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Bernini, piazza of Saint Peter's, Rome
Public square where the faithful gather on Christian festivals to hear the pope's message and recieve his blessing. Bernini conceived of the piazza as a large open space organized into elliptical and trapezoidal shapes (in contrast to the Renaissance circle and square). He used Classical Orders and combined them with statues of Christian saints.
Bernini, baldacchino, Saint Peter's, Rome
Canopy over the high altar above Saint Peter's tomb.
Bernini, Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
This was the funerary chapel of the Cardinal Federico Cornaro. Behind the altar is the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa representing the visionary world of the mystic saint. Life sized figures occupy a Baroque niche with paired Corinthian columns and a broken pediment over a curved entablature. Bernini represents a moment of heightened emotion, the transport of ecstacy. Angel pierces her breast and gently pulls aside her drapery as she is supported by clouds. Leaning back in a diagonal plane her body contrasts with her inner excitement. Rods symbolize rays of divine light . The scene sythesizes the Baroque taste for inner emotion with Counter Reformation mysticism. Only Bernini can combine the powerful religious content with erotic implications.
All traces of mannerism has disappeared. Bernini has chosen to represent a narrative moment requiring action. David leans to his right and stretches the sling while turning his head to look over his shoulder at Goliath. The vertical plane of the Renaissance Davids has become in the baroque style, a dynamic diagonal extending from the head to the left foot. The diagonal is countered by his left arm, the twist of his head, and the drapery. His portrayal assumes te presence of Goliath thereby expanding the space. Such spatial extensions are a characteristic, dramatic Baroque technique for involving the spectator in the work.
Borromini, Collegiate Church of Dant'Ivo della Sapienza, Rome
Concave facade blends into the surrounding buildings of Rome University. The crowning features of the church are innovative. The stepped, pyramidal form supporting the latern which is surmounted by a spiral ramp leading to a stone laurel wreath. This is decorated with carved flames and supports an iron cage upholding an orb with a cross. The sources of these motifs and their unusual combinations appear to have been inspired by the ancient Near Eastern ziggurat.
Borromini, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome
The alteration of convexity and concavity in the facade of san carlo is repeated with variations in the walls. The plan is shaped like a pinched and distended oval. Its main alar and entrance are opposite each other on the short sides of the oval. Side chapels bulge out from the walls. At ground level there are three bays that altarnate concave, convex, and concave. At the upper level all the bays are concave. The undulating walls are characteristics of the plasticity of Italian Baroque architecture. A statue of San Carlo stands in a niche.
Caravaggio, Conversion of Saint Paul
Commissioned by Pope Clement VIII's treasurer general for his funerary chapel. It depicts the moment when Saul of Tarsus, a roman jew who persecuted christians, fell from his horse on the way to Damascus. A bright light illuminated in the sky is blinding Saul. His arms outstretched echo the crucifixion.
Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew
Good example of his innovative approach to Christian subjects. Following the account in the gospel, jesus and an apostle approach a group of older men and youths who are counting money. Among them is Matthew, the tax collector. Jesus becons him and his own gesture indicates that his future will be dedicated to jesus's service. Tenebrism enhances the christian message.
Carracci, Venus and Anchises, Farnese Palace, Rome
As the parents of Aeneas, Venus and Anchises refer to the fouinding of Rome and by implication, to the antiquity of the Farnese family. They thus link the Farnese Palace and it ecclesiastical patron with the mythological past.
Cortona, Glorification of the Reign of Urban VIII
Links moralized allegories using mythological figures with the exaltation of the Catholic Church. Vigorous spatial shifts, illusionistic architecture, and variations of pose, color, and light animate and dissolve the surface of the walls and ceiling. The central field in keeping with the traditional association of the church ceilings and the heavens, is depicted as the sky. It is defined by an illusionistic, rectangular frame with corner octagons containing fictive bronze reliefs. The figure in orange draperies holding a sceptor personifies Divine Providence. This is reflected in the fact that the whitest light surrounds her head. The three bees refer to the sweet odor of sanctity believed to have emanted from Urban VIII's tomb. At the sides of the heavenly realm are mythological subjects.
Dyck, Charles I on Horseback
Memorializes the ten years when Charles ruled England as an absolute monarch. Depicts Charles in the tradition of wquestrian portraiture. The monumental horse, Charles's shiny armor and baton of rule, and the king surveying the landscape create an image of imperial power. Conveys a sense of painterly texture in rendering materials and creates an atmospheric sky. The king's watery eyed expression is related to the king's tragic end.
Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes
Exhibits the Baroque taste for violence. Gentileschi depicts the moment at which Judith plunges the blade through Holofernes neck. The violence in this scene is enhanced by the dramatic shifts of light and dark and by the energetic draperies.
Hardouin-Mansart and Brun, Galerie des Glaces, Palace of Versailles
The Galerie has seventeen large arched mirrors which form a literal wall of glass. They multiplied the sunlight entering the windows opposite and reflected the glittering splendor of Louis and his court. At each end of the Hall of Mirrors are the Salons of War and Peace, decorated with the relevent symbols.
Poussin, The Dance of Human Life
Made for Pope Clement IX. Poussin uses mythology in the servie of christian allegory. The three women and one man represent luxury, wealth, povery, and industry, the four states of human existence locked in never ending circular movement. Time is the musician. Apollo drives across the sky symbolizing day to night. Hourglass and bubbles are a reminder that life is fleeting and insubstantial.
Velazquez, Las Meninas
Vast room in Phillip's palace and the five year old princess Margarita is the focus of the picture. She is attended by her maids of honor and accompanied by a midget, a dwarf, and a dog. Certain forms are emphasized by light. Other areas on the wall are unclear. Most obscure is the canvas that Velazquez himself is working on. There is a mirror which has been the subject of extensive discussion is the king and queen, parents of the princess.
Velazquez, Venus with a Mirror
Known as the Rokeby Venus. Designed for a private patron. The painting obscures the identity of the model by turning her away from the viewer and blurring her features in the mirror. Cupid hints at the amorous content of the scence which is enhanced by the painterly textures and rich colors. The long curves are repeated in the silky curtain. The rarity of the female nude where the antihumanist counter-reformation was strong makes this painting more unusual.
Gaulli, Triumph in the Name of Jesus
Artist worked with Bernini and eventually surpassed him in illusionistic effects. The scene resembles the last judgement with the saved rising toward jesus's name and dissolving into immortal light. The damned, depicted in shadow, plummet toward the nave below. The vault of heaven merges into a blaze of light.
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