History of Art 2002- Paper Assignment Paper 2
Comparative analysis of Anthony Van Dyck Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) and Vigée Le Brun's Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirskaya (1800).
A portrait refers to a photography, painting, or other artistic representation of a person in which the face, as well as its expression, is predominant. Portraits intend to displace person’s personality, likeness even the mood of the person. Both Anthony Van Dyck and Vigée Le Brun are two famous portraitist painters of 17th and 18th centuries respectively. Anthony Van Dyck is mostly known as a Flemish Baroque painter of portrait art in the Baroque style. One of Anthony Van Dyck’s famous work is the Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) portrait. On the other hand, Vigée Le Brun is one of the best known fashionable portraitist of 18th century France. One of Vigée Le Brun’s major portrait is Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirskaya (1800). Both Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) and Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirskaya (1800) portraits share some unique features, similarities, and differences.
Image 1: Anthony Van Dyck Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) courtesy of Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Museum
Image 2: Vigée Le Brun: Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirskaya, 1800. Courtesy of Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Museum
As seen in above images both portraits are similar in that, both portraits show ladies that are well dressed with a complex fashionable dressing code. The charm of both portraits is matched by the lightness of tone and touch and using different colors to create a beautiful background. In both portraits, they display the real lifestyle of Christian Bruce and Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky. In both portraits, the ladies are classy and wore expensive clothes thus indicating they are from wealthy families which is the case. The images show ladies with long hair, wearing expensive dresses that are highly decorated, earrings and necklace. The artist uses color to mark features that highlight Christian Bruce and Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky love for fashion.
Both Anthony Van Dyck and Vigée Le Brun portraits have the ability to captivate viewers thus drawing the audience into the painting as well as engaging their attention. Both portraits are strong enough to tell a story about the person depicted. Using their skills, the artists use visual clues to tell the audience more about the person in the portrait. The Portrait paintings reveal Christian Bruce and Varvara Ivanovna love for fashion, aspects of their personality as well as their expensive way of life.
The Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) portrait has some unique features as compare to Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirskaya portrait. As seen in the portrait, Christian Bruce wears a high-waist dress that has a collar of plain. Also, her hair is adorned with a fall of pearls and partially covered by a rounded artifact. Anthony Van Dyck uses all these features so as to indicate her dressing taste and preferences. The fashionable dress worn by Cavendish Bruce is made of expensive Italian brocade. There is a white lace covering her gown elaborating collar and cuffs. Van Dyck used all of these features in the portrait trying as much as possible to represent Christian Bruce as she appears in real life thus telling the about lady Cavendish by the use of a portrait painting. A key observation in the inscription of Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) portrait suggests that she might have been pregnant.
The Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky portrait has some unique features as well. The lady is dressed in a Greco-Roman style that was so popular after 1795 in Europe. Her dress has a one-shouldered tunic that is trimmed with a Greco-Roman pattern. The artist added a jewelry necklace to add the sense of Varvara Ivanovna high styles, fashion tastes and preferences and her wealth status. Also, the portraits show her casualness of the hairstyle, she wears armlet, tunic pin, necklace, and beaded cestus that is tied to the breast thus conveying a sense of complete familiarity with luxury. Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky was a luxurious lady and lived an expensive lifestyle as she could afford all she wants in life. The ocean background seems to be a subtle link to Venus, and the sensuous Russian beauty a modern Venus.
In conclusion, portrait painting is important as they act as a communicating tool to tell the audience about the person, to show power, virtue, beauty, different personality’s tastes and preferences and wealth status of the person. In both Christian Bruce, Duchess of Devonshire (c. 1635) and Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirskaya (1800) portraits, the artists use their painting skills to tell more about the persons in the portrait. In both cases, the artists have mainly focused on dress code, their taste for fashion and their luxuries lifestyle. All these play critical roles in explaining to the target audience more about the person in the portrait.