water seller of seville

itsthelesbiandoctor-deactivated  asked:

Idk if you already posted about it, but do you have a top 3-5 paintings from the Rococo and/or the Baroque period?

Those are two very different periods of painting, dear reader!

I’d normally just answer “Bernini,” but I suppose for paintings that doesn’t much help.

How about… Diego Velázquez’s The Water-Seller of Seville (circa 1620):

Just look at the beautiful interplay of sheens and textures. The man’s clothing is soft, but thick and just a little coarse. By comparison, the young man’s is fine and thin—there is an obvious class disparity between the two. Meanwhile the vessels react almost vivaciously to the bright light. The glass is stunningly transparent. The glaze on the jug to the left shines in its indentations. And a few drops of water glisten almost sensuously on the jug in the foreground.

Normally I am not a massive fan of Caravaggio: he is technically excellent, but I find his depictions of emotion unconvincing. However, there is a painting—Saint Francis of Assissi in Ecstasy (1594)—in which he demonstrates remarkably subtle handing of expression.

The whole thing, in fact, is remarkably subtle. The angel is perhaps a bit of an exception, but I think there’s something endearingly earnest about the fact that he just looks like some kid in a bad theatrical costume and a bit of sheet. And Saint Francis himself is masterful. Though invisible, the wounds on his hands are suggested by their pose, fingers curled but avoiding his palms. A little slit in his habit suggests the cut over his ribs. Otherwise, it is a scene of pure interiority, Saint Francis’ inner life just barely suggested in the wrinkles of his brow.

Last, but never least, we have the most obvious Rococo painting I could possibly have chosen:

Quite right, dear reader. It’s Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing (circa 1767)—or, to more closely translate the original French, The Happy Accidents of the Swing. It is quintessentially Rococo, and (apparently) unabashedly frivolous. But of course, Fragonard was never so straightforward. A little dog—a traditional symbol of fidelity, though also the frequent and fluffy companion to Fragonard’s Rococo women—seems, however, to at the very least hint at a wry self-awareness on Fragonard’s part.