1. In Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun’s painting of the Queen of France, Marie-Antoinette, in the late 18th century, the queen is shown sitting with her three children in a formal gown at the edge of the Hall of Mirrors. Colors that were used can be described as basically feminine—shades of ruby, cherry, velvet, scarlet, and salmon; yet darker colors were used in the crib of the eldest son to portray his death. From the colors of the painting, the queen appears to be sitting on a shiny spot, but around her is a darker, gloomier color that may portray danger to her and her children.
Textures, on the other hand, appear to be soft and feathery, which shows wealth and comfort. The lines in the background are parallel and horizontal, which points to her straight, firm position in her seat. The position of the queen and her two children beside her form a straight cross beside the crib that looks like a cave. The eldest son alive who points to the crib may appear like the angel beside the cave where Jesus was buried. The son was like saying, ‘You’re looking for my brother? He’s not here anymore but has gone up to the Father.
’ On the other hand, the eldest son alive stands firmly alone, which shows independence and strength…even at an early age. The stairs in the background may mean political fame, but it was portrayed to be darker and more shadowy above, so that it would be best for the queen to be where she is—with her children and her home (please see painting in the appendix). Formal elements show that this good queen is a devoted mother—full of quiet dignity—by the way the colors, the textures, the lines, the shapes, and the space interact with one another.
The whole scene portrays quietness, peacefulness, as well as acceptance—things that picture her as a good and pleasant being. There is also the hint of wealth and extravagance, especially the portrayal of the Hall of Mirrors. In the overall, the painting is meant to give her a positive, submissive, and motherly aura. 2. John Singleton Copley’s painting of Paul Revere in 1768 is an example of a Rococo painting. The Rococo style, which emerged in France, characterizes opulence, grace, and lightness, as seen in the painting (Figure 2 in the appendix).
Copley used contrasting colors like black (as the background) and white (as Revere’s shirt) to put more emphasis on the main object. The lines, colors, and objects are all simple. Lines, especially in the head and in the table, are all parallel, which may point to neutralism and evenhandedness. It was said that Revere was “uninterested in politics; he wanted only to be neutral, which was not possible” (Artchive, 2007). The eyes, on the other hand, portray innocence, knowledge, and fairness.
The textures used are all smooth and shiny, which may also reflect opulence. It focuses on ‘carefree aristocratic life’, with direct reference on Revere’s being a silversmith—with a piece of silverware on his hand. He was portrayed with such extravagance, as shown in the linen cloth, which at that time was not yet available in America and could only be imported to the land… as well as the golden buttons that lay on his vest.
However, the portrayal of ‘flowing linen’ could point—not to the linens of England—but to the production of a hundred ells of linen in America during that time, which for Revere was something to be proud of. However, it is said that the painting is a sort of a ‘balancing act’ conducted by painter Copley (Artchive, 2007), especially that he is about to marry one of the Clarkes who were owners of “the notorious tea concession” (Artchive, 2007).
The silver teapot appears to be a large issue then, since only their enemies—the Tories—drank tea (the Whigs drank the Boston tea, which was a punch). Revere is shown as a neutral person who wears rich linen clothing, but which comes from his own land. He is holding a silverware teapot, which is one of his expertise, but points to the character of the enemies and to the business of the Clarkes with which Copley is about to share his life with. Therefore, Revere is neutral, as he is open to all.