Technique Tuesday: Tondo

What is it?

Happy Tuesday! We figured today we’d “circle” (ha!) back around to a Technique Tuesday post and talk about the tondo! A tondo (plural “tondi”) is a term for a circular work of art, and comes from the Italian word “rotondo,” or “round.” While in many ways just like any other shape of artwork, the tondo still gives artists a unique challenge when it comes to creating the best composition and use of space within a circle, but the results are wonderful!

Examples from art history:

Round paintings date back as far as Ancient Greece, when a “kylix,” a vase or shallow wine glass, was frequently decorated with artwork. In the Italian Renaissance, the circular painting (and sometimes sculpture!) came back into fashion, and could be seen on dishes, plaques, medallions, etc. in addition to being framed works of fine art for the wall! One of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s most unique pieces was a tondo entitled “Holy Family” which he was commissioned to paint as a wedding gift, and which hangs today in the Uffizi in a magnificent frame of the artist’s own design. Though small, round paintings known as miniatures had been popular in England for a very long time, it was not until the 19th century that the tondo began to appear again in a large, full-size fine art format. Below we can see two examples from Victorian-era Pre-Raphaelite artists Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Let’s check out just a few examples of these circular works of art through the ages:

Top row: Sosias, “Achilles Tending Patroclus Wounded by an Arrow”; White-ground kylix found in a tomb at Delphi — Center row: Raphael, “Maddona della seggiola”; Michelangelo Buonarroti, “Holy Family” — Bottom row: Ford Madox Brown, “Last of England”; Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Belcolore”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

Many artists today are experimenting with and celebrating circular works of art, and it so happens that we’ve had a few come into the gallery recently and some which will be included in upcoming shows! Let’s take a look!

Greg Gandy, “Old Car Pileup”

Greg Gandy, “Consumption”

Jeremy Mann, “SF 12”

Laura E. Pritchett, “Elsewhere”

To see the other amazing (though non-circular) artworks from Greg Gandy included in the show from September this year, check out Greg’s page on our website here! Join us Friday, November 17th as we open the fantastic solo exhibition for Jeremy Mann, including the amazing cityscape tondo shown above, and check out this lovely little Laura E. Pritchett work in the Small Works show, opening December 2nd! To be put on the list to receive a digital preview of each of these shows as soon as they are available, send us an email at info@principlegallery.com!

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