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The Baroque Period 1600s Drama Movement Chiaroscuro (light and dark)

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Presentation on theme: "The Baroque Period 1600s Drama Movement Chiaroscuro (light and dark)"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Baroque Period 1600s Drama Movement Chiaroscuro (light and dark)

2 Gian Lorenzo Bernini 1598 – 1689 Baroque Sculptor and Architect

3 Two Davids – Renaissance and Baroque A comparison of Michelangelo’s David with Bernini’s David demonstrates the differences between the High Renaissance period that we studied earlier, and the Baroque period of art.


5 Michelangelo’s Renaissance sculpture of David exemplifies the classical values of balance, harmony, composure, moderation, proportion, stability, and beauty.

6 His David is a youth, in the most beautiful flowering of his strength and good looks. He is modelled after the statues of the Greek gods and athletes of classical sculpture.

7 Bernini’s David, from the Baroque period, is quite different. Where Michelangelo’s David was at rest, Bernini’s David is twisting with the effort of launching the stone from his slingshot. This David is older, a man in his prime. (Bernini modelled the face after his own)

8 Where the expression on David’s face in the earlier sculpture is relatively composed, and elegant,

9 … Bernini’s David bears an expression of intense effort. His lips are compressed, his eyebrows drawn down in a scowl, his jaw clenched.

10 While Michelangelo’s sculpture is designed to be viewed from one ideal angle, Bernini’s forces you to walk around the work, to view it from every angle in order to appreciate it fully.

11 Bernini’s David is characteristic of the Baroque period because: It is Dramatic – the story of David killing Goliath with a stone from his slingshot is unfolding before our eyes. It is full of movement – The twisting body creates a feeling of tremendous energy being coiled up, about to be released. Diagonals create energy and dynamism in the composition.

12 Bernini was the foremost sculptor of the Baroque period, easily eclipsing his rivals in the medium. He worked in marble to create superbly realistic and fluid figures, convincingly recreating, for example, the “dimpling” on Prosperpina’s flesh where the hand of Pluto grasps her leg in The Rape of Prospersina.

13 Bernini The sculpture is based on the Greek myth about Pluto, the god of the underworld who kidnapped Proserpina (Persephone) and took her down to the underworld to be his bride. Note the three headed dog, Cerberus, who was said to guard the entrance to the underworld.


15 Bernini Pluto and Persephone 1621-22

16 Bernini is renowned too, for the manner in which he integrated architectural and artistic content (gesantkunstwerk – “all together art”) His Ecstasy of St. Theresa, in the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria Church is an example of this integration.

17 The Cornaro Chapel - Bernini

18 St. Theresa experienced visions and wrote about one of these, in which an angel drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ecstatic spiritual-bodily pain. It is this moment that Bernini depicts in his famous sculpture.

19 In keeping with the dramatic character of Baroque art, Bernini’s composition here has a theatrical effect. The Cornaro family, to whom this chapel is dedicated, are depicted observing St Theresa and the angel from their boxes, on either side of the altar. Bernini illustrates a moment where divinity intersects with the physical world.

20 –The Cornaro family seems to be viewing Theresa’s experience from boxes on either side of the altar.

21 The art historian Rudolf Wittkower has written, ‘… Bernini differentiated between various degrees of reality; the members of the Cornaro Chapel seem to be alive like ourselves. They belong to our space and our world. The supernatural event of Teresa’s vision is raised to a sphere of its own, removed from that of the beholder mainly by virtue of the isolating canopy and the heavenly light.’

22 Note the many different colours of marble used in the work (20).

23 Bernini – The Ecstasy of St. Theresa

24 Light shines down from an opening in the cupola positioned above the sculpture, so that the golden beams suggest an outpouring of divine grace.

25 The angel holds a golden arrow.


27 Bernini – Daphne and Apollo

28 Apollo, the god of light, scolded Eros, the god of love, for playing with adult weapons. In retribution, Eros wounded Apollo with a golden arrow that caused him to fall madly in love with Daphne, a water nymph sworn to perpetual virginity.

29 The sculpture depicts the moment when Apollo finally captures Daphne. Knowing she cannot escape, she begs her father, the river god, to destroy her beauty and repel Apollo's advances by transforming her into a laurel tree. (Wikipedia)

30 Daphne’s hands and hair sprout leaves and her toes begin to grow down into roots. Once again Bernini has captured the moment of most intense drama and action in the story.



33 Bernini was not only a sculptor, but also one of the foremost architects of his time. He designed the colonnades and the square outside St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome. The design, viewed from above, suggests a key hole. Keys are a motif traditionally associated with St. Peter, as he is considered to possess the keys to the kingdom of God. In folklore, we speak of Peter at the gates of heaven with his keys.




37 Baroque Painting Dramatic storytelling Movement Extreme contrasts of light and shadow (chiaroscuro)

38 Caravaggio 1563 - 1610 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in Milan, and only moved to Caravaggio in 1576, when the artist was 5 years old, because a plague was ravaging Milan. He was orphaned at the age of 13. When he arrived in Rome, at age 20, he painted the still life corners of works by established masters. His virtuosic talent developed rapidly.

39 However, Caravaggio was quite the bad boy of the late-16th, early-17th century art world. He was well-known for his brawls, which resulted in several pages of police records and transcripts of trial proceedings. In 1606, he killed Ranuccio Tomassoni and was outlawed from Rome; he fled to Naples.

40 He later received patronage and protection from the Knights of Malta, but it was short- lived. Apparently, he was in a fight in 1608 that resulted in a battered door and a seriously wounded knight. On another occasion, he was attacked and was left with a disfigured face. He died in 1610, of a fever.

41 Caravaggio is said to have “worshipped at the altar of Nature.” In other words, he painted in a highly realistic style, showing people without stylizing or idealizing them. He sometimes ran into trouble for making biblical figures look too human – with dirty bare feet, for instance.

42 Caravaggio – Bacchus - 1596

43 This is an early work by Caravaggio (he was 25 when he painted it) and perhaps reflects Caravaggio’s dissipated lifestyle at the time. Bacchus was the Roman god of wine. Caravaggio depicts him here as a decadent, spoiled youth, a little flabby. There is an air of decay about this figure.

44 In another painting of Bacchus, Caravaggio depicts him almost green with a hangover. This one is known as The Sick Bacchus.

45 This one is more cheerful. The boy,Cupid, is shown here with his wings and arrows, trampling objects that represent the accomplishments of humankind. The title, Amor Vincit Omni, means “love conquers all.”

46 Caravaggio was drawn to dramatic subject matter, and found inspiration in the biblical story of Judith, who, with her maid, cut off the head of her enemy, Holofernes, after getting him drunk.

47 Caravaggio – Judith beheading Holofernes

48 Caravaggio, as was typical of him, chose to show the most dramatic moment of the story – the decapitation. The faces of the three characters demonstrate his psychological insight and mastery of emotion, Judith in particular showing in her face a mix of determination and revulsion.

49 Caravaggio The dramatic lighting from the left highlights Judith’s face and bodice. The face of the maid, standing by to “bag” the head, is in relative darkness.

50 In another violent beheading scene, Caravaggio shows us David, with the head of Goliath. The interesting thing about this painting is that Caravaggio used his own features in the depiction of Goliath, perhaps anticipating judgment for his crimes.

51 Caravaggio – The Conversion of St. Paul

52 The Conversion of St. Paul is considered one of Caravaggio’s masterpieces. He shows us the Roman soldier, Saul, thrown from his horse at the moment of his calling by God. Saul spent the first part of his life persecuting the early Christians, until the day he experienced a vision, in which he heard God calling to him.

53 “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” the voice asked. Saul spent three days in blindness, looking inward, and recognized God’s call to spread the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When he recovered, he took the name Paul, and became the first evangelist of the early church, travelling tirelessly through the Mediterranean world, establishing the earliest Christian communities. His letters to these communities, encouraging and instructing them, form much of the New Testament of the bible.

54 The dramatic lighting in this painting is characteristic of Caravaggio’s style, and suggests Paul’s open acceptance of God’s grace. A man “unhorsed” was a symbol widely understood in Caravaggio’s time as a symbol of pride brought down.

55 Caravaggio – The Calling of St. Mathew

56 The Calling of St. Mathew depicts the gospel story of Jesus inviting the tax collector, Levi, to leave his job and money behind and become one of his followers. Levi accepts, and becomes the disciple Mathew.

57 Caravaggio manipulates the lighting in this painting to help tell the story. Jesus’ sudden and unexpected arrival, and request, have dumbfounded Levi, who points to himself, as if to ask, “who me?” The light spills in from the right, onto Levi, from where Jesus stands, pointing to Levi (Mathew), offering him the “light” of salvation. The two figures at left do not even look up. They are left in the darkness of their material obsession with money.

58 Artemisia Gentileschi 1593 - 1653

59 Artemisia Gentileschi – Self Portrait as the allegory of Painting

60 Artemisia Gentileschi is the first woman to gain a prominent position in the Western art tradition. She was the daughter of another painter, Orazio Gentileschi, and both were highly influenced by the work of Caravaggio.

61 Gentileschi had a troubled adolescence. She was raped by the man her father hired to tutor her, and then tortured during the investigation into this crime to extract “the truth” from her. Not surprisingly, she painted several versions of biblical stories in which female protagonists exact revenge on men who have abused them. Like Caravaggio, she painted the story of Judith killing Holofernes, twice!

62 Artemisia Gentileschi – Judith beheading Holofernes

63 The first of these images is like Caravaggio’s, in its portrayal of the moment of beheading. The second shows us the tense moments following, when Judith and her maid listen for danger. Gentileschi has used dramatic and unusual chiaroscuro, especially in the shadow Judith's hand casts on her face. The vigilant expressions and postures, add urgency to the scene.

64 The story of Susannah and the Elders is another tale of female oppression that Gentileschi depicted in a painting. Susannah was blackmailed by two men who threatened to report (falsely) that she had secretly met a lover in the woods -unless she agreed to have sex with them. She was tried and sentenced for promiscuity until a man named Daniel came to her defense and suggested that the two men be questioned separately about the supposed tryst of Susannah with a lover. The glaring differences in their separate testimonies made it clear that Susannah was innocent and the men were executed.

65 The story had been depicted many times before by other artists, but Susannah was traditionally shown as coy, and an object of desire. Artemisia Gentileschi was the first to show the event as an act of violence against Susannah.

66 Artemisia Gentileschi Susannah and the Elders

67 Peter Paul Rubens Flemish Baroque Painter

68 Peter Paul Rubens – Daniel in the Lion’s Den

69 This large painting (224 cm x 330 cm) depicts the biblical story of Daniel, who was thrown into a cage with lions by his Babylonian captors for refusing to worship their false gods. He was protected by God’s grace and emerged from a night in the lion cage unharmed. His captors were convinced by this sign of the power of God.

70 Rubens – The Descent from the Cross 1612-14

71 Rubens – Descent from the Cross (detail)

72 The Descent from the Cross is the central panel of a triptych painted by Rubens in 1612-1614. The painting is the second of Rubens's great altarpieces for The Cathedral of our Lady, in Antwerp, Belgium. It is considered to be Rubens’ masterpiece.

73 At the top of two ladders, workers are lowering the body of Christ with the aid of a shroud, which one of them holds in his teeth, the other in the left hand. St. John, with one foot on the ladder and his back arched, supports him most energetically. One of Jesus’ feet comes to rest on the shoulder of Mary Magdalene, grazing her golden hair. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are placed midway on ladders facing each other.

74 The Virgin, standing at the foot of the sacrificial tree, extends her arms towards her Son; Salome, kneeling, gathers up her robe. On the ground are seen the inscription that was posted above Jesus on the cross, and a copper basin where the crown of thorns and the nails of the Crucifixion lie in the congealed blood. The sad, dark sky is crossed by a light that illumines the shoulders of the workmen at the top.


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