• Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso, inspired by Picasso's horror at the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The air raid destroyed the city, killing an estimated 1600 people and injuring many more.

    The huge mural was produced under a commission by the Spanish Republican government to decorate the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition (the 1937 World's Fair in Paris). Picasso said as he worked on the mural:
    "The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? ... In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death".

    Today, Guernica symbolizes the destructive impact of all war.

    I remember visiting the Musée National Picasso on my first ever visit to Paris. I think some time in 1989.
    It was the first time I was ever in a Museum, not counting the small museum of Sacred Art in Funchal Madeira.
    I got a terrible Headache at the time, not because i did not like the experience on the contrary.
    I loved it, I made the mistake of triyng to see the all Museum in one visit.
    I was not sure at the time if i was going to ever return to Paris.
    Now I try to visit the Picasso Museum everytime i'm in Paris.
    I will visit the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid where Guernica is on display soon.
    Thank you cexhib.
    MMaxi 
     


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  • Caravaggio
    Biography

    Full Name:
    Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio
    Born:
    1571
    Died:
    1610
    Michelangelo Merisi left his birth town of Caravaggio in the north of Italy to study as an apprentice in nearby Milan. In 1593 he moved to Rome, impatient to use his talents on the biggest stage possible.

    Caravaggio's approach to painting was unconventional. He avoided the standard method of making copies of old sculptures and instead took the more direct approach of painting directly onto canvas without drawing first. He also used people from the street as his models. His dramatic painting was enhanced with intense and theatrical lighting.

    Caravaggio's fate was sealed when in 1606 he killed a man in a duel. He fled to Naples where he attempted to paint his way out of trouble, he became a Knight, but was then imprisoned in Malta and then finally he moved to Sicily. He was pardoned for murder in 1610, but he died of a fever attempting to return to Rome.

    Simon Schama on Caravaggio


    "In Caravaggio's time it was believed that artists were given their talent by God to bring beauty to the world and to put mortal creatures in touch with their higher selves or souls. Caravaggio never did anything the way it was supposed to be done.

    In this painting of the victory of virtue over evil it's supposed to be David who is the centre of attention, but have you ever seen a less jubilant victory? On his sword is inscribed "Humilitus Occideit Superbium", that is, humility conquers pride. This is the battle that has been fought out inside Caravaggio's head between the two sides of the painter that are portrayed here.

    For me the power of Caravaggio's art is the power of truth, not least about ourselves. If we are ever to hope for redemption we have to begin with the recognition that in all of us the Goliath competes with the David."



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  • Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (juin 1599 – 6 août 1660), dit Diego Vélasquez en français, est un peintre du siècle d'or espagnol ayant eu une influence considérable à la cour du roi Philippe IV. Il est généralement considéré, avec Francisco Goya et Le Greco, comme l’un des plus grands artistes de l’histoire espagnole. Son style, tout en restant très personnel, s’inscrit résolument dans le courant baroque de cette période. Ses deux visites effectuées en Italie, attestées par les documents de l’époque, eurent un effet décisif sur l’évolution de son œuvre. Outre de nombreuses peintures à valeur historique ou culturelle, Diego Vélasquez est l’auteur d’une profusion de portraits représentant la famille royale espagnole, d’autres grands personnages européens ou même des gens du commun. Son talent artistique, de l’avis général, a atteint son sommet en 1656 avec la réalisation de Les Ménines, son principal chef-d’œuvre.

    À partir du premier quart du XIXe siècle, le style de Vélasquez fut pris pour modèle par les peintres réalistes et impressionnistes, en particulier Édouard Manet. Depuis, des artistes plus contemporains comme Pablo Picasso et Salvador Dalí ont rendu hommage à leur illustre compatriote en recréant plusieurs de ses œuvres les plus célèbres.



    Pope Innocent X (Jambattista Pamfili) (1644-1655). Jambattista Pamfili was born in Rome on May 6, 1574. His parents were Camillo Pamfili and Flaminia de Bubalis. As a young man Jambattista studied jurisprudence at the Collegio Romano and graduated as bachelor of laws at the age of twenty. Soon afterwards Clement VIII appointed him consistorial advocate and auditor of the Rota. Gregory XV made him nuncio at Naples. Urban VIII sent him as datary with the cardinal legate, Francesco Barberini, to France and Spain, then appointed him titular Latin Patriarch of Antioch, and nuncio at Madrid. He was created Cardinal-Priest of Saint Eusebio in August 1626. He was a member of the congregations of the Council of Trent, the Inquisition, and Jurisdiction and Immunity. In 1644, a conclave was held at Rome for the election of a successor to Urban VIII. On 15 September Pamfili was elected, and ascended the papal throne as Innocent X. During his hold of the post the papal relations with France aggravated to such an extent that France invaded the Ecclesiastical States. On the contrary, the relations with Venice became very friendly. Innocent X aided the Venetians financially against the Turks in the struggle for Candia, while the Venetians on their part allowed Innocent to fill the episcopal vacancies in their territory, a right which they had previously claimed for themselves. Innocent X, as his predecessor Urban VIII, refused to acknowledge the new independent kingdom of Portugal and its newly elected king and did not give his approbation to the bishops nominated by the king. Thus it happened that towards the end of Innocent's pontificate there was only one bishop in the whole of Portugal. Innocent X was often irresolute and suspicious. He died in Rome on January 7, 1655.


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  • Zuane Antonio Canal, Venetian painter, the son of Bernardo Canal, a well-known scenery painter at the time. 'Canaletto' — or small canal — as he was soon called, received his training in the studio of his father and his brother, with whom he continued to collaborate for several years. He became the most famous view-painter of the 18th century.

    He began his career as a theatrical scene painter (his father's profession), but he turned to topography during a visit to Rome in 1719-20, when he was influenced by the work of Giovanni Paolo Pannini. In Rome, in his own words, 'irritated by the immodesty of the playwrights, [he] formally foreswore the theatre,' to devote himself entirely to painting al naturale (from nature). It is not entirely clear what inspired him to this, but it was most likely his acquaintance with the work, and possibly also the person, of Caspar van Wittel.

    By 1723 he was painting picturesque views of Venice, marked by strong contrasts of light and shade and free handling, this phase of his work culminating in the splendid Stone Mason's Yard (c. 1730, National Gallery, London,). Meanwhile, partly under the influence of Luca Carlevaris, and largely in rivalry with him, Canaletto began to turn out views which were more topographically accurate, set in a higher key and with smoother, more precise handling - characteristics that mark most of his later work. At the same time he began painting the ceremonial and festival subjects which ultimately formed an important part of his work.

    His patrons were chiefly English collectors, for whom he sometimes produced series of views in uniform size. Conspicuous among them was Joseph Smith, a merchant, appointed British Consul in Venice in 1744. It was perhaps at his instance that Canaletto enlarged his repertory in the 1740s to include subjects from the Venetian mainland and from Rome (probably based on drawings made during his visit as a young man), and by producing numerous capricci. He also gave increased attention to the graphic arts, making a remarkable series of etchings, and many drawings in pen, and pen and wash, as independent works of art and not as preparation for paintings. Meanwhile, in his painting there was an increase in an already well-established tendency to become stylized and mechanical in handling. He often used the camera obscura as an aid to composition. In 1746 he went to England, evidently at the suggestion of Jacopo Amigoni (the War of the Austrian Succession drastically curtailed foreign travel, and Canaletto's tourist trade in Venice had dried up).

    For a time he was very successful painting views of London and of various country houses. Subsequently, his work became increasingly lifeless and mannered, so much so that rumours were put about, probably by rivals, that he was not in fact the famous Canaletto but an impostor. In 1755 he returned to Venice and continued active for the remainder of his life. Legends of his having amassed a fortune in Venice are disproved by the official inventory of his estate on his death. Before this, Joseph Smith had sold the major part of his paintings to George III, thus bringing into the royal collection an unrivalled group of Canaletto's paintings and drawings. Canaletto was highly influential in Italy and elsewhere. His nephew Bernardo Bellotto took his style to Central Europe and his followers in England included William Marlow and Samuel Scott.


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  • Caravaggio, byname of Michelangelo Merisi, Italian painter whose revolutionary technique of tenebrism, or dramatic, selective illumination of form out of deep shadow, became a hallmark of Baroque painting. Scorning the traditional idealized interpretation of religious subjects, he took his models from the streets and painted them realistically. His three paintings of St Matthew (c. 1597-1602) caused a sensation and were followed by such masterpieces as The Supper at Emmaus (1601-02) and Death of the Virgin (1605-06).

    Early life

    Caravaggio was the son of Fermo Merisi, steward and architect of the Marquis of Caravaggio. Orphaned at age 11, Caravaggio was apprenticed in the same year to the painter Simone Peterzano of Milan.

    At some time between 1588 and 1592, Caravaggio went to Rome. He was already in possession of the fundamental technical skills of painting and had acquired, with characteristic eagerness, a thorough understanding of the approach of the Lombard and Venetian painters, who, opposed to idealized Florentine painting, had developed a style that was nearer to representing nature and events. Caravaggio arrived in Rome and settled into the cosmopolitan society of the Campo Marzio. This decaying neighbourhood of inns, eating houses, temporary shelter, and little picture shops in which Caravaggio came to live suited his circumstances and his temperament. He was virtually without means, and his inclinations were always toward anarchy and against tradition.

    These first five years were an anguishing period of instability and humiliation. According to his biographers, Caravaggio was "needy and stripped of everything" and moved from one unsatisfactory employment to another, working as an assistant to painters of much smaller talent. He earned his living for the most part with hackwork and never stayed more than a few months at any studio. Finally, probably in 1595, he decided to set out on his own and began to sell his pictures through a dealer, a certain Maestro Valentino, who brought Caravaggio's work to the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte, a prelate of great influence in the papal court. Caravaggio soon came under the protection of Del Monte and was invited to receive board, lodging, and a pension in the house of the cardinal.

    Despite spiritual and material deprivations, Caravaggio had painted up to the beginning of Del Monte's patronage about 40 works. The subjects of this period are mostly adolescent boys, as in Boy with a Fruit Basket (1593; Borghese Gallery, Rome), The Young Bacchus (1593; Uffizi Gallery, Florence), and The Music Party (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). These early pictures reveal a fresh, direct, and empirical approach; they were apparently painted directly from life and show almost no trace of the academic Mannerism then prevailing in Rome. The felicitous tone and confident craftsmanship of these early works stand in sharp contrast to the daily quality of Caravaggio's disorderly and dissipated life. In Basket of Fruit (1596; Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan) the fruits, painted with brilliance and vivid realism, are handsomely disposed in a straw basket and form a striking composition in their visual apposition.

    Major Roman commissions

    With these works realism won its battle with Mannerism, but it is in the cycle of the life of St Matthew in the Contarelli Chapel that Caravaggio's realistic naturalism first fully appears. Probably through the agency of Del Monte, Caravaggio obtained, in 1597, the commission for the decoration of the Contarelli Chapel in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. This commission established him, at the age of 24, as a pictor celeberrimus, a "renowned painter," with important protectors and clients. The task was an imposing one. The scheme called for three large paintings of scenes from the saint's life: St Matthew and the Angel, The Calling of St Matthew, and The Martyrdom of St Matthew. The execution (1598-1601) of all three, in which Caravaggio substituted a dramatic contemporary realism for the traditional pictorial formulas used in depicting saints, provoked public astonishment. Perhaps Caravaggio was waiting for this test, on public view at last, to reveal the whole range of his diversity. His novelty in these works not only involves the surface appearance of structure and subject but also the sense of light and even of time. The first version of the canvas that was to go over the altar, St Matthew and the Angel, was so offensive to the canons of San Luigi dei Francesi, who had never seen such a representation of a saint, that it had to be redone. In this work the evangelist has the physical features of a plowman or a common labourer. His big feet seem to stick out of the picture, and his posture, legs crossed, is awkward almost to the point of vulgarity. The angel does not stand graciously by but forcefully pushes Matthew's hand over the page of a heavy book, as if he were guiding an illiterate. What the canons did not understand was that Caravaggio, in elevating this humble figure, was copying Christ, who had himself raised Matthew from the street.

    The other two scenes of the St Matthew cycle are no less disconcerting in the realism of their drama. The Calling of St Matthew shows the moment at which two men and two worlds confront each other: Christ, in a burst of light, entering the room of the toll collector, and Matthew, intent on counting coins in the midst of a group of gaily dressed idlers with swords at their sides. In the glance between the two men, Matthew's world is dissolved. In The Martyrdom of St Matthew the event is captured just at the moment when the executioner is forcing his victim to the ground. The scene is a public street, and, as Matthew's acolyte flees in terror, passersby glance at the act with idle unconcern. The most intriguing aspect of these narratives is that they seem as if they were being performed in thick darkness when a sudden illumination revealed them and fixed them in memory at the instant of their most intense drama.

    Caravaggio's three paintings for the Contarelli Chapel not only caused a sensation in Rome but also marked a radical change in his artistic preoccupation. Henceforth he would devote himself almost entirely to the painting of traditional religious themes, to which, however, he gave a whole new iconography and interpretation. He often chose subjects that are susceptible to a dramatic, violent, or macabre emphasis, and he proceeded to divest them of their idealized associations, taking his models from the streets. Caravaggio may have used a lantern hung to one side in his shuttered studio while painting from his models. The result in his paintings is a harsh, raking light that strikes across the composition, illuminating parts of it while plunging the rest into deep shadow. This dramatic illumination heightens the emotional tension, focuses the details, and isolates the figures, which are usually placed in the foreground of the picture in a deliberately casual grouping. This insistence on clarity and concentration, together with the firm and vigorous drawing of the figures, links Caravaggio's mature Roman works with the classical tradition of Italian painting during the Renaissance.

    The decoration of the Contarelli Chapel was completed by 1602. Caravaggio, though not yet 30, overshadowed all his contemporaries. There was a swarm of orders for his pictures, private and ecclesiastical. The Crucifixion of St Peter (1601) and The Conversion of St Paul (both in Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome), The Deposition of Christ (1602-04; Vatican Museum, Rome), and the Death of the Virgin (1605-06; Louvre Museum, Paris) are among the monumental works he produced at this time. Some of these paintings, done at the high point of Caravaggio's artistic maturity, provoked violent reaction. The Madonna with Pilgrims, or Madonna di Loreto (1603-06), for the Church of San Agostino, was a scandal because of the "dirty feet and torn, filthy cap" of the two old people kneeling in the foreground. The Death of the Virgin was refused by the Carmelites because of the indignity of the Virgin's plebeian features, bared legs, and swollen belly. At the advice of the painter Peter Paul Rubens, the picture was bought by the Duke of Mantua in April 1607 and displayed to the community of painters at Rome for one week before removal to Mantua.

    Culmination of mature style

    Artists, men of learning, and enlightened prelates were fascinated by the robust and bewildering art of Caravaggio, but the negative reaction of church officials reflected the self-protective irritation of academic painters and the instinctive resistance of the more conservative clergy and much of the populace. The more brutal aspects of Caravaggio's paintings were condemned partly because Caravaggio's common people bear no relation to the graceful suppliants popular in much of Counter-Reformation art. They are plain working men, muscular, stubborn, and tenacious.

    Criticism did not cloud Caravaggio's success, however. His reputation and income increased, and he began to be envied. The despairing bohemian of the early Roman years had disappeared, but, although he moved in the society of cardinals and princes, the spirit was the same, still given to wrath and riot.

    The details of the first Roman years are unknown, but after the time of the Contarelli project Caravaggio had many encounters with the law. In 1600 he was accused of blows by a fellow painter, and the following year he wounded a soldier. In 1603 he was imprisoned on the complaint of another painter and released only through the intercession of the French ambassador. In April 1604 he was accused of throwing a plate of artichokes in the face of a waiter, and in October he was arrested for throwing stones at the Roman Guards. In May 1605 he was seized for misuse of arms, and on July 29 he had to flee Rome for a time because he had wounded a man in defense of his mistress. Within a year, on May 29, 1606, again in Rome, during a furious brawl over a disputed score in a game of tennis, Caravaggio killed one Ranuccio Tomassoni.

    Flight from Rome

    In terror of the consequences of his act, Caravaggio, himself wounded and feverish, fled the city and sought refuge on the nearby estate of a relative of the Marquis of Caravaggio. He then moved on to other places of hiding and eventually reached Naples, probably in early 1607. He remained at Naples for a time, painting a Madonna of the Rosary for the Flemish painter Louis Finson and one of his late masterpieces, The Seven Works of Mercy, for the Chapel of Monte della Misericordia. It is impossible to ignore the connection between the dark and urgent nature of this painting and what must have been his desperate state of mind. It is also the first indication of a shift in his painting style.

    At the end of 1607 or the beginning of 1608, Caravaggio traveled to Malta, where he was received as a celebrated artist He worked hard, completing several works, the most important of which was The Beheading of St John the Baptist for the cathedral in Valletta. In this scene of martyrdom, shadow, which in earlier paintings stood thick about the figures, is here drawn back, and the infinite space that had been evoked by the huge empty areas of the earlier compositions is replaced by a high, overhanging wall. This high wall, which reappears in later works, can be linked to a consciousness in Caravaggio's mind of condemnation to a limited space, the space between the narrow boundaries of flight and prison. On July 14, 1608, Caravaggio was received into the Order of Malta as a "Knight of Justice"; soon afterward, however, either because word of his crime had reached Malta or because of new misdeeds, he was expelled from the order and imprisoned. He escaped, however.

    Caravaggio took refuge in Sicily, landing at Syracuse in October 1608, restless and fearful of pursuit. Yet his fame accompanied him; at Syracuse he painted his late, tragic masterpiece, The Burial of St Lucy, for the Church of Santa Lucia. In early 1609 he fled to Messina, where he painted The Resurrection of Lazarus and The Adoration of the Shepherds (both now in the National Museum, Messina), then moved on to Palermo, where he did the Adoration with St Francis and St Lawrence for the Oratorio di San Lorenzo. The works of Caravaggio's flight, painted under the most adverse of circumstances, show a subdued tone and a delicacy of emotion that is even more intense than the overt dramatics of his earlier paintings.

    His desperate flight could be ended only with the pope's pardon, and Caravaggio may have known that there were intercessions on his behalf in Rome when he again moved north to Naples in October 1609. Bad luck pursued him, however; at the door of an inn he was attacked and wounded so badly that rumours reached Rome that the "celebrated painter" was dead. After a long convalescence he sailed in July 1610 from Naples to Rome, but he was arrested enroute when his boat made a stop at Palo. On his release, he discovered that the boat had already sailed, taking his belongings. Setting out to overtake the vessel, he arrived at Port'Ercole, a Spanish possession within the Papal States, and he died there a few days later, probably of pneumonia. A document granting him clemency arrived from Rome three days after his death.

    Influence

    The many painters who imitated Caravaggio's style soon became known as Caravaggisti. Caravaggio's influence in Rome itself was remarkable but short-lived, lasting only until the 1620s. His foremost followers elsewhere in Italy were Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia Gentileschi, and the Spaniard José de Ribera. Outside Italy, the Dutch painters Hendrick Terbrugghen, Gerrit van Honthorst, and Dirck van Baburen made the city of Utrecht the foremost northern centre of Caravaggism. The single most important painter in the tradition was the Frenchman Georges de La Tour, though echoes of Caravaggio's style can also be found in the works of such giants as Rembrandt van Rijn and Diego Velázquez.



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