Genre Analysis: The Baroque and Rococo Periods Essay

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The following is a comparative analysis of Caravaggio’s The Musicians from the Italian Baroque period, and Watteau’s Mezzetin from the Rococo Period. Although both paintings depict a scene or event from everyday life, or a genre scene, the latter was painted more recently during the modern era and it differs immensely. The major differences become evident in the style of the painters as well as their personal representations of the subject matter. The works illustrate the evolvement of a certain genre in Western painting from Renaissance through the modern era. This transformation exemplifies how a similar subject matter can be represented in an entirely new and innovative way.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio painted the genre scene
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The central figure is dressed in primary red, contrasting the greenish colors around him. He is tuning a lute, and represents Caravaggio’s companion Mario Minniti. Beside him the figure is facing the viewer, he is a self-portrait of the artist, holding a horn. His direct eye contact helps bring the viewer into the painting. The third figure has his back to us, studying music. The music shows that the figures are playing madrigals celebrating love. However, the central figure’s eyes are moist, representing the sorrow of love rather than the pleasures. Caravaggio uses a dark neutral background, which helps keep the viewer’s focus on the subject matter. The light is coming from the left, and he uses chiaroscuro to help create a dramatic atmosphere and strong contrasts in light and dark. The colors on the figures are well blended, and smoothly applied. The composition is ambitious and complex. The figures don’t seem to relate to one another or the picture space and it is almost clumsily done. The perspective of the music and violin seems to be moving out of the picture plane. The representation of an additional instrument involves the viewer, as if one would be the one to join the musicians. Caravaggio departs from traditional representations, and shows the humanity of scenes. His use of tenebrism helps emphasize the importance of the figures. Caravaggio…

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