An Old Woman at Her Meal c. In An Old Couple Feeding a Dog — , the artist included objects that hint at a couple reaching the end of long, once-busy lives, and directed the viewer's attention to their interaction with the dog, representing companionship and fidelity. Metsu's style evolved in the early s as he drew upon the innovations of his contemporaries, Gerard ter Borch — and Johannes Vermeer — Like them, he began to paint in a highly refined manner and to feature the interactions of elegant people in richly furnished, light-filled interiors, seen in his greatest masterpieces, the pair A Man Writing a Letter and A Woman Reading a Letter both dated c.
Toward the end of his career Metsu, a Catholic, returned to religious themes but rendered them in his mature stylized and theatrical manner. The most striking painting of this late period, The Sick Child c.
Although he died at the age of 38 at the height of his career, Metsu secured his place among the great Dutch masters through his ability to capture 17th-century life with freshness and vigor. Curators and Catalogue The exhibition is curated by Adriaan E. Waiboer, curator of northern European art, National Gallery of Ireland. Produced by the National Gallery of Ireland in association with Yale University Press, the exhibition catalogue includes essays by Waiboer, with contributions by Wayne E.
Frantis, professor, Syracuse University; E. The page catalogue includes color illustrations is available for purchase in the Gallery Shops in hardcover and softcover. Dead-coloring was so important in the painting process that it was mandatory in early days of Flemish painting. In , one of the 's Hertogenbosch guild rules states, "7. All painters will be bound to work with good paints, and they will not make any paintings than on good dry oak planks or wainscot, being each color first dead-colored and this on a double ground …".
It was not uncommon in the busier seventeenth-century studios that assistants worked up numbers of paintings to the dead-coloring stage that only needed to be finished by the master. Maintaining an abundant stock of images on spec may have been an expedient to entice prospective buyers. Click here for more information on dead-color. As far as it is possible to understand, Vermeer used the dead-coloring methods common among Northern painters. In the early Diana and her Companions , a carefully brushed underdrawing was followed by a monochrome dead-coloring in order to determine the essential forms of the composition.
Some of the dead-coloring can be made out here and there through abraded paint layers. It has been remarked that more than one passage in The Geographer appears unfinished and that this allows us to have a glimpse at Vermeer's underpainting although it is not out of the question that early restoration may be partially responsible for the loss of the uppermost paint layers. The massive wooden window frame and the deep shadowed area of the carpet correspond rather closely to our idea of Vermeer's underpainting method.
Neither of these two areas is defined according to the artist's habitual standard of finish. The darkest parts are all painted with the same semi-transparent dark gray pigment, most likely a mixture of raw umber and black. Here and there on the carpet's fore side we may observe the initial accents of local color. Some of the decorative features have been painted with medium blue paint over the monochrome ground, most likely a mixture of natural ultramarine blue and a touch of lead white.
It is probable that the blue areas would have been subsequently glazed with the same ultramarine, this time in a dense, transparent medium in order to deepen and enrich their color.
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Other parts of the decorative patterns have been brought up with a medium-toned earth color , which compared to the darkest underpaint seems to be a medium-dark yellow ochre. The upper folds of the carpet which catch the incoming light have been depicted with light-toned paint, here with the addition of ochre and there with ultramarine.
The decorative arts are arts or crafts concerned with the design and manufacture of beautiful objects that are also functional. It includes interior design, but not usually architecture.
The decorative arts are often categorized in opposition to the " fine arts ," namely, painting , drawing , photography and sculpture, which generally are thought to have no function other than to be seen. The distinction between the decorative and the fine arts arose from the post-Renaissance art of the West, but is much less meaningful when considering the art of other cultures and periods, where the most highly regarded works—or even all works—include those in decorative media.
The promotion of the fine arts over the decorative in European thought can largely be traced to the Renaissance , when Italian theorists such as Giorgio Vasari — promoted artistic values, exemplified by the artists of the High Renaissance, that placed little value on the cost of materials or the amount of skilled work required to produce a work, but instead valued artistic imagination and the individual touch of the hand of a supremely gifted master such as Michelangelo — , Raphael — or Leonardo da Vinci — , reviving to some extent the approach of antiquity.
Most European art during prior to this period had been produced under a very different set of values, where both expensive materials and virtuoso displays in difficult techniques were highly valued. Decorum from the Latin: "right, proper" was a principle of classical rhetoric, poetry and theatrical theory that was about the fitness or otherwise of a style to a theatrical subject.
The concept of decorum is also applied to prescribed limits of appropriate social behavior within set situations and suitability of subject matter and style in painting. Decorum also determined that a pictorial or sculptural subject was suitable for an architectural setting, such as Vulcan's forge over a fireplace, or that kinds of buildings are fitting in urban or rural contexts or appropriate for persons of certain status.
Liturgical functions influenced by decorum dictate the placement of paintings, mosaics and sculpture in religious buildings. Originally a literary term, it was first used in relation to the visual arts in the Renaissance in the writings of Leonardo da Vinci — According to da Vinci's theory of Decorum, the gestures which a figure makes must not only demonstrate feelings, but must be appropriate to age, rank and position. So must also be dress , the setting in which the subject moves, and all the other details of the composition. Such thinking greatly influenced academic art, in particular history painting, from the Renaissance through to the nineteenth century.
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According to his detractors, the cardinal sin of Caravaggio — , who refused to study either ancient sculpture or Raphael 's — paintings, was the lack of decorum in subject matter and his supposed unfiltered imitation of nature. Such an unselective imitation became a leitmotif of seventeenth-century art criticism, and Giovanni Pietro Bellori — was its most vocal exponent.
In his influential essay "L'ldea" , published as the preface to his Lives of Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects , Caravaggio was compared to Demetrius for being "too natural," painting men as they appear, with all their defects and individual peculiarities. A color is deep or has depth when is has low lightness and strong saturation.
Opposite to deep colors in both value and saturation are pale colors, such as lead-tin yellow, and white. Some paints are inherently deep, such as natural ultramarine and alizarin crimson. Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating tree rings also called growth rings to the exact year they were formed in order to analyze atmospheric conditions during different periods in history.
Dendrochronology is useful for determining the timing of events and rates of change in the environment most prominently climate and also in works of art and architecture, such as old panel paintings on wood, buildings, etc. It is also used in radiocarbon dating to calibrate radiocarbon ages. Dendrochronology has become an important tool for dating panel paintings. However, unlike analysis of samples from buildings, which are typically sent to a laboratory, wooden supports for paintings usually have to be measured in a museum conservation department, which places limitations on the techniques that can be used.
In addition to dating, dendrochronology can also provide information as to the source of the panel. Many Early Netherlandish paintings have turned out to be painted on panels of "Baltic oak" shipped from the Vistula region via ports of the Hanseatic League.
Oak panels were used in a number of northern countries such as England, France and Germany. Wooden supports other than oak were rarely used by Netherlandish painters. The support of Vermeer's Girl with a Flute is a single, vertically grained oak panel with beveled edges on the back. Dendrochronology gives a tree felling date in the early s. In photography, the distance between the nearest point and the farthest point in the subject which is perceived as acceptably sharp along a common image plane.
For most subjects it extends one third of the distance in front of and two thirds of the distance behind the point focused on. Although the human eye makes use of a convex lens there is no perception of depth of field because the lens continually changes its shape in order to bring whatever it is looking at into perfect focus. In traditional forms of visual representation, even those which encompass expansive landscapes where depth of field is very noticeable with a modern camera, there is no true depth of field.
However, by the Renaissance , painters began to systematically soften the contours and modeling of objects seen at great distances as a means of enhancing the illusion of depth. Art historians have made much of what seems to be a deliberate variation in focus in the paintings of Vermeer, presumably because the artist used an optical device called the camera obscura , which makes use of a single convex lens.
It is presumed by some that by observing certain aspects of the image of the camera, whose field of depth is exceptional small, the artist was inspired and emulated such effects in paintings such as The Art of Painting and The Lacemaker , where the foreground objects are so blurred that they are barely recognizable.
The words " composition " and "design" when applied to the visual arts are often used as if they were interchangeable, but each connotes something rather different. Composition is an arranging or pushing-about of the various parts of a picture—of the items, whether they be figures, architectural features or man-made props, of main interest and of secondary and tertiary interest—in such manner that the narrative picture explains itself and tells a given story. Design , instead is the arranging of an agreeable or significant pattern , a formal framework that compliments the composition and its story.
Among many other elements of design the disposing of the dark masses so that they will balance agreeably with the light masses. In modern commercial art, as is well known, the designer makes great case of having the dark masses of his poster or advertising placard properly related to the light masses. Strictly speaking, while the function of composition is narrative, that of design is aesthetic. The design—the pattern , so to say—of certain of Vermeer's works is superlatively beautiful. Such excellence of is the more remarkable as it is a quality which does not appear in the work of most of the other Dutch painters.
Their pictures are often admirably composed; they convey their motive and their story.
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They are sometimes composed subtly and elusively. Yet the ablest of these painters were uninterested, as a rule, in the underlying pattern of their compositions. An exception among them, in this regard, was Carel Fabritius — , Vermeer's fellow townsman; and this circumstance gives one reason for supposing that Fabritius may have been intimate with Vermeer. The methods of the two men as designers, however, were not closely alike, and Vermeer excelled in both composition and design.
As his subjects were usually of the simplest nature, his compositional problems were not particularly intricate. Whatever story there was to tell, this was of the shortest and simplest; the intrigue required no elaborate working out.
The design, on the other hand, of a Vermeer, is often subtle, highly original, and, in his best works, very beautiful. Some of Vermeer's works, withal, which contain his best painting, are not remarkable in design. Thus, the weakly patterned Studio of the Czernin Collection seems to have been painted for the sheer pleasure of the painting. As Vermeer's design and composition are so original and personal, it is strange that his work was ever mistaken for that of other me— Gerrit ter Borch 's — , Pieter de Hooch — , and Gabriel Metsu — , for instance, each of whom had his own mode of composition.
Ter Borch, as a rule, employed his background merely as a foil for the human figure. He made wonderful little figures which are the whole thing in his pictures; to them the background is entirely subsidiary, delightful as it may be in its manner of staying back. In planning a composition, Ter Borch apparently at first arranged his mannikins agreeably and then bethought himself of a fitting background.
De Hooch's plan of composing was quite different from Ter Borch's. A picture presented itself to his mind as an interior composed of beautiful lines and chiaroscuro. His figures look like afterthoughts, as in the one— Dutch Interior with Soldiers —at the National Gallery, London, in which lines of the back ground can be seen showing through one of the principal figures.
De Hooch, in point of fact, did not do the figure at all well. He is a painter of interiors, par excellence. A detail is an individual or minute part of an item or particular. The etymology of the word involves cutting, as in nouns like "tailor" and "retail. In modern art history, the study of detail is not just a specialty investigative tool, but a fundamental part of the discipline.
In the opinion of the art historian James Elkins , this model may also betray art history's desire to "become scientific, a desire that has long infected the humanities. Art historians generally work with two types of details. The fist regards the details of a painting's narrative , that is, of specific illusory objects or parts of objects which are represented in the pictured scene. Often, such details occupy only a minimum area of the painting's surface but for the inquiring art historian they have great consequence on the final reading of the work as a whole.