Analysis of the Painting Dying Mazzini Essay

893 Words Nov 24th, 2012 4 Pages
Formal analysis of painting The Dying Mazzini

Is death always painful?

In his 1873 portrait, The Dying Mazzini (30 1/8” X 39 ½”, Providence, RISD Museum), Italian realist painter Silvestro Lega captures the final hours of Mazzini Morente’s life. In this painting, rather than depict the terror of death, a topic which people dislike and always associate with separation, fear, agony and sadness, Lega shows an incredibly peaceful and serene scene of dying Mazzini. With his eyes closed, Mazzini lies on a bed and is propped up against a pair of white pillows. His whole body is wrapped up in a piece of gray plaid shawl with only his hands exposed—left hand softly resting on his right. In this essay, I will show you how Lega
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In this way, the contrast between warm and cool colors not only gives the painting some lively variation, but also perfectly illustrates the process of Mazzini’s death.

Besides the effective use of colors, Lega is also good at utilizing texture to achieve the exact feelings he wants to instill in viewers. In this painting, fabrics occupy nearly half entire composition. Mazzini is propped up on two noticeable white pillows, his upper body is wrapped up in his plaid shawl and his legs are covered by the sheet. Lega attaches great importance to the texture of the fabrics in order to stress their soft and thick characteristics. Viewers typically would respond to this with warm and comfortable feelings, which are opposite to the general feelings of death, a subject people always associate with chill and pain. Moreover, since the textures of the pillows and sheet in this painting are so real and tangible that viewers could easily muddle Mazzini’s death with sleeping if they do not read the title first. Although death is a detestable topic, sleeping is always an enjoyable thing to everyone, so by emphasizing the texture of fabrics to create an “ambiguous” scene, which may imply death can be as natural and serene

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