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Michelangelo and Jan Vermeer Essay

In the world of art, many have emerged as talented artisans. They have conveyed their creativity as well as individuality through their masterpieces. Throughout history, the names of Michelangelo and Jan Vermeer have been constantly referred to as one of the greatest and most influential painters in the world. Their contribution in the field of art were immense that have inspired several other artists to hone their skills and make their own works of geniuses. More so, they have left a lasting legacy that will be forever be treasured by the people.

In this essay, one pertinent work from Michelangelo and Jan Vermeer will be discussed and analyzed. Michelangelo’s’ Creation of Man and Jan Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance are the two artworks that will be examined. Michelangelo’s career flourished during the Renaissance period particularly at the time of the High Renaissance. He was a man of many talents because he filled in the shoes of being a painter, sculptor, poet and an architect. In the realm two-dimensional art, Michelangelo became famous for his frescoes and accurate portrayal of the human body.

Furthermore, he brought into another level the depiction of the human form and the expression of humanity through his many artworks. The Creation of Man was painted on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican in 1512. It was Pope Julius II who commissioned Michelangelo to do most of the paintings and sculptures in the chapel. More so, the painting illustrated how God created man through Adam. For many art historians, it is still a mystery whether the church have influenced Michelangelo in selecting the themes and the representation of the frescoes at the Sistine chapel.

Many believed that the painting was intended to have a deeper representation or meaning. In some way, the Creation of Man, showed how God endowed intellectual gift to man which was what Michelangelo tried to elaborate in his sonnets. According to Michelangelo, “his skill was in his brain and not in his hands. ” Also, he assumed that the diving gift that God had bestowed on man was the power of the intellect (Meshberger and Rich, 2008). Meanwhile, in terms of the visual elements and principles of design, the Creation of Adam, was flawlessly executed by Michelangelo.

Adam was depicted in a reclining sitting position. The whole body was defined with muscles that were strategically positioned in order to make the portrait look real. Furthermore, the authenticity of the human was more enhanced through the incorporation of precise body proportions. On the other hand, God was depicted as an elderly bearded man who was surrounded by adorable little cherubim to emphasize his holiness. The pastel colors used by Michelangelo provided a light mood and it helped the painting to exude radiance. Through this, the figures did not look strained or tensed.

Instead, they appear to be lively and freely moving. Moreover, the most important part of the painting is the “contact between the fingers of God and those of Adam, through which the breath of life is transmitted. ” The reason behind the space between the index fingers of Adam and God was based on the notion that Michelangelo wanted to produce “tingling tension, an anticipation of that wondrous moment, as we all wait for God to complete his Creation of Adam” (Rome. info, 2009). Moreover, Jan Vermeer was also a great master who made significant contributions in the development of the visual art.

Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque painter who pioneered a new genre in painting called the Delft School of Painting based on his hometown. He became well-known for his masterpieces that reflected his sensitivity and his ability to play with light and color in order to create poetic images. Most of his paintings have “figures in interiors” that depicted the everyday life of the people (Pioch, 2002). The simplicity of the aesthetic is contrasted by the profound religious meanings of his paintings. In Woman Holding a Balance, Vermeer illustrated a young woman “holding a pair of empty scales.

” There are many elements present in this painting that tells a very insightful message. At the table, various precious elements such as pearls and gold chains can be seen. Meanwhile, on the right part of the painting is where the Last Judgment was hanged and at the left section is where the mirror is strategically position. The logic behind the existence and placement of these elements is to emphasize the “importance of resisting the temptation of earthily riches and living moderately in order to obtain salvation. ” Moreover, the serenity of the woman’s face pointed her ability to live “according to these principles.

” Overall, Vermeer was able to display an exquisite show of “harmony and serenity. ” The delicate transition of the lighting, shading and the color synchronization made the painting look refined (Vergara, 2003, p. 254). In terms of content and significance, both the Creation of Man and the Woman Holding a Balance conveyed a religious meaning. The former was focused on the relationship of God and man while the latter centered on morality. Meanwhile, for the aesthetic elements, Michelangelo used lines and shape to emphasize the significance of the painting while Vermeer played with light and color to highlight its meaning.


Meshberger, F. L. , and Rich, T. B. (2008). Explaining The Hidden Meaning Of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from http://www. wellcorps. com/Explaining-The-Hidden-Meaning-Of-Michelangelos-Creation-of-Adam. html Pioch, N. (2002, October 14). Vermeer, Jan. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/vermeer/ Rome. Info. (2009). Creation of Adam, Michelangelo. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from http://www. rome. info/michelangelo/sistine-chapel/creation-of-adam/ Vergara, A. (2003). Vermeer and the Dutch Interior. Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado.

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