Friday, January 21, 2011

Barocco Art - Painting in Italy

Painting in Italy

The foundations of Baroque painting, laid in Rome during the last decade of the 16th century, were based on two fundamentally different approaches: classicism, espoused by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609.), and realism, associated with Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). Throughout the entire 17th century and beyond, the means of expression and stylistic options of European painters revolved around these two poles as they aimed at a fusion of all the arts, whether through grand illusionistic effects or by capturing the reality of daily life. Annibale Carracci arrived in Rome in 1595. In his decoration of the Palazzo Farnese (1598-1601), he adapted the compositional solutions of Michelangelo's ceiling for the Sistine Chapel and was also influenced by Raphael, especially by his frescos in the Farnesina. In the Farnese cycle, which depicts the loves of the gods, Carracci reinterpreted Correggio's evocative and sensual style through a more detailed exploration of natural reality. It was a more mature sequel to his earlier work in the Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna, which he had executed with his brother Agostino (1557-1602) and his cousin Ludovico (1555-1619). Carracci's art combined the pursuit of ideal beauty with a close observation of natural reality, and a breadth of vision inspired by classical models both ancient and contemporary; his success drew other artists from northern Italy to Rome: Francesco Albani (1578— 1660); Domenico Zampieri, or Domenichino (1581-1641). who brought a lyrical element to classicism; Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, or Guercino (1591-1666), with his melancholy evocations of antiquity: and Guido Reni, the chief exponent of an elevated style that proved much to the taste of the Academicians and won him many commissions. The young Caravaggio arrived in Rome in 1593 and began producing the first "anti-Academic" pictures, still lifes, and genre paintings blending moral values with naturalistic glimpses that had an extraordinary visual lucidity. Outraged opposition to what came to be known as Camvaggismo (Caravaggism), greeted the artist's paintings in San Luigi dei Francesi (1599-1602) and Santa Maria del Popolo (1600-01). In these, scriptural stories are depicted with brutal reality, heightened by strong chiaroscuro and an apparent lack of any divine element. The paintings express an extremely radical and anti-conformist moral stance, which had its roots in the work of Charles and Frederic Borromeo in Milan. The first phase of Caravaggio's career, when he painted in vivid, glossy colours, was followed by work in which light effects became increasingly dramatic and accurately observed. Caravaggio's pictorial sensitivity, based on the study of reality rather than the observation of academic rules, appeared diametrically opposed to the assimilation by the Carracci brothers of classical and Renaissance models. The unrestrained use of light and shade to evoke atmosphere, imagery, and emotions, excited the admiration of Caravaggio's contemporaries and became a style in itself, "in the manner of Caravaggio" or "Caravaggesque". Caravaggio's influence, although extensive, is difficult to pinpoint as he never had his own workshop or pupils in the formal sense. Those painters who were influenced by his work, the Caravaggisti, attracted by his dark and mesmerizing settings and by his brutal realism, often conveyed no more than a superficial echo of the master's depth and drama. Most of his followers lacked the necessary perception to capture the subtle portrayal of tragedy and human suffering that made Caravaggio's work truly great. In Naples. Battistello Caracciolo (1570-1637) was the most faithful of the Caravaggisti, but Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652), from Valencia in Spain, was more innovative. He aimed for a depiction of reality that confronted the grotesque and deformed, breaking the rules of decorum in order to show harsh reality even in the poorest settings. Between 1630 and 1640, the painters Domenichino, Reni, and Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647) were summoned successively to Naples to decorate the sumptuous Cappella San Gennaro in the cathedral. Their classicizing style was embraced by local artists, such as Massimo Stanzione (1585-1656) and Bernardo Cavallino (1616-56), and reached its most fervently Baroque and monumental expression in the work of Mattia Preti (1613-99) and Luca Giordano (1634-1705). In Rome, a third variety of the Baroque style was led by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) who executed the magnificent ceiling decoration of the gallery in the Palazzo Barberini (1632-39). Here, a dynastic allegory of the Triumph of Divine Providence occupies the central field and appears to be played out in the open sky, so that the spectator feels that the interior of the palace has been invaded by a cast of supernatural characters both sacred and profane. The illusionism of Giovan Battista Gaulli, who painted the ceiling of the church of the Gesu, and of Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709), in the church of St Ignatius (1691-94), is a synthesis of many genres of art - such as hamhochades (peasant scenes), battle scenes, land and seascapes, and official or "display" portraits - which anticipate the 18th century.

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