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Cantor Museum Analysis

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For my term paper I decided to go to the Cantor Museum in Palo Alto, and I chose to focus on two portraits of women from two distinct time periods. First, I decided on the portrait of Margaret Blagge, Wife of Sidney, 1st Earl of Godolphin. This portrait was painted by the artist Matthew Dixon in 1675, in the Baroque period of art. The portrait of Margaret Blagge was done in England, and it was painted as an oil on canvas. The second artwork I chose to compare was the Portrait of Sally Fairchild by John Singer Sargent. This portrait was done from the year 1884 to 1887 during the Realism movement in art. The portrait of Sally Fairchild was painted in the United States of America, and was painted as an oil on canvas. When comparing these two portraits…show more content…
Value is the relative darkness or lightness of a painting, and it assists in creating volume for a painting as well. In Matthew Dixon’s painting, the Portrait of Margaret Blagge, the value falls under tenebrism. Chiaroscuro is the contrast between dark and light in a painting, and tenebrism is an extreme case of chiaroscuro, with a violent contrast between dark and light. Dixon was able to have Margaret Blagge stand out from the background by composing the whiteness of her skin directly next to the darkness of the background. By using tenebrism, Matthew Dixon was able to achieve a great deal of volume in his painting. Where the whiteness of Margaret Blagge’s skin touches the darkness of the background it is as though she can be lifted out of her frame. John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Sally Fairchild, is different in comparison to Matthew Dixon’s portrait, because there is not much chiaroscuro in it. The most evident contrast between dark and light is the transition from the shadows fallen on the left side of Sally Fairchild’s body and her white skin. The contrast of shadow to the face helps create the volume of her chin against her neck. Both paintings are different, yet they both have a sense of volume, despite having used different
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