Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Michelangelo's Redesign of Dome

Redesigned by Michelangelo Buonarroti, the redesign of the dome began in 1547. Sadly, Michelangelo was not able to see the dome completed due to his death in 1564, so the dome was finished out by Giacomo Della Porta and Domenico Fontana. The dome was completed with the hands of 800 men in 1590.

In front of the papal altar is the confessio that marks the grave of St. Peter, and right above is where the dome is located. impressive colorful vaulting with sixteen ribs that are supported by four massive pillars. The dome has an ogival shape, or more slender upward with a double shell structure which stands on a base distinguished into three parts. These three parts each have a set the eight buttresses at the drum, which made up ​​of double columns that frame windows. The dome has protobarocche forms that allow light come through into the space between the two shells. Within the lantern there is a painting of God the Father, which to the pagan represents the eye of god looking down on his sons and daughters.
Giovanni de' Vecchi and Cesare Nebbia were commissioned to decorate the interior of the dome.The triangular spaces along the dome are depicted with the evangelists in mosaics. The triangular spaces are embroidered in bronze allowing the sunlight shine. Some of the images along the dome are of figures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist and various Apostles. Light enters through the lantern and the sixteen large windows below the cornice are lightened as well, which brightens the area below the dome. Along the base of the drum, latin scripture translates, "You are 'Rock' and on this rock I will build my Church, to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Mt 16:18

VR Tour:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jean-Honoré Fragonard and the Rococo Style

Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a French rococo painter and print maker. When examining one of his paintings, there was no doubt in your mind that it exhibited the qualities of a rococo painting; exuberant and hedonistic. His work is easily recognizable for his deft brushwork and his soft, carefree lighting schemes.

"The Swing" possibly known as his most famous piece of work demonstrates all the qualities of his style. His quick brushwork that aids him with the light, airy feel of the painting. This painting was commissioned by French libertine Baron de St. Julien. Fragonard was given specific instructions of what to paint. "I should like you to paint Madame seated on a swing being pushed by a Bishop. ""Place me in a position where I can observe the legs of that charming girl. " This is Baron de St. Julien's mistress and in the background, her husband is depicted. You can also see cupid painted with his finger raised to his lips as to say that we, as the viewer, should remain silent about this affair.

"The Bolt" is another one of Fragonard's paintings. Upon closer examination you can see how allusive this painting is. The distraught bed, the man locking the bolt, the lady's undressing; all these characteristics lead the viewer to believe in the pleasure of the moment. As if he didn't denote his meaning well enough, he also includes an apple on the table; the apple symbolizing original sin.

Interior of  Wieskirche in Bavaria, Germany

Fragonard's paintings, along with various other rococo paintings, were symbolic of a hedonistic time when the focus of people was on positive emotions. This frivolity in painting, caused a bitterness in the relationship between the ecclesiastical and the arts. Rococo was toned down for the purpose of architectural decoration in churches but for the most part, many believed the two to be incompatible.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
"The Swing"
"The Bolt"

Monday, September 16, 2013

Martyrdom of St. Matthew

During the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church searched for religious art in order to counter the threat of Protestantism. In the 16th and 17th century there was many churches and palazzi built and there was a demand of paintings. Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio was an Italian artist which made his work well know by the elements in his paintings. He used the radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic use of chiaroscuro is an element that Carvaggio used and is well known for. This technique in art gives a dramatic physical observation to the radical naturalism of the characters in the painting, who all show emotion. This is known as the style of tenebrism, the contrast of light to dark with little median value.

Martyrdom of St. Matthew, Caravaggio, 1599–1600, Oil on canvas
Dimensions 323 cm × 343 cm (127 in × 135 in)

The painting above, Martyrdom of St. Matthew, depicts the moment of the martyrdom of Saint Matthew the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Matthew.Saint Matthew was killed, on the orders of the king of Ethiopia during the celebration of Mass at the altar. The king fancied his own niece, and had been rebuked by Matthew. The niece was a nun, and therefore living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.In the painting the saint is about to be murdered by a soldier who was sent by the king. There is onlookers showing emotion to what is about to occur.

Baroque Furniture

The Queen's Chamber, Versailles, France

The Baroque era is characterized by the lavish amount of detail given to their architecture and art. After the Mannerist era and the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church decided to focus on a new direction which involved promoting movement, sensation, and emotion through art and architecture. It is easy to see how the Baroque style could be used to accomplish these things. Along with this new approach, the overly-ornate characteristics of the Baroque era also hoped to show the immense power and wealth of the Church and other governments that used it in its favor. The small attention to detail did not stop at the scale of the large palaces and churches built during the time though; Baroque furniture and decor could only add to the extravagant appearance of the structure. With the merging of structure and decor, the Baroque artisans were able to form an early idea of gesamtkunstwerk or a "total work of art".

Chair, Daniel Marot, c. 1700, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Characteristics of the Baroque era that can be found in the furniture are profuse ornamentation, gold filigree, marble, heavenly figures (cherubs, nymphs, etc.), and walnut. While much of the furniture during the time do contain characteristics of the time, the actual style of the furniture changed as well. Chairs during the Baroque era, for example, were normally ordered as part of a suite, or a large bedroom set. Style characteristics included "a high straight and rectangular back. The arm supports joined the seat at the fore-edge; the legs, placed straight at the front corner of the seat rail, turned, or in baluster or bracket-shape, were linked by stretchers. The upholstery, fastened with brass nails, would cover most of the chair's frame." (

Table, c. 1780, Venice

Another popular trend in the furniture was to incorporate figures holding the actual piece upright. The S and C-scrolls are another recurring trend during the Baroque era that is not only found in the architecture, but also the furniture usually along the base as the support. Along with the famous architects who helped to dictate the style of the time (Bernini and Borromini), French cabinetmaker Andre Charles Boulle also created notable works in the Palace of Versailles. The French Baroque displayed rich and carefully designed furnishings which made it truly unique in the history of furniture making.

Commode, Andre Charles Boulle (c. 1710-32), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Walnut veneered with ebony and marquetry of engraved brass and tortoiseshell, guilt bronze mounts, verd antique marble top