The Deposition c. 1442, in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, is considered as Rogier van der Weyden’s earliest and greatest work, humongous by early Netherlands standards and monumental (Kren and Marx). As portrayed, ten figures dominate the painted surface. Jesus was already taken down from the Cross and held by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, and they are flanked by the Virgin Mary who appears to faint and the disciple John supporting her. A grieving Mary Magdalene is on the farthest right of the scene.
Simply the number of the figures would have made the painting feel claustrophobic and brief, with the figures appearing caught in mid-action. On the contrary, due the implied extension of their movements and the setting which suggested a form of shrine, van der Wyden was able to provide the painting a three-dimensional appeal, a feeling of life beneath the oil (Kren and Marx). Apart from life and motion, Kren and Marx write that van der Wyden also incorporated the feeling of reverence as he emphasizes Christ at the center, whose body and blood refer to the Holy Sacrament in the Catholic faith.
Though these aspects may be clear-cut in van der Wyden’s Deposition, further details – the radiance and suppleness of the body of Christ; the juxtaposition of the Virgin’s suffering to Christ’s anticipated redemption as they are shown in contradictory movements; and the suggestion of Mary Magdalene’s apparel to portray her character. Regarding the technical weight of the Deposition, it can be noted that a certain harmony and proportion is observed, even by minute details such as a cloak, a hem or the folds of a dress.
There exist invisible lines which defined the superb 15th century Flemish example. In this sense, the Deposition had an effect of order despite all the contrasting elements present. Like van der Wyden, Pontormo’s Entombment is considered as his finest surviving work, which he created in 1525 and currently in the Church of Santa Felicita, Florence. It was painted during a period when “the focus was on painting as an art form in itself, rather than on painting as representing real life” (Hoffstein).
Mannerism was the period that had succeeded the High Renaissance and in this regard, the Mannerists reacted to the previous period’s glorious realism by concentrating more on the technical side of representation rather than pure aesthetics. Pontormo’s Entombment embodies these defining aspects as its creation does not entirely suggest even the subject – Hoffstein questions whether it is “an entombment scene or a deposition from the cross or even a depiction of the moment after the Pieta.
” Furthermore, like van der Wyden’s Deposition, a form of order is being observed, more so perhaps that the arrangement of the figures disregards any logical set up, a manner which strongly deviate it from High Renaissance art. An example description would be the special difference of the figures in the background and the foreground and the lack of the ground’s definition altogether (Hoffstein). Apart from the spatial set up, the figures’ actions defy realistic logic represented by the High Renaissance like the tiptoeing youths carrying Christ’s body (Hoffstein).
In that regard it contrasts van der Wyden’s Deposition where Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea carried the body with solemnity, contrasting the mood of reverence. Ultimately, Pontormo’s Entombment argues with conventional logic though there is still an amount of proposition. Of all the 17th Century Baroque art, it would be safe to say that Caravaggio’s Entombment is one of the most well-known, which was created around 1603-04 and currently resides in the Vatican Museum, Rome.
Baroque art is definitive of being profoundly dramatic, thus we can expect high contrasts, extreme emotional attachments, diagonal compositions and figures stripped of glorious heroism – the last character of Baroque art which distinguishes it most from High Renaissance (Boston College). As the site states “His figures are bowed, bent, cowering, reclining or stooped. The self confident and the statuesque have been replaced by humility and subjection. ”
In these aspects, Caravaggio’s Entombment is found to be a fascinating example. For one, the piece is incredibly dramatic due to the play of dark and light – light figures against a very dark background (“Smart History. com”). As a monochromatic photograph would have such a certain appeal, there is a feeling of continuity. The focus is on the figures, yet the darkness of the painting makes the whole effect intriguing, making the viewer contemplate on the scenes simultaneously happening apart from the highlighted figures.
A second clear character of Caravaggio’s Entombment which makes it Baroque is the spatial proximity of the subjects. Looking at the painting, a viewer would feel it jump out of the tangible confines of its frame and filling the gap between the viewer and the wall (“Smart History. com”). Thus, we are inclined to feel attached to the scene, to get involved in the painted story. Baroque art also shares the integration of movement with 15th Century Flemish painting, with the scene in mid-action, like a still shot.
As for arrangement, Caravaggio displays the figures in a diagonal formation, a contrast to Mannerism’s style of placing them parallel to the frame (“Smart History. com”). Baroque may share the concept of realism with High Renaissance, however, it has taken it a step further by truly portraying the regularity of the figures instead of depicting a magnificence that only the artist can see. As Smart History. com states that “the body of Christ looks truly dead, the figures struggle to hold the dead weight of his body and ease him down gently into his tomb. ”
Of the three works of art from varying periods, this reader is struck by the Baroque rendition the most as it hammers down our humanity and makes it truly relatable. But ultimately, all three works try to spring from the artists and reach out to the viewer, seeking to have us relate to their messages, provoking reverence, a fascination which goes beyond any form of logic, and humility in the utmost sense. 2. Considered as one of the “divine trio” Raphael or Raffaello Sanzio personifies the Renaissance’s “quest for beauty and its success in finding it” (Johnson, Renaissance, p. 150).
As the Renaissance defines the rebirth of a period, a culture and a consciousness, expressed by the mass restoration of antiquities by artists of all medium, Raphael’s The School of Athens represented the period’s stylistic qualities by utilizing a fluid approach untainted by any obscurities or connotations (Johnson, Renaissance, p. 151). Raphael’s Madonna’s may not contain any hidden agenda, yet they are “a wonderfully inventive set of variations in a theme that is absolutely central to Western religious art” (Johnson, Renaissance, p. 151).
Furthermore, the Renaissance Humanism was depicted as their muses are real women of the period “painted with astonishing skill,” with the effect of devoutness and serenity remarkably successful (Johnson, Renaissance, p. 151-2). These aspects is justified by Raphael’s intense want for belief in the supernatural, which he successfully conveys overshadowing the techniques of atmospheric lighting and suggestiveness of the medieval artists who preceded him (Johnson, Renaissance, p. 152). 3. Baroque art is usually conceived as an intense conversation between the artist and the viewer.
This reader finds it most appealing because of the emotional attachment it provokes, which Bernini has employed in the creation of his David. In the figure’s stance, we are inclined to tangibly relate to his action as if we ourselves are following them through (“Smart History. com”). Bernini’s David suggested a physical continuity, while Caravaggio’s Entombment with which the artist used the “tenebroso” technique to illustrate a continuity of the existing scene through the manipulation of contrasts – the light and the dark.
Both masterpieces also employed the foreshortening of space, giving the viewer the illusion of existing alongside the paintings and not as safely apart from them (“Smart History. com”). This can be disconcerting, as by simply looking at the paintings we would not expect to see the side of our humanity in the figures portrayed and relate to a reality which is often brutal and tinged with darkness. But as it is, darkness exists so we can appreciate light all the more.
The effect is convincingly dramatic, and this may be due to the fact that darkness conceals parts that we expect and we are suddenly given to anticipation. Moreover, the artists allow us to see only the things that we oftentimes do not wish to see, and in effect humbles us. Of the three Carracci brothers, Annibale Carracci was considered the greatest artist, exemplified by his early genre painting entitled “The Butcher’s Shop” (“Ibiblio. com”). His contribution to Baroque art was the exuberance and the illusionism which manifested strongly in his caricatures.
4. During the Golden Age of Dutch Art (17th Century), Netherlands enjoyed a remarkable profusion of arts which even overshadowed that of France, where “the arts had been actively encouraged by Louis XIV,” and Italy, which has been the cultural center ever since the Renaissance (Janson). Perhaps what makes it equally fascinating is the patronage which didn’t came solely from the Church and the noble families, but also – and more profusely, even – from the middle class.
As Janson further writes, it seems that because of the bourgeois’ rise in political and economic power, the shift also entailed a maturity of middle class consciousness, literacy and taste. The middle class finally can afford luxury which was previously exclusive to the aristocrats and the Church. And that gave birth to the open market system, with majority the Delft population acquiring smaller and cheaper masterpieces. Jansen writes that
In any case, “for the Dutch in the seventeenth century, art functioned as a social cement, reinforcing the shared beliefs and aspirations that helped unite communal concerns. In the works of most artists. both style and content reflected taste not of the wealthy and sophisticated, but of people in moderate circumstances. For this, international fashion could be largely ignored. This allowed the full development of native artistic species.
” (cited in A Brief Overview of the Dutch Art Market in the 17th c. ) The native artists reacted to the collective need of the Dutch buyers by a massive artistic production. The subjects ranged from history – sub-categorized as historical, biblical, mythological and allegorical – to landscapes – which include “naturalistic views of the Dutch countryside, cityscapes, winterscapes, imaginary landscape, seascapes, Italianate and nocturnal landscapes”- to still-lives, genre painting and portraits (Janson).
As expected, histories, according to Janson, are usually appreciated and owned by the affluent, whereas the other categories catered to the middle and lower classes that comprised the bigger market. The competition was fierce in the open market, thus the masterpieces were considerably cheap and it was at that point where artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Goyen had to establish themselves by their individual styles and signature. The Golden Age of Dutch art was significant not just to the Dutch, but also to modern history.
It somehow tore down a wall of discrimination among castes and domino. It upheld the rights of the common man, realizing our dream of being worthy of things that are good and that which celebrate our humanity. Reference Boston College. 27 Nov 2006. Retrieved 25 Dec 2008 <http://www. bc. edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_entom. html> Hoffstein, Jenna. “Pontormo’s Entombment. ” Renderosity Art Community. 17 Jul 2006. Retrieved 25 Dec 2008 <http://www. renderosity. com/news. php? viewStory=13176> Ibiblio. org. “Carracci. ” Ibiblio. org. Retrieved 25 Dec 2008
<http://www.ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/carracci/> Janson, Jonathan. “A Brief Overview of the Dutch Art Market in the 17th c. ” Essential Vermeer. com. 2001-08. Retrieved 25 Dec 2008 <http://www. essentialvermeer. com/dutch-painters/dutch_art/ecnmcs_dtchart. html> Johnson, Paul. “The Renaissance. ” Kren, Emil, and Marx, Daniel. “Deposition. ” Web Gallery of Art. Retrieved 25 Dec 2008 <http://www. wga. hu/html/w/weyden/rogier/01deposi/1deposit. html> Smart History. com. Retrieved 25 Dec 2008 <http://smarthistory. org/caravaggio. html>,<http://smarthistory. org/Bernini-David. html>
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