The Getty Paintings section houses 84 images of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and early Modern
paintings taken at the Getty Center that were selected and compiled from several visits to the museum.
The images are arranged chronologically and by artist, covering 600 years from the 1300s to early 1900.

This page contains images of Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and Swiss paintings from 1300-1650.

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this means that you have to develop a rock-steady hand-hold that can be repeatedly
held for a very long time successfully. Processing the images for color is tricky due
to the mixed light. Acquiring quality images of paintings is generally quite difficult.

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Getty Museum Index

                                  Getty Paintings
               Architecture      1300-1650                
Getty Sculptures Index                                                
                     Ancient Sculpture      Getty Decorative Arts Index
     Modern Sculpture       Furniture                   
             Bronze Sculpture       Decorative Art                 


Madonna and Saints Daddi 3251

Madonna, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Paul, Bernardo Daddi, Italian, c. 1330, tempera and gold leaf on panel.

This triptych depicting the Virgin Mary in the center flanked by Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Paul is too large to have been easily portable, and was probably commissioned by a Dominican patron for a small chapel. On the left panel Saint Thomas Aquinas wears the Dominican habit and holds a book of his writings, turned to the text of Ecclesiastes. On the right panel, Saint Paul turns toward the Virgin and holds his symbol of martyrdom, the sword. In the center, the Virgin Mary is holding a book in one hand (open at a page inscribed with the Magnificat from Luke’s Gospel) and reaches over the marble parapet with her right hand. This gesture symbolizes the holy Mother's power and mercy, and her unique position to serve for man as a compassionate link to God. There is a tiny figure of Christ Blessing in the pinnacle. The Virgin Mary wears a deep rich blue cloak made from ultramarine or lapis lazuli, a very precious and expensive pigment. A pattern of intricate marks called tooling, punched into the gold, defines the halo around her head. The background of the panels is covered with a thin layer of gold leaf, but the impression is of solid gold, meant to honor the holy figures depicted.

Another painting associated with Daddi's workshop is in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence. It was evidently derived from the central panel, and is dated 1334, thus the triptych should be from a few years before that time. During the 1500s, a reclining Christ Child was added in oil at the bottom, in front of the parapet, which differed in style from the rest of the tempera painting. After the Getty acquired Bernardo Daddi's painting in 1993, conservators realized that the child was a later addition, as cleaning tests and X-Rays showed no child beneath, and a controversial restoration in 1996 removed the figure of the Christ Child. The triptych is remarkably well preserved: the colors are still fresh, and the gilding and tooled decoration are original.

A Florentine painter of the first half of the fourteenth century, Daddi is often said to have been a pupil of Giotto, but there is no hard evidence for this. He enrolled in the guild of Medici e Speziali some time between 1312 and 1320. To judge from such major commissions as the great multi-tiered polyptych for Florence Cathedral (now in the Uffizi), an altarpiece of 1335 (now lost) for the San Bernardo Chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio and a large Madonna of 1346-47 for the greatly venerated shrine at Orsanmichele, he became one of the leading painters in the Florence of his day. He died during the Black Plague of 1348.


Coronation of the Virgin Cenni HS9184

Polyptych with Coronation of the Virgin and Saints, Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni, Italian, c. 1390s

Mounted on a carved and gilded frame with pastiglia ornamentation in a punched background with the coat of arms of the Florentine Gianfigliazzi family, and the Lotteringhi Della Stufa family impaled with the Guicciardini family coat of arms (in the predella), this polyptych was created in the International Gothic style of Florence with tempera and tooled gold on poplar panels.

In the central panel of this opulent polyptych, Christ crowns his mother, the Virgin Mary, as gathered angels and saints look on. The altarpiece decorated a chapel dedicated to Saint Benedict in the Church of Santa Trinità, Florence, which explains why Saint Benedict is portrayed twice, on the left panel and again in a scene below.

The altarpiece's various panels do not depict episodes in chronological order. In the pinnacles above the central scene, which were added at a later date, the Archangel Gabriel announces the conception of Christ to the Virgin. Below, in the predella, or lowest panel, the Virgin's death is represented at the center. To either side are scenes of saints triumphing over evil. On the far left, Saint Benedict exorcises a devil, and in the panel to the right Saint John baptizes Christ. To the right of the Virgin's death, devils torment Saint Anthony, while on the far right Saint Lawrence liberates a soul from purgatory.

Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni used lavish amounts of gold leaf and different types of punch marks and tooling to describe haloes and background decorations. He took great pains to include details such as attributes for saints on the side wings and landscapes in most of the predella panels. The opulence and sheer elaborateness of this altarpiece inspired awe in Christian viewers of the late 1300s and remain impressive today. 


Coronation of the Virgin Cenni 1834

The image of the polyptych above was shot in brighter natural light, at an angle to reduce reflections.

The polyptych was commissioned by the Gianfigliazzi family, an economically and politically powerful clan in Trecento Florence, for its neighborhood church, the 13th century Abbey of Santa Trinita. This is the same Gianfigliazzi family which was portrayed as usurers in Dante's Divine Comedy, which is alluded to in a scene in the predella. It was originally placed in the Gianfigliazzi chapel, whose walls were also frescoed by Cenni di Francesco di ser Cenni.

The figures in this altarpiece are modeled with a sense of volume that became attenuated in Cenni's later works. This style aided in dating the polyptych. Dating of Cenni's work is difficult because of a certain conformity of style throughout his career.

The central pinnacle of the original work is missing and has been replaced with a small panel showing the Virgin and Child with Saint Anthony Abbot and a Bishop Saint, attributed to the Master of the Lazzaroni Madonna, a contemporary with Cenni. The gap the central panel of the predella (The Dormition of the Virgin) was retouched in the late 1880s by Augusto Burchi. These retouchings were removed in the 1970 restoration.


Coronation of Virgin da Fabriano HS9231

Coronation of the Virgin, Gentile da Fabriano, Italian, c. 1420, tempera and gold leaf on panel.

Gently, Christ places the ornate gold crown upon the Virgin Mary's slightly bowed head. Groups of musical angels watch from either side as she becomes the Queen of Heaven. The dove hovering above the Virgin’s head represents the Holy Spirit. Gentile da Fabriano used extensive tooling, decorative patterning, gold leaf, and rich pigments to create a sumptuous surface resembling tapestry. The Coronation of the Virgin is an excellent example of the International Gothic style, which is characterized by intricate patterns, richly ornamented surfaces, hieratic scale, angular folds in drapery, elongated figures, pale delicate faces and long thin hands, but it is missing the characteristic trefoil arches. It demonstrates how artists during this time were making a transition from medieval, Byzantine, and Gothic to Renaissance Realism. When acquired by the Getty in 1977, it was one of the few remaining privately-owned paintings by a major 15th century Italian artist.

The Virgin Mary is shown after her death, tilting her head forward and being crowned Regina Coeli, or Queen of Heaven, by her son Jesus Christ. Jesus simultaneously holds his right hand in a blessing gesture between their heads. Over their heads flies a white dove with outstretched wings, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The dove has been surrounded in tool markings in the gold leaf that seem to radiate outward, and symbolize the presence of God the father. At either side of Mary and Jesus stands a choir of six musical angels, nearly half their size. Their presence signifies a Sacra Conversazione, which can be translated to “sacred conversation”. One group of angels holds a scroll that says in Latin, “Fear the lord and give honor to him”. Tooled into the gold leaf are ornate halos, and in Jesus Christ’s halo the Greek and Latin lettering can be translated to, “Jesus Christ Son of God”.

Gentile was commissioned to paint this scene for his native town, Fabriano, when he was at the height of his fame. The panel functioned as a processional standard held aloft in parades that honored the Virgin Mary. The panel originally depicted The Stigmatization of Saint Francis on the reverse. Sometime after 1835, when the intact panels were seen by Passavant, the panel was sawed into two sections; the Saint Francis panel is now in a private collection in Italy.


Fabriano Adoration of the Magi Uffizi 4764 M

1600 x 1690 (1265 KB)

—  Note the file size  —

This is the most famous and best work of Gentile da Fabriano, commissioned by Palla Strozzi
on the arrival of da Fabriano in Florence in 1420. It required three years to complete, and it was
installed in the chapel of Santa Trinita. It portrays the path of the Magi in several scenes starting in
the upper left corner and continuing clockwise. The people are dressed in Renaissance costume, with
real gold and jewels inlaid into the panels. The frame is a masterpiece, with several small paintings
and a fully illustrated predella (the area below the main scene) Note the exotic animals. There
are monkeys, a leopard, a macaque, a lion and other animals (including superb horses).

This piece is considered to be one of the premiere masterworks of the International Gothic style.

This image was one of the few taken in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and was added to this page
to show Gentile da Fabriano’s masterwork. More Art from Italy is compiled in the Italian Art section.


Madonna and Child with Hermit Saints Fungai 1961

Fungai’s Madonna and Child with Two Hermit Saints mounted in a Renaissance frame (detail shot of the painting is at right).


Madonna and Child with Hermit Saints Fungai 1964

Madonna and Child with Two Hermit Saints, Bernardino Fungai, Italian, early 1480s, tempera on wood.

In a typically Sienese manner, Bernardino Fungai mingled elements of Gothic art (a tooled gold background) with the new Renaissance ideas of three-dimensionality. Fungai presented the hermit saints in three-quarter view to display his knowledge of the new concept of foreshortening, yet he retained a typically Sienese interest in decorative patterning, as seen in the Virgin's elaborate drapery. He tilted Christ's painted halo in perspective, but he incised those of the saints and the Virgin into the background. Fungai also effectively employed the characteristic linear harmonies of Sienese art in the gentle contours of the docile Virgin's mantle, the subtle scallops of her white headgear, the fluttery end of Christ's transparent drapery, and the saints' wavy beards. The Virgin stands behind a thigh-high parapet, her left hand raised, her right hand supporting the Christ Child, who is standing on a pillow on the parapet, making a gesture of blessing with his right hand and encircling her shoulder with his left arm. They are flanked by two bearded saints; on the parapet at right, a goldfinch pecks at a cherry.

Fungai’s works are characterized by a decorative sensibility in the use of color and in the treatment of draperies, and for his abundant use of gold, particularly in his sumptuous damasks and in painted areas incised to reveal the gilding beneath. The Madonna was painted during Fungai's early maturity, and the intimate gesture of the Child's arm slung around his mother's shoulders may allude to their special relationship as described in Bernard of Clairvaux' interpretation of the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible, wherein they are both Mother and Son and Bride and Bridegroom. The goldfinch on the parapet below is often associated with Christ as, according to legend, it acquired its red spot at the moment when it flew over the head of Christ on the road to Calvary and, as it drew a thorn from his brow, it was splashed with a drop of the Saviour's blood.


Story of Joseph d’Antonio 4115

The Story of Joseph, Biagio d’Antonio, Italian, c. 1485, tempera and gold leaf on panel.

A series of continuous narratives from the Old Testament depicts episodes from the life of Joseph, favorite son of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob. To make the story easier to follow, Biagio d'Antonio included inscriptions identifying the principal characters.

In the open loggia at left, Jacob, seated on a throne with Benjamin at his side, sends Joseph to his half-brothers tending sheep in the field. In the background, shown in the arch of the loggia, Joseph is walking at the extreme left of his brothers, tending the resting sheep. In the far left corner, the brothers, jealous of their father's love for Joseph, are pulling him from the well they threw him into after stripping him of his jacket, and are about to sell him to merchants riding down the road for twenty pieces of silver. In the background to the right, the merchants board the ship that will take them and their cargo to Egypt. In the right-hand loggia, Ruben and the other brothers show a blood-smeared coat to their father as evidence that Joseph is dead. With his head in his hand, Jacob mourns his son, whom he believes to be dead. To the right, Joseph's brothers and the Isrealites are seen departing for Egypt to buy corn.

A companion panel in the Metropolitan Museum of Art depicts the next sequence of events in Joseph's life. Originally framed next to one another, these two panels would have been inserted into the paneling of a room in a Tuscan family's home.

Biagio d'Antonio was trained in Florence, where he was first influenced by the elegant, linear style of Fra Filippo Lippi. By 1476 he had established himself as an independent painter in Faenza, where he remained for at least thirty years and built a large bottega, or workshop. He continued to work in other parts of Italy as well. Biagio collaborated with Domenico Ghirlandaio, considered the best fresco painter in Florence, incorporating Ghirlandaio's compositions and facial types into his own paintings. Biagio favored the bright, crystalline colors, carpets of flowers, genre details, and landscape backgrounds of northern European art, though scholars are uncertain about precisely how he became exposed to Flemish and German painting. Biagio painted many religious subjects, particularly the Madonna and Child, and he may also have made miniatures for a Bible. In his mythological and classical subjects, Biagio animated his pictorial narratives with rich and highly colored costumes and armor. He created many panels for cassoni, the elaborately carved and decorated marriage chests that held a bride’s trousseau.


St. James Major Madonna and Child and Saints Vivarini HS9225

Polyptych with Saint James Major, Madonna and Child, and Saints
Bartolomeo Vivarini, Italian, 1490, tempera and gold leaf on panel.

Bartolomeo Vivarini's tempera paintings were noted for their use of bright, dissonant colors and figures resembling sculptures or wood carvings. This polyptych, made for the Church of San Giacomo at Vallalta in northern Italy, depicts Saint James in the center, holding a pilgrim's staff with the symbolic scallop shell and a book. At the lower left, Saint John the Baptist wears his customary tunic of animal skins and a pale gray-green mantle and stands in a rocky setting along the river Jordan, unlike the other figures who stand before a marble ledge. To his left is Saint John the Evangelist. At the lower right, Saint Bartholomew holds a book and a knife, the symbol of his martyrdom, and an elderly Saint Peter holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

In the central panel of the upper tier, the Virgin holds the Christ Child, who raises his right arm in blessing. At the top left, Saint Catherine of Alexandria holds a broken wheel, her symbol of martyrdom, and Saint Ursula clasps two rods with banners. On the Virgin's left, Saint Apollonia holds a book and a pincer with a tooth, referring to the instruments of her martyrdom, and Saint Lucy holds an oil lamp that alludes to the significance of her name, saint of light. Note the separation of the men from the women.

In the years between 1485 and 1491, Vivarini painted six altarpieces for churches in a 25 mile stretch of the Serio Valley, and another for a church in the neighboring valley. This altarpiece for the church in Vallalta was no doubt prompted by the arrival of Vivarini altarpieces in nearby churches. St. James had been a cult figure in this minor church (dedicated to the Virgin) prior to 1463, when it became an autonomous parish. At that time, St. James joined the Virgin as co-dedicatee, and the commission of a polyptych was considered as a celebration. This altarpiece is more ambitious in scale than the ones which were done for the neighboring churches (probably in a spirit of competition). The frame is not the original (it was replaced in the 19th century), the original was very likely a Lombardesque frame. This polyptych was replaced in the church after the Council of Trent (1545-63).


Isabella of Portugal van der Weyden 2351

Portrait of Isabella of Portugal, Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden, Flemish, Flanders, c. 1450, oil on panel.

Seated with her hands crossed in her lap, Isabella of Portugal, the daughter of King John I of Portugal and Duchess of Burgundy, conveys the poise and confidence of her noble position. Her sumptuous attire, heavily woven with gold thread, and her jeweled fingers and headdress reflect her aristocratic status. Oddly, the artist did not match the patterns of the sleeves, as would have been customary during this period. In fact, the duchess never actually sat for this portrait, which may account for the misunderstood representation of her clothing. Scholars believe that the artist copied Isabella's likeness from a lost portrait by Rogier van der Weyden, was court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and his wife, Isabella of Portugal, and painted portraits of both the Duke and Duchess in about 1445. The tender, slightly mocking expression on the duchess's face and the elongated fingers reflect van der Weyden's concept of portraiture.

The prominent inscription in the upper left corner of the panel, PERSICA SIBYLLA IA (the Persian Sibyl), suggests that the portrait was part of a series depicting sibyls. This identity strikingly contrasts with Duchess Isabella's costume. Scholars believe that someone other than the original artist added the inscription, as well as the brown background meant to simulate wood, some time after the portrait was painted, probably in the 16th century.


Heraldic Panel Eberler Family Arms 2052


Crucifixion St. Christopher 2063

Heraldic Panel with the Arms of the Eberler Family, Swiss, possibly from Basel, c. 1490
Pot-metal and clear glass, black and brown vitreous paint, and silver stain.

In this playful stained-glass window, a red boar on a family's coat of arms comes to life. The beast appears sly, even a bit threatening, as he stalks an innocent looking maiden strolling under an archway. She coyly pretends not to notice him while hiding a dagger in the folds of her dress. Above them, men and women participate in a hunting expedition, an amorous pastime.

The richness of this window's design reflects the joyful spirit of the Renaissance. By then, the dark, heavy look of stained glass windows had given way to a more colorful, light-filled aesthetic. In part, this new direction resulted from the fact that, as stained glass windows became more affordable, people commissioned them for their homes. Subject matter changed, more often commemorating family and daily life. Scholars believe a member of a wealthy Basel family who converted from Judaism to Christianity in the early 1400s commissioned this panel.

The Crucifixion, Saint Christopher and a Donor, Lorraine or Burgundy, c. 1500-1510
Pot-metal, clear, and flashed glass, black vitreous and oxide paint, and silver stain.

The production of large-scale stained-glass windows for churches flourished in Europe during the Renaissance. These two monumental examples probably once decorated a chapel. On the left is a Crucifixion scene with the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist, and on the right is a young kneeling donor. As he adores The Crucifixion, the donor is protected by Saint Christopher, the giant who ferried the Christ child over a river. The brilliant color and complex workmanship of these panels indicate that they were a lavish expression of piety on the part of the young, unidentified donor.

These panels contain just about all you need to know to understand the fundamentals of stained glass. They are made partly of colored glass, which you see from the rich robes of St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin. This red glass and blue glass would be a consistent color throughout. But then you also have various ways in which the glass painter manipulated the layers of glass. You see the constant use of silver stain, or yellow stain. The yellow stain is applied to the back of the panel (note the hair of the Christ child). Another wonderful aspect of these particular panels is the technique of flashed glass (note the halo of the Christ child). This is made out of a piece of clear glass that has been dipped in red, painted with the silver stain on the back, and then the red glass has been ground away to create the rays of his halo.


Young Man in Red Raphael 1825


Young Man in Red Raphael 1994

Portrait of a Young Man in Red, Circle of Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio), Italian, c. 1505, oil on panel.

An unknown man, cool and contained, stands proudly in front of a prosperous landscape that may include a portrait of his own residence. The fine yet restrained clothes, direct gaze, and proud bearing characterize the new Renaissance emphasis on individualism. The three-quarter turn of the body, with his arm forming the base of the triangular composition, became a popular pose in that era; not incidentally, it draws attention to the man's ring and the fine Middle Eastern carpet covering the table.

Raphael, born Raffaello Sanzio, was crowned the "Prince of Painters" by Giorgio Vasari, a sixteenth-century biographer of artists. From his father, Raphael learned painting; in his native Urbino, he experienced intellectual court life. A year after his father's sudden death, Raphael entered the workshop of Urbino's leading painter at age twelve and quickly surpassed his master. By the age of twenty-one, Raphael had moved to Florence, where he embraced the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. In Florence, his many paintings of the Madonna and Child display his characteristic human warmth, serenity, and sublimely perfect figures. Raphael's art epitomized the High Renaissance qualities of harmony and ideal beauty.

In four years Raphael's fame led to a summons to Rome from Pope Julius II. As painter to the papal court, his work met with high praise, and he established himself as the most favored artist in Rome. He was commissioned to paint portraits, devotional subjects, and the Pope's private rooms; he also designed tapestries. Raphael was soon placed in charge of all papal projects involving architecture, paintings, decoration, and the preservation of antiquities. Vasari said his untimely death at the age of 37 "plunged into grief the entire papal court"; the Pope, who "wept bitterly when he died, had intended making him a Cardinal".

Vasari said that Raphael eventually had a workshop of fifty pupils and assistants, many of whom later became significant artists. Probably the largest workshop team assembled under any single old master painter, they included established masters from other parts of Italy who were probably working with their own teams as sub-contractors, as well as pupils and journeymen. The works of art from the workshop of Raphael are often very difficult to assign to a particular hand.


Portrait of a Bearded Man Bassano 1999

Portrait of a Bearded Man, Jacopo Bassano, Italian, c. 1550, oil on canvas.

A melancholy middle-aged man with a florid complexion, a long beard, and large, watery eyes looks to the side. His head inclines to the right as though he is listening to or observing someone outside the picture frame. His small, soft, half-open mouth seems about to speak. The unknown man's slightly protuberant eyes communicate an emotional state that provokes a sympathetic response from the viewer. Jacopo Bassano emphasized the man's strong, physical presence by the darkened shadow cast against the wall on the left, the solid mass of his upper body, and the way his flesh is modeled to suggest the underlying bone structure of his skull.


Venus and Adonis Titian 2349

Venus and Adonis, Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian, c. 1555-1560, oil on canvas.

The goddess Venus tries to restrain her lover Adonis from going off to the hunt. She clings to him, imploring him not to go, but Adonis looks down at her impassively. His dogs strain at their leashes, echoing his impatience, as detailed in the tragic love story found in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Cupid sleeps in the background, a symbol of Adonis's resistance to Venus's entreaties, since his ineffective arrows hang uselessly in a tree. The story ends tragically; during the hunt the mortal Adonis is fatally gored by a wild boar. Titian's loose, energetic strokes of paint give the painting a sense of spontaneity and movement. In some areas, the artist even painted with his finger, as seen in Adonis's arm. The composition's dynamism springs from the torsion caused by Venus's awkward pose, which was inspired by an ancient sculptural relief. Titian used rich colors, shimmering highlights, and a lush landscape to create the painting's evocative, poignant mood.

Due to its dirty varnish and the high placement on a wall at Somerley House in Hampshire, England, this painting was consistently underrated by 20th century critics until Harold Wethey (prominent art historian, author, and expert on Titian) hinted at its autograph quality. At the London sale of the painting in December 1991, which was the first modern opportunity to study it under acceptable conditions, it became apparent that the picture was by Titian himself. Designed originally for his closest and most supportive patron Philip II (King of Spain), Titian wrote to Philip that his Adonis was to show a back view of Venus to act as a foil to his earlier frontal nude. It is easy to read such paintings as exploiting female nudity as several of his contemporaries did, but Titian saw as his challenge to render the ancient mythology in a believable and enticing way, and drew inspiration from an ancient bas-relief. Titian was a genius at rendering light on surfaces and designing in color rather than just line.

A biographer related a telling story about Titian: Emperor Charles V once picked up a brush for him, to which Titian responded, "Sire, I am not worthy of such a servant." The Emperor replied, "Titian is worthy to be served by Caesar." Only Michelangelo's closeness with the popes compares. Legend suggests that at age nine Titian began training in Venice. He studied with Bellini, but Giorgione's influence was decisive: Titian's forms became larger, treatment of light subtler, and his mood gentler. In 1516 Titian became painter to the Venetian republic, and in 1533 Charles V named him court painter.

Roman painting could match the grandeur of his forms, but Titian's brilliant, expressive color was unprecedented. His sensuous Bacchus and Ariadne showed his ability to depict any hue or texture. Titian's portraits combined incisive, sensitive characterizations with an opulent treatment of accessories, eventually developing into the official style that inspired Rubens, van Dyck, and many artists of the 1800s. After 1555 Titian painted mythological works for Philip II of Spain, rising to new heights in creating sensuous flesh, with colors flowing in harmony rather than contrasting boldly as in his youth. What from a distance appear to be magical combinations of form and color prove upon closer inspection to be blobs of paint, thumb marks, and brush scratches. Titian used oil paint for itself, exploring its expressive rather than representational possibilities.


Tabernacle Door Crucifixion Mochi HS9443


Virgin Mourning the Dead Christ Targone HS9431

It was difficult to decide whether to place these two works in the Sculpture or Paintings section, but I finally decided to place them here. The Tabernacle Crucifixion to the left was made of gilt bronze; the Virgin Mourning Christ is embossed gold on obsidian. Neither is a painting, but then again, neither is really a sculpture either (although they are both reliefs). You may have made a different choice... so be it.

Regardless, they are both very interesting works of art and deserve to be shown somewhere, so why not here?

Tabernacle Door with the Crucifixion, Francesco Mochi, Italian, Montevarchi, 1635-1640, gilt bronze.

As told in the Gospels, while Jesus hung on the cross, he turned to his mother saying, "Woman, behold your son," and then entrusted her to the care of his disciple, John. This bronze relief represents that moment, with the Virgin Mary and John flanking Jesus on either side of the cross and a weeping Mary Magdalene kneeling at the base. The artist emphasized the Virgin's close relationship to Jesus through their interlocking gazes and mirrored gestures. Both are modeled with three-quarter profile heads, and the Virgin's open arms, expressing her acceptance of the event, mimic those of Jesus. In contrast, both John and Mary Magdalen are in profile, and their more overtly dramatic gestures convey their tremendous grief.

Mochi designed the clouds and figures with foreshortening to suggest depth, a strategy that is only apparent when the relief is seen from below, as the artist intended. The relief is meticulously chased, using techniques which are more suited to working in gold than bronze, and the undercutting and other features which lead to the exceptional three-dimensionality of this piece were attempted in a very thin cast (which led to a number of casting flaws). Features such as the relief's elongated rectangular shape, large size, gilding, keyhole, and hinge indicate that it served as the door of a tabernacle on the high altar of a church. Priests stored consecrated hosts in locked tabernacles to prevent contamination.

Virgin Mourning the Dead Christ, Cesare Targone, Italian, Venice, 1586-1587, finely chased embossed gold on obsidian.

Clasping her hands to her chest, the grieving Virgin Mary looks upon the naked body of the dead Christ. His muscular figure reclines on a cloth stretched out upon a rocky ground. Swathed in heavy drapery, the Virgin, looking aged and worn, sways back as she tilts her head forward. Silhouetted against the dark, empty background, she gives visual expression to the emotional poignancy of the scene.

Targone rejected the traditional narrative emphasis of images of the grieving Virgin. He eliminated almost all references to the Crucifixion or Christ's other mourners, focusing solely on the Virgin Mary's sorrow, which then becomes a model for the viewer's response to the dead Christ. This devotional object, made of finely chased embossed gold repoussé on black obsidian, is Targone’s only signed work, and may have originally been set into a tabernacle door above an altar. It is a masterful example of the difficult repoussé technique, working from both the rear and the front of the gold sheet. Targone was hired by the Medici to execute repoussé reliefs based upon Giambologna's models, suggesting that he was considered a specialist in this technique.


Coronation of Virgin with Saints Procaccini 3889


Miracles of St. Francis of Paola Rubens 4165

Coronation of the Virgin with Saints Joseph and Francis of Assisi, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Italian, c. 1604-1607

Borne aloft by two angels, the Virgin is crowned Queen of Heaven by Christ and God the Father. Below, Joseph on the left and Saint Francis on the right, identified by the stigmata on his open right hand, kneel and pose dramatically. Giulio Cesare Procaccini's figures are symmetrically positioned, giving balance to the composition, although the compressed bodies appear almost too large for the space they occupy.

Swirling, shimmering draperies of brilliant pinks, yellows, blues, and violets enliven the composition and accentuate the otherworldliness of the subject matter. In comparison to the individualized faces of the saints below, the gestures and faces of the holy figures above are idealized.

Giulio Cesare Procaccini's father (Ercole the Elder), moved the family from Bologna to Milan in 1590 and founded a school of painting called the Academy of the Procaccini, which trained many Milanese painters, including Ercole's three sons. Giulio Cesare, however, began his career as a sculptor. While Procaccini probably gave up sculpting around 1600, for the next two decades the sculptural quality of his paintings betrayed his origins. Procaccini bridged two stylistic periods in this painting. His virtuoso handling of paint and heightened emotionalism display Baroque tendencies, while his large, graceful figures and brilliant palette are holdovers from the Bolognese Mannerist period.

The Miracles of Saint Francis of Paola, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, c. 1627-1628.

Arms outstretched, Saint Francis of Paola levitates while surrounded by a divine light. The crowd surges towards the saint, whose expression conveys his communion with God at the apex of the composition. Famed for his miraculous healing powers, Saint Francis of Paola was invited to France by King Louis XI (shown at the left with his royal court) when Louis was in his final illness. In the foreground, a man and woman in paroxysms of insanity are restrained while awaiting their cure. To their right, a dead man comes to life as a sheet is symbolically lifted from his face. An assortment of people, some afflicted with blindness, deafness, lameness, or the infirmities of old age, ascend the stairs. The varied gestures and expressions enhance the dramatic effect of the whole.

This oil sketch was created as the model for an altarpiece which was never executed. The composition represents the variety of miracles performed by St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507). Rubens focuses on the most spectacular proof of Francis' sanctity, his levitation at Plessis-lez-Tours which was witnessed by Louis XI of France and his court. The evolution of this composition can be traced through two prior oil sketches in Dresden and Munich. It is likely that the work was commissioned by Marie de' Medici, whose fall from power after her attempt to displace Richelieu would provide the reason why the altarpiece was never executed.


Calydonian Boar Hunt Rubens HS9285

The Calydonian Boar Hunt, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, about 1611-1612, oil on oak panel.

The boar was furiously twisting its body round and round, its jaws slavering with foam and fresh blood... the hero who had dealt the wound came up close to the animal and roused his foe to fury, before finally burying his shining spear in its shoulder.

—  Ovid, Metamorphoses  —

Wrapped in a flowing red cape, the warrior Meleager thrusts his spear into the shoulder of a massive boar. The ferocious creature, seemingly undaunted by a pair of hounds latched onto its bristled hide, has turned to confront its human adversary. Meleager's blow will prove to be fatal to the boar, but the beast has proven itself as a fearsome foe. Beneath its imposing hooves lie the disemboweled carcass of a hound and the prostrate corpse of the hunter, Ancaeus. The story of the Calydonian boar hunt was told and retold during antiquity, most famously in Ovid's Metamorphoses. When King Oeneus of Calydon failed to honor the goddess Diana with offerings, she released a terrifying boar on his land. Meleager, the king's son, assembled a group of renowned warriors to slay the beast. Several of the huntsmen were killed or maimed before Meleager finally defeated the boar. He presented its head as a trophy to his beloved, the huntress Atalanta, who is seen behind Meleager with bow in hand.

Peter Paul Rubens created this painting a few years after an extended eight year stay in Italy. He drew inspiration from ancient sarcophagi and statues he had seen there for the poses of many of the figures. For example, the boar seen in profile was taken directly from a well-known marble in Florence's Uffizi Gallery. Rubens's appropriation of iconic images from antiquity was intended to resonate with learned viewers. For the figures mounted on horseback, Rubens borrowed from his Renaissance predecessors, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. But Rubens's dynamic and inventive interpretation of the hunt was wholly his own. With this painting, his first oil work on the subject, he established the theme of the epic combat between man and animal, a subject to which he would return throughout his career.

Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish painter well known for his extravagant Baroque style which emphasized movement, color and sensuality. One of the most celebrated and prolific artists in his lifetime (as well as during the entire Baroque era), his patrons included royalty and churches and his art depicted religion, history, mythology and allegory, combining Renaissance classicism and lively realism with superb depictions of figures derived from his study of the work of Michelangelo, Raphael and da Vinci. Rubens was one of the last major artists to paint on wooden panels, although he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. He also painted on slate for some of his altarpieces to reduce reflections.


Entombment Rubens 1910

The Entombment, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, c. 1612, oil on canvas.

Peter Paul Rubens depicted the moment after the Crucifixion and before the Resurrection when Christ is placed into the tomb. His head is turned directly towards the viewer as he is being supported by those closest to him in life: John the Evangelist, in a brilliant red robe, bears the weight of Christ; Mary Magdalene cries in the background; while Mary, the mother of James the Younger and Joseph, bows her head in sorrow and contemplates Christ’s wounded hand. Mary, mother of Christ, cradles his head and looks heavenward for divine intercession. Notice how, except for her hand, Rubens depicted Mary’s complexion as even more pale and deathlike than Christ’s.

Unlike many paintings surrounding Christ’s crucifixion, Rubens’ artwork uses color and attention to detail, including weight, to focus more on the pain and sadness that others felt after Christ’s death rather than the actual crucifixion itself. The emotional attachment that the audience feels to the human side of Christ was of great importance to the church and its artists during that moment in time. This painting (sometimes referred to as The Entombment 2 of 1612) was painted just after Rubens made a copy of Caravaggio's Entombment, which is now in the National Gallery of Canada. Rubens focus in his original was more on the emotional drama after Christ was already on the slab, rather than the action of laying him on the slab, and there was considerably less theatricality to the presentation of the mourning.

Recognized as the greatest painter of his day, Peter Paul Rubens received commissions from all over Europe and created profound, original statements on every conceivable subject. His Baroque religious paintings expressed emotion with an intensity that has never been surpassed. The Entombment was meant to make the viewer's religious experience personal and encourage the faithful to imagine the physical horror of Christ's Crucifixion. Christ's tortured features confront the viewer, and our attention is focused on his corpse, sacrifice, and suffering. Wounds are openly displayed: blood flows from the gaping laceration in Christ's side and the puncture wounds on his hands. Rubens contrasted the living and the dead by juxtaposing the lifeless body and green-tinged skin of Christ with the healthy complexion of St. John. This painting was probably made to serve as an altarpiece in a small chapel, perhaps one dedicated to the Eucharist. The slab on which the body is placed suggests an altar, while the sheaf of wheat alludes to the bread of the Eucharist, the equivalent of Christ's body in the Mass.


Return from War Rubens-Brueghel HS9297

The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus, c. 1610-1612,
Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish, Antwerp, oil on panel.

Amid the disarray of Vulcan's forge, Venus leans into the embrace of her lover, Mars, who is transfixed by her alluring gaze. Caught up in his attraction to the aggressively seductive goddess, Mars is no longer able to carry out his military exploits. Venus removes his helmet, while mischievous putti cavort with his sword and shield. In the 1600s, the subject of Venus disarming her lover Mars was understood as an allegory of Peace. Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder's interpretation of the subject, however, emphasizes the fragility of peace. Weapons production continues in the background at the burning fires of Vulcan's hearth, signaling that love's conquest of war may be only temporary.

Antwerp’s most eminent painters of the early 17th century, Rubens and Brueghel  were close colleagues and friends, and collaborated on at least twenty-five paintings. When working in concert, they mostly adhered to their respective genres. This painting displays each virtuoso's talents: Rubens's robust figural style and iconography and Brueghel's elaborate scenery and intricate still life details. The luminous figure of Venus, the reflective quality of the weapons and armor, and the tactile quality of the lush painting testify to their skill.


Return from War Rubens-Brueghel HS9297c1


Return from War Rubens-Brueghel HS9297c2

Detail crops from the master image showing some of Brueghel’s weaponry at left and Rubens’ figures at right.

Paintings such as The Return from War were valued by collectors throughout Europe as the unique union of two distinctive approaches. For this inventive collaboration of Rubens and Brueghel, their second after Rubens' return from Italy (the first collaboration was The Battle of the Amazons, 1598-1600), Brueghel designed much of the painting, created the staging for Rubens' figures by painting the vault with Vulcan's Forge, the artillery piece and the cast-off armor before Rubens painted the figures of Mars, Venus and the Cupids. Rubens actually painted over some of Brueghel's work, which he restored when finishing  work on parts of the still life.

Rubens' well-known mastery of the depiction of figures derived from his study of Michelangelo, Raphael and da Vinci figure drawings during his two trips to Italy in 1600 and 1604. He was especially well-known for his depictions of full-figured women, leading to their description as "Rubenesque". Venus’ cross-legged pose derives from depictions on ancient sarcophagi.

Brueghel's depiction of the objects of war displayed his mastery of extremely fine, minute brushwork and described the physical characteristics of the objects with great fidelity due to his study of the archducal armory. Both artists demonstrated consummate handling of the reflections on metal. Painted just after the signing of the Twelve Year Truce between provinces of the Northern Netherlands and Spanish Habsburgs after decades of war, the subject may have reflected contemporary hopes for peace.


Virgin as Woman of Apocalypse Rubens HS9276

The Virgin as the Woman of the Apocalypse, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, c. 1623-1624, oil on panel.

This is an oil study for the principal altarpiece of Freising Cathedral, commissioned by Prince-Bishop Veit Adam and now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. After taking over the commission, Rubens devised a subject complying with his patrons request for an image applicable to all feast days of the Virgin (which had originally been expressed to the aging Johann Rottenhammer). In the center the Virgin Mary holds the Christ Child while trampling the serpent of sin, who curls around the moon at her feet. To the left the Archangel Michael and angels cast out Satan, the "great red dragon with seven heads," and other ghoulish demons. Above, God the Father instructs an angel to place a pair of wings on the Virgin's shoulders

Peter Paul Rubens contrasted good with evil by juxtaposing the agony and gruesomeness of the demons as they fall into hell with the Virgin and Child rising heavenward at the right. Rapid and gestural brushstrokes lend immediacy and drama to the scene. Among the notable modifications to this subject in Rubens' finished altarpiece is the view of Freising in the lower right.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England for diplomatic services) was a prolific artist whose commissions were primarily for religious subjects and "history" paintings, which included mythological subjects and hunt scenes. He painted portraits for friends, self-portraits, and later in life painted some landscapes. He designed tapestries and prints as well as his own house. He often created oil sketches (like the one above) as preparatory studies.


Incredulity of St. Thomas Strozzi 1916

The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Bernardo Strozzi, Italy, c. 1620, oil on canvas.

Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, declared that he would only believe that Christ had risen from the dead if he could touch his wounds. When Christ appeared a second time to the Apostles he told Thomas to inspect the wound in his side. In this intimate depiction, Strozzi focused on the juxtaposition of Christ's pale hand guiding the rough living hand of Thomas to test the evidence of the wound. The spontaneity and confidence of Strozzi's handling of paint is very apparent in this well-preserved painting, dating from about 1620.

Strozzi was a native of Genoa, and the leading Genoese painter of the early 17th century. He developed a distinctive bold style in handling and in colour, and painted both religious and secular works. He is best remembered for small-scale compositions, which he often repeated, but he was also an accomplished painter of full-scale narratives and portraits. The last years of his life, after 1631, were spent in Venice; in his work of this period the influence of Veronese becomes notable, while his own vigorous style influenced later Venetian art.

The Incredulity of St. Thomas was on loan from the Compton Verney House Trust in Warwickshire, England while they were preparing their country house. The painting went up for sale in April 2014, as Sir Peter Moores never acquired the Genoese artwork which he intended to display along with this painting (it was only occasionally on display in their gallery).


Christ Crowned with Thorns van Honthorst 1928

Christ Crowned with Thorns, Gerrit van Honthorst, Dutch, c. 1620, oil on canvas.

As was customary for promising Dutch painters in the 1600s, Gerrit van Honthorst traveled to Italy to complete his artistic training. In Rome he fell under the spell of Caravaggio's revolutionary style and adopted his use of realistic figures and dramatic lighting, known as chiaroscuro. Gerrit van Honthorst's night paintings caused such a sensation in Rome that he was known as Gherardo delle Notti (Gerard of the Nights) because he painted so many night scenes lit by candles or torches.

This recently discovered painting may have been made as an altarpiece. It shows the Crowning with Thorns, one of the last of the series of events comprising the trial of Christ. His crude features illuminated by a torch, a jeering soldier mocks Christ, who humbly accepts the soldier's derision. In the shadows, another soldier places the crown of thorns on Christ's head, using a cane to protect his own hands. At the left, two dimly lit figures, perhaps Pontius Pilate and an advisor, discuss Christ's fate.

An Utrecht native and son of a painter of tapestry cartoons, Honthorst's reputation was made with these nocturnal pictures, usually religious subjects. A single candle served as the light source whose rays were shielded by the figures. The lighting was derived from Caravaggio's works, and Honthorst's role in bringing knowledge of Caravaggio and his followers to the North was critical; many painters, including Rembrandt van Rijn and Georges de la Tour, were influenced by Honthorst's Caravaggesque pictures. After nearly ten years in Rome, Honthorst settled in Utrecht in 1620, where he soon abandoned his Caravaggesque manner and adopted a much lighter palette. In 1628 he was called to England to paint the royal family. There he began his second, court style, painting portraits in the manner of Anthony Van Dyck. Honthorst spent the rest of his career as court painter at The Hague, where he largely devoted himself to portraits, becoming one of the few seventeenth-century Dutch artists to earn an international reputation. He also painted large-scale, decorative works influenced by Peter Paul Rubens and the Carracci.


Musical Group on a Balcony van Honthorst 3903

Musical Group on a Balcony, Gerrit van Honthorst, Dutch, 1622, oil on panel.

Smiling, singing figures gather around a balcony to play musical instruments, inviting the viewers below to join in the fun. The revelers' facial expressions and bright colorful clothes heighten the festive, carefree mood. A parrot and a dog, gazing down from their perches, round out the merry group. Possibly part of an allegory of Harmony, the painting may have originally been slightly wider and twice as long, containing a complete balustrade and more figures. The head of the man at the top is a modern addition.

Gerrit van Honthorst painted this illusionistic ceiling, the earliest of its type made in the Netherlands in 1622, two years after his return from Italy, where he saw similar painted ceilings. Careful calculation of perspective allows the figures to burst plausibly through the flat plane of the painted panel. He painted this work, the earliest illusionistic ceiling painting outside of Italy, for his own home. The panel originally showed the entire balustrade, but one half of the panel has been lost.


Flower Still Life Bosschaert the Elder 3880

Flower Still Life, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Dutch, 1614, Oil on copper.

A pink carnation, a white rose, and a yellow tulip with red stripes lie in front of a basket of brilliantly colored flowers. Various types of flowers that would not bloom in the same season appear together here: roses, forget-me-nots, lilies-of-the-valley, a cyclamen, a violet, a hyacinth, and tulips. Rendering meticulous detail, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder conveyed the silky texture of the petals, the prickliness of the rose thorns, and the fragility of opening buds. Insects crawl, alight, or perch on the bouquet. Each is carefully described and observed, from the dragonfly's transparent wings to the butterfly's minutely painted antennae. Although a vague reference, insects, short-lived like flowers, are a reminder of the brevity of life and the transience of its beauty.

A rising interest in botany and a passion for flowers led to an increase in painted floral still lifes at the end of the 1500s in both the Netherlands and Germany. Bosschaert was the first great Dutch specialist in fruit and flower painting and the founder of a dynasty of fruit and flower artists. He established a tradition that influenced Dutch fruit and flower painters well past the middle of the 17th century. This arrangement is a rare departure from his best known vertical compositions of flowers in niches. Only four such paintings of baskets of flowers are known today, three of which have been discovered since 1980. While all are signed in monogram, only this painting is dated.


Prince Rupert of the Palatinate Dou 1874

Prince Rupert of the Palatinate and His Tutor in Historical Dress (or A Young Scholar and his Tutor)
Gerrit Dou, in the Workshop of Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch, c. 1629-1631, oil on canvas.

An elderly man in a subdued green velvet cloak trimmed in fur instructs a boy wearing a lavish Eastern costume. The artist presents a study in contrasts: the student's youthfulness, his smooth complexion, lavish garments, and quest for knowledge are balanced against the learned man's aged, weathered face as he imparts wisdom. A warm light that accentuates the tonal contrasts and rich textures of the velvet and satin fabrics bathes the two figures. Light catches and shimmers off the precious stones of the boy's gold jewelry. Fine, precise brushstrokes enhance the overall impression of softness.

The subjects are presented in the guise of historical personages, possibly portraying the youthful Old Testament prophet Samuel with his instructor Eli. The use of lavish costumes and light and dark contrasts reveal the influence of Rembrandt.

This was painted alongside Prince Charles Louis of the Palatinate and His Tutor Wolrad van Plessen in Historical Dress, by Jan Lievensz (dated 1631) when both Gerrit Dou and Jan Lievensz were working in Rembrandt’s studio. Dou originally planned on having the two figures sitting under an archway, as was discovered in the X-Rays taken before its restoration by Mark Leonard at the Getty, but he abandoned this architectural idea for the simpler monochromatic background. The background of the painting had been damaged in a 1960s cleaning in New York before they passed through the art market, 20 years before having been acquired by the Getty. Mark Leonard did a truly masterful job of restoration of the background surface using thin veils of watercolors applied in between alternating layers of varnish, reestablishing the smooth atmospheric haze originally created by the artist. He then finished the surface with a unique method, using natural resins in a dilute solution applied in thin layers over several weeks, allowing each layer to nearly dry before applying the next layer via brush and spray. The result was a flawlessly even, transparent surface of remarkable thinness.


Still Life with Book and Purse Dou 1892

Still Life with Book and Purse, Gerritt Dou, Dutch, 1647, oil on panel.

Gerrit Dou painted with such skill that his forms almost appear to be real objects, not painted illusions. In this work, one of his rare surviving still lifes, the book and money-filled purse convincingly project from a cupboard. The combination of objects bears a subtle message: monetary benefits can reward diligent study.

On loan from the Armand Hammer Collection, Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

After learning to paint from his father, a glass engraver, Gerrit Dou was apprenticed to a distinguished printmaker and glass painter, receiving additional formal artistic training from the Leiden glaziers' guild. At fifteen he was appointed to the enviable position of apprentice in Rembrandt's studio, where he studied for six years. After Rembrandt left Leiden in 1631, his influence on Dou waned. Dou continued to paint on wood in a small scale but adopted cooler colors and a more highly refined technique characteristic of the fijnschilders (fine painters), a group of Leiden artists who painted small, highly finished pictures. Portraits in impasto gave way to domestic genre subjects, enamel-smooth and rich in accessory details.

Dou became one of the highest paid artists in the Netherlands and the founder of the Leiden painters' guild. Royal patrons from all over Europe sought him out. King Charles II of England even offered him the post of court painter, which he refused. Despite his international reputation, Dou scarcely left his native Leiden.


Bacchante with Ape Ter Brugghen HS9300

Bacchante with an Ape, Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Dutch, 1627, oil on canvas.

A bacchante, follower of Bacchus, the god of wine, leans forward and grins at the viewer while squeezing a bunch of grapes into a golden drinking vessel. Her posture, exposed breasts, flushed cheeks, and inviting smile allude to her drunken state. There is something disturbing, however, in the way she provocatively confronts the viewer, leaning into the spectator's space and smiling broadly. In the lower left corner an ape mimics the woman's gesture, holding a smaller bunch of grapes in his right paw. The ape may serve a moralizing purpose, condemning excessive drinking.

While visiting Rome from about 1604 to 1614, Hendrick ter Brugghen saw the famous Bacchus by Caravaggio from which this classical painting of Bacchus' female follower derives. Bacchante with an Ape is generally considered to be among the best works ever produced by Hendrick Ter Brugghen. The vibrant colors, the subject's smile and posture, and the overall presence is powerful. Ter Brugghen made some changes to this painting during its creation, some were revealed by X-Rays and others are visible to the naked eye, since over time some of the paint surface has become more transparent. The entire left corner containing the ape and the fruit in front of him were added at a later stage (revealed by the X-Rays). The left contour of the woman's red garment was moved about an inch to the right, and the garments draped around her body can be seen to have been originally further up her neck, now partially hidden by the scarf, which has become more transparent. Her sleeve originally covered her arm to the wrist, but was painted over to roll it back about an inch. Some of the red paint can now be seen on her wrist. The cloth on her chest originally came up a bit higher. The ape seems to have three hind paws (the left standing up and the right is doubled). These changes in composition have become apparent as the transparency of the paint has increased.

Hendrick Jansz Ter Brugghen began to study painting at the age of thirteen, possibly in the studio of Abraham Bloemart. On a visit to Rome, he encountered and was strongly influenced by the paintings of Caravaggio. After returning to Utrecht, Ter Brugghen painted in the studio of Gerrit van Honthorst. Honthorst and Ter Brugghen and their followers became known as the Caravaggisti because they adopted Caravaggio's strong sense of light, dramatic contrast between light and dark, and focus on emotionally charged subject matter. Ter Brugghen's style became more emotionally expressive, and his paintings acquired a heightened dramatic tone. As a leader of the Caravaggisti, Ter Brugghen's paintings were in high demand and he received consistent commissions from both public and private sources. Other artists also recognized his talent and success; the famed Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens even described Ter Brugghen's work as "...above that of all the other Utrecht artists".

Hendrick Ter Brugghen died in Utrecht, a victim of the plague epidemic in 1629, two years after completing this painting.


Agostino Pallavicini van Dyck 1923

Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini, Anthony van Dyck, Flemish, 1621-1623, oil on canvas.

Agostino Pallavicini, a member of the Genoese branch of the Pallavicini family and the future doge of Genoa, sits enveloped by the sumptuous, flowing red robes worn in his role as ambassador to the Pope. The wide expanse of fabric, spectacularly rendered, seems to have a life of its own and almost threatens to take over the painting. The luxurious swirl of cloth, its brilliant sheen, and the way it glimmers and reflects light display Anthony van Dyck's virtuosity as a painter. The family coat of arms seen on the drapery behind the sitter at the left, along with other documented portraits, firmly establishes Pallavicini's identity.

In 1621 Van Dyck left Antwerp and traveled to Italy, where he stayed for five years, viewing large private collections of Italian paintings and painting various portraits. This was one of the first paintings he made in Italy, painted in 1621 to commemorate the sitter's service as an ambassador to the newly elected Pope Gregory XV. Our present-day image of 17th century Genoese nobility owes more to Van Dyck than any other artist. The grandeur and stateliness of his portraits, usually life-size and full length with a background of pillars and luxurious draperies were unlike anything that could be produced by any other artist in Italy at the time, and his results captivated the European nobility, setting the standard for portraiture in Italy, England and Flanders.

Anthony Van Dyck, who along with his teacher Rubens was the most celebrated of the Flemish painters of the 17th century, became famous for his portraits of the Italian nobility, and he was asked to join the court of King Charles I of England. He had already been helping Charles' agents to acquire pictures, among them several of his own works, and had painted a portrait of the King's sister in 1632. Van Dyck was taken under the wing of the court immediately, and within four months he had been knighted and appointed as principal painter to the King and Queen. Sir Anthony van Dyck painted about forty portraits of King Charles, thirty of Queen Henrietta Maria, nine of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford (a principal adviser of the King) and numerous portraits of other courtiers. His portraits created the classic idea of the Cavalier style and mode of dress, associated with Royalist supporters of Charles I in the upcoming English Civil War. He died in London in 1641, just before the outbreak of the Civil War, and was buried in Old St. Paul's Cathedral. His portrait style influenced Thomas Gainsborough and many others.


Portrait of a Woman Pickenoy 1899

Portrait of a Young Woman, Nicolaes Eliasz. Pickenoy, Dutch, 1632, oil on panel.

Painted to commemorate her marriage, this portrait of a young woman by Pickenoy was one of the first Old Master paintings acquired by J. Paul Getty in 1938, and later became one of the first gifts to his newly established museum in 1954. The pendant painting, Portrait of a Man, was acquired by the museum in 1994. The two pendants were separated at the time of their sale in 1927. An inscription dates the painting to 1632 and gives her age as twenty-one. As was common in such pairs of paintings, the young woman's three-quarter pose matches her husband's: each turns slightly toward the other while facing the viewer. Portraits like these celebrating a marriage were one of Pickenoy's specialties.

Pickenoy was particularly adept at meticulously rendering details of his sitter's costumes, seen here in this carefully accurate portrait of a middle-class patron. The sitter is distinguished by her costume of rich black satin with a gold-embroidered bodice. Delicate white lace forms her elegant cuffs and headdress. An enormous pleated collar surrounds her neck. She wears gold jewelry around her waist, neck, and wrists; a ring adorns her right hand. In her left hand she holds a pair of gray silk gloves embroidered in multi-colored silk threads. She holds her arms and hands in a way typical of a number of Pickenoy portraits.

Though he painted other subjects, by 1624 Pickenoy was one of the most sought after portraitists in Amsterdam, a stature he retained until the arrival of young Rembrandt van Rijn. Later on, he lived next door to his competitor. From his existing paintings, it appears that Pickenoy's style remained the same throughout his career: smooth technique, carefully depicted textiles, and sharp contours with softer shadows that together create an impression of flattering realism. Pickenoy painted group portraits as well as individual portraits, particularly pendants of prominent Amsterdammers. After 1640 Pickenoy's popularity apparently began to fade, for only two of his works from this period survive. Stylistic similarities suggest that Pickenoy was the teacher of Bartholomeus van der Helst, who eventually surpassed Rembrandt as Amsterdam's most popular portrait painter.


Old Man in Military Costume Rembrandt HS9373

An Old Man in Military Costume, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch, about 1630-1631, oil on panel.

The subject, who appears in different guises in several other paintings by Rembrandt and his contemporaries, wears a hat with a tall ostrich plume and a metal gorget (armor protecting the throat). His military costume may symbolize Dutch strength and patriotism during the struggle for independence from Spain. Although he faces front, the man's torso is turned in a three-quarter view and illuminated by a cool light from the upper left. His watery eyes, rendered with great naturalness with red in the corners, are gazing off to the side  give the image a sense of immediacy.

Rembrandt deftly captured the contrasting textures of materials: the downiness of the ostrich feather, the velvety softness of the cap, and the smooth coldness of the metal gorget. The furrowed skin around the bridge of the man's nose, the moistness of his eyes, and the wispiness of his mustache and beard map out the physical process of aging.

Rembrandt painted over an underlying portrait on this panel, using nearly identical paint. This painting, also known as A Man in a Gorget and Plumed Cap, was painted when the artist was 24 years old, and he may have been conserving materials. For many years, this was assumed to have been a portrait of Rembrandt's father, but it was later determined to be an anonymous sitter who was used by many artists in the young Rembrandt's circle.


Girl in a Gold-Trimmed Cloak Rembrandt HS9364

Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1632 (private collection, New York)

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn's Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak was shot while on a temporary loan from an anonymous New York collector at the Getty Center. Found in a monastery in the Hollywood Hills by a Boston art dealer in 1929, the work had not been on public view since the 1970s, when it was stolen at gunpoint from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1975. Its owners since 1929, the heirs of Robert Treat Paine II (a descendant of the signer of the Declaration of Independence) had loaned it to the museum. The painting was recovered in a cloak-and-dagger meeting in January 1976. The painting was then sold ten years later to the anonymous collector for $10 million, four times the highest price ever paid for a Rembrandt.

The unknown sitter, once thought to be the painter's younger sister Liesbeth, is richly dressed in the fanciful costume Rembrandt favored for biblical and mythological paintings. He scratched in the thick wet paint to create the pleats of the subject's white shirt, and rendered gold embroidery on her black gown with almost an abstract series of daubs. Light from the painting's upper left creates atmosphere behind the sitter and strongly illuminates one side of her rounded face, along with the strand of pearls in her hair and one of her large pearl earrings.

Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak inspired the facial types of many of Rembrandt's heroines in the early 1630s, including the princess and her attendant seen in profile (red dress) in The Abduction of Europa (shown below).


Abduction of Europa Rembrandt HS9389

The Abduction of Europa, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch, 1632, oil on panel.

In the Metamorphoses , the ancient Roman poet Ovid told a story about the god Jupiter, who disguised himself as a white bull in order to seduce Europa, the princess of Tyre, away from her companions and carry her across the sea to the distant land that would bear her name.

During his long career Rembrandt rarely painted mythological subjects. Here he conveys a narrative story through dramatic gesture and visual effects. Bewildered, Europa grasps the bull's horn, digs her fingers into his neck, and turns back to look at her companions on the water's edge. One young woman falls to the ground and raises her arms in alarm, dropping the flower garland intended for the bull's neck into her lap, while her friend clasps her hands in consternation and watches helplessly. The carriage driver above rises to his feet and stares at the departing princess in horror. In the background, a city shrouded in mist extends along the horizon, perhaps serving as an allusion to the ancient city of Tyre as well as to contemporary Amsterdam. The dark thicket of trees to the right contrasts with the pink and blue regions of the sea and sky. Sunlight breaks through the clouds and reflects off the water, but the sky behind the trees is dark and foreboding.

A master of visual effects, Rembrandt took pleasure in describing the varied textures of sumptuous costumes and glittering gold highlights on the carriage and dresses. His comedic sense also lightens the drama. Jupiter, who is limited by his disguise, expresses his victory in typical bovine fashion by excitedly extending his tail as he plunges into the water. Jupiter's reaction is in sharp contrast to the passive horses who stand harnessed to the ornate carriage. The carriage standing in the shadows, contrasts with the white bull carrying Europa into the light on her way to the new continent which will one day bear her name.

This painting was also cleaned and restored by Mark Leonard, who worked on Prince Rupert of the Palatinate above. He removed layers of yellowed varnish and some heavy-handed restorations of the sky done in earlier years to smooth areas discolored by deterioration of smalt pigments, using thin glazes to restore the character of the sky.


St. Bartholomew Rembrandt 2384

St. Bartholomew, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch, 1661, oil on canvas.

Made just eight years before Rembrandt's death, this painting depicts Saint Bartholomew holding a knife in his right hand, a reference to the fact that he was skinned alive when martyred. One of Rembrandt's neighbors may have posed as the model for the saint. By showing the apostle as a common man, Rembrandt gave the revered holy figure a tangible human quality, suggesting perhaps that holiness is part of daily life, a view in keeping with the religious atmosphere of mid-1600s Amsterdam.

Saint Bartholomew appears pensive, almost melancholy in mood. He holds his chin as if lost in thought and his eyes seem to see beyond time. Rembrandt used a broader, freely-brushed technique typical of his late mature style. Applied with a palette knife, thick areas of paint called impasto are visible on the saint's forehead, nose, ears, and hands. The overall handling of paint is much more expressive and contrasts with the smoother, more precise style of his earlier works.


Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife Reni 3887

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife, Guido Reni, Italian, c. 1630, oil on canvas.

After the young Joseph's jealous brothers sold him into slavery, Potiphar, captain of the Pharaoh's guard, purchased him as a household slave. Realizing his abilities, Potiphar soon made Joseph overseer of the household. Potiphar's wife also recognized the young man's talents and tried to seduce him. Shown here, she clutches at Joseph's robes and begs him to make love to her. Joseph refuses, raises his left hand as if to shield himself from her, and turns to flee. The two figures are caught in a struggle: Joseph pulls back while the seductress reaches out to grasp his cloak. Flowing, shimmering draperies and the figure's gestures express Joseph's entrapment, both by Potiphar's wife and by the cloak. In his haste, he will leave his cloak behind in her hands; humiliated, she will accuse Joseph of attempted rape, using the cloak as evidence.

Guido Reni first studied alongside Domenichino in a Flemish painter's studio in Bologna. Ten years later he joined the Carracci academy to learn their classicizing style. Reni created easel paintings and large decorations in Rome, Naples, Mantua, and Bologna for patrons which included Pope Paul V and Italy's top royalty. His graceful, classical style featured refined colors, delicate and varied flesh tones, soft modeling, and gentle emotion that owes a debt to Raphael's work. After Lodovico Carracci died in 1619, Reni's large studio dominated the Bolognese school, and his fame spread throughout Europe.


Interior St. Bavo Haarlem Saenredam 2366

The Interior of St. Bavo, Haarlem, Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch, 1628, oil on panel.

Light fills the interior of the Church of Saint Bavo in Haarlem, one of the finest Gothic buildings still in existence today. Although Pieter Jansz. Saenredam based his work on careful on-the-spot studies, the painting combines two distinct views, one looking straight ahead from a spot in the north transept and the other toward the chancel on the left. He even added a painted altarpiece at the end of the south transept, rounded aisle arches, and a stained glass window of the Immaculate Conception, which would probably already have been removed from the church by Saenredam's time. By the 1600s, Protestant churches in Holland had become relatively austere in response to the teachings of theologian John Calvin.

The overall impression is one of strong verticality, soaring space, and penetrating light, a spiritual reference to the heavens above. The inclusion of small figures accentuate the viewer's experience of exalted interior space. Figures that had been added to the foreground were removed during the cleaning in 1952. Saenredam, credited with having begun the tradition of architectural painting in the Netherlands, described architectural elements in great detail: vaulted ceilings, moldings, decorative capitals, clustered pillars, and clerestory windows. Trained as an architectural draftsman, this is his earliest dated work.

Saenredam's sacred spaces are designed for contemplation. Unlike his flamboyant predecessors who evoked the pomp, pageantry, and theatre of churches (usually Roman Catholic), Saenredam painted the whitewashed austerity of the Dutch Reformed church. There are no processions, no clusters of worshippers at shrines. He adopted a very low viewpoint and a palette restricted to the palest of tones, and allowed few people into his bare interiors. He concentrated on depicting light, color, and space. Many Dutch artists continued his tradition, but few equaled his inventive vision.


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