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by  on 09 June, 2013 Be the first to comment!

We leap forward another approximate century to the baroque painter Francisco Zurbaran who was born in 1598 and died in 1664. He is known primarily for his religious paintings depicting monks, nuns, and martyrs, and for his still-lifes. 

Zurbarán gained the nickname Spanish Caravaggio, owing to the forceful, realistic use of chiaroscuro in which he excelled. This painting has incredible attention to detail and great craftsmanship. The skills exemplify the transfer of knowledge and craft throughout the west of Europe again through growing trade and communication. Realism is emphasized as is the use of light and dark shadows. Religious expression for the Spanish was encouraged by the Church as a result of the counter reformation and even a painting with objects as simple as this carried religious signifigance. Spain was in its “Golden Age” and wealth and its display through art continued as a result of the wealth flowing in from the new Spanish colonies 


Neoclassicism refers to the art produced later but inspired by antiquity. The neoclassical painters were attempting to reproduce in their paintings the settings, costumes and any other details of their subject with as great a historical accuracy as they could.  The 18th century is commonly referred to as "The Age of Enlightenment".  This period produced a large number of writers, philosophers, and intellectuals and governments had grown filled with humanists. The sciences continued to be supported and pursued. This had resulted from greater travel and knowledge of the regions in which they travelled. Greater populations, mobility of an educated larger middle and upper class had no doubt resulted in the this interest arising. Both mythology and classical history had been made popular by recent aercheological activties notably in Greece, Egypt, and Rome. Pompeii had been rediscovered in the mid 1700's and and this led to a renewed interest for Roman culture.  Figure 4 is a displays Jacques-Louis David’s “Oath of Horatio” and this work was created in 1784 immediately before the French Revolution. The picture is taken from the writings of an ancient Roman author named Livy and in it one can see the Horati brothers swearing allegiance to Rome on the swords that their father is holding. Laying down ones life for patriotic and nationalistic ideals is being promoted. Apparently both American and French Revolutionaries liked the work since to them it represented self sacrifice and the Roman Republican period and the French Royalty liked it since it also represented loyalty to the nation which they no doubt thought was theirs from their perspective. Notably absent is a religious theme and given that the Roman Catholic  Church had its holdings nationalized during the revolution their influence was clearly not what it once was. The techniques applied in the creation of the work are a culmination of skills transferred and incorporated form the time of the works of Giotto.  “David’s Oath of the Horatii uses the visual techniques of fore-shadowing, chiaroscuro, linear composition, and perspective in order to stress his theme of the public over the personal interest. 

The time spanned by the four artists is nearly five hundred years from 1304 AD to 1784 AD and reflect the periods from Trecento to Neo-classicism. Growth in populations continued over this interval marred by the Black Plague at the beginning of this interval. Wealth, commerce, and the development of smaller states and city states had continued after the retraction of the Western Roman Empire and other very powerful countries arose to take Rome’s place, many of them integrating both Roman characteristics and their own. Trade and war both contributed to the flow of knowledge as it pertained to the skills of the artists. Religion continued to dominate the creation of artistic works but that influence diminished with time. Each artist was however a product of his time and culture, consequently his work represented the influences of these cultures at the time of the creation of each work. The period of time saw great transitions amongst nations in terms of wealth, influence, and culture and these changes were reflected in the works of art created by the artists who lived and worked within these very societies.  


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