Special Sub-Topic: Italian Baroque
|The early Baroque is considered to be a reaction against what period of art?|
Mannerism. Mannerism (ca. 1520-90) was an elegantly-artificial, sophisticated, and sometimes bizarre style that developed from High Renaissance models, particularly Michelangelo and Raphael. In its early, most original phase, it was practiced by Pontormo and Parmagianino, among others. By the mid-to-late century, and in the hands of such artists as Giorgio Vasari and Francesco Salviati, it had rigidified and become bankrupt. Not surprisingly, the reaction against it began in northern Italy, where greater naturalism of style had always been preferred. The classic text on Mannerism was written by the late art historian John Shearman.
|Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) is regarded by scholars as the foremost representative of the Carracci reform, which led to the Baroque period. What were the names of his brother and cousin? |
Agostino and Ludovico. Agostino (1557-1602) was Annibale's older brother and Ludovico (1555-1619) his cousin. The three artists began working in a naturalistic/classicizing style, heavily influenced by Venetian colorism, in late 16th-century Bologna. While Annibale and Agostino eventually traveled to Rome, Ludovico remained at home and was less affected by the High Renaissance brand of classicism that came to characterize Annibale's work. The Carracci did not run a formal "academy," but they did train a generation of Baroque artists. Annibale, in particular, was much admired for his reform of painting by two centuries' worth of art theorists and biographers. If you would like to know more, Donald Posner's 1971 monograph on Annibale is a good place to start.
|The famous "Galleria Farnese," frescoed by the Carracci brothers and their assistants between 1597 and 1608(?), depicts what subject? |
The loves of the gods. The Carracci were hired by the aristocratic Farnese family to fresco this room in their Roman palace (partially designed by Michelangelo). The pretext was probably a family wedding, hence the theme. The Galleria was long ranked with Raphael's Vatican "Stanze" and Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling as one of the classic fresco cycles in Rome and is still regarded as a landmark monument of early Baroque style. Variously interpreted by scholars, the scenes are all illustrations of love affairs involving divine beings of classical myth. Important studies of the Galleria have been written by John R. Martin and Charles Dempsey.
|Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) arrived in Rome in 1592. Who was his first important patron and admirer?|
The Cardinal del Monte. Born near Milan and trained in Lombardy, Caravaggio was considerably more attuned to northern naturalism than to the mannered Roman style -- or to classicism. The Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, member of a circle of musical and scientifically-minded intellectuals with a serious interest in natural phenomena, quickly recognized Caravaggio's talents, particularly in the area of still-life. At the same time, he appreciated the erotically-suggestive paintings of androgynous young men that Caravaggio produced for him. According to del Monte's inventory of 1627, he owned at least eight works by the Lombard artist. Extensive information on Caravaggio (and other early Baroque artists) can be found in the catalogue of the 1985 exhibition, "The Age of Caravaggio," mounted by the Metropolitan Museum and the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples.
|Caravaggio's paintings for a family chapel in the Roman church of San Luigi dei Francesi depict scenes from the life of Saint Matthew. By what name is this chapel known?|
The Contarelli Chapel. As the name of the church suggests, the donors of the private chapels (which include the Polet) were French citizens resident in Rome, and San Luigi was their place of worship. The French name of the Contarelli was "Cointrel." For this chapel, ca. 1597-1599, Caravaggio produced two lateral paintings, both rich in his trademark chiaroscuro and realistic types, "The Calling of St. Matthew" and the "Martyrdom of St. Matthew." He also painted two versions of the altarpiece, "St. Matthew and the Angel," the first having been rejected as insufficiently decorous. The paintings immediately attracted attention and had substantial influence. The first version of the altarpiece, incidentally, ended up in Berlin, where it became a casualty of war in 1944. The Cerasi Chapel, in Santa Maria del Popolo, was decorated by both Caravaggio and Annibale Carracci ca. 1601.
|What artist, often later called "divine," painted the "Aurora" in the Casino Rospigliosi in Rome?|
Guido Reni. This graceful ceiling fresco, which avoids the inventive illlusionism that later came to characterize Baroque paintings on ceilings, was completed by Guido in 1614. Melding Renaissance classicism with high elegance of form and glowing light and color, the fresco represents a departure both from the Carraccesque and the Caravaggesque approaches to the new Baroque style. In fact, Guido was never very comfortable with the Roman art scene. Upon completing the "Aurora", he returned to his hometown of Bologna, where as painter and master, he became a major influence on younger artists. For useful information on Guido, see the catalogue of the 1988 exhibition of Reni's works, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Pinacoteca Nazionale of Bologna.
|In the early 1620's, the artist Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647) accused a colleague of having plagiarized a painting called "The Last Communion of St. Jerome." Who was the colleague? |
Domenico Zampieri. Both Lanfranco and Zampieri, called Domenichino (1581-1641), were former students and assistants of Annibale Carracci. Both had worked in the Galleria Farnese, but their versions of Baroque style had diverged significantly. Despite their differences, they found themselves in occasional competition for coveted commissions, such as the dome and choir of Sant'Andrea della Valle, the Theatine church in Rome. While lobbying for this assignment, Lanfranco accused Domenichino of having copied his "St. Jerome" of 1614 from a painting of the same subject by Agostino Carracci. This was the first known accusation of plagiarism ever made against an artist and was launched at a time when the concept of "originality" in art was receiving new attention. Ultimately, Lanfranco painted the "Assumption of the Virgin" in Sant'Andrea's dome, while Domenichino executed the paintings in the pendentives and the choir. One story has it that Domenichino paid someone to saw through the wood of Lanfranco's scaffolding in Sant'Andrea, in hopes that his rival would fall to his death. (He didn't.) Important work has been done on Lanfranco and Domenichino by Erich Schleier and Richard Spear. Elizabeth Cropper's "The Domenichino Affair" (Yale, 2005) examines the plagiarism accusation.
|The artist Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, 1591-1666) owed his brief Roman career to papal connections. Who was the Pope in question?|
Gregory XV Ludovisi. A native of Cento, near Bologna, Guercino traveled to Rome when the Bolognese Alessandro Ludovisi was elected to the papacy in 1621. He remained for only two years. For the Pope's nephew, the Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, he executed a trend-setting ceiling fresco, the "Aurora" (with an illusionistic architectural setting by Agostino Tassi), in the Casino Ludovisi. He also produced the great altarpiece, "The Burial and Reception in Heaven of Saint Petronilla," now in the Capitoline Museum. Although his works of this period suggest the beginnings of a vigorous High Baroque, Guercino surprisingly retreated into a restrained classicism upon his return north. For the paintings and drawings of Guercino, see the books and articles of Denis Mahon and David Stone.
|Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) painted a spectacular fresco in the main reception room of the family palace of Pope Urban VIII. What is this work now called? |
The Barberini Ceiling. When Pope Urban, born Matteo Barberini in Florence, was ready to have the Gran Salone of his palace decorated, he turned to his versatile compatriot, Pietro Berrettini, from the Tuscan hill town of Cortona. Between 1633 and 1639, Pietro produced a tour-de-force of dramatic illusionism. Including scenes from the family history, a great coat-of-arms in the center -- featuring giant bees, the Barberini family symbol -- and a vast cast of allegorical figures, the Barberini Ceiling is today regarded as one of the most representative examples of High Baroque style. It can easily be visited, because the palace is now the National Gallery of Rome. Pietro also painted important frescoes in the Palazzo Pamphili in Piazza Navona and in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and was the architect of Santa Maria della Pace in Rome, among other buildings. For an interesting analysis of the decorations of the Palazzo Barberini, see the 1991 study by John Beldon Scott.
|Another room of this palace contains a ceiling fresco titled "Allegory of Divine Wisdom." Who painted it?|
Andrea Sacchi. The Rome-born Sacchi (1599-1661) is considered to be one of the foremost representatives of High Baroque classicism. Trained by a student of Annibale Carracci, he preferred rich color and loose handling, but his compositions are spare, focussed, and highly-disciplined in comparison with Pietro da Cortona's extravagance. The "Allegory of Divine Wisdom," executed in the Barberini between 1629 and 1633, is an excellent illustration of Sacchi's classicizing simplification. In fact, Sacchi's and Pietro's differing views on appropriate style in painting were clarified by them in writings and lectures, with the former upholding the importance of clarity and decorum. The monograph on Sacchi by Ann Sutherland Harris is a good introduction to this artist.
|Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) designed two important papal tombs in St. Peter's. Who sculpted the smaller and more intimate tomb of Leo XI?|
Alessandro Algardi. Like Sacchi to Cortona, Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654) ranks as the classicizing foil to the exuberant Bernini. He was, in fact, a friend of Sacchi and also of the painter Nicholas Poussin. For Leo XI, a Medici pope who reigned for only a month, Algardi produced a quiet, pyramidally-composed tomb, planar and linear in its structure rather than energetically plastic and dynamic. The tomb, completed in 1644 and located in a passage in the left aisle of St. Peter's, also includes a narrative relief not found on its counterparts by Bernini. For Algardi and Baroque sculpture in general, see the books of Jennifer Montagu.
|In the 1670's, Carlo Maratti (1625-1713) painted a fresco in the Palazzo Altieri for yet another Pope. What is it called?|
The Triumph of Clemency. Pope Clement X, already elderly when he was elected to the papacy, was anxious to complete his family palace in Rome before his death. In 1673, he hired Maratti, a former student of Andrea Sacchi, to fresco the ceiling of the principal room. The subject, "The Triumph of Clemency," made a neat play on the Pope's name, and the format -- a ceiling fresco framed like an easel painting -- insisted on the integrity and independence of the painting versus the surrounding architecture and eschewed strong illusionism. Light in palette and limited in figures, this work reflects Maratti's preference for clarity and rationalism, as learned from his master Sacchi. A highly-successful artist, Maratti has been surprisingly understudied, but see the work of Stella Rudolf.
|In the church of San Francesco a Ripa, in the Roman district of Trastevere, there is a sculptured representation of a dying woman. Who is she?|
Ludovica Albertoni. The Blessed Ludovica Albertoni (d.1533) had spent her widowhood engaging in charitable works and experiencing religious visions. Shortly after her cult was made official by the church in 1671, she became the subject of one of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's most striking late works when a descendant decided to honor her. Characteristically, Bernini sought to intensify the effect of this work by bringing together sculpture, architecture, light, and color in a unified whole, and by placing the figure of the dying Ludovica at the end of a calculated perspective view. This chapel ranks as an excellent example of theatrical and visionary High Baroque style incorporating all of the arts and is preferred by many to "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila" (1652)in Santa Maria della Vittoria. The literature on Bernini is vast, but Howard Hibbard's monograph of 1965 is still useful.
|An important late Baroque artist spent ten years as court painter in Madrid. Who was he?|
Luca Giordano. Nicknamed "Fa Presto" ("works fast") for the dazzling brio with which he painted, Neopolitan Luca Giordano (1634-1705) traveled widely and carried his blending of Roman, Venetian, and other regional styles throughout Italy and beyond. His decade in Spain lasted from 1692-1702 and produced important work in the Escorial among other sites. Eclectic in his sources, Giordano studied Durer, Rubens, and Rembrandt as well as Titian, Veronese, and Raphael. By the late 17th-century, in fact, leadership in Baroque painting was passing from Rome to other centers, notably Naples and Venice, where Tiepolo (1696-1770) was much influenced by Giordano's grand manner. In the 18th century, Italy would lose its preeminence in painting altogether, as the Baroque gave way to the Rococo and France superseded Italy as the European locus of fresh and innovative approaches in art. The major work on Giordano was published by Oreste Ferrari and Giuseppe Scavizzi -- but only in Italian.
|Two art theorists and biographers are considered to represent opposing views of proper Baroque style -- the "linear" and the "painterly." What are their names?|
Bellori and Malvasia. Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1615-96) and Carlo Cesare Malvasia (1616-93) had very different ideas of what constituted an effective work of art, in an old argument dating back to disputes concerning the relative merits of Titian and Michelangelo in the 16th century. Malvasia, a Bolognese nurtured on northern colorism and naturalism, championed a visionary, emotional approach that relied on loose, energetic handling. Bellori, a Roman antiquarian, believed that artworks should illustrate edifying morals and preferred a classicizing, narrative and linear style. Both writers admired Annibale Carracci, but at different stages of his career. Each of the artists discussed in this quiz falls into one of these two camps, which have long been used to structure the teaching of Baroque art.
The works of Bellori and Malvasia are available in modern editions. For a fine basic survey of Italian Baroque painting, sculpture, and architecture, see the recently-revised edition of Rudolf Wittkower's "Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750," published in the Yale University/Pelican History of Art series.
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