Art History

The three paintings shown are Madame de Pompadour 1756 by François Boucher, Mona Lisa 1503 by Leonardo da Vinci and The Girl with the Pearl Earring 1665 by Johannes Vermeer. 

The first painting of Madame de Pompadour, was by Francois Boucher, it’s a Rococo painting and like other artists of this period the style is ornate and uses light colors along with asymmetrical designs to bring out the emphasis on Madame de Pompadour. Rococo artists and architects generally used a more jocular, florid, and graceful approach to Baroque works. In this painting, she is lying on a couch with a book in her hand, wearing a frivolous dress and an intricate up-do, and she is gazing off into the distance. All of the focus is on Madame de Pompadour, with her intricate dress and hairdo a distinctive contrast from the purple background. There is a lot of shadow in the dress which gives it a lot more depth, making it appear very realistic.

The painting Mona Lisa– a Baroque masterpiece by Da Vinci evokes an intense emotional response from viewers just as Seventeenth-century masters sought to engage viewers as participants in the work of art and often reached out to incorporate or activate the world beyond the frame into nature and meaning of the work itself. The painting presents a woman in half-body portrait, which has as a backdrop a distant landscape. The sense of overall harmony achieved in the painting—especially apparent in the sitter’s faint smile—reflects Leonardo’s idea of the cosmic link connecting humanity and nature, making this painting an enduring record of Leonardo’s vision. 

The painting of the Girl with a Pearl Earring shows a young girl in a dark space, a setting that seems extremely quiet and intimate. The background of the painting sets the mood of the painting and draws the viewer’s attention primarily to the girl. She’s wearing the eponymic pear earrings along with a blue and pale-yellow head turban which provides a pleasant contrast to the viewer’s eye. Unlike many others of Vermeer’s works, she is not unaware of her viewer or caught in a moment of concentration over some chore. Instead, she is caught in a fleeting moment and turns her head over her shoulder, meeting the viewer’s gaze with her eyes wide and lips parted as if about to speak. The girl’s facial expression could be compared to that of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, wherein both the paintings’ subjects are captured in a way that the viewer is beheld by curiosity as to what both subjects were thinking of when the painting was made, as both have a serene, and subtle mysterious smile.  The three paintings however, are exquisite as they each portray three vastly different women, each of which are expressed and painted with individual styles, textures, contrast and depth- an indication of the artist’s expertise and the period in which the painting was made.

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