Art History Final Lecture
Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi
Caravaggio last manifestation of the renaissance, but also artist who began to
introduce so many new things that he initiated the new period of art.
Caravaggio early education in Lombardy, decided to go to Rome. Didn’t have any
commissions in Rome, went of his own accord.
Boy with a Basket of Fruit: subject of painting not religious, unusual for the
Renaissance. Does not come from secular texts or iconography. New subject. He
imitated nature faithfully, scholars say that he painted himself while looking in a
mirror. Imitation of a model. This is a totally new concept. Either copy of the
antique, always an artistic model, never a human being in a studio. Depicted is a
boy holding a basket of fruits. Fruits rendered very realistically. Boy is wearing
makeup, lipstick and eyebrows. Homoerotic subtext in the painting.
Boy Bitten by a Lizard: theatrical pose and gesture, also slightly homoerotic.
Vase full of water, can see a reflection of the room. Boy is made up with
cosmetics and has a flower in his hair.
Bacchus: young boy. Wearing wine leaves on head, offering the viewer a glass of
wine. Holding black bow that is tying together his dress. Very realistic. Contrast
between the torso and hand. Soft vs. tanned skin. Dirt under the fingernails.
Caravaggio neglected important artistic phase, the phase of drawings. Did not
plan the paintings just started doing them.
Cardsharps: young boys, homoerotic connotations. Three figures fully occupy
the canvas. Gentlemen on the left absorbed in the card game. Set aginst a dark
background. Boy trying to trick them man. Warning to not lose time and money in
card games. Beautiful painting in terms of color and rendering of fabrics etc. Man
has hole in glove, extreme attention to detail. Caravaggio wanted to have a new
approach to painting: no plans, drew real models.
Musicians: complex subject, multiple figures. Used the same model in the two
figures. Diagonal line. Boy from the back, other side young man engaged in
music. Figures look at the viewer. All new subjects. Made for a small clientele of
noble people. Part of private collections. All oil painting on canvas.
Calling of St. Mathew: religious subject for a church in Rome. Contraelli
Chapel, Church of San Luigi. Paintings in church usually done in fresco. He
didn’t want to do a fresco because you have to have a drawing. His approach was
different so he did oil on canvas. Did not work directly on the walls. Painted the
subjects in his own studios, then transported them to the chapel. Iconography the
story of St. Mathew patron named Mathew. Revolutions in the way the paintings
were rendered. Beginning of the story. In a room, can see light coming in. Christ
close to St. peter and is calling up Mathew to follow him. discussion on who is
Mathew in the painting. Thought it was the guy pointing to himself, but could
also be the guy counting the money (that was his old job). We are seeing a
painting that is able to represent the temporality of the moment. The very moment
before Mathew is aware that he has been called to follow Christ. Light that comes
from the outside is the divine light, going to go hit Mathew.
1 Martyrdom of St. Mathew: alter with a cross, but is confused with the presence
of an angel + cloud. Revised the standard iconography for this moment. He is not
wearing a mask, decided to have the scene from a different perspective, see the
moment just after he has been stabbed. Young boy with horror on his face after
seeing the assassination. Created scene in his own studio. Self portrait of the artist
in the back of the painting.
Inspiration of St. Mathew 1/2: painting 1 was rejected, not found appropriate.
Placed on the top of the alter, and when the priest was elevating the host it would
be on the same elevation of their feet. St. Mathew looks stupid because he can
barely write. Rejected so he had to paint #2. Put the saint not seated so the feet
wouldn’t interact. Divine inspiration is represented (doesn’t look dumb).
The Conversion of St. Pau