Compare and Contrast of 2 Art Pieces

Topics: Bible, Torah, Moses Pages: 6 (2536 words) Published: May 2, 2012
Jean Fouquet and James Tissot depict Joshua's conquest of Jericho in very different ways owing to the facts that they lived in different times, and therefore led very different lives. I intend to highlight the ways in which their different experiences influenced their artwork. Using a variety of sources, I intend to embark on a comparison contrast of two pieces of artwork: The Taking of Jericho, by James Tissot (c. 1896-1902) and Prise de Jéricho by Jean Fouquet (c.1470-75). I will give further details about the two artists to explain why they depicted the conquest of Jericho in their respective styles. The first noticeable difference between the two artworks is that Jean Fouquet draws the Israelites as a mob of people as opposed to an organized, trained army. This is made most clear by the fact that Fouquet does not distinguish the majority of the Israelites from each other. Jean Fouquet clearly draws Joshua, as well as the Ark of the Covenant and most of the entourage that accompanies it (the guards and the priests). However, Fouquet illustrates the majority of the Israelites with very little detail, depicting them as a sea of faces and weapons. One explanation for this lack of differentiation could be that Fouquet saw the Israelites as the extension of God's power; not necessarily unique on their own, but empowered and granted victory by the Lord. James Tissot, on the other hand, does the opposite, making it very clear in his painting that the Israelites are an army. Unlike Jean Fouquet, James Tissot depicts the Israelites in a very detailed fashion. Tissot draws the soldiers in individual bands and makes sure all the soldiers are distinguishable from one another. For example, even when looking at the Israelites that are supposed to be far off in the distance it is still possible to distinguish one soldier from another, or one soldier's helmet from his uniform. In other words, everything is clear and organized, as an army should be. James Tissot's detailed depiction of the Israelites in the foreground also communicates an organized battle. For example, the soldiers are all in their own small groups, most of these groups are facing the same direction, and if you look closely at some of the soldiers' feet you will see the distance between them is fairly wide, all of which implies marching. Marching is obviously characteristic of an army and is a common association with the military. This difference between the two works of art is most likely due to the fact that James Tissot had military experience, having participated in the Siege of Paris, siding with the Prussians (citation). There is no record of Jean Fouquet having served with any military. In both pieces of art, Joshua is relatively easy to locate, but for different reasons. In Jean Fouquet's miniature, it is clearly Joshua who is holding the baton and pointing into the city of Jericho. This is interpreted as Joshua commanding the siege to begin. Furthermore, the way in which Joshua is pointing into the city is congruent with the idea that the Israelites are a mob instead of an army. The multitude of weapons that are highly raised by the undifferentiated Israelites which comprise the mob, and the inclusion of the Covenant of the Ark, in addition to Joshua's posture as he points into the city of Jericho imply to the viewer that this is a situation of very high energy and that Joshua is simply directing that energy in a particular direction, in pursuit of a particular goal (I.e. the taking of Jericho). The Israelites appear to be in frenzy, heavily anticipating their new conquest. I liken this to the way bees defend their hive from a perceived threat; they swarm. Jean Fouquet has effectively romanticized the taking of Jericho by introducing this element of angry, manic excitement. However in James Tissot's painting, Joshua is standing off to the side, more or less on his own, watching the siege that has already begun. Joshua is also facing in a different direction...
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