The two pieces of art that I am comparing are two forms of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), based off of the famous Biblical sene of Pilate and the trial of Jesus Christ. The first painting is made by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in the year 1605. Painted during the Broque era, this painting demonstrates the atmosphere of the time of religious revival blended with Michelangelo’s own touch of dark and light colors with no background.
The second painting is of the same scene of the trial from Antonio Ciseri’s perspective. Painted in 1871, this painting shows reminents of the Romantic era, with bright colors and dramatic scenes and our hero in the center of it all (Jesus, not Pilate). The Romantic era focused on emotions and the feelings we see from paintings, and in Ciseri’s version of Ecce Homo, we get a sense of pain for Jesus, the frustration from Pilate as he argues with the crowd below, and the sadness from Pilate’s wife to the right.
In terms of similarities, the two paintings share some common traits. First is the historical aspect, in that they both are representing a scene from the Bible of the trial before Pilate. Secondly, they both use bright colors to ensure that the viewer notices the main figures that Michelangelo and Ciseri both wanted to bring out. The bright colors also help to give way to the fine and elaborate details in the scenes, from the individual thorns and facial expressions on the figures in Michelangelo’s painting, to the robes and garments that cover the figures in Ciseri’s painting. Also, both paintings show signs of realism in that they both look as if someone jumped back in time and shot these scenes with a camera, because of the detail and emotions that run through the viewer of the sorrow and looks on their faces. Finally, both represent times where religion was vibrant and alive, and where the Catholic Church was expanding its borders and reviving the ways of the Bible through historical and biblical texts and stories in paintings and other forms of the art.
These two works have very significant purposes as they give us a glimpse as to how the actual trial of Jesus occured. Though no photgraphy was around to capture the moment, and all we can follow up on are accounts and the Bible, the true minds of these artists come alive in their imagination. Thus, we are given the chance to see how the different eras became integral in their pieces. From the Baroque era, we see how Michelangelo encompassed both the religious revival of the Catholic Church in dramatic fashion with the amount of detail in the faces and bodies. The Baroque also showed a distinction of realism that was not yet realized. The Baroque era “focused on realism in portraits (with an attention to physical details), expansive landscapes, and a focus on the dramatic including the contrast between light and shadow and the use of rich, deep colors (MindEdge, Connections Across Disciplines, 7)”. You can see how the dark colors of Pilate may represent evil and the light colors of Jesus’s body represent the good. Blended with a dark background, this painting shows how the mood must have been during the trial, and how the Bible tells that Jesus stood in silence and accepted his fate without a struggle. Similar too is the painting done by Antonio Ciseri where there are traces of Romanticsm. Going on a more emotional take to the scene, we see Pilate is leaning over the edge in disguise as he argues with the crowd over what should become of Jesus. We also see the incredible amount of detail that is presented, so much so even Ciseri thought to include people on the roofs of the buildings, as well as the crown of thornes on Jesus’s head. It is truly realism in the fact that this painting looks as if it was shot by my camera at that exact moment. The same goes with Michelangelo’s painting, but shot closer to the figures while relying on capturing the exact details of the bodies and facial expressions.
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was an important portraitist before the French Revolution. She was a friend to Marie Antoinette and painted many portraits of the Queen of France. The work I’ve chosen is a painting called “Marie Antoinette with Her Children”. Le Brun was a female painter in a male dominated world. She was still a teenager when she was accepted into painters’ guild of the Académie de Saint-Luc (www.biography.com). Marie Antoinette was very typically outfitted at all times in the flamboyant Rococo style and this painting represents that style well.
Kathe Kollwitz was another important female artist. Her sculpture “Pieta”, based on her series of etchings called “Woman with her Dead Child”, stands as a memorial to victims of the destructions of war. Kollwitz lost much in her life, but that didn’t stop her from producing anti-war propaganda in World War II (http://www.rogallery.com/Kollwitz/Kollwitz-bio.htm). Her work is very Expressionist in style in that she didn’t focus on reality in the physical sense but on the feelings of the work and the feelings she wanted to inspire in her audience.
This excerpt from my essay is where I started to compare the similarities of the two works/two artists.
The most obvious similarity between the works of art are the depiction of mother and child or children. Both works preceded war, the French Revolution for the painting and WWI and WWII for the drawings the sculpture was based on. The artists are both women who succeeded in the art world though facing adversity. Le Brun left France during the Revolution (www.biography.com) and Kollwitz was forced to leave Berlin during World War II (http://www.rogallery.com/Kollwitz/Kollwitz-bio.htm). The painting depicts an ordinary day of a mother with her children, Queen or not. The statue shows the worst that a mother would have to endure.
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