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Virtue And Beauty Essay

1876 words - 8 pages

The Renaissance period was an innovative time and rebirth of the intellectual and creative thinking. A part of that was women’s role in society and artists painted them according to the rules society has set for them. Looking at women’s portraiture nowadays and portraits from the Renaissance period, it is evident to see they differ in many ways. Renaissance portraiture is lacking a dimension where the inner self is represented, which is to be seen in modern portraiture. Moreover, a renaissance woman was depicted in the way of also representing her social status and laws of being the pure, perfect woman. Virtue and beauty are closely related when it comes to women’s portraiture in the Renaissance period. Even though the women’s features were depicted convincingly, they were portrayed as their families wanted them to be percieved: high class women, very honorable and elegant, being the ideal of what it means to have desirable qualities. If a woman was, and wanted to be, respected, she would leave the home only to attend mass or family events. The highest experience for a woman was to deliberately marry a man her father has selected. According to the baroque artist Pietro Testa the beauty of a woman was concerned with the qualities of the head and shoulders. He spent a lot of time making sketches of the features a woman should posses, following the laws made in that period. He stated the hair should be lonf, fine, blonde and simply knotted, whereas the eyes would have to be large and oval shaped, either blue colored or dark chestnut. The ear must be soft and rosy and the cheeks gleaming white, softly curving. The chin should also be soft and round, never pointed. The neck would be round, slender and pure and the shoulders squarish, but so softly. Beauty was used in painting to depict virtue, meaning the virtue derived from beauty. Whereas the men were to be strong , the women were the opposite – very soft and elegant.
The theme of virtue in beauty in women’s portraiture arises in literature first. Petrarch was a piooneer of the language, interested in various art forms and the one who played a significant role in studying liberal arts. The women researched in this paper will be Giovanna Tornabuoni portrayed by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Ginevra de’ Benci by leonardo da Vinci, who was portrayed by many platonic lovers in literature.
Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494) was an early Florentine Renaissance artist who was mainly noted for his work with frescos and portraying important and evident citizens of Florence. According to Vasari he was a pupil of the Florentine painter Alesso Baldovinetti, even thoguh Alesso wasn’t much older than Ghirlandaio himself. From an early age Ghirlandaio expressed interest in painting frescos on large wall surfaces, as well as working with smaller pieces executed on wood panels for the alterpieces in chapels he was working in. He was commissioned by many Medici bankers to paint their personal family chapels, and...

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