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The collection of paintings that the San Diego Museum of Art holds, is quite exquisite. They have galleries featuring paintings from some of the most world renowned painters, including several paintings from Claude Monet, and has featured painters, including, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock and more. SDMA art galleries hold paintings painted by American painters, to Early European painters, Middle Eastern painters and more. Their wide ranged galleries of hundreds of paintings, have always captivated me. In this paper, I will write about two of my favourite paintings that SDMA has in it their galleries.
One of the paintings that I chose to write about hangs in the corner of the upstairs portion of the building, between galleries, and the other comes from the gallery of Early European Art.
The Young Shepherdess is an oil composition painted on canvas. The painting The Young Shepherdess was painted by William Adolphe-Bouguereau, in 1885. This painting is one of the many shepherdesses that Bouguereau painted. This composition was painted later in William Adolphe-Bouguereau life, about 20 or so years before his death in 1905.
William Adolphe-Bouguereau was born in La Rochelle, France in 1825. He painted for most of his life from around 1842, until his death in 1905. He was born into a family of merchants who sold wine and olives in France. His father sent him to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Art School in Bordeaux Paris, France. He was also admitted to the studio of Francois-Edouard Picot. There he studied an academic style of painting. Adolphe-Bouguereau’s style was traditionalistic, and very realistic.
His Realistic paintings have some mythological themes, and some of them were modern interpretations of classical subjects, with a huge focus on the female form. William Adolphe-Bouguereau almost realistic, photo like painting style brought paintings of nymphs, goddesses, bathers, many shepherdesses, to life.
His painting The Young Shepherdess is very eye catching. This painting hangs of the wall of the San Diego Museum of Art between galleries in the upstairs part of the building. This painting shows a very young girl, maybe around the age of twelve, standing lackluster in a field of glass and dirt, tending to a small flock of sheep depicted by an almost shapeless body of white in the far background.
Her figure is dressed in a very deep blue, and crisp ,white dress. She is shown holding a small branch, which looks as if it came from a shrub or bush. The shepherdess appears to be watching her sheep, but her body is slightly turned toward the viewer of the painting. Her face displays almost no expression, except for a trace of curiosity towards the viewer. Her clothing is almost too clean and fancy to be a shepherdess, giving her an almost nymph-like look to her. Her hair is tied back, but the front floats around her forehead and frames her head in a glowing, halo-esk way. The range of paint colors in William Adolphe-Bouguereau pallet has a very soft feel to it, he uses colors that are very muttled, and are not very vibrant. The background has a very muted soft palate, using soft greens and muted browns. The background has very little no no depth to it at all, Adolphe-Bouguereau uses very little shadow and shading. There is also hardly any attention to the sheep in the background of the painting. Out of the small cluster of sheep in the painting, only about two of the sheep have shape to them, making the sheep less of a focal point in the painting, and more of a decoration. In comparison to the background, the foreground has a very sharp, and clean color palette. The array of blues, tans, whites, and small hint of red, are a very defining way of the artist telling you to focus of the foreground, where the shepherdess stands. The shepherdesses dress, and body has such an array of detail, that it could easily be mistaken as a photo.
The painting, Portrait of a Spanish prince as Hunter, is an oil painting on canvas, and was composed in, 1573. The painter Sofonisba Anguissola, was an exquisite portrait painter, and was well known for her portraits. Her lesser-known portrait, Portrait of a Spanish Prince as Hunter, is housed in the San Diego Museum of Art. The painting has been there since 1936, given to the SDMA as a gift from Anne R. and Amy Putnam.
Sofonisba Anguissola was born in the year 1532, in Cremona, Italy. The exact date of her birth is unknown. She was best know as an artist by her prodigious portraiture, and life like painting style. Anguissola was one of the most renowned female painter and sketchestest of her time. Her father was a Nobleman, and had six other daughters besides Sofonisba, he also had one son. Sofonisba was the eldest of all the Anguissola children, and was sent by her father with one of her sisters, Elena to stay with the painter, Bernardino Campi. Bernardino Campi was an incredible painter, and taught Sofonisba and her sister to paint and to draw. Sofonisba bored with Campi for three years, there she bettered her knowledge of painting, and started to flourish into the great painter of her time that she would become. As her reputation of a phonomilal painter started to spread across Italy, and further across Europe, she caught the eye of Philip ii, and was commissioned to go to Madrid and paint his portrait. In Spain her paintings spread quickly, and she gained the reputation of one of the greatest and most accomplished female painters of the Renaissance era.
Later after her death in 1625, Giorgio Vasari saw her paintings hanging in her father’s house, and wrote in his book, Lives of the most Eminent Painters, Sculpture, and Architects, “Sofonisba Anguissola worked with deeper study and greater grace than any woman of our times, at problems of design, for not only had she learned to draw, paint, and copy from nature, and reproduce the most skillful works by other artists, but she has on her own painted some of the most rare and beautiful paintings.”
Sofonisba painting, Portrait of Spanish Prince Dresses as Hunter, is one of my many favorite Renaissance paintings at SDMA. This oil painting shows a very young boy, no older than age 7, standing for a portrait. He wears a brilliant green gown with a cape, and pointed, billed hat. His hunting apparel is dusted with gold, and is dawned with lacy white sleeves and collar. His clothing is quite the fancy aray for hunting clothes, indicating that he is of royal birth, and hunting is more for sport, rather than for living. His clothing seems to be made of green velvet, or silk, they are painted with the greatest attention to detail. The figures hunting garments consist of a palette limited to gold and green, with the smallest hints of white.
The boy himself is very pale and has an absent expression blanketing his face. He stands in stoic in a position showing off his royal garments, and what seems to be a sword in a jewel embedded sheath, with gold emblems, and a gold and green spear. His stance is very fixated, and he stares at the viewer with a piercing gaze of unbotherment, his eyes also hint the smallest traces of stoicism. Accompanied by the accessories of a sword and a spear, he has a gold medallion draped across his neck, held there by a rope of green silk cord. The colors of oil paint that Sofonisba uses to paint the small figures clothing and accessories, is quite brilliant, and vivid. The background of the painting, Portrait of a Spanish Prince as Hunter, has no detail at all. Anguissola uses a shade of brown for the background that makes the foreground colors pop. While the background has hardly any attention from the painter, I believe that the color that the artist used is very important to the foreground. The dark background pulls your attention to the figure of the small boy dawned in briliant green clothing in the foreground. While the color used to depict the background is very bland, and dark, it does help the viewer know where the lighting comes from. The small gradient of color used in the background, has a light area, hinting where the natural lighting was for the panting, and had a small shadow behind the firgure.
These two paintings are just some of the hundreds of breathtaking paintings that the San Diego Museum of Art holds in their collections. While this was only a small peek into what the art museum houses, I can’t help but repeat that, the collections of paintings that the SDMA houses, is quite exquisite.
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