Caravaggio’s free ideas penetrated into Spanish painting in the first half of the seventeenth century.
Seventeenth-century Spanish painting developed under the strong influence of the church, partly because of the religious zeal of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. King Philip II and his two successors, Philip III and Philip IV, relied on the Inquisition to eradicate any heresy, including Protestantism. Spanish Baroque art is represented mainly by religious works, although court portraits, still lives, mythological and genre paintings were also produced at the time.
Caravaggio’s free ideas penetrated into Spanish painting in the first half of the 17th century. The Italian master’s sharp contrasts and dark palette were entirely in keeping with the Spanish tradition with its grim realism, especially in religious sculpture.
Caravagism had an impact on the work of Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652), who preferred dark colors and often invested his works with outrageously sinful overtones.
He traveled to Italy, first to Rome, where he became acquainted with the works of Caravaggio, then to Naples, which was under Spanish rule, and remained there until the end of his life, enjoying tremendous success. His religious paintings have more piety than Caravaggio’s, and his pain and suffering are deeper. The mythological scene of Marsius’s punishment by Apollo, who skinned him alive, is incredibly painful. Marsius, a skilled flutist, challenged Apollo to a contest and lost.
As sitters, Ribera enlisted street boys and beggars, portraying them with absolute authenticity. His vagabonds, even if they are philosophers, appear to us with all the physical flaws – rotten teeth, mangled feet and hands, unclean skin, old flesh.
All of this is painted with a realism unparalleled in seventeenth-century painting.
VELAZQUEZ: A SPANISH GENIUS
Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) first achieved fame when he was barely 20 years old, when his work was still under the influence of Caravaggio. He has an equally confident command of form and light, but this is where all the similarities end. Velazquez – one of the greatest artists in the world – is unique, he sees the reality of life – his own, almost without succumbing to extraneous influences.
The only portrait of the royal family comparable to Van Dyck’s portraits of Charles I Stuart is by Velázquez, the Habsburg court painter. The king was a bad politician, but deserves credit for realizing what a court painter fate had bestowed on him and rewarding Velázquez according to his merits.
The perfect beauty of Velázquez’s courtly works, which depicted, in the absence of photography, the appearance of royalty and those close to them, defies classification. “Meninas” now occupy a place of honor behind bulletproof glass, becoming the greatest treasure of the famous Prado Museum in Madrid. While serving at court, Velázquez took part in Philip IV’s grandiose projects. In 1631-35.
MURILLO: THE FORGOTTEN MASTER
The next great 17th-century Spanish master after Velázquez and Zurbarán, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-82) also lived in Seville. He never had the power and depth of Velázquez and Zurbarán, but he has a soft power and depth of his own, capturing with his wordless but compelling images. The longer one looks at “The Holy Family,” where there is no tangible symbolism, the more enchanting the lovingly written characters: the gentle, caring St. Joseph, the mongrel dog, the adored spoiled child.
If not great, the artist’s sincere talent is perhaps best revealed in one of his rare works on a secular subject. In Women at the Window he creates beautiful characteristic female images – beautiful, luminous, full of charm. One is undoubtedly a duenna (usually an elderly hired educator and companion), she laughs but covers her smile; we see only a cheerful blush on her wrinkled cheeks. Judging by her squinted eyes, what the girl is looking at with a secret smile, the old woman only gives her an ironic chuckle. She has seen a lot in life, knows much more than the lovely child, and Murillo tells about it with extraordinary subtlety and delicacy. The women are framed by the broad, powerful vertical of the shutter and the equally powerful horizontal of the window sill. The girl, the emotional center of the composition, looks at life with ironic detachment, but Murillo, along with the duenna, knows how brutally limited her life choices are.
A remarkable master of color, Murillo often captured in his canvases people seen in the streets of Seville. His genre works are imbued with a genuine warmth and compassion for those depicted. He also painted lyrical landscapes and remarkable portraits, inspired by Van Dyck. His religious paintings were also very popular with his contemporaries, including images of the Immaculate Conception, where Mary is represented as a girl surrounded by angels and cherubs.
What are the characteristics of Spanish baroque art?
The baroque style was popular in the Spanish art scene from the 17th to 18th centuries. The Spanish baroque is characterized by its rich and ornate style, which is a stark contrast to the more austere and sober styles of the Renaissance. Baroque paintings are usually characterized by their dramatic use of light and shadow, as well as their exaggerated compositions. They also often feature a three-dimensional quality that was not present in Renaissance paintings.
What is the primary theme of Baroque art?
The Baroque art is best known for its use of dramatic and exaggerated motion, strong emotion, and clear, easily interpreted detail.
The primary theme of Baroque art is drama. The paintings are often characterized by their use of intense emotion and exaggerated movement.
Who were the most famous Baroque artists in Spain?
The Baroque era was a time of great artistic achievement in Spain. The period spanned from the late 1500s to the early 1700s, but the most famous Spanish artists from this era were Francisco de Zurbarán and Diego Velázquez.
Francisco de Zurbarán is known as one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time. He was born in 1598, and died in 1664. One of his most famous paintings is “The Immaculate Conception” which depicts a scene with Mary and Jesus on top of a crescent moon. Diego Velázquez was also born in 1599, and died in 1660. He is considered one of Spain’s greatest painters who created many portraits including “Las Meninas” which depicts King Philip IV with his family.
Who was the greatest Spanish Baroque painter?
The greatest Spanish Baroque painter is without a doubt Diego Velázquez. He was a master of the use of light and shadow, and his paintings are renowned for their realism and for their psychological depth. Some of his most famous works include “Las Meninas” and “The Surrender of Breda”.