Early Modern Painters

We will examine the following paintings by Early Modern masters in order to ask questions about the nature of the period. Be aware that each of these artists often worked with religious, as well as ideological subject. However, our purpose here is to examine their portraits of every day people and life. 

What does each painting suggest about the artist's sense of people and daily life?

Jan or Johannes Vermeer van Delft (1632-1675)

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, c. 1664-65; Oil on canvas, 45.7 x 40.6 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  1. How would you describe the material surroundings of the young woman?
  2. What does the map on the wall suggest about her culture?
  3. What does the young woman's expression and bodily pose suggest?

Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665-1666; Oil on canvas, 44.5 x 39 cm; Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague

  1. What does the young woman's expression and bodily pose suggest?
  2. What does her clothing suggest?
  3. What might this portrait reveal about Early Modern attitudes towards the individual?

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn  (July 15, 1606--Oct. 4, 1669)

The Mennonite Minister Cornelis Claesz. Anslo in Conversation with his Wife, Aaltje
1641; Oil on canvas, 176 x 210 cm; Gemaldegalerie, Berlin

  1. How would you characterize the couple's relationship?
  2. What seems important to them?
  3. What does their clothing reveal about them?

Self Portrait, 1669; Oil on canvas 86x70cm; National Gallery, London

  1. What does Rembrandt's self-portrait reveal about himself?
  2. What might this portrait reveal about Early Modern attitudes towards the individual?

Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577--May 30, 1640)

Triumphal Entry of Henry IV into Paris, Undated; Uffizi

  1. How does this scene differ in attitude and composition from the others above?

  2. How does it nonetheless relate to a historical period and event?

Helena Fourment with a Carriage, 1639; Oil on wood; Louvre

  1. What class and station is this woman? Why do you conclude this?

  2. What is her personality and attitude?

  3. What else might the portrait reveal about her?


Diego Velázquez (1599-1660)

The Needlewoman, c. 1640; Oil on canvas, 74 x 60 cm (29 1/8 x 23 5/8 in); National Gallery of Art, Washington

  1. What class and station is this woman? Why do you conclude this?

  2. What is her personality and attitude?

  3. What else might the portrait reveal about her?

The Waterseller of Seville, 1623; Oil on canvas, 106.7 x 81 cm (42 x 31 7/8 in); Wellington Museum, Londo

  1. What can we learn about these individuals class, personality, life circumstances, and so on?

  2. How does this portrait compare with the ones above?

 

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding