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'Standing between Darkness and Light' Shadows in Western Art from ancient times to the present

Defined by Leonardo da Vinci as 'standing between darkness and light,' shadows are and always have been everywhere, but they are not always depicted in art. The origins of the depiction of shadows in art, will be traced, but they were rarely shown in Classical, Early Christian and medieval art. The portrayal of shadows really comes into its own in Renaissance Italy - linked with the immense advances in scientific study and new learning (especially optics). Shadows can be used to give bodily and other forms a three-dimensionality hitherto not achieved, or as the actual depiction of cast shadows, sometimes with symbolic meaning. Shadows were used to bring a psychological or even magical resonance to Renaissance painting. And the use of shadows in art as mysterious, ethereal or even divine has continued to the present day. Accredited Lecturer Dr Valerie Shrimplin tells us more.


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A very interesting talk, I had not really noted shadow as a key element in some familiar works, this helped me to look in a different way.

Helen Peachey Fri, 10/12/2021 - 17:01 Permalink

Fascinating talk, something new to look for in paintings and photography.

Cicely Fri, 10/12/2021 - 15:43 Permalink

excellent lecture so enjoying the Advent calendar

Margaret Redford Fri, 10/12/2021 - 15:24 Permalink

A fascinating lecture delivered in a very human way - thank you, Valerie.

Judi Fendley Fri, 10/12/2021 - 14:44 Permalink

I am learning something new every day. I really don't want these little gems to end. An insightful lecture well presented and illustrated.

Mary Bradley Fri, 10/12/2021 - 14:38 Permalink

Wonderful, I will look at paintings in a different way

Anna Fri, 10/12/2021 - 14:27 Permalink

A fascinating lecture. I wasn't much aware of shadows in art before but now i will be looking out for them. Thank you so much.

Zita Fri, 10/12/2021 - 12:59 Permalink

I found this lecture fascinating. I think I have always looked at light and taken shadows for granted, but now I am noticing the shadows here, in my kitchen……

Mary Fri, 10/12/2021 - 11:58 Permalink

Thank you.

Another fascinating and informative lecture. Will miss these gems.

Marion Brown Fri, 10/12/2021 - 11:35 Permalink

Thank you for a very interesting and inspiring lecture from a wonderful speaker. I was completely engaged with her and loved the great illustrations too.

daphne Fri, 10/12/2021 - 10:53 Permalink