I chose for my Italian Renaissance painting the Birth of Venus. It was painted by Sandro Botticelli, who lived from 1445 to 1510, with Tempera on canvas around 1484-86 and is currently located at the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. I chose for my Northern Renaissance painting the Arnolfini Wedding by Jan van Eyck, who lived from 1395 to 1441, Oil on oak panel of 3 vertical boards in 1434 and is currently located in the National Gallery, London.
Botticelli uses a more two dimensional background in his painting while van Eyck uses light and linear perspective to add a sense of depth to the room. Botticelli does use some limited atmospheric perspective to the land mass in the distance but it still feels very flat. Botticelli uses light to highlight certain items but does not use shadow consistently throughout. Van Eyck on the other hand uses the window as a light source and bases shadows off of that.
Both paintings use posing that was popular for the time. In Birth of Venus however, Venus is posed in a very awkward position that would be difficult to hold, not to mention she is balancing on the edge of a clamshell in water. In Arnolfinin Wedding the two main subjects are posed with his right hand raised and her holding her dress in front of her abdomen. She gives the appearance of being pregnant but numerous art historians’ state that was a popular pose during the period indicating her desire to bear children.
Botticelli’s work is more of a mythical fantasy whereas van Eyck is more of an everyday scene rich with symbolism. Many art scholars have debated on the meaning of these items but only van Eyck knows for sure. While both works are amazing to look at, they show a significant difference between the Northern Renaissance artists and the Italians.
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