Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez is a painting of the Spanish Golden Age, which means the maids of honor. It was delivered in the Museo Del Prado in the Spanish capital, Madrid. In the painting, several characters are represented during the reign of the famous King, Philip IV of Spain. Several maids of honor, a bodyguard, a chaperone, a dog and two notable dwarfs surround the young princess, Infanta Margaret. Behind them, the artist presents himself on large canvas while the reflection of the king and queen is maintained in the background. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp is a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, and it is housed in Mauritshuis Museum in the Netherlands. In the painting, Dr, Tulp is seen training medical professionals, who are all dressed in similar outfits and have a keen detail to the activity on display. Much has been talked about the different doctors who paid commissions for their inclusion into the painting. The Las Meninas painting by Diego Velazquez and The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn share various similarities and differences between the visual strategies.
One of the major differences in the two paintings is the development of the visual strategy of composition and inspiration. The Las Meninas painting by Diego Velazquez was influenced by the Baroque style at the time of its delivery. In the painting, one can tell the strangeness of different characters that compose the essence of its title. There is exaggerated motion when trying to comprehend the composition (Lewis and Susan 17). It also encompasses divergent character positioning throughout. On the other hand, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn is simplistic in its inclusion of the medical professions undergoing the training. There is minimal need of exaggeration, as there is no use of anatomical conventions for the viewer to understand. It is direct and relevant to the title.
In both paintings, the principle of organization is responsible for the viewpoint of the message being communicated. In The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn, the shape and proportion of the characters in the painting deliver the viewer’s attention when placed in harmony and balance. Their angle of focus is on the doctor’s display of the anatomical features of the human body while he is performing a procedure. Similarly, Las Meninas painting by Diego Velazquez embodies the equivalent principle of organization. According to Lewis and Susan (19), the path of direction regarding the viewer is attributed to the main characters represented. Due to the proportion of their display, the fore, middle, and background are placed in line with their angle of focus to show the viewer the princess’ attention.
In both paintings, the material uses and color depiction are of similar attributes and nature. They both use oil paintings and canvas material for the delivery of the thematic expressions in the characters’ eyes as well as positioning in the organization. In The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn earthen colors and simplistic material use of the painting helps it generate the vintage and classical feel to it as the medical professions are in similar attire. The doctor is distinct, and material use and blending of the color with his cape and background produce the feel towards the lesson being passed. Equivalently, Diego Velazquez in Las Meninas uses earthen colors in the painting to show originality and the essence of the time it was delivered.
There is a unique differentiation in both paintings on the movement created. The images presented are responsible for enabling the viewer’s eye wonder from one range to another (Lewis and Susan 24). In The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn, the contrast is smaller as witnessed with the limited angle of elevation in each of the character’s eyes. The focus is maintained in the similar direction to the doctor while elements of contrasts are minimal. On the other hand, The Las Meninas painting by Diego Velazquez employs various divergent elements and forms of movement creation. The bisection regarding angles is kept roaming from one place to another as the princess requires attention, the king and queen as well as the artist’s location within the painting.
Another striking disparity in both paintings is the overall result created with the similarities and differences of the techniques. In The Las Meninas painting by Diego Velazquez, the tendency of strangeness in different character and artist composition ensures that the painting is filled with tension and drama on an overall scale. The viewer cannot identify on the center of attention as it is revealed that the princess is the prime focus of it all, as opposed to the king and queen, or the artist himself. On the other hand, the simplistic focus and direction of the characters in The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt van Rijn ensures that the psychological effect is created in the viewer’s mind as opposed to what is shown. The lesson is transmitted to the latter understanding and creativity.
Lewis, Richard, and Susan I. Lewis. The Power of Art. Boston, Mass: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
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