Art History And Analysis

1306 words - 5 pages

While Still life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses by Paul Cézanne and Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill by Pieter Claesz vary in time period, and therefore style and composition, the message they portray is similar. Cezanne and Claesz differ greatly in technique, more specifically in perspective, brush stroke, composition and realism. Their separation in time does account for the discrepancies in technique but surprisingly does not affect the subject and message.
The fact that Still life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses is a post-impressionistic piece effects its visual composition. Post Impressionism has a great influence on brush stroke and realism. This piece in particular features quick gestural brush strokes and is much more loosely painted than Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill. This piece also has an improper perspective, which is most noticeable when looking at the angle of the tabletop, and how every part of the plant faces forward and seems to be lurching out at the viewer. The viewer also has little to no knowledge of the space that is presented in the piece. For as much negative space this piece features, one would think the room would play a larger role compositionally. The techniques in post-impressionistic art were much more fluid and allowed for innovations such as variation in perspective, and more characterized brush strokes. All of these factors lend to a sense of artificiality in this piece. The plant on the left seems to be too stiff to be real. In fact Cezanne painted from an artificial plant and its stiff qualities were transmitted into this piece. Post-Impressionism, and its freedom and rejection of classicism allowed Cezanne to develop a style. A style clearly articulated in this piece, and a style that differentiates Cezanne’s work from other still-lives.
Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill by Pieter Claesz, a Dutch Baroque work, takes a much more realistic approach. While Baroque was a wide spread artistic movement, whose characteristics changed geologically, one over arching attribute is realism and drama. In comparison to Still life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, this piece is nearly photorealistic. The perspective and proportion of this painting makes perfect sense, whereas the other had serious flaws. This work is so realistic that it brings in a third dimension by reflecting the light of a window off the overturned glass. The candle lit scene has a focused light source and it runs parallel with the reflections made off of the glass. Some of this realism comes from the medium that it was created with. The smooth and dark sheen that Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill posses comes from the oil paint on wood. It allows for thinner paint application and longer, less conspicuous brush strokes. However painting on wood becomes an issue of longevity to a piece. As humidity levels fluctuate the wood tends to swell and shrink eventually cracking the paint that lays over...

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