David, Bernini, Baroque 

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-The Cardinal Borghese, for whom this work was executed was one of the baroque Rome’s most important art patrons.
-Provides a vivid contrast to Michelangelo’s Renaissance David
-As the giant Goliath approaches David prepares to cast his stone, creating the diagonal twisting, tension and energy that was so typical of baroque sculpture 


The Calling of St. Matthew, Baroque, Caravaggio

-On the left, Matthew is shown among a group of finely dressed Italian courtiers, who count the day’s tax collections. Christ and St. Peter are shown on the right who calls for Matthew to leave a dark world of sin and error 
-The call is issued not from Christ’s shadowed face but in the warm shaft of light that flows from the unseen window 
-Caravaggio’s message is much in the spirit of baroque religiosity: even a despised tax collector may be lifted from sin’s darkness by the sudden light of God’s grace 
-Caravaggio’s dramatic use of chiaroscuro, or effects of light and shadow, quickly influenced artists in Italy and eventually throughout Europe. 


Vermeer, The Milkmaid, Baroque

-Vermeer is regarded as a master of light and color, there is often a subtle contrast between the naive intimacy of his subject and the objective tone created by light and composition


-scene lavishes attention on simple objects and modest but enduring truths: bread, milk and a maid’s coarse dress
-blurred points of light and slightly enlarged foreground objects suggest that Vermeer composed his pictures with a camera obscura, a popular seventeenth-century optical device. Note how the modulated light across the back wall emphasizes the maid’s figure and the repeated whites to suggest her innocence


The Swing, Fragonard, Rococo

-clearly portrays the frivolity and self-indulgence of the rococo style and its aristocratic patrons
-a genre scene of naughty gaiety, in which the young lady looks coquettishly at the young gentleman positioned to gaze up her billowing skirts.
-Fragonard contrasts the naughty pair to the dull cleric, who stolidly swings his charge in the background
-there is no pretense of a transcendent purpose, it is a work of frank sensuality-charming but ultimately trivial
-these scenes of playful seduction and dalliance appealed to the urbane and complacent French aristocracy under the reign of Louis XV


Greuze, The Bride of the Village, “Rococo-Bourgeois”

-In contrast to the elegant but frivolous rococo, the European middle classes patronized works of sobriety and sentimentality
-presented touching family scenes that might well be tableaux from the bourgeois sentimental drama
-In this scene the father hands over his daughter’s dowry while delivering a sermon on the virtues of fidelity, note the reactions of the principal females, the dreamy bride, the fretting mother and the envious sister
-With such paintings Greuze aroused a nostalgia for a simpler provincial life among Parisian sophisticates 


A Young Girl Reading, Fragonard, Rococo

-followed the rise of the novel which provided ample latitude for its characters’ introspection and moral self-examination
-The eighteenth-century rise in literacy, especially among young women fueled the popularity of the novel. Novels gratified the bourgeois reader’s expectations for an educational and moralizing literature, as well as a taste for romance and adventure


Thomas Jefferson, Monticello Virginia, Neo-Classic

-Compare the visual effect of Jefferson’s neoclassical residence, with its use of native American materials (brick, wood) to the French palace, the Petit Trianon. Note the use of round windows and the fan-shaped Palladian window in the triangular pediment

-Jefferson believed the neo classical style represented European cultivation and enlightenment, which is why he adapted the style
-built much in the spirit of Palladio’s italian villas, can also be compared to Palladio’s Villa Rotunda
-the famous dome and appearance of a single story (there were three) were elements borrowed from the fashionable hotels that Jefferson had seen in Paris



Oath of Horatii, Jacques-Louis David, Neo-Classic

-Visitors to the painter’s Rome studio placed flowers before the picture as if it were an altar 
-Purchased by the French government immediately after King Louis XVI admired it, though today the picture is often seen as a premonition of the French Revolution 
-In a scene from the history of Rome, three brothers pledge to defend the city’s honor against the Curatius family of a neighboring town, the Horatian women grieve because one is sister to the opposing family and the other is engaged to a Curatius
-painting embodied the leading principles of neoclassicism: didactic purpose, purity of form, and deep passion restrained by good taste
-in it’s simplicity and rigor, it was a declaration of neoclassicism’s revolt against the whimsical style of the rococo



Liberty Leading the People, Delacroix, Romantic

-Inspired by the July 1830 revolution in France that Delacroix observed from a balcony
-painting embodies the event’s romantic spirit, with a combination of the grotesque and the ideal.
-picture centers on the allegorical figure of Liberty, desexualized enough to be heroic
-visual hymn to patriotic revolution is unified by his use of the French tricolor flag. The red, white and blue are echoed in the uniform of the kneeling guardsman who gazes up at Liberty and in smoke rising above the cathedral of Notre Dame at right


Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Bierstadt, Romantic

-Bierstadt first visited the American West in 1859, sketching and making photographs of its grand mountain vistas. In this gigantic landscape, the tiny foreground wildlife set off the spectacular scale and brilliant light of the cliffs and peaks
-painted his majestic panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite Valley for urban collectors back east, who valued the anthropological details of Native American cultures that were being destroyed by war, disease and encroaching settlers
-the romantic landscape painting gained a special place in North American culture, where the proximity of the wilderness gave the genre religious overtones