Compare and Contrast Essay on Art

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November 26, 2013

Ludovico Caracci’s “The Lamentation” and Francesco Trevisani’s
“Dead Christ Supported by the Angels”

Since time in memorial, memories and relevant events have always been told and documented by artists through drawings, paintings and other mediums. Apart from entertainment, the other key role of art is to highlight and addresses relevant issues in society. Artists have always created artistic works that are connected and related to the culture and society they live in. Separated by decades or centuries, artists have addressed the same issues in their work, from religion to society to love and justice. This paper will compare and analyze two paintings with religious themes, created one hundred fifty years apart: “Dead Christ Supported by Angels” by Francesco Trevisani and “The Lamentation” by Ludovico Carracci. “Dead Christ Supported by Angels” depicts the body of Jesus Christ held by divine angels and was paonted in 1701. The medium used for the drawing is oil on canvas; its dimensions are 51 1/2 x 38 1/4 in. (130.8 x 97.2 cm). “The Lamentation” was painted in 1852, using oil on canvas; its dimensions are 37 1/2 x 68 in. (95.3 x 172.7 cm). The comparison reveals how two artists use the elements of painting differently to address the same subject matter.

The most striking aspect in the “Dead Christ Supported by Angels” is the subject itself: the deceased body of Jesus. The lower part of the body of Jesus is covered with a white and a brown winding sheet, his thighs are slightly exposed on the lower part of the knees, and his legs have also been exposed slightly below the knees. His legs appear not to be at the same level; his right leg is slightly raised compared to the left leg. The upper part of his body is uncovered and a wound is slightly visible on the right side of his ribs; the body is more tilted towards his right making him appear as if he is leaning more on the angel who is on his right side. Against a dark background, painted in black, he is supported by two angels. The angel on his right side is dressed is a blue and brown robe; the angel on his left side is dressed in a robe that appears to be made up of a mixture of two colors, gray and red.

“The Lamentation” emphasizes detail on the body of Christ. The body has been placed on a white sheet in front of the four women. The woman on the far left side of the painting is holding the sheet that Jesus’ body is laid on with her both hands as if she intends to cover his legs. The woman on the far right side of the painting is holding the sheet with her right hand. She is facing slightly away from Jesus’ face; she looks like she is lost in deep thoughts. Next to her is a middle-aged woman in a pale red dress. The woman has fainted with her head slightly tilted upwards at the sight of Jesus’ body, laid across her lap. A woman standing next to her supports her left hand; this woman is dressed in a dull brown dress and she is staring at Jesus’ legs with tearful eyes. A large bloodstain is visible on the white sheet that Jesus’ body has been placed on, indicating that his body is still bleeding. Jesus’ hands appear to be dislocated; one hand is stretched towards the face of the woman who is on the right side edge, while the other is resting on his abdomen.

“Dead Christ Supported by Angels” and “The Lamentation” are two religious paintings characterized by several similarities and differences. The two artists have used a different scale in the two paintings although they are addressing a similar topic. The dimensions used by the artists are completely different. One of the major similarities between the two paintings is that they address the death of Jesus Christ. In both paintings, marks are still visible on Jesus’ body to show that it is after he was crucified. However, in “The Lamentation,” Jesus’ head is still covered with the thorn crown while in “Dead Christ Supported by Angels,” Jesus’ head has not been covered. In “The Lamentation,” the body of Jesus is bleeding; a large stain of blood is visible on the sheet his body is laid on; in the other painting, his body is not bleeding.

In terms of composition, Ludovico Caracci and Francesco Trevisani have emphasized the subject of Jesus Christ’s death. In both paintings, the viewer’s eye rests on the dead body of Jesus. Both artists have arranged the content in their paintings in a symmetrical manner to create harmony and balance. In “Dead Christ Supported by Angels,” the artist has used black color on the background to create rhythm, while in “The Lamentation” the artist has used brown color in the background for the same. The artists have used light and dark tones to create contrast in the paintings. For instance, Ludovico has used light in his painting to insist on the event as physically present. He has used light highlight on the body of Jesus Christ and on the faces of the four women to create mode and tone in the painting. This has helped him in bringing out the emotions of the four women. Francesco Trevisani has used light on the body of Jesus to emphasize his presence and the dark color used in the background emphasizes the somber mood and tone…”

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