This paper will look at two pieces of art done roughly during the same time by different artists who used the same technique. The major theme of the two paintings is also similar but the two artists manage to bring out their own perceptions, but also the perceptions of the communities they belong to. Another differing aspect is the objectives of the paintings. This paper will analyze the painting of Joan of Arc by Bastien Le page Jules done who lived between 1848 and 1884, and the painting of the Dead Christ with Angles by Manet Edouard who lived between 1832 and 1883. Using the cultural background and the objectives of the painters, the paper will attempt to analyze the paintings in terms of their similarities and differences.
Analysis of the Painters
In painting of The Dead Christ with angels, Manet had the objective of outlining the important sacrifice that Jesus Christ make having agreed to die for humanity. The basis of the religion of Christianity was the passion and sacrifice behind the death and resurrection of Christ with a special emphasis being drawn from his teachings of salvation. However, before this painting Manet had never done any painting on the theme of religion. The realization is that Manet made two serious mistakes one of which gave critics a loophole to criticize the painting. One mistake was the fact that Manet described the painting as representing the event when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to look for the body of Jesus but only found two angels, and the other mistake which drew criticism was the fact that he placed the wound on the wrong side. Manet refused to correct the position of the wound and only one person appreciated his painting by outlining that he wanted to emphasize on the “reality of the corpse” (Manet). The painting of Joan of Arc by Jules also depicts her in a garden where she first heard the voices of saints calling upon her for a divine mission to guide the French Army. However, her painting does not have any mistakes and unlike the painting by Manet did not elicit much criticsm from the contents. The only criticism lay in the depiction by Jules that Joan of Arc received messages from God thorugh saints (Bastien).
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Both the painting of Joan of Arc and The Dead Christ with Angels outline the same theme which is the theme of religion. In addition, the religion the two paintings is christianity. Both the paitnings also depict a similar perception of people during the time period that they represent. Jesus live for 33 years and preached the gospel of salvation for 3 years and apart from his disciples and a few other people, the reception of his message was negative. It was only after Jesus died and ressurected that christianity began spreading like wild fire and so was the emphassi of the sacrifice Christ made. The same scenario happens with Joan of Arc because despite her heroic deeds it was only after her death that it was realized that the accusations against her were wrong and she was subsequently awarded sainthood.
Both paintings have manage to superimpose both pleasant and unpleasant aspects within the painting without spoiling the purity of the mission of the persons depicted in the paintings. In The Dead Christ with Angels, Manet manages to incorporate the death of Christ, the presence of angels and a snake. The snake and death are unpleasant while Christ and the angels are pleasant. In similar fashion, Joan of Arc by Jules depicts Joan of Arc in what appears to be an untidy and bushy homestead. However, Jules still manages ot include the angels and Joan herself. Although different aspects are used that are either pleasant of unpleasant, they were the two painters manage to superimpose the two still preserves the essence of the paintings.
The two paintings have only one center of focus that in even in a single glance one cannot miss. In the painting Joan of Arc, there are other subjects which include the saints, and objects which include the bush and the houses. However, by putting Joan of Arc in the foregound with her face and skin much lighter than the surroundings the initial focus rests on Joan of Arc and more particularily her gaze. Perhaps Jules wanted everyone who looks at the painting to focus on Joan of Arc and particularily emphasis on her upward gaze. The same observation can be made when analyzing the painting of The Dead Christ with Angels by Manet. Although there are other subjects in the paining which include the angels and the snake, and other objects the najor empasis is in Christ and more particularly his body. The painter does this by painting both Jesus’body and his clothing. Conventionally, one would have expected the angels to be white and their clothings also white but they are not the major emphasis of the Manet. Manet wants to concetrate on Jesus’s body as a way bringing into perspective the sacrifice he made and how his body suffered the pain.
One outstanding similarity is also the techniques used by both painters. Both paintings have been done on canvas and they are oil paintings.
Manet uses a snake most probably to depict evil and unbeilief of people on Christ’s message of salvation. This is in line with the culture of the people during the time when the painting depicts. During Christ’s time and even in most cultures today snakes are still considered evil. The snake appears to be moving but it is between rock perhaps to show that good has reigned over evil. On the other hand Jules does not depict evil subjectively but only shows perhaps the challenges that Joan of Arc went through using the untidy homestead. The angels Mantes depicts both good an evil strongly while Jules uses a lighter tone by using saints who are hidden partially by the leaves.
In the painting of Joan of Arc, Jules avoids the use of contrast by using dull colors mostly and avioding too much contrast. The dullness perhaps depicts the challenging mission that Joan of Arc is about to go to. The dull colors may also have been used by the artist to bring out the humble background that Joan hailed from. The partially hidden angels show that the fact that Joan was given the message by saints remains hidden to the people who dd not believe. The partially hidden angels could also be a mockery to the unbelievers on their apparent ignorance. On the other hand Mantes brings out a sharp contrast by using both bright and dull colors. The body of Christ and his clothing are very bright, the angel on the right of Christ is also from top while the angel on the left the color is rather dull. The major reason for such a contrast is to show the direction from where the light is coming from. The light is coming from above which depicts glory from God due to the fact that Christ successfully accomplished his mission. The two artists make use of light and color differently and it helps in developing their themes and objectives.
The analysis of different paintings by different artists during the same time period has revealed how even the same time space can accommodate different ideas and perceptions. The similarities can be drawn from the fact that the paintings were done during the same time period depictd by the fact that the painters used similar techniques and materials, depicted the same theme, have singular center of focus and have managed to superimpose good and evil without disturbing the harmony. The differences have also been brought out clearly showing that even with the same techniques, theme and time, there have got to be differences that define the individuality of the artists. The perception of the two artists with regard to good and evil is different and the two artists use light and color diferently. An aspect that also comes out is the fact that Mantes was not so knowleagable in religion and it is for this reason that there are mistakes in his painiting. This is also an aspect that can be deduced from a painting. In essence art is a strong tool that carries and transfers culture in a unique way that surpasses the spoken word. This makes the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words very true.