Caravaggist art refers to an artistic movement that has led to a new style of Baroque painting. It is characterized by the use of tenebrism and chiaroscuro . Darkness is the use of deep shadows and high contrast between areas of light and dark. This technique leaves many areas of the painting completely black to highlight the subject. The chiaroscuro is also the shadow of light and shadows to create a three-dimensional appearance.
- History and development –
Caravaggio art became popular during the late 16th century due to the work of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, an Italian mannerist painter from whom it took its name. Mannerism is an art form that exaggerates balance and ideas of beauty. Caravaggio was known for his religious paintings and still lifes. Although he never opened an art studio to teach his techniques and actually discouraged other artists from copying his style, Caravaggio’s work became one of the most influential artistic movements of the time.
His techniques were followed by many Italian artists, as well as other Europeans, both during his life and after his death. These followers were called Caravaggisti. Some of these individuals spent their entire lives modeling their work after Caravaggio’s style and others used his style for a brief phase of their career. Although he began his work in Rome, Caravaggio went to Naples in May 1606, where many other artists began to follow his techniques. Unfortunately for the caravaggist art, the outbreak of the plague in 1656 interrupted its popularity. French, Dutch, Flemish and Spanish artists were also influenced by shadowing techniques and high contrast during their time in Italy. They returned to their countries of origin,
- Notable artists and their works –
Some of the most famous Roman Caravaggio artists included Orazio Gentileschi, Bartolomeo Cavarozzi and Giovanni Baglione. Orazio Gentileschi later became a painter for King Charles I of England. One of his best known works is Madonna and Child , which shows the Virgin Mary with a halo of light around her head and holding the little Jesus in her arms. The background is much darker than the first floor. Bartolomeo Cavarozzi is known for several works. Perhaps the most recognized of these is Saint Catherine of Alexandria , which shows Saint Catherine in a dark room with a small stream of light entering through a high window. Giovanni Baglione painted some caravaggists for a short period of his career. One of the best examples of this is his Apollo, a painting by Apollo on a black background.
- Decline and subsequent movements –
As mentioned above, several Dutch, Flemish and Spanish artists came to Italy during the early 17th century and learned the caravaggist technique. The introduction of Caravaggio art in these countries led to the development of new painting styles in Flemish, Spanish and Dutch Baroque art. This Baroque art combined the realism of Caravaggio with religious subjects, a style that became popular as a protest against the religious reform of the period. After Caravaggio’s death in 1610, his technique remained popular only for another decade. Around 1620, the popularity of the Caravaggio art began to decline in Rome. In some areas of the Netherlands and France, the influence of Caravaggio art remains until the middle of the century.
- Legacy –
The influence of Caravaggio remains important until today. The Caravaggisti artistic movement was responsible for the renewal of Italian art, giving it a more three-dimensional presentation. It is often credited with promoting dramatic images that have enabled artists to express depth and character.