Skip to main content

Orazio Riminaldi

Orazio Riminaldi Sansón derrota a los filisteos Musée de Grenoble
Samson defeats Philistines, 1625

A painter from Pisa, Orazio Riminaldi was a Baroque tenebrist born in 1586 on September 5th. Riminaldi was unfortunately one of many painters who died young, in his case from the plague in 1630, but it is what he accomplished in those brief years that merits attention. Riminaldi's expressive faces and body language, along with superb skin tones and dramatic skies, take his art to a deeper level than some his contemporaries, who were perhaps more cautious in their techniques.

Look at the fury of the scene above. It is quite rare in painting to see a pile of bodies with a warrior like Samson no less, stepping on top of one while grabbing the hair of another. And yet Riminaldi manages to make it look majestic and noble. The anatomy of the figures shows foreshortening combined with Caravaggio's chiaroscuro in a tight yet carefully arranged composition. By making it vertical, in a triangular design, it heightens the sense of drama while requiring less figures to paint. The shadows also maintain plenty of detail to see the figures. Here we see how Riminaldi uses physical contrast in how the figures are alternating from prone to supine to twisting to the right. Interestingly, Samson is not depicted as a large man but strong in intention. Note the background figure fleeing in horror.

Juno Putting the Eyes on the Peacock's Tail, 1600's

A haunting interpretation of Juno, where she takes the eyes of decapitated Argus to place into the feathers of the peacock, Riminaldi creates a scene that stings more of harsh realism than Greek mythology. Note however, the interesting similarities to Samson above. Her figure appears strong and heroic, one foot on top of his corpse lieing supine on the ground beneath her. The anatomy once again is extraordinary. Riminaldi drapes her in vivid red that contrasts perfectly with the dream-like greenish-grey skies behind her. This is a stunning work of art that requires long observation.

The Martyrdom of St.Cecilia, 1630

Not one for sentiment even with female subjects, Riminaldi portrays St. Cecilia, patron saint of music being grabbed forcefully by the hair from her executioner. However, this time the descending angel is no longer a distant background figure but a key element in the composition. Note the violin and bow beside her laid in the shape of a cross, which the executioner looks down at thoughtfully. Her robes are in bright complementary colors. Although it seems rather restrained as a whole for a work by Riminaldi, the inherent drama taking place needs no explanation. It is powerful nonetheless.

O Riminaldi Amor Victorioso 1627 P Pitti
Amor Vittorioso, 1627

In a nonchalant polarity to his other works, here Cupid is depicted as a fully-grown adult, completely self-aware and mature. Note the very sharp swords beside him, mimicking the angle of his leg. Riminaldi has no illusions about love here. What you see is what you get. His work questions what we hold to be sacred or romanticize versus what we tend to ignore or run away from. This was truly a thinking man's painter.

Popular posts from this blog

More Old Master Drawings

There is nothing in all the world more beautiful or significant of the laws of the universe than the nude human body.
Robert Henri

Charles Louis Müller, A Standing Female Nude Leaning Against an Arch, ca.1864

Once again I decided to talk about some Old Master drawings and delve into the thinking behind how these drawings may have been created and the knowledge of the artist. In the above drawing by Müller, done in sanguine with white chalk highlights, the figure is drawn from a low view-point, with her body twisting toward her left side while resting on one knee. Note how Müller alternates the bent right leg with the bent left arm to create dynamic contrast. The right arm is also foreshortened and partially in shadow. Expressing power and femininity, this is a study that is Renaissance in spirit, even Mannerist, revealing the female nude as sculptural yet always graceful.

Anton Raphael Mengs, Seated male nude viewed from the back, 1755

One of several Academic nude studies by Mengs, this …

Guercino il Magnifico

Self-Portrait of the Artist holding a Palette, ca.1635

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino was born on February 8, 1591 in Cento, a small city near Ferrara. He is one of the great masters of the Italian Baroque and poet of painters. Noted for his speed and efficiency, Guercino also worked in a number of mediums with equal passion whether ink, chalk, charcoal, or oils. His nickname, which means 'little cross-eyes' in Italian, derives in part from an apocryphal childhood accident where he supposedly awoke from a deep sleep as a child from a loud scream that caused his eyes to cross. Another story says something was thrown into his eyes. At any rate, he was self-taught as an artist from as early as nine years old and by his early teens was discovered by the eldest of the Carracci where he would spend some time at the Accademia Degli Incamminati before venturing out on his own. Despite his apparent 'handicap', his vision and talent would make him a giant that few…

Pompeo Batoni

Apollo and two Muses, 1719

Giant of the Rococo and early Neoclassicism, Pompeo Batoni was born on January 25, 1708 in Lucca, Italy. Immensely popular in his time, his name sadly is not commonly recognized today because like many Old Masters, his work is not defined by one or two singular masterpieces but by an oeuvre that is overall, incredible. Batoni is something of an anomaly in that he had the midas touch in every genre he worked in, whether portraiture, mythological, and biblical. He trained under a few painters, notably Sebastiano Conca yet he quickly fused his own style together by reinterpreting Classicism with his own vigor for dynamic posing, color and anatomy that he felt was lacking in many artists of the Rococo. His reputation as a portraitist in Rome was highly successful, particularly for many British patrons of the Grand Tour who had heard of Batoni by word of mouth and sought his genius.

In Apollo and two Muses above Batoni seems to conjure mythology and Classicism w…