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Visual analysis of The Merode Altarpiece - Essay Example

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Visual rhetoric is a term under the broader visual literacy, which is a framework that describes how visual images can act as communication mediums. Images may contain many creative options or aspects that can convey messages when organized by the creator in a workspace to form a single composition with an open or coded intention in it. …
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Visual analysis of The Merode Altarpiece
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Visual analysis of The Merode Altarpiece

Download file to see previous pages... The Merode Altarpiece is a painting by Renaissance artist Robert Campin whose creation time is around 1427 to 1432. The painting was created in Tournai in the Netherlands, which is the artist’s place of origin but it is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum in the United States (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). The painting is divided into three panels; the main panel shows the moment just before the annunciation of Mary. She is sitting on the floor reading a bible and is looking down. To her left is an angel she is not aware of, with an oval table separating them. A small figure of Jesus is flying towards Mary holding a crucifix. The right panel has Saint Joseph in a carpentry workshop where he is making mousetraps with a townscape appearing behind him in an open window. The right panel has two figures, assumingly the commissioners of the painting, called the donors waiting to go inside an open door (Barnet, Peter, & Nancy 125). This painting also goes by the name “The Annunciation”, which is an event in the Christian Holy Bible in which a virgin by the name of Mary receives the news of her appointment to be the earthly mother of God’s son, Jesus.An angel from heaven visits her while she is at home and gives her the good news. The name itself also hints one on the purpose of the painting: Christian believers or cathedrals for devotional and aesthetic purposes commissioned altarpieces. It is therefore a religious artwork. The artist captures the human figures and specifically their faces with their expressions on, making the artwork more of a combination of portraits to make a composition. However, there are outdoor scenes appearing from the openings and windows in the backgrounds depicting cityscapes. The work therefore combines both landscape and portraiture although the portraiture aspect seems to dominate more. According to the Metropolitan Museum, The Merode Altarpiece measures 64.5 cm in length by 117.8 cm as an overall painting with a main panel of dimensions 64.1cm by 63.2 cm, and two identical side panels measuring 64.5cm by 27.3cm each. The width of the painting is slightly below two times the height therefore creating a rectangular (landscape) orientation of the work. The artist employs much use of rectangles, squares, and straight lines in vertical or horizontal movements that harmoniously blend in with the shape of the frame. For instance, in the middle panel where the figures are in a room and the wall and ceiling lines originate from the background and come to meet the frame, creating a view as if one is peering through a window or the wall is missing (Nici 243). The frames merge with most of the shapes rather than disagree with or break them. The Merode Altarpiece is oil on Oakwood. The style of creating workspace and framing is popular as panel art. Panel art is a technique of creating frames in the renaissance period where artists had carpenters make them wooden panels covered with cloth and plastered with gesso paste to create a smooth painting surface (D’Elia 19). The work is done in oil paints, which is another preference of most renaissance artists. During the renaissance period, the use of tempera colors was becoming unpopular as artists discovered that oil ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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