The second half of “Let there be Light” proved just as interesting as the first half.
The breadth of the topic was amazing following the historical progression of art,
in its wider sense, from Velázquez through to Caracci, Poussin, Claude and on to
Baroque and Rococo.
Velázquez lived in the first half of the 17th century and was extremely ambitious
striving to be the best painter in Spain. This he achieved by being appointed Painter
Royal to Philip IV. He made many family portraits of the King and family, perhaps
culminating in his “The Ladies in Waiting” (Las Meninas) in which he features the
King and family but also manages to incorporate a large image of himself making the
The Caracci were all related and were Italian painters who brought a higher standard
to the art of fresco painting. They were regarded as establishing the Bolognese school
style of art and their frescos can still be seen in Bologna.
Poussin, a Frenchman, painted in a classical style in contrast to the Baroque of
the 17th century. He spent most of his working life in Rome but Louis XIII did confer
on him the title of First Painter in Ordinary. His painting of the Last Supper can
be seen in the Louvre. His contemporary and countryman Claude Lorrain also spent
most of his career in Rome and was to be an inspiration for the landscapes of Turner
The Baroque style was prevalent from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries and
was a style “characterised by dynamic movement, overt emotion and self-confident
rhetoric". The Roman Catholic Church approved of the baroque style which leads to
its promotion in churches in paintings, sculpture and architectural design. A good
example of Baroque is Bernini's work “St.Theresa in Ecstasy”, Rome.
The word Rococo is a combination of the French rocaille, meaning stone, and coquilles,
meaning shell, due to reliance on these objects as motifs of decoration. This style
developed after Louis XIV succession to the throne which brought a change in the
court artists and general artistic fashion. By the end of the old King's reign, rich
Baroque designs were giving way to lighter elements with more curves and natural
patterns. The move of court life away from Versailles had stimulated the move to
Watteau was the “Peintre des Fêtes Galantes” - painter of gallant and sentimental
subjects such as “La Gamme d’Amour”-the game of love.
In conclusion Brian has given us a wonderful in depth series of lectures on the art
forms which have shaped Europe and the type of art, architecture and sculpture we
now see throughout much of Europe.
Even though the next lectures do not start until September, such is the popularity
of Brian’s talks that many places had already been booked for the next series by
the end of March! So do not miss U3A History of Art Impressionism which begins on
22nd September 2010. Get your name down now.