Who Are You Wearing ~ Adrianna Dearing

Delve into the celebrities of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries! This is a collection featuring the rulers of the old world- paintings, statues and etchings of emperors, czars, kings, and other figures in power around the world from just before the 20th century! Let the red carpet roll out centuries into the past as you get to see who these rulers are wearing and, most importantly, the royal art that depicts them.

Czar Alexei Mihailovich ruled Russia from 1645-1676 and spent his reign primarily resolving revolutions within the country and bearing a great amount of children. An Austrian painter used oil on canvas to paint this portrait, spanning 94.9 x 71 centimeters. The Czar is pictured with jeweled accessories- crown, staff, clothes- and a gorgeous jet black mustache. There is a lot of variety in the Czar’s clothing but the portrait itself dictates unity with a pattern of gems and embroidery. The painting is simple, yet the intricate assets of the man make him look lavish and powerful. There is a stiff texture, however, displayed in how the clothing drapes his shoulders. The negative space makes the Czar stand out and seem of importance. Moss, Walter (2002). A History of Russia: To 1917. Anthem Press. pp. 163–166
Emperor Charles VI was the Holy Roman Emperor as well as King of Hungary, Croatia, Gernany, and Bohemia for about thirty years in the early 18th century. Emperor Charles VI and Gundacker, Count Althann was painted in 1728, 12 years prior to the end of his reign, by Francesco Solimena. Spanning 2840 x 3090 centimeters, the painting features the emperor clad in gold with esteemed company, perhaps maybe his council. Even the angels themselves are marveling at the shimmering flecks of sparkle reflected in his armor. Like the other paintings in the gallery, this selection emanates texture in the fabric and the shining toughness of the armor as well as the variety in the grand detail used in the garments of everyone pictured. The painter Francesco Solimena was well-known for his chiaroscuro shading, creating almost a negative space where the emperor and the gentleman next to him appear closer than the dimmed people behind them. There is also a sense of movement displayed in everyone who is dimmed, even the angels, while Charles VI stands proud. Pragmatic Sanction of Emperor Charles VI, Encyclopædia Britannica, retrieved 22 February 2016.
The Qianlong emperor ruled China from the middle to the end of the 18th century. The emperor commissioned paintings such as this to appear as buddhist to the mongols and tibetans that occupied China as opposed to the ‘confucian’ style normally seen in Chinese art. This piece, titled “The Qianlong emperor as Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom,” is ink, gold colored onto silk and features the ruler gesturing religiously amongst what appears to be buddhist figures. The artist centered the emperor and made him larger than all of the other figures in the piece, ultimately making him stand out to the audience. The symmetry in the patterns are brilliant along with the coloring of the work. The entire piece seems like a pattern, seen even in the clothing and objects featured. There is a flowing texture in all the attire of the figures apparent even when this has all been done on silk, a texture in itself. Open F|S: The Qianlong Emperor as Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2016, from http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/edan/object.php?q=fsg_F2000.4
Antoine-Francois Callet painted this beautiful portrait of King Louis XVI just a few years before the end of his reign and death in France. This full length portrait spans 1960 x 2780 millimeters. He was the last French monarch and the first French monarch to be executed by guillotine as a result of the French Revolution. Though he entered into the monarchy when the country was in extreme debt, he is pictured here in some of the most extravagant clothes. The king holds a hat and a cane, dons a powdered wig and a proud face. Callet has painted Louis XVI's portrait multiple times but in this full length beauty, Louis is shown brightened by the light of a window. The painter really gives the king focus when lighting, perspective and colors are concerned. Pattern is everywhere in this piece, from the tapestries to the curtains to Louis' grand shall embroidered in golds, silvers and reds. Hardman, John, Louis XVI, The Silent King, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 10.
Though he is not an official 'ruler' given the type of government, George Washington must be noted. Gilbert Stuart painted many portraits of the man and this one he created in 1797, right around Washington's retirement, is 1587 x 2476 centimeters. Unlike the many ruler portraits in this gallery, the president is wearing plain black clothing with his right arm outstretched. He does not have a crown or scepter in his hands, reflecting one of the biggest differences in how rulers are viewed in places such as Europe as opposed to the United States. There is some pattern in the carpeting of the painting but otherwise the details are in the textures of the tablecloth, the curtains and Washington's powdered wig. The coloring in the portrait is solely in the background, making the president stand out in a different way than the lavishly colored rulers in the rest of the gallery. Perspective is still a theme here as Washington appears closer than the objects behind him. Lillback, Peter; Newcombe, Jerry (2006). George Washington's Sacred Fire (1st ed.). Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Providence Forum Press. ISBN 978-0978605261.
Jacques-Louis David painted this portrait of Napoleon I around 1804 when he became emperor of France. It spans 59.4 x 88.3 centimeters and features Napoleon Bonaparte in his prime wearing very fancy and elegant clothes and bearing a golden scepter and ball thing in what appears to be a throne room. Once again we see the details of the fabric, featuring variety as well as texture. Napoleon’s attire was painted in such a way that the embroidery and softness of the whites and royal reds jump out. There may not be as much negative space as our fellow Czar’s portrait but the objects in furniture in the background are dimmed out in comparison to the emperor. Abbott, John (2005). Life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-7063-4.
This portrait of Emperor Shah Alam Bahadur Shah was painted in watercolor early in the 19th century towards the end of the Mughal Dynasty. The Mughal Empire stretched out through India, some of Asia and some of the Middle East. The Shah himself, a hefty comparison to many of the Western rulers in this gallery, wears loose, bright colored clothing. He is decked out in jewelry and appears to be sitting on an angle on top of what looks like a very comfortable and very pink throne. The portrait still portrays variety in the patterned clothing and furniture, the beading of the jewelry throughout the clothing adding even more detail to look at. The trees and sky in the background make the Shah look closer and centered. The colors of the portrait and the ruler itself gives a sense of unity- the unknown painter’s use of lighter colors creates immense consonance to the eye. S. M. Ikram (1964). "XIX. A Century of Political Decline: 1707–1803". In Ainslie T. Embree. Muslim Civilization in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved 22 February 2016
King Fernando VII reigned the country of Spain twice. Francisco de Goya painted this portrait in the beginning of his second reign in 1815 and it is about 153 x 237 centimeters. In the artwork he holds what looks to be a sword and a knife, standing proud in an orangey garb. The king's attire is patterned as many of the other European rulers in the gallery, decorative gold embroidered all along the edges of the fabric. The texture painted in this piece is absolutely marvelous- the clothing that draped over Ferdinand VII's falls behind him to the floor, giving the fabric a feeling of heaviness in the folds. The painter makes very sure that the king is to be noticed as he colors the king's clothes mostly bright and creates a plethora of negative space around him. Carr, Raymond. Spain, 1808-1975 (1982)
Emperor Pedro I ruled Brazil and was the king of Portugal in the middle of the 19th century. He actually founded Brazil and left to go back to Portugal in the 1830s. Urbain Massard engraved with drypoint this portrait, spanning 750 x 535 mm, of Pedro around 1831, titling the piece with his name adding 'Perpetual Defender of Brazil'. Pedro I stands proud with a staff in a throne room, a gloriously large crown placed on the table behind him. Texture and pattern repeating again here in the emperor's clothes and his lavish background. There are patterns found in the carpeting and in the details of the clothes. Pedro I's attire is made more white and seemingly fluffy over soft, dark colored garments. As with the other rulers' portraits, the emperor is brought forward in perspective as the objects behind him are dimmed and smaller in proportion. Barman, Roderick J. (1988). Brazil: The Forging of a Nation, 1798–1852. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-1437-2.
This bronze statuette, of unknown origins, is made of Emperor Meiji, also known as Emperor Matsuhito. He was the 122nd ruler of Japan and his reign stretched into the early 20th century. He has a stern look in this work, his clothing plain and his hands lightly folded in front of him. There is clear, intricate texture carved into this statuette so much so that the emperor’s facial hair looks as if it was pasted on. The folds of his attire make the garments look heavy. The statuette emanates a great deal of balance, unity, and shape in it’s near symmetry and light detail. Gordon, Andrew (2003), A Modern History of Japan: from Tokugawa Times to the Present, Oxford University Press ISBN 0195110609/ISBN 9780195110609; ISBN 0195110617/ISBN 9780195110616; OCLC 49704795
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