By Susan Steider & Mallory Grams Table of Contents

Intellectual & Cultural History 1450-1700

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Intellectual & Cultural History 1450-1700


FRQ: During the Baroque Period, light and shade made a big difference in some pieces it was used in. Use two different pieces (different artists) to explain how light and shade are used.
During the Baroque Period there were many new works of art created. Many of them were paintings. All of the paintings usually incorporated a new concept in them. One of the most popular new concepts was light and shading. Caravaggio uses light and shading, along with de La Tour and Vermeer. It became a very common thing to put in paintings and changed a painting a lot.

Caravaggio in his painting, The Calling of Saint Matthew, uses light. Light is used to add more to the painting. The light reveals a table with card players around it. Also there is Jesus and an apostle in the corner; they are hidden by the light. The light is not shining on them for a reason. If you were to see the painting with no differences in the light the painting wouldn’t be as interesting.

Another specific artist that uses shading and light in his paintings is de La Tour. His painting from 1645 is called The Lamentation over Saint Sebastian. There is a light source shown, and it seems to be a torch type item. But how he used the light was unrealistic. It looks like he just made the light source shine where he wanted it to and there doesn’t seem to be any logic behind it. The faces of the people in the painting wouldn’t be the only thing that has light on them, but it does make for a good effect. It is also very dramatic.

Lastly, one more artist that used light and shading was Vermeer. His painting from the early 1660’s is called Woman Reading Letter. That is basically what it is too. She is just standing there whit a sheet in her hands and there are a couple empty chairs around her. Light isn’t used in a very interesting way. The source is not shown and the light is basically everywhere except on the woman’s back. This painting uses light but not in a unique way.

In Conclusion, Light and shading was a very common technique used in this time period. Three painters who specifically used light and shading were Caravaggio, de La Tour, and Vermeer. Caravaggio and de La Tour used the light in a unique way, and to add more to the painting. But Vermeer on the other hand didn’t make the light very interesting and how he used it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Light and shading add a lot more interest to a painting of used correctly and if it makes the painting more appealing.

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