ArtLex Art Dictionary

 

 

 

ttenebroso or tenebrism - Tenebroso is an Italian word, literally meaning dark and gloomy. Both tenebroso and its English equivalent, tenebrism, refer to a style of painting characterized by high contrast between light and shadeemphasis placed on chiaroscuro to achieve dark, dramatic effects. Frequently the main subjects of tenebrist pictures are illuminated by a single source of light, as if a spotlight shone upon them, leaving other areas in darkness. Such pictures have been called "night pictures" painted in the "dark manner." The most reknowned tenebrists have been "Caravaggio", Michelangelo Merisi (Italian, 1571/73-1610), Georges De La Tour (French, 1593-1652), and Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669).

There is a relationship between tenebrists and other artists who portray night scenes — collectively known as nocturnes.


Examples:

 

 

 

see thumbnail to left"Caravaggio", Michelangelo Merisi (Italian, 1571/73-1610), The Crucifixion of St. Andrew, 1607, oil on canvas, 202.5 x 152.7 cm, Cleveland Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightCaravaggio, Medusa, oil on a circular convex leather shield, diameter 55.5 cm, Uffizi Gallery, Florence. See mythology and snake.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftGerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1590-1656), The Mocking of Christ, c. 1617, oil on canvas, 57 1/2 x 81 1/2 inches (146.05 x 207.01 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Dutch art.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightGerrit van Honthorst, The Denial of Saint Peter, c. 1620, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftGeorges De La Tour (French, 1593-1652), Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, c. 1640, oil on canvas, 46 x 36 1/8 inches (116.8 x 91.8 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Baroque.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightValentin de Boulogne (French, 1594-1632), A Musical Party, c. 1626, oil on canvas, 44 x 57 3/4 inches (111.76 x 146.69 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), The Raising of Lazarus, c. 1630, oil on panel, 37 7/8 x 32 inches (96.2 x 81.3 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. See Baroque.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Nicolaes Ruts, 1631, oil on panel, 46 x 34 3/8 inches (116.8 x 87.3 cm), Frick Collection, NY.

 

 

see thumbnail to leftRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, The Night Watch, oil on canvas, 1642.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, oil on canvas, 56 1/2 x 53 3/4 inches (143.5 x 136.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. (On the Met's page, you can enlarge any detail.)

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftRembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Self-Portrait, 1658, oil on canvas, 52 5/8 x 40 7/8 inches (133.7 x 103.8 cm), Frick Collection, NY. See self-portrait.

 

 

 

Also see Baroque, Caravaggisti, crepuscular, luminosity, night blindness (nyctalopia), and nocturne.

 

 

 

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