Interesting how the technique has been used to convey such different styles. I think there are direct parallels in literature with dramatic contrasts- tragedy interspersed with humour perhaps.
In the first of these two articles looking briefly at the history of ‘compositional’ chiaroscuro in painting, I traced some early examples from the Renaissance before showing a selection from its heyday between 1590 and 1650. With Caravaggio and those influenced by him gone, chiaroscuro returned to occasional use for special effects rather than lapsing into obscurity.
It still appeared in nocturnes, such as Antoine Watteau’s The Foursome from about 1713. You may have noticed that I’m not a great fan of paintings from this period, but I rather like this for its subtlety, and the details half-hidden in its darkness.
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