Giovanni Baglione : seventeenth-century artist, draughtsman and biographer of artists
This thesis explores Baglione's contributions to art and to the history of art by examining the nature of his artistic and critical originality and the significant influences thereon. In the work for which he is best known, Le Vite ... (1642), Baglione was an interesting and generous critic who was unusually receptive to pictorial effects, even when in architecture and sculpture. He assesses Caravaggio's accomplishments with well chosen observations thereby breaking his restriction to discuss only accessible works of art. A broad view of his paintings and drawings shows Baglione's complex, original and thoughtful voyage of discovery assisted by the intelligence with which he absorbed artistic influences, particularly from Raphael and the Cavalier d'Arpino. His refined style of drawing distances him from Caravaggio. In paintings from the first decade, light and shadow give form to graceful figures enveloped in voluminous garments. After 1610 the compositions become more inventive and increasingly Baroque. Baglione's attempt to make a synthesis out of ideal generalization and naturalistic description and to explore new subject matter constituted a search for a "maniera propria" that combined stylistic originality with a penchant for unusual iconography. The most important trends in Baglione's draughtsmanship are the tendency towards a broader, freer handling and the versatility with which he handles the technical means at his disposal. Though he often crosses over the line into the Baroque, the idealism of his Tusco-Roman formation and fondness for angular lines constrain him from fully yielding to a dynamic disposition. His very personal style can be seen in a number of drawings from the 1620s and 1630s that attain a remarkable pictorial aspect and a Baroque quality of sensual presence. His sophisticated use of the three chalk technique prefigures the form dissolving effects to be popularized by Watteau. At the same time, the defining contour line that emphasizes integrity is not abandoned.