History summaries



History summaries


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History summaries


HRS 134 -- Class Summary                                                          Fall 2002


            The instructor explained the syllabus to the class.  He emphasized the importance of coming to class regularly and of good writing.


Summary: Introduction to the Age.  Roughly the dawning of the modern [taken as a) changing rapidly, and b) tending toward secular assumptions].  Analyze the period under three rubrics.

            1) In politics it was an age of upheaval, particularly with destructive and total warfare before 1715.  18th century wars were less destructive.  It was also a time of expanding capitalism, particularly in the 18th century that saw rapidly expanding international trade and a burgeoning population.  Both centuries saw the increasing importance, wealth and self-esteem of the European middle classes, who became increasingly associated with the arts in this period.

            2) The visual arts.  Most art in this period was based on the canon of the Renaissance (generally, classical ideal naturalism derived from the ancients).  The Baroque was a time of great variety, but in general it was an expressive and energetic adaptation of the Renaissance ideal: 18th century critics coined the term 'baroque' to express the twisted weirdness of the style.  The first and middle parts of the Enlightenment were dominated by the rococo style (derived from the terms 'rocaille' and 'coquille'), which was a 'feminine,' domestic, highly decorative evolution of the baroque style; it was particularly popular in Central and Western Europe, but not at all in England or the USA.  Only in the late 18th century is there a revolt again the rococo, manifested in the neo-classical buildings in Paris, Washington (the White House) and Charlottesville, Va., and the monumental paintings of J.-L. David.  Washington, Jefferson and Madison were all definitely neo-classical!

            3) Ideas.  In the Middle Ages all knowledge was described as 'philosophy.'  The three parts of human knowledge dealing with God, humanity and physical nature were all considered to be part of an integrated body of knowledge under the aegis of theology.  In the 17th century men such as Galileo begin to investigate physical nature independent of Church and scripture, using reason and experiment to discover the laws of nature: this was called science!  The study of physical nature was separated from the other areas.  The 18th century pushed this process one step further.  Now different aspects of the study of humanity were subject to the same rational criteria as physical nature.  Areas such as history, psychology and sociology were now considered independent of spiritual authorities; no longer would the Church (or any other authoritative body) tell researchers what to do.  Secular values have become much more important. For many Enlightenment researchers, the main aim of human life is happiness!


The history of the period 1517-1642 is very interesting.  The Protestant Reformation occurred beginning in 1517, and soon spread to include most of northern Europe.  Protestant culture normally made for spare and plain public architecture and church interiors.  The Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reformation began in the Catholic Church about the 1530's.  It was highly militant (no compromise with the Protestants; launch the Jesuits against them), puritanical (the private parts of the nudes were covered in the next few decades), and quite serious about religion and spirituality.  Repressive measures were taken, including the reactivation of the Holy Inquisition and the creation of the Index of Forbidden Books.  The Church was quite dynamic in the late 16th century and all the way until the last quarter of the 17th: many of the greatest saints of the Roman Church lived in this period (Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Charles Borromeo, Vincent de Paul, etc.).

            Rome was a dynamic and brilliant religious and urban center in this period.  The pope had sovereign political power in Rome and a good part of central Italy.  The great buildings of baroque Rome went up in the 17th century.  The papal administration (curia) was headquartered in Rome.  The repressive apparatus of the Church in Italy was not as 'efficient' as in Spain; the Italian Inquisition executed only one person in this period.  The great majority of what the typical visitor to Rome experiences today was built in the period of the Counter-Reformation and Baroque.

            Spain was the home of the greatest Catholic militancy. The great holy mystics were Spanish; the Jesuits were Spanish in origin.  The power of Spain from about 1525 to 1630 ('The Golden Age of Spain') exceeded that of any other European country; much of the wealth underlying the power came from the gold and silver imported from the New World.  The dour, humorless and fanatic Philip II (1555-1598) put the military muscle behind the Catholic policy to win back Europe; his attempt to subdue England, however, failed with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588; he also campaigned against Dutch and Flemish Protestants in the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium).  Spain was sold on uniformity: throughout this period, the Spanish Inquisition used its power to quash heresy, especially in the form of Jews and Moors.  Spain was a dynamic and colorful place before it wore itself out in the middle of the 17th century.


The Evolution of European Art to 1600.  Western art in this period was based on the canon inherited from Greek and Roman Antiquity, in particular Greek classical sculpture (ideal naturalism) and Greek and Roman architecture.  The Middle Ages, although quite aware of classical Antiquity, developed its own style quite distinct from classical traditions.  The Renaissance put the emphasis back on an imitation and development of the classical style.  Renaissance architects were most influenced by the Roman arch and dome.  Renaissance painters tried to adapt the classical Greek style to the canvas.  A painting had to be natural, look like it was really there; the painting is a window.  Several techniques were used: 1) atmospheric modeling to make it look as if the object depicted had roundness or volume; 2) linear perspective, which sets up disappearing lines and a disappearing point to give the illusion of depth of field in the painting; and 3) texturing and finishing, working surfaces with paint that enables a painter to create a sensuous effect.  Renaissance art was also largely ideal, achieving on canvas the effect of balance, equilibrium, serenity that was an indispensable part of classical art.


Classical art: the statue of Poseidon, Athens, c. 460 BC.  Ideal naturalism: the statue is rendered with almost perfect naturalism, but statue does not "sweat," and is perfectly (ideally, harmoniously, serenely) prportioned.

Giotto, c. 1300: the transition from medieval styles to the Renaissance.  Various frescos show the transitional nature of Giotto's art: stiffness, lack of atmospheric modeling, lack of linear perspective; and yet more modeling of the faces, more expressiveness and emotion.

Titian's "Madonna and Child" (c. 1515) shows the naturalness, attention to detail of the High Renaissance; but has a serenity that comes from the placid expressions on the faces of the Virgin and Jesus, the balanced forms and proportions, and the even, bright lighting.

Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, c. 1511.  High Renaissance naturalism.  Nobility and even heroism in the body of Adam combined with dynamism (the spark of creation) and excitement.  Consummate naturalism in the scuplturesque volumes of Adam's body on the verge of being activated by the spark of life emanating from God's finger.

Titian's "The Tribute Money" (c. 1520) is more typical of Titian's high Venetian style.  Darker colors, more shadowing, great attention to texture and surface detail, an almost realistic rendering of the figures from the common people.

The beginning of the Mannerist period can be seen in Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment" (1535) on the end wall of the Sistine Chapel.  A Counter-Reformation work proclaiming the dread power of the Church and the religion it interprets.  One of the first Mannerist paintings with its lack of identifiable realistic space, its crowded forms, its lack of symmetry and natural rendering of some of the forms.  Jesus seems power and implacable; He raises his arm to consign the damned to hell; the Virgin turns her face from his anger.  St. Bartholomew holds his own skin with the facial features of Michelangelo painted on it.  The genitals of the male models were covered over by the subsequent Daniel di Volterra, "The Trouser."

Parmigianino's "Madonna with a Long Neck," (1534-40) is one of the most striking of the Mannerist masterpieces.  Many of the forms are elongated, especially the neck of the Madonna and the strangely shaped Christ Child.  What is the reason for the classical looking cherubs in the left side of the painting?  On the right side there are columns holding up nothing, and a figure of much smaller proportions than the others in the painting.  Does this add up to anything?

Tintoretto's "Washing of the Feet" (1547) exhibits many of the characteristics of Tintoretto's style, which some call Mannerist, others virtually Baroque.  Vast scale! Deep, receding space, flaunting skills of linear perspective, depiction of common, everyday objects such as dogs and cats, expert attention to sensuous details, etc.  His "Last Supper" (c. 1560) is more mystical and Mannerist: dark colors, deep shadows, reinterpretation of the scene compared to traditional Renaissance approach (Leonardo, Ghirlandaio), wraithlike shadows under the ceiling that represent angels emanating from an oil lamp; all at the moment that Jesus creates the Eucharist.

El Greco was of Greek origin; he studied in Venice (Titian) and Rome (Michelangelo) and spent most of his career in Spain.  Seems a mystic; reflected the mystical leaning of Spanish Counter-Reformation Catholicism (Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Philip II himself!).  El Greco's style is non-literal and expressionist; the unprejudiced observer might place him among the Expressionists of the early 20th century! "The Burial of Count Orgaz" is one of his greatest works.  The bottom third is quite "baroque" in its attention to details of physical realism -- accurate portraits, sumptuous textures, all thoroughly grounded in a Venetian technique.  The upper two thirds is rather diaphanous, airy, characters floating on drapery-seeming clouds, the little childlike soul of Count Orgaz escaping toward union with Jesus.  Church symbols make the connection between earth and heaven.


The Italian Baroque: dynamic movement, striking contrasts of light and shadow (chiaroscuro), a sense of drama or melodrama, techniques emphasize the physical reality of the subject.

Caravaggio is probably the most famous and influential painter of the Italian Baroque. "Bacchus" is painted in his early style: bright light and colors, affection for beautiful young males; expert, virtuosic attention to physical details displayed in still lives, attention to skin tones, drapery textures, etc.  Impression rather hedonistic; apparent influence of Japanese painting(?).  His "David" is gruesome and lurid.  Dark colors, the bust of David and head of Goliath spotlighted by a bright light.  No background; the figures in the painting thrust forward in the faces of the viewers.  The subject matter is quite lurid, what with the blood and gore dripping from the severed head of Goliath, which is thrust toward us by a radical foreshortening.  "The Calling of Matthew" combines the techniques used in "David" with an intense spiritual vision.  Subjects taken largely from "Bacchus" scene, but Jesus appears partly spotlighted by a (divine?) light; with God's finger, he points directly at Matthew, who can barely believe that Jesus would choose someone as unworthy as he.  The "Supper at Emmaeus" is somewhat lighter in tone, but presents a dramatic account of the moment that a post-Resurrection Jesus reveals his identity to two disciples that he met on the road. Dramatic surprise dominates; one man throws out his arms (one being radically foreshortened), and the other pushes his chair back as he prepares to stand up.  Shadows, stony realism, dynamic movement to produce a moment of high drama that grabs the viewer.


Ceilings of the Roman baroque are typical of the movement.  The famous salon ceiling of the Palazzo Barberini, "The Triumph of Divine Providence"  by Pietro da Cortona is brilliant: light colors; much swirling movement; predominance of classical motifs over religious ones; the allegorical figure of Divine Providence is somewhat overshadowed by the Barberini bees (the family of Urban VIII); trompe l'oeil  makes the viewer believe that there are plaster medallions and other architectural elements where there is only paint.

Il Gesù was the main Jesuit church of Rome in the 17th century.  It was originally built in the 1560s with a typical Baroque facade (two stories, rhythmic grouping of pilasters, diagonal scrolls to decorate the lines of the building, etc.).  The church was designed for preaching.  The ceiling fresco over the nave, "The Apotheosis of St. Ignatius," (Andrea Pozzo, c. 1570) "bursts open" the ceiling to show St. Ignatius of Loyola rising into the heavens surrounded by angels and the blessed.

Gianlorenzo Bernini, although not a painter, is the most famous artist of the Italian Baroque.  He was most famous as a sculptor; he was extremely adept at giving marble the appearance of natural textures and of injecting his statues with great dynamism.  His "David" contrasts dramatically with the versions of Donatello (pretty, delicate, youthful, 1450) and Michelangelo (youthful, heroically strong, 1501).  Bernini's is on the verge of slinging the stone at Goliath whose presence is implied on one side of the statue.  Bernini conveys coiled strength and determination in the facial expression and the torqued body of the unidealized David.  His "Apollo and Daphne" is perhaps even more astonishing.  Daphne, a nymph about to be caught by a classical-looking Apollo, is being turned instantaneously into a laurel bush: she cries for help and leaves are springing from her fingers and roots from her toes.  An instantaneous snapshot of a violent action.  Bernini's most famous sculpture is the Cornaro Chapel, an architectural ensemble containing a status of "St. Theresa in Ecstasy."  St. Theresa's heart is about to be penetrated by the arrow held by an angel with an ineffable smile: from her facial expression and her agitated drapery, she is clearly in ecstatic confusion.  Light floods the scene from above.  The Cornaro family watches the drama from their box seats off to the right.
Bernini was also an important architect.  He added the "Baldacchino" over the central altar in St. Peter's Basilica; the bronze came from melting down the remaining bronze from the Roman Pantheon, only a short distance away.  The Baldacchino was the Baroque at its most exuberant: twister, spiraling columns, elaborate surface decoration, and of course the Barberini bees!  Bernini also designed St. Peter's Square in front of the recently completed Basilica.  He surrounded the piazza with graceful curves of colonnades, an obelisk in the middle and fountains at the two foci on either side of the center; the curved part of the piazza was in the form of an ellipse, following the shape of the planetary orbits defined by Kepler.

Peter Paul Rubens carried the Italian Baroque north after studying and working in Venice, Rome and Mantua for almost a decade.  Rubens as a polymath in the tradition of Leonardo and Bernini: not just a painter, but a linguist, diplomat, etc.  Devout Catholic and lover of life, especially of his two successive wives, Isabella Brant and Hélène Fourment, by whom he had five children when he was in his 60s.  He was a very successful artist with commissions from all over Europe.
"The Garden of Love" (1638) is one of his last masterpieces (he died in 1640).  In the present of her family and surrounded by numerous putti, he coaxes a reluctant Hélène toward the joys of married love.  The canvas oozes sensuous textures and colors, and dynamic space and movement.  Another famous painting is "The Three Graces"  (1639) that illustrates several of Rubens' stylistic characteristics: generous proportions of his female nudes, great fluency in depicting flesh textures, free brushstrokes and a sometimes free style, all set in a calm Renaissance-like setting.  His "Rape of the Daughters of Lecippus" (1619) illustrates many of the same points, but with an emphasis on chaotic (?), roiling movement as the men "dive into the flesh" of the abductees.

The class viewed several paintings of the French artist, Georges de la Tour, who lived about the same time: "The Card Players," "The Magdalen by the Night Light," (1640-45) and "St. Irene and Sebastian," (c.1648).  La Tour was obviously influenced by Caravaggio, as seen by his penchant for pretty young boys, his interest in genre scenes (of common folk in everyday activities), and his preference for bright contrasts of light and dark.  He is particularly good at poetic renderings of human figures illuminated by candlelight.  Interesting though that the translation of this Italian Baroque style to the North creates a sense of meditative calm that one doesn't encounter often in Italy.  Is this the influence of French classicism?


The class began a discussion of Dava Sobel, Galileo and His Daughter.  We focused on his early career, from his education to the University of Pisa, to his move to Padua, and his move back to Florence.  Perhaps his major contribution was the formulation of the scientific method, which combined 1) generating a hypothesis through mathematical analysis, and 2) verifying the hypothesis by a controlled experiment (empirical element); to perform the latter he developed many instruments, by far the most famous of which was the telescope, which he was the first to train on the heavens.

His contributions to astronomy were not astoundingly original (he got his ideas largely from Copernicus), but he did his best to use empirical observations to build up Copernicus' theory and to knock down Aristotle/Copernicus, e.g., sunspots, the topography of the moon, the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter, etc. 

His conflict with the Church authorities in Italy must be placed in the context of Church militancy in the Age of the Counter-Reformation; the real issue was authority and the Church was not inclined to yield or make compromises.  The Copernican theory did contradict several passages in the Old Testament; the question was whether the Church was to teach that these 'scientific' statements must be accepted by Catholic faithful; a Vatican commission decided 'yes' in 1615, whereupon Galileo traveled to Rome to deal with the crisis.  He had several discussions in 1616 with Robert Bellarmine, a distinguished man who admired Galileo's work.  Vatican authorities went easy on Galileo (this was not a trial), and their condemnation of Copernicus did not mention Galileo or any of his works.  Galileo seemed to think that he could continue his researches, provided he treated the Copernican theory as a mathematical hypothesis and not an actual explanation of the structure of the universe.  Galileo at first had many friends in the Church establishment, including the Jesuits who were among the leaders in astronomy in the early 17th century.  But he was an acerbic (although charming) personality who enjoyed the sport of making fun of his opponents; by the time of his trip to Rome he already had a fair number of enemies, and their ranks would swell in subsequent years.  Most Jesuits had turned against him by 1620.

Galileo as a man.  Some tensions here since Galileo was obviously an affectionate and faithful family man, and yet he never married his mistress by whom he had three children, and he consigned his two daughters to convents at an early age.  Practically, it would have been difficult for a man of Galileo's standing to find an alternative lay route for his daughters, since they were illegitimate and Galileo was always strapped for cash; it would have been very difficult to 'marry them' properly.  Galileo always corresponded extensively with Virginia (Suor Maria Celeste), although his letters to her are lost.  She took care of him like a doting daughter, and he helped out with money and friends.

In the 1620's Galileo worked on and composed his Dialogue on Two World Systems, which despite the author's attempt to hide his Copernican opinions inside a dialogue among three scholars, clearly asserted the heliocentric position.  Galileo and the new Barberini pope, Urban VIII, got along very well in the earliest years of his reign.  Galileo, however, seems to have been overconfident of the pope's favor.  The pope was clearly offended that Galileo put some of the most thickheaded Aristotelian arguments in the mouth of Simplicio, whom the pope took as a parody of himself.  The pope was also under a lot of political pressure in 1631-32 to prove that he was at least as Catholic as the other sovereigns of Europe; the Spaniards in particular were suggested that he was soft on the enemy (the Protestants).  Urban could not afford to let the affront from Galileo go unpunished.

Hence, Galileo's enemies in Rome, many of them Jesuits, were able to persuade the Holy Inquisition to prosecute Galileo for heresy.

The trial took several months in 1632-33 in Rome.  Galileo was tried essentially for breaking with the instructions given him in his 1616 meeting with Bellarmine.  There appears to be some doubt as to what exactly he was instructed to do at that meeting, but in publishing his book he was clearly violating the instruction not to publish or teach the Copernican theory.  Under advice from friends, Galileo decided to submit and to recant explicitly before the Inquisition.  There is no record that he muttered "Eppur si muove" as he walked out of the room.

He went to Siena for a few months and then returned to Arcetri near his beloved daughter, who much to his chagrin died that same year.  He worked on his new book Two New Sciences and managed to have it published in Holland in c. 1638.  By his own testimony, the book represents his greatest contribution to the history of modern science.  In it he analyzed mathematically and experimentally the movement of physical bodies on the earth, focusing on the implications of acceleration.  He built up an imposing if somewhat rickety scientific edifice that was perfected by Isaac Newton in his Principia mathematica of 1687.

Convent life in this book was honestly ascetic and religious.  The nuns of the age seemed to be overwhelmingly devoted to living a life of self-denial and holiness in the image of Christ.

The book has a delightful surprise ending: when Galileo's tomb was opened in the 18th century, it was discovered that the body of his lieutenant, Vincenzio Viviani, was buried with him, as was the body of his beloved daughter, Maria Celeste.  Viviani had accomplished this in secret.


The Golden Age of Spain from 1556 to 1665.  Around 1600 Spain was perhaps the greatest power in Europe, with territorial possessions all around the continent and control over the bullion resources of the New World.  It also had problems, e.g., the population was overtaxed and the Netherlands was in revolt.  The reign of Philip IV (1621-65) was simultaneously the golden age of Spanish culture and the beginning of decline in Spanish power.  The king preferred the arts to politics; he left politics to his infamous chief minister, the Count of Olivares, and patronized the arts.  Velasquez in painting, Calderòn de la Barca in drama (La vida es sueño), and Cervantes in fictional literature stand out.  No period before or since this period has seen such brilliance in Spanish culture.  At the same time however Spanish power under the prime minister, the Count of Olivares, was clearly in precipitous decline: Spain lost Portugal, the northern Netherlands (Holland), and had to struggle to maintain a semblance of its former position in Catalonia and Italy.  Under the mentally incompetent Charles II (1665-1700), matters went from bad to worse ending with the death of Charles without an heir in 1700.


The Spanish Baroque in painting was somewhat different from the Italian Baroque.  There was variety in Spanish painting styles, but painters in this period tended to be sober, spare and serious, and they often depicted intense religious subjects.  Jusepe de Ribera was a Spanish painter who spent most of his life in Naples, a Spanish possession.  His "St. Paul the Hermit" uses dramatic chiaroscuro and intensely realist textures to portray the religious intensity of the subject.  Francisco de Zurbarán spent his life in Spain; he was very popular with monasteries and painted many religious subjects.  His still lifes show the influence of Caravaggio; they are brilliantly colored and textured and convey the palpable reality of the subject.  His "Crucifixion" brilliantly conveys the reality of the crucified Christ: through an intense physical presence he communicates to the viewer the intense spiritual and emotional reality of his subject.  Diego Velazquez is by far the most famous of the Spanish painters of this epoch.  He did not paint many religious subjects, but focused on genre scenes depicting the lives of the common folk and portraits for the Spanish Habsburg court.  His "Los Borrachos" combines the influence of Caravaggio with an array of inebriated working class fellows.  His court portraits are noted for their expert depiction of sumptuous textures, especially drapery.  His portrait of "Innocent X" adds an insightful portrait of a rather unattrac-tive old man.  With its artistic expertise and pervasive sense of mystery, "Las Meninas" (1656) is recognized as Velazquez's masterpiece.  Although there are many levels of interpretations available, perhaps the artist's assertion of the nobility of art is the most convincing.  It is notable for the masterful Velazquez realism for the figures in the foreground and for the sense of mystery and ambiguity conferred by the chamberlain in the doorway, the bizarrely reflections of the king and queen in the mirror, the doubt about who was actually being painted by the depicted artist, etc.  Bartolomé Murillo is famous mainly for his madonnas, and particularly the "Immaculate Conception" (1678). The Immaculate Conception was a popular devotion in Spanish Catholicism, but did not become a dogma of the Catholic Church until 1854.  The style, with its swirling clouds and cherubs and its pastel colors, is more akin to Rubens and the Italian ceiling painters than to other Spanish painters of the era.  The (perhaps excessively) sweet expressions on the face of the madonnas adds an element of sentimentality.


Cervantes' Exemplary Stories.  Stories such as "Dialogue of the Dogs" must be placed in the Spanish tradition of the picaresque novel (from 'picaro' meaning rogue), the first of which, Lazarillo de Tormes, was published in the 16th century.  The "Dialogue of the Dogs" is a dialogue between the loquacious Berganza and the reticent Cipion, in which the former details close to a dozen adventures and experiences with various masters in Spanish society.  The dogs have for unexplained reasons acquired the human gift of speech and reason for one night of their lives and the story records their conversation.  Berganza's masters were from all walks of life, particularly marginal ones like witches, thieves, grifters, gypsies, poets, impresarios, Moriscos, etc., but also including soldiers, middle class merchants, shepherds and butchers.  The tone is always flippant and witty; much humor is derived from the ambiguity of the dogs' identities, i.e., they are perceived as dogs but they often think and act like humans (they never talk to humans). Like picaros, the dogs are poor and weak and have to live by their wits and from hand to mouth. The story differs from a picaresque story in that it is highly moralistic; Berganza notices and satirizes human foibles, but he is really a social moralist who uses each story to remind us of how we should behave -- don't steal, lie, cheat or slack off.  The author plays it safe in that he doesn't really criticize the court, the government and the powerful, particularly the nobility.  The story gives the reader a close and humorous look at many parts of Spanish society around 1600 with emphasis on the marginalized.  The dogs sign off at the end of the story without an assurance that they will be able to speak thus again.  The Jealous Extremaduran (Hidalgo) includes some lower class characters but takes place in upper class circles where young women are rigorously protected before marriage and marriages are arranged by families based on financial negotiations.  The story is essentially a failed (?) seduction of a young bride by a cynical student, although it is your instructor's suspicion that the author bowed to potential censorship at the end while mocking in the text his unrealistic ending.  The main character is Carrizales, who is rich and pathologically jealous of his young wife.  The moral of the story is repeatedly underlined by the author -- good behavior cannot be enforced (all of Carrizales' precautions) but must come from the heart of the individual; young girls should be educated about the world and probably be allowed to make their own mate choices.  There are also references to the power of music (the Negro's infatuation with the guitar) and the evil deeds and dispositions of duennas. Rinconete and Cortadillo is Cervantes' most famous story.  Like the Dialogue of the Dogs, it is related to the Spanish picaresque tradition as it deals with lower class characters engaged in crime in the crime-dominated city of Seville.  The twist is that the two protagonists encounter a society of thieves under the benevolent Monipodio that is clearly presented as more efficient and more virtuous than Spain's establishment society.  Monipodio is a benevolent dictator; all of Seville's underworld characters respect and obey him; thievery is carried on as a well-organized business with "protection" from the authorities that are induced to look the other way.  The thieves consider themselves moral (we aren't "Solomites!"), and they regularly observe the rituals of the Catholic Church, with the exception of confession, which unfortunately requires restitution of stolen goods (way too complicated!).  They are conscientious in carrying out their contracts, as show by the debate on the fourteen-stitch slash.  When disputes break out among members (e.g., the incident of the Moonfaced Julia), the group under Monipodio's leadership helps them resolve their differences.  The story is ironic in that the reader does not expect the thieves' society to be honorable and constructive; it is also clearly an unspoken, implied satire against the institutions and values of historic Spain.


Evolution of the Baroque Concerto.  The Baroque concerto from Corelli, to Vivaldi, to Handel, to Bach, and then to Mozart, a composer of the classical school.  The concerto, a composition for orchestra (almost always small and composed of strings in the Baroque era) and a solo instrument (hence a concerto solo) or a group of instruments, called a concertino (hence a concerto grosso).  For analysis, we look at 1) form: is the concerto in three parts or movements? and does the first movement use the ritornello form invented by Vivaldi. 2) texture: is the music homophonic (one melodic voice predominates in the Italian pattern) or polyphonic (several voices played simultaneously in the German pattern)? 3) relation between the orchestra (tutti) and the concertino/solo: Do the two blend together in the old style, or is there a vivid and dramatic contrast between the two?  The "progressive" tendency, as developed primarily by Vivaldi, is a three-movement concerto, the first movement being in the ritornello form, homophonic in texture, and with a bright contrast between the solo instrument and the orchestra.  The listener should also be attentive to the continuo, usually a keyboard instrument playing a usually unobtrusive chordal and rhythmic accompaniment in the background.

Arcangelo Corelli's "Christmas Concerto" (Concerto grosso No. 8 in G minor) represents the beginning of the concerto form.  The movements (of which there are six) are quite short in a simple two-part form with each part being repeated; the texture is a mix of polyphony and homophony; the concertino of three string instruments is often difficult to distinguish from the orchestra.

Antonio Vivaldi was the true originator of the modern concerto form.  The first Allegro movement to his "Concerto grosso in B minor" is a startling contrast with Corelli.  His music has a driving rhythm with a catchy tune that immediately appeals to the modern ear.  The Allegro movement is clearly in the ritornello form with dramatic returns by the orchestra to the main theme.  The music is entirely homophonic.  The two violins stand out clearly and cleanly from the orchestral textures; and there are many virtuosic passages.  His "Winter Concerto" from "The Seasons" is a solo violin concerto in three short movements.  The first Allegro movement is in the ritornello form in which a plodding theme in the orchestra exchanges with virtuosic passages in the violin. The music seems to depict winter storms.  The Largo (Slow) movement is a beautiful lyrical meditation for the solo violin over a pizzicato accompaniment in the orchestra violins.  The last Allegro movement is much freer in form than the first.  Swirling motions in the music seem to depict snow flurries.  There is also a quiet pastorale (a winter landscape?) and fiery violin passages before the tutti grinds to a close.

George Frederick Handel is much better known for his production in vocal and choral music than his instrumental music. His instrumental music tends toward the eclectic (combination of German and Italian influences) and the social -- he seems to be interested in entertaining.  His "Entrance of the Queen of Sheba" is a concerto grosso form for orchestra and two oboes: the form is a simple rapid alternation of statements by the tutti and the oboes playing various variations; the impression is energetic and celebratory.  The first movement to his Concerto Grosso Opus 6, Number 3 is for a string concertino.  The ritornello form seems to have affected the movement but is not apparent.

Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the greatest of all composers, was quite interested in the concerto form.  His Brandenburg Concertos were concerti grossi for different combination of instruments.  The most brilliant of these was the Brandenburg Concerto #2 in F with a concertino of trumpet, oboe, violin and flute.  The first movement is roughly a ritornello form where complex variations by different combina-tions of solo instruments alternate with the tutti's statements of the main theme or cadences.  The texture is very contrapuntal and cerebral.  Although the form owes something to Vivaldi, the overwhelming impression of the concerto is German and rather old-fashioned.

About the time of Bach's death, there was a reaction against the Baroque style.  The pre-classical and classical style stressed homophony, simplicity and the expression of feeling in the music.  The sonata-allegro form became the prime vehicle for organizing movements of instrumental and chamber pieces.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's first movement to the Piano Concerto #21 in C follows the new sonata-allegro form throughout.  The movement is large, solidly constructed and expansive (it lasts almost 14 minutes compared to 3-5 for his predecessors).  As is usual in Mozart, the development section is quite short.  Mozart inserts a profusion of themes (where did he get them all?), some of which are mentioned only once or twice, and one of which recurs throughout the movement (the martial theme in the beginning; it also dominates the closing section).  The impression is sensitive with much feeling, lyrical beauty, a flowing quality with carefully constructed transitions, a fully scored orchestra including carefully written parts for bassoons, trumpets, etc.  Mozart has created the modern piano concerto out of the Baroque and certain classical forbears.


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HRS 134 -- Summary II


The plays of Moliere and Racine are staged in the court of Louis XIV of France (1660-1715), and they usually refer to issues current in that milieu.  Court ritual and the struggle for influence were paramount.  Louis XIV's main passion, aside from La Vallière, was the increase of the power of the French state and the cementing of his control over the state.

Molière's plays are the classic French comedies of manners, although there are elements of farce in most of his plays.  "Le Bourgeois gentilhomme" has perhaps more of the latter than the former.  There is much farcical humor, some of it coming from M. Jourdain's absolutely absurd obliviousness to the silliness of his behavior.  What remains, however, is the gentle satire of human illusions and pretentiousness.  M. Jourdain is determined to climb up the social ladder to join the nobility, despite the mocking observations of his down-to-earth wife, and the cynicism of the servants in the house.  There is much merriment at the pretensions of dancing masters, fencing masters, philosophy professors, music teachers, tailors, etc., all of whom take themselves too seriously and whose main function sometimes seems to be merely feeding the pretensions of foolish people.  The "voice of reason" always found in Molière's plays is represented by Lucille and Cléonte.  The classical nature of the plays comes out in the author's disapproval of the extreme behavior of the protagonist; there is nothing wrong with bettering yourself in life, etc., but carrying it to extremes is a severe failing (cf. Molère's debt to Aristotle and other classical moralists).  Molière's plays can be enjoyed by virtually anyone at any time since they mock typical human behavior that one can find in any civilization.

Jean Racine's Phaedra is perhaps the greatest play of the classical French theater.  On the one hand, it has classical organization and reserve (the five unities): it must be done in five acts; violent action is never performed on stage; the action of the play must take place in a single 24 hour period, etc.  On the other hand, the issues are intense, the emotions are violent, the action tragic: "how to go to disaster as rapidly as possible in five acts allowed them."  The ideological background to the play is Racine's Jansenist theology -- the Catholic version of Calvinist theology that asserts the essential depravity of human beings and that God chooses from all eternity which human beings are to be saved and which damned: Phaedra is "one of the just to whom grace was not vouchsafed."  Phaedra's character and personality dominate the play from beginning to end.  She experiences an irresistible attraction for her stepson, Hippolytus, and despite her best intentions and efforts, she can do nothing about it.  She experiences great guilt about her attachment.  In one of her great soliloquies, she can go from loving descriptions of her beloved to hatred and self-loathing is a very short period of time.  No matter how hard she tries, the struggle seems hopeless.  It seems that her destruction has been pre-ordained; even the plot (announcement of the death of Theseus, and then suddenly announcement of his return) seems arranged to cause her the most suffering.  There is no escape from her ineluctable fate.  When she seems poised for a positive decision, her handmaid, Oenone, leads her back down the wrong path.  Could she be the devil?  Even death does not help, since she believes she will continue to be punished in the next world.  Theseus' character is fairly effective, but other characters in the play such as Aricia are cardboard cutouts compared to Phaedra.

The Chateau of Versailles (begun about 1665) effectively illustrates the culture of Louis XIV's France.  The king built the chateau in part due to the beauty and impressiveness of Louis Le Vau's Vaux-le-Vicomte.  Versailles' garden facade has baroque details, but impresses mainly by its monumental classical grandeur and immensity, stretching over a quarter of a mile from end to end.  Images of Louis XIV abound in the chateau: he is usually building something, subduing some enemy, planning another campaign, etc.  The decor of the large rooms in the chateau is stately, monumental, uncomfortable with hard, highly decorated surfaces and mirrors meant to impress: the famous Hall of Mirrors is the most famous.  18th century kings continued to add to the chateau, mostly with smaller buildings (e.g., le Petit Trianon) and English gardens, which emphasized "natural" flowing lines rather than the rigid geometrical organization of the 17th century gardens of André le Notre.  These "romantic" gardens included "follies" such as the Temple of Love.


Holland in the mid and late 17th century was a place of commercial prosperity, neat pleasing cities and Calvinist, Protestant religion.  It produced artists of genius, including Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt von Rijn amongst many others.

As seen in his interior genre scenes such as "Kitchen Maid," "Girl With a Pearl Earring," "Lady at a Virginal with a Gentleman," "The Painter in his Studio," Vermeer has a cool, objective style fascinated with precise volumes and the effects of light.  The light almost always flows in from a window located to the painter's left.  The subjects are usually women either alone or with one other person.  The atmosphere of the scenes is quiet, detached, and rather pensive.  He included a fair amount of realistic detail.  He excelled in "serene and harmonious images of domestic life."  His only apparent self-portrait has his back turned to the viewer, expressing nicely the enigmatic impact of much of his work.  Vermeer was virtually unknown in his lifetime.  The only painting known at his death was "View of Delft;" the bulk of his work was not discovered until the end of the 19th century.

Although painting about the same time, Rembrandt's work comes across as entirely different.  He was a very successful painter who painted many portraits on commission and then squandered most of his wealth; with the death of both wives and of all his children including his beloved Titus, his life was quite unhappy.  His earlier style was quite baroque, seemingly owing a lot to Caravaggio.  Paintings such as "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp" and "Raphael Leaving the Family of Tobias" have glowing, rather dark colors and textures and striking chiaroscuro lending the painting an "Italian" sense of drama.  His paintings tend to be dark with attention to exotic textures, and mysterious glowing faces that express an intense inner spirituality and love for the dignity of human beings.  Group portraits such as "Nightwatch" and "The Anatomy Lessor of Dr. Tulp" have an extraordinary vitality coming to some extent from physical movement but mainly from the psychological mobility of the faces of the subjects.  His many self-portraits show his fascination with the secrets of the human personality ("Who am I?").  His "Christ at Emmaus" expresses a much greater inner spirituality than other versions of the subject such as Caravaggio's; many consider him the greatest of all modern religious artists.  His "Jewish Bride" tenderly celebrates married love with vibrant colors and textures but still retaining the reflective inner spirituality.  Rembrandt was popular and admired in his lifetime, and has remained popular ever since.


The 18th century is the time of the Enlightenment and the Rococo. 

The Enlightenment was an intellectual and social movement centered in France (there were strong Enlightenment movements also in Britain, Germany and the American colonies) lasting from about 1725 to 1775.  The supporters of the Enlightenment ideology were mostly men and women of middle class origin; some aristocrats also participated.  It was an informal system of shared ideas based on the following values.  It had an optimistic assessment of human nature.  It was a secular system concerned with the well being of human beings in this life, and not the next; what mattered was the furtherance of human happiness.  Enlightenment thinkers had a great faith in reason; by "reason looking into nature" we could discover why misery and exploitation are paramount now, and what we have to do to make the world better.  By and large, what made people happy was liberty: if humans were left alone, then they would decide what was best for them, and in the process the condition of humanity would be improved.  Philosophes were particularly fond of freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom of speech.  It is important that people resolve to institute reforms and improve conditions of life; educational reforms were considered especially important.  If we become conscious of the human condition and push for reform, then we can expect humanity to progress gradually and steadily toward a brighter future.  In his "Was heisst Erklärung," Immanuel Kant put his own spin on the definition of the Enlightenment.  He was writing in "unenlightened" Germany at the end of the 18th century, where Frederick the Great of Prussia pretended to be an enlightened monarch, but expected his subjects to obey without demur.  Kant considers this to be an immature stage in the development of humanity.  We must grow up by insisting that the individual be freed from his shackles and be allowed to exercise his own freedom of choice, his own education, in the context of liberty.  The issue is to break the tutelage of our "natural" superiors and become independent: "Sapere aude!"


The Abbé Prévost wrote the famous Manon Lescaut in 1731.  The novel has always been popular and has been made into a number of famous operas including Puccini's first performed in 1893.  The novel is spare on physical descriptions, but gives the reader a detailed and accurate picture of French/Parisian society in the middle of the 18th century: the very rich nobility and their frivolous pastimes, the minor nobility, the behavior of servants, the importance of money, the operation of the justice system, etc.  The narrative is in the first person using indirect discourse with virtually no quotations; it is told by the Chevalier Des Grieux to a friend; Des Grieux has a somewhat moralist attitude since he has had two years since the death of Manon to reflect on the meaning of the experience.  Manon is one of the focuses of the story.  She is part calculating courtesan and part immature child.  Outstandingly beautiful, she has a profound impact on the men she meets.  She appears sincerely to love Des Grieux, but, as the narrator tells us, she is also addicted to the pleasures that wealth brings.  She is amoral but certainly not evil.  She appears to be chastened and remorseful at the end of the novel; she dies suddenly and tragically in a Louisiana "desert."  The Chevalier appears to be a good person with a bright future, probably in the Church.  He is extremely emotional, and experiences a violent attachment to Manon the first time he sees her.  He declares himself one of the elite of human beings who experience feelings strongly and profoundly.  He has ongoing conflicts with his social/value environment that opposes his liaison with Manon.  His father violently denounces his offence against the honor of his family; he represents the values of conformism -- "honnêteté."  Tiberge is a devoted friend, as unconditional in his attachment to Des Grieux as the latter is to Manon.  Tiberge is a highly moral man of the Church who argues unsuccessfully for the Chevalier to return to the paths of virtue. He is unsuccessful, however.  Des Grieux refutes his arguments with hedonistic ones and exploits his friend for money.  The Chevalier does not begin to doubt his actions until he is exiled to Louisiana and Manon dies; afterwards, he becomes reflective and there is indication that he will lead a productive life in the Church.  The image of love in the novel approximates the western tradition of romantic love.  It begins violently and mysteriously, it is obsessive and all-encompassing, it is in bitter conflict with the forces of society and religion, and it ends tragically with the death of Manon.  One can debate, however, whether it is uplifting and noble.  Manon's motives are suspect, and the author sometimes appears to side with the forces of respectability and religion.


The Rococo ideal dominated much of the art of France and Central Europe in the 18th century.  It has a decorative orientation, being often devoted to interior decoration of rich people in France.  Art for pleasure, an element of entertainment; it indulges the prejudices of the aristocracy and their penchant for escape from the real world.  It is associated with women entertaining the philosophes in the salons of Paris and provincial French cities.

            French Rococo painting began with Jean-Antoine Watteau, who fascination with fêtes galantes and theatrical themes (commedia dell-arte) made him famous in France in the early 18th century.  His colors are opalescent and creamy pastels.  His paintings have a dream-like quality detached from reality.  His masterwork is his "Embarkation from Cythera," 1717, that showcases his characteristic melancholy and nostalgia; "Gilles" 1718, portrays his vision of the essential loneliness of human life.

            François Boucher was a more meticulous, "naturalistic" painter very popular in court and aristocratic circles in 18th century France.  His paintings depict adorable young women somewhat resembling Barbie (has anyone ever dressed Barbie up like a Boucher girl?). "Diana Emerging from the Bath" shows his technical expertise, his mixing of mythological themes with contemporary society trappings (out-of-place fabrics on the bank of the river), the psychological shallowness of the women, etc.

            Jean-Honoré Fragonard followed largely in the footsteps of Boucher as an erotic society painter, but his work is considered of a higher artistic order.  Many of his society paintings depicted the popular "love as an erotic game" theme.  His style is freer and more inventive than Boucher's meticulous style; Fragonard is the true descendant of Watteau.  "The Swing" is one of his masterworks: a "visual bon-bon" of dynamic movement, bright colors, steamy atmosphere, it portrays better than any other canvas the values of the Rococo.

German architecture and murals also shared in the rococo style.  The Amalienburg Pavilion outside Munich appears classical on the exterior, but has a highly refined and complex texture of mirrors, large windows and silver and blue design on the interior.  D. Zimmermann's parish church, "Die Wies," also constructed in the middle of the 18th century, has a busy profusion of rococo decor that some might argue negates its religious purpose: whites and pastel colors, much gold leaf and charming cherubs, etc.  Balthazar Neumann's Würzburg Palace is an impressive Versailles-like structure on the outside, but show important rococo characteristics on the inside.  The space of the celebrated stairway is complex and baroque in its design.  Tiepolo's "The Four Continents" on the ceiling of the stairwell dramatically and pleasingly (doesn't the rococo always aim to please?) gives allegorical representations of the Asia, Africa, America and Europe.  The Kaisersaal in its exuberant, colorful, light-filled celebration, reminds one of a more colorful Amalienburg Pavilion.


Voltaire (1694-1778) was the most popular and famous writer of the French Enlightenment; he was more of a propagandist and journalist than an original thinker and philosopher.  He promoted especially the benefits of science and civil liberties, including freedom of the press (for obvious reasons) and religious toleration, which was in fact a lifelong passion for him.  His English Letters (1732), published after a temporary exile in England, sang the praises of English institutions and intellectuals; often the articles were not so much a praise of England as a stick to beat the French with.  He praised the English for their political liberty, their empirical philosophy, their relative religious toleration, and their open-minded spirit of progress.  His Philosophical Dictionary promoted his pet theories in humorous, satirical and sarcastic prose.  He hammered incessantly on the abuses of the Catholic Church in France, including clerical corruption, intellectual intole-rance, and a penchant for superstition.  With Catholicism he contrasted the natural religion of Socrates and Jesus, who called for us simply to follow reason, worship God and respect the natural moral law in our treatment of other human beings; if we all act in accord with the principles of natural religion, we can expect peace and concord throughout the world.  Voltaire was skeptical about the value of equality; he seemed to think that thinking men like himself needed hard-working peasants to support him.  Voltaire had little respect for Jews, although he criticized them more for their role in the creation of institutional Christianity than for their contemporary behavior.  He greatly valued books for the advancement of society.  Voltaire did not mention important subjects like politics, education and reform of agriculture in France.  One comes away from the work with the feeling that, except in the are of civil liberties, Voltaire was essentially a conservative.

Candide is Voltaire's most famous book.  It is a satirical look at the European world in the middle of the 18th century, calling for a modest version of reform in the last pages.  The author communicates to the reader his pessimistic (realistic?) interpretation of the human condition in this period. Humanity is beset by natural evil (destructive earthquake in Lisbon, the diseases afflicting Pangloss) and also evil inflicted by human agency (intolerance, greed, cruelty, etc.).  Candide makes a journey through human suffering, gradually breaking away from his initial fatalistic assumptions and accepting the need to do something about the situation.  He must overcome the weight of Pangloss' (Leibniz's) philosophical optimism ("All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds"), wrestle with Martin's thoroughgoing pessimism (Do you believe that hawks and other raptors will always be raptors?), and finally end with a modestly reformist outlook ("We must cultivate our own garden").  His difficulty with leaving behind his old assumption is symbolized by the patterns of resurrection in the novel.  Utopias are a nice moral ideal, but they are unattainable.  Politics seems to be a waste of time, since all the kings and prime ministers in the novel end up in exile.  It seems that Voltaire was thinking of his efforts to improve the living conditions of the peasants living near his house at Ferney when he wrote the last pages of the novel.


The Neo-classical age, which stretched in European culture from about 1770 to about 1820, represented a reversion to the aesthetic assumptions of the Greco-Roman world and of the Renaissance.  Artists in the 1770s and 1780s found the aristocratic rococo art prevalent in France and Central Europe to be impossibly frivolous.  The new school wanted seriousness of purpose, obligation toward duty, and a sense of patriotism and sacrifice toward the state.  They idealized the moral imperative of the classical world, particularly the Roman Republic, which they saw peopled with republican heroes such as Cincinnatus.

The painting of Jacques-Louis David illustrates this trend.  His early paintings such as “The Oath of the Horatii” show a carefully organized classical technique influenced by sculpture and an implicit call to Frenchmen to abandon the rococo and the aristocratic world of the Old Regime for a new order of civic virtue.  After the beginning of the French Revolution, he relaxed his classical fervor, and while maintaining his devotion to classical techniques, he became the “official” painter of both the radical phase of the French Revolution and then of Napoleon, whom he glorified in several large campuses.

The neo-classical revival was also apparent in architecture, particularly in Britain and in North America.  Thomas Jefferson, working in Virginia, is a prime example.  His designs, from the Capitol of Virginia in Richmond to the University of Virginia to his own home in Montecello, show the influence of Greco-Roman architecture and of the 16th century Italian architect Palladio.


The evolution of the symphony of the classical period from Haydn and Mozart to Beethoven shares some of the same characteristics.  The classical style is strictly constructed and yet incorporates important elements of contrast and drama.  To organize the first and usually the last movements of their symphonies, all these composers used the sonata allegro form.  The classical orchestra gradually expanded and became more diverse in the same period.  Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" is a serenade, an informal version of a symphony; scored for strings only, it follows strictly and obviously the sonata-allegro form.  "Mozart's Symphony #40 in G Minor" (Fourth Movement) also follows the sonata-allegro form; it is more dramatic than "EKN," more tightly composed, and is scored for a larger orchestra.  The first movement of Haydn's "Symphony #104 in D" is written in the sonata-allegro form, but the use of the form is more inventive, idiosyncratic and irregular than Mozart's.  The piece opens with a slow introduction (typical of Haydn), followed by a "sunny" and relaxed allegro.  Although the form is orthodox, there are many mini-developments at various places in the piece; much of the development and variation is based on the second, "hammer blow" part of the main theme.  The development is short, but intense and complex in the Beethovenian style.  It ends with a short coda.  Ludwig van Beethoven was on the cusp between the classical and romantic styles.  The first movement to his "Symphony #5 in C minor" follows the sonata-allegro form.  Most of the movement is based on the three hammer blows of the first theme; even when the second theme tries to express itself, the hammer blow sneaks back in in the basses or timpani.  The development section is much longer seemingly expressing an inner struggle about whether to respond to the challenge of the main theme.  The Coda is long and dramatic; a new theme seems to express a certain triumph over the inner struggle of the artist the movement ends with thirteen repetitions of the tonic chord.  The other three movements of the symphony carry the story forward.  From early Mozart to Beethoven, a mere 20 years, the classical symphony has undergone a dramatic development.  Beethoven has transformed the sonata-allegro form to make it express the fears and aspirations of the new age.


Germany in the late 18th century was clearly in transition in this dramatic time.  It was a disunified country, but one with a strong philosophical tradition and a very active reading public.  The French Revolution and Napoleon brought drama and change.  Napoleon brought Germany fully into the modern world.  A dynamic movement in the arts evoked echoes throughout Europe.  Germany was particularly strong in music -- witness the achievements of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.  It also excelled in literature.  This was the age of three of the greats of German literature -- Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe.



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