Tuesday, March 24, 2009

God's own light show

One of the most important tricks with which history painters dramatized their art was the use of light effects. If you look at these paintings you should always think a little about illumination. Where does the light come from? Could it be real? Or is there somewhere a big floodlight hidden?

This painting is by Karl Pavlovich Briullov (1799-1852) the most important Russian romantic painter. Its from 1843 and shows "The Siege of Pskov" by the Polish king Stefan Batory.
The Poles are driven away by a heroic sortie.
The light doesn't even come from somewhere in the sky. Its source lies in the group of white priests an their holy relics.

This painting from the same year ist by the Polish painter January Suchodolski (1797-1875) and shows that God wasn't only on the Russian side.
Suchodolski painted the heroic defense of a monastery in Czestochowa where the famous Black Madonna was guarded. The light came from inside - it seems the white priest switched it on - and is nearly blinding the Swedes and their German mercenaries.

But before you smile about these cheap 19th century tricks, have a look at this:

Here they learned from history painting. Its Hollywood where the tradition now is kept alive.

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