I chose the artwork “The Denial of St. Peter” attributed to Master Jacomo in the early mid-17th century made using either French or Italian style which consisted of oil on canvas. The physical condition of the painting looks good for how old it is and it looks clean. The painting represents a scene of a Roman guard interrogating St. Peter and a servant girl. St. Peter denies the fact that he is a follower of Jesus to the Roman soldier as the woman looks on. When I first saw the painting my eyes focused on the left side of the painting: then the followed the rest of it while noticing a dark and suspenseful scene that focused on the actions of many beings. The male and female on the right seem to on walk or stroll while the two males on the right are more on like a night shift or patrol. The people in the light are tenser and tight guarded while the two figures in the half dark are more open and smug with their facial features.
The people in the light seem to be almost trying to hide something but it seems that the guard has some sort of idea what their hiding with the expression he has on his face. The guard might have a smug look but he has his right hand clenched meaning that not only is he cocky he is also a bit angry. The woman seems to be trying to hide the older male from the guard by putting his shroud over his face. The woman is also looking to her right which could give reference that she is lying because when people look to their right it says that they are using their right side of their brain which is where their creativity is. It seems that she is trying to lie in order to hide his identity. The old male however seems to trying to reassuring the guard to clear them of any suspicion that he may have of them. He is looking straight at him without doubt of fear in his eyes. The male that is in the back is trying to get a look at the old male and female while blocking most of the light from his eyes with his right hand. The most interesting part is the lit candle that the man is holding in his left hand as it is the only source of light in this painting.
The guard is holding the other man by the wrist as he tries to steady the light. The funny thing is the light plays more of a role here than its purpose. The effect that is being used right now is the Chiaroscuro effect which is the strong contrast between light and dark. In this painting there is a strong contrast of light and dark. St. Peter and the woman faces and hands are in the light while their lower bodies are in darkness. For the guard if face and hand are the only parts in the light while the other male holding the candle only has half his face in the light. Also the light plays another part as showing who knows, who doesn’t, and who believes. In this painting the woman is in full light with the exception of some of her left side of the head this could refer that she knows of the old man’s identity.
For the guard we can only see half his face in the light which could refer that he had some idea of who the old man is but he is still is not totally sure which could explain his smug expression of thinking he has St. Peter. The old man is in total light which is justified because he knows who he is so of course he would be know the truth. Now the man in the back his face would be in total light if his hand wasn’t covering his face which could mean he might know who the old man is but is trying to hide the truth from himself which is weird because he is the one holding the candle to begin with. Now the colors used in this painting are mostly dark colors. The scenery color does not vary. There is more focus on the middle detail and color on the middle portion of the painting rather than on the sides of the painting.
The only color that really stands out is the red that the woman is wearing which draws attention to her. It could also mean anger showing that she could be angry that they were found. St. Peter is dressed in black with a brown shroud over his body and head. The black almost hides him in the dark with the brown as a cover if the light wasn’t on him. The black represent his inconspicuous while the brown shows his stability and connectivity with the earth. The guard is dressed in grey armor as he almost hiding himself in darkness also ready to come out whenever needed. It almost gives an ominous and depressing feeling when seeing that grey in the darkness.
It could show that by meeting this guard they are facing exposure and loss. The light of the candle is again a bright color that illuminates everything in its path. It symbolizes the light of truth showing who knows what truth is and who does not. Other than those colors, darkness fills the rest of the painting obviously showing that this is a night scene. This painting showed a lot of effects that takes a while to see when looking at this painting. It was a great painting that I had a good sense of style and it had good hidden symbols in the painting. The artist really showed the Chiaroscuro effect and played the light well. Think the artist not only wanted to show “The Denial of St. Peter” but he also wanted to show how the light and truth have ties with each other. It probably the artist way of saying the light will always guide you to the truth.
Courtney from Study Moose
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