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OCA student studying History of Art 1: Understanding Western Art

Giovanni Baccelli by Thomas Gainsborough 1782

Giovanna was a famous Venetian ballet dancer and the mistress of John Sackville the 3rd Duke of Dorset who commissioned this portrait of her.

She is depicted in a costume from one of her ballets. She was described by one person as light, airy and elegant which this portrait captures well. Gainsborough has used light brush strokes, particularly on the dress, which helps show the graceful movements of the dancer.

The artist clearly wants to show her vivaciousness and beauty as it was painted for her lover. In the corner you can see a tambourine and flowers which add to the pictures air of dance and music and the arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arthur Scargill by William Bowyer

A very interesting portrait of Miner’s Union leader Arthur Scargill, shown as most people would remember him, giving a speech. He has been painted in a way to show his passion and his conviction (particularly look at the pointing finger, the pursed lips and the stare in his eyes).

The viewers angle is very interesting as it is from below and to the side. Very similar to how he would have been filmed for TV back during his heyday. it works really well in terms of putting the viewer (of a certain age) back in that moment watching Arthur attacking Margaret probably at a union conference. It helps remind us of this social and cultural importance back in the 1980s. I assume that the painting was produced using photographs of the subject.

There is a certain degree of anger in his face, i wouldn’t say that the artist was necessarily a fan of Scargill as it is not sympathetic or idealised in any way.  The face has been painted using large brush strokes and patches of paint, it does not create a ‘beautiful’ image more of an impression of a very serious man at work. The suit and tie also adds to the sober feel. Interestingly the background is painted red just in case you were not aware of which side of the political divide Arthur was on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

notes for AWHOA Chapter 13 – The Seventeenth Century in Europe

Political, economic or social factors

Rise of the Dutch Republic (downfall of Spanish rule) led to modern, rich and tolerant society. Development of scientific methods and philosophy to wash away the old classical ways of doing things. This gradually filtered into art. Painting flourished under new regime, large proportion of the population owned art (more than anywhere else in the world).

In Italy Rome become dominant centre for art with the modernisation of the city.

Changes to status or training of artists

Development of the Academic Theory of Art which led onto art academies being founded all over Europe. Art collecting began to be a business so dealers emerged. Artist could now make a living without commissions, speculative painting developed which led onto the development of genre painting. Italian painters the most collectable, especially with richer people.

Artist like Rubens had large studios and relied a lot on their juniors to do much of the painting to keep up with demand. Main artist oversaw concept and did most important bits of the pictures. Artists could gain huge reputations and fortunes but lose these again if tastes changed (e.g. Rembrandt who ended up painting lots of self-portraits as no one was employing him to paint them).

Development of materials and processes

Easel painting becomes main style due to market forces. Hardly any murals or sculptures produced as commissions had dried up.

Styles and movements

Caravaggio and Carraci spearheaded new energy in painting taking it away from idealism, symbolism and mannerism more towards naturalism. They proved very influential (spread of Caravaggism – idealised, boldly illuminated figures set against a dark background).

Baroque movement started in Rome, many counter reformation artists were involved with it (e.g. Rubens).

Genre painting developed along with much more easel painting. Classical landscape (completely new genre) developed by Poussin and Claude in Italy. Their paintings were so popular they were forged regularly.

In the Dutch Republic ordinary subjects became dominant in painting, e.g. still life, portraits, scenes of everyday life, contemporary landscapes.

Critics, thinkers and historians

Critics thought that the Baroque style was impure and irrational. Still today Baroque evokes certain connotations (sometimes negative) emotional, energ

notes for AWHOA Chapter 11 – The Sixteenth Century in Europe

Political, economic or social factors

Large scale religious reform taking place, split in church. In Northern Europe the reformation brought Protestant religion to the fore and made people question many assumptions and traditions culturally, in reaction in Italy, the Counter Reformation took place to reform and renew the Catholic Church. Counter Reformation probably had a stronger influence on the arts as Protestantism was perceived by some to be ‘anti arts’. After the Reformation some artist decided to move out of Protestant areas (e.g. Holbein).

Rome took over from Florence as the centre for art. Artists like Michelangelo moved to Rome as that was where the biggest commissions were (due to the urban renewal of Rome). Venice was still the richest city and also had its own artists (Giorgine and Titian).

Changes to status or training of artists

Artists start to become as important in society as other notable people, the highest status they had ever achieved in any previous period. Artist such as da Vinci, Michelangelo and Durer enjoyed widespread fame and fortune. Architecture, painting and sculpture now seen as the ‘liberal arts’ so distinct from textiles, ceramics, metal work, etc… which were viewed as crafts.

Artists now had a mixture of religious, civic and private commissions

Development of materials and processes

The era known as the ‘High Renaissance’ began mid-century with the arrival of artists such as da Vinci and Raphael. New painting techniques were developed such as chiaroscuro and sfumate. also development of aerial perspective, contrapposto and gesture echoing.

Titian took on the use of oil painting and started applying it to canvas, this became the dominant form of painting in Europe.

Styles, movements and influences

In Northern Europe Gothic was still an influence well into the century

Much Protestant art was centred around portraits, particularly of the religious reformers. Artists such as Bosch brought ideas that went against the Italian Renaissance ideas of beauty and nobility, for example ‘The garden of earthly delights’. This picture showed more human frailty and wickedness.

Because of the Counter Reformation you can see in Italian art a clear distinction between what was deemed appropriate in religious art in comparison to secular art. Basically artists had to be much more careful about nudity or certain suggestive poses and gestures.

Development on mannerism in c16th art, known as ‘stylish style’, can been seen leading onto idealised bodies and then finally distorted ones very different from real people (e.g Correggio).

Critics, thinkers and historians

Michelangelo was denounced by Protestants for producing ‘filth’, for example the Sistine Chapel ceiling nudes, clothes were added to some of the figures after his death. The High Renaissance was the main influence on painting until the 19th Century with the development of movements like the pre Raphaelites.

notes for AWHOA Chapter 10 – The Fifteenth Century in Europe

Political, economic or social factors

Italian city states moved away from the Medieval ideas of chivalry, nobility and birth right towards individuality, meritocracy and intellect based around the Republican spirit of the Roman times (rise of the Humanist ideology). Humanists not anti-clerical, they just became more interested in the temporal rather than the afterlife. Development of the “Renaissance Man”. Humanism gradually spread into other parts of Europe in C15. C15 quite an impoverished period so art was not very lavish.

Renaissance also happened in Flanders but lest fuelled by return to antiquity.

Changes to status or training of artists

Several artists during this century moved from being apprentice or practising goldsmiths into becoming artists (e.g.Botticelli and Durer).

Artists became much more self aware and individual with the help of similarly minded patrons.

Development of materials and processes

Flanders saw development of oil painting which allowed much more detail to be added to pictures and more vibrant colours. Due to recession materials changed, less gold, and other extravagant

Styles and movements

Gothic style disappeared in Italy but remained in Flanders.Invention of Linear and aerial Perspective, painting became more scientific and mathematic. In Italy during the early Renaissance the majority of painting was still religious in subject, the rise of private residences led to increase in demand for secular art. Art developed the ability to incorporate religious, moral, mythological and astrological themes in one picture.

Inside and outside influences

In Italy the Renaissance was a rebirth of ‘classic culture’ and a rejection of Medieval culture, in particular Gothic. Classic art seen as the standard to achieve and be judged by.

Critics, thinkers and historians

Thinkers at the time felt art had basically died out in the dark ages

the golden section

I have just come across this term the ‘golden section’ in relation to Italian art in the Renaissance. The description in AWHOA didn’t really make any great sense to me so I thought I would look on the internet to see if there was a better explanation. to be honest it doesn’t get much easier especially when you see this diagram!

fibonacci-spiral-explanation

More research required, apparently its something to do with the  Fibonacci sequence which i vaguely remember from school 30+ years ago but don’t remember anything about.