Visual Art Analysis Paper on visual elements in painting
During the middle ages period in Europe, artists combined different forms of art composition such as painting, sculpture and music to come up with what was described as gothic art. It has been established that this style of composition gained prominence when it developed from Romanesque art making it popular during the 15th century (Ladis 44). Moreover, the topic of Madonna and Child has always been pursued by many artists in the western art’s history; each of them has effectively represented the topic stylistically during the period (Ladis 45). The paper intends to discuss visual elements in the painting while highlighting on the overall aesthetic that is depicted by the humanism and reality of the objects in the composition. For instance, aesthetics of the artwork is reinforced by the tender clothing of Madonna and light clothing of baby Jesus signifying innocence and purity.
Significantly, the topic has exhaustively been pursued by artist because of its religions theme and value to believers and audience. Religion was a concept that evolved with time and many artists wanted to document each occurrence and event through art. This was intentionally done so as to communicate religious themes especially due the assertion that Madonna and the Child art remained an icon vital for both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Moreover, it has been established that Madonna and Child infiltrated Christian art than any other artistic work (Ladis 47). Madonna and Child gained prominence during Gothic and Renaissance period and notable painters who perfected the art include Lippo Vanni, Giatto and Cimabue among others.
This is one of the paintings that portrays religious theme, this was universal at the time with most artists particularly using Virgin Mary and the critical role she played in Roman Catholicism as the mother of Christ. “It has been avowed that the theme is similar to other paintings that also portray Virgin Mary as the mother of Jesus the son of God and savior of universe” (Ladis 77). Due to the fact that Madonna and Child Enthroned are located at Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami many students are able to view the exhibition. Madonna and Child Enthroned was composed using wood tempera to deliver the painting making it easy for the artist to present the work intensely with clear colors and lines (Ladis 63).
The colors used to compose the artwork include black, orange and red that depicted the holy family of the 14th century period. In this piece of art, it is evident that the holy family comprises of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andreas who can be seen kneeling at the feet of Virgin Mary. Visually, it can also be observed that Saint Elizabeth occupies the right hand side of the virgin while Saint Dominic occupies the other side. This is the reason many people have title the art as “Madonna and Child Enthroned with Donors and Saints Dominic and Elizabeth of Hungary, c.1343”. Visual analysts have confirmed that Vanni composed the art by molding Madonna and arranged the other supporting figures of royalties and Saints in groups and either side naturally (Ladis 82). Moreover, it has been opined that this was to make the objects appear real so as to amicably communicate reality of occurrences surrounding the birth and death of Jesus (Ladis 68). “The faces of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andreas are obscured, this is normal especially when the audience have to view the composition from the front” (Ladis 68).
This artwork by Vanni differs from other artworks in the same theme because it lacks depicted angels who are prominent in other artworks. In this case, Vanni has only depicted a few people of which are two saints and royalties. Evidently, visual analysts have opined that the artwork is divided into three major parts, Madonna and Child, Saints and the kneeling royalties (Ladis 85). Moreover, each Saint has a lateral arch that places them on either side of the main object in the painting (Ladis 86). It is affirmed that a female Saint in the composition is used to represent the universality of religion at the time (Ladis 84). Significantly, most believers at the time were women and with few men believing on the existence of supernatural being. Evidently, both female and male figures have been used to signify the inclusivity of religion that spanned beyond an individual’s gender.
Superiority of religion has been depicted by the artist as the royal family members can be observed kneeling before the Virgin and her throne as she holds her baby. Religious believers interpret this by asserting that nobody is superior or greater than God, this is signified by royal members of community kneeling before baby Jesus who was viewed as son of God and savior of humanity. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andreas occupies smaller space in the composition compared to other figures, it is affirmed that their scale is smaller than the one used for Virgin Mary, the Saints and baby Jesus (Ladis 72).
Visually, it is clear that the majestic nature of Virgin Mary has been achieved through the use of symmetrical shapes in the painting (Ladis 72). “This is supported by the symmetrical of nature that she has been placed in the painting, that is, she sits at the center of the painting with the Saints surrounding her” (Ladis 69).
Color is an important element in composing art, in this case Vanni has effectively used warm colors to achieve unity and communicate precisely to the audience. Visual scientists have recognized that the painting is devoid of heavenly light that would have otherwise signified the holiness of the objects depicted in the painting (Ladis 68). However, the artist ensured that holiness is portrayed through use of light sparingly to achieve a mild lighting within the object to give prominence to the Saints supporting Virgin Mary.
Expressively, authors have established that the throne is brightly colored and light as an element is effectively shone on the Virgin and Child who occupies larger space in the composition (Ladis 66). Byzantine technique has been used reveal the figures of royalties that are stacked unnaturally on the side of the throne occupied by Virgin Mary. This forms a vertical line with one head appearing higher than the other to make them visible; otherwise, the figure of one of them would be obscured. However, this is impossible in reality as a given figure would appear to be on the same horizontal level if they were kneeling naturally. Unlike other artworks portraying Virgin Mary, this painting is not light, almost weightless-looking but rather large and heavy. Vanni imposes to the audience, a figure that towers and covers other figures in the painting with the main object looking intimidating. Moreover, the traditional demure of objects fitting the description is replaced by regal pride where she gently grasps her baby to show high level of protectiveness.
Evidently, Vanni chose bright and lively color compared to the monochrome colors that were used by other artists in achieving unity in artwork composition. Mostly, artists preferred using gold colors in religious paintings, just like others Vanni used gold which according to visual analysts was meant to bathe the painting in ethereal light leaving rest of the painting true to reality (Ladis 75). For instance, formless robes worn by Virgin Mary and the Saints are lovely reds and blacks that manifest real texture and movement. Accordingly, Virgin Mary wore robes that appear to reflect the brightly heavenly light above and thus creating red, orange and gold shine blending perfectly with the throne she is occupying.
Conspicuously, the throne depicts both vastness and fragility because of the red, orange and gold shapes that perfectly matches with other figures of the composition. Accordingly, visual experts have revealed that gold color signifying heavenly orientations has been prominently used in the background of the composition (Ladis 79). It is revealed that this gives the picture a reality aspect while making the Virgin Mary’s image and the baby unique. During this period, artists were expected to portray reality in their compositions; this is the reason why Saint Dominic has a monk cloth while Elizabeth is wearing a cloth typically characterized by housewives. Emphasis on reality has also been achieved by the royal clothing worn by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andreas as they kneel in front of Virgin Mary. Furthermore, Virgin Mary is portrayed as holy, demure and quiet especially considering her general outlook and appearance. Additionally, Madonna representing the Virgin takes a different feeling considering how Vanni uses stark of blackness in her clothing. This helps in giving prominence to the figure and thus she stands out and contrasts to regal and holy status perceived while baby Jesus is clothed in light attire sparkling to suggest his innocence and purity (Ladis 49).
Finally, light is an important element in painting because it enables an artist to achieve texture and unity in composition. In this particular art, light comes from above the figures, this develops into a saintly glow that overwhelms the ether with illumination and a sense of joy. “The shadow beneath the figures points to the direction in which the light is coming from and heavenly light portrayed reinforces the theme of religious holiness of the painting” (Ladis 61). Visual analysts have noted that Vanni created a real environment by paying close attention to minute details that makes up the painting (Ladis 87). Visual analysts assert that Vanni perfected his shading so that objects would appear to be standing in a ray of holy light to reinforce the theme and subject matter (Ladis 92).
Popularity of Holy Virgin and Child came at a time that most artists were pursuing religious themes. In bid to demonstrate devotions and time spent in perfecting paintings many artists including Vanni ventured into the painting and final compositions were displayed in places of honor such as churches or sacred places. In light of demonstrating devotion, scientists have established that Vanni composed Madonna and Child Enthroned with a strong tone of joy and happiness (Ladis 49). It is affirmed that the face of the Madonna radiates warmth underneath her stern exterior with other figures showing joy (Ladis 53). This artwork makes the audience feel as though they are looking at a scene of celebration necessitated by astute religious figures. The painting is significant because it effectively fits into larger Renaissance to Rococo art historical framework. This is supported by the assertion that Madonna and Child is an artwork that develops through time. Significantly, artists have maintained its religious theme but the style of painting changes over time as depicted by use of space, object characteristics and postures.
Ladis, Andrew. Studies in Italian Art. London: Pindar Press, 2001. Print.