1. Discuss the hidden, and not-so-hidden, symbols in Campin’s Merode Altarpiece.
Robert Campin’s Merode Altarpiece is a three-panel painting which is noted for its charming detail and use of warm oil colors. Taking a close look at this early 15th century painting brings before us some striking symbolic meanings. The furniture and fittings in the painting are studied deeply to find out the hidden and blatant symbols. The painting shows Mary sitting on the floor which seems to explain her humility.
While the scroll and book in front of Mary are conjectured as the Old & New Testament, Mary’s virginity is symbolized by lilies in the earthenware vase on the table. The lion finials on the bench us interpreted as the Seat of Wisdom and the arrangements for washing at the back of the room seems to refer to arrangements of a piscina for the priest to wash hands during Mass. The table has 16 sides which is a close symbol of the sixteen main Hebrew prophets.
Saint Joseph’s constructing of a mouse trap symbolizes Christ’s trapping and the devil’s defeat. These minute symbols can be collectively related to the Annunciation to the Mass and the sacrament of the Eucharist (Artchive.com, 2009).
2. In the Italian Baroque artwork, The Triumph of the Name of Jesus and the Fall of the Damned by Giovanni Battista Gaulli, explain ways in which the artist blurred the line between the viewers reality and pictures reality. How does the work appear to enter into our space, or draw us into its space?
A close scrutiny of the fresco painting ‘The Triumph of the Name of Jesus and the Fall of the Damned’, reveals to us the fact that it is a deliberate attempt on the part of Gaullu to remove any difference between the picture’s reality and the viewer’s reality. It is the very trait of Barique art to implicate and tempt the viewer to participate in the reality of the picture. This fresco painting mixes the pictures reality with the reality of the spectator and thus blurring the line between these two categories (Kaspersen, pg 265). This painting of the fall of the damned invites physical participation of the spectator so that he or she can visualize the actual reality and physically participate in the environment and mood created by the painting.
3. Choosing artworks by Gentileschi, Ribera, Zurburan or Velasquez, describe qualities that are borrowed from Caravaggio.
In Orazio Gentileschi’s ‘St Francis and the Ange’ created during 1612-13, the painting is a manifestation of an episode from Tommaso da Celano’s account of the life of St Francis. In this painting, Gentileschi made use of a pair of false wings and a capuchin monk’s habit which were borrowed from Caravaggio. The fact that Gentileschi was deeply influenced by Caravaggio is reflected in his other later works. Even his ”Lute Player” has traits of Caravaggism which he borrowed from him. Orazio’s daughter-painter Artemususa was also deeply influenced by the style of Caravaggio. In her work ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’ she borrowed the Psycho-biographical Tenebrism used by her benefactor. Maintaining the ideology of tenebrism as used by Caravaggio, she was able to treat Judith and the other figures in distinct way with the use of light and darkness (Barris, 2007).
4. Baroque theatricality was often used by the ruling classes to glorify and propagandize their power. Describe theatrical effects created at Versailles for Louis XIV and in Rubens series illustrating the life of Marie de Medici and Henry IV.
The practitioners of Baroque theatricality used sharp contrasts in lighting, energetic movement, and the illusion of deep space to heighten dramatic effect (MSN Encarta, 2008). Use of theatrical lighting was hold as imperatively important to put emphasis on a certain character or event. Exaggeration was a pivotal trait of the Baroque style and that is reflected in the construction of Versailles. In order to reflect the absolute monarchy in France and the splendor of Louis XIV, The Palace of Versailles was constructed and it still remains the most important French baroque architectural monument. The classical form, huge complex and gardens, and opulent interiors glorify the power of the monarchy (MSN Encarta, 2008). Peter Paul Rubens’s cycle of twenty-four monumental paintings on Marie de Medicis and Henry IV, reflected the history of the Queen and her accomplishments with exalted emotion. His imaginative figural demonstrations of royal power of the King and chivalric ideals are perfect specimen of baroque style (Cohen, 2003).
1. Artchive.com (2009). Robert Campin: Mérode Altarpiece. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/campin.html
2. Barris, Roan. Psychobiographical Tenebrism? Caravaggio and Gentileschi. (2007). Retrieved January 19, 2009, from Index of /~rbarris/art216sumfall, http://www.radford.edu/~rbarris/art216sumfall/Caravaggio%20and%20Gentileschi%20revised.html
3. MSN Encarta. (2008). Velázquez and Baroque Theatricality. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://encarta.msn.com/media_701766303/vel%C3%A1zquez_and_baroque_theatricality.html
4. Søren Kaspersen, Ulla Haastrup. (2004). Images of Cult and Devotion: Function and Reception of Christian Images of Medieval and Post-medieval Europe. Museum Tusculanum Press
5. MSN Encarta (2009). Baroque Art in Northern Europe. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://encarta.msn.com/text_761572212__1/Baroque_Art_and_Architecture.html
6. Cohen Sarah R. (2003) “Rubens’s France: gender and personification in the Marie de Medicis cycle”, The Art Bulletin, 85, Retrieved January 19, 2009, from
Cite this Art History
Art History. (2016, Jul 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/art-history/