Power in Paint

The theme of this gallery is the depiction of various figures representing power in many ways. I hope you enjoy your visit to my gallery, and that the work gives you the same sense of enjoyment that I found.                                 - Judah Kennedy

This depiction of King Charles II is a great example of a powerful historical figure immortalized in portrait form. In this painting by Godfrey Kneller, Charles is sitting in a well-crafted chair in an otherwise mostly brown and drab room wearing clothes made from very rich fabrics. The texture of the clothing and thickness of the material is very well represented in this piece, and the folds and angles of the clothing capture a degree of realism regarding movement and space that may not be as prevalent in todays paintings. This Portrait of King Charles exudes royalty and power in various ways from his very posture, to his ornate clothing, and even his crown in the background (left).
Jacques Louis David painted this depiction of Napoleon Bonaparte in such a way that allowed him to capture near perfect examples of movement, color, and texture with tremendous dedication to realism. In this painting, Bonaparte is depicted on his horse, which is standing on its two hind legs. His right hand is raised in the typical "Charge!" fashion, and a bright red cloak, or long piece of fabric wraps around his body and flows into the background of the painting, providing a sort of natural background for his horse's head. There are quite a few ways in which Bonaparte's power is depicted in this painting including the use of the colors red and gold, and Napoleon's physical position of riding a white horse with his right hand raised. One of the most striking features of the entire piece though, is the intensely determined look in Napoleon's eyes. It is strongly recommended that the viewer zoom in on Bonaparte's face as closely as possible. His eyes are hauntingly strong, and are a great representation of both his power and his drive for success.
This portrait of King Carlos II of Spain capture Carlos sitting atop his white horse as he is dressed in nearly full armor. His power and importance are represented by the red fabric draped over his saddle that flows around his waist and trails from the back of Carlos's body, as well as the hints of gold present in both the fabric and the clothing of Carlos himself. The elements of texture and movement are present here, but not overwhelming in this piece.
Allan Ramsay painted this portrait of King George III wearing his coronation robes in order to depict George in a manner that is regal and powerful. This is another example of a great use and realistic depiction of texture in terms of the richness of fabric, and how it folds and lays in very specific ways. George's power here lies in his clothing, as well as his posture and surroundings. He is heavily draped in gold, white, and a deep royal blue, and so much so that it is difficult to discern where the robes end, and where the cloth and decoration of his surroundings begin.
Another portrait of Napoleon by Jean-Louis David, this depiction of Bonaparte in his study serves to communicate the power of Napoleon in a more subtle and still fashion than what is presented in "Bonaparte Crossing the Grand Saint-Bernard". Here in his study, Napoleon's power is depicted in both his posture and his military clothing. There is also a fair amount of the colors red and gold in the painting, and it is worth noting that a sword is present, but is shown casually laying in the seat of the red and gold chair in the painting. In this painting, Napoleon's strength and power are communicated by his posture, and presence alone, with his weapons and additional items playing a much smaller role than in David's other portrait of Bonaparte featured in this gallery. This is a great use of texture, color, and space with a notable lack of movement.
Here we have a beautiful piece by Luca Giordano depicting a scene from the biblical story of the war that took place in heaven during the fall of Lucifer. The most prominent figure and focal point of the painting is an angel (likely Michael) who is in the midst of cutting down and defeating the legions of rebel angels. With regard to the representation of power in this painting, the sword-wielding angel is dressed in blue and gold, and is depicted as literally having his foot on the neck of a rebel angel. He is also the ONLY figure in the painting with a weapon, and is depicted as being backlit by some sort of unknown light source that almost makes him glow. The fallen angels he is in combat with appear to cower and collapse beneath him.
This is a portrait of Gustav III, King of Sweden as painted by Lorens Pasch the Younger. His regal position and power are clearly represented by his posture and clothing. His robes are made from what appears to be a very beautiful fabric rich in texture with shades and mixtures of red, purple, and gold, with a blue sash. The most impressive aspect of this work is perhaps the attention given to the texture and detail of the folds of the fabric, and the way the light bounces off of the surfaces, giving special focus to the gold and deeper aspects of red and purple.
Hyacinthe Regard painted this portrait of King Louis XIV of France standing still, and appears to have used a few different shades of purple to depict his power and regal position. Historically, purple is a color often associated with royalty, and this use of the color is aided by the lighter, more subtle presence of gold. King Louis's posture is also one that portrays pride and power.
Almost immediately, it is clear that the focal point of this painting by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini is the seated woman surrounded by others, some whom are in less impressive clothing, and some whom are closer to the ground in posture and position. The textures and movement elements captured are very well served by the use of color and light. The power of Sophonisba is represented in a less common way in comparison to many other depictions of powerful people of the time. In this painting, Sophonisba's power and higher station than those that surround her is subtlety represented by her relaxed and almost dismissive posture and facial expression, while those in her immediate vicinity seem to be keenly aware that something big is about to take place. This power is also represented by the shape and design of the chalice she s being handed. A blue piece of fabric is draped over her left arm, while much of the rest of her body is clothed is ivory and golden fabric. It is worth noting that the person handing her the titular "Cup of Poison" is wearing a bright red shirt/cloak with a piece of light green fabric covering their left side. Historically, and right up to today in many forms of media, those colors have been used to signify emotional intensity and illness.
This painting of King Karl XV (Sweden and Norway) depicts the monarch atop his white horse with two other less present figures appearing behind him. The two men are likely his top military officials, and the fact that so little of their bodies are represented in comparison with King Karl is a testament to his power and importance. As with may portraits of powerful figures, the presence and use of color is instrumental in the expression of King Karl's power and status. There is also a very clear use of the element of movement in this painting. Karl's horse appears to be in the process of rearing back to stand on its hind legs, and his saddle is draped in an intricately patterned gold, blue, and deep red fabric. These colors are often associated with royalty and power.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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