However, the work dates back to the 17th century in France, where our bourgeois is moving to town, a difficult endeavour. Peasants fleeing the countryside were sometimes asked to pay the Taille for the ten years following their leaving for towns. Moreover, when these peasants arrived in town, many had to provide a financial guarantee to the municipality where they wanted to settle. This information is available from W. H. Lewis Splendid Century, an online publication. Simply click on Splendid Century.
Reading Chapter VII will also provide you with the following information on Capuchins in the 17th century.
“The attitude of the corps de ville towards the admission of religious orders within the walls was a cautious one, for the establishment of a new religious house raised all sorts of municipal problems. Would the parish priest’s income fall off? Would the revenue of the other houses of religious decline? If the order was a mendicant one, what would be the effect on the town charities? Teaching orders were, however, welcome, and so too were the popular Capuchins, for a curious reason. Fire brigades did not exist before 1699, and, somehow or other, the Capuchins had become expert firefighters; in emergencies, in which the modern Londoner dials “fire,” the seventeenth-century householder sent for the Capuchins. Finally, all towns fought hard, but generally unsuccessfully, to prevent the Jesuits settling in their midst.” [I]
One reason for moving to a town was tax exemption. One cannot generalize because of discrepancies from town to town, but the bourgeois was often exempt of taxation, the Taille in particular, an onerous tax.
Peasants were trampled on shamelessly, depending on their Seigneur. Again, one cannot generalize, except cautiously.
My best regards to all of you.
[I] W. H. Lewis, TheSplendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957 ), p. 162.
Allegory, Boy Lighting Candle in Company of Ape and Fool by El Greco
El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614)
This painting was inserted in my last post and was supposed to grow larger when one clicked on the picture. It didn’t. So I have reintroduced El Greco’s “Allegory” as it is a fascinating example of candlelight chiaroscuro.
El Greco’s manneristic paintings are characterized by elongated and occasionally distorted elements, such as somewhat misshapen body limbs. His paintings are also busy, which is not case with neo-classical works. Moreover, in the painting featured above, El Greco uses a form of chiaroscuro, but mannerism is a movement that does not promote the use of chiaroscuro.
Caravaggio (29 September 1571 – 18 July 1610)
Caravaggio(le Caravage), a Baroque artist is credited for introducing chiaroscuro, a light foreground set against a dark background chiaroscuro. Tenebrism is the strongest expression of chiaroscuro, (claroscuro [Sp] and clair-obscur [Fr].
suspect, however, that the historical importance of Caravaggio lies more in his effort to give objects relief or dimensionality, which was a chief goal of Renaissance humanism. and which situates the introduction of chiaroscuro at a specific moment in history. Chiaroscuro is associated with Caravaggio a Baroque artist, was active in the late 16th century and early 17th century.
So, the Renaissance is its birthplace of perspective and techniques used to create a point de fuite or a vanishing point. Seeking perspective Renaissance artists also developed foreshortening, a trompe-l’œil and, to a lesser extent, and, to a lesser extent, chiaroscuro. and would have a lasting legacy and so would the vanishing point, because of the search for perspective. Movements, however, will follow the whims of fashion. To a large extent, chiaroscuro would be a matter of choice, which differentiates it from perspective, a more permanent feature. Yet, it remains a technique.
Other artists are associated with the use of chiaroscuro (light-dark, or vice-versa). The following is a quotation from the Encyclopædia Britannica: “The single most important painter in the tradition was the Frenchman Georges de La Tour, though echoes of Caravaggio’s style can also be found in the works of such giants as Rembrandt van Rijn and Diego Velázquez.” [i]
So there are forms of chiaroscuro. There are paintings where a light emanating from a candle makes an area of the painting light. Georges de La Tour uses this technique frequently, but he is not a mannerist.
As indicated in the Encyclopædia Britannica, the use of chiaroscuro is prevalent in the paintings of Georges de la Tour (1593-1652). But La Tour is a realist. Moreover, here we are looking at the above-mentioned candlelight chiaroscuro. On an excellent internet site devoted to La Tour’s realism, Misty Amanda Vandergriff, writes that La Tour is also considered “to be a follower of Caravaggio [29 September 1571 – 18 July 1610] due to his dependency on specific elements of the Caravaggesque style (most notably the use of chiaroscuro and tenebristic techniques).” [ii]
In other words, the history of Fine Arts presents similarities with the history of literature and with history in general. When Caravaggio introduced chiaroscuro, he was innovating. Renaissance imperatives called for as faithful a depiction of reality as could be achieved. This led to the development of certain techniques, some of which ended up overriding the moment and movements.
We have long left the Renaissance, but the use of chiaroscuro has lasted. Moreover, we still have the grisaille, a monochrome, chrome meaning colour, form of chiaroscuro. But, the time has come to close this post. So let’s look at David’s use of chiaroscuro andalso look at one of his grisailles and then walk away from the computer.
Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825)
Jacques-Louis David‘s (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) “Death of Marat” does indeed demonstrate the enduring usefulness of chiaroscuro. “The Death of Marat” dates back to 1793. The years had therefore madechiaroscuroone of many tools used by artists to achieve an aesthetic goal. In the case of Jacques-Louis David’s depiction of the “Death of Marat,” chiaroscuro lends drama to David’s painting and serves to explain why “La Mort de Marat” is considered a masterpiece. But, I am also including “Patroclus,” a grisaille by David, where chiaroscuro is achieved to a large extent by the use of a beam of light, another form of chiaroscuro.