The Concept of Beauty in Different Cultures Essay

The philosophy of supreme beauty in art is an idea that has always been relentlessly changing. The 15th-16th century Renaissance period followed the Middle Ages in Europe, and thus the Renaissance perception of beauty was an accumulation of realistic and classically beautiful ideals as a revival in classical learning came about. Additionally, Renaissance art attempted to demonstrate an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. Conversely, art from the Romanticism and Realism periods of the 19th century glorified mystery, imagination, and emotional concepts. The power of nature was extremely prevalent in Romantic art, as was using animals to generate metaphors for human behavior. Explorations into the concept of beauty in both cultures will assist in illustrating the unique principles or philosophies of each time period.

Vittore Carpaccio’s painting, The Flight into Egypt (Gallery 10), was painted during the Renaissance period in 1515. It depicts an old man holding a walking stick and pulling a donkey behind him. On top of the donkey sits a woman and a baby—from their intricate garments and the subtle halos around their heads, it becomes clear that the woman is Mary and the baby is Jesus. The painting is intended to be very detailed; the vegetation and flowers are meticulously painted and each plant is unique. Even in the background, the trees, mountains, and sky are all very realistic and vibrant in color.

Accordingly, one gets the idea that nature was considered very beautiful and important to the Renaissance artists. In examining the faces in the painting, it becomes apparent that Renaissance artists also considered pale skin, pale hair, thin eyebrows, and narrow lips to be very beautiful. The colorful garb in itself suggests that the Renaissance valued human life in general. Regardless of the nervous expression on the man’s face and the impending sense of doom, the painting overall provides for an investigation into the Renaissance artists’ concept of beauty: vibrant colors, the significance of nature, and realistic portrayals.

The Swing (Gallery 55), by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, was painted between 1775 and 1780 during the Romanticism and Realism periods. It portrays a beautiful scene outdoors in some kind of courtyard, with many women resting in the grass below. The women are dressed elaborately, but their faces are too indistinct to actually examine. From their attire and hand gestures, however, it is implied that the women are enjoying themselves. Many have an arm raised or extended, and a few people are surrounding a white dog. This goes hand in hand with the Romantic period’s familiar idea of emotion—this sense of happiness and carefree attitude is considered beautiful to Romantic artists.

Read also  Political Realism

With a swing set, a telescope, and beautiful skies, an element of mysticism emerges in the painting, suggesting that artists from this time period held opposing concepts of beauty in comparison to artists from the Renaissance. Rather than appreciating realistic portrayals in paintings, Romantic artists focused instead on actions and the natural world. Nature plays a very vital role in this painting. Some trees resemble columns of smoke, while others loom over the women with branches like bowed fingers. While the trees on the left side of the painting are rich in color (varying shades of green), the right side maintains similar shapes but has darker hues—displaying mostly grays. This represents the common Romanticism theme of the power of nature; it is ever-changing and mystifying, but beautiful nonetheless.

Both the Renaissance period and the Romanticism and Realism periods have contrasting concepts of beauty. While the former emphasizes realistic and classic themes, the latter focuses on emotion and imagination. In spite of their differences, both appreciate the power of nature as beauty.

More Essays

  • Social Realism

    Social Realism, whether it is on paintings, photography and films became a tool for artist to let its audiences have a glimpse of what is really happening in the world. In many cases, arts such as paintings, photography and films are endeavor of the upper end of the society (i. e. the socialites). These...

  • Political Realism

    According to realists, the conduct of international leaders differs very little from the conduct of a leader of a criminal organization. Realists' underlying assumption, i. e. that the international system is in the condition of perpetual anarchy, is close to how crime bosses perceive the neverending...

  • The Rise of Realism Questions

    1. Define the term "Muckraker." Be sure to include the name of the person who created it. The definition of Muckrakers is that they were American journalists and novelists during the first ten years of the 1900s. They exposed and wrote about the corruption that was happening in the government and business....

  • Realism and Idealism

    Following their discussion on realism and idealism, the authors of Justice Among Nations move on to yet another highly interesting discussion, this time on the basic conflict between reason and revelation. Pangle and Ahrensdorf focus on their curiosity with regards to God's providential existence as well as...

  • Is Anybody Still a Realist_

    Realism, as we all know is the most outstanding theoretical paradigm that is involved in international relations; moreover, it is composed of many schools of thoughts that encompass a single idea. No matter how "unreal" or intangible the ideas may be, still, for many scholars, it plays a vital role in...

  • Art Exhibit on Nature

    The planet earth is the only known habitat for humankind. For millions of years, it served as the home to numerous living things such as animals, plants and people. More so, it has been a witness to many events that have shaped the course of world history. Because of this, it is suffice to say that our...

  • Two Works of Art

    Italy experienced a massive art boom in the early fifteenth century, or as Italians themselves call it "Quattrocento". This especially concerns the art of painting, deeply affected by changes, inspired by approaching Renaissance. It is hard to say, that paintings of that time belonged to pure Renaissance,...

  • Morality in Graham Greene’s _i Spy_

    As World War I raged about Europe, Great Britain took every measure available to ensure the war didn't spread into their own backyard. Their army was doing fine fighting elsewhere in France and Germany, but as William I proved in 1066, when you invade England, it's not the English that win. Britons lived in...

  • Structural Realism

    I. Introduction Of the general theories of international relations, neorealism – or structural realism, as Waltz called it – is the one that is best confirmed by events after 1989 between the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Neorealism as a theory argues...

  • Realism in Romantic Poetry

    Reality is abstract, as it depends on every individual's own perspective. When Wordsworth says, "world is too much with us", it depends on us how we look at the world, as every being has a world of his own. We acknowledge the events around us with whom we can relate, but ignore many other changes...

Read also  Realism and Idealism