Baroque and Rococo

 

Baroque and Rococo Art Map








 

The Art of the Portrait


 


Masterpieces of European Portrait-Painting


1420-1670



 

 

 
   
  The Art of the Portrait
   
  The Great Age of the Portrait
  Origins of the Portrait
  Jan van Eyck: Tymotheos
  Jan van Eyck: The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini
  Jan van Eyck: The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin
  Rogier van der Weyden: Portrait of a Lady
  Jean Fouquet: Etienne Chevalier Presented by St Stephen
  Hans Memling: Man with a Roman Coin
  Antonello da Messina: Portrit of a Man, known as "Il Condottiere"
  Early Portrait of a Ruler
  Piero della Francesca: Federigo da Montefeltro and his Wife Battista Sforza
  Portraits of Renaissance Women
  Pisanello: Young Lady of the Este Family
  Leonardo da Vinci: The Lady with the Ermine (Cecilia Gallerani)
  Leonardo da Vinci: Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)
  Giorgione: Portrait of a Young Lady ("Laura")
  Piero di Cosimo: Simonetta Vespucci
  Agnolo Bronzino: Laura Battiferri
  The Psychological Portrait
  Lorenzo Lotto: Young Man before a White Curtain
  Lorenzo Lotto: Man with a Golden Paw
  Moretto da Brescia: Portrait of a Young Man
  Portraits and Caricatures
  Quentin Massys: Old Woman (The Queen of Tunis)
  Portraits of Renaissance Humanists
  Luca Signorelli: Portrait of a Middle-Aged Man
  Agnolo Bronzino: Portrait of Ugolino Martelli
  Raphael: Baldassare Castiglione
  Lucas Cranach the Elder: Dr. Cuspinian and his Wife
  Hans Holbein the Younger: Erasmus of Rotterdam
  Mythologising Portraits
  Agnolo Bronzino: Andrea Doria as Neptune
  Nicoletto da Modena (?): Francis I of France as an Antique God
  Portraits of Popes and Cardinals
  Raphael: Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giuliano de' Medici and Luigi de Rossi
  Titian: Pope Paul III, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and Duke Ottavio Farnese
  Portraits of Artists and Collectors
  Lorenzo Lotto: Andrea Odoni
  Titian: Jacopo de Strada
  Artists' Self-Portraits
  Albrecht Durer: Self-Portrait with a Fur Coat
  Nicolas Poussin: Self-Portrait
  Rembrandt: Self-Portraits
  Portrait of a Friend
  Hans Holbein the Younger: The French Ambassadors to the English Court
  "Teste Composte"
  Giuseppe Arcimboldo: Vertumnus
  Portraits of 16th and 17th-century Rulers
  Titian: Emperor Charles V after the Battle of Miihlberg
  Anthony van Dyck: Charles I of England, Hunting
  Hyacinthe Rigaud: Louis XIV of France
  Philippe de Champaigne: Triple Portrait of Cardinal Richelieu
  Marriage and Family Portraits
  Peter Paul Rubens: Rubens and Isabella Brant under the Honeysuckle
  Jacob Jordaens: The Artist and his Family
  Portraits of Children
  Giovanni Francesco Caroto: Boy with a Drawing
  Jan van Scorel: The Schoolboy
  Diego Velazquez: The Infante Philip Prosper
  Dutch Civic Guard Portraits
  Rembrandt: "The Night Watch"
  Portraits of Regents
  Frans Hals: The Governors of the Old Men's Almshouse at Haarlem
  Anatomy Lessons
  Rembrandt: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
  Portraits of Fools and Dwarfs
  Diego Velazquez: The Dwarf "El Primo"
 
 

 

 


Marriage and Family Portraits

 


See also:


Jacob Jordaens
 



Jacob Jordaens:



The Artist and his Family




 

   

Jacob Jordaens
The Family of the Artist
1621
Oil on canvas, 181 x 187 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
 

 

In this almost quadratic picture, which entered the Prado from the collection of Philip IV in 1829, the Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens proudly presents himself and his family. The view from below -eye level is practically ground level - lends the subject dignity. The use of this optical device allows Jordaens to portray himself in an almost aristocratic light. In 1621 he was made Dean of the Guild of St. Luke in Antwerp and later carried out a large number of royal commissions, both independently and under Rubens's guidance.
The composition defines family gender roles. Jordaens himself stands on the right, one foot casually supported on the crossbar of a raised chair. His right hand leans on the chair's backrest, while his left holds the neck of a lute. His wife, wearing elegant clothes and a large ruff, sits on the left on a lower chair, her arms casually holding her little girl. In her hands, the girl has a basket of flowers and an apple. In the middle ground, between husband and wife, is another girl, who, although also shown frontally, is the only figure not to gaze directly at the spectator. The older girl is generally held to be a servant. However, she is shown here holding a basket of grapes. This role is usually ascribed to children m seventeenth-century Netherlandish family portraits. The grape-motif is a symbol for the strength of familiy ties, based on the old meaning of the Eucharist. The girl is probably between thirteen and fifteen years old. If she were really the daughter of the artist, who married the daughter of his teacher Adam van Noort in 1616, then the portrait could not have been painted in 1620/22, as is generally supposed, but must have been executed eight to ten years later.
Jordaens, like Rubens, saw himself as a scholar. Indeed, notwithstanding his membership in what amounted to a guild for craftsmen, he saw himself as a highly sophisticated court painter. This portrait, for example, is full of hidden allusions to his status and to his - albeit hardly unconventional at the time - ideas on marriage and the family. A putto at the top left of the painting suggests marriage is a union based on love, not merely on property. The putto is riding a dolphin, which, since early Christian times, had been viewed as an archetypical symbol - often in relation to the story of Jonas - for Christ's death and resurrection. Marriage is thus portrayed as a union founded on faith. The parrot in the top left, a Marian attribute, is, by allusion to the purity of the Virgin, a cipher for the chastity expected of married women. The dog behind the artist is a symbol of devotion (compare van Eyck's Arnolfini portrait,) implying - as a kind of "quid pro quo" for his wife's promise of chastity - the conjugal fidelity sworn bv the husband.

As in Frans Floris's family portrait (1561; Lier), the musical instrument stands for "concordia", family harmony. At the same time, in recalling Leonardo's description of an elegantly dressed painter listening to music and standing at his easel, it points to the artist's privileged status in society. In this sense, it is interesting that Jordaens has chosen to portray himself in the privacy of his family, rather than in a professional setting.
 

   


Jacob Jordaens
The Artist and his Family
(detail)


Jacob Jordaens
The Artist and his Family
(detail)


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Portraits of Children

 

 



Giovanni Francesco Caroto:


Boy with a Drawing



 


Giovanni Francesco Caroto
Boy with a Drawing

As in earlier paintings of St. Luke, Caroto allows the spectator to compare reality with its representation
(assuming the drawing is the boy's "self-portrait").
 


Derick Baegert
St. Luke and the Virgin

1490

It is no longer possible to ascertain whether this small-format work by the Veronese painter Giovanni Francesco Caroto was originally intended as a portrait. It shows the smiling face of a boy with long, flowing red hair. The boy has turned his head out of profile to look at the spectator and is holding up a child's scribbled drawing. Probably, however, it is quite correct to see it as a portrait, since its subject bears no relation to any of the other genres becoming increasingly established in sixteenth-century painting. It is remarkable for the way it shows, probably for the first time in painting, a specifically childlike represention of reality, giving the spectator an amusing opportunity to compare the child's view with that of the artist himself. The idea of allowing the spectator to form an expert opinion of the artist's talents by showing reality and its representation within one painting is prefigured in paintings of St. Luke and the Virgin by Derick Baegert and Jan Gossaert. The scribbled figure, which the boy proudly holds up to view, seems to be a "self-portrait".
The period was one in which artists - in Italy Leon Battista Alberti, Francesco di Giorgio, Leonardo da Vinci and Fra Luca Pacioli, and in Germany Albrecht Durer -were studying human proportions in order to establish a formula for the Classical ideal, in other words the rational basis for a canon of perfect beauty. At the same time, however, these artists also began to understand much more about the deviations from the norms they were establishing. It was this which led artists like Leonardo and Durer to the caricature. The interest in children's drawings to which Caroto's painting testifies probably arose in this context, too. It may have gone hand in hand with a new interest in specifically childlike patterns of perception as such, including their manner of portraying reality in drawings, since the child was no longer merely viewed as a small adult.
Long before Corrado Ricci "discovered" children's drawings for modern child and developmental psychology, Caroto's example of "children's realism" showed that aesthetic perception and the representation of reality were linked to certain mental standards or developmental stages. As an essay in art theory, the painting therefore also relativises dogmatic approaches to artistic method.
 


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Jan van Scorel:

The Schoolboy

 
 


Jan van Scorel
The Schoolboy
1531
 


Hans Holbein the Younger
Schoolmaster's Signboard
1516

Unlike portraits of aristocratic or courtly children, such as those painted by Agnolo Bronzino or Diego Velazquez, showing princes and princesses whose prescribed role is evidently too demanding, whose features are either doll-like or too old, and who, despite all their privileges, seem robbed of their freedom of movement, this young burgher with his red beret has such a fresh, vivacious expression on his face, such a lively desire to learn in his manner, that he seems already a fully developed, confident individual.186 Indeed, the difference between this likeness and portraits of adults, especially those of sixteenth-century humanists, is only one of degree. The age of the boy, whose alert gaze is fixed directly on the spectator, is given by an inscription in Latin as twelve years (AETATIS XII). In his desire to work he has picked up a quill and looks as if he is about to write something down. Indeed, in his left hand is a note which is already inscribed. The writing, like a code, is laterally inverted: "Omnia dat dominus non habet ergo minus" (The Lord provides everything and yet has nothing less). This sentence, admittedly rather precocious for a twelve-year-old, is thematically linked to the words written in Roman capitals on the painted lower section of the frame: QUIS DIVES? QUI NIL CUPIT - QUIS PAUPER? AVAR(US) (Who is rich? He who desires nothing - Who is poor? The miser). Stoic or Cynic wisdom is expressed here in Christian biblical diction; the postulate of selflessness is probably directed against the boundless avarice of usury, a practice which the church had initially condemned, but later tended to condone. The ideas encapsulated in these quotations are similar to those of humanists like the Spanish writer Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540). It was no coincidence that Vives published his main pedagogical work "De disciplinis" (1531) in the same year as Jan van Scorel painted his School-boy.
According to Vives, children were born with a spiritual ability to withstand the base materialism of instinctual avarice; this spiritual predisposition was the "germ of all art and science". Jan van Scorel's Schoolboy was an early treatment of the theme of childhood, but one in which children were neither infantilised, nor reduced to their "natural state" — a pedagogical ideology later propagated during the age of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
 

   


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see also:



Velazquez

 


Diego Velazquez:


The Infante Philip Prosper

 

Velazquez
The Infante Fhilip Prosper
1660
 

 

During the last decade of his life, Velazquez executed a series of portraits whose intuitive insight into the "childlike nature behind the facade of regal dignity"188 makes them possibly the most impressive of their genre.
In 1649, Philip IV of Spain had remarried. His new wife was Maria Anna, the daughter of Ferdinand III of Austria, who gave birth to the Infanta Margarita Teresa and Prince Philip Prosper. Velazquez painted several portraits of Margarita. However, the only existing portrait of the heir to the throne (born 28 Nov. 1657; died at the age of four) is the painting reproduced here (now in Vienna). The portraits of the royal children were intended for the imperial court at Vienna. Those of Margarita were sent as presents in the course of marriage negotiations, for she was betrothed to her mother's brother, Emperor Leopold I, whom she married in 1666.
Velazquez was required by the court to emphasise the preeminent social position of the children he portrayed. The portraits must therefore be viewed as official state portraits; they depict the regal dignity and nobility of attitude which the royal sitters had inherited by virtue of birth. Following courtly convention, Philip Prosper is therefore portrayed standing with his right arm outstretched, a pose designed to recall the thaumaturgical gesture of a king. It is nevertheless apparent that the pale, sickly-looking child, who was two years old at the time, is unable to play - much less understand - the historical role ascribed to him. His right hand hangs limply and weakly over the backrest of a red, velvet-covered child's chair, on which his little playmate, a lap-dog, is lying with its nose and one paw slightly extended.

 


Velazquez
The Infante Fhilip Prosper
(detail)
1660
 

 

Over his full-length dress, Philip Prosper wears a white apron hung with various amulets whose purpose was to protect the frail little heir to the throne against illness, a practice based on the ideas of sympathetic magic. The portrait may have been executed on St. Prosper's day, marking the prince's second birthday.
Margarita is the main figure in a group portrait which is probably Velazquez's most famous work of all: Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), executed in 1656. The Infanta stands at the centre of the composition; her head, with its silky, shoulder-length hair, is turned slightly sideways, looking out towards the spectator. Kneeling down, with her head at the same level as that of the Infanta, a maid of honour, Dona Maria Agustina de Sar-miento, offers the Infanta a little pot of drinking chocolate. The other maid of honour, Dona Isabel dc Velasco, standing a little behind and to the right of the Infanta, is shown making a curtsey to persons beyond the picture-plane who seem to be approaching the group and whose position is more or less identical to that of the spectator. Maribarbola, the coarse-looking dwarf standing in the lower right corner, seems to be glancing up at approaching persons, too (while Nicolasito Pertusato, the other dwarf, caught in the act of kicking the dog lying on the floor, has not noticed them). The spontaneity of the scene is accentuated by the figure of Velazquez himself, shown stepping back from his work, his palette and brush in his hands. Only the reverse ot the large-format canvas propped up against his easel in the lower left of the painting is visible. Also looking out of the picture are two shadowy figures in the middle distance, and, standing at the back of the painting on some steps in an open doorway, the court treasurer Don Jose Velazquez, presumably one of the painter's relatives.
It is quite possible that the figures grouped in this palace interior have suddenly become aware of the approach of the King and Queen, whose blurred image appears in a gleaming mirror on the wall at the back of the room (beside paintings bv Mazo after works by Rubens and Jordaens). As in Jan van Eyck's wedding portrait for Giovanni Arnolfini, which was in the Spanish court collection at the time, and may therefore have been known to Velazquez, fictional borders are broken down with the help of a mirror which reflects persons outside the picture space.
 

Velazquez
Las Meninas
(detail)
1656-57
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid
 


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Dutch Civic Guard Portraits

 


see also:


Rembrandt

 


Rembrandt
:


"The Night Watch"

 


Rembrandt
The Night Watch
1642
Oil on canvas, 363 x 437 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
 


Rembrandt
The Night Watch
(detail)
1642
Oil on canvas
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
 

Bob Haak has quite rightly pointed out that Rembrandt's so-called Night Watch "has a greater historical burden to carry than any other seventeenth-century Dutch painting". Since the nineteenth century especially, when Rembrandt was made the object of a cult of genius, the painting has been obscured by so many different layers of meaning that it has become inordinately difficult to throw light on the conditions under which it was executed. According to popular legend, Rembrandt's use in this painting of an entirely new method of composition so appalled his public that his fall into penury was sealed from that moment onwards. The story draws on the myth of the unrecognised genius whom an insensitive public condemns to tragic isolation. This stock device in the rhetoric of modern art bemoans the fate of the typical secessionist whose rebellion against the dominant aesthetic is fought out at the cost of his secure existence.
However, contemporary sources suggest that the painting's rejection was not as great as was later supposed. Indeed, the evidence tends to point to the contrary. Despite one or two, hardly unusual, critical remarks concerning various practicalities of the painting's execution, Samuel van Hoogstraten described the composition in his "Schilderkonst" (1678) as "dashing". It was "so powerful", he said, "that, according to some, the pictures beside which it was hung were made to seem like playing cards". Filippo Baldinucci reported that the painting was received to considerable acclaim. Rembrandt had "made such a great name for himself that he is better known than almost any other artist in these climes". Although it is demonstrable that Rembrandt now turned away from the group portrait, it would be difficult to establish a causal nexus between this change of direction and the financial crisis which overshadowed his life from then on.


Rembrandt
The Night Watch
(detail)
1642
Oil on canvas
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
 


Rembrandt
The Night Watch
(detail)
1642
Oil on canvas
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
 

Detail from The Night Watch.
The claw (Dutch: "klauw") of the white fowl hanging from the girl's belt is a visual pun on the name of the "Klovcniers" militia company.

 

Rembrandt's Night Watch - erroneously named, since it depicts an event taking place in the shadows, with patches of sunlight breaking through - belongs to the genre of the "doelenstuk", or militia company piece. The painting shows members of the Amsterdam "Kloveniersdoelen" (civic militia company of harquebusiers). The subject is introduced by a visual pun: the muskets ("kloven" is Dutch for the butt of a gun) which the men are holding, or loading and firing. Moreover, Rembrandt has included a hidden, emblematic reference to the militia company in the middle ground. At the same time, the detail is accentuated by painting it in a bright light: a white fowl, shown dangling from the belt of a dwarflike girl, who may be a sutler - the "claws" (Dutch: "klauw") of the bird are a visual pun on "Kloveniers".
The painting shows only the more wealthy, upper and middle class members of the militia company from Amsterdam's District II, the "Nieuwe Zijde". In fact, the company had several hundred members, while about four thousand civic guards were organised in the Amsterdam companies altogether. To become a high-ranking officer of the civic guards was a means of demonstrating one's rise to political influence. This certainly applies to the two main protagonists here: Captain Frans Banning Cocq, with his red sash and sword, and Lieutenant Willem van Ruijtenburch, with his sunlit yellow uniform, upon which the Captain's hand, giving marching orders to the assembled company, casts its shadow. Frans Banning Cocq was the child of an immigrant from Bremen, who, according to the records, was initially forced to beg in order to survive, but was later able to improve his circumstances by working for a chemist. His son studied, became a Doctor of Law, and was soon a respected member of Amsterdam society. His marriage to the daughter of the mayor, whose considerable wealth he inherited at the age of twenty-five, gave him financial independence and paved his way to high political office in Amsterdam.
 


Frans Hals
Banquet of the Officers of the St George Civic Guard Company
1627
Oil on canvas, 179 x 257,5 cm
Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem
 

A static configuration would have made hierarchical structures more conspicuous. Here they are obscured by synchronizing temporally unrelated incidents, creating the impression of a great variety of un-coordinated movements and impulsive actions.

Rembrandt's Night Watch breaks with an older genre of militia company paintings, of which there were two main types: the banquet group portrait, particularly associated with Frans Hals, and the full-length civic guard portrait, in which the sitters would usually be shown parading, with guns and unfurled company banner, in brightly coloured officer's uniforms. A characteristic of earlier examples of the genre was their arrangement of figures according to the principle of iso-cephaly - showing them all the same height - as seen in works by Dirck Jacobsz (Company of Captain Dirck Jacobsz) and Cornelis Anthonisz (Banquet of Members of Amsterdam's Crossbow Civic Guard).
It was not until the early seventeenth century that this schematic arrangement of figures became less rigid and began to accommodate the idea of narrative. Compositions which had hitherto stressed fraternal equality within the militia company now began to emphasise its hierarchy, gradually transforming the genre of the "doelenstuk" into the history painting. This is anticipated by the prominence given to the officers in Thomas de Keyser's Militia Company of Captain Allaert Cloeck. Rembrandt adapts these formal developments to his own ends, animating the configural arrangement as a "whole. Furthermore, he imparts to the setting a dignity and grandeur otherwise considered the exclusive preserve of the ruling class. He does this partly, it seems, by inventing the architecture in the background himself, since the arch cannot be identified as one of Amsterdam's city gates.
 


Thomas de Keyser
The Militia Company of Captain Allaert Cloeck
1632
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
 

 

It has never been disputed that Rembrandt attempted to break down boundaries between the portrait and the history painting (considered the highest in the hierarchy of genre paintings at the time), in other words, that the so-called Night Watch refers to a particular event in history. The event to which the painting alludes has never been established, however. According to one tentative hypothesis, the painting shows the guards assembling to escort Queen Henrietta Maria of England on 20th May 1642. In this case, the subject of the painting would be an event which took place in the same year as the painting was executed. Another theory suggests the painting may refer to the state visit to Amsterdam of Maria de' Medici in September 1638. Whatever the correct answer, it is apparent that Rembrandt's purpose here is to impart nobility to his bourgeois clientele by showing them as historical agents, a role hitherto considered above their station. In so doing, he is not far from illustrating Shakespeare's dictum: "There is a history in all men's lives" (Henry IV, Act III, 1, 80-81). Ennobling his subject, however, does not mean depriving his figures of their spontaneity, a quality indicating bourgeois lack of restraint: a musket going off behind the Lieutenant, for example, or a man loading a gun, another beating a drum or boisterous children dressed in a burlesque martial style.
Turbulence was an essential component of Baroque history painting. Leon Battista Alberti had defined the guiding principle of the genre as "varieta": diversity of movement, gesture and pose. In coordinating elements aesthetically that were not coordinated historically, Rembrandt gave shape in painting to a principle which had been postulated for drama in contemporary French Classical poetics, namely the unities of time, place and action (later summarised by Pierre Corneille in his "Discours des trois unites", 1660).
The spontaneity of the figures in the painting initially suggests their autonomy, their democratic freedom from constaint. Closer scrutiny reveals the opposite, however. Unlike earlier examples of the "doelenstuk", Rembrandt's composition stresses the dominant positions of the Captain and the Lieutenant. In an original, uncut version of the painting, which has survived in the form of a copy by Gerrit Lundens (London, National Gallery), the emphasis was even more obvious. Here, the action - the assembly and departure of the guard - tapers to a formal conclusion in the figures of the company's two leaders (disregarding the artist's use of lighting, the device is convincingly revealed in Schmidt-Degener's reconstruction of the basic plan of the composition).
Paradoxically, the society depicted here appears to allow the unrestrained expression of individuality, and yet, at the same time, its structure remains rigidly hierarchical. With the old feudal system shaken off, hierarchical structures continued to exist, only now they were based on a consensus achieved by the new principles of bourgeois democracy. The problem was how to reconcile the new power structures with individual freedom of development.
 


Cornelis Anthonisz
Banquet of Members of Amsterdam's Crossbow Civic Guard

1533
Historisch Museum, Amsterdam

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