Essay on Formal Analysis of Artwork at Getty

1009 Words Sep 2nd, 2013 5 Pages
Art 311 Fall 2007 W 7:00 11/07/07

Formal Analysis The west wing of the J. Paul Getty Museum holds several wonderful 18th and 19th century paintings. Two such paintings are “The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis” by Jacques Louis David, 1818; and “Belisarius” by Francois Gerard, 1797. Both of these paintings are extremely refined oil paintings, and both are representational figurative paintings, each with two figures. In these two paintings David and Gerard were able to portray distinct moods through the use of color, shape, composition and technique. Both painting are representational idealized neo-classical paintings and so compositionally and technically they
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David also uses cool and warm colors but, while he evenly balances a cool blue with a warm red, his painting feels warm. This is largely contributed to the high value of the colors and brightly lit figures. This is in stark contrast to Gerard who uses a heavy chiaroscuro to give his painting a much more dramatic effect. Both David and Gerard use very vibrant intense colors in the neo-classical tradition, however the values differ greatly in these two paintings. David’s painting is high in value, which gives the figures a lot of attention. The figures seem illuminated with impossible lighting, and this only adds to their significance. Gerard draws attention to his figures in the opposite way by using heavy shadows and only a touch of highlights. The use of this heavy chiaroscuro gives the painting its dramatic feel and adds to its realism. David’s painting is not lacking shadows it is just used in a different way. The two figures are handled with a soft chiaroscuro and their bright skin really stands out against the cool grey background. When comparing these two paintings it is evident that both Gerard and David had a very good understanding of their medium. In David’s painting the fabrics are very clean and crisp showing lots of detail. In Gerard’s painting due to the chiaroscuro

there is less detail in

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