Art Compare And Contrast
Art historians often use comparisons to study the history of works or art. The point of the comparison is to understand the meaning in the works of art. In the following essay I will analyze, compare and contrast two works of art: “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” by Thomas Gainsborough.
Peter Bruegel, commonly known as Peter Bruegel the Elder was from a large and influential family of artists. Bruegel was born sometime between 1525 and 1530 in the town of Antwerp in the Netherlands. Bruegel was an innovative painter as well as a skilled draftsman. His style of painting, especially his landscapes went outside of the traditional landscape style of his time. During this time period landscapes were often depicted with religious and iconographic images. Bruegel was able to create his own style of landscapes showing nature in a more modern way, emphasizing nature’s beauty without any religious association. A number of Bruegel’s paintings focus on the lives of commoners, which earned him the nickname “peasant Bruegel “.
Bruegel’s “The Harvesters” shows a field of ripened wheat that has been partially cultivated. In the foreground there is a group of peasants apparently having a picnic under the shade of a pear tree. Work continues around them as men are cutting the wheat and the woman are gathering them into stacks. Although the peasants are in the foreground of this scene they are not the main subjects of the painting. “The Harvesters” main emphasis is the landscape itself. Bruegel uses the harvest scene to show the changing of the seasons. It is believed that this painting represents the months of August and September. The lines of the painting seem to lead to the building in the background, which could be a church or the farm owner’s house. The color used in this painting shows the changing of the seasons. Bruegel’s use of green and yellow shows the deep contrast between the different crop fields.”The Harvesters” is an oil painting done on a wood panel. This painting is thought to be one of a set of six paintings by Bruegel depicting the four seasons or times of year.
Thomas Gainsborough was an English painter who lived in from 1727 to 1788. He was born in the city of Sudbury, England but also lived in London and Bath. In 1774 he moved to London permanently we he lived out the remainder of his life. Gainsborough stated that although his profession was that of a portrait painter his true pleasure was landscapes. He also produced many landscapes using pencil, chalk and charcoal as well. Gainsborough’s style had many diverse sources. Many of his paintings and drawings show influences from France and Holland. His portraits show a style similar to the artist “Van Dyck” and his later landscapes are very similar to works by “Rubens”.
In Gainsborough’s “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” a newly married couple is shown posing in front of a large oak tree. Mr. Andrews is standing while his wife is seated on a bench. Mr. Andrews is shown holding a rifle. He stands proudly in front of his vast estate. Mrs. Andrews is wearing a light blue “hunting dress” with her hands on her lap. The color of her dress is vastly different then the rest of the more subtle browns, tans and greens used in the landscape areas of the work. Her hands look as if they should be holding something. It is believed this was done purposely to suggest the arrival of a child or perhaps her husband’s bounty. The background shows a beautiful scene of hayfields forests and rolling hills. There are also two churches amongst the trees and hills. Mr. Andrew’s dog is at his feet looking up at his master, again pointing out the focal point of the piece. “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” is an oil painting done on canvas.
“The Harvesters” and “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” have some similarities. One similarity, besides the fact that they are both oil paintings, is the artist’s ability to combine nature with the human element. Both paintings use very earthy colors, using mainly browns and greens, but use them in a way that beautifies nature. They both seem to brighten the area where the people are shown without making the landscape seem dull. In Bruegel’s “The Harvesters” the wheat field with the peasants in the foreground is a bright beige color but does not take away the beauty of the hills and sea in the background. The biggest similarity between the two artists is their ability to depict nature through there own visions and not follow the traditional “rules” of landscapes.
Although the paintings do have some things in common, they have many more contrasts. One difference is the texture of the paintings. Gainsborough uses soft subtle brush strokes in his painting while Bruegel uses rougher strokes to show more texture. Another difference is the subjects of both paintings. “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews” depicts they couple in almost a “larger than life” role. The Andrews’ are much larger than they should be in proportion to the rest of the painting. In “The Harvesters” the peasants are only a small part of the subject, Harvest season. Also “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews “seem to have a lot more movement then “The Harvesters”. Furthermore there seems to be many more lines in “The Harvesters” were as in “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews seems to flow towards the area behind the oak tree. The mood in both paintings seems to be of a happy time, although many portraits during this time period seem to show people with a blank look on their faces instead of smiles, like in “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews”.
Of the two paintings I would have to say I like “The Harvesters” more than “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews”. Although both were successful works of art by accomplished artists I do not like the almost cartoonish appearance of “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews”. This is an example of how the wealthy, during this time period liked to be depicted as almost godlike figures. In “The Harvesters” I like how the peasants are shown as they really would appear on any given day. These are just my personal feelings and should not take away from the fact that these are two magnificent pieces of artwork by two very talented and successful artists.