The first major history of the bravura movement in European
painting The painterly style known as bravura emerged in
sixteenth-century Venice and spread throughout Europe during the
seventeenth century. While earlier artistic movements presented a
polished image of the artist by downplaying the creative process,
bravura celebrated a painter's distinct materials, virtuosic
execution, and theatrical showmanship. This resulted in the further
development of innovative techniques and a popular understanding of
the artist as a weapon-wielding acrobat, impetuous wunderkind, and
daring rebel. In Bravura, Nicola Suthor offers the first in-depth
consideration of bravura as an artistic and cultural phenomenon.
Through history, etymology, and in-depth analysis of works by such
important painters as Fran ois Boucher, Caravaggio, Francisco Goya,
Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Tintoretto, and Diego Velazquez,
Suthor explores the key elements defining bravura's richness and
power. Suthor delves into how bravura's unique and groundbreaking
methods-visible brushstrokes, sharp chiaroscuro, severe
foreshortening of the body, and other forms of visual
emphasis-cause viewers to feel intensely the artist's touch.
Examining bravura's etymological history, she traces the term's
associations with courage, boldness, spontaneity, imperiousness,
and arrogance, as well as its links to fencing, swordsmanship,
henchmen, mercenaries, and street thugs. Suthor discusses the
personality cult of the transgressive, self-taught, antisocial
genius, and the ways in which bravura artists, through their
stunning displays of skill, sought applause and admiration. Filled
with captivating images by painters testing the traditional
boundaries of aesthetic excellence, Bravura raises important
questions about artistic performance and what it means to create
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