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Related to Caravaggism: Tenebrism
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) A group of artistic devices, characteristic of 17th-century European realist painting, during its initial stage. These devices were particularly expressed in the work of the Italian painter Caravaggio, who championed democratic artistic ideals and was interested in the direct reproduction of nature in painting. He was particularly sensitive to the objective reality of a representation. In his works, Caravaggio emphasized contrasts of light and shadow and sought to impart grandeur to genre motifs. The adoption of Caravaggio’s methods was an important step in the creative development of many of the prominent artists of the 17th century, including P. P. Rubens and Rembrandt. However, in many cases, this development was not a direct result of the influence of Caravaggio and his followers F. Ribalta, D. Velasquez, and Georges de La Tour.

(2) A trend in 17th-century European painting, represented by the followers of Caravaggio. In Italy, Caravaggio continued to be influential until the end of the 17th century. Caravaggism penetrated every important artistic center and was particularly evident in the painting in Rome, Genoa, and Naples. The legacy of Caravaggio received its most original and independent interpretation in the work of O. Borgianni, O. Gentileschi, C. Saraceni, and G. B. Caracciolo. Caravaggism was expressed as a superficial borrowing of formal methods and devices in the work of a number of painters, including L. Spada and B. Man-fredi.

The most important representatives of Caravaggism outside of Italy included H. Terbrugghen, G. van Honthorst, and D. van Baburen in Holland; T. Rombouts and A. Janssens in Flanders; Valentin de Boullogne and S. Vouet in France; J. Ribera in Spain; and A. Elsheimer in Germany.


Vipper, B. R. Problema realizma v ital’ianskoi zhivopisi XVII-XVIII vekov. Moscow, 1966. Pages 55–81.
Schneider, A. von. Caravaggio und die Niederlander. Marburg, 1933.
Caralogo del la mostra del Caravaggio e dei caravaggeschi. Milan, 1951.
Moir, A. The Italian Followers of Caravaggio. Cambridge (Mass.), 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
After looking at Artemisia Gentileschi's picture, one is glad that the curators, before the next bout of Caravaggism, have inserted three rooms devoted to the circle of Annibale Carracci and its foreign disciples.
Only warily did Rembrandt adopt the Caravaggism of his predecessors, the Utrecht Mannerists, preferring their half-lights to their blaze as he painted in his small-windowed house in the Amsterdam Jodenbreestraat by light reflected from the dim canal outside.
'I was never tempted by 17th-century Dutch landscapes, for instance, or chocolate-box French paintings from the 18th century, or Italian view paintings.' What emerges is a clear preference not only for portraiture from all periods, but also for 16th-century Netherlandish painting, Caravaggism (Italian, French and Dutch) and French neoclassicism.
(Many of these elements, though, also seem related to the Caravaggism that had seduced a generation of European painters slightly older than Rembrandt--which is grounds for another exhibition.) What is striking, however, is how different Rembrandt's works seem from their Italian prototypes.
A few of them, notwithstanding their slight allusions to a latent Caravaggism, are strange fish indeed, such as Claude Vignon's exquisitely mannered Judith with the Head of Holofernes (c.
Vouet's devotion to his soft yet dramatic brand of Caravaggism is seen particularly in the impressive Circumcision, dated 1622, from Capodimonte, Naples, and in the famous night-piece from the Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, Psyche Contemplating the Sleeping Cupid.