Art Compare and Contrast (Giuliano Bugiardini Essay

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Compare and Contrast (Giuliano Bugiardini, Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, 1510) and (Roger van der Wyden, Deposition, c. 1435-1438)

Renaissance Art

Compare and Contrast Giuliano Bugiardini, Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, and Roger van der Wyden, Deposition

There are many artistic contrasting elements and differences between Giuliano Bugiardini's Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, and Roger van der Wyden's Deposition. Even an initial cursory glance at the two paintings reveals differences in style and composition, with the intimacy and experimentation of a more humanistic approach on the one hand and a more mannerist and classical approach on the other.

The central thesis that will be explored in this paper is a follows; that the two paintings represent and suggest two different perspectives and perceptions of religion that reflect different artistic and philosophical worldviews. This in turn suggests that the painting by Roger van der Wyden is more humanist and "modern" in its conception and presentation.

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This initial perception of difference is consolidated when one begins to analyze artistic aspects such as composition, color and the use of detail and focal depth. At the same time one is also struck by the fact that both paintings deal with important conventional religious themes with an equal intensity of purpose in attempting to reveal aspects of the Christian massage. In Bugiardini's Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist what stands out immediately is the stylized gaze of the figures and the triangular structure that emphasizes and artistically stresses the religious theme that is being represented. In Roger van der Wyden's The Deposition the death of Christ is artistically portrayed by means of a richness of form and color that is in a sense the opposite of the quiet and more formal approach of the Bugiardini painting.

Essay on Art Compare and Contrast (Giuliano Bugiardini, Madonna Assignment

These differences can be ascribed to a number of different factors in the history of art. These include cultural, social as well as artistic differences that emerged during the Renaissance. The following discussion will focus on some of these aspects but will concentrate on a personal perceptions and interpretations of the two paintings.

2. Comparisons

Both these works depict important aspects of Christian ideology. The one is a representation of the beginnings of Christ's life and the other the end of his life. In Bugiardini's Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist we encounter a direct and formal depiction of the Madonna and the Christ Child. However, there is something stylized, distant and austere in this painting. It is as if the artist was attempting to show the regal and superhuman or supernatural origins of the Christian religion. This is very different when we encounter the more "human" depiction of the crucified Christ.

However, one must also bear in mind that, "Setting these figures in a landscape was an innovation for Renaissance artists. Before the Renaissance, the only setting people thought worthy of Christ and the saints was a heavenly one."

The structural and artistic centre of the painting is the figure of the baby Christ who is the focus of the composition. In terms of overall composition the other figures support and frame the rather old face of the Christ child and his gesturing hand. The figure of John the Baptist is situated at the bottom of the painting and is in supplication to the Christ figure, which again emphasizes the formal centrality of the child Christ.

The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist was painted in Italian High Renaissance style. The composition itself points to the more classical and formal approach that characterizes this painting -- and which relates as well to the style and culture of the Italian Renaissance as opposed to the more exploratory Northern Renaissance. This can also be seen in the triangular structure and basic composition of the painting by Bugiardini. The figures in the painting are "… arranged in a pyramid form such as one can easily see here with the Virgin Mary forming the top of the pyramid and the babies, Jesus Christ and Saint John the Baptist at the bottom forming the base."

The colors used in this painting are also more subdued and less dramatic than those used in the painting by Roger van der Wyden. The conventional landscape background which acts as a backdrop to the three figures is more conventional and restrained than the composition of the Deposition. One also gets the impression that the background was not worked extensively and is intended to be unobtrusive and mainly a setting for the main characters. However the tone of this painting as a whole is one that succeeds in projecting a sense of the religious purpose and significance of the birth of Christ.

The aspects described above tend to conform to the general characteristics of the art of the Italian Renaissance. It may be apt at this point to briefly describe some of the main characteristics of the Italian and Northern. The subject matter of the Italian Renaissance was mainly concerned with classical mythology and religious scenes; while in Northern art we find a more humanistic trend in the depiction of domestic interiors, portraits, as well as religious scenes.

A central difference between north and south and one which is clearly evident in the two paintings under discussion is that in the South we find that the style is focused on Symmetry, balance and linear perspective.

In the northern art more attention is given to surface detail and to naturalism.

If we turn to the second painting by Roger van der Wyden we immediately encounter many of the above characteristics. Firstly, what is impressive about this painting is the busy, dynamic and complex composition. There are many elements here that are worth pointing out; for example, the naturalistically painted skull in the bottom of the painting, which is obviously intended to represent death.

The body of Christ is still central to the composition as was the case in the previously discussed painting, but here the numerous figures extend the depth and meaning of the painting and the structure of the painting extends outward from the figure of Christ. It is also worth noting that Christ is painted much more naturalistically and "humanly" than in the work by Bugiardini. There is a sense that the religious theme that is being portrayed is no longer distant or separate from common humanity and that the Christian message is much closer to the world of ordinary human life.

What also strikes one about this painting is the drama and the emotion that is powerfully represented in the figures, colors and composition of the work. This is very different to the staid and almost unemotional work by Bugiardini. In The Deposition we see the attention that has been given to the sorrow felt by the fallen figure, as well as the obvious distress and shock in the other figures in the painting. The emotional and religious drama is also enhanced by the structure of the cross, which tends to focus our attention of the scene.

Another difference between this painting and the work by Bugiardini is the use of color and detail. While Bugiardini presents us with classical figures and forms the painting by Roger van der Wyden offers a rich visual experience which includes intense detail in the clothing and the forms of the figures, as well as the background and other elements of the work. This contrasts with the rather washed out effect of the landscape background in the painting by Bugiardini. There is also a much more intense use of color to provide the viewer with an exciting and riveting visual experience. The colors used in the clothing also have another artistic purpose, which is to highlight the white, pale body of the crucified Christ, and to heighten the pathos of the scene. For example, the ornate clothing of the figure to the right of Christ is not just decorative but serves to act as a direct contrast to the figure of Christ -- making the figure more central and prominent in the painting. From a technical point-of-view this painting is much more complex and artistically dynamic when compared to the Bugiardini painting. In a sense it is more secular and worldly in its presentation of the Christ figure. However, this does not mean that the painting is less religious, but rather that the style is different with a different emphasis in terms of color and composition. One could also suggest that this reflects the more exploratory and human -- centered focus of the Northern Renaissance.

3. Conclusion

In conclusion, while both these paintings provide insight into a religious experience they use different styles and techniques to convey their message. Both paintings displayed extremely well in the museum setting. While it has been suggested by some that the formal museum setting detracts in some way from the art work as a lived experience, I found that the setting complemented the art works and also provided… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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