Archive for baroque painting

Happy Birthday Velázquez!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , on June 6, 2010 by echostains

Diego Velazquez self-portrait

Today is the birthday of  Baroque Spanish Court Painter Diego Velázquez(1599 -1660).  Velázquez was a painter to Philip IV, painting all the Royal family as well as portraits of  notables and historical scenes of significance.  Many impressionist painters and realist artists who were to come after him, were very much influenced by this artist.  He was much admired by Salvador Dali, Picasso and Francis Bacon.  Eduard Manet called him ‘The Painters painter’.  He studied under Francisco De Herrera and was apprenticed to Francisco Pancheco, whose daughter he married.

Pope Innocent X

Velázquez used very long brushes, his style employed  long brushstrokes and  harmonious  colours.  He is renown for the technique where details in the painting come into focus only when the viewer is a certain distance.   The long brushes helped the artist appreciate the  effects more readily.  He was a master of shadow and light.

Bacon's Pope

The artist studied  art in Italy in 1629 enjoying and appreciating  its antiquity.  He was especially influenced by Titian.  Besides his portrait of Pope Innocent X (1650) which is a in bolder style,  perhaps his most intriguing painting is Les Meninas which centres around the Kings daughter 5-year-old Infanta Margarita and her servants.

Les Meninas

Painted in 1656, this painting is about painting.  the artist has featured himself in the picture with his long brushes.  The back of a  canvas is shown, we can only guess at the work in progress.  The ceiling space is unusually large, creating an illusion of space and the light at the sides of the painting creates the depth.

The pretty and delicate Infanta is surrounded by her less glamorous servants.  Velázquez was fascinated by clowns and dwarves which were all part of the Royal entourage.  There are lots of little details in the painting which highlight the artist’s artistry and ingenuity – including the artist himself presenting himself as a courtier surveying the scene, perfectly at home and on good terms with the Royal family.

In his later years he painted the Rokeby Venus, the only surviving female nude by this artist.  In his lifetime he only painted about 110 – 120 known canvases but most of them became famous.  Velázquez’s painting life though is quite interesting and there are some good sites to learn about him here and here

Images: Bacon pope here, Velazuez Pope here, Les Mininas here self portrait here
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Behind the paint ‘Susanna and the Elders’ by Artemisia Gentileschi

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, BEHIND THE PAINT with tags , , on April 22, 2010 by echostains

Artemisia Gentileschi self portrait

It’s about time we had a woman painter in the ‘Behind the Paint’ category – and who better than Atremisia Gentileschi the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi (1563 – 1639) an Italian Baroque painter, very much influenced by Caravaggio.  He was  quite an important painter at the time and admired.   Orazio Gentileschi went to Paris where he appeared at the Medici court and remained in London from 1626 until the rest of his life working for Charles 1.  He died there in 1639.

St Francis and the Angel by Orazio Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentilileschi (1593 – 1652) was a very talented painter.  She created powerful and very expressive work.  She had a turbulent life and drew upon this for her inspiration and probably for the cathartic benefits.  She was only 19 when she was raped in her home by her father’s friend Agostino Tassi (c.1580 – 1644) and had to undergo further torture of the legal proceedings which followed.

She won the case and despite this setback she became one of the greatest painters of her day.  A native Roman, she left for Florence where she married a minor Florentine artist Pietro Stiattesi.  She became the first female member of the Florentine Accademia del Disegno and had a lot of support from the Medici family.

17th century Medici family

The painting ‘Susanna and The Elders’ is the artist’s earliest signed painting and was painted before her own traumatic experience.  Susanna, the biblical heroine, owing to a false testimony was destined to die, but was saved by Daniel’s timely intervention.

Susanna and the Elders

Susanna is at her bath when  the two Elders accost her, threatening her with false accusations of adultery if she doesn’t agree to their wishes.  Adultery was punishable by death.  In the artist’s own case, Artemisia claimed that her own attacker conspired with a papal orderly, and just like Susanna, she was  publically accused of adultery.

susanna crouches in fear and repulsion

The isolated figure crouches whilst the two Elders threaten.  her head is turned in disgust and fear.   The woman is cornered and victimized.  She is threatened with slander if she does not give into the wishes of these men.

Michelangelo's expulsion

Michelangelo ‘ Adam in the Expulsion scene in the Sistine Chapel is the reversal of Susanna’s dramatic gesture.

susanna and the elders detail

Artemisia borrowed the technique of foreshortening from Caravaggio, seen clearly on the dark-haired elder.

Although Artemisia’s work show her teachers influence (her father) her work grows more and more expressive and dramatic, whilst her father’s stays very graceful and even lyrical.

Great website with lots of paintings here

Nice website about this artist and lots of her work here

A wonderful short biography of the artist here