Feminist Perspective in Baroque and Term Paper

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In Spain, the work of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez expressed the style of baroque art in works of oil on canvas painted by Velazquez during the period. Vermeer and Velazquez are associated with what is described as "third phase," in baroque, also referred to as the "classicistic phase."

The work of Velazquez is of interest when considering the feminist perspective, because it is his work where we find fewer religious themes and more free flowing works of art that nonetheless reflect the realistic and natural essence of the style, the darkness combined with the light to create the image of a the form, if not as divine, of a pureness in nature as he painted a large number of young children upon whose faces the use of that purity of light he employed stylistically. Works such as "Las Meninas, an oil on canvas (1656-1657), held at the Museo del Prado, in Madrid; the Maria Teresa, another oil on canvas (1652-53), held at the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna; Portrait of the Infanta Margarita (1660), an oil on canvas held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest; all depict females, mostly young, who have an appeal of not elite about them, but strength of nature as well. While the works employ the traditional naturalism and use of light and dark with the still brilliance achieved in the oils and medium employed, they nonetheless portray the young women and women as having more strength than those of the earlier phase two masters whose females tend to be mostly of the surrender attitude or being bathed in the divine light of above.

Queen Margarita on Horseback (1634-35), an oil on canvas, held at the Museo del Prado, Madrid; is significant in that it presents the image of the figure of the Queen on horseback, in charge, not looking at all feminine, but rather in command of that which is around her; and yet the stylistic characteristic of the art style with use of shading and light is employed to give the Queen her rightful royal place as next to those whose place is alongside the divine. To the extent that we might look for the feminist perspective in baroque, we should turn to Velazquez.

It is the fourth, and latest period in baroque, the rococo period, where the strongest sense of the feminist is gained - at least in the sense that one understands it today and can be discerned in the late 17th century. The work of Hyacinthe Rigaud, whose work, some might argue, is more of the 18th century than the 17th century; nonetheless is associated with the late period of the17th century and produced works that reflect the rococo period of baroque. This French painter, in his Portrait of the Artist's Mother (1695), an oil on canvas, held at the Musee de Louvre, Paris; Portrait of Louis XIV (1694), an oil on canvas, held at the Musee de Louvre, in Paris; and Portrait of Louis XIV (1701), oil on canvas, held at the Chateau de Versailles, Versailles; carry a more feminine sense than do the works of the earlier masters of the phase II period. However, it is just a sense, and there is really nothing about the works that suggest the feminism aspect of society in the terms with which it is associated today.


Thus, we find the theme of female portraiture and sculpture throughout the 17 the century works of art and phases, but not feminist notions - or, if it does exist, it would rest largely with the Spanish work of Velazquez. In the earlier period of the 17th century, the female form, realistic and reflecting the dramatic style of the second phase of baroque (the first phase following so closely to the Renaissance that it's barely discernable); again, appear in the religious themes wherein they are depicted as nurturers of mankind and faith, or saints of martyrdom, sacrificing themselves to the divinity of grace. That there are a few works by Caravaggio early on - and those interpretations are certainly subject to individual beholder interpretation; is suggestive of very little really. Later, in the case of Velazquez, where the female images convey to the beholder a sense of their stronger personal nature, could be, again, subject to interpretation of the beholder.

That the depictions of the Madonna from the earlier period of the 17th century show the Madonna receiving the blessing of Christ, or bathed in the light of the divine is in keeping with the tradition and doctrine of the Catholic Church. There is nothing suggestive as to the femininity of the depiction other than that of the Madonna being the Immaculate Conception. It does not in these works of art raise her above the masculine hierarchal order of the Church, but rather as the image of what the Church perceives as the role for women; the nurturers, the mothers who give birth to divine greatness, the temptress, the redeemable soul, and she who surrenders herself to the passion of the divine spirit. This is in keeping with the representations of women in the Bible stories, and it is the Bible stories that serve as the inspiration for many of the works of art of the 17th century as a whole.

During the later period, for Velazquez emerges with less focus on the religious aspect while staying with the traditional baroque style in his employment of light, tone, texture and the dramatic "scenes" he presents; as in The Fable of Arachne (1657), held at the Gardener Museum, Boston; the "master of the ambivalent, the fable is the only element in a complex allegory of the divine power of the artist and the punishment of human pride. This higher plane of abstract meaning is characteristically approached through the intensely realistic treatment of the shadowed foreground where women are seen carding and spinning wool - an allusion perhaps to the humbler, mechanical side of artistic performance as distinct from its inspired or godlike aspect." So, to this end, we find the female, or feminism, rather than "the feminist."

Works Cited


Blunt, Anthony. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. Melbourne, Vic: Penguin Books, 1953. Questia. 19 Dec. 2006 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=3485451.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=57190372

Kirwin, W. Chandler. Powers Matchless: The Pontificate of Urban VIII, the Baldachin, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. Questia. 19 Dec. 2006 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=57190430.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=99873005

Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: unknown, 1977. Questia. 19 Dec. 2006 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=99873246.

Web Gallery of Art, found online at http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/welcome.html, retrieved 10 December 2006

Kirwin, W. Chandler. Powers Matchless: The Pontificate of Urban VIII, the Baldachin, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. New York: Peter Lang, 1997, p. 12.

Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: unknown, 1977, p.28

Web Gallery, "Martha and Mary Magdalene," online, found at http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/welcome.html, retrieved 10 December 2006.

Web Gallery, online, 2006.

Martin, John Rupert. Baroque. New York: unknown, 1977, p.28

Martin, John Rupert, 1977, p. 30.

Web Gallery, online, 2006.

Blunt, Anthony. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. Melbourne, Vic: Penguin Books, 1953, p. 277.

Web Gallery, online, 2006.

Martin, John Rupert, 1977, p. 30

Martin, John Rupert, 1977, p. 124.[continue]

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