Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Highlights of Baroque Women's Fashion: 1650-1700's

After the Thirty Year's War and the Restoration of England's Charles II, rapid change in fashion occurred as military influence declined and was replaced with over decorated exuberance. The long, high-waisted silhouette of the previous period was replaced by a long, lean line with a very low waistline for both women and men. Emphasis was in the shoulders and the body was tightly corseted.

Notice the tight corset, over large shoulders, and low waistline

Interesting to note that the Spanish court of its fashion did not fall in line with this trend, but tended to keep with their more modest fashions and retained the ruff of the previous period.

The Infanta Margarita: This eight year old wears the old style of cartwheel fartigale (the roundness of her skirt) as to keep with Spanish style instead of moving to a more lax skirt style. 

During this time a new, daring style of "undress" where women wore loosely fastened nightgowns over a voluminous chemise and tousled curls came to light due to the romanticized style originated by Anthony van Dyck in the 1630's. Often this style was for portraits only and rarely was wore on the streets or at court. 

"Undress" a style of fashion of portraits which has strong influences in the Classical 

The mantua, or a single piece of fabric that hung form shoulders to the floor, became a modest and ideal way to show off elaborately patterned silks. Instead of a bodice and skirt cut separately, the mantua evolved into a dress worn looped and draped up over a contrasting petticoat and a stomacher.

A mantua: notice the flow from top to floor, the pattern of the fabric, and the fontange as the headpiece. 

As far as hair goes, curls were definitely in. The curls were held in a bun early in the period, but finally hung gracefully on the shoulders in the later period. A fontange, of a frill cap of lace wired to stand in vertical tiers, often sat upon these curls. This headgear was named after a mistress of the French King Louis XIV, where it is said Madame Frontange was found with lace standing up in her hair after a outdoor "adventure" with the King. Nevertheless, this became a wildly popular female hairpiece for that time. 

Helpful Links: 

Bradley, Carolyn G. Western World Costume: An Outline History. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1954. Print. 

Brown, Susan. Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style. New York, NY: DK, 2012. Print.

Tortora, Phyllis G., and Keith Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume: A History of Western Dress. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1998. Print.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Artemisia Gentileschi

Baroque female artist Artemisia Gentileschi painted strong Biblical women during the 17th century in Italy. Despite discrimination and sexual violence that she faced during her time, she managed to be successful for her day as a artist.  In the 1970's, feminist scholars rediscovered her work and brought her pieces to light which are now widely reproduced. These pieces include "Judith Beheading Holofernes" and "Susanna and the Elders."

Self Portrait of Gentileshi

A painter's daughter, Gentileshi was trained in her father's workshop due to the refused admission to the art academy because she was a woman. Her father saw great potential in his daughter and had private lessons given to her. Tassi, her private teacher, would later deflower her (around age 17-19) and promised to marry her. Once her father learned of this, he brought Tassi to trail for rape, and although he was convicted, he received a suspended sentence (1612).
"Judith Beheading Holofernes"

During this trail, her name was ultimately ruined and she was ultimately married off quietly and moved to Florence, where she became the first woman accepted into the Accadmia delle Arti del Disegno (Academy of the Arts of Drawing). Success followed her here, her career producing many paintings of powerful women from Christianity, history and mythology. She worked in many Italian cities and even painted in England for a time.
"Susanna and the Elders"

It is believed that Gentileshi used art to express her anger from the trial. "Judith Beheading Holofernes," shows a beautiful Israeli woman cutting off the head of the invading general Holofernes. Her realistic and sometimes Caravaggio influenced style, shows dramatic contrasts between light and dark while offering a strong, female viewpoint, unlike anything of her time.
She is now considered the patron saint of women artist.

To learn more about the trails:

"Artemisia Gentileschi Biography." A&E Networks Television, 1996. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. <>.
Gunnell, Barbara. "The Rape of Artemisia." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 4 July 1993. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

Yau, John. "10 Facts You May Not Know About Artemisia Gentileschi." Hyperallergic RSS. Hyperallergic RSS, 2009. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Caravaggio's Style

Due to it's easily recognizable elements of realism, contrast of bold black and light, and the emphasis on co-extensive space, the Caravaggio style of painting became a pattern of painting which other artists soon followed.
Early still life with fruit (1517-1610)

Caravaggio's first know paintings were of still life and of nature. Often mistakes in proportion happened. In 1595, however, Cardinal del Monte welcomed Caravaggio into his court. Caravaggio took advantage of this connection and gained more influential commissions form Rome's wealthiest patrons. During this time, the artists made darker paintings filled with more characters in religious scenes.

The Inspiration of Saint Matthew

From 1600 to 1606, Caravaggio burst into the Roman art scene due to his first major commission: the decoration of the Contarelli Chapel. Despite his temper, problems with the law and increasing price tags, Caravaggio saw commissions pour in.

The Madonna with Child with St. Anne

After murdering in 1606, Caravaggio fled Rome. During this time, his paintings grew even darker, more grim, and unsettling.

Due to his intense level of realism, Caravaggio's work wasn't greatly appreciated by his peers. His attention to detail, from dirty fingernails to bruises upon sacred personages was not befitting for that time.

The Crucifixion of St. Peter

Caravaggio's style of painting did take off however. The dramatic method of contracting dark from light made many of his works very recognizable. The extension of action, or co-extensive space method, made the viewer a part of the scene. During his time and centuries after, Caravaggio's style was harshly criticized for their brute naturalism, overly dramatic effects, and less sophisticated techniques. However, Caravaggio's ability to depict religious scenes in a more human and approachable light could not be unappreciated during that time. Pilgrims of poor backgrounds could finally connect to religious beings in a way that otherwise, they couldn't before.

Helpful Links:
Khan. "Caravaggio Biography." Artble: The Home of Passionate Art Lovers. Khan Academy, 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

Khan. "Caravaggio's Deposition, or Entombment." -Smarthistory. Khan Academy, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>.

"Still Life - Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio) - Gallery- Web Gallery of Art." Still Life with Fruit - Carvaggio (Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio) - Gallery - Web Gallery of Art. All Art, 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.