Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jean Leon Gerome

I decide today to take a step backwards into history for the days painting to analyze. I have chosen Pollice Verso from Jean Leon Gerome in keeping with the illustrative narture of yesterday's piece. This is a 19th century painting with a subject matter of a Roman glatitorial battle. An interesting note of this piece is that it is one the defining illustrations of Roman gladitorial games for the modern era in that movies such as Gladiator had their imagery based on this (and other) images. The modern view of the thumbs up or thumbs down at the end of a battle came from this piece as those particular head gestures were not used in this forum according to historical scholars. Anyway, on to the art.

I would like to discuss the concepts of lead-in and movement in relation to this painting as it has some very strong indications to these topics. When viewing this piece as a whole one notices that the most saturated color in the piece is the bright red flag directly behind the gladiator's head. This color immediately grabs your attention and leads you to focus on the main figure. I also notice a second lead-in which come from the right side, starts at the figures in white and leads the eye along the other white hooded figures, along the railing to the red flag which inevitably brings you to the main figure. Once at the main figure the eye is led through the image, along his arm, down his sword, then across the body of the vanquished warrior, across his arm, up to the crowd and along the railings and architectural lines and back to the gladiator. This directed movement of the piece allows the viewer to observe all of the detail occuring in the painting and help them to move on and again until the entire image has been viewed. This is something that was taught where I go to school, but is often overlooked by students (including me).

The strong lead-in and movement lines in this image are noteworthy and hopefully can provide me a good example for my own future pieces.

1 comment:

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