December 8, 2020 in Analysis
A Goldsmith in His Shop

The artistic practice involves different operations which result in the creation of a artistic piece conception. A greater part of such operations deals with experiences and their interpretation. This paper compares and analyzes two different experiences, which are the observation of a picture presented on the printed paper and its actual counterpart from the museum. Moreover, it investigates the formal features of the picture and its social context. Furthermore, the analysis discusses the attributes of painting which support and refute the authors generalization by claiming that the sacred and the secular are tightly combined in Flemish life. These procedures increase the level of professional aspiration, foster intellectual and aesthetic development along with the enhancement of the ability to render and explain personal choices. Each of these skills is important because it allows a future artist to obtain professional tools for the creation of future pieces of art of high aesthetic and cultural value.

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Comparison of Experiences

The picture suggested for the analysis is A Goldsmith in His Shop by Petrus Christus. It depicts three individuals, among which there is a woman and two men. One man is sitting whereas the others are standing behind him. They look at each other, but they do not maintain direct eye contact. At the same time, the smiles on their faces seem to be quite similar. The depicted situation is set in the goldsmiths shop as suggested by the name of the picture. One person is a goldsmith and the others are noble people who came to order, take, or give him jewelry. The picture creates a cheerful feeling because it has no screaming colors and is painted in the classic manner, without the high level of emotional expression as presented in the contemporary art styles. Thus, the depicted objects and people were created without attempting to encrypt their symbols or search for a deep context. The picture should be observed for a long time in order to explore presented details. Predominant part of the picture is devoted to the characters of the painting. At the same time, opposing part of the picture presents a lot of small objects which require thorough investigation. Therefore, the observation of the work by Petrus Christus is complemented by calm and cheerful mood, which is a common feature of the Renaissance style.

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For the analysis of a painting, it is important to characterize the age and the style of the picture. The work of art under comparison was created in 1449, during the period characterized as Renaissance. Among its features one should mention the use of oil paint, creation of realistic images, the presence of religious themes such as Bible stories, and the accent on the portrayals Moreover, the artist is a representative of the so-called Northern Renaissance. One of its crucial aspects is that artists learnt quickly how to focus … on the human figure at the expense of the lesser forms of nature such as settings, landscapes or inanimate objects. The detailed presence of small objects at the picture supports this statement. For instance, there are small instruments on the goldsmiths table and other small objects on the shelves behind him on the right from the observer. Similarly, the clothes of the characters, especially womans clothes, have a great number of details. One may claim that there is no need for such detailed presentation of minor objects. However, this is an essential feature of the Northern Renaissance, which allows the artist to focus on the individuals due to the contrast in sizes and shapes.

Additionally, the above mentioned characteristics are intensified with the help of light and colors of the picture. The analysis shows that the author increased the focus on the individuals as their faces are brighter in contrast with the objects on the background. Thus, the figures of the protagonists are highlighted whereas the background is shaded. This contrast is created by the usage of brighter color gradations at the front and darker ones at the background. Along with that, predominantly used colors include the variations of red, yellow, green, brown, and black. The author also skillfully depicts falling light because the bottles and other similar objects have reflexes. Similarly, the painter depicts picture in a picture by introducing an object on the table with the people drawn on the street. Therefore, the painter combines the characterized elements in order to increase the degree of realism. Consequently, the analysis of the printed picture from the book allows obtaining basic information regarding the picture. It includes setting, representation of the artistic movement and relation to the historical period, colors, and overall impression from the artistic piece.

Furthermore, the experience obtained from the observation of the printed picture may not be the same as the experience obtained from watching the picture in the museum. The analyzed picture is presented in the Metropolitan Museum in Gallery 953. First, one can say that there is a difference in perception because the observation of the similar picture at the museum engages the viewer in the unique artistic atmosphere. There are lots of other works located near the picture which coincide with its main topic and artistic movement. This allows obtaining increased experience about the Renaissance epoch. Moreover, there are additional elements which make it possible to enforce the strong qualities of the artwork. one of them being the frame. It is made of wood and has craved tracery coinciding with the picture in terms of the style. The frame creates an effect of looking at the individuals through the window as if they were real.

The second important element is the light of the museum, which falls on the top of the picture. Its direction coincides with the direction of light depicted by the artist. Additionally, the shades from the frame and its artwork increase the effect of reality. Likewise, the size of the picture is not small, which allowed the artist to present the people and the objects almost in their natural size and shape. Consequently, the effect of realistic depiction is intensified at the museum. In addition, there is one more unique feature about the experience of observing at the museum, which is the presence of texture of the picture. Thus, the viewer can observe small cracks or details of the oil placement on the canvas. Such observations are extremely important for artists because they allow analyzing various techniques as well as their further imitation. Therefore, the experience at the museum significantly broadens the atmospheric influence of the depicted theme. The reason for this is that the setting of the museum intensifies the unique features of the painters style.

The Scared and the Secular

Lastly, there is a need to consider the historical context of the picture and its relation with the authors text supporting the picture. The author generalizes, Religion was such an integral part of Flemish life that separating the sacred from the secular was almost impossible and undesirable. Suggested statement requires the analysis of the picture in the Christian perspective. One of the Christian elements is possibly the clothes of the goldsmith which have resemblance with the ones of the priests in the Catholic Church. It is completely red and has no elements of luxury but neat and strict. Moreover, one should bear in mind that the painters of the period of Renaissance tended to encrypt Christian messages by means of symbols. Such symbols intensify the moral and religious aspect of the picture. Among them, one may name a possible visit of a couple to the priest for a blessing, the presence of the goblet resembling Grail on the shelf, and Gothic forms of jars. At the same time, one of the most influential indicators is the personality of the goldsmith. This person is Sain Eligius, which is one of the famous representatives of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the claim of the text regarding the sacred and the secular is completely relevant because it characterizes the predominance of religious themes in Renaissance.

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Summarizing the ideas of the paper, one comes to a conclusion that the experiences of observation the picture in print and in person significantly differ. The reason for this assumption is that the printed version allows obtaining just its general information. I have become familiar with artistic movement and the style of the author as well as with overall setting. However, the experience of observing a picture in person was significantly broader. In the museum, I observed a rich setting with lots of factors, which intensified the depicted themes and the detailed presented on the canvas. For instance, the pictures of similar topics, light, and frame increased the expression of the individuality of the picture. Additionally, they enhanced realistic depiction, which allowed me as a future artist to get more knowledge in painting techniques. One of the reasons for this is that I saw the actual details of the canvas and the oil, which were absent in the printed version of the picture. Therefore, I am glad to visit museums because I enrich my experience of analyzing actual and natural forms of art which are not reproduced but alive. Lastly, my interpretation experience approved the fact that the picture supported the claim of the text regarding the presence of the sacred in the life of people living in the 15th century. Consequently, performed tasks allowed me to intensify my intellectual and aesthetic development, which is important for my future choices of individual style and techniques.


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