The Seventeenth Century in Europe


The Seventeenth Century in Europe

Overview of the 17



At the end of the 16 th

century, the Mannerist period, a new wave of confidence began to sweep southern Europe and the Roman Catholic Church. The Counter-Reformation believed it had succeeded in stemming the flow of its flock into Protestantism by making genuine reforms through the Council of Trent, but the Council also had put new restraints on artists. Christian subject matter was now to deliver, visually to the faithful, as much as possible the spiritual and physical experiences of the Saints and martyrs, as well as to display the glory of the Church triumphant.

In those countries where Protestantism had triumphed, however, religious patronage practically dried up. In various parts of Germany, the Netherlands, and England artists faced new tasks and a new kind of patron in addition to the aristocracy. This was the well-to-do middle class who bought a wide variety of paintings including portraits, landscapes, seascapes, and cityscapes, pictures of prized animals, still-life, flowers, and mythological-allegorical subjects. Pictures were still commissioned, but a new retail art market developed, with painters producing paintings on their own, hoping for sales to follow.

For private patrons of any country there were few restrictions, and patronage bloomed throughout Europe. In both northern Europe and southern Europe, new prosperity was bolstered by overseas commerce and outright colonial looting. Money was pouring in and patrons were willing to spend it to emphasize their social standing and to demonstrate their relationship to God. A new materialism developed that had its counterpart in art in the development of a new style, and this style is called the Baroque.

The Popes of Baroque Rome

This is a quick list of the Popes from 1585 to 1689, from the Catholic Encyclopedia. This is mostly FYI and so will not be much elaborated.

The Popes are listed chronologically, beginning with the name under which they ruled, their birth names and birth places, and the dates of their rule.

Sixtus V (Felice Peretti of Ancona) 1585-1590.

Urban VII (Giambattista Castagna of Rome) 15 to 27 September, 1590.

Not a major Pope.

Gregory XIV (Niccolo Spondrati) 5 December 1590 to 15 October 1591.


Innocent IX (Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti) 29 October 1591 to 30 December 1591.

Clement VIII (Ippolito Aldobrandini of Fano) 1592-1605.

Leo XI (Alessandro Ottaviano de'Medici of Florence) 1-27 April, 1605.

Not important for us as a Pope, but his life story is rather interesting.

Paul V (Camillo Borghese of Rome/Siena) 1605-1621.

Gregory XV (Alessandro Ludovisi of Bologna) 1621-1623

Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini of Florence) 1623-1644.

Perhaps the most important of our Popes, both in his religious activities and as a patron of the arts.

Innocent X (Giambattista Pamphili of Rome) 1644-1655.

Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi of Siena) 1655-1667.

Clement IX (Giulio Rospigliosi of Pistoia) 1667-1669.

Clement X (Emilio Altieri of Rome) 1670-1676.

Innocent XI (Benedetto Odescalchi of Como) 1676-1689.

The word “Baroque” seems to have originated in the Portuguese word Barocco, used to designate a particular kind of pearl. Most pearls were prized for their spherical perfection, but sometimes one of such a bizarre shape turned up, that it was also highly prized and set in spectacular jewelry. The term may have carried over into 17 th

century art, but it is important to realize that there is not just one 17 th

century style. At that time there seem to be several contradictory styles operating, so the situation is complex. The Baroque period can be divided in a number of ways: Sacred versus secular; Protestant versus Catholic;

Northern versus Southern; Exuberant versus restrained; Dynamic versus classical. Art historians have tried to pull it all together by analyzing the art work to see what apparently divergent paintings and architecture have in common, and to unify it by comparing it to art of other periods.

One such historian was the German, Heinrich Wölfflin, who in 1915 wrote a book called

Principles of Art History. In this work he set forth five principles that he believed demonstrated the differences between the art of the 17 th

century and that of the

Renaissance, and they were universal enough to include both Northern European art and

Southern European art.


The following quote is from a web site on Wolfflin from Columbia University:

“The German art historian, Heinrich Wölfflin in his Principles of Art History (1915) isolated five opposed factors which, to him, defined the difference between classic, High-

Renaissance style and Baroque style. Wölfflin's distinctions--linear vs. painterly; plane vs. recession; etc.--can be applied to paintings from other eras as well.”

Linear vs. painterly.

Elements in the linear canvas are primarily described by line. Figures are distinct from one another; the painting is more or less a colored drawing. The painterly painting relies on color to express form. Paint is usually loosely handled, form is not defined with discrete lines and the edges of forms are not readily apparent.

 Plane vs. recession.

Objects in a planar painting are usually laid out parallel to the picture plane; we tend to see the flat sides of things. Depth is signified by a succession of parallel planes into space. In the non-planar painting objects turn corners to the viewer. There is more a sense of motion up to and away from your eye within the painting.

 Closed vs. open form.

Does the space in the painting seem closed off by something at the edge of the canvas? Are the limits of the scene defined by objects

 within it? Or does the painted space appear to stretch on infinitely beyond the limits of the canvas?

Multiplicity vs. unity.

The multiple painting feels like a collection of individual elements grouped together in the picture space. You feel you could pluck one object right out of the painting. In the unified painting one senses the objects not as individual elements, but as coherent parts of a general scene.

Absolute vs. relative clarity.

Do you feel the objects are described as objects or as paint? In the painting with absolute clarity objects tend to be placed in strong, clear light so their edges are crisp and the viewer has an immediate understanding of the form of the object. Objects are, as it were, re-created in paint. Relative clarity, on the other hand, has to do with the optical sensation of objects. Objects are suggested in paint, not re-created. They generally tend to be darker and more loosely focused. Painted objects are not easily visually separable from the general painted field.

Architecture in Italy at the beginning of the 17th Century

Maderno and the church of Santa Susanna

Carlo Maderno (156-1629) designed the façade of the Roman church Santa Susanna. Its unique design is one of the earliest representations of the Baroque style in Italian

Architecture. Its design is very vertical and through the use of projecting columns the verticality is very evident. This is similar to the earlier Jesuit structure Il Gesu. Santa


Susanna is one of the major influential monuments for the development of Baroque church architecture. Such features as its sculpture filled niches, scroll buttresses and centered height are a taste of things to come. (Pictured below)

(Maderno, Santa Susanna)

St. Peter’s Basilica

The work of the great architect Maderno appealed to Pope Paul V, and in 1606 he was given the commission to design the façade of St. Peter’s, the central building housing the

Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church. St. Peter’s Basilica has a long history and the structure we see today is much different from the original structure. St. Peter’s is said to


be built on the burial site of St. Peter, who Roman Catholics consider to be the first Pope.

Maderno was forced to work with a preexisting, incomplete building rather than starting fresh on St. Peter’s. While most of the existing façade was Maderno’s design, there were some differences such as the addition of two bell towers which were added and are not visible from ground level. The completion of this important symbolic center of the

Roman Catholic Church was of utmost importance to the clergy as they mounted an effort to get members to return to the Church during the counter-reformation.

Some of the original plans for St. Peter’s were more centralized (symmetrical with all elements radiating out from a central core). However: as you will notice the structure was completed in the form of a Latin cross. This was done in an effort to break away from the central style architecture used in ancient Roman, pagan structures.

Saint Peters from the piazza with Maderno's façade.


Interior of the nave, St. Peter's. The width is 90’ and the overall length is 730’. Pictures just don’t do justice to the structure.

Gianlorenzo Bernini

Gianlorenzo Bernini was one of the most gifted sculptors of the Baroque Period. He was not only a master with marble, but very charismatic, handsome and cultured. Bernini networked with influential people including the Pope, who rewarded him with many highly sought after commissions. Some of which Bernini was less qualified for than his competition. Throughout his career, he had an ongoing rivalry with architect, Francesco

Borromini, who we will discuss a bit later.


While Bernini was outwardly very suave and sophisticated, he had a fiery temper and passionate nature, which occasionally resulted in trouble. During one phase of his career, he had an affair with the wife of an assistant. Her name was Costanza Bonorelli. When

Bernini found that she was also having an affair with his brother, he chased him through the streets of Rome and when he caught him, nearly beat him to death. For Costanza’s part of the affair, he punished her by sending a servant to slash her face with a straight razor. The court system of Rome sentenced Costanza to prison for adultery and the servant went to prison for the knife job. Bernini, however was rescued by Pope Urban

VIII and was ordered to marry to keep him out of trouble. The woman chosen by the

Pope was a very beautiful woman from a wealthy family.

Bernini’s work is characterized as being very life-like and highly theatrical, which became the trade mark of Baroque sculpture. Art during this time was influenced by the popular art form of opera, in lighting, gestures and exaggerated emotion.

In addition to sculpture, Bernini was well known for architecture. Commissions included the piazza or plaza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. The piazza was constructed between

1656 and 1667. It was part of the Church’s attempt to regain its followers who had left during the reformation. The commission was the largest, most complex of his career.

There were pre-existing elements such as a large granite obelisk the ancient Romans brought from Egypt. The obelisk was erected in its present location during the reign of

Pope Sixtus V in 1585 as a symbol of Christianity’s triumph over paganism. Other obstacles in the construction were a set of fountains designed by Maderno. The design features an oval layout enclosed by large colonnades which terminate in classical temple front format. Bernini described the design as the open arms of the Church welcoming its members.


Above: Temple front of the colonnade.


Piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica from atop the dome of St. Peter’s.

Notice the placement of the Egyptian obelisk and fountains. In the background are the Tiber River and the

Pantheon in the top right. The circular brick building next to the river, top left is Castel

Sant’Angelo. This building was featured in the book and movie Angels and Demons. It has served as a prison during various times. It has a secure corridor leading from the

Vatican to protect the Pope during times of unrest. The structure takes its name from a vision of the Archangel Michel seen by Pope Gregory the Great.

Notice the scale of the statuary along the roofs edge when compared to the people!


A Glorious Bronze Canopy

Another commission landed by Bernini was for the Great Baldacchino (Baldacco is

Italian referring to a silk canopy) over the main altar beneath the great dome in St. Peter’s

Basilica ( pictured below ). Canopies were often used to mark the graves of martyrs.

Bernini chose to emulate the columns in the old church of St. Peter built by the Emperor

Constantine. These were believed to have come from the temple of Solomon.

This was one of the first large scale architectural commissions given to Bernini. While he was far less qualified for the project than his chief competition Boromini, he received the commission. The tomb of St. Peter is said to be marked by this altar and baldacchino.

This bronze structure is nearly 100’ tall. By comparison, the clock tower in EAC’s center campus is 76’ tall. The tons of bronze were taken from the Pantheon, a building built by ancient Romans as a tribute to their many pagan gods. The baldacchino is capped with an orb representing the world, which is topped with a cross, thereby, symbolizing the triumph of Christianity over the world. The Pope in power during this time was Pope

Urban VIII. His name before being selected Pope was Maffeo Barberini. A symbol of the Barberini family is the honey bee, which appears throughout the structure as a tribute to the family.


Directly behind the main altar and baldacchino in St. Peter’s Basilica is Cathedra

Petri, or St. Peter’s Chair. This structure showcases what is thought by some to be, at least in part, the actual chair of St. Peter. Carbon dating tests show that portions of the chair, made of acacia wood date to the appropriate time. The area surrounding the chair are rays of gold leafed forms intended to represent light. Above the chair is a dove rendered in amber stained glass. This is intended to symbolize the Holy Spirit.

(see picture below)

For images of Cathedra Petri use this link:

Obstacles in his career

Bernini’s career was not without problems. He often undertook architectural projects for which he didn’t have the expertise. An example of such a project was the redesign of the bell towers of St. Peter’s Basilica. In an attempt to outdo existing elements of the structure, Bernini failed to allow for the marshy ground under the building and upon completion of one of the enormous bell towers, the existing façade began to crack. The tower was torn down in order to preserve the building. This caused Bernini to lose credibility. Eventually, his chief patron, Pope Urban VIII died and Pope Innocent X assumed the role. During this period Bernini fell from favor.

To regain his reputation, Bernini reverted back to what he did best, sculpt. One of the crown jewels of his career was the piece for the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della


Vittoria in Rome. This piece was to glorify Saint Theresa, a nun of the Carmelite order.

She had been recently canonized as a saint during the Spanish Counter-Reformation. St.

Theresa was said to fall into trances, during which time she would levitate above the ground and receive revelations from an angel. Her description of the revelations was that of painful pleasure. The Cornaro family was from Venice and is shown in opera boxes witnessing the event in the sculpture. Santa Teresa's own words best express what is being depicted: “Beside me on the left appeared an angel in bodily form . . . He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest ranks of angels, who seem to be all on fire . . . In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated my entrails. When he pulled it out I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one can not possibly wish it to cease, nor is one's soul content with anything but God. This is not a physical but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it -- even a considerable share.”

This self-described experience set the stage for the highly theatrical sculpture which revitalized Bernini’s career.

Above: Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, Rome Italy, 1645-1652.

8&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search&biw=1680&bih=845&sei=f1HrTvaTAcXyrQfjrIzhCA&tbm=isch (images of

Cornaro Chapel)


Throughout his career, Bernini built fountains in Rome. He is said to be the artist who made Rome the city of fountains. One of the most complex of these is Fontana dei

Quattro Fiumi or The Fountain of the Four Rivers. This commission was given during the reign of Pope Innocent X to Bernini for the area called Piazza Navona. It was unveiled in 1651. The center feature is an obelisk which is supported by a pyramid rock formation decorated with the Pope’s coat of arms, the dove and the olive branch. The fountain was paid for by a tax on bread and other staples. The four human images symbolize the four great rivers: the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Plate. Each figure has symbols representing the rivers. The figure representing the Nile has the head covered symbolizing the river’s unknown headwaters during the time.


(Bernini on the web, Be sure to click on the works tab)


Francesco Borromini (1599-1667)

The following are notes from ROMASPQR.

Francesco Castelli, named Borromini, was born in 1599 in Bissone on Lake Lugano in what is today Switzerland.

In the Milan cathedral workshop Borromini was trained as a stone mason and got familiar with a vivid Gothic tradition.

After his apprenticeship in Milan, Borromini went to Rome, where, from 1619, he worked in the workshop of St. Peter's (fabbrica di S.Pietro), which was headed by his uncle, the great architect, Carlo Maderno. At that time, Borromini was preoccupied with studying Antiquity and the architectural work of Michelangelo, who had a big influence on him.

Together with Maderno, his most influential teacher and mentor, Borromini worked in the

Palazzo Barberini. After Maderno's death, Gian Lorenzo Bernini took over as the person in charge of the building and in addition was appointed Architect of St. Peter's. A few years later,

Borromini and Bernini separated for good. A life-long rivalry began.

Under the pontificate of Innocent X (1644-55) Borromini finally succeeded in replacing Bernini as the leading architect in Rome. But already the succeeding Pope was again more favorably disposed towards Borromini's most important competitor: under the pontificate of Alexander VII

(1655-1667) he was not entrusted with any new commissions. Thus, Borromini devoted the last years of his life to the completion of unfinished building projects, i.e. he completed the interiors of S. Ivo and S. Giovanni in Laterano and built the still missing facade of his first work, San

Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

An important concern of his was the preparation of a compilation of engravings called Opus

Architectonicum which was meant to hand down his works, sketches, designs, and plans to future generations.

In the summer of 1667, Borromini suffered from nervous disorders and depression, which ultimately led to his suicide.

Borromini took Italian Baroque to a whole new level. His emphasis on undulating convex and concave façades went beyond previous Baroque architecture. Because of his appreciation for sculpture his architecture became very sculptural. A good example of his convex and concave style can be seen in the façades of St. Ivo and San Carlo alle

Quattro Fontane (St. Charles of the four fountains) surrounding Piazza Navona and the fountains of Bernini in Rome.


Below Left: Francesco Borromini, façade of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome,

Italy, 1665-1676 (completed after his death) and Below Right:

San Carlo alle Quattro

Fontane , Rome: interior, dome with illusionistic coffering, ca. 1665-1668.

Below: Chapel of Sant’Ivo, College of the Sapienza, Rome, Italy, 1642-1650.


Borromini’s sculptural architectural style was continued by

Guarino Guarini (1624-

1683). Guarini was an architect who was also a mathematician and priest. He spent nearly all of the last two decades of his life working in Turin. Turin is known as the home of the Shroud of Turin, which is thought by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus


Left: Shroud of Turin.

The mathematical influences on Guarini’s work are very apparent in his design for the interior of the dome of the Cathedral of Turin, known as the Chapel of Santisma Sindone

(Holiest Shroud). The dome appears to dematerialize into a series of forms that revolve and add to the perspective of the form.

Venice and Baroque Architecture

Venice was also influenced by trends in the Baroque style of architecture. In 1630

Venice was suffering the ravages of yet another plague which killed about one-third of the population of the city. During this time the senate proclaimed that if the city were spared the devastating effects of the ongoing plague they would build a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. When the plague miraculously subsided they began work on the

Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health/Salvation) commonly known simply as the Salute. The commission for the design of the church was given to an architect named Baldassare Longhena (1598-1682). The structure is a multi- domed form which sits on a peninsula of the Grand Canal. The Salute is a vast, octagonal


building placed on a platform made of approximately 100,000 wooden pylons driven into the floor of the lagoon, and filled with concrete. The structure was completed in 1681, the year before his death.

Above: Santa Maria Della Salute


Above: interior of Santa Maria Della Salute.


Above: main Altar of Santa Maria Della Salute (Virgin Mary is the central figure)


An Academic Approach to Art

The Bolognese Academy of Art was operated by members of the Carracci family, in the city of Bologna. It was the first painting academy of its type in the history of art in the

Western World. Its philosophy was based on the idea that art, like any other discipline can be taught following a specific curriculum. The academy followed a formal, classical style. The central study of the program included Renaissance tradition, anatomy and life drawing. A beautiful example of the work produced by members of the Carracci family was done by Annibale Carracci in the Farnese Palace ceiling vault fresco entitled “Loves of the Gods pictured below. This painting was done in Rome c. 1597-1601. It was commissioned by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese to celebrate the wedding of the brother.


Painting the “Common People” in Religious Scenes

Unlike the traditional, idealized style painted by the Carracci, Michelangelo Merisi (AKA

Caravaggio after the Italian town he came from), (1573-1610) was inspired by the common people and used them throughout his career as models for his religious paintings. Caravaggio’s style was very high impact and theatrical and created a buzz throughout the art world. Not only did he choose everyday people as models to be placed in religious scenes (he felt they were more believable), he chose dramatic poses and a type of lighting which was very much like that of opera, an art form which was very popular during the time. This lighting style became called Tenebrism, from the Italian word Tenebroso meaning shady. Caravaggio’s approach to painting was very nontraditional. Tradition dictated that an artist copied the work of the old masters and also spends great amounts of time sketching from classical sculpture. Prior to beginning a painting, an artist typically sketched first on the canvas, then began painting. Caravaggio didn’t follow this prescription. He set his models, studied them visually then began to paint.

Caravaggio led a colorful life, during which he was often on the run because of his fiery temper. While he was a very successful artist he chose to hang out in the slums of Rome and associate with the ruffians of that society, rather than the refined, religious upper class. He was always ready for a fight should a disagreement occur and in 1606 fled

Rome with a price on his head for killing a man during a sword fight. In 1608, after reestablishing himself in Malta he fled again after another brawl, and again from Naples in 1609. After a career of little more than a decade, he died from exhaustion and exposure from being on the run. For such a short career, he had a huge impact on the world of painting, and a lasting influence on future artists. For a more in-depth look at the work of Caravaggio use this link:

To see the work of Caravaggio in H.D. follow these links:


Above: Caravaggio, The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del

Popolo, Rome, Italy. 1601.

Above: Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ, National Gallery of Dublin, Ireland c. 1598



A close follower of Caravaggio or “Caravaggista” was a female artist named Artemisia

Gentileschi (ca. 1593-1653). She was taught by her father since women were seldom admitted into apprenticeships or courses of study to learn to paint. Her father was a fan of the style of Caravaggio so her work was influenced by the dramatic tenebrism of

Caravaggio. It is thought that she actually knew Caravaggio and is often considered an imitator of his style.

Gentileschi had a successful career in many locations in Italy. Her narrative subject matter often depicted a heroic female who had overcome diversity. Many art historians feel her choice of subject was due to the documented case in which her teacher, Agostino

Tassi attempted to rape her. When brought to trial, he was acquitted but expelled from


Above Left: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes, ca. 1614-1620. Uffizi,

Florence, Italy, Right: Judith and Her Maidservant, 1613-1614, Florence, Italy.


The Evolution of Ceiling Paintings

During this period of fantastic ceiling frescoes, the use of perspective was used as a tool to create the appearance of the ceiling dissolving into the heavens. The use of color and lighting added to the effect. A master in the use of perspective in ceiling paintings was Fra

Andrea Pozzo. He was a brother in the Jesuit order and became known in art history as the painter of the scene Glorification of Saint Ignatius in the nave of Sant’Ignazio, in Rome,

Italy, 1691-1694 (a remarkably short period for such a complex scene). Saint Ignatius was the founder of the Jesuit order.

Pozzo used di sotto in su, a view looking up from below which was begun by Mantegna. He utilized painted architecture to continue the illusion that the actual building receded into the heavens. This technique is termed quadratura . This scene effectively creates the appearance of the intermixing of the Heavenly and the Earthly.

Follow the link below to view images of the painting:

SearchBox&biw=1680&bih=845&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=the+glorification+of+st.+ignatius+po zzo&oq=the+glorification+of+st.+ignatius+pozzo&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=10


The Baroque in Spain

Spain, was an international powerhouse by the 16 th

century. The Hapsburg Dynasty

( ) had established itself as the center of

Spain’s power and ruled over parts of the New World, the Netherlands, Portugal and regions of Italy. The control of such a vast empire created challenges for the Hapsburg rulers to maintain control. During the 17 th

century, the empire began to struggle and started to crumble. Another issue facing the Hapsburg was their genetic deterioration due to inbreeding through the generations in order to keep the bloodline “pure”.

Spain, being predominantly Catholic, faced the same problems with the Reformation and

Counter-Reformation as Italy. As with Italy, Spanish rulers and artists used visual imagery to help draw people back to the church. Spain utilized emotional scenes with martyrs and saints and their sacrifice to help create a sense of pride in their rich religious history.

A painter whose work echoed the realism and tenebrism of Caravaggio in Spain was Jose

De Ribera (ca.1588-1652). Ribera settled in Naples early in his life where he was given the nickname Lo Spagnoletto or the little Spaniard. The effect of Caravaggio’s brutal, dark


themes can be seen in Ribera’s work, such as Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, ca. 1639, pictured below. In this scene St. Bartholomew is being hoisted into the air to be skinned alive. Like Caravaggio, Ribera avoided idealizing his characters in an effort to make them believable and someone with whom the viewer can identify.

The painter regarded by many to be the greatest Spanish painter of this period is Diego

Velasquez (1599-1660). Velasquez became a master of a style known as optical realism.

This approach is characterized by its extreme attention to detail and clarity. The artist utilized the contrast of darks and lights much like that of Caravaggio, whose style he had studied. Velasquez is renowned for his ability to capture not just the likeness, but, the personality of his subject.


Above: Diego Velasquez, Self Portrait, Oil on Canvas 17.7” X 15”. Right: King Phillip IV,

1631-32, (notice the large chin, known as the Hapsburg jaw, due to generations of dynastic inbreeding).

Velasquez spent the majority of his career in Madrid, Spain working as the official court painter for King Phillip IV. Phillip was one of the Hapsburg Kings, striving to maintain control of the vast Spanish empire. Through the use of art, for which he was an avid patron he was able to further his cause. Phillip was highly impressed with the talent of Velasquez and gave him the opportunity to develop his career.


Above: Diego Velasquez, Pope Innocent X. Notice his ability to capture the persona of the subject.


Above: Diego Velasquez, Juan de Pareja, 1650. The subject was Velasquez’s friend, assistant and his former slave, whom he freed. Notice the dignity with which Velasquez presented his subject.




Century Art in Flanders

Like Spain, Portugal, parts of Italy and Mexico (Maximilian), the Netherlands came to be ruled by the Hapsburg dynasty. Eventually the Northern, Protestant, regions expelled the

Hapsburg rule and formed the Dutch Republic. The region known as Flanders was the

Spanish ruled Netherlands. Because of philosophical and religious differences, politics and art evolved separately and distinctively in Flanders and the Dutch Republic. The Dutch

Republic developed a very strong middle-class, while Flanders continued socioeconomically and artistically to reflect the values of Spain.

A Flemish (from Flanders) master who drew together the contributions of the Italian

Renaissance and Baroque masters was Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Rubens’ style would have a lasting effect on the world of painting.

Rubens was very educated and he associated with the scholarly as well as royalty. He had good business sense and amassed great wealth by becoming an art broker for many prominent artists, as well as selling his own work. Rubens’ style of rendering the human form led to the term “Rebenesque”, a term still used today, referring to the plump fleshy figure types so prevalent in his work. While this figure type isn’t popular today, it represented the tastes of the ideal Baroque figure. In style, Rubens was a colorist. This led later to a following called the Rubenistes, who believed that color was more important than form and appealed to the masses not just to the select few who had been educated in art.

Therefore, they believed, color was supreme.

Above: Peter Paul Rubens, Self-Portrait, 1623. Oil on canvas, approx. 36”X28”.


Above: Peter Paul Rubens, The Fall of Man, Madrid, 1628-29.

be sure to click on the “works” button to view more of his paintings.

England’s Court Painter

Many of Rubens’ assistants and students went on to achieve grandeur as a painter. The most successful of his many students/assistants was Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641). Van Dyck was born to a rich silk merchant in Antwerp. While working in the studio of Rubens, Van

Dyck developed a lush painting style much like that of Rubens. His style was so similar that some of his work was incorrectly attributed to Rubens. In order to avoid being overshadowed by Rubens, Van Dyck left Antwerp and eventually ended up in London, where he became the official court painter for King Charles I. Van Dyck’s compositions added a power and elegance to royal figures that were often, physically not imposing people.

He often used angles and settings to add to their royal presence in the scene. His style of painting and composition became the benchmark for English court painters for centuries to come.


Above: Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Self-Portrait, after 1633. Oil on canvas, 23” X 28 ¼”

Above: Anthony Van Dyck, Charles I Dismounted, ca. 1635. Oil on canvas, approx. 9’ X7’.


Portrait Painting in Haarlem

The term Holland was used informally to refer to the Dutch Republic, Amsterdam, Haarlam, and Delft were located in Holland the largest of the seven United Provinces. Holland had a very strong middle class with Amsterdam having the highest per capita income in all of

Europe. This period is often referred to as the Dutch Golden Age.

Haarlem was, at one time the capital city of the province of North Holland. North Holland was at one point in history the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic.

Dutch Baroque artists were skilled in their ability as portrait painters. Dutch painters had a complex job in painting portraits because many of their commissions came from the ever growing middle-class, rather than the usual aristocrats and religious officials. The painter

Franz Hals (ca. 1581-1666) was the leading artist of the Haarlem school and one of the great realistic painters of the Western tradition. He not only excelled at individual portraits, but also large group portraits. Some of his groups would include more than a dozen sitters.

Imagine the difficulty of sketching and painting that many people without the use of a camera to first capture the scene!

Above: Frans Hals, Archers of Saint Hadrian, ca. 1633. Oil on canvas, approx. 6’9”X11’.


Above: Frans Hals, Laughing Cavalier, 1624. Oil on canvas, 32.7” × 26.5”

Another successful Dutch portrait painter who was known for painting merry genre scenes was Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656). Van Honthorst’s unique portrayal of the light hearted utilized the strong lighting of Caravaggio to add to the impact of his unique scenes.

These scenes often included people eating and drinking, playing music and carousing. One such scene is a painting called Supper Party. See attached link:

Dutch artists’ subject matter was heavily influenced by Calvinist religious philosophy.

Scenes often included landscapes, flowers and still-life, portraits and seascapes but tended to shy away from religious scenes which made their work distinct from that of the Catholic artists of the time.


Above: Gerard Van Honthrost, The Matchmaker, 1625. Oil on canvas.

The leading 17 th

Century Dutch painter was Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69). Rembrandt came from a modest upbringing, his father was a miller. He was part of a large family which had nine children. At age 14 he left the University of Leiden to study painting. In his studies, he learned the use of light developed by Caravaggio. In his early work it was very apparent that he was influenced by Rubens (who would have been at the peak of his career at this time) in his use of color and lighting. Rembrandt’s skills developed so rapidly, that by the age of 22 he began taking his first pupils. Rubens also became a master at etching. This allowed him to sell even more work because multiple copies could be created. His work became extremely popular and sold quickly for good prices. Rembrandt experimented with texture in his painting style and often used very heavy, coarse brush strokes.

Rembrandt painted several religious scenes, but they were not grand scale and theatrical, typical of Baroque Italy. His religious scenes depict Biblical stories in human terms.


Rembrandt van Rijn, Captain Frans Baning Cocqu Mustering his Company (The Night

Watch) 1642. Oil on canvas, 11’11”X14’4”.


Rembrandt van Rijn Three Crosses 1653. Drypoint and etching approx. 15” X 17 ¾.


Above: Rembrandt van Rijn Self-Portrait, 1658. Oil on canvas, 52 5/8” X 40 7/8”.

Interior Scene Painting

Jan (Johannes) Vermeer (1632-75) was a very unique Dutch painter. He had a very detailed meticulously observed style. During his career he produced a small number of pieces as compared to his contemporaries. Approximately 40 paintings have been positively identified as his work. Vermeer was very calculated in his use of a focal point and its surroundings.

His primary figures in the scenes were typically women who came from the successful

Bourgeois (middle-class). Controversy and speculation continue to surround the artist.

During his career a new technology came into existence. This was a projector-like object called the camera obscura (dark chamber). Many speculate that his work was created utilizing this new technology to aid in his compositions. Part of this speculation is due to the fact that he made use of depth of field with objects in and out of focus much like that created by a lens. Vermeer was known for his powerful use of color and his understanding of color theory which was ahead of most other artists of the time.


One of his most well-known pieces is called The Girl with a Pearl Earring. This piece is often nick named The Mona Lisa of the North. It was the inspiration for the award winning fictional movie made in 2003 called The Girl With a Pearl Earring, Staring Colin Firth,

Scarlet Johansson and Tom Wilkinson.

Jan Vermeer, The Girl With a Pearl Earring. 1665. Oil on canvas, 18.3”X15.7”ca.


Jan Vermeer, The Milkmaid, c. 1660. Oil on canvas, 16”X18.”

A New Era in Still-Life Painting

As the wealth of the Dutch grew, pride in their accomplishments and possessions began to be displayed in still-life paintings. Their expensive possessions became common place as subject-matter. Often these objects were painted with inferences to man’s mortality. Such

Items and crystal glasses partially empty, citrus fruit partially pealed, broken glasses were all commonplace and implied the passage of life and even death in still-life genre. Artists such as Willem Kalf (1619-1693) and Willem Claesz Heda (ca. 1599-1680) incorporated this type of symbolism into their exquisitely rendered still-life paintings.


Willem Claesz Heda, Still-life with pie silver ewer and crab, 1658. Oil on canvas.



Century France

Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665) was a French painter born in Normandy who painted in the classical tradition during the Baroque period. His style served to inspire such artists as

David and Ingres in its classical emphasis. He modeled his work after the Venetian master

Titian and Renaissance master Raphael in his reference to the classical themes. A prime example of his attention to classical themes was in the painting Burial of Phocion. This subject came from classical literature. An epoch tale of an Athenian General falsely accused of treason and put to death.


Nicolas Poussin, Burial of Phocion, 16489. Oil on canvas, approx. 3’11” X 5’ 10”.

French painter Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) was a landscape painter who created soft sophisticated scenes which focused on the complexity and beauty of the landscape and pointed out no moral or story. His use of atmospheric perspective and soft lighting were done in the tradition of the great Venetian masters.

Claude Lorrain, Seaport (Villa Medici) 1637.


Art in the Eighteenth Century: Late Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassicism

The Enlightenment

Because of advancements in many disciplines, the eighteenth century in Europe is known as the

Age of Enlightenment. See the link below for more information.

(The Enlightenment)

Art in France: Le style Louis Quinze, or the Rococo

(Lois XIV in his later life, paintings by Hyacinthe Rigaud) (Versailles Palace)

At the turn of the eighteenth century, Louis XIV was still in power in France. He had suffered heavy defeats militarily and dynastically, but his court at Versailles was still the center of a powerful culture. It was, however, a court waiting for Louis to die.

Already new ideas in art had begun to spring up in the bombastic and power-ridden art of the previous century and all it needed was the fertile soil of a sympathetic regime to flower.

Above : Louis XIV (1638–1715), by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701), Oil on Canvas.


When Louis died in 1715, his great grandson Louis XV became King of France at the age of five

(having outlived his father and grandfather). Until he came of age to rule in his own right in

1723, his cousin, Philip of Orleans, ruled for him as Regent.

 Philip was intelligent, cultured and a great lover of the arts. He was more interested in his own amusement than continuing the dynasty of the Bourbons. He also lived in Paris at the Palais Royale.

 Willingly following his lead, French society immediately abandoned the formal stately behavior of the previous reign and its Baroque setting. A less formal society demanded less formal surroundings, so the nobility, many of whom had been living at Versailles, left the estate and moved into new town houses in Paris called hotels.

 The new buildings replaced the strict Baroque classical style with buildings which, although still classical in their architectural vocabulary and symmetry, were smaller, intimate, more decorative, lighter and less somber and serious in feeling.

 Interior design flourished in these smaller and more comfortable rooms and apartments full of light, let in by large windows and reflected by mirrors, pale walls gracefully embellished with motifs taken from shell and vine forms and collections of art objects.

In Europe, this period, roughly located in the first half of the 18th century, is known as "Louis

XV". It is also called "Rococo." This word comes from the French word, rocaille , meaning pebble, originating with a type of decoration found in the grottoes of aristocratic homes, where shells and pebbles made a natural setting for fountains and plants. While it had its origins in the

Baroque style, the elegant Rococo style was also a reaction to it. Like the term Baroque, Rococo has come to embrace an entire period of art, including painting and architecture, although it can also be applied to the smaller arts: porcelain, metal work and interior decoration.

There is, however, a common spirit that pervades all the arts of the Louis XV period. In some respects that art continues the Baroque love of movement and energy, but tones it down and reduces its scale, with lighthearted playfulness. Gone are the pomp and circumstance, the heaviness and overladen symbolism of power and ritual that Baroque art patrons so often used to underscore their authority. (Details on

Rococo, Differences between Rococo and Baroque)

The new style was best reflected in interiors, furniture, tapestry, porcelain and metalwork. The

“C” curve, the reverse “C” curve and the “S” curve dominated asymmetrical embellishments on paneling, mirror frames, candlestick holders, clocks, and furniture. An excellent example of the typical French Rococo interior is the Salon de la Princesse in Hotel de Soubise by Germain

Boffrand, built between 1737-1740 in Paris.



Angular lines and classical motifs were abandoned in favor of curving lines and plant motifs.

The overall effect was one of lighthearted elegance.

An important aspect of the Rococo was the interest in things from the Orient, especially China and Turkey. The impact of Chinese imported porcelain gave rise to a type of decoration called

“Chinoiserie.” A style of furnitire in England made by Thomas Chippendale ("Chinese

Chippendale") was also influenced by Chinese art.

Rococo art reflected the increasing importance of wealthy noblewomen on taste. This was the age of the salon, which means “room” but also designated gatherings of sophisticated people who were invited for their ability to turn a phrase and say witty things. This was the epoch of the

“bon mot” (clever wit). These salons were typically found in town houses in Paris called hȏtels.

The most important trend-setter in the period of Louis XV was his mistress, Madame de

Pompadour, truly "mistress of the arts." She was considered the leader of taste and style.

Madame de Pompadour by Francois Boucher, 1756

Madame de Pompadour was not royalty. She came from the lower middle class, but she quickly learned the court etiquette. She was talented: she sang, danced, painted, engraved paintings of


her favorite artist and teacher, Boucher, and came to dictate the taste of the first half of the 18th century. She was interested in the design and manufacture of Sevres porcelain. She patronized sculptors, furniture makers and clothes designers and amassed a huge collection of art. When she died in 1764, it took eight months to auction off her collections.

French Rococo painting was characterized by light hearted scenes with the wealthy set it an

Arcadian style landscape. It was not characterized by strict classicism. These scenes often showed lovers singing love songs or writing poetry. A painter from the northern reaches of

France, influenced by Rubens, and most commonly associated with the development was

Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). While he lived only 37 years, his subtlety and taste in themes were not matched by later Rococo artists. For his application into the French Academy he selected the subject from Greek mythology about the Island of Cythera. In the scene a group of lovers prepares to depart from Cythera, the island of youth and love sacred to Aphrodite. The piece is appropriately titled Return from Cythera and was painted between 1717-1719.

Antoine Watteau, Return from Cythera, 1717-1719. Oil on canvas, 4’3” X 6’4”. Louvre, Paris.


Antoine Watteau, Mezzetin, 1717-1719. Oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

The Royal Academy of painting and sculpture was created in France in 1648 with the encouragement of King Louis XIV as a way to extend his control to matters including artistic tastes. It provided art instruction as well as providing exhibitions called salons. The Academy exerted great control over what was acceptable in the art scene, and in order for a painter to be successful, he needed to be a member of the Academy. Membership as was very competitive.

During the 18 th

century, the school of style within the Academy was strongly divided into two groups. One group was the Rubenists. Rubenists believed that color was the most important element in painting because it appealed to everyone including those who had no formal art training. The other school of thought was the group called the Poussinistes, who felt that above all else, form was paramount. Therefore, students tended to follow one school of thought or the other.

In France, Bernini’s Baroque sculptural style seen in Apollo and Daphne was echoed in French small-scale sculpture such as Nymph and Satyr, by Clodion, (1737-1814).

Baroque Architecture in England

We start with a look at English architecture in the 17th century. The Baroque style never quite took hold in England, except for several notable examples by Sir John Vanbrugh, Nicolas

Hawksmoor and James Gibbs. The continental style was associated with the Catholic Stuarts, and when the Georges began their reign in 1714, the Palladian style was deemed more appropriate, and continental European influences showed up in forms that were closer to

Renaissance architecture.


While France was ruled by absolute monarchy, England was kept somewhat in check through

Parliament. While religion pervaded society in England it wasn’t as tense as in France. The

English practiced a variety of religions including Protestantism, Puritanism, Anglicanism, and

Catholicism. Architecture in England made great strides in incorporating classical elements into their public buildings.

In 1705 the British government commissioned a grand palace for John Churchill, Duke of

Marlborough as a reward for his victory over the French in the Battle of Blenheim. The commission for the design was given to John Vanbrugh. The structure reflects the designer’s love of Italian Baroque elements. (See image below)

English architects were strongly influenced by architecture of both Classical and Renaissance times. The ancient architect to whom the English looked to for inspiration was Vitruvius, the

Roman architect and engineer from the 1 st

century B.C. From more recent times, The English were inspired by the work of Renaissance architect Palladio. This is very evident in the work of

Richard Boyle and William Kent in their creation of Chiswick House near London England, pictured below. This structure was built between 1725-1729, and makes use of classical features and proportions. The characteristic temple front and domed rotunda are key elements of

Palladian style architecture, which about 1760, in England, evolved into Neoclassicism.


Above: Chiswick House, Front view, began 1725.

Chiswick House, Temple Front Entry.


The English garden, unlike those of the French often was characterized by a more natural look, as shown below with the Palladian style bridge at Stowe, built between 1730-38.

Christopher Wren

(Biography of Christopher Wren)

A lucky man at an unlucky time, Christopher Wren had been tinkering with the architecture of the old Gothic church of St. Paul (pictured below) in downtown London, including putting a renaissance dome over it, when most of the central part of the city was destroyed by fire. Wren then had the opportunity to build an entirely new structure in the Renaissance style. In addition to the cathedral; Wren also built 51 other churches.

Above: St. Paul’s Cathedral, Christopher Wren, London England 1675-1710.


Above: The Royal Crescent, Bath, England, 1769-1775. John Wood the Younger, architect

Later, in the 18 th

century, such marvels as the Royal Crescent, by John Wood the Younger, were built drawing its inspiration from classical architectural elements. This style was built during the period labeled Georgian which lasted from roughly 1720-1840. This period was so named after the four British monarchs named George. This structure was built as part of a complex of buildings (the Queen’s Square, The Circus, and Royal Crescent) in the resort town of Bath

England. The structures were made to accommodate the well to do when they came to enjoy the hot waters of the natural springs of the area. The Royal Crescent is a series of 30 residences all adjoining along a semicircular axis.

Modern Technology Depicted in Painting

Interest in technology and the workings of the universe made their way into painting in England in the work of Joseph Wright of Derby. His work incorporated mechanical and scientific objects with emotionally dramatic scenes. In the painting below called Experiment on a bird with an air pump 1768, Wright packs as much emotion into the scene as possible while showcasing the relatively new technology of air pumps. In the scene the scientist demonstrates how the pump can be used to create a vacuum, effectively pulling the air from the sealed chamber containing the bird.


Late Baroque Architecture in Germany, Italy, and Arizona

In Germany the influence of Baroque sculpture and architecture was very apparent. The work of

Bernini and Borromini was displayed in such architectural structures as the pilgrimage church of

Vierzehnheiligen (14 saints). This structure was designed by Architect Balthasar Neumann and built near Staffelstein Germany. Neumann traveled throughout Austria, northern Italy and Paris before beginning one of the most active careers in Germany. His design features a light cheerful interior in which he uses large windows to create a well light interior.


A brilliant example of French Rococo architectural style in Germany was Amalienburg (below).

The structure was built on the outskirts of present day Munich between 1734-39. It houses a circular room called the hall of mirrors.


Asam Church

Influenced by the Late Baroque sculpture of Bernini, and the painting of Tiepolo they saw on a trip to Rome, the German architects, the Asam brothers returned to Germany and began work on various churches. One of their most well-known was their own private church known as the

Asam Church in Munich, Germany (pictured below). Due to public pressure it was made into a public church and is also called Asamkirche Church.

Inside the Monastery church in Rohr Germany is a sculpture depicting the assumption of the

Virgin Mary into heaven. The sculpture is very operatic in style, drama and form.

Asam Church, Munich, Germany.


During the same time period in the desert of what would eventually become Arizona the “White

Dove of the Desert” San Xavier Mission was being built by Father Eusebio Kino. The church is located about 9 miles south of Tucson, AZ.

San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, 1783-1797

Italian Art of the 18th Century

Instead of embracing the French Rococo style in a big way, Italy resisted the style much as they had with French Gothic and instead, continued developments in the Late Baroque style.


During the 18th century, an Italian painter named Giambattista Tiepolo continued to paint largescale ceiling paintings. Tiepolo was a Venetian and is considered the last grand scale fresco painter. He was also one of the last Italian masters to have an international impact on art until the 20th century.

Above: Tiepolo, Apotheosis of Spain, Royal palace of madrid, 1762-66.

Another notable Venetian painter made his mark selling paintings to tourists. During this period of time, Europeans, specifically the English were commonly taking the “Grand Tour” of Italy and Greece. The painter Canaletto “little canal” became quite popular by painting “veduta”


(scene paintings) which showed scenes of Venice which could be taken back to England as a souvenir of the trip.

Above: Canaletto, The Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute, 1730

Above: Canaletto, The Stonemason’s Yard, 1726


A Venetian woman who made her mark in the art world creating casual portraits in pastels was

Rosalba Carriera. Carriera began her career painting designs on snuff containers. This product was very popular at the time. Eventually her work transitioned into small scale portrait painting.

Carriera’s work was popular among those collecting Rococo work because of its soft appearance.

Left: Self-portrait, Rosalba Carriera, 1715

A Revival of Interest in Classicism

During the mid-1700’s the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were being excavated for the first time. These cities were preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. This eruption captured the way of life of the people of these cities and created interest throughout Europe for everything considered Classical. This brought about a revival in classical art called

Neoclassicism. Painters began to create art work depicting scenes from classical tales, sculptors began to create statuary based on classical themes from ancient Rome and Greece, and architects began to reinvestigate classical proportions and elements from ancient building.

In England a school of portraiture began under English painters in the 18 th

century. This was called the Royal Academy of Arts. It was founded in 1768. It, like the French Academy, provided instruction for art students and sponsored exhibitions. The first president of the English

Academy of Arts was Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). Reynolds specialized in portraiture, specifically his contemporaries. His work focused on those figure who were involved in historic


events. In style and time his work is classified as Rococo. He gained his title when he was knighted by King George III.

Above Left: Self Portrait, Joshua Reynolds, 1776. Above Right: Lord Heathfield. Oil on Canvas,

1787. 4’8” X 3’9”

Another notable English portrait painter from the 18 th

century was Thomas Gainsborough.

Gainsborough (1727-1788) preferred landscape, but was extremely popular as a portraitist. He combined the mood of French Rococo painter Watteau (who influenced his work) with a native

English naturalism and love of the outdoors. Gainsborough enjoyed the feathery brush work and soft hues of the Rococo painters. His subjects were shown in a graceful, sophisticated manner.


Above: Thomas Gainsborough, The Blue Boy, 1770, Oil on Canvas.

In America during this period many artists were applying European styles to American subject matter. John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) applied a down-to-earth naturalism with sharp focus and attention to visual fact to his American subject matter. He was one of the first

American artists to live and work abroad. While his work was powerful, it was not fully appreciated in many in the painting circles of Europe because it was considered plain compared to the fluffy Rococo style, which was so popular at that time. The piece shown below, Watson and the Shark, depicts the rescue of Brook Watson from a shark attack in Havana Cuba.


Above: John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778. Oil on Canvas, 72” X 90”.

John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Paul Revere, ca. 1768-1770. Oil on Canvas, 2’11”X 2’4”.


A sculptor who made waves in the American art scene when he tried to depict the nation’s first president in neoclassical fashion was Horatio Greenough (1805-1852). Congress commissioned the sculptural portrait for the centennial of Washington’s birth, to be placed in the rotunda of the nation’s capital. Neoclassical architecture was very popular and the style chosen for the new nation’s buildings. However, it wasn’t so successful when used to depict national heroes. The artist’s intent was to show Washington in Greek style, with the body of Zeus, based on a famous sculpture of Zeus by Greek sculptor Phidias. The sword held by Washington, with the hilt toward the viewer was intended to show him as a peacemaker. When the piece was unveiled, it met with immediate criticism. One Congressman even suggested it be thrown into the Potomac

River to “hide it from the world.” Today the piece is on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Horatio Greenough, George Washington, 1832-1841. Marble, 11’4”. National Portrait Gallery.

Washington, D.C.

The transition from Rococo to Neoclassicism in France

For several decades the French aristocratic tastes dominated the art world in France in the form of Rococo painting. Eventually, during a tumultuous period of French history leading to, and during, the French Revolution that style came to an abrupt end as the people rose up against the


French monarchy system. One artist led in the transition away from Rococo and toward

Neoclassicism, and was heavily involved in propaganda for a radical arm of the French

Revolution. He was painter Jacques Lois David (1748-1825). David rebelled against the

“artificial” taste” of the Rococo. He exhibited Classicism as revolutionary ideology in his painting Oath of the Horatii (below). These classical tales went right along with the ideology of the French Revolution. This painting depicts an epic tale about the warring cities of Rome and

Alba, in which the leaders of the two cities decided to resolve their differences by having three warriors from each side face each other in a battle to the death. The three champions from the

Roman side were brothers from the Horatius family, while the three from Alba were the Curatius brothers. The twist in the tale comes in that a sister of the Horatii was the wife of one of the

Curatii brothers, while the youngest Horatii brother had married a sister to the Curatii brothers.

David often painted these complex tales.

Another of David’s complex scenes is The Death of Marat, 1793, in which David depicts the assassination of his friend Jean-Paul Marat, a writer of one of the revolutionary factions in

France. In the scene Marat has been stabbed while soaking in his medicinal bath (he had a skin disorder) by Charlotte Coroday, a member of a rival group. The scene shows Marat clutching the fraudulent paper used by Coroday to gain access to him. (pictured below)


Above: Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Marat, 1793. Oil on canvas, 5’3” X 4’1”

Eventually, David began to do large scale pieces for the Emperor Napoleon. David was given the position as the First Painter of the Napoleonic Empire. His purpose was to use imagery as propaganda for Napoleon and his cause. One such piece was, The Coronation of Napoleon,

1805-1808, Oil on canvas, 20’ 4” X 32’2”. This massive painting depicts the coronation ceremony in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The piece has some historical variations to the actual facts, such as the mother of Napoleon, visible in the background, who refused to attend.

(Pictured below)


Napoleon’s Sculptor

The successful Italian Neoclassical sculptor named Antonio Canova (1757-1822) became

Napoleons favorite sculptor. He did many sculptures depicting Napoleon and members of his family in Neoclassical Style. One of the most well-known of his works for Napoleon was the piece depicting Napoleon’s Sister Pauline Borghese as Venus, the goddess of love.

Antonio Canova, Pauline Borghese as Venus, 1808, Marble. Life size.


Antonio Canova, Cupid and Psyche. 1787-1793. Marble, 6’1” X 6’8”.

A Temple of Glory

La Madeline (1807-1842) is a structure which in 1807 was originally begun as a church. This was at the peak of Napoleon’s power. During Napoleon’s reign it was to be used as a Temple of

Glory. It was built in the style of Roman temples of the early Empire, with its use of an elevated foundation, Corinthian columns and portico sculpture. Eventually it was reconverted into a

Roman Catholic Church. (Pictured Below)


Students of Jacques Louis David

Many of Jacques Louis David’s students went on to have very prominent careers. The master demanded that his students choose painting subjects from the ancient Roman writer Petrarch.

However, some of them, while keeping close to the style of their master, chose subjects from other periods and places. Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson was and artist who chose to work from a subject made popular by a novel of the time. The novel was called The Genius of

Christianity/Atala, by writer Chateaubriand. The novel was extremely popular during this period of time. In subject it moved from Neoclassical more toward Romanticism. The tale is about the romantic encounter between two Native American youth in Louisiana. The tale has many twists and ends with Atala (the Native American girl) taking her life rather than breaking her oath to remain a virgin. Girodet-Trioson’s work is called The Burial of Atala.

Above: Girodet-Trioson, The Burial of Atala, 1808. Oil on canvas 7’X 8’9”.


Another of David’s students was the painter who did many scenes depicting Napoleon. The work of Antoine-Jean Gros is often considered propaganda used to for Napoleon. One such painting by Gros is the piece, Napoleon at the Pesthouse at Jaffa, 1804, oil on canvas, shows

Napoleon visiting his plague stricken soldiers without showing any fear for his own well-being.

In the scene he is depicted with nearly God like healing powers touching one of the ill soldiers, while those surrounding him cover their face and shy away from fear of contracting the illness.

Another of Jacques Louis David’s students had an American connection. A painter known for his careful study and rendering of birds in America was John James Audubon (1785-1832).

Audubon, with the help of his father, and a false passport managed to flee France for America to avoid the Napoleonic wars. He was educated as a young man in Paris, where he received training in painting from David. Today his work is known for his skilled painting style and his attention to detail. In modern times there is a conservation society named after him.

Left: Portrait of John James Audubon by John Syme, 1826.


John James Audubon Mourning Doves, Oil on Canvas.

A Disagreement over Style

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) came to study under David during the last few years of the 18 th

century. After a short time, Ingres left and took a different path with his work.

His departure was due to a difference in style with David. David pursued a more “Greek” style in his compositions. He based his compositions more on the flat linear forms which the ancient

Greeks had employed in vase painting and bas relief sculpture.

For the Salon of 1827, Ingres submitted the Apotheosis of Homer. The piece was painted for the ceiling of the Louvre. This was a piece obviously influenced by the School of Athens by

Raphael, an artist whose work had much impact on the work of Ingres. In the Apotheosis of

Homer, Ingres shows Homer in the center of the composition on the steps of a Greek temple.

Ingres became a very successful portrait artist and did works for the likes of Napoleon. (see images below)


Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Napoleon on his Imperial Throne, 1806. Oil on Canvas,

102.36” X 64.17”.

Jean-Auguste-dominique Ingres, Portrait of Princesse Albert de Broglie, 1853. Oil on Canvas,



Painting in Spain

Political turmoil in Spain brought about the involvement of the French to help quell revolt against King Charles IV. Napoleon was more than willing to join with King Charles IV because he hoped to eventually rule Spain as well as France. Eventually Charles IV was overthrown, and the Spanish people finally viewed the French as invaders. Because of a clash with French troops, the French rounded up and executed many Spanish citizens who were outspoken against the

French occupiers. This event happened May 3, 1808 and was the subject of the Spanish painter

Francisco Jose De Goya Y Lucientes (1746-1828). Goya achieved success in his career and became court painter to the Spanish crown (Charles IV). Goya is often considered the last of the old masters and the first of the modern masters. In the early 1790’s, Goya became ill and it appears the illness caused him to become deaf.

Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814. Oil on canvas, approx.. 8’8”X11’3”.

During a period when the French had declared war on Spain, Goya painted a series of small pieces called the “Black” paintings. These pieces showed his dark outlook on the life and the future of the Spanish people. Below, Saturn devouring one of his Children , Goya depicts a gruesome scene in which many parallels are drawn between the Spanish Government and their devouring of the Spanish Citizenship.


Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring One of His Children, 1819-1823.

(Rococo with list of artists)

French Painters of the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XIV