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Art, Music and the Scientific Revolution

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Jessica Streit

on 11 April 2014

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Transcript of Art, Music and the Scientific Revolution

Art, Music and
the Scientific Revolution

The new emphasis on observation of the natural world, the development of both instruments and standard methods for investigation and the empowerment of human beings as creatures able to understand the universe through reason all impacted art and music. This presentation gives some examples showing how it happened.
23.10. Jan Vermeer, View of Delft, 1658
Surface Effects
Scientific portrayal of shimmery details of light
Careful observation of real reflections on water
Baroque contrasting light and dark
Small Groups of Figures
Rendered in ordinary clothing
Invite viewer to become part of scene
Big Sky
Lowered horizon emphasizes sky
Broad horizon implies infinite space
Both of those reflect new knowledge of universe and how it works
23.12. Jan Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance, 1664
Surface Detail
Effects of light painstakingly rendered
Center of pearls and links on chain receive highlight
New scientific developments in optics make this possible
Domestic Interior
New interest in everyday life
Genre portraits celebrate ordinary individuals
The Camera Obscura: A Debate
Blurred edges and off-centered highlights (like the pearls in the last slide) argue for use of camera obscura
Intense debate about whether this occurred
What do you think? Does it diminish the work in any way?
If it were used, ties into developments in science of optics during Scientific Revolution
Jan Vermeer
Dutch master painter, 1632-1675
Most paintings feature detailed interiors
Composition: Light from left window spreads over subject on right
Known for his atmospheric lighting and attention to surface detail
Dutch Portraiture
Increased Demand: Growing middle class wants to immortalize itself
Unidealized and often unflattering portrayals
Informal settings
Attention to surface detai
Rembrandt's portraits are psychological as well as physical
New Genres
and Subject Matter
Still lives display artistic virtuosity and realism
Still lives also carry symbolic meaning
Continuing of genre paintings focusing on everyday happenings
Familial settings emphasize social cohesion
Music
Perfection of instruments and tuning systems
Development of purely secular, instrumental music
Sonata: Written for a few instruments, 3 movements of fast-slow-fast tempo
Suite: Written for any combo of instruments, derive from court dance
Concerto: Two groups of instruments—one small and one large—play in dialogue

Technology and Tuning
Perfection of violin, viola and cello
Standardized tuning method
Development of instruments and standardizing methods echo new scientific instruments and method
Antiono Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Codified the concerto into a three-movement form
Each movement's tempo goes from fast to slow to fast
Increased the distinction between solo and ensemble groups
Four Seasons is most famous composition, dialogue is between violin and orchestra
Bach
• Bach as a secular as well as religious composer
• Studied Vivaldi’s works and wrote concertos that develop rich contrasts in tone and texture
• Also develops the fugue, which restates a single musical theme in sequential phases with variation

23.6. Maria Van Oosterwick, Vanitas Still Life, 1668
Scientific attention to observed detail and surface
Flowers similar to flowers shown in scientific field guides
Anatomical presence of skull
Alludes to theme of death and transience with skull, flowers, titles of books
23.7. Pieter de Hooch, A Dutch Courtyard, 1658-1660
Genre Painting still important
Celebrates everyday life and pleasure
Unidealized
Beer drinking reflects daily life
Unidealized woman: Large nose, pursed lips
Crumbling wall
Adds both character and reflects human existence
Idea that the unidealized natural world--in all its forms--is worthy of attention ties into the new, empirical observation of natural phenomena as the basis for knowledge
23.13. Frans Hals, The Laughing Cavalier, 1624
Individualized features
Furtive glance: Personal and interactive
Attention to surface detail and fabric textures
Brushwork creates texture of fabric
Smooth and wispy for satin
Precise and thick for lace
Brings psychological gravity to portraits
Almost seems to appeal to the viewer for sympathy
Wrinkles and slackened skin around chin are opposite of Renaissance and Absolutist idealized portraits
23.15. Rembrandt, Self-Portrait as Saint Paul, 1661
Full transcript