Baroque Spanish Flemish and Dutch

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Baroque Spanish Flemish and Dutch

Text of Baroque Spanish Flemish and Dutch

DEATH, WAR, or VIOLENCE:SPANISH, FLEMISH, and DUTCH BAROQUE(Works by Ribera, Zurburn, Velazquez, Rubens, and Rembrandt)


Online Links:

Martyrdom of St. Philip Smarthistory

Jusepe de Ribera - Wikipedia

Diego Velazquez Wikipedia

Surrender at Breda by Velazquez Smarthistory

Music from the time of Velazquez

Peter Paul Rubens Wikipedia


Online Links:

Elevation of the Cross by Rubens Smarthistory

Rubens, Consequences of War Smarthistory

Consequences of War - Peter Paul Rubens

Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens YouTube

World's Most Expensive Paintings - YouTube (start at 7:05 for Rubens)

Rembrandt - Wikipedia

Rembrandt's Blinding of Samson - YouTube

Jose (Jusepe) de Ribera. Martyrdom of Saint Philip, c. 1639, oil on canvas

Jusepe de Ribera (January 12, 1591 September 2, 1652) was a Spanish Tenebrist painter and printmaker, also known as Jos de Ribera in Spanish and as Giuseppe Ribera in Italian. He was also called by his contemporaries and early writers Lo Spagnoletto, or "the Little Spaniard". Ribera was a leading painter of the Spanish school, although his mature work was all done in Italy.

Ribera was born near Valencia, Spain at Xtiva. He was baptized on February 17, 1591. His father was a shoemaker, perhaps on a large scale. His parents intended him for a literary or learned career, but he neglected these studies and is said to have apprenticed with the Spanish painter Francisco Ribalta in Valencia, although no proof of this connection exists. Longing to study art in Italy, he made his way to Rome via Parma, where he is recorded in 1611. According to one source, a cardinal noticed him drawing from the frescoes on a Roman palace facade, and housed him.

His early biographers generally rank him among the followers of Caravaggio. Very little documentation survives from his early years, with scholars speculating as to the precise time and route by which he came to Italy.

Born in Spain, Ribera is usually considered a Spanish painter, a national identity solidified in the early nineteenth century, when his scenes of martyrdom were considered a manifestation of Spanish religious devotion. Yet the entirety of his documented career was spent in Rome and Naples (the latter under Spanish control throughout the seventeenth century). There he enjoyed the patronage of a succession of Spanish viceroys, who on returning to Spain often took with them works by Ribera. His stature as a painter eventually made him attractive to Spains foremost seventeenth-century collector, Philip IV.

Later stories about Saint Philip's life can be found in the anonymous Acts of Philip , probably written by a contemporary of Eusebius. This non-canonical book recounts that following the resurrection of Jesus, Philip was sent with his sister Mariamne and Bartholomew to preach in Greece, Phyrgia, and Syria. According to this account, through a miraculous healing and his preaching Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamne all tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside-down, and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip's preaching the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross, but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross.

Jose (Jusepe) de Ribera. Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, c. 1644, oil on canvas

Like Caravaggio in his Crucifixion of St. Peter, Ribera contradicts the canonical concept of the heroic martyr who bears his torture with quiet patience and the serene assurance of salvation. Bartholomew, apostle and preacher, who was flayed and murdered by King Astyages in the Armenian town of Albanapolis, is portrayed by Ribera as a weak elderly man, whose fear of death and desperation are clearly written in his face. The louts dragging him up by a beam before the eyes of the curious onlookers are concentrating fully on their task. The question of their guilt and innocence remains unanswered for the incident is still very much in the present.

Jose (Jusepe) de Ribera. Apollo and Marsyas, 1637, oil on canvas

Jusepe de Ribera. Prometheus, c. 1630, oil on canvas

Ribera's work sank into obscurity after his death because of his reputation for cruelty. He painted the horrors and reality of human cruelty and showed he valued truth over idealism. The rehabilitation of his reputation began with exhibits in London at the Royal Academy in 1982 and in New York at the Metropolitan in 1992. Since then his oeuvre has gained more attention from critics and scholars. Unfortunately, due to the ebb of interest in his work for so long, a complete catalog of his work is still lacking. Many works attributed to him have been altered, discarded, damaged, and neglected during his period of obscurity.

Francisco Zurbarn. St. Francis in Meditation, c. 1639, oil on canvas

Francisco de Zurbarn (1598-1664) is closely associated with the monastic orders for whom he executed his major commissions. Little is known of his early years before 1625, but he was greatly influenced by the Caravaggesque taste prevalent in Seville.Zurbarns St. Francis in Meditation likewise presents a contrived fiction of the real. The saint is depicted in his later years, when he had left his apostolic activity to meditate on the passion of Christ. His removal from worldly things is implicit in his isolation, and light directs us to the elements essential to his state. Although his face is cast in shadow, light reveals a mouth open in oration or awe, as well as the patched, coarse woolen robe that recalls his vow of poverty.

Francisco de Zurbarn. Saint Serapion, 1628, oil on canvas

The work was commissioned by the Mercedarian Order to hang in the De Profundis (funerary chapel) hall of their monastery in Seville. The Order of Merced was an early 13th century popular movement of personal piety organized at first by the Catalan Peter Nolasco. It was concerned with ransoming the ordinary men who had not the means to negotiate their own ransom, the "poor of Christ." One of the distinguishing marks of the order is that, since its foundation, its members are required to take a Fourth Vow to die for another who is in danger of losing their Faith.

Saint Serapion of Algiers (1179 November 14, 1240) was a Mercedarian friar who is venerated as a martyr by the Catholic Church.

He then participated in the Reconquista, serving in the army of Alfonso VIII. He met St. Peter Nolasco and became a Mercedarian in 1222.

The Mercedarians goal was to free Christian captives held by Muslim states, and Serapion offered himself as a hostage at Algiers in exchange for some Christian captives. When the ransom money did not arrive in time (or because he refused to stop preaching Christianity), Seraphion was killed. According to Christian tradition, he was nailed on an X-shaped cross and was dismembered.

Diego Velzquez. Surrender at Breda, 1634-1635, oil on canvas

As official court painter, Diego Velzquez created many works for the Spanish king Philip IV. This painting is part of an extensive painted decoration for the Hall of Realms in the Palace of Buen Retiro in Madrid, which the count-duke of Olivares built for Philip IV. It commemorates the Spanish victory over the Dutch. In 1625 Philip IV sent General Ambrogio di Spinola to Breda to reclaim the town for Spain.

Diego Rodrguez de Silva y Velzquez. Allegorical Portrait of Philip IV, 1645, oil on canvas

Velazquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age. Velzquez was in constant and close attendance on Philip, accompanying him in his journeys to Aragon in 1642 and 1644, and was doubtless present with him when he entered Lerida as a conqueror. It was then that he painted a great equestrian portrait in which the king is represented as a great commander leading his troopsa role which Philip never played except in pageantry.

Velzquez depicted the victorious Spanish troops, organized and well armed, on the right side of the painting. In sharp contrast, the defeated Dutch on the left appear bedraggled and disorganized. In the center foreground, the mayor of Breda, Justinus of Nassau, hands the citys keys to the Spanish general. Velzquez portrayed the general standing and magnanimously stopping Justinus from kneeling, rather than astride his horse, lording over the vanquished Dutch.

Peter Paul Rubens. Raising of the Cross, 1610, oil on panel

Peter Paul Rubens was not only a virtuosic painter but also a passionate and crafty diplomat. Rubens, although closely allied to Isabella and the Spanish Netherlands, often had occasion to travel and visit foreign monarchs in his position as a court painter. Rubens associated with the dukes of Mantua, King Phillip IV, Charles I, and Marie de' Medici. He served as a negotiator for the Spanish Netherlands (and for the cause of peace more generally), and for France and England. Indeed, Rubens lobbied for an end to the Thirty Years' War with considerable passion and cleverness.

Rubens Raising of the Cross for Antwerp Cathedral is the artists ultimate Baroque statement. No painting of this dimension and style had been seen before in Antwerp. A powerful figure of Christ is tied to the cross, which equally robust workers haul into its upright position. A stray dog, with no obvious function, barks at this fearful scene of grunting and sweating laborers carrying out the order of the Roman governor in Jerusalem. The violent contrasts between light and dark have the effect of repeated bolts of lightning.