A Baroque Piece by Strozzi and A Dutch Protestant Piece by De Hooch

The two pieces below were created with in the same period of time but were apart of very different art movements. The Pieter De Hooch being a great example of protestant mid 17th century dutch art and the Bernardo Strozzi a great example of an Italian baroque piece. While at first glance they seem of very different worlds there are similar techniques and textures in play for both paintings. What truly sets them apart is the subject matter and composition.

The Pieter De Hooch painting, while not one of his most famous pieces, embodies everything he and some of his contemporaries were known for. The canvas is not chaotic in any sense and while the subject of the scene involves the four figures they take up less than a full fourth of the area. The woman and the two soldiers enjoy a moment outside, something the dutch people did as often as possible considering the climate. Their small courtyard seems tucked away but open. The gate door is open allowing the viewer to see past the limits of the courtyard and down a pathway. A church tower in the distance peaks over the garden wall causing us to take note of the great big blue sky above. The exterior of the house is on the right, the glass windows and red shutter draw the eye towards the young girl. Standing with a brazier of hot coals she appears to be approaching the happy group. The many details so expertly placed throughout the work do the job of convincing us that while this encounter may have never actually happened it definitely could have. This was the aim of dutch protestant work, to create art that reflected the population and evoked an appreciation for the viewer's own life.

The Bernardo Strozzi painting meanwhile is a different deal. The canvas is much larger and fuller. It too has four figures but as opposed to the courtyard scene they are really the only thing that you look at. After having just recently battled a giant fish, which we see on the table in the foreground, Tobias split it open and extracted the gall. In this scene the young Tobias, with the aide of his mother Anna and his guiding Angel Raphael, applies the gall of the giant fish to his fathers eyes to heal him of his blindness. The painting shows only a small part of the tale but the emotion hints at the full story. It gives off a direct feeling that the battle occurred only moments ago and now all of the characters are making contact with each other, putting their full effort towards Tobit. The painting is biblical, grand, and exciting, which are clear characteristics of the Baroque period in Italy.

-RS

Pieter De Hooch, Two Soldiers and A Woman Drinking In a Courtyard (aka A Dutch Courtyard), c.1658-60, oil on canvas,    27 x 23 in, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Bernardo Strozzi, The Healing Of Tobit, c.1635, oil on canvas, 66 x 81in, Hermitage, St. Petersburg