Chiaroscuro is a typical lighting technique in the Baroque era

poster chiarascuro

The Characteristics of Baroque Painting are Chiaroscuro. Many opinions see this as the resurgence of techniques born and developed in the Renaissance era.

Speaking of Baroque painting, there might never be an end to it. It’s not enough with just one or two articles. Its wide scope makes it somewhat challenging to map out comprehensively and in detail. Not to mention discussing its impact on later artworks. Nevertheless, critics have other opinions to define Baroque painting in a very concise manner, although it still cannot fully describe Baroque painting itself.

Chiaroscuro painting technique “The Fall of Phaeton,” Peter Paul Rubens, 1604. (Chiaroscuro painting technique)

Without intending to neglect other data and information, some art historians strive to identify Baroque painting based on the emphasis on concepts and techniques used.

For this reason, many opinions later evaluate the works of Peter Paul Rubens as a synopsis of Baroque painting. Conceptually, Rubens often drew from concepts of monarchy or royal life and religious iconography in his works. His technique in manipulating colors and accurately depicting space and object movement is considered to represent Baroque painting as a whole.

Chiaroscuro lighting technique “The Calling of St. Matthew,” Caravaggio Another common characteristic recognized in Baroque painting is the exaggerated use of lighting technique or Chiaroscuro. Some opinions view this as a resurgence of the Chiaroscuro technique developed in the Renaissance. The tendency of Chiaroscuro lighting technique is evident in the works of Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Even to this day, Chiaroscuro lighting technique is often used by contemporary painters and in the field of photography, especially in the low-key photography genre.

Along with the general characteristics of Baroque art that emphasize dramatic and theatrical impressions, Baroque painting also aims to incorporate strong emotions into each of its works. The tendency toward sensuous artistic freedom also characterizes Baroque painting. Meanwhile, the theme or content is not overly emphasized.

Therefore, many believe that instead of depicting or portraying human life at that time, Baroque painting prefers to celebrate artistic freedom alone. However, the truth of this opinion has not been fully proven, especially with the presence of a fact stating the proximity between Baroque painters and the Counter-Reformation group, which was one of the social phenomena of that era.

Chiaroscuro technique in Rembrandt’s painting “The Night Watch,” Rembrandt, 1642.

Source As discussed in previous articles, Baroque art spread and resonated widely, and the same happened with Baroque painting. In Western and Southern Europe, as the epicenter of dissemination, Baroque colors strongly adorned these regions. Nicolas Poussin is one French painter who has a Baroque style similar to painters in the southern region, such as Caravaggio in Italy and Diego Velázquez in Spain. Despite having a similar style, they still have different expressive styles.

Meanwhile, a somewhat different development occurred in the Netherlands. In this country, perhaps only Rembrandt is considered to have a strong Baroque style. Meanwhile, other Dutch painters like Johannes Vermeer or Paulus Potter, for example, at the same time, preferred to explore more traditional themes, such as landscapes, still life, or everyday life depictions. In art history, especially in the Netherlands, this period is also referred to as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting. Meanwhile, the Baroque development in Southern Belgium, led by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, and Andriaen Brouwer, is known as Flemish Painting.

Source: “Encyclopædia Britannica: Western painting.” Retrieved 20 April 2013. The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2011 Boardman, John ed., The Oxford History of Classical Art, 1993, OUP, ISBN 0-19-814386-9


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