I’ve always liked the chiaroscuro painting technique because of its stark contrasts between light and dark. I also like “chiaroscuro” as a search term because it seems limitless in its returned bounty.

I found a blog named { feuilleton } [Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms]. He has a blog post simply named Chiaroscuro, proving that it is indeed a legitimate subject to blog about.

Coulthart explained that this post  followed from an earlier post about shadows and art, and that he wanted to show  some of his favorites examples from the masters of chiascuro.

David and Goliath (oil on canvas 1600) by Carvaggio

He chose David and Goliath by (Michelangelo Merisi da) Caravaggio as one of his examples, which is indeed a magnificent painting. Carvaggio, according to Wikipedia, was the “most famous painter in Rome” for six years  (1600 – 1606).

Coulthart also shows Divine and Profane Love by Giovanni Baglione, whose work I did not know. Baglione was an Italian Late Mannerist and Early Baroque painter and art historian.
Among those whom he chronicled, and for whom he was notorious in his animosity towards, was Caravaggio.

Amor Vincit Omnia (Caravaggio)

Carvaggio’s  painting Amor Vincit, which is not shown on Coulthart’s post, but is the subject of  Baglione’s Divine Love. When Amor Vincit was completed, it was an immediate success in Rome’s cultural community.

Shortly after, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani commissioned Baglione to paint Divine and Profane Love, showing an angel, (Divine Love) separating a juvenile Cupid (Profane Love)  in the lower right corner from  Lucifer, in the left corner.

Divine and Profane Love, Baglione

Its style was thoroughly derivative of Caravaggio, who bitterly protested at what he saw as the plagiarism.

Taunted by one of Caravaggio’s friends, Baglione responded with a second version  in which the devil was given Caravaggio’s face. Thus began a long and vicious quarrel which was to have unforseeable ramifications for Caravaggio decades after his death when the unforgiving Baglione became his first biographer.

Sacred love versus profane love (Baglione)

In late August of 1603 Baglione filed a suit for libel against Caravaggio in connection with some unflattering poems circulated around Rome over the preceding summer. Caravaggio’s testimony during the trial as recorded in court documents is one of the few insights into his thoughts about the subject of art and his contemporaries.

Caravaggio was found guilty and held in the Tor di Nona prison for two weeks after the trial.  He later killed a young man and was exiled to Naples in 1606. — wiki

I am not sure there is much more to say about chiaroscuro at this point other than its stark contrasts between light and dark.

I thank Mr Coulthart for his inspirational blog post.

La Belle Ferronniere by Leonardo da Vinci

UPDATE: I’ve reworked this post to focus on Carvaggio and Baglione only.  In hindsight, though,  I should mention that Leonardo da Vinci pioneered the use of light and dark paints to define three-dimensional shape which became known as chiaroscuro.

UPDATE II:  Both  versions of Baglione’s painting are now shown.

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