The west wing of the J. Paul Getty Museum holds several wonderful 18th and 19th century paintings. Two such paintings are “The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis” by Jacques Louis David, 1818; and “Belisarius” by Francois Gerard, 1797. Both of these paintings are extremely refined oil paintings, and both are representational figurative paintings, each with two figures. In these two paintings David and Gerard were able to portray distinct moods through the use of color, shape, composition and technique. Both painting are representational idealized neo-classical paintings and so compositionally and technically they are very similar paintings. However through an analysis of both it is evident that they achieved distinct moods through both similar and different means.
Looking at both David’s and Gerard’s paintings there are some obvious similarities and differences. David has chosen a horizontal format, while Gerard’s painting is done vertically. These paintings while both conveying stoic moods convey this mood in different ways. David’s painting while vibrant and high in intensity conveys a serious yet touching emotional experience. This is done through the juxtaposition of the two figures, their expression, and the diagonals throughout the composition. Gerard’s painting on the other hand is much darker in value and uses color most effectively to portray a sense of heroism. It is obvious that color plays an integral part in both compositions. In David’s painting the two figures are clothed in blue and red. The use of these two
different primary colors give the painting a sense of balance but it also makes the painting very vibrant. On the other hand Gerard’s painting is much more subdued than David’s. Contributing to this is the dominance of cool colors. Gerard’s use of green is contrasted...
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