Chiaroscuro research

Flemish baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens, is a good example of an artist whose work exemplifies chiaroscuro.


Portrait of a Man, Possibly an Architect or Geographer

The darkness of the background enhances the subtle gradations of the skin tones. I find the hands incredibly beautiful.


Tintoretto‘s art is characterised by daring inventiveness in both handling and composition. Most of his paintings are large-scale narratives on canvas, animated by dramatic lighting and gestures.’ source:


Above is a detail from his self-portrait. I love the concentration in the eyes and the description of the hair.

Caravaggio’s ‘Boy bitten by a lizard’

Boy bitten by a lizard

‘A young boy recoils in pain as his finger is bitten by a lizard, hidden among the fruit. A magnificent still life stands between him and us. The glass vase holds a rose and a sprig of jasmine, while red, succulent cherries lie beside the vase. Note the reflection of a room painted in the curving contour of the glass. It’s most unusual for a late 16th-century painting to show a figure so realistically in a moment of action, and for a still life to be so prominent.’ source:

This painting is has so much going on; the light and reflection on the glass, the folds of the robe, the skin tones and the expression of both surprise and anger, all contrasting out from a dark ground.

Joseph Wright of Derby


I was looking on the internet for some Wright’s work, and was drawn to this as it is so different from the other examples I have been looking at. I wonder if he left the grotto opening ground white? I think this has an unreal dreamlike quality to it. ‘Much of the painting looks black but on closer inspection you can see the detail of the rock on the inside of the cave. ‘


woman bathing in a stream


This work by Rembrandt has a rougher quality to it compared to the other examples I have been looking at today. I think it has a playful feel to it.

‘The handling of the paint is unusually spontaneous. The picture appears unfinished in some parts, for example, in the shadow at the hem of the raised chemise, the right arm and the left shoulder, but it was clearly finished to Rembrandt’s satisfaction since he signed and dated it.’


Of course, Vermeer’s most famous painting is  ‘Girl with a pearl earring’, but I include this as I think it is an excellent example of wonderful light captured in what I presume must be an example of chiaroscuro painting.

Girl with a pearl earring

The face, like the pearl, shine out from the dark ground and the eyes are just beautiful.


‘It is not a portrait, but a ‘tronie’ – a painting of an imaginary figure. Tronies depict a certain type or character; in this case a girl in exotic dress, wearing an oriental turban and an improbably large pearl in her ear.’












Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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