Baroque Blog

February 23, 2010

SOILDERS PLUNDERING A FARM DURING THE THIRTY YEARS WAR

Sebastian Vrancx 1620

I chose this painting because it clearly depicts events from the Baroque time.  The Baroque period was heavily punctuated by the Thirty Years war.  The carnage and genocide influenced every single person in Europe artists included.  If your country was not actively fighting at the moment, you were paying exorbitant taxes so your ruler could give monetary aid to countries that were fighting.

The low countries where Vrancx was from were heavily involved in the intrigue and combat of the time period and it is no surprise that Vrancx main subject was warfare.  Vrancx worked with Ruben and Brueghal the Elder as contemporary and collaborators.

Vrancx does not fight into either of the Poussinistes or Rubenistes school of art.  Vrancx drafted most of his work which heavily depends on line (Poussinistes style) but he also occasionally focused on color which does not exclude him from Rubenistes styling.  Many of Vrancx paintings were rather drab.  Four landscapes for four seasons is an example (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/vrancx_bastiaen.html). I believe that Vrancx depended more on line then color.

The Subject matter is fitting for the time period and is why I choose the painting.  I feel this painting represents the schizophrenic culture of Europe.  Soldiers stood in orderly lines and fought with very elaborate codes of conduct (rules of chivalry).  It was unfitting and an utter disgrace for a military unit to not perform to the moral standard during battle. However for the remaining time, there were no rules and no morality that applied.  The man facing you in battle with full formality and dignity may have just raped your wife and burnt your home. Soldiers were expected to loot and plunder for food.  Military organization had been forgotten and armies were formed and deployed without food, shelter or extra clothing.  It was cheaper to take from the locals and far easier then shipping food across the continent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years’_War  Entire populations were eradicated Wurttemberg lost 75% of its estimated 1 million inhabitants.  The German region lost (by lost I mean eradicated and razed to the ground) 2000 castles, 18,000 villages and 1500 towns to just the Swedes.

This painting to me has the same symbolism that a painting of the holocaust or the killing grounds of Kosovo would.  The military uniforms are different, but the events are all too similar.

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6 Responses to “Baroque Blog”

  1. isaacjackson Says:

    You did a good job tying in all the information that was required by the teacher. You also put extra research into, Vrancx, which helped me relate to the artist. This painting is great in depicting the struggles of the Thirty Year War.

  2. vwalton46 Says:

    This painting was an amazing pick for the Barque era. You stated a lot of good information about the painting. I really liked what you thought of the painting as well. I completely agree with you on your last statement. The events seem to always be the same. I find it very upsetting that there are children in the background.
    Great job, I enjoyed reading what you had to say about this painting.

  3. jwallick Says:

    It’s interesting that you would choose this piece. I guess it’s a reminder that all works of art aren’t necessarily representations of beauty in the world. Some artists felt a need to express a generalized feeling of their opinions, and some of the world around them, especially in the Baroque Era, was in chaos and was corrupt. I have to wonder if Vrancx was heavily criticized for this work by any political or government parties. Surely this would have ruffled a few feathers, taking away the glory and gentlemen-like quality of the military and shining a dim light on the real picture.

  4. Lisa Kljaich Says:

    Testing to see if blog moderation is on or off.

  5. bekaht88 Says:

    You did an excellent job on providing and supporting information for this post. I liked had you put yourself and the reader into the painting, imagining as if this were a scene from your life. “The man facing you in battle with full formality and dignity may have just raped your wife and burnt your home. Soldiers were expected to loot and plunder for food.” Good job. 🙂


  6. It is an emotional experience for me traveling through German cities, towns and even villages and knowing their histories both in the battles of the period depicted in this painting and of other times. It must not be forgotten that more than once Germany was ravaged and its population reduced. The march of destruction by French mercenary forces under orders of the Vatican that resulted in the massacres of tens of thousands of the inhabitants of hundreds of villages, the burning of their fields and grain store and slaughter of their livestock, and culminated in the destruction of the castle of Heidelberg and the theft of the Library of the University of Heidelberg, the largest and most valuable library in Europe at that time, which was shipped to the Vatican by mule train. The Vatican has refused all requests to return it, even in modern times, claiming it was “a gift”.
    In my opinion, right down to the period of Kaiser Wilhelm II German attitudes were influenced by these historic experiences. It would be a wonderful gesture if the Vatican returned the stolen University of Heidelberg’s library. This would in part serve to acknowledge that Germany today is one of the most enlightened countries in the world.

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