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Godly vs Earthly

  • Date Submitted: 03/31/2010 02:46 AM
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“Godly vs. Earthly”
How the use of color and technique affect the end result

This exhibition illustrates two visions within Europe in the 16th and 17th century. The work of art of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “The Wedding Dance” (1566), portrays nothing more earthly than a peasant nuptial celebration, where the dancers are having the time of their lives, dancing to the sound of bagpipes. On the other hand we can see Nicolas Poussin’s “Selene and Endymion” (1630), which shows a scene of classical inspiration, romantic and idealized, where the goddess Selene is saying goodbye to his mortal lover Endymion at dawn.

While these two pictures are oil paintings, Bruegel’s is oil on oak panel, whereas Poussin’s is oil on canvas. Even though the same medium is employed on these paintings, they are completely different. The French painter Nicolas Poussin uses light very dramatically mixed with haziness on the figures that give an impression of a very godly scene. However, the Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel uses bold colors with sharp edges on the figures that give a very striking sense of movement.

The way both painters use colors also differs; the French uses light colors, adding an atmosphere to this romantic scene and a very incisive chiaroscuro, that gives character and shifts the focus of attention from Selene and her lover, to Night, the lady that draws back the curtain of darkness that protected them. The Flemish painter uses color in a different way with red scattered all around the picture in a very dissonant way that makes you shift the focus of attention from red to red, like jumping all over the image, instead of flowing through it. Also, the earthy tones give a warm sensation to the mood of the image.

The amount of details is also different in both images.   Bruegel’s peasants are modeled in a very simplistic way, yet the image is full of details. For example, the leaves in the tree in the right side of the picture are full of texture as well as the tree...

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