Baroque inspirations

Adaptation and interpretation of models and motives' migration
in painting of the 17th - 18th century

The search into the problematic and suggestion of possible method of its research was the work on the author's previous research grant project in 2004-2006. The continuation of systematic comparative research of the graphics in the process of Baroque painting production allows to extend, deepen and synthesize the existing findings and specify the alleged conclusions. The present project "Baroque inspirations" builds on the existing systematic investigation of the relationship between graphics and paintings and the role of models in the process of Baroque painting production and presents its organic completion.

The analysis of some selected specific examples of using graphic models and inspiration of painting by the graphics allows to formulate more general conclusions and to synthesize the results of the research in the relationship between domestic Baroque painting to widespread graphic models.
The comprehensive study will contribute to a more exact characteristic of the role and functions of the graphics - engravings and etching in the creation process of painted artworks and evaluation of the importance of reprographic graphics and book illustration in mediating of obligatory iconographic schemes, compositional motifs and formal innovations in the Central European painting of the Baroque period.

Description of the research project "Baroque inspirations"

The project's work will focuse on the continuation in the study of the European graphic production in the 16th - 18th century, its provenance and ways of distribution, following the frequency of the occurance of observed models and popularity of the used models, documented as an inspiration for the painted artworks. The collecting and gathering of relevant documents will require, except an excerption of the huge corpus of art­historical literature (monographs, thematic studies, catalogs and corpuses) and sources available on the web, also a systematic art­historical research and research in graphic collections of inland and foreign specialized institutions - museums, galleries, libraries and archives. The analysis of various forms of dependence and relationship between painted realizations and graphic models suggests also a research and documentation of selected painted art­works preserved in Slovakia.

By the origin of the artwork, the inspiration of his creator by other works of his contemporaries and predecessors must be taken in attention. Therefore it is useful to try to find analogies, visual sources and if possible the direct used models, mediated in painting most often by graphics. The research of compositional and content inspirations, identification of specific patterns and adapted motifs, relationship between an artwork and identified models and methods of their use by their author are part of the iconographic research as well as the formal analysis of artworks.

The inventions of leading artists of the epoch, reproduced, multiplied, copied and varied by the Netherlands, southern German, French or Italian engravers, were published in large quantities and distributed throughout Europe. The universal expansion and availability of reprographics and book illustration in the early modern period caused, that the graphics become a suitable medium to mediate contemporary updated impulses, bringing new iconographic and formal solutions and stylish innovation in all Central European regions. The various forms of the process of transformation and adaptation are one of the characteristics of the general development of the Central European Baroque painting.

The use of graphic models as a legitimate creative principle in the early modern art is a phenomenon that deserves systematic attention. The role and importance of graphics by the origin of Baroque painted artworks in our area, are studied just in the marginality. The relationship between the identified model and the resulting realisation was only taken in attention when analyzing some painted artworks from the 16th to 18th century.
The dependence of painted artworks of domestic provenance on the graphic models is, except of some special cases, generally and just a few artworks created in that period were artistically authentic or originally in our understanding. The systematic research of this relationship (in contrast to Czech Republic or Poland) hasn't any tradition in our area and the synthesizing working-out, focused on the problem of various forms of inspiration of the painted realizations by the graphics is still missing.

The existing knowledge has been extended by the examples of the use of graphic models analyzed within the author's previous grant project "Invenit / sculpsit / pinxit" solved in 2004-2006. The material research, thematic and case studies published in this context confirmed, that the situation in our area in this period was analogous to that in other neighboring Central European regions. Popular graphic prints, reproducing the artworks of famous artists, pattern books and book illustrations published by the press, as well as sketches and drawings by foreign models formed a repertoire of every prosperous painting workroom, from that the guild painters draw ideas and finished designs of solutions for the realisation of standard painting orders. This dependence, from the late Gothic generall, is documented by many examples of anonymous painting of domestic production, which makes up a significant portion of our surviving artworks from the 16th to 18th century, but the study of graphic models can be observed also in the work of significant painters of this period, active in the territory of Slovakia.

The margin range yet from general inspiration by decisive models, through the selective adaptation and compilation of individual motives, to mechanical copying of figural compositions and passive acceptance of completed compositional and iconographic solutions. The adaptation and connection
of various elements, incorporated and integrated into a new context caused the origin of new, in more successful cases, despite their derivation, often quite original and uncommon creations. Among various compilations derived from current and respected contemporary designs, distributed by reprographics and book illustrations, there can be found also ambitious and artistically more challenging examples
of inspiration and acceptation of new impulses, through graphics accessible also to painters who didn't have the opportunity to know current events in leading centers of artistic development from autopsy. This was a legitimate creative principle and this practice continues until the end of the Baroque period, not only in the workrooms of craftsmanship and works of average painters but also in the works of well-known masters.

The real conclusion in using of the graphic models in the general level of thinking, of course, don't bring anything new. In the case of an individual artwork, however, the exploring of compositional and motif's dependencies as one of the possible interpretative strategies is beneficial. The specification
of a graphic prototype is often the only one indication, which indicates, at least in generally, the orientation of the sponsors of painted artworks and the base of their mostly anonymous authors, and can help to specify the dating of paintings, or at least to identify "terminus post quem" of their arising. They contribute to the identification of individual artworks in the historical context and in a significant way help in understanding and reflecting the specific nature of the domestic painting production. The monitoring of frequency and occurrence of the universal wide-spread models and designs, their migration and transformation process, is therefore also a contribution to the research of the relationship between tradition and stylistic innovations and their reception in the peripheral area of all regions reached by the Baroque art.

[ back ]