Since the beginning of human civilization, there were always differences in life depending on whether you have a lot of money, a decent amount of money, or barely enough money to live on. Art is a great way to compare and contrast the differences of how people lived back in the day whether they were swimming in money as Kings and Queens, or doing everything they could to scrape up some coins to buy bread for their family. In the Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and Romantic times, there are some very good examples on the vast differences of these people’s lives.
“Louis XIV” painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1701 shows off incredible wealth by flaunting the King’s very expensive possessions. His Ermine lined fleur-des-lis robes are thrown over his shoulder to reveal his toned ballet legs, and his gold sword with a gem encrusted sheath. His right hand rests on a gold scepter, on top of a fleur-des-lis cushion that also holds a regal crown. Rigaud captured the King’s wealth and power by showcasing his expensive belongings.
Another example of showing off wealth in paintings is Peter Paul Rubens’ “Arrival of Marie de’ Medici at Marseilles” painted between 1622 and 1625. The Painting clearly depicts how wealthy Marie de’ Medici is. She steps off the boat, passing a very extraordinary and extravagant dock, covered in gold, with intricate carvings and sculptures on it. It also flaunts the coat of arms of the Medici family. She is wearing a very lavish and elegant gown. A man wrapped in fleur-des-lis, the symbol of royalty, runs to greet her, along with a canopy waiting for her so the sun doesn't damage her beautiful ivory skin. It’s hard to look at this painting and not believe that Marie de’ Medici was a very wealthy and powerful woman.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the paintings that depict the middle and lower class people. One painting that shows the middle class, is “Distant...