The Divine Eros Defeats the Earthly Eros


Another favourite painting receiving the Google Art Project high-res treatment. Giovanni Baglione’s picture (also known as Sacred Love versus Profane Love) was painted circa 1602 as a riposte to Caravaggio’s provocative Amor Vincit Omnia. Where Caravaggio showed Eros triumphing over worldly concerns Baglione gives us an image of religious propaganda which displeased the older artist. Salt was rubbed in the wounds when Baglione produced a second (and lesser) version which puts Caravaggio’s features on the figure of the Devil. There’s an irony in this spat in the way that Baglione’s noble aspiration is subverted by erotic tension, the victorious angel shown happily astride a vulnerable and capitulating youth. If someone had pointed this out to Caravaggio he might not have felt so aggrieved.

Both Amor Vincit Omnia and The Divine Eros Defeats the Earthly Eros are part of the Old Master collection at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, where they can be viewed side by side.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Angels 1: The Angel of History and sensual metaphysics



Heavenly Love and Earthly Love by Giovanni Baglione (1602–1603).

Chiaroscuro\, Chia`ro*scu”ro\, Chiaro-oscuro\, Chi*a”ro-os*cu”ro\, n. [It., clear dark.] (a) The arrangement of light and dark parts in a work of art, such as a drawing or painting, whether in monochrome or in colour. (b) The art or practice of so arranging the light and dark parts as to produce a harmonious effect.

Following from the earlier post about shadows in art, some favourite examples by masters of chiaroscuro. Another artist not represented here will be the subject of a post of his own in the next couple of days. The Dutch painter Godfried Schalcken (below) was the subject of the horror tale Schalcken the Painter by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, a story memorably filmed by Leslie Megahey for BBC television in 1979. Horror and the chiaroscuro effect belong together, as Fuseli’s Nightmare demonstrates, and many of Schalcken’s paintings seem even more curious and sinister after you’ve read Le Fanu’s story.

Update: John Klima points us to Hal Duncan‘s excellent story, The Chiaroscurist, which you can read at Electric Velocipede.

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