When Art Speaks: an Analysis of Two Artist and Two Works of Art

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When Art Speaks:
An Analysis of Two Artist and Two Works of Art

Wanda M. Argersinger
Southern New Hanpshire University

When Art Speaks

The Italian Renaissance produced many artists and even more works of art, but there were three artists considered to be the Trinity of Great Masters, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaelo Santi, or simply Raphael. While these artists often worked in different mediums, Michelangelo preferred stone and Raphael preferred oil paint. Michelangelo and Raphael were able to portray emotions in their work. In two of these works, The Pieta and La Madonna di San Sisto, these artists were able to bring to works of art the raw emotions felt by their subjects. Though their works are quite different, what they portrayed was often quite similar.

One of Raphael’s works called Raphael’s Angels (San Sisto, 1513-1514), speaks to me in many ways. I was familiar with these two cherubs in the Sistine Madonna as they are often copied and hung in offices and homes. But it was only recently that I discovered that these two smiling cherubs belong to a larger work of art. These two well-known cherubs are part of a larger oil painting done on canvas titled La Madonna di San Sisto or Sistine Madonna. It was a commissioned piece and the last of Raphael’s Madonnas. When the cherubs are seen alone they are often called Raphael’s Angels, The Sistine Cherubs, and Raphael’s Two Putti.

Most of the works of art during the Renaissance had strong religious connections and were done for the church with the intent that it would reside in the church. When we think of this period in art we most often think of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. While Raphael’s Sistine Madonna is in oil, it was done on a flax covered wall in the Benedictine monastery church and was not permanent. The full painting, The Sistine Madonna, shows Mary holding the baby Jesus, sans halo, with two Saints. The cherubs sit at the very bottom of the picture, almost out of place....
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