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Comparing/Contrasting 2 Pieces Of Art From Different Periods

1164 words - 5 pages

Period ComparisonThe two paintings I chose to compare are The Virgin and Child by Rogier van der Weyden (1406, Netherlandish; gallery room 207) and The Crucifixion by Francisco de Zurbaran (1627, Spanish; gallery room 215). These two paintings focus on Jesus Christ, his humanity and his divinity. I chose them because they represent Jesus' fragile humanity through his infancy and death. These paintings struck me as different from the other religious art I had seen because it stresses humanity without sacrificing divinity.Weyden illustrates the beauty of humanity with a poignant portrait of The Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus as an infant. The sheer tenderness of this most simple and necessary bonding between the mother and the child is captured in this painting. It is a feeling that only a mother can understand but it is capable of touching everybody because everybody plays at least one of these roles throughout their lifetime. The beauty and simplicity of human nature is also contrasted with the jewels that adorn Mary's robe and the velvet drape behind her. It seems to me that it implies divinity though one could also interpret that as something else. Although this was a painting for private devotion and intended to capture a beautiful moment, one can also see the dark side of human nature in this painting.Exotic and expensive jewels surround Mary and Jesus. But why jewels? Why were jewels chosen to represent the divine? Jesus spoke against material riches saying that only those rich in spirit can enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jewels can also be interpreted as money and that is of course a necessary evil. If money is the root of all evil and human nature by definition is imperfect and tends to stray towards evil, then this painting takes on a whole new meaning to me. This means that nobody, even Jesus, can be perfect if he is limited to being a mortal human being. To me, the painting goes much deeper than what is actually presented. Whether he intended to or not, Weyden created a statement of God enjoying the beauty of his humanity but also dealing with the ugliness that comes along. The jewels represent humanity because even though they are beautiful and marvelous on the outside, beneath they cannot escape the evil that is. For the jewels it is the greed and the bloodshed and everything else money represents that seems to stain it's beauty. For man, it is the amazing and marvelous things we can create that are also stained with the atrocities that we are capable of.Obviously there is more to this painting than meets the eye but there is something interesting in the way the two are positioned. Mary, with her breast exposed preparing to feed her son means that Jesus is still in his infancy. Infants are very helpless and vulnerable, but Jesus appears to be sitting upright, albeit with support. The look in his eyes gives a feeling of intelligence and wisdom while at the same time they are still doe-eyed and innocent. However, the most interesting...

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