraiture, and still life. Art that portrayed religious figures or scenes followed Protestant theology by depicting people and stories accurately and clearly and emphasized salvation through divine grace, rather than through personal deeds, or by intervention of church bureaucracy. This is the direct influence of one major criticism of the Catholic Church during the Reformation—that painters created biblical scenes that strayed from their true story, were hard to identify, and were embellished with painterly effects instead of focusing on the theological message. In terms of subject matter, iconic images of Christ and scenes from the Passion became less frequent, as did portrayals of the saints and clergy. Instead, narrative scenes from the Bible and moralistic depictions of modern life became prevalent. The Protestant Reformation also capitalized on the popularity of printmaking in northern Europe. Printmaking allowed images to be mass produced and widely available to the public at low cost. The Protestant church was therefore able to bring their theology to the people through portable, inexpensive visual media . This allowed for the widespread availability of visually persuasive imagery. With the great development of the engraving and printmaking market in Antwerp in the 16th century, the public was provided with accessible and affordable images. Many artists provided drawings to book and print publishers. Iconoclasm and Resistance to Idolatry All forms of Protestantism showed a degree of hostility to religious images, especially sculpture and large paintings, considering them forms of idol worship. After the early years of the Reformation, artists in Protestant areas painted far fewer religious subjects for public display, partly because religious art had long been associated with the Catholic Church. Although, there was a conscious effort to develop a Protestant iconography of Bible images in book illustrations and prints. During the early Reformation, some artists made paintings for churches that depicted the leaders of the Reformation in ways very similar to Catholic saints. Later, Protestant taste turned away from the display of religious scenes in churches, although some continued to be displayed in homes. There was also a reaction against images from classical mythology, the other manifestation of the High Renaissance at the time. This brought about a style that was more directly related to accurately portraying the present times. For example, Bruegel’s Wedding Feast portrays a Flemish-peasant wedding dinner in a barn. It makes no reference to any religious, historical, or classical events, and merely gives insight into the everyday life of the Flemish peasant. Bruegel’s Peasant Wedding: Bruegael’s Peasant Wedding is a painting that captures the Protestant Reformation artistic tradition: focusing on scenes from modern life rather than religious or classical themes. The Protestant Reformation induced a wave of iconoclasm, or the destruction of religious imagery, among the more radical evangelists. Protestant leaders, especially Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, actively eliminated imagery from their churches and regarded the great majority of religious images as idolatrous—even plain crosses. On the other hand, Martin Luther encouraged the display of a restricted range of religious imagery in churches. For the most part, however, Reformation iconoclasm resulted in a disappearance of religious figurative art, compared with the amount of secular pieces that emerged. Iconoclasm: Catholic Altar Piece: Altar piece in St. Martin’s Cathedral, Utrecht, attacked in the Protestant iconoclasm in 1572. This retable became visible again after restoration in 1919 removed the false wall placed in front of it. Antwerp: A Center of the Northern Renaissance Antwerp, located in Belgium, was a center for art in the Netherlands and northern Europe for much of the 16th and 17th centuries. Learning Objectives Describe the characteristics of Antwerp Mannerism Key Takeaways Key Points The Antwerp School for painting flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Antwerp School comprised many generations of artists and is known for portraiture, animal paintings, still lifes, and prints. Antwerp Mannerism bore no relation to Renaissance Mannerism, but the name suggests a reaction to the “classic” style of the earlier Flemish painters. Although attempts have been made to identify individual artists, most paintings remain attributed to anonymous masters. Antwerp was an internationally significant publishing center, with prodigious production of old master prints and book illustrations. Furthermore, Antwerp animaliers, or animal painters, such as Frans Snyders, Jan Fyt, and Paul de Vos, dominated animal painting in Europe. Key Terms Antwerp School: The Antwerp School is a term for the artists active in Antwerp, first during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and then during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque under Peter Paul Rubens. Antwerp: A province of Flanders, Belgium. Antwerp, located in present-day Belgium, was a center for art in the Netherlands and northern Europe for much of the 16th and 17th centuries. The so-called Antwerp School for painting flourished during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and again during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque . The Antwerp School comprised many generations of artists and is known for portraiture, animal paintings, still lifes, and prints. Antwerp became the main trading and commercial center of the Low Countries around 1500, and the boost in the economy attracted many artists to the cities to join craft guilds . For example, many 16th century painters, artists, and craftsmen joined the Guild of Saint Luke, which educated apprentices and guaranteed quality. The first school of artists to emerge in the city were the Antwerp Mannerists , a group of anonymous late Gothic painters active in the city from about 1500 to 1520. Antwerp Mannerism bore no direct relation to Renaissance or Italian Mannerism, but the name suggests a style that was a reaction to the “classic” style of the earlier Flemish painters. Although attempts have been made to identify individual artists, most paintings remain attributed to anonymous masters. Characteristic of Antwerp Mannerism are paintings that combine early Netherlandish and Northern Renaissance styles, and incorporate both Flemish and Italian traditions into the same compositions . Practitioners of the style frequently painted subjects such as the Adoration of the Magi and the Nativity, both of which are generally represented as night scenes, crowded with figures and dramatically illuminated. The Adoration scenes were especially popular with the Antwerp Mannerists, who delighted in the patterns of the elaborate clothes worn by the Magi and the ornamentation of the architectural ruins in which the scene was set. The Adoration of the Kings by Jan Gossaert: This painting captures the Antwerp Mannerist tradition of using religious themes, particularly the Adoration of the Magi, for inspiration. The iconoclastic riots (“Beeldenstorm” in Dutch) of 1566 that preceded the Dutch Revolt resulted in the destruction of many works of religious art , after which time the churches and monasteries had to be refurnished and redecorated. Artists such as Otto van Veen and members of the Francken family, working in a late Mannerist style, provided new religious decoration. These also marked the beginning of economic decline in the city, as the Scheldt river was blockaded by the Dutch Republic in 1585 and trade restricted. The city experienced an artistic renewal in the 17th century. The large workshops of Peter Paul Rubens and Jacob Jordaens, along with the influence of Anthony van Dyck, made Antwerp the center of the Flemish Baroque. The city was an internationally significant publishing center, with prodigious production of old master prints and book illustrations. Furthermore, Antwerp animaliers or animal painters, such as Frans Snyders, Jan Fyt ,and Paul de Vos, dominated animal painting in Europe for at least the first half of the century. But as the economy continued to decline, and the Habsburg nobility and the Church reduced their patronage , many artists trained in Antwerp left for the Netherlands, England, France, or elsewhere. By the end of the 17th century, Antwerp was no longer a major artistic center. Hunting Trophies: Jan Fyt, a member of the Antwerp School, was well known for the use of animal motifs in his paintings. Albrecht Dürer: The painter with ‘a magical touch’ (Image credit: The Albertina Museum, Vienna) By Kelly Grovier19th September 2019 Originally finding fame for his woodcuts, the 16th-Century German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer “collapses the world” between observers today and his paintings created 500 years ago. If you look closely, very closely, you can see it in the corner of the hunkered hare’s eye: not merely a pair of concentric glints echoing from its dark cornea, but a portal to the past. A miracle of focused observation and precise draughtsmanship, the famous watercolour, which faithfully transcribes every soft filament of the mammal’s fur, was created by pioneering German Renaissance painter, printmaker, and theorist Albrecht Dürer in 1502. It is now among the highlights of a new exhibition at the Albertina Museum in Vienna devoted to Dürer’s genius – an event that marks only the ninth time that the painting has ever been displayed in public. Story continues below Young Hare – Albrecht Dürer (1502); one of Dürer’s most famous works – scholars have pondered how he managed to pose the animal The reverberating gleam in the hare’s right eye, according to Christof Metzger, who curated the exhibition of more than 200 paintings, drawings and prints, is actually a reflection from inside Dürer’s studio, where the work was made – a magical touch that collapses the distance between observers of the masterpiece today and the bygone world that the artist inhabited half a millennium ago. “It’s really fascinating,” Metzger explained to BBC Culture about the most popular work in the Albertina Museum’s collection. “This animal materialises on paper in his workshop, and in the eye of the painted hare you can see his workshop’s window.” ADVERTISEMENT More like this:- Félix Vallotton: A painter of disquiet and menace- Picasso: The ultimate painter of war?- Victor Vasarely: The art that tricks the eyes Here the hare is free to fidget in the minds of those who encounter it Is it indeed ‘the glazing bars from the window in the painter’s studio’, as the accompanying catalogue describes it? That seems to be the scholarly consensus, though the stretched shape of the beguiling glisten is ambiguous, and conjures something more sacred: the tall parallel panes of painted glass that one finds in the high windows of a cathedral’s nave. Dürer’s decision to erase from the surface of his work any suggestion of the animal’s physical environment keeps its situation (and meaning) remarkably elastic. The shroud-like emptiness that surrounds the portrait transforms the marvel into something as mystical as it is material – a fiery figment of the imagination; a vision; a prayer. Detail of Young Hare – Albrecht Dürer (1502); in the hare’s right eye, you can see the reflection of Dürer’s studio window In the only other works by Dürer where hares figure – a woodcut from six years earlier, entitled The Holy Family with Three Hares (c1497), and an engraving created two years later, Adam and Eve (1504) – the animal finds itself entangled in overt religious symbolism. But here, the hare is free to fidget in the minds of those who encounter it – as teasingly evasive in spirit as it is fixed physically in pigment and paper. Many of his works are really timeless – Christof Metzger How, exactly, Dürer managed to capture the skittish creature with such painstaking rigour – without the aid of taxidermy to hold the jittery jumper – still has bedevilled admirers of the work for centuries. A photographic memory? A steady, stewy diet of jugged hare? “I think with detail studies,” Metzger posits, when asked how he believes Dürer pulled it off: “studies of the hare in different positions: sitting, springing, from the side, from the front. Drawings like this are often the basis for his watercolours. He observed the living animal and then maybe when he makes the watercolour, the poor little hare is already in Dürer’s kitchen. We do not know.” What we do know, what we can feel, is the indispensable power of the sublime glimmers that bedew the hare’s eye. Remove those subtle sparkles and the soul of the work would be snuffed out, its magic extinguished. Glimpsed through the gleam of the hare’s intense, almost otherworldly eye, and Dürer’s other masterworks bristle too with such invigorating details – seemingly slight chroniclings that are so astute, so meticulous, their truth transports us and makes us feel as if we are seeing the Earth we inhabit for the very first time. “Many of his works, and you can see this in the exhibition, are really timeless – “his landscapes, his studies of animals, of plants, of persons,” Metzger says. He’s such a brilliant observer of his world, of his context, on the one hand, and on the other hand such a brilliant artist in his ability to fix on paper what he has observed in nature, which is really fascinating and fantastic.” A master of the natural world Frequently mentioned in the same breath as Young Hare is Dürer’s hypnotic study of a dishevelled scrap of seemingly random sward known simply as the Great Piece of Turf, a watercolour accented by pen-and-ink that the artist created the following year. His realistic articulation of every feathery fibre of cocks-foot, every soft serration of germander speedwell leaves, and the weightless sway of a sprawling tuft of Agrostis, or creeping bent, is truly breathtaking. Symphonic in its disorder, the study conjures from chaos a sense of organic rhythm undergirding all of life. What elevates the scene into the strangeness of a great work of art is its surreal suspension of plants to reveal below the soil-line the downward reach of their straggling roots, as if the patch of earth were levitating before us, ascending to heaven. The Great Piece of Turf – Albrecht Dürer (1503); Dürer painted the sprawling roots of the grass, as well as what’s above ground The Great Piece of Turf and the Young Hare both belong to the Albertina’s permanent collection, which forms the basis of the exhibition. “We have a very large and important collection,” Metzger tells BBC Culture, “and for works on paper, maybe the most important collection in the world.” Why now? “We thought it is time to show Dürer again after the last exhibition which took place in 2003. It’s always the right moment for an Albrecht Dürer show.” Taking flight The soaring majesty of uplifting colours is held in cruel check by the spectre of violence that ripped the wing from the bird’s torso There is indeed something imperishably poignant and up-to-date about Dürer’s meticulous scrutiny of the natural world, which is now, in the light of anxieties surrounding climate change, as much a source of unease as wonder. The brutal beauty of his assiduous study Wing of a Blue Roller, a watercolour on vellum probably created a year or two before the Young Hare, is indicative of the artist’s unflinching eye. “The outspread wing takes up almost the entire surface of a nearly square sheet of parchment,” Metzger writes in the show’s catalogue, “and depicts every detail of its morphology with the highest degree of zoological accuracy: the reddish, cinnamon-coloured back plumage remaining near the tear, the secondary feathers in ultramarine, turquoise, pale green and off-white, as well as the primary feathers ranging in colour from white and azurite to bluish black. “He even applied the finest of gold lines to his depiction of the dead animal’s breast plumage in order to imitate its iridescent lustre.” Wing of a Blue Roller – Albrecht Dürer (c1500); here, the wing is disembodied from the bird, taking up almost an entire sheet of parchment In art history, we’re rarely accustomed to seeing such resplendent plumage unless it is flapping spiritually from the shoulders of the Archangel Gabriel in depictions of the moment he informs the Virgin Mary that she will give birth to Christ, such as Fra Angelico’s celebrated fresco The Annunciation. But in Dürer’s work, the soaring majesty of uplifting colours is held in cruel check by the spectre of violence that ripped the wing from the bird’s torso, displacing the specimen to a decidedly secular context. Seen in the light of present-day unease about the damage humans are inflicting on the natural world, Dürer’s watercolour ruffles with prescient profundity. Born in Nuremberg in 1471, Dürer rose to prominence in his 20s as a master of woodcut prints. Following stints studying in Colmar, Strasburg, Frankfurt and Venice (where he honed printmaking techniques), he returned to Nuremberg in 1495 and established his own workshop, where he quickly began to build a formidable reputation. The Albertina exhibition displays many of the finest works that Dürer created in the ensuing years, from collections around the world, including such masterworks as the Adoration of the Magi (on loan from the Uffizi), Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum), and Christ among the Doctors (from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid). The Adoration of the Magi – Albrecht Dürer (1504); his reputation as an artist grew following the establishment of his own workshop in Nuremberg Are there any surprises? “We have a very interesting example in the exhibition,” Metzger says, “of a self-portrait as a nude.” He’s referring to a rather unsettling ink-and-whitelead drawing on green paper that shows the naked artist wearing only a hairnet, framed by an abstract field of self-abnegating black. “You see him from his legs up completely naked. We do not know how Dürer made this. With only a small mirror he constructed his naked body. His body is absolutely detailed in the way it’s observed and drawn, but it’s fragmented. The arms are missing. The legs are missing. It’s only the torso of his body.” Nude Self-Portrait – Albrecht Dürer (c1499); it’s unclear how Dürer created this self-portrait, as he only had a small mirror Yet it is the work’s very disjointedness that paradoxically pulls it together into something pulsing and intense. Dürer’s ability to spin into existence from an almost miserly economy of strokes “a person filled with life whom you can meet on the street 10 minutes later”, as Metzger puts it, is exhilarating. “In my opinion, the exhibition is really a once-in-a-lifetime possibility. We are really trying to give an impression of his whole cosmos.” Through Dürer’s fastidious eye we find ourselves transported to another reality – a world we never knew we knew. Albrecht Dürer is at Vienna’s Albertina Museum until 6 January 2020. Was Albrecht Dürer a Genius? An Idiosyncratic New Book Searches for Answers In Albert and the Whale, Philip Hoare seeks to understand how Albrecht Dürer created such detailed images of animals, including this 1521 drawing of a walrus. ©The Trustees of the British Museum It is a sad fact that artists’ lives are often nowhere near as interesting as their work. That’s because, in some ways, they’re just like the rest of us. Even the most talented biographers find themselves beleaguered in the face of an artistic giant like, say, Albrecht Dürer, perhaps the most famous artist of the Northern Renaissance. A case in point: In 1913, when critic Robert Fry edited Dürer’s journals, he thought he would obtain grand insights into Dürer’s art. Instead, he found something like a bland travelogue. He discovered that Dürer traded a print for dried fishes and coral, as well as some other trinkets, and that he once gave a prince some engravings in exchange for a coconut, two parrots, a fur coat, and more. He also learned that Dürer bought a pair of socks. Related Articles Historians Renew Debate Over Attribution of Possible Dürer Painting in German Church Drawing Found in Viennese Cathedral Could Change How Historians Think About Albrecht Dürer’s Art The tale of Fry’s disappointment is included in Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World (Pegasus), a new book by Philip Hoare. Hoare did not set out to write out a biography of Dürer, though he probably could have, given that he penned the definitive tome about the life of playwright Noël Coward back in 1995. Instead, Hoare offers up a text that is something closer to a book of essays. Its focus is less on the Renaissance artist than on his continued allure today. Why, Hoare wonders, do we still care about an artist who lived and died centuries ago? Was Dürer a genius, and does that matter, anyway? The central event in this fascinating book involves a missed connection between Dürer and a dead whale. In 1520, while attempting to run away from a plague that was sweeping through Europe, Dürer set sail for the Netherlands’ Zeeland region, where he was told there was a beached whale washed ashore. Dürer had a knack for etching almost impossibly detailed images of animals—he was exceptionally good at lending them the kind of psychology typically only afforded to humans in portraits at the time—and so he simply had to see the creature for himself. Dürer’s ship just barely made it there in one piece, and the artist caught malaria in the process. When he got there, he never even saw the whale—the canals were covered in an ooze that made them impassable, so he never got to see the maritime beast. “Dürer’s own abortive, amphibious expedition would shorten his life, from a condition he couldn’t name, because of an animal he didn’t see,” Hoare writes. And yet, good art resulted: Dürer developed a fascination with sea creatures, and he wound up making work about them. In 1521, for one pen drawing now in the British Museum’s collection, Dürer made an image of a walrus, its skin flecked with spiky-looking hairs. The walrus appears to seethe with rage—its eyes seem to pop out of its skull. The image is so exacting that it’s hard to believe that historians don’t even know for sure that Dürer ever saw a walrus up close. Mulling a skeleton of a walrus, Hoare marvels at Dürer’s abilities. “We cannot capture living, quivering creatures, their flesh and bone, tusks and fur, instincts and apprehensions,” he writes. “Yet Dürer got close, even when he didn’t see the real thing.” Courtesy Pegasus Books Hoare is hardly alone in finding himself awed by Dürer’s craft. A range of figures throughout history have similarly fallen under the artist’s spell, from the writer Herman Melville (who himself created the ultimate artwork about whales, Moby-Dick) to the essayist W. G. Sebald, whose influence on Albert and the Whale is palpable. A lengthy digression focused on the life of novelist Thomas Mann forms the book’s centerpiece. Mann was also a big Dürer fan, as Hoare continuously points out—his novels are laced with allusions to the artist. The protagonist of Mann’s 1943 novel Doctor Faustus, a doctor named Adrian Leverkühn, has a passion for Dürer, and at one point in Mann’s revision of the Faust tale, Adrian begins to look disheveled, growing a beard. Hoare claims this is an allusion to Dürer’s own 1500 self-portrait, in which the artist’s piercing gaze meets the viewer’s. “He has become Dürer,” Hoare writes. Albert and the Whale nearly spins out of control as Hoare delves into the history of Marianne Moore, an eccentric poet who loved Dürer and who, like the artist, found herself entranced when standing before monumental creatures hauled out of the ocean and onto land. But the story snaps back into place in its own idiosyncratic way. This is a whirlwind book, filled with people, places, and things that are often deliberately left blurry. The text is dotted with images without captions to identify them, and the prose is interspersed with unmarked quotations from writings of all kinds. (For those unwilling to surrender to the book’s controlled chaos, there’s a source list on Hoare’s website.) It’s all a bit confounding—but it has a mesmerizing effect. Toward the end of Albert and the Whale, Hoare finds himself in a Vienna library, holding a small piece of glass that contains what may be a wisp of Dürer’s hair. “I’m holding Dürer,” Hoare remarks. A 1550 note from a merchant certifies that this is Dürer’s hair, though for all we know it could just as well belong to anyone. Hoare seems convinced, however, and he’s concocted a whole story in his head about how valuable it is. “Dürer was raised on relics,” he writes. “Now he is one.”
This is a Humanities class. No Plagiarism or AI work…. This will be checked. Choose a topic from Module 2, which covers late sixteenth and seventeenth century, that you are really interested in. U
The Baroque Period Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form The Baroque Period Defining the Baroque Period Baroque is a period of artistic style that started around 1600 in Rome, Italy, and spread throughout the majority of Europe. Learning Objectives Name the most prominent characteristics of Baroque art and its best known artists Key Takeaways Key Points The most important factors during the Baroque era were the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation ; the development of the Baroque style was considered to be closely linked with the Catholic Church. The popularity of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Catholic Church, which had decided at the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes and direct emotional involvement in response to the Protestant Reformation . The Baroque style is characterized by exaggerated motion and clear detail used to produce drama, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture , painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. The chiaroscuro technique refers to the interplay between light and dark that was often used in Baroque paintings of dimly lit scenes to produce a very high-contrast, dramatic atmosphere. Famous painters of the Baroque era include Rubens, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt. In music, the Baroque style makes up a large part of the classical canon, such as Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. The later Baroque style was termed Rococo , a style characterized by increasingly decorative and elaborate works. Key Terms Counter-Reformation: The period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ending at the close of the Thirty Years’ War (1648); sometimes considered a response to the Protestant Reformation. Reformation: The religious movement initiated by Martin Luther in the 16th century to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Council of Trent: One of the Roman Catholic Church’s most important ecumenical meetings, held between 1545 and 1563 in northern Italy; it was prompted by the Protestant Reformation and has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation. chiaroscuro: An artistic technique popularized during the Renaissance, referring to the use of exaggerated light contrasts in order to create the illusion of volume. Overview: The Baroque Period The Baroque is a period of artistic style that started around 1600 in Rome , Italy, and spread throughout the majority of Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. In informal usage, the word baroque describes something that is elaborate and highly detailed. The most important factors during the Baroque era were the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, with the development of the Baroque style considered to be linked closely with the Catholic Church. The popularity of the style was in fact encouraged by the Catholic Church, which had decided at the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes and direct emotional involvement in response to the Protestant Reformation. Baroque art manifested itself differently in various European countries owing to their unique political and cultural climates. Characteristics The Baroque style is characterized by exaggerated motion and clear detail used to produce drama, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. Baroque iconography was direct, obvious, and dramatic, intending to appeal above all to the senses and the emotions. The use of the chiaroscuro technique is a well known trait of Baroque art. This technique refers to the interplay between light and dark and is often used in paintings of dimly lit scenes to produce a very high-contrast, dramatic atmosphere. The chiaroscuro technique is visible in the painting The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens. Other important Baroque painters include Caravaggio (who is thought to be a precursor to the movement and is known for work characterized by close-up action and strong diagonals) and Rembrandt. The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens: Chiaroscuro refers to the interplay between light and dark and is a technique often used in paintings of dimly lit scenes to produce a very high-contrast, dramatic atmosphere. This technique is visible in this painting by Peter Paul Rubens. In the Baroque style of architecture, emphasis was placed on bold spaces , domes , and large masses , as exemplified by the Queluz National Palace in Portugal. In music, the Baroque style makes up a large part of the classical canon. Important composers include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi. In the later part of the period, the Baroque style was termed Rococo, a style characterized by increasingly decorative and elaborate works. Queluz National Palace, Portugal: In the Baroque style of architecture, emphasis was placed on bold spaces, domes, and large masses, as exemplified by the Queluz National Palace in Portugal. Bernini’s Rome: New Book Tells How a Baroque Artist and a Pope Changed the City Forever July 29, 2021 3:09pm Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Elephant and Obelisk may have been his most important collaboration with Alexander VII. Photo Beate Schleep/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images When Gian Lorenzo Bernini began his rapid ascent as his generation’s leading sculptor during the mid-17th century, Rome was again in a steady decline. Once among the most prosperous cities in Europe, it was no longer an important business hub—London and Paris had begun to steal its thunder in that regard. It was also no longer the art destination that lured talents like Raphael and Michelangelo during the Renaissance. Add to all this the Thirty Years’ War, which began in 1618 and resulted in millions of deaths, and a quick succession of popes, which only added to the chaos. Rome was, in other words, a has-been. Then Bernini and Pope Alexander VII started working together and changed all that. “For twelve years, the divinely inspired artist and the imperious pope shared centre stage in the ‘world’s theater’ and during that time they took the ragged remnants of the ancient city and clothed it in Baroque for its many roles, as capital of the Catholic Church, fount of Western civilization and premier tourist destination,” Loyd Grossman writes in his new book The Artist and the Eternal City: Bernini, Pope Alexander VII, and the Making of Rome (Pegasus). Related Articles Rare Bernini Drawing Sells in France for $2.3 M., Setting Record How the Medici Family Harnessed the Political Power of Portraiture—and Brought Renaissance Art to New Heights In this fast-paced tome, Grossman makes the case that Bernini and Alexander’s working relationship represented the perfect merger of art and power. Their partnership lasted more than a decade, and was the rare ideal match between a cunning diplomat and a talented artist. Without them, Grossman convincingly suggests, Rome may not look the way it does today. When it came to working with the papacy, Bernini’s collaborations with Alexander VII were hardly his first rodeo. Depending on who was in power, Bernini was either in high demand or in the doghouse. Urban VIII, for example, took a liking to him—he had Bernini produce what would count as one of his most famous works, the baldacchino at St. Peter’s Basilica, a dramatic bronze canopy with twisting columns, a giant gold crucifix, and ornate gilding. Innocent X, who succeeded Urban VIII and was in power from 1644 to 1655, railed against everything his predecessor stood for. He kept Bernini from working with the pontificate, and the effect was “almost career-ending,” Grossman writes. But the artist was too famous for the prohibition to end his career. He continued receiving private commissions, including his famed Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, completed in 1652. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Self-Portrait, ca. 1623. Via Wikimedia Commons There was something different about his relationship with Alexander VII, with whom Bernini grew unusually close. In Alexander’s diaries, Bernini appears more often than any other artist—and there were many other artists with whom Alexander interacted frequently. Bernini and Alexander often met several times a week, and Grossman writes that Alexander “regarded himself not as a mere patron but as a collaborator.” When Alexander was elected pope in 1655, Bernini was still in high demand. Grossman reports that, during the 17th century, the average Roman worker earned 50 scudi annually. Bernini, by contrast, had a fortune of anywhere between 300,000 and 600,000 scudi by the end of his career. He’d become known for pioneering an extravagant style that could be considered “rather embarrassing, like a guest who talks too loud or someone who keeps bursting into tears,” Grossman writes. Bernini’s style is one of swirling fabrics, overstated emotions, profane sexuality, and largesse. These days, it would probably be considered camp. It’s hard not to get swept up in Bernini’s work, and those with money during the 17th century fell for it hard. (Never mind that Bernini was poorly behaved, and once even beat his brother with an iron bar for sleeping with his bedmate, who was herself married to someone else in his studio.) The French king Louis XIV liked Bernini so much that he even made a bid to get the artist to leave Rome. But he stayed, and became Alexander’s go-to artist. Alexander gave Bernini the opportunity to do more than just sculptures. The artist was also enlisted to design a new colonnade for St. Peter’s Cathedral, a new setting for the Cathedra Petri (St. Peter’s throne), and a new layout of what is now the Via del Corso, a major roadway in the capital city’s historic center that Bernini widened in order to keep it from getting jammed with private carriages. An artist as an urban designer? It wasn’t a crazy thought in 17th-century Rome, where the boundaries between artistic mediums were blurrier than they are now. As Bernini’s friend and biographer Filippo Baldinucci wrote at the time, it was “common knowledge, that he was the first to unite architecture, sculpture and painting in a way that they together make a beautiful whole.” Giovanni Battista Gaulli, Portrait of Pope Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi), ca. 1667. Walters Art Museum Grossman is a passionate Bernini fan, and his fervor for the artist keeps this book from getting staid. As only a true devotee can, Grossman calls a relatively little-known monument Bernini’s ultimate work for Alexander. It’s a monument that today doesn’t command much attention—or, at least, not as much as Bernini’s best-known works. (Technically, the sculptor Ercole Ferrata crafted it, though Grossman is quick to note that Bernini regularly employed numerous assistants and never credited any of them. The idea was Bernini’s, anyway.) Set in the Piazza della Minerva, near the Pantheon, the work is a statue of a snarling elephant that has on its back an ancient Egyptian obelisk that had been discovered on the grounds of a church in Rome in 1665. Alexander died in 1667, just days before the monument was unveiled. The work was meant to “exalt [Alexander’s] erudition and still satisfy the demands of modesty,” Grossman writes—modesty, of course, being a relative term when discussing an 18-foot-tall artifact from a fallen empire that was hauled through the streets of Rome. Looking at Bernini’s sketches for it, one yearns for something more extravagant, however. Bernini had toyed with the idea of having the monument perilously perched on a diagonal, or perhaps held atop the backs of sculpted allegorical figures; Alexander’s disapproval and physics prevented both from getting executed. The result, however, is stately and quite impressive, no less. There’s evidence that contemporary audiences loved it—the monument is even depicted in paintings that could be bought as souvenirs at the time, a sign of the work’s fame. Bernini’s statue for the Piazza della Minerva is hardly the defining work of the Baroque movement. It’s not even Bernini’s best work. But Grossman finds it telling of a certain line of thinking that pervaded the 17th century during the Age of Absolutism, the era when monarchs and religious officials ruled with total control: throw enough money at a project, enlist a particularly good artist, and you may just have on your hands an effective way of communicating authority. Speaking of that tendency, Grossman writes, “If you feel that art exists in a political, social, or religious vacuum, perhaps you should look away now.” The Vengeance of Artemisia Gentileschi The Renaissance Era Painter Had Her Share of #MeToo Moments Via Oneworld By Jenni Murray October 12, 2018 I’ve long been a fan of a great crime story, whether in book form or as a television series, and a recent favorite has been Endeavour. It’s inspired by Colin Dexter’s character Morse, the Oxford detective who loves a vintage car, listens to opera, is classically educated and partial to a good pint of beer. In the original television series John Thaw played the detective from middle age to his death, and he was never anything but Morse; his first name was never revealed. Endeavour is the young Morse, played by Shaun Evans, learning his trade as a detective constable, then sergeant, and already quite brilliant at solving Oxford’s many murders. Only a couple of weeks ago, as I was buried in research for this book, I switched on the television on a Sunday evening to enjoy an hour or so’s relaxation with Morse. Three murders of men—a taxi driver, an academic and an art dealer—followed in quick succession and the methods of killing were brutal. The first victim was shot and then had a metal bar drilled into his ear; the second, a history don, was stabbed in both eyes with a steak knife; the third was decapitated. The body was left in his bed, the head concealed under a silver cloche. Morse solved the mystery thanks to his great interest in art. The eureka moment came as he was flicking through a book of the paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi. It turned out the murders had been committed by a latter-day Gentileschi (the story is set in the 1960s). The murderer, Ruth Astor, was exacting her revenge on the men, who had been at a Bullingdon-style private members’ club where she and a friend were waitresses. The men had become drunk and violent; Ruth had been thrown across the table, gang-raped and had wine poured over her face and head. The rape, and the desire to avenge herself, were a parallel to what we know was the inspiration for so many paintings by the extraordinary Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi. She didn’t actually murder the man who violated her, but she turned the horror of her own life into scenes of women’s vengeance on the men at whose hands they had suffered. She used biblical stories to portray, in exquisite paintings, her fury at the sexual violence she herself had endured. I was delighted to see her marked and celebrated in an acclaimed television programme. Artemisia was well known as an artist of the Italian Baroque in her day and was considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation that followed Caravaggio. In an era when it was tough for a woman to become anything other than a wife or a nun, she was the first woman admitted to the prestigious Accademia delle Arte del Disegno in Florence, and she counted dukes, princes, cardinals and kings among her clients. She wrote of her success to her friend, the astronomer Galileo, in 1635. “I have seen myself honoured by all the kings and rulers of Europe to whom I have sent my works, not only with great gifts, but also with most favoured letters, which I keep with me.” But, as has happened to so many great women of the past, she disappeared from public consciousness, from museums, catalogues and exhibitions for some four hundred years. Ripe for rediscovery, she was put back in her rightful place by the women’s movement in the twentieth century. Endeavour is not the only popular work in which Artemisia has appeared in the 21st century. After centuries of neglect there came articles about her in the New York Times, a popular novel (The Passion of Artemisia, written by Susan Vreeland), a play, Lapis Blue, Blood Red, appeared on Broadway and one of her paintings appeared in a play, Painted Lady, starring Helen Mirren. “[Gentileschi] didn’t actually murder the man who violated her, but she turned the horror of her own life into scenes of women’s vengeance on the men at whose hands they had suffered.” Perhaps the most important signal of her appreciation as a great artist by a modern audience was the exhibition in 2002 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She shared the billing with her father, Orazio but it was Artemisia’s art that inspired the New York Times to describe her as “this season’s ‘it’ girl.” Artemisia was born in July 1593. She was the eldest child of Orazio Gentileschi, a Tuscan painter, and his wife Prudentia Montone. She was only 12 when her mother died in childbirth in 1605. Her father harbored no artistic ambitions for his only daughter; he fully expected she would become a nun. As a lone father, he had to keep the children with him in his studio while he worked, and Artemisia showed herself a quick learner. Under her father’s tutelage she displayed a precocious talent for drawing, mixing color and painting and, like him, she was drawn to Caravaggio’s dramatic style. By the time she was 15 it was obvious to her father that his daughter demonstrated a much greater natural talent than the brothers who served the same apprenticeship in their father’s workshop. Nevertheless, Artemisia was only too well aware that she would have to fight for her father’s support if she, rather than her brothers, was to become a professional painter rather than a dabbling amateur. She was clearly conscious that she had to resist any traditional attitudes and psychological submission to what she saw as brainwashing and jealousy of her obvious talent. Her first painting is testament to her awareness of the sexual politics of the position in which she, and indeed any woman who attempted to break away from convention, might find herself. Her paintings are often inspired by biblical stories; this first one, completed when she was only seventeen, followed this source. Like Caravaggio, she chose not to paint in an idealized style but to make the people in her work look real, fleshy and passionately involved in the events being portrayed. She used live models and, in the case of Susanna and the Elders, it’s likely she included a self-portrait, looking at her own face reflected in a mirror. The painting depicts the story of Susanna, from the book of Daniel. She’s a virtuous wife who is sexually harassed by the elders in her community. It was common for all painters of the period to use the same run of biblical stories as their inspiration. In works on a similar theme by male artists, Susanna is generally depicted as “asking for it,” appearing flirtatiously coy and seductive. In Artemisia’s painting, Susanna sits naked apart from a white cloth across her lap. Above her are two old men, lasciviousness oozing from every pore. She twists her head away from their pointing fingers, her hands raised in a gesture that clearly indicates, “Go away and leave me alone.” Her face shows fear and vulnerability as the men lean over the wall towards her, whisper to each other and leer. No one who stands before this painting could doubt that the men’s attentions are unwelcome. No other painting I’ve seen on the subject contains any hint that the uninvited lecherous attentions of two nasty old men might have been traumatic for Susanna. Isn’t it interesting that it took until the 21st century for women to come together and say “Me too,” as the similarly disgusting behavior of the film producer Harvey Weinstein came to light. Artemisia Gentileschi got it in 1610 and wasn’t afraid to make it known that treating women as sexual objects was really not on. This painting was to prove somewhat prophetic. Artemisia’s father, as might be expected, kept his daughter confined to the house and often left her at home alone as he went about his business. As the house doubled as his studio it was not unusual for friends and fellow artists to pop in from time to time. One fateful day Orazio left his 17-year-old daughter in the care of a family friend, Tuzia Medaglia, who was there with her infant son. Artemisia was raped. The man responsible, a fellow painter, Agostino Tassi, was tried for his crime. The court report of the case brought by Orazio in 1612 describes what happened from his perspective: Agostino, having found the door of Artemisia’s house open, entered the house as an ungreeted guest and went to Artemisia. He found her painting and with her was Tuzia, who held her son on her lap. As he approached Artemisia he ordered Tuzia to go upstairs because he wanted to speak to Artemisia in private. Tuzia stood up immediately and went upstairs. On that very day Agostino deflowered Artemisia and left. Artemisia was questioned at home by two magistrates who ordered her to swear to tell the truth. She told them what happened in staggering detail. She had told Agostino that she was a virgin and that any rumors about her having been engaged in sexual activities were untrue. Any man who desired her, she said, would have to marry her and put a ring on her finger. He continued to press his case even though he was already married: When he found me painting he said, “Not so much painting, not so much painting” and he grabbed the palette and brushes from my hands and threw them around, saying to Tuzia “Get out of here.” And when I said to Tuzia not to go and not leave me as I had previously signaled to her, she said, “I don’t want to stay here and argue. I want to go about my own business.” . . . As soon as she was gone he took my hand and said “Let’s walk together a while, because I hate sitting down.” . . . After we had walked around two or three times, each time going by the bedroom door, when we were in front of the bedroom door, he pushed me in and locked the door. He then threw me onto the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them. Lifting my clothes, which he had a great deal of trouble doing, he placed a hand with a handkerchief at my throat and on my mouth to keep me from screaming. He let go of my hands, which he had been holding with his other hand, and, having previously put both knees between my legs with his penis pointed at my vagina he began to push it inside. I felt a strong burning and it hurt very much, but because he held my mouth I couldn’t cry out. However I tried to scream as best I could, calling Tuzia. I scratched his face and pulled his hair and before he penetrated me again I grasped his penis so tight that I even removed a piece of flesh. All this didn’t bother him at all, and he continued to do his business, which kept him on top of me for a while, holding his penis inside my vagina. And after he had done his business he got off me. When I saw myself free, I went to the table drawer and took a knife and moved towards Agostino saying “I’d like to kill you with this knife because you have dishonored me’” He opened his coat and said “Here I am,” and I threw the knife at him and he shielded himself, otherwise I would have hurt him and might have easily killed him. And the said Agostino then fastened his coat. I was crying and suffering over the wrong he had done me, and to pacify me he said, “Give me your hand, I promise to marry you as soon as I get out of the labyrinth I am in.” . . . This is all that happened between Agostino and me. In the 17th century rape was considered more of a crime against the family’s honor than as the violation of a woman, and it was only when Tassi went back on his promise to marry Artemisia that her father decided to bring the charges against him to court. When Artemisia appeared in the court to give her evidence she was tortured with thumbscrews—a primitive form of lie detector test. As they were tightened around her fingers she cried out to Tassi: “This is the ring you gave me and these are your promises.” Clearly she passed the test and was believed. Not always the case even today when a woman gives details of her sexual assault. Tassi was convicted and sentenced to be banished from Rome for five years, although there’s no evidence the punishment was ever carried out. Artemisia’s father’s response to the scandal was to marry his daughter off to a minor Florentine painter, Pierantonio Stiatessi. The couple moved to Florence, bearing a request for patronage for the talented young painter, written by her father, Orazio and addressed to the grand duchess of Tuscany. He wrote “[She] has in three years become so skilled that I can venture to say that today she has no peer; indeed she has produced works which demonstrate a level of understanding that perhaps even the principal masters of the profession have not attained.” “No other painting I’ve seen on the subject contains any hint that the uninvited lecherous attentions of two nasty old men might have been traumatic for Susanna.” Her time in Florence made her famous, and by her late twenties she had painted at least seven works for the Grand Duke Cosimo II de Medici and his family. As a family and as patrons of the art, the Medici of Florence need no introduction. Artemisia then made the difficult decision to quit the Tuscan capital, which under the Medici had been the cradle of the Renaissance and was still, a hundred years after its flowering, a key artistic hub. She explained her decision in a letter to her father, describing “troubles at home and with my family”. She had had four children, but only one, her daughter Prudentia, had survived. Her husband was unfaithful, jealous and extravagant and in 1621 he walked out on his wife and daughter. It was a struggle for a single mother to find commissions for her work in Rome, so she moved again. In Venice she received the patronage of Philip IV of Spain, who commissioned a painting of Achilles. Soon Artemisia found herself having to move again, this time to flee the plague, which in 1639 wiped out a third of the population. She moved on to Naples, then under Spanish rule, and had some success in painting an altarpiece and a public commission for a major church. She often complained, though, about how difficult it was for a woman to find work when she was competing in an almost exclusively male arena. A brief scan over Vasari’s Lives of Artists, regarded as the first definitive book on Renaissance art, reveals how few female artists there were. Of the numerous painters and sculptors listed in his text, only four are women—Properzia de’ Rossi, Sister Plautilla, Madonna Lucrezia and Sofonisba Anguissola. Artemisia was born some forty years after the publication of Vasari’s work but this was the background and culture against which she had to make her way. She wrote to her last major patron, Don Antonio Ruffo, angry at always having to haggle and beg for a decent wage for her commissions, “You feel sorry for me because a woman’s name raises doubts until her work is seen. If I were a man I can’t imagine it would have turned out this way.” The question of unequal pay was obviously as much of an issue in the 17th century as today! Her best-known paintings—the ones spotted by Endeavour Morse as his clue to the murders in the story of Ruth Astor—are Judith and her Maidservant and Judith Slaying Holofernes. The biblical story is set in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, who sent his general, Holofernes, to subdue his enemies the Jews. Judith, a beautiful widow, hears that her people are on the brink of capitulating to the invaders and makes up her mind to deliver her city from the enemy. She creeps into the Assyrian camp, seduces Holofernes, waits until he is drunk and cuts off his head. The Jews regain their courage and drive the enemy away. How much of the artist can one really read into a work of art? Some critics have argued that Artemisia’s graphic depictions of two women beheading a man and conspiratorially carrying off his head in a bloody basket were nothing more than gory examples of a subject popular with painters of the period, simply designed to appeal to wealthy patrons with a taste for violence and eroticism. Given her difficulties in getting decent payment for her work it would not be surprising if Artemisia had indeed decided to make horror an important part of her portfolio. But I don’t believe it for a second. Her first two versions of the Judith story were painted early in her career, in 1612 and 1614, not long after she was raped. You have only to look at the expressions on the faces of the women and the power of Artemisia’s brushstrokes to know that anger and revenge were her motivations. Her Judith is not the pretty pretty, rather delicate woman seen in work painted by her male contemporaries. She’s strong and powerful woman, not unlike the Susanna of Susanna and the Elders, thought to have been painted using Artemisia’s own image in the mirror. Artemisia had been let down by the woman, Tuzia, left by her father to chaperone her before the attack by Tassi. In these paintings she imagines a sisterhood among women as the two work closely together. In Judith Slaying Holofernes, the strong arms and hands of her maid hold down the man lying on his back on the bed. He has no chance of pushing her away, although he tries. Judith wields the sword like a hefty professional. Neither woman appears remotely shocked or horrified as the blood pours from their victim’s neck. They are just determined to get the job done. In Judith and her Maidservant we see the same two powerful women conspiring to carry away in a basket the head of the man they have assassinated. For me this is the manifestation of the endless hours a once-powerless woman spent asking what she might have done to save herself. She expressed her fury and what she might have liked to have done in the way she knew best—with her paintbrush. In 1638 Artemisia was drawn to London and the court of Charles I. Her father Orazio was already there as a court painter, so he and his daughter were again in harness after a 17-year separation. She was, though, not there only to help him. She had been invited by King Charles himself, a request based not on her father’s reputation but rather on her eminence as an artist. It was in London that she painted one of her best-known and most beautiful works, Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting. It hangs in the Royal Collection. Her father died in 1639. Artemisia had left England by 1642, just as the Civil War was beginning. In 1649 she was back in Naples, working again with her former patron, Don Antonio Ruffo, and, no doubt, still complaining about the lack of equal pay for work of equal value. Plus ça change! The date of her death is not certain. Some have placed it in 1652 or 1653, others have speculated that she died in the Naples plague of 1656, but there are no works dated during this period and no records I could find of her death. “Her Judith is not the pretty pretty, rather delicate woman seen in work painted by her male contemporaries. She’s strong and powerful woman, not unlike the Susanna of Susanna and the Elders, thought to have been painted using Artemisia’s own image in the mirror.” I’m no professional art critic. I only know what I see and what excites me but I know in my heart she’s a truly great painter and, thank goodness, there are critics who agree with me. Roberto Longhi, an important Italian critic, described her in 1916 as “the only woman in Italy who ever knew about painting, coloring, doughing, and other fundamentals”. And, of her style in the portrayal of women, he wrote, “There are about 57 works by Artemisia Gentileschi and 94 per cent (49 works) feature women as protagonists or equal to men.” Another critic said of her in the 19th century, “No one would have imagined it was the work of a woman. The brush work was bold and certain, and there was no sign of timidness.” It may seem surprising that it should be assumed that the work of a woman would somehow have a distinctly feminine style that’s softer, prettier and more hesitant than work that’s painted by a man. When I compare Artemisia with Caravaggio, whose realistic style influenced her, I simply can’t see it. There’s strength and brutality in the work of both artists. Maybe I would have to concede the focus is somewhat different, although it’s not Artemisia who gives the impression that a woman is weaker than a man. In Caravaggio’s painting of Judith and her maidservant slaying Holofernes a pretty, slim and rather delicate Judith looks barely capable of wielding the sword with which she’s slicing off the still-screaming head. Her maidservant, who looks on from behind, is portrayed as a bit of a wrinkled old hag. In Artemisia’s depiction of the same subject the two powerfully built young women work together to complete their task. I have no doubt that much of her work was inspired by events that could only have happened to a woman, particularly the terrible sexual violence she experienced as a teenager, but it would be wrong to assume her fame and appreciation was purely a result of her notoriety and vengefulness. Yes, she was a victim who fought back through her work but as an artist she is wonderful. She may have complained about equal pay but patronage came to her thick and fast. Michelangelo, supported by the Medici, had established the Renaissance principle that great wealth should support great art. Like her contemporaries, Artemisia was a considered a real artist, worthy of financial backing and not merely a jobbing tradeswoman. What I love about her is the way she painted other women as she saw them: courageous, resourceful, rebellious and strong. And she painted them beautifully. While her Susannas and her Judiths have delighted me for precisely those reasons, I have to confess one of her more tender portraits is my favourite. Her Madonna and Child shows us a rather buxom Mary, dressed in pink rather than the traditional blue, halo around her head and her feet somewhat inelegantly wide apart, to balance her solid little boy on her lap. She gazes down lovingly on her golden-haired child and offers her nipple as he reaches up and touches her face. It’s a picture of an adoring mother preparing to breastfeed, with no hint of salacious intent for the titillation of the viewer. It’s captivating and, I think, could only have been painted by a woman. As she once declared herself, “The works will speak for themselves.” They do! Piecing Together the Life of Caravaggio Uncovering Caravaggio The following article picks up on, and extends, our general introduction to Caravaggio. Here, we we delve further into the details of Caravaggio’s early life and relationships and use available evidence to piece… 11 Oct 19 · 19 mins read Uncovering Caravaggio The following article picks up on, and extends, our general introduction to Caravaggio. Here, we we delve further into the details of Caravaggio’s early life and relationships and use available evidence to piece together his career and events leading to his untimely death. Odyssey Traveller offers a tour based on the life and work of Caravaggio. It visits Italy, Malta and Sicily in order to follow in the artist’s footsteps, and develop an understanding of this time in history. If you wish to research further, we have recommended a reading list of ten books on Caravaggio. And if you are interested in accompanying us on the Caravaggio tour, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have several departures scheduled for 2020 and 2021. Early Life Michelangelo Merisi, known to us as Caravaggio, was probably born on the 29th of September, 1571 – the feast day of his namesake, Saint Michael. There is some debate as to whether he was born in Milan or the nearby town of Caravaggio (which would become his namesake) where his father’s employer, Francesco Sforza, was the Marquis. Francesco Sforza had attended the wedding of Caravaggio’s parents, Fermo Merisi and Lucia Aratori. Lucia was from a well-known local family and it was possibly this, as much as the fact that Fermo worked for the Marquis, which took Francesco to the wedding. For whatever reason, the Sforza-Colonna family was to play a very important role in Caravaggio’s future. Caravaggio probably spent the first few years of his life mainly in Milan. However, the outbreak of plague in 1576 caused the family to move out to the fortified hillside town of Caravaggio, where Fermo Merisi owned property and where they could expect to enjoy the protection of the Marquis. Unfortunately the move was too late for Fermo. In a very short space of time Caravaggio was to lose his father, uncle, grandmother and grandfather to the plague, all before he was six. This tragedy would leave an indelible mark on Caravaggio and many believe it could be one of the explanations for his life of violence. Caravaggio, his mother, brother and sister went to live with his maternal grandparents on property they owned in Caravaggio. Here he remained until 1584, when, aged 13, he moved to Milan and entered into an apprenticeship with the painter, Simone Peterzano. Peterzano, according to the contract details, had been a student of Titian but very little is known about the four years Caravaggio spent under his tutelage. There are no known works existing from this period. In fact, there are no authenticated works known up until the time Caravaggio reached Rome at the age of 21. Travelling Italy Caravaggio’s mother is thought to have died in 1590 when he was 19. At this point he sold the land that had been his inheritance and lived on the money. Not much is known about this period in his life. It is possible that he travelled in Northern Italy and absorbed some of the painting techniques of the local artists both past and present. It is even possible that he travelled as far as Venice where he would have seen, and perhaps been influenced by, works of Titian, Tintoretto and Jacopo Bassano. In 1592 Caravaggio, having spent his inheritance, set out for Rome. One of Caravaggio’s early biographers, Giovanni Baglione, a rival and bitter enemy, claimed that Caravaggio had committed murder in Milan and it was this that caused him to flee the city. Despite a great deal of recent research no evidence for this murder has emerged. Caravaggio made little initial impression on the Roman art scene. Rome was full of painters and Caravaggio was just one more trying to make a name for himself. In 1593 he took a placement in the studio of Giuseppe Cesari, a member of Rome’s painting academy, where he was set to work as a ‘painter of flowers and fruit’. This, Caravaggio found far from exciting. Medusa, painted on a leather jousting shield Milan in the time of Caravaggio By the time Caravaggio was born in 1571, Milan had lost its independence. The Visconti dynasty had been followed by that of the Sforza family but they, although still important landowners, in turn had given way to French rule some 50 years before Caravaggio’s birth. Eventually the Spanish Habsburgs had made Milan part of their vast empire. When Caravaggio was born, Milan had a population of 100,000 and was full of noise, bustle, trade and industry. It was very different from the small town where he spent most of his childhood. Milan was a city of conspicuous opulence and luxury trades such as silk and sword making. It was also distinguished by its very large number of churches. Milan was built on a circular plan with the massive Castello Sforzesco at its centre. Built originally for the Sforza dynasty, by the time Caravaggio knew Milan, the Castello was the refuge of the Spanish governors. From the Castello they kept a watchful eye on the city and the surrounding countryside. The surprising influence of Carlo Borromeo The dominant figure in Milan in Caravaggio’s time, however, was not a Spaniard but an Italian, Carlo Borromeo, who became Archbishop of Milan in 1565. He was a deeply pious man with a fierce sense of mission. Borromeo was a charismatic leader who had renounced wealth and privilege to follow in Christ’s footsteps. Under his steely control the citizens of Milan were to be indoctrinated in the ways of his own brand of piety, whether they liked it or not. He had a bleak view of human nature, believing that man was tainted by original sin. He believed it was his duty to transform the life and habits of the men and women of Milan. For two decades, throughout the formative period of Caravaggio’s life, the archbishop pushed through “reforms” intended to control the hearts, minds and souls of the people. He saw sinfulness everywhere and his priests were seen by him as the army leading the fight against man’s sinful nature. Borromeo tried to ban dancing on feast days and Sundays. He attempted to kill off the pre-Lenten tradition of Carnival. He prohibited jousts, tournaments, plays and masquerades. A popular uprising following these prohibitions, however, forced him to admit that there were some limits to his power. Despite his inflexibility Borromeo was a charismatic leader who changed his world. There is good reason to believe that his ideas would have had a profound influence on Caravaggio and his art. Borromeo seems to have preferred the more traditional, popular representations aimed squarely at the promotion of mass piety. Caravaggio’s mature paintings such as The Crucifixion of St Peter and The Conversion of St Paul are rooted in the tradition of popular pious realism so espoused by Borromeo. The Conversion of St Paul The religious art that Caravaggio was destined to create was closely aligned to the beliefs of Borromeo despite the many aspects of Caravaggio’s life and work of which the archbishop would have strongly disapproved. Caravaggio in Rome ‘Rome was even more violent than Milan, full of plague survivors and refugees from the endless wars among the Italian peninsula’s patchwork of petty states. Soldiers, labourers, priests and painters were all on the lookout for a living and Caravaggio revelled in the squalid, crowded and neglected conditions.’ (This is Caravaggio, Annabel Howard, p9.) When Caravaggio arrived in Rome, the city was in the midst of a great program of rebuilding. The sack of the city by the forces of Charles V in 1527 had left it in ruins and restoration was a long time coming. Then, in 1585, a new pope, Sixtus V, was elected and he set out to rebuild Rome, spiritually and physically. Under Sixtus V and the popes who immediately followed, Rome was dramatically altered. New roads were built, the Dome of St Peter’s was completed and ancient Christian monuments were restored. Caravaggio arrived in Rome shortly after the election of a new pope, Clement VIII. Clement was determined to carry on the work of his predecessors. He wanted to reassert Rome as the centre of Christendom and believed that the beauty of Rome’s churches would help to bring this about. Consequently, Rome began to fill with artists of all kinds as painters, sculptors and architects all flooded into the city. Rome became the artistic capital of Europe. Self-portrait as Bacchus At first Caravaggio made little impression in the overcrowded art world that was Rome. Although he found a position in the studio of Giuseppe Cesari in 1593, he found the work and life far from congenial. Bored with the endless flowers and fruit that were his lot, Caravaggio began to experiment with a self-portrait depicting himself as Bacchus. Caravaggio’s realism was considered shocking by many establishment painters in Rome, but it was beginning to create interest among influential patrons of art. Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte In 1595 Caravaggio came to the attention of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte who bought one of his paintings, The Cardsharps. Del Monte lived in the Palazzo Madama, owned by the Florentine Medici family, for whom he acted as a political agent and artistic advisor. Del Monte was described by his contemporaries as a philanthropist, patron and a generous, intelligent man. He was a busy and successful diplomat with an interest in art. His collections were varied and included sculptures, ceramics, antiquities and books as well as paintings. His interest in Caravaggio and his work made a huge difference to the young painter’s life. Not only did Del Monte buy Caravaggio’s paintings, he offered him a home in the Palazzo Madama. Caravaggio now had stability, wealthy patrons and an influential protector. And, a protector was something he needed increasingly as the years went on and his character remained tempestuous and his actions unrestrained. The Cardsharps The Palazzo Madama (now the seat of the Senate of the Italian Republic but once home to Cardinal Del Monte and Caravaggio). The Palazzo Madama (now the seat of the Senate of the Italian Republic but once home to Cardinal Del Monte and Caravaggio) Over the next few years Caravaggio continued to live in the Palazzo Madama under the protection of Del Monte. His paintings were bought by Del Monte and other members of his circle. Vincenzo Giustiniani, a wealthy friend and neighbour of Del Monte, went on to buy a total of 13 works from the artist. It was, however, some time before Caravaggio managed to break into the church scene where reputations could really be made. By 1599 Caravaggio had still not been offered even one public commission. This situation was about to change. A new sensation Caravaggio was put forward by Del Monte to paint two canvasses for the Contarelli Chapel in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, just around the corner from the Palazzo Madama. The priests in charge of the chapel were desperate for the decorations to be completed before Jubilee celebrations of 1600 and decided to give Caravaggio the chance. The two paintings, The Calling of St Matthew and The Martyrdom of St Matthew were completed in 1600 and caused a sensation. People flocked to the chapel to view the paintings. Not everyone was delighted and notable criticism came from the president of the Academia di San Luca who declared that the paintings were “too natural” and lacked imagination. Fortunately, not everyone agreed and Caravaggio was given a number of further commissions. The Calling of St Matthew, Contarelli Chapel Del Monte now encouraged Caravaggio to move to the nearby Palazzo Mattei, home of ‘the erudite, wealthy and pious Cardinal Girolamo Mattei’ and his two brothers. The Mattei brothers were big art collectors and did a great deal to extend Caravaggio’s reputation. Del Monte, however, remained a good friend to the young painter, helping him to get out of trouble a number of times when Caravaggio had problems with the police. Conflict with the Law Despite the fact that he was now settled into comfortable accommodation and making a name for himself as a painter, Caravaggio often found himself in trouble with the law. He was hot tempered and quick to retaliate if he felt himself to be insulted. A number of times he was arrested for carrying a sword through the streets after dark. In 1600 he got into trouble for engaging in a sword fight with a young mercenary whom he wounded. In the same year, he ambushed a painter called Girolamo Spampa, causing considerable damage but not killing him. Caravaggio was fortunate to have influential friends who were able to rescue him from the problems he was causing himself. Caravaggio had rich and influential patrons but he also had many friends from very different walks of life. Many of the young painters he socialised with were just as hot tempered as he was. In 1603, Caravaggio and two of his friends found themselves in prison for writing insulting and libellous poetry. His trial did not go well but he was suddenly released on bail. It seems that his powerful patrons had come to the rescue once again. He left town for a while hoping that the trouble would blow over. He spent some time in the town of Loreto where the house of the Virgin Mary had been deposited by angels! Caravaggio was researching his next big altarpiece. On his return, a year later, he painted his revolutionary, barefoot virgin, The Madonna of Loreto. The model for his Madonna was a woman called Lena, one of the local prostitutes with whom he was friendly. In fact, one of his early biographers called Lena, ‘a courtesan whom he loved’. This fact did not go down well with the Church, nor did the fact that the pilgrim’s dirty feet were very much on display. The Madonna of Loreto On his return to Rome Caravaggio did not stay out of trouble for long. In April 1604 he was arrested for throwing a plate of artichokes at a waiter. Later that year he was arrested again for throwing stones at a policeman. In 1605, he was back in court for throwing rocks at the door of his ex-landlady. Each time he escaped serious punishment, probably through the influence of Del Monte and other friends in high places. Accusations of murder In May 1606 Caravaggio found himself in trouble too great for even his friends to rescue him. Today there is still a lot of dispute over what actually happened but what is known is how the story ends and what it meant for Caravaggio. Early biographies claimed that it was a fight over a tennis match. It was said that he had accused his opponent of cheating and that in the resulting sword fight, his opponent was killed. It now seems more likely that a duel had been arranged between the two men. There is evidence that Ranuccio Tomassoni, the murdered man, and Caravaggio had been in conflict for some time. There have even been suggestions that Tomassoni and Caravaggio were running rival prostitutes and that this was the cause of their quarrels. What is certain is that the fight took place. Each man appeared at the tennis court with three witnesses, which indicates that a duel had been planned. In the fight that followed, Caravaggio struck Tomassoni in the groin and he died within minutes, bleeding out from femoral artery. It has been suggested that he was aiming to castrate rather than to kill but, whatever his intention, Caravaggio had committed murder. Escape from Rome was to be the only option. Now was the time that Caravaggio most needed some influential friends. Costanza Colonna Fortunately, Caravaggio had important friends who were not collectors of art. Throughout his life he was to receive help from various members of the Sforza-Colonna family, particularly from Costanza Colonna. Costanza Colonna was the widow of Francesco Sforza, the same man who had attended the wedding of Caravaggio’s parents. It seems that Costanza took an interest in Caravaggio throughout his troubled life and her help continued despite the fact that he was now on the run for murder. According to Helen Langdon (Caravaggio: A Life), ‘the Colonna claimed descent from Aeneas, the legendary founder of Italy. They were warlike and vain of their prowess at arms, and in the sixteenth century were famed as fighters against heresy. United as they were by marriage to the noblest Italian families, their power extended throughout Italy. Two of Costanza’s sons, Muzio and Fabrizio, were, like Caravaggio, stormy characters. Their father, Francesco Sforza, died in 1580, but Costanza and her family were to watch over Caravaggio, their feudal subject, with touching loyalty. Perhaps his birth at the tense moment of Lepanto particularly endeared him to them. Their shadowy presence, running through a vast network of feudal relationships, will often be sensed in the background of his life’. It seems likely that Caravaggio, wounded in the duel, and wanted for murder, made first for the Colonna palace and took refuge there until he could be smuggled out of Rome. The next that is reliably heard of him is in the Colonna strongholds in the Alban Hills. From there, he eventually made his way to Naples. Caravaggio in Naples With a price on his head in Rome, Caravaggio made his way to Naples where he probably sought refuge in the Colonna’s Neapolitan residence. Naples, with a population of 300,000, was the largest city in southern Europe. It had always been a port town earning its money from maritime commerce and at the time of Caravaggio’s visit was crowded out with the very rich and the very poor. Like Milan, it was ruled from Spain. An army of Spanish soldiers was stationed in its garrisons, and a fleet of Spanish galleons moored in the harbour. The Neapolitan nobles were compensated richly for their loss of power and lived lives of luxury inside their city palaces while beggars, unable to find work, crowded the streets. While the poor lived on the streets or in tiny over-crowded dwellings, the city was full of churches and monasteries built on a grand scale. Land was at a premium and houses often rose to as much as six storeys. The streets were narrow and dark, overshadowed by the tall buildings. It appears that Caravaggio was deluged with work the moment he appeared in the city. No one seems to have been bothered by the fact that he was an escaped murderer. Soon he was at work on a monumental picture for the Chiesa del Pio Monte della Misericordia, a new church in the heart of the city. The subject of the painting was to be “The Seven Acts of Mercy”, the good works that were supposed to be encouraged by a spirit of Christian charity: something much needed in Naples. The church was being built by a confraternity of young nobles attempting to do something to alleviate the plight of the poor. Caravaggio’s new patrons were rich and powerful and they offered him a large sum to complete the altar piece. One of the founders of the confraternity was Giovanni Battista Mansio, a man interested not just in relieving poverty, but in art and poetry as well. He is known to have been tolerant of outsiders and also to have been close to the Colonna family. All this makes it likely that he was particularly keen to have Caravaggio decorate their new church. “For a dark and desperately overcrowded town, he (Caravaggio) created a dark and desperately overcrowded altarpiece.” (Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, Andrew Graham-Dixon.) The Seven Acts of Mercy Caravaggio painted the monumental altarpiece in a very short space of time and by the start of 1607 it was probably already installed on the high altar of the church where it soon became one of the confraternity’s greatest treasures. (At a meeting of the congregation in 1613 it was decided that the painting should never be sold at any price!) The success of this painting soon led to further commissions. His next painting, The Flagellation of Christ, also caused a sensation. Many were shocked by Caravaggio’s intense realism. The paintings were greeted with admiration but also bewilderment and he was responsible for a change in the way the Neapolitans saw art. His brutal sense of reality and his use of light caused a new school of painting to develop, first in Naples and later Spain. Caravaggio in Malta It is not known exactly why Caravaggio decided to leave Naples and head for Malta. His friends in Rome were still working behind the scenes to have him pardoned but so far without success. Perhaps Caravaggio hoped that by going to Malta he could gain himself a knighthood (which he did) and use that as a bargaining point in his quest for a pardon. For whatever reason, Caravaggio set sail for Malta in June 1607. (Checo, his long-time model and companion decided that it was time for a parting of the ways and remained in Naples.) Malta was at that time an important military outpost held by the Order of the Knights of St John. The order had its origins in the Crusades and the Crusader kingdoms of the Middle East and had continued the struggle against the Islamic states long after the Holy Lands were lost. They were formally constituted as a nursing and military order and continued the fight against the Ottoman Empire from Malta after being expelled, first from the Holy Lands and then from Rhodes. Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master of the Order of St John The Knights of St John were drawn from among the most aristocratic and militaristic families of Europe and were very proud of their position in society as well as their history of military prowess. They wanted to fight and, if necessary die a martyr’s death, in what they saw as a Holy War. In the circumstances Caravaggio had little to offer apart from his fame as a painter. It seems that this skill was enough to impress the Grand Master of the order and Caravaggio was given permission to land on the island. The Grand Master, Alof de Wignacourt, wanted great works of art by the most acclaimed painter in Italy to beautify the churches of Malta and Caravaggio was that painter. Caravaggio may also have had help from some old friends. Costanza Colonna’s son, Fabrizio Sforza Colonna, had been exiled to Malta for “unmentionable crimes” but had managed to redeem himself and become something of a hero. It is quite possible that Costanza and her son helped Caravaggio to gain the support of the Grand Master. Caravaggio managed to paint some of his most admired works on Malta before running into trouble once more. His The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is considered by many to be the greatest painting of the seventeenth century. It is also the only known painting signed by Caravaggio, signed in the blood spurting from the saint’s neck! The painting was a great success and Caravaggio was given a gold chain and entry into the Order of St John. The Beheading of St John the Baptist, St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valetta Once admitted into the Order of St John, Caravaggio had to promise to stay out of trouble but this, he could not do. Just weeks before his painting was due to be unveiled Caravaggio was arrested and thrown into prison. For 400 years it was not known exactly what happened. Rumours abounded, one of the most common being that he had been arrested for molesting one of the young pages, possibly the one shown in the painting with the Grand Master. Recently, documents from the court case have finally been deciphered and they indicate that once more Caravaggio was caught up in a brawl. It seems that the brawl broke out in the house of an organist, Fra Prospero Coppini, and a high ranking knight was seriously wounded. Those involved, including Caravaggio, had broken their vows and punishment was inevitable. The prison was meant to be invulnerable but somehow Caravaggio achieved what was thought to be impossible. He escaped from the prison and from the island. Once again he must have had help — and his old friends the Colonna family and their associates are the people most likely to have stepped up. Caravaggio was on his way to Sicily. He was tried in his absence and cast out of the order. Now, he was not only a declared felon in the Papal States, but he had upset the very powerful Knights of St John. Sleeping Cupid Sicily Strangely enough the Knights seem to have made little attempt to recapture Caravaggio in Sicily. In Sicily he went to stay with an old friend, Mario Minniti. Minniti had modelled for Caravaggio’s Bacchus in Rome in 1596-7 but had returned to his home in Sicily where he had established a successful workshop in Syracuse. Now he was a well-respected member of the community and able to offer Caravaggio considerable assistance. He recommended Caravaggio to the Senate of Syracuse as the “best painter in Italy” and secured him a commission to paint The Burial of St Lucy. Caravaggio completed the commission but headed north to Messina before the work was unveiled. The Burial of St Lucy The Burial of St Lucy, 1608, Syracuse. Caravaggio stayed working in Sicily until the autumn of 1609. During his time on the island he seems to have been troubled and afraid. He always kept a sword or dagger close at hand and bought himself a large guard dog named Crow. His work was in great demand and he was able to charge very high prices. None of this made him happy and his friends continued to work to gain him a pardon which would enable him to return to Rome. The Raising of Lazarus Return to Naples It appears once again to have been Costanza Colonna who arranged for Caravaggio to be able to leave Sicily and return to Naples. She was working with Scipione Borghese, the Pope’s nephew and a keen collector of Caravaggio’s work, to enable Caravaggio to obtain a pardon from the Pope in Rome. It seems that she had already obtained, at least, an unofficial pardon from de Wignacourt in Malta. In the middle of September, Caravaggio went back to Naples and went to stay in the Colonna palace at Chiaia. Once he was back in Naples, he found himself again in great demand but he continued to worry about his safety. This worry was not unfounded and one night, after a visit to a tavern, Caravaggio was attacked and badly wounded by a group of armed men. The identity of his attackers has not been established but one possibility is that the man responsible was the same one wounded in the fight in Malta. For him to take revenge could be seen as an act of honour. Caravaggio was cut on the face, a common form of ‘honour’ revenge. This appears to have been a premeditated act: three men to hold him down while a fourth marked his face. Caravaggio was taken back to the Colonna palace while rumours of his death spread around Italy. His recovery was slow and the paintings he did over the next six months reflect the toll the attack had taken. The two paintings from this period, still known to exist, are very dark and the brush strokes (apparently) less assured. Buyers were, however, were still clamouring for his work. The Return to Rome… Caravaggio still hoped for a pardon from the Pope and to be able to return to Rome. He still had friends and patrons in Rome and he had good reason to believe that his quest for a pardon would be successful. Scipione Borghese, the Pope’s nephew, was a particularly keen collector of Caravaggio’s work. On the 9th July, 1610, Caravaggio set out for Rome. He boarded a sailing boat previously used for transporting some of his paintings. Caravaggio must have felt that his troubles were over. Unfortunately, the boat made a routine stop at the port of Palo where Caravaggio once more found himself in trouble. He was arrested, for reasons unclear, and imprisoned. By the time he was released the boat had sailed away with three of his paintings – paintings he needed to secure his safety in Rome. It is assumed that Caravaggio set out in pursuit of the boat and his paintings. His early biographers have him running madly along the beach. It is more likely that he hired a horse to carry him the 50 kilometres to the boat’s next port of call. Caravaggio made it to the next port, Porto Ercole, but he made it no further. Sick with fever he died in Porto Ercole and was buried in an unmarked grave. Portrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni A Fuller Picture of Artemisia Gentileschi The pioneering painter survived a rape, but scholars are pushing against the idea that her work was defined by it—and celebrating her rich harnessing of motherhood, passion, and ambition. By Rebecca Mead September 28, 2020 In Artemisia’s “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” the heroine is a deft butcher. The story of Susanna and the Elders, related in the Book of Daniel, was a popular subject for artists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and no wonder. Susanna, a virtuous, beautiful young woman, is bathing in her garden while two older men spy on her. The men suddenly accost her and demand that she submit to rape; if she resists, they warn, they will ruin her reputation by claiming that they caught her with a lover. The tale offered painters an irresistible opportunity to replicate a similar kind of voyeurism. Tintoretto depicted the scene several times; in a version painted in the fifteen-fifties, which hangs in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, he portrayed Susanna as serene and abstracted, towelling a raised foot and regarding herself in a mirror, unaware of a bald man who is concealed behind a rose trellis and peering between her parted thighs. In a treatment by Rubens from half a century later, on display at the Borghese Gallery, in Rome, Susanna is shown reaching for a shawl, realizing with horror that she has been exposed to two leering men. Sometimes the violence threatened against Susanna is indicated in the tableau: in a version by Ludovico Carracci that hangs in the National Gallery in London, one of the elders is tugging at Susanna’s robe, pulling it off her body. Giuseppe Cesari (known as Cavaliere d’Arpino) made a painting that enlists the viewer’s participation in the lasciviousness it represents: its naked subject looks almost seductively out from the canvas, coolly brushing her golden hair. A very different Susanna is offered by Artemisia Gentileschi, who was born in Rome in 1593, and who painted the scene in 1610, when she was seventeen. In her version, two men emerge from behind a marble balustrade, violently interrupting Susanna’s ablutions. Her head and her body torque away from the onlookers as she raises a hand toward them, in what looks like ineffectual self-defense. Strikingly, her other hand shields her face. Perhaps this Susanna does not want the men to identify her or see her anguish; it’s equally likely that she does not want to lay eyes on her persecutors. In its composition, execution, and psychological insight, the painting is remarkably sophisticated for a girl in her teens. As the scholar Mary Garrard noted, in a 1989 appraisal titled “Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art,” the painting represents an art-historical innovation: it is the first time in which sexual predation is depicted from the point of view of the predated. With this painting, and with many other works that followed, Artemisia claimed women’s resistance of sexual oppression as a legitimate subject of art. As one of the first women to forge a successful career as a painter, Artemisia was celebrated internationally in her lifetime, but her reputation languished after her death. This was partly owing to fashion: her naturalistic mode of painting went out of style, in favor of a more classical approach. Seventeenth-century scholars barely mentioned her. When she registered, it was as a footnote to her father, Orazio Gentileschi, a well-regarded artist who specialized in the kind of historical and mythological scenes in vogue at the time. (Academics tend to refer to Artemisia by her first name, in order to distinguish her from her father.) Her work received little substantial critical attention until the early twentieth century, when Roberto Longhi, the Italian art historian, wrote a grudging assessment, calling her “the only woman in Italy who ever understood what painting was, both colors, impasto, and other essentials.” In the second half of the twentieth century, Artemisia was reconsidered. A turning point was the inclusion of half a dozen of her works, among them the 1610 “Susanna and the Elders,” in a landmark survey, “Women Artists: 1550-1950”; curated by the art historians Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin, it opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976, later travelling to the Brooklyn Museum. Although individual works of Artemisia’s had been on view in museums, this was the first time they were seen as a group, their cumulative power recognized. In the years since, Artemisia has come to be counted among the most important Baroque artists, especially after a 2001 show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which explored her work alongside that of her father. This October, a retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery in London will bring together about thirty of her pieces, from museums and private collections across Europe and the United States. The show, whose opening was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, is organized in broad chronological order, and features Artemisia’s most significant achievements. (More than a hundred and thirty works have been ascribed to her hand, but only about half that number are universally agreed to be hers.) Among the paintings included is “Self-Portrait as St. Catherine of Alexandria,” from the National Gallery’s collection, in which the subject gazes at the viewer, her brow dimpled in concentration, while wearing a gauzy turban and other finery. The painting, recently rediscovered, was acquired by the museum in 2018, for nearly four and a half million dollars. It is only the twenty-first work by a female artist to enter the gallery’s collection. The reëvaluation of Artemisia’s work has included a newfound appreciation of her technical skill, especially her command of chiaroscuro—a heightened juxtaposition of light and shadow. Chiaroscuro is most commonly associated with Caravaggio, who was an acquaintance of Artemisia’s father, and whom she may have encountered as a young adolescent. (Caravaggio notoriously fled Rome in 1606, after killing another man in a duel.) One of Artemisia’s greatest paintings, “Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes” (completed in the sixteen-twenties, and now owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts), offers a masterly execution of the technique, with its subjects illuminated, mid-action, by raking lamplight. In the background are virtuosic examples of still-life painting: a burnished brass candlestick, a draped velvet curtain. Letizia Treves, the curator of the forthcoming National Gallery show, notes, “In Artemisia’s lifetime, she had a kind of pan-European celebrity that places her on a level with later artists such as Rubens or Van Dyck.” Treves cautions, however, against overstating Artemisia’s place in the Baroque pantheon. Artemisia was an artist who adapted to fashion rather than setting it. “I can’t name a single Artemisia follower,” Treves says. Of course, this may well have been connected to her gender: what male artist of the period would have acknowledged being her disciple? Artemisia’s reëmergence is also tied to a greater awareness of her life story, which was at least as eventful as that of Caravaggio. In 1611, the year after she painted “Susanna and the Elders,” Artemisia was raped by a friend of Orazio’s: the artist Agostino Tassi. The assault has inevitably, and often reductively, been the lens through which her artistic accomplishments have been viewed. The sometimes savage themes of her paintings have been interpreted as expressions of wrathful catharsis. The fascination with her work on these terms is understandable, given the continued prevalence of sexual violence against women, and the dismissal of women’s accounts of it. In 2018, when Brett Kavanaugh was elevated to the Supreme Court despite the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who said that Kavanaugh had assaulted her when they were both teen-agers, a particularly bloody work by Artemisia—“Judith Beheading Holofernes,” which hangs in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence—was widely shared on the Internet, as commentary. It shows the Biblical heroine with her sleeves rolled up over muscular arms, her mouth set, deftly butchering the Assyrian general. more than one fictional reimagining, beginning in 1947, with a work by Anna Banti—the pen name of the Italian novelist and critic Lucia Lopresti, who was married to Roberto Longhi. (Susan Sontag, in an admiring essay from 2004, wrote that Banti’s protagonist is “liberated by disgrace.”) A 1997 film, by the French director Agnès Merlet, made the questionable suggestion that Tassi was a partially welcome seducer. Five years later, the American writer Susan Vreeland published a novel that hewed to the feminist line of Artemisia’s rape as a defining trauma. (“I stepped up two steps and took my usual seat opposite Agostino Tassi, my father’s friend and collaborator. My rapist. . . . His black hair and beard were overgrown and wild. His face, more handsome than he deserved, had the color and hardness of a bronze sculpture.”) Joy McCullough’s 2018 novel, “Blood Water Paint,” captured Artemisia’s perspective in charged language: the woman in the bathis no exalted doll.She is all light and terror,the Susanna I finally summonfrom stories,from first fire,and finally,from paint mixed withmy own sweat. A raft of recent papers by academics, however, have objected to portraying Artemisia as if she herself were a two-dimensional mythological figure—a victim exacting revenge through brushwork. As more of her personal history is unearthed by scholars, a more complex picture emerges. And Artemisia’s art is increasingly being appreciated for the knowingness with which she made use of elements of her life—not just sexual violation but also motherhood, erotic passion, and professional ambition. Artemisia recognized that being a woman offered her a rare perspective and authority on many artistic subjects. “You will find the spirit of Caesar in the soul of a woman,” she once assured a patron. Such insight makes Artemisia feel, four hundred years after she lived, like one of our more self-aware contemporaries. Artemisia had a sheltered childhood, in the most literal sense of the term: as a girl, she spent most of her time within the walls of her family home, as Rome’s streets were not considered a safe or appropriate space for her to journey through alone. She was the eldest child in her family, with three younger brothers; at the age of twelve, she became their principal caregiver when her mother, Prudentia di Montone, died, in childbirth. Artemisia received no academic education and was functionally illiterate until her twenties, when she finally had the opportunity to learn to read and write—the latter never without error. But as a child she was allowed to draw, and her gifts were noted early on. As Orazio wrote to one of his patrons, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, in 1612, she “has in three years become so skilled that I can venture to say that today she has no peer.” Featured Video Artemisia served an apprenticeship in her father’s studio, with his paintings as her primary exemplars. Unlike male aspiring artists, she was unable to visit many of the churches and public buildings where the work of contemporaries had been commissioned, but in her local church, Santa Maria del Popolo, on the Piazza del Popolo, she would have seen two remarkable Caravaggio paintings: “Crucifixion of St. Peter,” in which the elderly martyr is being raised, upside down, on a cross, and “Conversion on the Way to Damascus,” in which a young, muscled St. Paul is sprawled on the ground after receiving a heavenly vision. Artemisia had access to Orazio’s materials and to his models. She is thought to have sat herself for Orazio’s “Young Woman with a Violin (St. Cecilia),” painted around 1612, which shows a musician with a cleft chin, a rounded cheek, and an alert expression. She would have learned to reproduce her own features, too, with the use of a mirror. The fact that Artemisia’s female characters often are, like her, russet-haired, with full cheeks, has led many of her paintings to be described as self-portraiture. Even Artemisia’s male figures have sometimes been linked with the female visage characteristic of her work. In 2018, a painting that shows David sitting triumphantly next to Goliath’s severed head—long attributed to the Baroque artist Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri—came to auction. A collector at an auction in Munich acquired it for just a hundred and nineteen thousand dollars; in a subsequent forensic examination of the canvas, the London-based conservator Simon Gillespie discovered Artemisia’s signature on the hilt of David’s sword. Given Artemisia’s recent auction history, the work is now likely worth several million dollars. In an essay published this past March in the arts journal The Burlington Magazine, the scholar Gianni Papi suggests that the figure of David “projects the distinctive proud and cool virility we find in so many of Gentileschi’s heroines,” and persuasively compares the defiant expression of the Biblical hero to that of an apparent self-portrait that can be found in the Palazzo Barberini, in Rome. Letizia Treves, of the National Gallery, told me that Artemisia’s face “has been read into every heroine she ever painted,” adding, “I don’t think she’s every Judith or Susanna.” Treves argues that it is Artemisia’s depiction of female bodies, rather than her replication of her own face, that most strongly expresses her understanding of what it was like to be a woman. “The way she portrays the female body is very naturalistic—more so than her father’s,” Treves said. “This is someone who really knows the hang of a woman’s breast—who has a real sense of how a woman’s body behaves.” In a pioneering 1968 essay, the art historian R. Ward Bissell wrote of the “uncompromising sensuality” of the recumbent nude depicted in “Cleopatra” (1611-12), describing the figure’s physique as “almost animalistic.” Treves particularly admires Artemisia’s representation of the nude female body in “Danaë” (c. 1612), which is now in the St. Louis Art Museum. Creases around the figure’s armpits and swells in the stomach reveal an awareness of the way a woman’s flesh settles and subsides. By contrast, Orazio’s “Danaë and the Shower of Gold,” painted in the early sixteen-twenties and now at the Getty, features bed linens so realistic that the viewer feels she could climb between them, but the princess’s breasts defy gravity with an almost comical perkiness. Although the young Artemisia remained largely cloistered in her father’s studio, she was nonetheless vulnerable to attack there by Tassi, a successful artist; some scholars suggest that Orazio had engaged him to tutor Artemisia on perspective. (In “Blood Water Paint,” McCullough plausibly suggests that Artemisia was, in part, a victim of her father’s professional opportunism: Orazio hoped that Tassi would bring him in on a commission.) The decision to publicly accuse Tassi of rape was made not by Artemisia but by her father, who sought to force Tassi to marry her. The official record of the trial, which is housed at the Archivio di Stato, in Rome, includes Artemisia’s vivid account of her ordeal. Tassi, she claims, pushed her inside her bedroom and locked the door. “He then threw me onto the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them,” reads a translation provided by Mary Garrard in her 1989 book. Tassi placed a hand over Artemisia’s mouth to stop her from screaming; she fought back, clawing at his face and hair. In the struggle, she grabbed Tassi’s penis so roughly that she tore his flesh. Afterward, she grabbed a knife from a table drawer and said, “I’d like to kill you with this knife because you have dishonored me.” Tassi opened his coat and taunted her by saying, “Here I am.” Artemisia hurled the knife at him. “He shielded himself,” she tells her interrogator. “Otherwise I would have hurt him and might easily have killed him.” The Roman archive contains trial transcripts for other women who were raped. Elizabeth Cohen, a scholar who has examined the transcripts, argues that the crime of rape had a different cultural connotation than it does now, and was understood less as a violent act against a woman than as a besmirching of her family’s honor. Cohen contends that characterizations of Artemisia as an outraged proto-feminist, with even her early art expressing enraged resistance, are anachronistic. A seventeenth-century woman would not have conceived of her body with the “corporeal essentialism” that a woman does today, Cohen writes: “Artemisia spoke of her body during the trial, but as the material upon which a socially significant offense had been committed.” According to the transcript, at least, Artemisia’s outrage is couched in terms of having been dishonored, rather than having been assaulted. After Tassi raped her, he immediately assured her that he would marry her, and she reports that “with this good promise I felt calmer,” and confirms that, believing his nuptial pledge, she consented to have sex with him on numerous occasions thereafter. Orazio’s goal of coercing Tassi into making good on his word to marry Artemisia would be unthinkable in a rape trial today. Artemisia’s testimony was, for the most part, by the book: she knew, or had been instructed on, which points she needed to make in order to meet the standards for conviction. Like other unmarried accusers of rapists, she was obliged to undergo examination by a midwife, to verify that she was no longer a virgin. Nonetheless, the force of Artemisia’s character emerges. At the time, to insure that rape accusations were truthful, alleged victims were required to submit to a form of torture: cords were wrapped around their hands and tightened like thumbscrews. “It is true, it is true, it is true,” she repeated as the cords were tightened. The transcript notes that she interrupted her litany to address Tassi directly, with a mordantly ironic reference to the bindings around her fingers: “This is the ring that you give me, and these are your promises.” Tassi was found guilty but he was sentenced only to a brief period of exile, which he ignored. He did not have to marry Artemisia—it emerged in the courtroom that he had already married someone else. During the trial, her father arranged for her to marry Pierantonio Stiattesi, a minor artist in Florence. Stiattesi was the brother of Giovanni Battista Stiattesi, a friend of Orazio’s who had testified against Tassi in the trial, asserting that he had confessed to having taken Artemisia’s virginity. Artemisia apparently found her husband something of a nonentity, and after about a decade together they separated; most traces of Stiattesi have since been lost. Nevertheless, the betrothal, intended to remove her from the city of her scandalous past, was the making of Artemisia. It gave her an opportunity to establish herself as an artist independent of her father, and her status as a married woman offered her something she had never truly experienced: liberty. Arriving in Florence in the winter of 1612-13, Artemisia initially set up her studio in the house of her father-in-law, a tailor. Over time, she seems to have established a studio apart from the family home, where, among other things, she could more easily work on large-scale canvases. Embarking on a period of abundant creativity, she executed several of the paintings for which she served as her own model—among them “Self-Portrait as a Lute Player,” which hangs in the Wadsworth Atheneum, in Hartford, Connecticut. Some art historians believe that this work was commissioned by the Grand Duke Cosimo II de’ Medici, in whose collection it was later recorded. The Duke’s eye would have been drawn to the sensitivity and animation of the face, but also to the delicacy and articulation of the hands, shown mid-strum on the instrument. In July, 1616, Artemisia became the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. With the respectability of marriage guaranteeing her the freedom to circulate socially, she got to know intellectuals, performers, and other artists, including Galileo and the poet Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger, a great-nephew of the Renaissance master. The poet commissioned her to paint part of the ceiling in a gallery dedicated to Michelangelo at the family estate. Her contribution, “Allegory of Inclination,” depicts a female nude sitting on a tuft of cloud. Around the time she moved to Florence, she made her first iteration of Judith beheading Holofernes, which can now be seen in the Capodimonte Museum, in Naples. In this version and in the one at the Uffizi, a maidservant, Abra, forcefully holds Holofernes down while Judith confidently hacks away at his neck. Treves says of the paintings, “Artemisia is subverting a well-known traditional subject and empowering the women in a way that hasn’t been done before.” (The painting at the Uffizi, now prominently on display there, was for decades hidden from public view, presumably on the ground that it was distasteful. The nineteenth-century art historian Anna Brownell Jameson wrote of wishing for “the privilege of burning it to ashes.”) Treves says that Artemisia’s renderings of the tale offer “a picture of sisterhood—of these two women doing this extraordinary thing.” By contrast, Caravaggio’s treatment of the story, in a work that hangs in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, in Rome, focusses on the horrified face of Holofernes, and depicts Judith as a pallid girl gingerly holding a sword and grasping her foe’s curly hair at arm’s length. She hardly seems to have the oomph required for decapitation. Artemisia bore five children, between the years of 1613 and 1618, making her execution of large-scale paintings during that period all the more impressive. It was not just a matter of physical endurance: three of her children died in infancy, and a fourth, Cristofano, born in 1615, died before the age of five. Only her daughter, Prudenzia, born in 1617 and named for Artemisia’s mother, lived into adulthood. Such repeated maternal loss—and the risk that successive pregnancies then posed to a woman’s life—is unimaginable today. Twenty-odd years after the birth of her children, Artemisia received a commission from Philip IV of Spain to paint a Biblical work, “The Birth of St. John the Baptist.” Artists from Tintoretto to Murillo had painted the scene, but Artemisia’s version underlines her intimacy with the dynamics of the birthing room. She depicts a capable cluster of midwives—sleeves pushed up, basins in hand—tending to the infant while his mother, Elizabeth, lies wan and exhausted, barely visible in the dim background. The turmoil of Artemisia’s early life—and the remarkable evidence of it that survives—has inevitably overshadowed the less sensational, and less documented, narrative of what followed. Nevertheless, her later career was extraordinary, and it is reasonable to conclude that the fact of having been raped was less significant to Artemisia’s sense of self than some of her modern champions have suggested. She swiftly became recognized as one of the most accomplished artists of her day, and retained her preëminence for decades; she was often strapped for cash, however, and never stopped hustling for commissions. (Her assurance that her work demonstrated the “spirit of Caesar” was delivered, in part, to justify a painting’s high price.) Artemisia, for all her renown, rarely painted for public spaces. She did little work for the Church, although an early Madonna and Child, painted around 1613, the year her first child was born, suggests what she might have done had churches commissioned devotional themes from her. Mary swoons, eyes closed, as the infant Jesus reaches for her cheek, his eyes locked on her face with palpably needy attachment. After half a dozen years in Florence, Artemisia returned to Rome. The city’s census report of 1624 suggests that she and her husband had by then parted, and that she was self-supporting. She began associating with Flemish, Dutch, and French painters who also lived in Rome. Treves suggests, “It may be she was hanging out with the foreigners because she felt a bit like an outsider herself.” In the late sixteen-twenties, Artemisia went to Venice, seeking fresh patronage. In 1630, she settled in Naples. She received commissions from, among others, the Infanta María of Spain, who was spending time in the city. Artemisia cultivated such ladies of the court with gifts of beautiful gloves, which she had sent from Rome. Naples became her base for much of the rest of her life, although she disliked the city, which was crowded, poor, and violent. In a letter to Andrea Cioli, a minister at the Medici court, she complained of “the warlike tumults, the badness of life, and the expense of things.” In the next two decades, she continued to secure influential clients among the Italian nobility and foreign royal houses. Her paintings entered the collections of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, King Philip IV of Spain, and King Charles I of England. Much remains unknown about her later life, though, including the date and cause of her death. Artemisia’s final documented act is a payment made in Naples in August, 1654, against an overdue tax bill. She was reputed to have been buried in the city’s Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, her grave marked by a stone inscribed, simply, “HEIC ARTIMISIA”: “Here lies Artemisia.” But any such stone had disappeared by the time the information was written down, in 1812, by the Italian historian Alessandro da Morrona, and the church was destroyed in the twentieth century. Given the absence of later documentation, scholars theorize that Artemisia died in 1656, when the plague swept through Naples, killing a hundred and fifty thousand residents—half the city’s population. Her last known dated work, from 1652, is a large canvas in which she revisits Susanna and the Elders, one of her earliest themes and one to which she had returned repeatedly. As in the 1610 version, Susanna is seated on a balustrade, but this time there is a tenebrous sky, rather than a clear blue one. In this iteration, she does not turn away from the two onlookers: she faces them. The painting was rediscovered a dozen years ago by Adelina Modesti, a professor who found it, badly damaged, in the archive of the Pinacoteca Nazionale, in Bologna. In a monograph, Modesti argues that Susanna’s raised left arm and uplifted hand deflect the elders’ “intrusive male gazes” from her body, which is draped in translucent fabric. It could be argued, though, that this Susanna draws the elders’ attention away from her body not by blocking their gaze but by meeting it with her own—staring at them just as they stare at her, and obliging them to acknowledge her as a human being. Increasingly, Artemisia is celebrated less for her handling of private trauma than for her adept management of her public persona. Throughout her career, she demonstrated a sophisticated comprehension of the way her unusual status as a woman added to the value of her paintings. On a formal level, her representation of herself in the guise of different characters and genders prefigures such postmodern artists as Cindy Sherman. Unlike Sherman, however, Artemisia had few female peers. She was not the only woman working as an artist during the early seventeenth century: a slightly older contemporary was the northern-Italian portraitist Fede Galizia, born in 1578, whose father, like Artemisia’s, was also a painter. But Artemisia must often have felt singular. In a series of letters written to one of her most important patrons, the collector Antonio Ruffo, she wittily referred to her gender: “A woman’s name raises doubts until her work is seen,” and, regarding a work in progress, “I will show Your Illustrious Lordship what a woman can do.” In 2001, the scholar Elizabeth Cropper wrote, “We will never understand Artemisia Gentileschi as a painter if we cannot accept that she was not supposed to be a painter at all, and that her own sense of herself—not to mention others’ views of her—as an independent woman, as a marvel, a stupor mundi, as worthy of immortal fame and historical celebration, was entirely justified.” On art-adjacent blogs, Artemisia’s strength and occasionally obnoxious self-assurance are held forth as her most essential qualities. She has become, as the Internet term of approval has it, a badass bitch. Recent research has also complicated the understanding of Artemisia’s moral character, rendering her less blandly heroic. In 2011, the art historian Francesco Solinas was exploring the archive of the Frescobaldis, a Florentine banking dynasty, when he discovered a cache of letters written by Artemisia, including some sent to Francesco Maria Maringhi, a Florentine nobleman. It turned out that she had had a torrid affair with Maringhi when she was in her mid-twenties, and five years into her marriage. Several of the letters are included in the National Gallery show; in the exhibition’s catalogue, Solinas writes that they “reveal a passionate, adventurous and even libertine way of life.” In one letter, Artemisia addresses Maringhi as “my dearest heart”; in another, she chastises him for writing only two lines to her—“which if you loved me would have gone on forever.” In a third, she refers to a self-portrait in Maringhi’s possession and warns him not to masturbate in front of it. (Sadly, the exact portrait is not identified.) In the same letter, she saltily expresses her satisfaction that he has not taken any other lovers, other than his “right hand, envied by me so much, for it possesses that which I cannot possess myself.” Another work by Artemisia that has only recently been rediscovered, having been in a private collection in France, is “Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy” (c. 1620-25). The subject reclines voluptuously, her eyes closed, her face turned up to the light, a silky white chemise slipping carelessly from her ample shoulder. The painting, which ostensibly depicts Mary Magdalene in the reveries of devotion, is less spiritual than erotic: her interlaced fingers may be motionless, but her slight smile seems labile, indicating that Artemisia understood a woman’s sensuality from the inside out. The Frescobaldi archive also contains correspondence written to Maringhi by Artemisia’s husband, Stiattesi. Evidently, he was aware of the liaison, and hoped that her highly placed lover would help advance her career. In one letter, Stiattesi apologizes to Maringhi that Artemisia cannot write to him herself; their house, he explains, is perpetually full of cardinals and princes, and she is so busy that she barely has time to eat. Solinas describes Artemisia as “extraordinarily courageous, manifestly unscrupulous, opportunistic and ambitious.” Art historians now contend that the energy and the passion that can be glimpsed in her letters—and even in her testimony at the rape trial—are the same qualities that infuse her work with such vitality. Artemisia’s fame in feminist circles started with the dissemination of her bloodiest and most distressing images. Her variations on the theme of the murderous Judith remain irresistible iconography, and her differing treatments of Susanna offer a forceful lesson about the power of the apparently powerless. (In the Bible, Susanna does not submit to rape, and, in a trial, the elders’ scandalous accusations against her are proved false.) Such tales of resistance remain as riveting, and as necessary, in the twenty-first century as they were in the seventeenth. But, in recent years, Artemisia’s academic admirers have turned their attention to one of her quieter paintings. In the late sixteen-thirties, Artemisia travelled to England, where her father had become a court painter. Several works that she painted there entered the Royal Collection, among them “Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting,” also known as “La Pittura.” Such works traditionally depict the allegorical figure as a woman. In Artemisia’s version, which will be prominently placed in the National Gallery exhibition, the woman has abundant, mussed hair and plump cheeks, a brown apron tied around her waist and the billowing green silk sleeves of her dress pushed up past her elbows. Rather than looking out of the frame, as is typical with self-portraits, the figure is looking at a prepared canvas, with a raised brush in one hand and a palette in the other. She bends forward, not elegantly but with the command of an experienced artist. As scholars have pointed out, no male artist could have attempted this clever visual doubling, in which Artemisia combined a realistic portrait of herself at work with an allegorical representation of the art form that she so ardently and successfully pursued. This is an Artemisia for today: accomplished, original, and contentedly absorbed in her vocation. ♦ Published in the print edition of the October 5, 2020, issue, with the headline “A Brush With Violence.” Rebecca Mead joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1997. She is the author of, most recently, “My Life in Middlemarch.”