Storia dell'Arte

Zurbarán, Murillo, Velázquez ovvero il Barocco spagnolo

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ENGLISH VERSION by the same author

Zurbarán, Murillo, Velázquez

Above XVII century once again, Baroque epoque as claimed, but this time we exactly consider Spain to note Velázquez (Seville 6 June 1559 – 6 August 1660 Madrid), Zurbarán (1598-1664) and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-82) as major painters around.

The center all every main event is Madrid as far as I am concerned, otherwise Seville obtains a peculiar record, Velàzques’ native city, ruled by Velàzques style for a considerable period of time and, consequently to his moving to Madrid, replaced by Zurbarán, Seville citizen as well. Seville gives the birth to early Murillo too. At Baroque epoch preferable in Spain, many changes occured in the political asset, the as called Thirty years war (1618-48) consolids a rivality both religious and politic between Asburgo and France and in the same period Asburgo does accept the autonomy not only from Nord United Districts but the Netherlands either. Asburgo (read “Spanish crowd once upon”) were surely disappointed by the exit, due to the fact the Netherlands were powerful in naval commerce and rags.  

Nevertheless Spanish empire was wide. In order to fortify its public image, it will use painting to show crowd family members to the whole Spanish population. Portraitist and painter specialized in palaces decoration are on the verge to became as important as counselors.

Diego Velázquez, Philip IV of Spain dressed in brown and silver, 1631-31, oil on canvas, dim. 1,95 x 1,10 m, London, National Gallery

XVII century clouds a rift in History of art -link Barocco for English readers; for the most the divide is based on Caravaggio masterpieces as well as Vasari’s eco. (In 1563 Vasari settled a painting Accademy in Florence who carried a style). In my opinion another event, occured in XVI century, does influence the cloud brought by Baroque, that is Leonard’s treatise On painting. In the essay Leonard da Vinci asserts a painter as an intellectual as well a perit of any other disciples. Leonard’s propositions gives trust to painters, so sponsor felt more save to invest their money in art. Reading from the treatise:

“that the painting is a science based on drawing, that it is the basement of any kind of knowledge coming out- from mathematical demonstration and any kind which is based on the experience without who nothing gives certainty of itself. [the new concept of painting] proposal is the painting as to be considered in the count of liberal arts, because considering it in the count of mechanical arts, the teoric aspect -that is fundamental- has been clouding”  

Leonardo Da Vinci

Esteban Murillo, boys with melon and bunch of grape , over 1645- 1655 or 1665-1675, private collection

A new concept of the painter allows the painter to be considered now as an intellectual and no more as an artisan

Painting becames a business truth be told for the most in Rome and Naples where Michelangelo da Merisi nicknamed Caravaggio lived an estate for anyone intentioned in learning contemporary and absolutly new Lombard’s way of painting. From Flanders, the Netherland, France, anywhere anyone painter come in Italian boot to study Caravaggio (1571-1610). Studies on Caravaggio are advantageous, painters export Caravaggio-style in the whole Europe. Jusepe de Ribera (Xàtiva, 17 Februrary 1591 – Naples, 2nd September 1652) is to be added to Caravaggio watchers and to be considered as the fourth -biggest Baroque Spanish ranking. Particularly Jusepe de Ribera does influence Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Seville, 1st January 1618 – 3rd April 1682 same) a painter who will preferably paints holy subjects admiring Raffaello masterpieces. Ribera carries Naturalism in Murillo’s.

B. Esteban Murillo, holy Mary and the child, 1650-1655, oil on canvas, 1,57 × 1,07 m, Florence, Palace Pitti

Francisco de Zurbarán (Fuente de Cantos, 7 November 1598 – 27 August 1664 Madrid) is committed by the Church. He is considered a plenty interpreter. He has perfectly understood the ideology against Reform, characters painted by him are at the edge of the scene, filled of Flanders cromatism, colorful. 

The athmospere researched by Zurbarán paintings recalls a contemplative ambiance, not losing tableau details. Extreamely prolific he is a succeeding painter because of many innovative solutions (i.e. the Crucifix Christ -noticed as Zurbarán first masterpiece-, is studied due to wooden details and the body position. Feet are particularly attentioned. Zurbarán does not cross, but place a foot side by the other. Zurbarán crucifix is relate to the crucifix of Francisco Pacheco del Río (Sanlúcar de Barrameda, 3rd November 1564 –1654 Seville) Velázquez master.

di/by Elettra Nicodemi

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