The Metropolitan Museum of Art was my choice for a virtual visit to a museum. I explored the gallery containing European Paintings, particularly works by Dutch artists. I think that two exhibits deserve especial notion – Young Woman with a Water Pitcher and Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. The museum overwhelmed me with the variety of artworks of numerous periods and cultures. I was particularly impressed with Marquand Collection, highlighting the artworks of Dutch painters, and Don Ruffo’s collection, which includes Rembrandt in particular. However, I was slightly disappointed with the absence of other significant Vermeer’s paintings in the collection, because it creates the impression of being incomplete.
Young Woman with a Water Pitcher
The painting was created around 1662 by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. He chose oil on canvas to use as a medium for this work (Vermeer). Appendix A contains the picture of Vermeer’s painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting represents a Western work of art, even though Dutch Republic was not part of Western Europe. Young Woman with a Water Pitcher was painted in the XVII-th century and represents the Baroque art period of the Republic of Holland.
Vermeer’s subject matter in this painting is a woman’s virtue and feminine beauty. The imagery comprises a domestic scene, in which a woman is opening a window and is holding a water pitch, implying some household duty. The depicted apparel of woman and objects in the room, which appear to be her possessions, are indicative of her affiliation with middle class. Particularly, the presence of a map and an expensive-looking rug suggest the absence of poverty. The woman’s simple white headpiece suggests her relation to Protestantism. Altogether, the artwork showcases protestant middle-class culture, which constitutes its iconography.
The edgings of the objects, clothes and skin are depicted by primarily |thick lines, accentuating their separation. The painting’s choice of color is restricted to blue, yellow and red. Since the subject matter does not necessitate distance, the perspective is not linear. Although the forms inside the work are three-dimensional, there are few figures that show depth, specifically, the hood, the plate, and the sleeve. The curvy lines make rough textures and pyramidal forms that compose the visual quality. The artist relied on geometric shapes to convey three-dimensional nature. Overall, the choice of elements gives the painting a sense of dignity, simplicity, and beauty.
The creator of the artwork lived in the middle of the XVIIth century in the Dutch Republic. Domestic scenes in small rooms were his ordinary conceit in drawing. The painting was produced around the time of tension between with France, which would in several years invade the republic. The artist himself was a middle-class man whose reputation would grow only after his death. Today Vermeer is recognized as one of the most influential figures of the Dutch Golden Age.
Aristotle with a Bust of Homer
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was also a representative of the Dutch Golden Age. Appendix B contains the picture of Rembrandt’s painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Like Vermeer, he followed Baroque rules, but in contrast to him, Rembrandt did not restrict himself to specific scenes (Rembrandt). He worked on a wide variety of styles, which manifests itself in the apparent hurriedness of the compared work. Aristotle with a Bust of Homer has brushwork that seems quick, while Vermeer was notably slow and careful with his creations. Both pieces are similar in the use of light and shadows, which were a hallmark of the Baroque period.
Rembrandt’s subject matter is contemplation that has similarity with Vermeer’s work. Both depict characters with thoughtful expressions, however, the setting is drastically different. Rich dressed ancient thinker puts his hand on the philosopher’s bust, while Vermeer’s lady was at home with no unique context implied. Rembrandt’s technique involves the application of light on faces, while Vermeer relied on colors, achieving the same degree of realism.
Some elements of art used in the paintings are similar, including perspective, depth, and form. The proximity of the depicted figures and objects explains non-linear perspective. This piece has less objects demonstrating depth than Young Woman with a Water Pitcher. Rembrandt and Vermeer surprisingly similarly composed the poses if their respected characters, using the same geometric forms. However, the artworks also differ from each other in line, color, and texture. Rembrandt uses black, white, and yellow colors in contrast to red, yellow, and blue. Thin lines form surface texture, which draw attention from Aristotle’s interaction with bust to his left hand. Overall, the composition of both pictures is the same, with some differences in stylistic features.
Altogether, Metropolitan Museum of Art left me with positive impressions of the presented pieces. Two collections appealed to me, with Marquand Collection impressing me with Young Woman with a Water Pitcher and Ruffo’s collection with Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. Both represent the Golden Dutch Age and the Baroque art period and are considered to be important pieces of art of their time. Studying art and especially Dutch paintings increased my understanding of stylistic choice and differences between Baroque artists over the course of this semester. As a result, I can properly appreciate the visual value of such masterpieces.
Van Rijn, Rembrandt Harmenszoon. Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. 1653. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Met, Web.
Vermeer, Johannes. Young Woman with a Water Pitcher. 1662. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Met, Web.