Essay about artwork
Luncheon on the Grass is a depiction of a nude modern woman staring at the audience and sitting amidst two upper-class men on the grass beside a river. Another woman in the background bends to scoop water from the river with her hand, probably for drinking or washing her face. The physical setting of this painting is in the woods with a jungle green negative space (Manet.org). The Judgment of Paris, on the other hand, is a Renaissance drawing that recreates the story of a Greek mythology that explains the events leading to the Trojan War. In the artwork are three goddesses – Aphrodite, Athena, and Juno - giving their bribes to Paris in a move to influence his decision of pronouncing one of them as “The Fairest.” In the upper right hand corner are Paris’ chariots and entourage. At the bottom right corner are three river gods present in the pronouncement ceremony. A winged goddess, who I believe is Strife, flies above the three other goddesses confronting Paris. She is casting down an item which is supposedly The Golden Pearl (Metmuseum.org). The two paintings represent two different historical eras as illustrated by their themes, but a common motif –nudity- underlies both artworks, marking the similarity in the forms depicted.
The most striking similarity in both artworks is the repetition of Raimondi’s forms in Manet’s painting. Luncheon on the Grass is a replica of some components of The Judgment of Paris engraving. The three people in the right hand corner of the latter are the main characters in the former. However, the men in this image are clothed while the woman, like in The Judgment of Paris is naked. To bring closer the resemblance, Manet paints a river to mimic Raimondi’s illustration of river gods. Both images have organic lines that portray human figures. The lines in The Judgment of Paris, however, give fine details of the physical makeup of the two male river gods engraved at the bottom right side. These lines are masked by fabric in Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass. Natural features like water, forests, and vegetation form a significant portion of the positive space. The importance of this similarity is to enhance the resemblance between the two works of arts, while at the same time underscoring the significance of nature in the Romantic and Renaissance paintings.
The texture remarkably distinguishes the two images. Being an engraving, Raimondi’s work is smooth textured with minimal rough surfaces outlining the vegetation. On the other hand, Luncheon on the Grass is oil on canvas painting, meaning that the whole artwork is coarse textured on touching. On mere looking, however, the viewer’s eye can discern the differences between the texture of the nude woman and the clothed men. It is reasonable to say that the nude form is smooth, while the rest of the picture is coarse in varying degrees.
It is clear that Raimondi’s The Judgment of Paris is a Renaissance era drawing given its mythological connotation. There is controversy in the classification of the Luncheon on the Grass, first due to its resemblance to Judgment of Paris, and secondly, because of its incorporation of Modern and Romantic painting styles. Nonetheless, the artist displays his mastery of art in this exquisite painting in a manner that obscures any controversy.
Manet, Edouard. The Luncheon on the Grass, 1862. Manet.org, www.manet.org/luncheon-on-the-grass.jsp. Accessed 9/2/2017
Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The Judgment of Paris.” Metmeseum, 2017, www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/19.74.1/. Accessed 9/2/2017
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