Painting Analysis at the National Gallery of Canada

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Painting Analysis at the National Gallery of Canada
HIS 4001: History of Art II
By: Gill Collens 2/14/2013 Professor: Ncole Sammut

Simone Martini, St. Catherine of Alexandria, ca. 1322–23, tempera on wood panel, 83.2 × 43.5 cm, 32 3/4 × 17 1/8 in., (with frame). Collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, inv. no. 6430

Contents
Table of contents……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………............1 Essay……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………2-5 Works Cited .............................................................................................................................................. ....................... 6 Appendix…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………7-8

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On a recent field trip to the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, as a class, we looked at some paintings. The painting that stood out to me was Simone Martini’s painting titled St. Catherine of Alexandria. We have been studying the Renaissance period and this one was identifiable instantly. For our class assignment, we are required to identify the time period or style the painting might belong to, identify its stylistic features, the date it was created, the artist, mediums used, as well as the significance of its subject matter and its importance in the exhibition. By studying Simone Martini’s painting of St. Catherine of Alexandria I was able to compare it with some of the images seen in class, and from Janson’s History of Art textbook. When I first looked at Simone Martini painting of St. Catherine of Alexandria, I noticed many things. I noticed how her face gesture, the position of the subjects head, and arm size hinted naturalism; however, the proportions are not yet perfected. The subject is also being identified through the broach she is wearing around her neck, which is a wheel indicating she is St. Catherine of Alexandria. I noticed the subject has a gold halo and seems to be in a narrative; these techniques are seen in many paintings during the Renaissance period (as seen in image 1-4 in appendix). Being the left hand panel to the Madonna and Child, I also knew that this piece would have significance in the history of Art. The use of gold (gilding- seen in image 1-4 in appendix) and materials used (tempera on wood) also led me to believe that this is a Renaissance painting. Research has helped me determine that this beautiful golden painting by Simone Martini (St. Catherine of Alexandria) was made during the early Italian Renaissance period. This is because of the style and techniques that are used within the painting. The style of the renaissance period consisted of techniques using geometry and perspective, chiaroscuro, contraposto, naturalism, and classical themes. The main characteristics of the early Italian Renaissance 2|Page

include the use of one-point perspective, which creates the illusion of a three-dimensional space. The use of geometry is also typically seen in the composition of figures laid out in a triangular form to create a sense of balance (Reznichenko, 2013 para. 2 ). During the early Italian Renaissance period the artist attempts to represent figures and nature more realistically than previously during the medieval period. They studied nature and the human body to learn more about the anatomy of humans and animals (Reznichenko, 2013 para. 3). In Simone Martini’s painting of St. Catherine of Alexandria, you can see examples of this in the face gesture, the position of the subjects head, and the detail in her eye-lashes (Humanism/naturalism seen in images 3 and 5 in appendix). Early Italian Renaissance artists also used contrast between gradations of light and dark and shading, which is the technique they used to create a three-dimensional sense of space (Reznichenko 2013 para. 4). (shading seen in images 1 and 2 in appendix). In St. Catherine of Alexandria, you can see the shadows and shading throughout the painting; this is especially evident in the...
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