European Art An Overview based on The Annotated Mona Lisa (1992)
Renaissance: the beginning of modern painting • Four breakthroughs: Oil on Stretched Canvas, Perspective, Use of Light and Shadow, Pyramid Configuration Mascaccio, The Tribute Money c. 1427
Three Dimentional Realism Donatello, “David” c. 1430-32 Donatello pioneered the Reanaissance style of sculpture with Rounded body mass
Heroes of High Renaissance Leonardo Da Vinci, “Mona Lisa” 1503-6 Embodied all the Renaissance discoveries of perspective Anatomy, and composition
Michelangelo, “The Last Judgment,” detail, 1541 Sistine Chapel , Rome. St. Bartholomew, a martyr who was flayed alive, holds up his skin with a Grotesque self-portrait of Michelangelo
Raphael, “School of Athens,” 1510-11, Vatican, Rome. Raphael’s Masterpiece embodies the High Renaissance in its balance Sculptural quality, architectual perspective and fusion of pagan and Christian elements.
Titian: The Father of Modern Painting Titian, “Bacchanal of the Adrians,” 1518, Prado Madrid. This pagan wine party contains the major Ingredients of Titian’s early style: dazzling contrasting Colors, ample female forms, and asymmetric Compositions.
Renaissance in the Low Countries Van Eyck, “Arnolfini Wedding,” 1434, NG, London.. A master of realism, Van Eyke recreated the marriage scene, in miniature in the mirror. Virtually every object symbolizes the painting’s theme-the sanctity of marriage-with the dog representing fidelity and the cast-off shoes holy ground.
German Renaissance Dürer, “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” c. 1497-98 Dürer used fine, engravinglike lines for shading. In this doomsday vision, the final Four Horsemen-war pestilence, famine, and death, trample humanity.
Spanish Renaissance El Greco, “Resurrection,” c. 1597-1604, Prado Madrid. Many characteristics of El Greco’s late, mystical style are evident here: immensely long bodies, harsh light as if from a threatening storm, strong colors, twisted figures, sense of movement, and intense emotionalism
The Baroque: The Ornate Age1600-1750 • Baroque art succeeded in marrying the advanced techniques and grand scale of the Renaissance to the emotion, intensity, and drama of Mannerism, thus making the Baroque era the most sumptuous and ornate in the history of art. • Music: Baroque-Bach, Vivaldi, Handel • Classical-Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert
Italian Baroque Caravaggio, “The Conversion of St. Paul,” c. 1601, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. Although criticized for portraying holy figures as common people, Caravaggio’s radical styleof sharp light and dark contrasts changed European art.
Flemish Baroque Rubens, “The Descent from the Cross,” c. 1612, Antwerp Cathedral. This painting full of Baroque curves and dramatic lighting , established Rubens’s reputation.
Dutch Baroque Hals, “The Jolly Toper,” 1627, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Hals used sweeping, fluid brushmarks to freeze the passing moment in candid portraits of merry tipplers.
Rembrandt, “The Nightwatch,” 1642, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Probably the best known painter in the Western world, Nightwatch is an example of his early style, shows his technical skill with lighting, composition, and color that earned it the reputation as one of the world’s greatest masterpieces.
English Baroque Hogarth, “Breakfast Scene,” from Marriage a la Mode, c. 1745 NG, London. Hogarth is best known for satirical pictures poking fun at English society.
Spanish Baroque Velázquez, “Las Meninas,” 1656, Prado, Madrid. Velázquez created forms through color and light rather than through lines, achieving startlingly real images of the human figure. Voted “the world’s greatest painting” in 1985.
French Baroque In the seventeenth century, France was the most powerful country in Europe and Louis XIV tapped the finest talents to glorify the monarchy. Poussin, “Burial of Phocion,” 1648, Louvre, Paris. Poussin’s balanced, orderly scenes shaped Western art for 200 years.
The Nineteenth Century: Birth of the “Isms” • For Western civilization the nineteenth century was an age of upheaval. The church lost its grip, monarchies toppled, and new democracies suffered growing pains. In short, tradition lost its luster and the future was up for grabs. Unfamiliar forces like industrialism and urbanization made cities bulge with masses of dissatisfied poor. The fast pace of scientific progress and the ills of unrestrained capitalism caused more confusion.
French Neoclassicism David, “Oath of the Horatii,” 1784, Louvre, Paris. David’s “Oath of the Horatii” marked the death of Rococo and birth of Neoclassical art, which should, David said, “contribute forcefully to the education of the public.”
Goya: Man Without an “Ism”Art of Social Protest Goya, “The Third of May, 1808,” 1814-15, Prado, Madrid. Goya protested the brutality of war by individualizing the faces of the victims of the faceless firing squad. The poet Baudelaire praised Goya for “giving monstrosity the ring of truth.”
Romanticism: The Power of Passion Constable, “The Hay Wain,” NG, London. Constable portrays the farmer with his hay wagon (or “wain”) as an integral part of the landscape emphasizing Constable’s mystical feeling of man being at one with nature. Critics found this landscape so lifelike one exclaimed, “The very dew is on the ground.”
Neoclassicism v. Romanticism Ingres,”Paganin,” 1819, Louvre, Paris Delacroix, “Paganini,” c.1832, Phillips Collection Washington, D.C. • Ingres version of the maestro is an objective, formal portrait of the public man. With photographic accuracy, his crisp, precise lines duplicate exactly Paganini’s physical appearance. This is a rational man, totally in control • Delacroix defines the musician’s form through color and energetic, fluid brushwork, as opposed to lines. Unlike Ingres’s ramrod-straight figure, Delacroix’s Paganini is curved like a violin, carried away by the ecstasy of performance. Eyes closed, foot almost tapping, Delacroix’s painting is a figure of passionate abandon. This is the inner man in the throes of emotion.
Realism • During the first half of the nineteenth century, as artistic wars between Neoclassicism and Romanticism raged, Realism, a force that would dominate art for the second half of the century, slowly began to emerge. With the first grindings of the Machine Age, Neoclassicism’s anachronisms and Romanticism’s escapism would prove no match for Realism’s hard edge.
Daumier, “The Third-Class Carriage,” c. 1862, MMA, NY. A spiritual heir to William Hogarth, Honoré Daumier drew savagely satirical caricatures that punctured the pomposity of Royalists, Bonapartists, and politicians. King Louis Philippe jailed Daumier for his cartoon of the king swallowing “bags of gold extorted from the people.” Still Daumier continued his attacks. “The Third Class Carriage,” portrayed working class passengers as dignified, despite being crammed together like lemmings. This was the earliest pictorial representation of the dehumanizing effect of modern transportation.
Impressionism: Let There Be Color and Light Monet, “Impressionism: Sunrise,”1872 Musée Marmottan, Paris Impressionism radically departed from tradition by rejecting Renaissance perspective, balanced composition, idealized figures, and chiaroscuro. Instead, the Impressionists represented immediate visual sensations through color and light.
Manet, “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe,” 1863, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Manet painted flat areas of color, a radical break with traditional chiaroscuro. Edouard Manet is often called the Father of Modern Art.
Monet, “Waterlilies,” 1919-26, Cleveland Museum of Art When cateracts blurred his vision, Monet’s painted water lilies became hazier and finally indistinguishable from the water and reflections. He had invented a new kind of painting that foreshadowed abstraction. “The essense of the motif is the mirror of water whose appearance alters at every moment, thanks to the patches of sky which are reflected in it, and which give it light and movement.” he said.
Renoir, “Le Moulin de la Galette,” 1876, Musée d’ Orsay, Paris. Renior specialized in human figures bathed in light and color, ex pressing te everyday joys of life. “The earth as the paradise of the gods, that is what I want to paint,” he said.
Post-Impressionism • Post Impressionists were dissatisfied with the Impressionism. They wanted art to be more substantial, not dedicated wholly to capturing a passing moment, which often resulted in paintings that seemed slapdash and unplanned.
Van Gogh, “The Starry Night,” 1889 MoMA, NY. Van Gogh expressed his emotional reaction to a scene through color.
Georges Seurat, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” 1884-86, Art Institute of Chicago. Seurat developed the pointillist technique of using small dots of pure color.
Paul Cézanne, “Large Bathers,” 1906, Philidephia Museum of Art. Cézanne’s late nudes with their stiff, geometric forms, were a precursor to Cubism.
Twin Titans of the Twentieth Century: Matisse and Picasso • These prolific French artists were indeed opposite points on the compass for all Modernist explorers. Each inspired a different form of revolt against realism, one of shape, the other of color. Picasso, in Cubism, broke up forms to recombine them in new ways. Matisse, not to describe form but to express feeling, launched a chromatic revolution.
Henri Matisse, “The Green Stripe (Madam Matisse), 1905, Statens Museum für Kunst, Copenhagen. Matisse used color to transform a conventional subject into a vibrating, original design. Energizing the face, the unexpected streak allows the head to compete with the assertive background. matisse stressed surface pattern, placing equal emphasis on foreground and background, and on objects and the space around them. “No point is more important than any other,” he said, abandoning shadow and perspective for a flat, ornamental, “overall” effect.
Anatomy of a Masterpiece Pablo Picasso, filled with patriotic rage after the bombing of Guenica, created the 25-foot-wide by 11-foot-high mural in one month. It is considered the most powerful indictment ever of the horrors of war. “Painting is not done to decorate apartments,” Picasso said, “It is a instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy.” Picasso incorporated certain design elements to create a powerful effect of anguish. He used a white-gray palette tp emphasize hopelessness and purposely distorted figures to evoke violence. The jagged lines and shattered planes of cubism denote terror and confusion, while a pyramid format holds the composition together. Some of Picasso’s symbols, like the slain fighter with a broken sword implying defeat, are not hard to decipher. Picasso’s only explanation of his symbols was: “the bull is not fascism, but it is brutality ad darkness . .. The horse represents the people.”