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Art History- Comparing Renaissance and Baroque art - Essay Example

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In this paper, a better understanding of elements constituting the arts of these periods is illustrated through two pieces of art. These are Jan van Eyck’s painting, ‘The Virgin with the Canon van der Paele (Renaissance art)’ and Jean-Honore/ Fragonard's painting, The Swing…
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Art History- Comparing Renaissance and Baroque art
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TOPIC: Renaissance and Baroque Artwork comparison Renaissance and Baroque Artwork Renaissance and baroque artworks are defined on basis of periods in which the artworks were developed. As the name suggests, renaissance means re-birth and makes reference to the ancient Greece and Rome cultures (Welch 14). This period saw a shift in art focus to espouse realism, with artists working towards rediscovery of art in the form of human body and nature. Artworks in this renaissance period were mainly motivated by religious commission and reasons (Wainwright and Holman 15). Baroque on the other hand is believed to stem from a French word, which happens to be a derivative of Portuguese word “barrocco.” The word refers to irregular pearls which are considered of inferior shape as well as quality. The baroque artists mainly linked to the 17th century used a spectacular effect characterized by grand scale as well as detailed and elaborate ornateness (Wainwright and Holman 18). Most of the art developed during this period supported the aims of the church, considering that the Catholic Church is considered its cradle. In this paper, a better understanding of elements constituting the arts of these periods is illustrated through two pieces of art. These are Jan van Eyck’s painting, ‘The Virgin with the Canon van der Paele (renaissance art)’ and Jean-Honore/ Fragonards painting, The Swing.
The Virgin with the Canon van der Paele is an outstanding painting of Virgin Mary. In the painting, Jesus is sitting on Mary’s lap. Mary is not the only person represented in this painting, there are other significant persons. An interesting aspect of the painting is the articulate and accurate coloration. In general, the painting is more real, representative of life and provides immense detail. On the other hand, The Swing (1766) is a depiction of has guarding statues of the garden swing. In this drawing, the colors are muter and it is mainly characterized with some kind of darkness and shadowy effect. However, the darkness is non-sinister, but rather is a result of illumination effect of the trees that provide privacy to the two lovers in the painting. There is therefore a bright effect emanating from the tree breaks, from where the sun’s rays maneuvers its way to illuminate the woman who is wearing a pink dress which is one of the bright spots in the picture.
The two paintings bear some level of similarity. Firstly, both represent a scene characterized by multiple persons. Van Eyck’s painting shows immense detail with regard to painting backgrounds just as much as is the case in Fragonard painting (Gardner and Kleiner 571). However, as much as the details in Fragonard paintings are substantial, they are much smaller and rather it is the leaves and trees that take much of the focus instead of the swinging lady. There is also some level of contrast in the paintings. While van Eyck’s painting is more serious, more religious and sacred, Fragonard painting is light, full of fun, somehow flirty and without doubt, secular. While in Van Eycks painting there is a clear representation of details which can be easily singled out including the throne’s details, the rug, flooring details as well as the folds in Mary’s garment, the same is not the case in Fragonard painting. As some person would want to put it, the details make a screaming call to the viewer. While both paintings tell a capturing story in diverse ways, there is an absolute variation in context of the art styles made use of. Unlike Eyck’s painting which is more focused on religion and details, Fragonard painting is much more carefree is not keen on the details. Someone will be forgiven to presume that the painter focused more on aesthetic and presentation of the moment rather than the details.
Works cited
Gardner, Heinrich and Kleiner, Mamiya. Gardners Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. California: Cengage learning, 2005: 571- 579.
Wainwright, Jared and Holman, Peter. From Renaissance to Baroque. Westminster: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2000.
Welch, Eisen. Art in Renaissance Italy, 1350-1500.  London: Oxford University Press, 2000: 14 – 21. Read More
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