dirk van baburen

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I saw Dirk van Baburen's The Lute Player (1622) today and instantly thought that, as much as he tried, as part of the Utrecht Caravaggisti, he wasn’t successful in imitating Caravaggio’s much more sensual, softer, meditative Lute Player from around 1596. Van Baburen’s musician seems to borrow his clothing from Caravaggio's young, fooled man in the Fortune Teller (c. 1594). His face is decidedly Dutch, however, and Baburen has attempted to imbue it with the same reminiscent quality over lost love that Caravaggio’s young castrato has. Perhaps it’s the way that his mouth is so obviously agape, or perhaps it’s because he is fully clothed, leaving nothing for the light to sensually cast itself onto. Whereas Caravaggio’s Lute Player gazes out into nothing, Van Baburen’s musician nearly gazes out at us, giving us a direct connection with him. There is less mystery in this. As a whole, the composition is something that can be concretely and even proudly ascribed to the Caravaggisti; but the delicate emotional qualities so celebrated in Caravaggio’s early works are not fully formed here.

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A comiXologist recommends:
Promethee #1: Atlantis ½

by: Tia Vasiliou

The launch of Delcourt’s English language books is the perfect opportunity to discover some new favorites.  Christophe Bec’s Prométhée #1 sets the stage for a particularly intriguing story, opening with Spanish conquistadors in the year 1513 discovering the wreckage of a spacecraft.  Bec goes on to introduce a cast of seemingly disparate 21st century characters, each at the precipice of a significant event as the UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) reaches 13:13.

Clearly, the Prometheus myth is the key to unlocking the enigma of time and the number 13 in this book.  With the myth’s conflict between the darkness of mortality and the illumination of divinity, culminating in the bitter consequences a creator must suffer for his mistakes, Prometheus has served as a thematic framework or plot device for many modern stories (check out the graphic novel adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or puzzle over the Prometheus Gambit in kierongillen and Jamie mckelvie’s The Wicked and the Divine).

In Prométhée #1, the tale of the Titan is presented in a gorgeous interlude.  If some of these panels seem familiar, somewhere your old art history professor is smiling.  You may recognize the artwork of William Blake, Goya, Sir James Thornhill, Ingres, Dirk van Baburen, and Rodin.  (Extra credit if you noticed the Altar of Zeus at Pergamon!)  Referencing these iconic works from the Western canon is an elegant way for Bec to infuse the story with a sense of familiarity and timelessness, and it’s one of my favorite things about this time-bending mystery.

[Read Promethee #1: Atlantis 1/2 on comiXology]

Tia Vasiliou is a former art historian, but working as a digital editor at comiXology is way more fun.