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Art History Essay

Jose De Ribera, Martydom of Saint Bartholomew, ca. 1639. Oil on canvas * Ribera uses this piece to scorn idealization of any kind. * The drama and brutality expresses the harsh times of the Counter-Reformation. * We notice Caravaggio’s influence on Ribera through the naturalism and drama used in Martydom of Saint Bartholomew and Caravaggio’s many works.

Francisco De Zurbaran, Saint Serapion, 1628. Oil on canvas

* Serapion was a British martyr who was supposed to fight the Moors in Spain, who ended up being butchered in Algeria. * What makes this piece different is a complete lack of violence. There is no blood or any sign of a wound, as we can see his white robe is spotless. * Unlike most martyr paintings that make the subject seem heroic and brave, Zurbaran captures the true helplessness of the saint, winning the viewer’s emotions.

Diego Velazquez, Water Carrier of Seville, ca. 1619. Oil on canvas * This piece captures the social issue of the rich and poor of Spain during the time. * The contrast of dark and light shows elements of Caravaggio, who Velaquez had studied. * Although this scene shows everyday life, the care it conveys suggests a deeper meaning.

Diego Velazquez, Surrender of Breda, 1634-1635. Oil on canvas * Velazquez aided Philip IV in regaining power by using Surrender of Breda as propaganda. * This piece was not only a symbol of Spanish nationalism, but a tribute to Ambrogio Spinola, the Spanish general of this war. * Velazquez’s relationship with Spinola made Surrender of Breda especially historically accurate.

Diego Velazquez, King Philip IV of Spain (Fraga Philip), 1644. Oil on canvas * Velazquez portrays Philip as a military leader by focusing attention on his marvelous red and silver campaign dress. * The painting is also known as Fraga Philip, because it was painted in the town of Fraga in Aragon. * This portrait was just another example of Velazquez’s propagandistic images used for King Philip IV.

Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656. Oil on canvas

* The use of depth and content in this piece helped prove Las Meninas as Velazquez’s masterpiece. * The mirror on the back wall seems to be the reflection of the king and queen, meaning they are being painted on the other side of the room. * Velazquez actually painted himself as the artist in the room.

Peter Paul Rubens, Elevation of the Cross, 1610. Oil on panel * Rubens used elements both from the Renaissance and of the Italian Baroque to create the first Pan-European style, as seen in Elevation of the Cross. * The tension is emotional and physical, as seen in Christ’s face and the grief of his followers. * The drama is intensified by the strong use of light and dark.

Peter Paul Rubens, drawing of Laocoon, ca. 1600-1608. Black-and-white chalk drawing with bistre wash * The predominantly black chalk drawing shows Rubens’ study of classical representation of the human form. * This piece is obviously a revisit of the marble sculpture that depicted Laocoon and his sons breaking free from serpents. * Rubens had a big focus on mastering the human body, which led him to copy classical works of earlier master artists, such as this piece.

Peter Paul Rubens, Arrival of Marie de’ Medici at Marseilles, 1622-1625. Oil on canvas * The painting depicts Marie arriving in France after a long voyage from Italy. * The women waiting for her is an allegory personified to represent France, and the goddesses, Neptune and the Nereids (daughters of the sea god Nereus), represent the sky and the sea rejoicing her safe arrival. * The surfaces are enriched with decoration to further bring the painting together.

Peter Paul Rubens, Allegory of the Outbreak of War, 1638. Oil on canvas * The beautiful human forms and energy that take away attention from the chaos of this piece is a recurrent theme in Rubens’ other works. * The Thirty Years’ War was Rubens’ reason to create Allegory. * The woman clothed in black, deprived of her jewels and ornaments is an unhappy Europe.

Anthony Van Dyck, Charles I Dismounted, ca. 1635. Oil on canvas * Charles I turns his back on his attendants as he looks over his domain. * His location on higher ground gives us the idea he is higher than all of his observers and followers. * The king impersonates as a noble man for a casual walk in the park, but no one can take their eyes off his regal poise.

Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Calling of Saint Matthew, 1621. Oil on canvas * The naturalistic presentation of the subjects echoes the work of Caravaggio. * This piece differs from work of Caravaggio because the use of color, rather than extreme contrast of light and dark. * There is a definite claustrophobic effect as noticed by the figures being crammed into a well-lit room.

Gerrit Van Honthorst, Supper Party, 1620. Oil on canvas

* In this painting, Honthorst portrays the darker side of humanity. * The man on the right being fed by the woman is sometimes interpreted as a warning by Honthorst to avoid the sin of gluttony. * Honthorst frequently placed a hidden light source in his paintings, such as Supper Party, to work with violent dark and light effects.

Frans Hals, Archers of Saint Hadrian, ca. 1633. Oil on canvas * The Archers were one of many militia groups that helped in liberating the Dutch Republic from Spain. * In this portrait, each man is a troop member yet individually different from the next. * The troop members’ attire further helps create a certain rhythm to the piece.

Frans Hals, The Women Regents of the Old Men’s Home at Haarlem, 1664. Oil on canvas * This piece captures the details of each sitter and their cultural characteristics. * The women seem to have different emotions all around, from complete disinterest to concern of their environment. * The monochromatic theme of this painting further adds to the painting’s restraint.

Rembrandt Van Rijn, Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp, 1632. Oil on canvas * The students’ individual faces tell us each has different feelings and thoughts
about the man being dissected. * Van Rijn diagonally placed the body to break away from the strict horizontal orientation found in traditional paintings. * Rembrandt chose to have the students all on the left side to highlight Dr. Tulp and the body.


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