Two pantings from the getty museum - Essay Example

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Art in the mid 17th century was still riding the plateau of the Renaissance period (see Gilliam), but there were distinct traits to paintings that varied from country to country, and most certainly the paintings of Italy and France were very different from say, for example, those produced in the Netherlands or Germany…
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Your full here Your here here here Comparison of Two Paintings from the Getty Museum: Pictura (An Allegory of Painting) by Frans van Mieris and An Allegory of Divine Wisdom and the Fine Arts by Paolo de' Matteis
Art in the mid 17th century was still riding the plateau of the Renaissance period (see Gilliam), but there were distinct traits to paintings that varied from country to country, and most certainly the paintings of Italy and France were very different from say, for example, those produced in the Netherlands or Germany. However, two artists who were worlds apart from each other definitely coincided in the themes they decided to use for their respective paintings: van Mieris (b. Holland, 1635) and de' Matteis (b. Italy, 1662).
So, in comparing the two works subject-matter of this paper, it would probably be a good idea first of all to mention what they have in common. Both paintings are approximately from the same time period, with about 20 years difference between each other, both are allegorical, and both make an open and manifest reference to fields of knowledge through the humanization of concepts, personifying mentations. But there the similarities end.
Van Mieris' diminutive Pictura is an oil-on-copper that displays a frequent simplicity in tandem with a minute attention to detail (see Getty Museum), typical of the Dutch art from the period, as well as the pearlescent finish in general achieved by using copper as a medium. It is a tiny portrait (5" x 3 ") of a young girl (Pictura, the art of painting in human form) who has an unobtrusive aura about her, whether worked in by Van Mieris or inherent to her nature, we will never know. In the crook of her left arm she holds a small figure, a white sculpture of a nude man that looks very Greco-Roman in its workmanship, possibly alluding to the rediscovery of classical antiquity -that is, an idealized vision of Greek and Roman culture- as a major factor for explaining the origin of the Renaissance (see "Classical"). Also in her left hand she holds a palette and some brushes. Her right hand is poised on a necklace from which a large mask pendant hangs. According to the write-up about the piece on the Getty Museum website, this might be "a reference to art's ability to deceive through the art of illusion." I believe that it was meant to illustrate the power artists have of depicting their subject any way they want, committing to canvas specific nuances of their own personality and inner world, thus often changing the essence of the subject, much as a mask allows a person to change into something that he/she is not. The painting's size and unimposing colors also need to be considered; all of its characteristics put together could be insinuating that art is subtle and makes an almost silent impact on the viewer, affecting a person in a way that may be imperceptible at the moment, but leaves a lasting, possibly life-changing, impression.
On the other hand, De' Matteis's An Allegory of Divine Wisdom and the Fine Arts is a large-format painting that would immediately command the attention of anyone, even in a huge room. It is a 1411/2 x 995/8 in. oil-on-canvas depicting, again, in human form, the concepts of Virtue, Time, Truth, Architecture, Painting, and Science (see Getty Museum). The piece conveys a lot of movement and interaction amongst the beings representing each field or idea, implying that they are intertwined. There is a mythological, other-worldly air to it, where the main personas seem to be floating in the sky. The colors in general are rich and vibrant and the facial features delicate, almost cherubic. The tone it sets is one of splendor, larger than life, all but jumping out at it you with the luxuriance of its hues and the almost magical quality of dominance it has when on display. It is typical of Italy's atmosphere during the Renaissance and its aftermath: one of affluence, beauty and the idolization of aesthetics, knowledge, and humanism.
Both pieces relay the mastery of their painters' use of human symbology and particular set of skills, in the case of van Mieris, that of the Leiden school of fijnschilders (fine painters) and in the case of de' Matteis, that of the combination of Classicism, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and the Baroque that was the Italian Renaissance (see "GALLERY"). Both pieces highly contrast each other in size (very small, very large), medium (on copper, on canvas), format (portrait, human shapes), the use of color (shrouded in pearlescence, vibrant), and mood (somber, lively), yet individually manage to expertly illustrate similar, widespread ideals of their time and place in history while sharing a common goal: the idealization of the inquisitive nature and creative capacity of human beings.

Works Cited
"Classical Antiquity." Wikipedia. 3 Sept 2005. Wikimedia Foundation. 6 Sept 2005.
De' Matteis, Paolo. "An Allegory of Divine Wisdom and the Fine Arts." 1680's. Online image. Getty Museum. 6 Sept 2005.
"GALLERY 5 High Renaissance and Mannerism." A Guide to the Permanent Collection of European Paintings. 6 Sept 2005.
Gilliam, S. "Renaissance Time Line." Survey of Historical Styles. Trinity University. 6 Sept 2005.
Van Mieris, Frans. "Pictura (An Allegory of Painting)." 1661. Online image. Getty Museum. 5 Sept 2005. Read More
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