Compare the paintings of Caravaggio and Rembrandt with regard to subject matter and use of contrasts in light.
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Chiaroscuro was a feature of much of the work of both Caravaggio, and later on, Rembrandt. This term referred to creating strong contrast of light and shadow, and produced quite a dramatic effect. Although Caravaggio's personal life was generally a mess, he nonetheless focused often on religious subjects, using the chiaroscuro technique to heighten the dramatic impact, and in many cases, create an overall mood that was dark and foreboding. Of course, much of his subject matter, albeit religious in nature, was foreboding before Caravaggio even picked up his paintbrush, choosing as he often did to paint grotesque, horrific subjects such as beheadings. Rembrandt painted his fair share of religious subjects, but also focused at various points in his career on portraiture and landscape painting. His work didn't tend to include the same melancholy and even frightening overtones found in the work of his predecessor, and despite personal tragedy and financial difficulties, he was able, toward the end of his career, to do some teaching of his techniques to younger artists. Caravaggio, so dramatic and prominent during his lifetime (not necessarily for his art as much as for his conflicts with the law), was largely forgotten in the years immediately after his death, achieving recognition much later.
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