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Gustave Dore and Antonio Rossellino: Critique Essay

L’Effria by Gustave Dore and Madonna and Child by Antonia Rossellino are sculptures by two of the most prolific sculptures the world of art has produced. Both are different versions of the Virgin Mary and her Christ Child. L’Effria depicts a young, almost childlike Mary as she protects her infant son from a snake which symbolizes Satan. Her bare feet are positioned on an elaborate stand while her hair is flowing and her head is uncovered while her dress is shaped to fit her body and show her youthful figure. Her bare arms hold the child way above her head.

The well fed baby’s arms are held up at the shoulder as his body droops as he would have as an adult on the cross. Madonna and Child depicts a different Mary and Jesus. This Mary is young, but not youthful. She seems more aloof or detached from her surroundings. Her eyes are downcast like the Mary in L’Effria, but instead of looking in fear at a snake, she is doing so in reverence. Her head is covered and her clothing is loose, flowing, and completely hides the body beneath them. Her countenance is sad while her baby seems happy and well adjusted.

Madonna and Child has been painted at one time, but it is chipped and mostly gone. There are traces of light skin tones with a medium blue and red in Mary’s clothing. The mediums chosen for L’Effria and Madonna and Child are as different as the interpretations of Dore and Rossellino. Madonna and Child is made of polychromed terracotta, a reddish brown clay used for pottery and sculpting. It has been painted, possibly with oils, and the only part that is left of the color is what has soaked into the porous clay.

Rossellino probably chose the terracotta for several reasons. First it comes from the earth and gives a connection of Christ to the creation. It is also an easy substance to work with and this would have made the sculpting pliable enough that he could minutely mold the details into shape. L’Effria, on the other hand, is made of bronze and is left its natural color. Dore most likely chose this medium for its durability and strength. The Mary depicted in the statue is a strong young woman and bronze gives her that feel.

Working during the later part of the Romantic Period, Dore was true to the art of the time. His L’Effria, sculpted in eighteen seventy-five, consist of many of the elements of the period. The snake gives the feel of the exotic and also has evoked terror in the new mother for the safety of her child and during this time emotion was highly prized over reason. The idea that the idea that the infant Christ is in the position of his last moments and the snake, commonly seen as Satan, foreshadows the Crucifixion which points to the fascination the Romantics had with the supernatural.

Rossellino was from the artistic time of the Italian Renaissance and Madonna and Child was sculpted in fourteen seventy-five. His sculpture is true to the form of his time. The subject is religious, and since the Roman Catholic Church was rooted in Rome, this was evident in most Italian Renaissance art. Mary is draped in layers of clothing as is her infant which is common in Classicism, an influenced of the Italian Renaissance. The lack of emotion on the virgin’s face would mirror the reverence that would have been common in that time.

The formal element shared by both L’Effria and Madonna and Child is mass. L’Effria is a three dimensional dense mass of bronze. The sculpture is obviously heavy because it is clear that the metal is solid and its molecules are pressed together to cause it to have more weight. Madonna and Child is also three dimensional, but its mass seems much lighter. The terracotta medium is porous, and therefore, it would not be as heavy. Madonna and Child also uses the formal element of color. Unlike L’Effria, Madonna and Child has been painted by the sculptor to give a mood or tone to the work of art.

The light skin tones of the subjects are not characteristics that the real Mary and Jesus would have had, but like most of the European world, they were applied to them so that they would be more accepted by the general public who did not trust those from other area of the world. The typical blue used in the color of Mary’s clothes at the time would have been symbolic of her connections with God who was in the heavens. The red is to link her with the female form to represent motherhood. Motion is another formal element used by Dore in L’Effria.

Through implied kinetic energy, the sculpture looks as if within a second the snake, woman, and infant will move. The snake is caught in writhing up the woman’s torso and there is nothing connecting him to her to imply that he will not continue the movement. The fear in the expression of Mary lends itself to the implication that she will not stay in her position long. Dore created an uncomfortable position for the infant so that the viewer would understand that he will wiggle out of this situation soon. I found both L’Effria by Gustave Dore and Madonna and Child by Antonio Rossellino to be exquisite works of art.

I was drawn more to L’Effria, which surprised me because I am a huge fan of the art work from the Italian Renaissance. I have always been drawn to the classical elements that influenced the time more that the overly sentiment of the Romantic Period. After analyzing my choice, I realized that it was because of the motion that I was more drawn to Dore’s creation. However, it was not just the motion; I was also drawn to the realistic way that he portrayed the fear and protectiveness of a mother for her child.

Even though he is the Son of God, he is still the fruit of her womb, and she feels the need to protect. L’Effria gives me a positive attachment with parenthood which is more of a nostalgic feeling. Both sculpture appealed to me because of my faith and I feel that they represent a part of my life in which I am comfortable. The allow me to have a connection with a time when there was more of a fascination with the subjects. ? Works Cited Delahunt, Michael, Artlex. com. 7, November 2008 http://www. artlex. com/

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