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Chiaroscuro – A Dark and Light Blend
Chiaroscuro – The Concept
Chiaroscuro is a unique art form in which the use of light symbolizes various objects and gives them a three-dimensional feel. Chiaroscuro, an Italian term for light and dark, gives an advantage to drawing, painting and engraving done on a two-dimensional canvas.
To trace history, in the 5th century BC, “Shadow Painting” was evidenced in Greece. The art form managed to survive during the Byzantine Empire (4th century-1453). Finally, chiaroscuro emerged during the Renaissance (14th-16th centuries) in Italy and Flanders. Here, the artists used colored paper and pastel colors. The concept of illuminated manuscripts from the late Roman imperial era (3rd century AD) was the key inspiration. By 1508, chiaroscuro woodcuts evolved in Germany. The first works of art in this style were made in Italy. In the 16th century, compositional chiaroscuro gained momentum. It was widely used in Mannerist and Baroque works of art. Dramatic chiaroscuro or tenebrism was witnessed in the 17th and 18th centuries, mainly in Spain and Italy. The artistic style also touched romanticism in the 19th century.
Typical chiaroscuro works involve the use of bold strokes in striking contrasts. The movement is usually from light to dark. In this way, the image looks deep and meaningful. The transition, while not strong, is enough to capture the imagination of the human mind. It is generally used to represent the human body where this light dark effect is very useful. The exquisite use of shades to represent the different parts of the human body is the best known aspect of chiaroscuro.
o Pencil Shading – A simple form of chiaroscuro, which most people have used in their lives at some point, is “shading”. Here, the same contrasting effect is wonderfully captured with the help of pencil strokes.
o Woodcut in chiaroscuro – They are woodcut blocks, used with inks of different colors.
Chiaroscuro Drawing – Here dark media are used to draw on colored papers. Highlights are made in white.
o Engraving techniques: washes, stippling or stippling and surface tone
o Other fields – In addition to paintings, the concepts of chiaroscuro are also used in film, photography and prints, which gives a whole new dimension to the concept.
The famous Greek painter and sculptor Apollodorus (430-400 BC) used chiaroscuro for the first time, as “shadow painting”, already in the 5th century BC. 1566-1643), and Caravaggio (1573-1610). Without a doubt, Caravaggio was the most famous of all. Among his followers, who left their own mark on the field, were Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640), Gerard van Honthorst (Italian, 1592-1656), Dirck van Baburen (Dutch, 1595-1624) and Jacob Jordaens (Flemish, 1593-1678). Even the famous painter Rembrandt was known to use the basics of chiaroscuro by painting pictures using candlelight and its effects as a subject.
The Works of Art
Among the countless chiaroscuro stunners, some of the most impressive and classic are ‘Annunciation’ (1545-46) by Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551), ‘Crucifixion of Saint Peter’ (1600) by Caravaggio, The Flight into Egypt (1609 ) by Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578-1610), “Nativity” by Gerard van Honthorst, “Mary Magdalene” by Georges de La Tour (French, 1593-1652) and “St. Peter in Prison’ (1631) by Rembrandt ( Dutch 1606-69).
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