Vmfa Museum Paper – Art History Essay
After visiting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, I will write about four art works. The first one is called Salome Receiving the Head of St. John the Baptist by Andrea Solario. The work is very colorful, and it shows chiaroscuro with the dark background and light on the faces of Salome and John the Baptist. The focal point is on John’s head. This is one of Solario’s most notable works, and the figure style is influenced by Leonardo Da Vinci. The story behind the painting is that Herodias had a quarrel with John the Baptist, and would have killed him herself. Instead, her daughter, Salome, danced for Herod and he was so pleased that he said he would give her anything she asked for. She asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter at her mother’s urging. I believe I was interested in this work because I already knew about the subject matter, but I don’t think you have to know a lot about the art before entering the museum to be interested in it.
The second work I chose to write about is The Genius of the Dance (Le genie de la danse) by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. I knew nothing about the subject matter of this work before visiting the museum, but I was very attracted to the beauty of it. The Genius is designed to be taken apart in certain places that are held together by pins. The separate parts were molded and cast, then joined by hand, and the seams were then covered by extra metal. The drapery gives the effect of movement, or dancing. The Genius of the Dance is a reduced version of The Dance with the same central figure. Also, Carpeaux got a lot of hate for the female nudity in The Dance, so he excluded them in The Genius of the Dance. I don’t think the texture or size of the sculpture adds to the impact of the work, because it wasn’t that big, and bronze was used quite a lot. I believe it’s the subject that attracts the viewers to this sculpture.
Another work, that I particularly did not like, is Boy with a Roemer of Wine by Candlelight. Hendrink Ter Brugghen uses red, orange, and yellow colors and candlelight to give the painting a warm feel. The boy’s drapery looks soft, and there is a sense of space in the work. The reason I don’t like this work is because it has a very creepy vibe to it. Even though it’s supposed to give off a warm feeling, it kind of gives me the shivers. I would not want this painting hanging up in my house, because I would feel uncomfortable, like the boy is watching me. This could just be my own personal assessment, but I feel like others would agree. This painting makes me feel very uneasy for some reason.
Out of all of these artworks, I really enjoyed The Genius of the Dance, because I love the subject. If I could, I would definitely add it to my private collection. It is beautiful, and I think I am connected to it so much, because I was a dancer. Another one I enjoyed was The Judgment of Paris, by François-Xavier Fabre. I love the dramatic story behind it, and how it started the Trojan War. Also, the colors and scenery are brilliant and beautiful.
Andrea Solario, Salome Receiving the Head of St. John the Baptist, oil on canvas, after 1510, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, The Genius of the Dance (Le genie de la danse), bronze, 1872, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Boy with a Roemer of Wine by Candlelight, oil on canvas, 1623, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
François -Xavier Fabre, The Judgement of Paris, oil on canvas, 1807-08, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.