Jamila Morrison Visual Expressions Society A tour of Light and darkness in representation12/15/2017Artists in the the late 15th and 16th centuries began to establish a technique of light and dark, formally known as chiaroscuro.
Light illuminates the main figures or objects in paintings, etchings and woodwork, etch with the use of high saturated color and a dark background. Chiaroscuro became widely known from the works Caravaggio and Rembrandt as the use shadow and light to create and define depth and dimension. We will explore five works of art that exemplify these techniques by, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo, Gerrit Dou. We begin with an etch. Etchings are not a popular medium of arts and not one that quickly comes to mind. Dutch artist, Rembrandt van Rijn, etches St.
Jerome in a Dark Chamber. Although this work is not a paintings and without color, Rembrandt still clearly shows his use of light and dark to create depth in the scene. Etched in 1642, in Amsterdam. There is a monochromatic color scale with a high tonal value. Rembrandt’s single color adds a depth of tonal value as he uses a lighter hand to emphasis light and darker shading for shadows. The light source coming from the upper right corner through window the light source allows the eye to to follow the diagonal line that it creates, seeing the path of the man and the staircase behind him.
The viewer can better see the small lines and curves that make up the textures on the wall and St. Jerome’s garments. Rembrandt’s shadings also adds dimension to St. Jerome’s space as the viewer can easily make out the curved staircase. Etchings are different from painting are these resemble intricate sketches and add a depth of tonal value and line creating a three dimensional space on the paper or medium. All of those elements, also increase the appearance of textures that result in a look grainy and realistic. Etchings are made on plates rather than on canvas, or paper or any other common mediums.
Unlike a sketch, etchings are made as carvings on plates. Next, we move on to Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo St Matthew and the Angel,1548. St. Matthew is depicted as he is writing the gospel. There are also two scenes in the background that represent past scenes form St. Matthew’s life.
The colors on St. Matthew’s robe are very rich due to the light source being right on him. Him and the angel next to him, both the pink and blue tones come to the front of the painting. The red is more saturated as the eyes moved toward St.
Matthew’s shoulders and into the shadows. Even Though the flame is small, the light reflected onto the character’s is large. Light is reflected onto St. Matthew’s clothes which attracts the viewer’s eye to the warm tones of his garments and cool tones of the angel. Savoldo’s line work on the clothes of both St. Matthew and the angel depict the naturalistic way the material of the clothes would lay on their bodies. Savoldo’s line detail on the angel’s wings resembles a feathery texture.
The light in the front of the painting adds depth in the as you have one scene in the foreground and another in the background. The negative space and darkness behind on the angel on the right side gives depth to the painting, as the is another scene in the back with characters. The angel appears to be floating, as only its body is illuminated. The darkness, makes the angel appear to be floating.
Because the light is focused in the front of the picture, you can see that St. Matthew’s neck looks smaller in scale to the size of hands. It is unclear what exactly the figures in the back are engaging it but are significantly small scale to the figures in the front, representing something from St.
Matthew’s past or memory. Now, take a look at, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), David with the Head of Goliath. Made in 1610 on Mezzotint, which a printmaking process that results in the light arrangement of black tones. Painted by Caravaggio, Caravaggio’s representation of this biblical story of a young boy, slaying David, the Goliath after Goliath’s defeat. He includes a self depections (as the head of Goliath) in the painting because of lingering accusations the early 1600’s of murder.
Could this be Caravaggio gesture for a pardon? Or a display of guilt? It is unclear where the light source is exactly, but you know that it is coming from somewhere in the middle of the painting and shining directly onto David, highlighting the right side of his body. Caravaggio reflects the light off of David’s sword which is clean and shiny, and David’s head is still dripping blood. The colors around David’s body (on his clothes) are neutral colors which help to emphasis the saturation of light, shining from the darkness of the background. The light first draws the viewer’s eye to David’s arm holding out the head of Goliath (Caravaggio) by his hair, following his shirt and to Goliath’s head. It is actually a self-representation of Caravaggio, himself.
The contours of David’s body and Caravaggio’s head are very realistic and seamlessly blended.The light that shines on Caravaggio’s eyes makes him look still alive even though his head is severed off. There is no space of any environment and the mind is left to fill in the blanks. Caravaggio depicts David and the head of Goliath as solely these two figures. Like Rembrandt’s, Aristotle and Homer’s Bust, there is a lot of negative space, leaving the focus of attention to the two figures by painting them with in a dark background and a lot of negative space. The large amount of negative space and lack of background allows for the isolation (maybe use another word) of the two figures.
Goliath’s head looks a lot larger to scale compared to Goliath’s head. Caravaggio uses a larger scale head to better emphasize the story of David beheading Goliath. David’s face and left side of his collarbone, shines out from the darkness. The head of Goliath is actually Caravaggio depicted as himself.In the 17th century, young girls were not usually educated outside the home or at all, unless of noble birth or wealth.
This scene from Gerrit Dou’s, An Evening School, 1655-1657, suggests that a young girl studying alongside two boys in private in the evening, away from the the public. The light is a small flame, but acts a source of education to the characters in the painting. The virtue of teaching is reflected with the candle flame and the sharpening of the writing tool suggests that the teacher is passing along the knowledge to his pupils. Dou uses warm colors and a brown color hue to better emphasize the candle light being the brightest object. You can see the smoke likes that candle is giving off with the loose brush strokes. Even though the canvas is wood, the oil helps to melt the brush strokes together and blend with the lines to make the painting look naturalistic.As for the figures by the light, you can can better make out their facial features and with the closer attention to detail on the young girl’s face and line work on her clothes and the teacher’s gesture, lighting the candle. The other two figures in the dark are not as accented an the focus is slightly taken away from them, as the focal point is the young girl and the teacher with the writing tool.
The lines are reflected on the the garments of the two figures as the light is reflected off of them. You can better see the brush strokes that on the creases on the garments that are illuminated. The three children figures are closer together all trying to absorb the knowledge from their teacher. All four figures in the painting take up the bottom half of the wood.
The background is dark with what looks to be a curtain above. Dou paints oil on wood, which leaves a grainy texture, but you can still see the linework that makes the painting look realistic ,as you can see the scrunches arm sleeves and girls face and front of her dress. Dou offers the viewer a closer look into a night lesson through an arched door as the curtains are open. These night lessons may have been restricted at the time which is suggested by the presence of the curtain in the top left side of the wood. All of the figures look accurately in proportion with each other.
They are showing from the top half of their bodies. We end with another Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, coming full circle from an etching to a full painting. Aristotle is depicted touching a bust of Homer, the poet famous for the works of Homer the Iliad and the Odyssey, just to name a few. The light source highlights Aristotle’s hand acquiring knowledge from Homer head through sight and touch. The hue of the painting is of dark browns and black.
The saturation is rich as the piercing color is back is coming to the front on Aristotle’s garment. The warm color is the low saturated red that Homer’s bust is resting on also comes forward to the eye as well. Rembrandt focuses his color palette around the where the light hits the bust and Aristotle’s hand. From the light source on the top left of the painting, the viewer’s eye is guided diagonally starting from the top left to the bottom. The the space that Rembrandt, provides with the use of light, all of the figures in the painting are positions along that line of light. The negative space around Aristotle and Homer’s bust are darkened and there is no perception of what the background may be.
Rembrandt focused the attention to the two figures by painting them with in a dark background and a lot of negative space. The large amount of negative space and lack of background allows for the isolation (maybe use another word) of the two figures to accentuate the symbolize of Aristotle touches Homer’s head. Rembrandt’s use of light and shadows also help to show what looks to be Aristotle’s deep in thought from the shading and fine lines on his forehead. In this painting, Rembrandt, paints Aristotle’s chain to emulate it looking jewele or embellished from the use of the line stroked to create a realistic texture.
You can really the texture in the Aristotle’s arms as the fine lines reflect the creases in scrunches a shirt of that time would make. In this painting, Rembrandt accurately paints Aristotle in proportion to his body. Although we do not see his neck, presumably covered by his beard.
Aristotle’s hands, especially his left hand, facing the viewer, looks slightly large in proportion to his body and slim face . The Dutch painter artists was not only known for his etchings but his paintings as well. The oil on canvas allows for the colors and Rembrandt’s With color and the use of light to , the viewers can see similar techniques that Rembrandt establishes in St. Jerome in a Dark Chamber, 1642 with the light that directly shines on the figures and softer edges around the lines and facial features.
St. Jerome in a Dark Chamber, Rembrandt,1642 is the selections smallest piece of work, but no short of techniques that Rembrandt is well known for, creating dimensions with light and dark. David with the Head of Goliath, Caravaggio (1610), fairly large painting.
Caravaggio uses mezzotint which aids the graduation of light and dark (shading). Classified as prints, just as St. Jerome in a Dark Chamber, both Caravaggio and Rembrandt show how chiaroscuro can be translated onto different mediums and still obtain the same effect. Saint Matthew and the Angel, Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo, is a large painting, respectfully so, depicted St. Matthew as he is writing the gospel. Like the size of David with the Head of Goliath, and Aristotle with a Bust of Homer,1653, these paintings have characteristics of high saturated colors with dark backgrounds.
Savoldo and Rembrandt used oil on canvas and Caravaggio mezzotint. All three paintings show how adding light and darkening spaces can add to the overall emotional intensity and configuration of the piece. Almost no bigger than the size of a sheet of paper, Gerri Dou still is able to illustrate how he uses light from a central flame to display the virtues of knowledge. All five works of the late 16th century and 17th century(Dutch and Italian), focus on the popular technique at the time of incorporating light and darkness to paintings or prints to further create and elevate depth and dimension into a work of art. The graduation of light and darkness, isolates figures or objects, increasing dramatic features, symbolism in gestures or tensions to reflect the external world and and accurately reflect the way light would off of the figures. Additional Comments: Is The Sybil, by Rembrandt’s pupil, William Drost. Another great example of the juxtaposition of light and dark. The careful technique of chiaroscuro is shown with the light on just shining of the back of the woman, detailing her intricate clothings and jewels.
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