46666-Group 1-National Gallery

Heads

The Daughter of Herodias 
1510 Sebastiano del Piombo The structure of this piece is both horizontal and vertical. The woman stands upright with a bit of an “S” curve to her shape and gives continuity to the vertical line of the window and trees in the background. The severed head is lying horizontal on a platter and is in line with some sort of vertical counter. Rectangular shapes are repeated throughout the image. Blue is most prominent and well lit with brown and green creating a dark and eerie background. The eye immediately draws itself to the well lit girl, despite there being a severed head on a platter. Her expression is somber but alive and the man’s severed head is clearly dead and greenish. Strangely enough, the decapitated head appears to be smiling or smirking. The puffy blue sleeve is bright and reflective. It also looks as though her outer dress is made of paper. The subject is that of an almost expressionless girl carrying a smiling man’s severed head to a counter of sorts. “The New Testament records how Saint John the Baptist was beheaded at Herodias' request, and his head presented to her daughter Salome on a charger. Salome then brought the head to her mother. (Matthew 14: 1–11). This painting is one of the key works of Sebastiano's early years in Venice, painted shortly before he left for Rome. The influence of Titian and the young Giorgione can be observed.”
I have chosen Allegory of Prudence for my piece. There is a lot for the eye to study, there is a lot going on in this painting period. The text in the painting translated states, "From the experience of the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoil future actions." The images represent youth, manhood and elderly. From the youthful face of the boy, the painting uses bright, colorful hues of gold and fades darker to the left towards the old man. Titian makes great use of lighting and dimensions in this piece to tell this story. The man in the center, clearly in his prime almost jumping out of the painting. Though it is a two-dimesional piece, it gives the optical illusion of three dimensions. The lion head and the man stend out from the background so vividly. There are clear lines that lead the eye from the well lit right to the darker left. Most would agree however, that the mans head is the first thing the eye will notice.
This painting is part of a series that represent the elements. The painting shows the bounty of food that the Earth has produced. The colors are deep and it has a dark color tone to it. The red color of the produce on the right pops out, as does the red shirt of the man standing to the left. This provides a balance for the painting and the lines of their arms provide a line to draw the eye to the large cabbage at the center of the painting but then the man’s hand is outstretched to the woman’s head, almost creating a circle. The woman in the back right is wearing white that stands out, which draws attention fo this part of the painting and her arm pointing down starts the path for the eye to follow back across the produce that is laid out. The background is darker and in the back left, on the bridge, is a religious scene with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
Vertical. Oil on Canvas. The subject matter is of seven women interrupted by a young man during their bathing ritual. The composition of the women appears to be of normal size, yet the young man’s proportion seems to be slightly larger, which makes him to be a focal point on this piece. The other focal point is the pale nude woman sitting on the far right; she has no shadows around or on her, and seems to be of importance due to the fact she is being tended to by both women on each side. The title, Diana and Actaeon sets the stage for these two individuals. The outside background is painted with cool tones of blue, the bathing area is balanced with somber neutral colors, colors of green in the trees compliment the warm red fabric the woman is sitting on, on the right side of painting. The left side is more saturated colors of red fabric hanging and blue drapery around seated female, with a touch of warm yellow and orange on the young man's clothing. It presents a mythological time.
Vertical. Two males standing. The bright green drapes balance out the dark colors of the men’s robes. The male on the left draws our attention; he is wearing luxurious robes and holds a telescope in his right hand that points down towards a weathered log, directing our attention to the man on the right, guiding us in a U-shape through the painting. The title says The Ambassadors, with the travel paraphernalia located on the table between the two men, such as globes, compasses, maps, and musical instruments we can recognize that this is what the piece is about. The brushwork is smooth and precise.
Credits: All media
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