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Example research essay topic: Piece Of Art Early In The Morning - 2,628 words

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In 1841 an American artist John Rand invented collapsible metal tubes for oil paints. For impressionists, who often painted out-of-doors, this new convenience was indispensable. Before the invention of tubes, painters would have carried bladders (see image below left) to store the paint that they would have made in their studio. The bladders would have been made from pig membrane and tied at the top with strong twine to exclude air. About the same time, railway expansion was making the countryside more accessible: new lines connected Paris with Normandy and with towns along the Seine that became home and subject for many impressionist painters. Our strongest image of these artists is out-of-doors, hats shading their eyes, easels alongside a riverbank as they transcribed fleeting effects of light and atmosphere on the landscape.

By the middle of the century, open-air painting was an established tradition, though most artists maintained the distinction between oil sketches made outdoors and finished works painted in the studio. Bolder painting styles were starting to blur these differences, and realism, which emphasized "truth, " prompted many artists to paint nature with unembellished directness instead of "enhancing" raw sensation through representations of myth or allegory. Landscape artists Corot and Boudin were strong influences on young impressionist painters. Corot made many oil sketches from nature, outdoors, but there was no market for them in his lifetime. The paintings he exhibited and sold were painted in the studio.

Boudin, however, began to paint his landscapes entirely en plein air - in the open air. By about 1870, impressionists Pissarro, Sisley, Monet, and Renoir had made a touchstone of open-air painting. Asked by an interviewer about his studio, Monet flung his arms open before the Seine and its buttercup-covered banks, saying "That's my studio. " This vision of impressionism was part myth - in fact, many pictures show signs of studio work -- but it underscores the importance these artists placed on direct observation, speed, and spontaneity as they tried to capture the look of changing weather, seasons, and times of day. Millet, Jean-Francois (1814 - 75), the son of a small peasant farmer of Grenville in Normandy, Millet showed a precocious interest in drawing, and arrived in Paris in 1838 to become a pupil of Paul Delaroche.

He had to fight against great odds, living for long a life of extreme penury. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1840, and married two years later. At this time, the main influences on him were Poussin and Eustache Le Sueur, and the type of work he produced consisted predominantly of mythological subjects or portraiture, at which he was especially adept (Portrait of a Naval Officer, 1845; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rouen). His memories of rural life, and his intermittent contacts with Normandy, however, impelled him to that concern with peasant life that was to be characteristic of the rest of his artistic career. In 1848 he exhibited The Winnower (now lost) at the Salon, and this was praised by Theophile Gautier and bought by Alexandre Learn-Rollin, the Minister of the Interior. In 1849, when a cholera epidemic broke out in Paris, Millet moved to Barbizon on the advice of the engraver Charles-Emile Jacque (1813 - 94) and took a house near that of Theodore Rousseau.

Devoted to this area as a subject for his work, he was one of those who most clearly helped to create the Barbizon School. His paintings on rural themes attracted growing acclaim and between 1858 and 1859 he painted the famous Angelus (Musee d'Orsay), which 40 years later was to be sold for the sensational price of 553, 000 francs. Although he was officially distrusted because of his real or imaginary Socialist leanings, his own attitude towards his chosen theme of peasant life was curiously ambivalent. Being of peasant stock, he tended to look upon farm workers as narrow-minded and oblivious of beauty, and did not accept the notion that 'honest toil' was the secret of happiness.

In fact, his success partly stemmed from the fact that, though compared with most of his predecessors and, indeed, his contemporaries, he was a 'Realist', he presented this reality in an acceptable form, with a religious or idyllic gloss. Nevertheless, he became a symbol to younger artists, to whom he gave help and encouragement. It was he who, on a visit to Le Havre to paint portraits, encouraged Boudin to become an artist, and his work certainly influenced the young Monet, and even more decidedly so Pissarro, who shared similar political inclinations. Although towards the end of his life, when he started using a lighter palette and freer brushstrokes, his work showed some affinities with Impressionism, his technique was never really close to theirs. He never painted out-of-doors, and he had only a limited awareness of tonal values, but his draughtsmanship had a monumentality that appealed to artists such as Seurat and van Gogh, who was also enthralled by his subject-matter, with its social implications.

Millet's career was greatly helped by Durand-Re. One particular piece of art stands out and catches the eye. That piece of art is The Shepherdess and Her Flock constructed and perfected by Jean Francois Millet. When one makes a certain judgment on a piece of art, one must be precise and certain about that judgment.

When observing Millets piece I will take in to consideration three things to make my judgment: use of color, theme, and meaning. The Shepherdess and Her Flock catches the eye very quickly. The painting consists of a shepherdess tending to her sheep in some remote hills perhaps and most likely in Western Europe. The shepherdess herself is standing just a few paces ahead of her flock while they are all grouped together tightly apparently feeding.

She is holding a staff while studying the ground. The look on her face makes her seem like she is disturbed for some unknown reason. The shepherdess is wearing many articles of clothing. Her first layer is blue and reaches down to her ankles. The next layer appears to be some kind of shawl. The shawl is cream colored and only reaches just past her waist.

The final piece of clothing is red and only covers her head. The grass beneath the shepherdess, which covers the entire land, has bald spots and contains dandy lions giving it great character. This is the grass on which the flock is feeding on. Watching over the sheep is a shepherd dog stand just to the right of the flock.

The dog stands very proudly and has a great pride in his job. The sky in this work is covered entirely with clouds. The only bare spot in the sky is at the very top of the painting where the clouds begin to split. Millets work appears to be set early in the morning. Looking beyond the flock as far as the painting will allow, one can see some hills and trees and perhaps a small village or town.

This painting is overwhelming with beauty and style and elegance. Millet comes to the edge of perfection is his work. When an artist creates a piece, in this case a painting, the artists must take into consideration the colors that he / she uses. For example, if the artist were to paint his work only using the colors black and white, that would suggest the painting was meant to be bleak and somewhat hollow. If the artist were to use the color red often, it would indicate that he intended the object to seem powerful or strong. The Shepherdess and Her Flock uses color very diligently and boldly.

The object that most stands out in this work is the shepherdess head cover. The head cover is red. This object is colored red to show that the shepherdess is powerful or contains strength in some way. Along with her red head cover, the shepherdess is wearing a blue dress. Millet uses the color blue to personify her innocence and purity. Another way Millet uses color is in clouds that watch over the women and her sheep.

The clouds are somewhat dark and have a very light shade of red or orange to them. These colors tell us that the painting is set early in the morning at the crack of dawn. Millet uses color brilliantly in this work. The combination of colors he uses really brings the painting to life, almost telling a story. The theme of a painting rectifies whether a certain audience will like a painting or not.

In this case, Jean Francois Millet uses the theme of virtue. He uses this theme by having the shepherdess tend to her flock. Millet is telling the audience that the shepherdess is virtues because she is taking care of what makes her who she is. It is obvious to assume that the shepherdess does this same thing day in and day out.

If she did not contain virtue, she would not have the ambition to tend to her flock as she does in this painting. One can always find meaning in everything, especially in a painting. The Shepherdess and Her Flock contains a somewhat deep meaning. I believe that the painting has a meaning of trust.

I believe that Millet is trying to say that the shepherdess trusts everything around her. In the painting, the shepherdess has her back turned to the sheep and pretty much the rest of the world. One must have trust in something to feel comfortable with their back turned to it. The woman feels comfortable with the way she lives because she is used to it.

The disturbed look on her face indicates that she is tired of what she does, but she feels comfortable with it and has trust in it. Every audience has a different opinion of what the true, deeper meaning of this painting is. Mine is simply that she feels comfortable in a world that she knows so well. In conclusion, I have found that The Shepherdess and Her Flock is one of my favorite paintings. I like all the elements that Millet uses to personify the meaning of this work. When one makes a judgment about a piece of art he / she must consider color, theme and meaning.

One cannot fully understand and appreciate a painting until he / she takes into consideration these three things. What were Claude's contributions to an ideal landscape? Claude, was born Claude Gellee who was also known by his fictitious name Le Lorraine or as Claude Lorrain, in the duchy of Lorraine (from which he derived his name) in 1604. He was a French artist in the seventeenth century, who spent most of his working life in Italy. He was one of the greatest masters of classical landscape paintings. It is noted that, he was the first painter to acquire a huge reputation as a landscape artist and his popularity has remained undimmed ever since.

His principal teacher, an Italian painter called Agostino Task, taught him the basics of perspective, landscape and seascape art. By 1633 Claude had found his definitive landscape style and joined Romes Accademia di San Luca. He influenced landscape painting and garden design, though his paintings and drawings, over one thousand three hundred of them. Claude was distinguished from other artists in this period, and the reasons for that were his contributions to an ideal landscape. He achieved such an acclaim because he was very skilful with the manner in which he dealt with the light. He could superbly show brilliant light and tones in his paintings, as he learnt to represent the exact light and color change, for example, the red sky in the morning, the sunrise, the sunset and the evening hours so accurately, which had fascinated him immensely.

What he would do was lie in the fields before daybreak and would stay there until nightfall. Whether it would be early morning or late evening, Claude would be able to show in his paintings the exact time of day by the use of pink tonal color for the clouds or different length shadows. These were all created by his supreme observation of nature. This way of working showed in his earlier paintings, because they have strong dramatic light effects, to his later ones, which became transparently clear. He concentrated on making sketches outside set in open spaces, but because of the disorganization of the real landscape, from what Claude saw, he would rearrange the surroundings and subject matter at a later date. The rearrangement followed artist rules usually taken from Greece and Rome or even biblical information and mythology, which was more pleasing to the eye.

This meant he often painted idealized scenes with mythological characters providing a story to fit the landscape background. He also gave a more mysterious and an atmospheric feel to his compositions, by adding human figures in old fashion dress, or as peasants and shepherds, mostly shown as rural life. This technique becomes more apparent, as he intended his paintings to be more appealing to the viewer, as he tended to decorate and romanticized the mundane natural and artificial features of an area. His work was created solely for the pleasure of the onlooker. Many of Claude's works include the sun as their focal point, an effect virtually never before shown in a painting.

In fact the main subjects in his work are the landscapes themselves, everything else in the composition stay as accessories. It is also suggested that the key to his overwhelming success was due to an idealized interpretation of the countryside, around Rome and that inspired his landscapes with references to the much-idolized antique. This is epitomized in the painting below, of the River landscape with Tiburtine Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, which was one of the best known and most dramatically sited of all the surviving antique monuments of Rome and the Campagna. It is evident that, Claude has given Arcadian overtones, Arcadia representing the location of the pastures and woods associated with the ancient gods, and the essential relationship in this work is the symbolic classical temple painted within the idealized landscape bathed in golden light. Claude includes a shepherd playing a flute, because it brings music and harmony into his work, also to the ancient gods Apollo and Pan with musical attributes.

According to the legend, Arcadia was the birthplace of Pan. When he worked on his compositions, the castles and ruins were of special importance. He humanized the landscapes, making them worthy of the aesthetic appreciation. Claude is known for his extreme devotion to nature in art and he created tranquil scenes such as pleasant, clear, placid landscapes, often stately and dignified.

His style of work falls into three main periods. In the first phase, Claude's main focus was always his landscapes and light, which unified his compositions and often featured a slanting light. A small thickness of semi-transparent layers of oil paint made an unusual phosphorescent, and all the elements were subordinated to the poetic feel on the whole. He also painted idealized scenes of seaports, usually with ships at anchor in the harbor adjacent to palaces. In the painting below, Seaport with Embankment of Saint Ursula, an imaginary seaport is bathed in golden sunlight, seen through the haze rising from the sea. Claude characteristically used the sun to give the painting depth.

Against the glowing sky many ships are at anchor, their outlines are receding into the distance, like those of the buildings. On the left-hand side of the picture, is Saint Ursula holding a flag. Claude used the application of the classic form of construction, the golden mean, in numerous works to good effect. The ancient Greeks, who applied it when designing of their temples, developed it. In...

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